Interview by Justin Loye
Mike Park is the motivated man behind Asian Man records. He started the label out of his parents garage in the San Jose area. Over the years he has signed various ska, punk, and rock bands like Jeff Rosenstock and Joyce Manor. In addition to the label, Park himself has been in several great ska and rock bands. One of which, Bruce Lee Band, perfectly manifests the feeling of surfing or skating a decrepit, drained pool. Mike has always combated racism and promoted peace through music. His foundation, Plea for Peace, organizes tours and provides venues for youth artists to perform or display their progressive and peaceful works of art.
First off, I have a question about the Bruce Lee Band song ‘Do the Politicians’. Are the shows in backyards or basements or homes more or less fun than playing a venue like Neumos? Do you have a favorite venue?
It really depends. I have had a great time playing basement shows and clubs. It really depends on the vibe going on and the feedback from the audience. My favorite venue is bottom of the hill in san francisco.
Where do you like to go in Seattle? Any favorite neighborhoods or restaurants?
My favorite place to eat in Seattle is Araya’s in the U District. It’s a vegan Thai place that’s all you can eat.
You were recently touring in Asia? Any favorite Asian city?
I love Tokyo. It’s just a fun place to be. Safe and bustling with energy. Never a dull moment.
Seoul is also a lot of fun. A lot different than Tokyo. Seoul has the grit of NYC in the sense of a little dirtier than tokyo, but still energy flowing like crazy.
Asian Man Records is home to one of my favorite bands of all time, Joyce Manor. Do you have a favorite Joyce Manor song or album and why?
Constant Headache was the first song I heard by JM. So that’s what made me fall in love with the band and has become the de facto song for me and that band.
What music are your two kids into? Do you plan on getting them into ska?
They just listen to mainstream music. They’re just 8 and 10 years old. They don’t care what I listen to. I figured that much would be the case, but hopefully as they grow older and start going to shows, they’ll enjoy underground music a bit more.
What were some of your early influences for your high school bands before Skanking Pickle? Were you ever influenced by the California hardcore bands like Black Flag?
I was in a band in 1985 called Psychiatric Disorder that was heavily influenced by Black Flag. I saw the movie dance craze in theaters sometime in 1986 and then become obsessed with the 2 TONE movement.
How did you meet Jeff Rosenstock?
His old band ASOB contacted me saying they were going to be in California. I used to have a lot of activities like a day at the amusement park or beach or baseball game. And so they read my newsletter and just showed up at the baseball game we were going to and that’s how we met.
Do you have a favorite album of 2017?
I know you’re not supposed to pick releases from your own label, but Hard Girls “Floating Now” is an amazing record.
Where did you go to college and what was the best show you went to during your college years? Any fond college memories?
I went to San Jose State for 2 years and dropped out. College was a blur. I didn’t care because all I wanted to do was play music. FISHBONE was the best live show I’d ever experienced and I made it a point to go to every single one of their shows that was within a 100 mile radius, so i saw them quite a bit during college and was never let down.
Let’s talk reggae; which do you like most Cali roots, roots reggae or island reggae? Any favorite reggae bands?
Not a big fan of cali or island reggae. I’m a fan of the Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals era of bands.
What do you see next for your organization Plea for Peace?
We’ve been on hiatus for over 4 years now. I don’t have any plans currently. But hopefully one day I can revive the idea behind the foundation. “Promote positive youth development through the arts”.