Interview: Michael Borja Talks Instruments, Musical Influences, Games and More! [EXCLUSIVE]

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Michael Borja © Illy/Super Inspired Photography, Staff Photographer
Michael Borja © Illy/Super Inspired Photography, Staff Photographer

We are bringing you a great interview today with Michael Borja! If you don’t know Michael Borja, he’s a musician and member of the band Louden Swain. Borja regularly travels and tours with the band, having shows across the world for thousands of fans.

This is the second part in our Louden Swain Musical Spotlight series, where we get to ask the band members about their influences, how they got started with music, and throw in some fun questions along the way (like video games – we are a nerds, after all!)

You can read part one, our exclusive interview with Louden Swain‘s guitarist, Billy Moran, here.

Louden Swain released their latest album, an acoustic album titled Splitting the Seams, last October, and are currently touring with Creation Entertainment’s Supernatural conventions. Read the interview with Michael Borja below!

Nerds and Beyond: When did you first learn to play the bass?

Michael Borja: The band’s early days started out as four guys (Rob, Jon, Dave, and me) who met once a week at our buddy’s apartment to play covers on the guitar. One of the guys played bongos and was our percussion section. Then one day Rob brought in a song he wrote to a rehearsal. I later brought one that I wrote at the next rehearsal. And before we knew it, our rehearsal became mostly our songs instead of covers. We wanted to record these songs but we needed a bass player and so by default, I learned how to play the bass. We put out a cassette tape demo under the band name “The Leftovers”, which later became a commercial hit…amongst our friends. Fast forward…Rob and I later met Norton at a party and a couple of weeks later we became a band with a real drummer. We played as a four piece band for about five years, then became a three piece for another five years, and eventually back to the current four piece you know as Louden Swain.

Michael Borja © Liz Larson, Staff Photographer

Nerds and Beyond: We see you also play the piano, keyboards, trumpet, harmonica, etc. What was the first instrument you learned?

Borja: Piano, then trumpet, then guitar, then harmonica, then bass, and a little ukulele.

Nerds and Beyond: What kind of musical education, if any, did you receive growing up (singing lessons, music lessons, choir)?

Borja: I took piano lessons at age 7, trumpet age 9, guitar age 12, singing lessons at age 28.

Nerds and Beyond: What was the first album that influenced you musically?

Borja: The Who – Who’s Next. It’s hard to name just one. Honorable mentions: The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour, Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy, Rush – Moving Pictures, REM – Life’s Rich Pageant, New Order – Power, Corruption, and Lies, Lemonheads – Lick, Buffalo Tom – Let Me Come Over, Smiths – Louder Than Bombs, Pearl Jam – Ten, Radiohead – OK Computer.

Nerds and Beyond: Who are some of your current favorite musicians?
Borja: Mike Mills (REM) – The guy plays bass, keys and sings background vox to Michael Stipe (sound familiar?).

Billy Moran, Rob Benedict, Michael Borja © Illy/Super Inspired Photography, Staff Photographer

Nerds and Beyond: How did you first meet your fellow bandmates?
Borja: Rob – I met playing pick up football with a bunch of Northwestern Alumni and playing guitar once a week (1995). Steve – I met at a party where we were playing our covers (1996). Billy – I met through Steve and through his band “Lost in Mayberry” (2005).

Nerds and Beyond: Louden Swain‘s music has influenced multiple forms of art, like covers of your songs, drawings, even tattoos. How do you feel about the fact that your fans are so passionate and creative?
Borja: Honored and humbled. But mostly blown away at the talents of our fans out there. So many of our fans are great artists, musicians, photographers, but most importantly great human beings.

Michael Borja © Kelsi Sickmann, Staff Photographer

Nerds and Beyond: How much influence did you have on the music of Splitting the Seams?
Borja: “Rock Song” is one of my favorites. It started out in the green room when we began thinking about recording the acoustic album. Last year at one of the cons, I started playing the song on the piano with a ballad approach. The guys gravitated to the approach and the rest is history. “Big One” was another one where Billy and I were messing around in the green room where I was playing acoustic guitar. And basically any song where we could have a piano we put it on the recording.

Nerds and Beyond: What are some of your favorite songs to perform live?
Borja: “Taxi Driver”, “Reunion”, “Rock Song”, “Amazing”, “Joker and the Thief”. Recently, “I Love It” (because I get to play a Keytar).

Nerds and Beyond: What do you think the future holds for Louden Swain?
Borja: Hopefully, more albums, more shows and another 20 years of music for you guys.

Nerds and Beyond: We know Billy loves to throw down on Star Wars: Battlefront. What are some of your favorite games?
Borja: I love Star Wars: Battlefront and Halo. I also love Madden Football, Golden Tee. Monopoly, Life, Dominoes, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em and checkers.

Thanks again to Michael Borja for doing this interview! Louden Swain’s Splitting the Seams is available now! You can order your copy here.

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