Night of the Living Shred’s Cliff Mikkelson's sound advice 

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A native of Colorado Springs, Cliff Mikkelson has been writing and performing music since the age of 12. In addition to playing a variety of instruments and attending countless local shows, he’s helped organize community projects and played in local acts like Blighter, Hellhound, Rhogog, Dustlord and Night of the Living Shred. We caught up with him recently to talk about some of his favorite recordings.

Essential Saturday night listening: Lately it’s been anything upbeat. Whether it’s heavy, experimental or alternative, I prefer something with a positive vibe. It’s been a lot of fun old punk, specifically GBH and their song “Gunned Down.” GBH are an English street-punk outfit started in the late ‘70s and are still fast, fun and substantial.

Essential Sunday morning listening: Depends on the mood, like most of my listening does. Sunday morning being relaxed normally, I’ll go with something chilled-out and atmospheric like Ulver. “Theme 3” on their Lyckantropen Themes album is very ambient, relaxed and mysterious, something to help wake you up without a headache. They started out making very extreme music, literally in the forest, and have moved on to scoring films and even performing with the Norwegian National Opera.

First record I bought with my own money: I remember buying Boston’s self-titled album when I was like 13. The epic intros, sweet organ and vocal harmonies caught my attention. My father would always put it on, which made me want my own copy. That album literally made me rock out in my pizza-print underwear in my room as a kid. I wanted to hear more, and to share that positivity with everyone, so I continued to dig deeper. And I’m still rocking out in my pizza undies… well, not every night.

“Wish I’d written that” song: “A Fine Day to Die” by Bathory. Great guitar playing and an epic poem of honor in battle.

“Wish I could unhear that” song: Any Eminem. It’s the voice, and I’m sure there’s far worse out there. I highly respect the dude, but the nasally voice I just cannot handle anymore.

Artist more people should know about: I did some traveling in Europe about a year and a half ago and went to a festival in an airfield in Prague. It was free to camp, and I woke up the second day hearing the music start, then sat up, and it immediately grabbed my attention. Japanese band Heaven in Her Arms was one of the best bands I have ever seen live. They’re a heavy, melodic and emotional post-hardcore band from Tokyo, and I discover something new after every time I listen. The album White Halo I highly recommend.

Guilty pleasure: A lot of pop music. I listen to a lot of extreme music, so bubblegum music makes a refreshing change of pace. I’ve recently become a fan of Halsey again, but my absolute favorite pop artist is Tove Lo, a Swedish singer who writes and performs her own music that’s mainly about relationships and body-positive messages. Fun to dance or ride a bike to, she has some bangers.


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