“The first record I owned was Michael Jackson’s Thriller,” Michael Booher shared with me. Thriller was also the first concert he saw when MJ’s Victory tour landed at the Astrodome. Born in Houston, Michael Booher came to Austin for college and never left. Mostly self-taught, his obsession for music started early and he attributes his passion for learning to play music to first being a fan.
“Man I just love everything,” he said when I asked Booher what type of music inspired him. “I mostly listen to songwriters. Some of my favorite standard classics are Bob Dylan, the Replacements, and Neil Young. But there is a lot of great new music out there too.”
Booher’s approach to writing music starts with chord progressions and melodies. “Then I shake words into that,” he said. “Sometimes you can work on material for a year, and keep chipping away at it, but sometimes it falls right out. A lot of times, it’s best when it (song-writing) happens really quickly. There’s a saying about songwriting. That if you can boil it down to a vocal part and one instrument, then you have a good, strong song. In other words, if it can be good and strong while sparse, it’s good.”
I asked if he had any advice for other musicians starting out. Persistence, Booher said, was key. “It seems a lot harder for musicians to cut through the noise than it used to be. Some of the great stuff goes unheard (because of the noise of so many musicians out there), and it’s heartbreaking. So persistence is really good.
“You have to be good and you have to get lucky. So the more you do something (persistence), the more you’re opening yourself up to improving your skills by logging the hours of doing this craft, but it also gives you more time to come across a little bit of luck. You hear stories of artists that were turned down by everyone – and now they are big. If you can avoid discouragement, and be really persistent, those are good tips for musicians starting out.
Persistence in writing is key too. “I think you have to write, even when you don’t want to write,” he said. “A lot of people think you have to wait for inspiration. But yet if you were waiting to be struck by a perfect moment, you’d never get it done. You need a place almost like an office and you need to treat it (writing) almost like a job. Just log some hours. The more you are persistently writing the more you open yourself up to those inspirational moments. You can avoid writers block that way too – writing persistently is like getting limber before the race, training for the fight, etc.“
Booher has had a rather traumatic few months after losing his mother and then navigating health challenges with his Dad, he lost a close friend in a car accident. “With all of this stuff going on, you’d think I’d be more inspired, but it’s been hard to maintain creative momentum,” he shared. “I’m so grateful to have the people around me so we can help each other through the hard times. Music is one of the best ways to do that. I’d like to work on a whole new batch of music that more accurately depicts where I’m at.”
Booher has a truly sentimental heart for creating music with friends in the industry. “My favorite thing about music is all the great people involved. You can really get to know someone by creating with them, and sharing and then performing. When you share those moments and can record it like a snapshot in time – to preserve the moment – that is really special to me.”
Booher’s most recent record Funny Tears came out last June. This Sunday, he will be playing original rock and roll, a new song or two, plus a couple of covers with some of his close music compadres. This is what Austin music is all about.