Welcome again excitable people near and far! It’s that time again, to meet our next fan spotlight! This week, let’s learn all about Mike Kleczka.
Freshman year of college, back in 1993, was the year Mike found 311 totally by accident. In high school he found new music simply by going to as many shows as possible. Then in college he progressed to joining the college radio station as a DJ. “The school station was operated like a commercial station so, the music director could get on the guest list to almost any show in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.” The preferred venue was Lupo’s in Providence and one day the music director told Mike that if he like Rage Against the Machine, he’d like this band called “three eleven” that they were going to see that night. Mike said he thinks the director meant he’d like them because they incorporated hip-hop into their sound. “Not knowing any of the material, I just took it in. Turns out, I really liked it! So, when I prepped for my shows, I added the “Freak Out” single to my playlist. Eventually, I dug out the full length “Music” album from the music library and played more songs.”
Fifty-three shows is where Mike is at for seeing them live (Fifty-four if you count the secret Hive show). He’s seen them at least once a year since 1993, with the exception of 98, 99, and 2007. People not into 311 like he is ask him all the time what his favorite show has been, and he says it’s a tough question to answer. “I think that my favorite shows are the ones over the past three years and “the next one”. I say that because I’ve met some really awesome people the past few years and getting to experience shows with them is what I love. I’ve seen them play most of their songs live at one point or another. At this point, WHO i’m going to the show with is just as important that WHAT songs we’re going to hear. We know that the band will put on a great show, regardless. I just want to enjoy it with my friends. And I love the notion that I can possibly make new friends at any show I go to. (I usually do, too!)” To date Mike has seen 311 in 13 different states.
Favorite song is another difficult question to answer. At 40 years old and having been a fan since 93, he’s been listening to 311 for more than half his life. “The band keeps doing something a little different with each album they release. If they kept releasing Music and Grassroots, I don’t think a lot of us would still be here today. People get on them for albums like DTOM and Uplifter. Long for the Flowers? It’s Getting OK now? great songs. 2009 was one of the best summers. Uplifter was the soundtrack. Never Ending Summer? I Like the Way? Sun Come Through? I think it was great because it was different than what they’d been doing on previous albums.”
Some lyrics though that Mike loves are as follows: “You make me feel uncalm and I think I like it.” and “I love it when the only sound I hear is your infectious laughter. I will hear you again in 800 years if I’m still lucky.” These lyrics make Mike think of his amazing wife Tina. “She is not “all in” as some of us are but, Tina is a fan and travels with me to the event shows. She’s met some amazing friends, too. “The 311 wives club’ as she’s come to call it.” One more lyric he loves is, “Time of our lives, here I was happy.” He said this is one because, well, he is!
Mike was born and raised on the east coast in New York and New Jersey. He is the oldest of four boys, all of whom love 311 as well. They still try to see at least one show a year together. He said you also might here him call the band three to eleven sometimes, which is a nod to him mom. “She asked me, one time, when my younger brother wanted to go see 311. She said, “Tell me about this band he wants to see, Three to Eleven. What’s their deal? is that a secret code or something? What time does that represent? It’s not another pot code is it?” Once i stopped laughing, I filled her in. Since then, Mom understands.”
Mike attended college in Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, and graduated from Robert Morris University with a degree in Communications. “Pittsburgh is an awesome town with a crazy local dialect. “Yinz going don ton to see the Stillers?” Love that place!” Mike moved to Michigan to start a family and career. He said as he was answering the questions he can finally say career and family have finally aligned. He is about the begin working for Fathead (the company that does the wall graphics of athletes, superheroes, etc.).
Mike said his wife Tina is extremely supportive of him (and tolerant he added). They have five amazing children together that keep them on their toes. His oldest son has already been to 13 shows and his daughter and second son both went to their first show last summer. Mike works hard to fund his 311 habit and they go to as many shows as the budget allows. “I’ve met many friends at shows and through poster collecting. I like to see them as much as I can and going to shows is how it gets done.”
Collecting posters, prints, and merch is a hobby of Mike’s and he’s an admin for the Facebook 311 Trading Post. “Along with four friends, we have a group that enables 311 fans to buy, sell and trade 311 merch and posters with other 311 fans. There’s a whole sub group within the 311 community and it’s awesome to be a part of it. You’ve probably seen us camping out at shows so we can be sure to get a poster before they sell out. Some folks can’t imagine why people would line up to get posters or t-shirts or hats or whatever the hot item is. Honestly, it’s just like tailgating. There’s beer and snacks and everyone there has something in common to talk about. It’s actually a fun place to be before a show. Well, maybe not that 311 Day 2014 line. :)”
When not “311-ing”, Mike can be found playing hockey, strumming a guitar, or running to kids activities (naturally a lot since of those since he has five). Something that makes Mike unique is his Lego tattoo. “I have a min-ifigure fishing on my arm.” He said other than that he can juggle. “I’m not a professional by any means but people seem to be surprised when I do it and I don’t know many people that can.” Guilty pleasure is that he still plays video games, mostly sports games and Call of Duty. “After a long day, when the kids are all in bed and the wife has retired for the evening, I like sitting by myself, in peace, and scoring a virtual hat trick or fake blowing shit up.”
Of course, having been a DJ, Mike is into a lot of bands. “I feel that I come from the rock/punk/hip hop side as opposed to the reggae side.” Some bands he currently listens to are Fugazi, Tiger Army, Beastie Boys, Alkaline Trio, The Urge, Frank Turner, Gaslight Anthem, Bouncing Souls, The Loved One, Public Enemy, Atmosphere, DOOMTREE, RDGLDGRN, and Sage Francis. Mike said he’s also started to cultivate over to the reggae side the past several years. Dirty Heads and Passafire are a couple of new bands he’s starting to enjoy. “I guess it really doesn’t matter the genre. If it clicks in my mind, if it is well received by my aural receptors, I’ll listen to it.”
Mike’s message to the band is:
“Please don’t stop! Keep pushing the boundaries of your music. We will still be here. The next album could be Chad farting on a snare drum and I’d still buy it.”
And to all the other fans:
“To the 311 community, this is a great thing we have going here. There’s not many artists that are able to have a career as long as 311 and to keep a core community together like this is amazing. We should appreciate it, and each other, for as long as it lasts. I love being a part of it and look forward to meeting more folks at the next show. Til then, you know the drill… Stay Positive and Love Your Live! I know I do!”
There you have it folks, Mike’s story of his love for 311. Thank you for reading as always! You are all amazing people and I love doing this! Until we meet again…keep spreading the unity, positivity, and love!
Much love – The Runt