NEPA Scene Staff

Tunkhannock singer Mike Antosh releases cathartic ‘Taking Its Toll’ EP with Whisky a Go Go show in Hollywood

Tunkhannock singer Mike Antosh releases cathartic ‘Taking Its Toll’ EP with Whisky a Go Go show in Hollywood
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From a press release:

Mike Antosh is a singer/songwriter with nothing to hide. His music is refreshingly vulnerable as he dares to “go there,” whether that’s by tackling an impossibly intricate guitar riff, belting out lyrics directly from his soul, or talking about uncomfortable themes in a beautiful way. If a picture is worth a thousand words, one phrase of Antosh’s music shares a thousand feelings.

A true master of his craft, the Tunkhannock native understands what it is to be a vocalist and a songwriter. Not only does he play guitar, keys, and drums at a virtuoso level, he synthesizes words, emotions, and ideas into four-minute experiences about the things that matter. Performing with all the musical devices available to him, he takes his audiences on a journey from one end of the scale to the other and back again, often building to a suspenseful and gratifying climax.

As a lifelong artist, Antosh has never been known to follow the rules, and music fans are lucky for that because his new EP, “Taking Its Toll,” pierces with bold originality. Displaying raw vocals, raw talent and raw subject matter, his work is emphatically and unabashedly vulnerable. Though largely rock, these six songs have touches of pop, blues, jazz, soul, reggae, and a powerful sound that’s entirely his own. After all, his fingerprint is on every instrument – vocals, drums, electric, acoustic, and bass guitar.

Legendary sound engineer and mixer Phil Brewster knew how to bring out Antosh’s wide-ranging sound thanks to having worked with broad a range of heavy hitters like Jason Mraz, LeAnn Rimes, 2Pac, Deftones, Gavin DeGraw, and various artists on Death Row Records. Brewster’s brother, a longtime fan of Antosh’s live performances in South Florida, connected the two upon learning that Antosh had relocated to California. As Brewster is in high demand, the EP was recorded as a passion project over several months in Brewster’s home studio in Los Angeles, ultimately because he believes in Antosh’s music and message.

“I am a musician and performer, playing anywhere people are willing to listen. My goal is to bring people together and bridge the gaps between us both socially and fundamentally,” Antosh emphasized.

“Taking Its Toll” is the result of an impressive collaboration of two masters, each working at the top of their craft and having the time of their lives. Regarding the project, Brewster said that musical diversity “is the thing that made this project so fun. I looked at Mike and said, ‘How about reggae?’ Bam – he instantly freestyled ‘Alright.’ Very fun project.”

Each song is a daring exploration into the human experience, delivered with equally daring vocals, guitar solos, and crescendos that leave the listener somehow transformed after only four minutes. They may need to stop and catch their breath right along with him as he belts his final notes, sighing with the kind of relief and catharsis that only comes from art that dares to “go there.”

And go there he does. The title track is an urgent, climatic ballad about getting back on track before it’s too late, easily becoming an anthem for our weary times. Whether it’s personal battles, climate change, the opioid epidemic, political division, financial instability, or a litany of other timely problems, this lead track gives voice to that little voice inside all of our heads that knows when something has gone too far, that we could do better, that life doesn’t have to be this way.

The EP’s other tracks are just as probing with revealing songs about the homelessness crisis and the enduring power of the human spirit (“Alright”), the risks of wasting one’s potential (“Throwing Yourself”), the allure of fading into oblivion instead of stepping up to the plate of life (“Blown Away”), careers and commitment to an artistic path (“Only Way To Go”), and facing your demons to get back to yourself (“Better than Burning”). It’s hard to say whether his Berklee-trained guitar riffs, his searing vocals, or his thought-provoking lyrics are more captivating, but luckily no one has to choose.

“Antosh is a truly talented musician, with a voice with so much pain and miles of heartache that you can hear,” Brewster noted.

Released on April 17 via Lizzie Rose Records, “Taking Its Toll” is available now on all major streaming platforms alongside his 2022 single “Underworld.” Last Thursday, June 8, Antosh celebrated with a performance at the iconic West Hollywood nightclub Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip, opening for hard rock band Spread Eagle. He hopes to tour with the new tunes this summer.

“I’m just really looking forward to working on my craft to touch as many people as I can in a positive and permanent fashion for as long as it is meant to be,” he said.

Playing professionally since the age of 15 – and casually since the age of 6 when he gained a reputation as a local drum prodigy at county fairs – Antosh has spent decades as a musician. His teen years were packed with performances in various Northeastern Pennsylvania bands. He molded his frontman abilities as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of Shaving Holly, a high school junior in an all-adult band. He recorded several demos, sold out shows, and played an average of three times per week by the time he graduated high school.

This invaluable experience landed him acceptance into Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied guitar performance and songwriting. Antosh continued working exclusively as a professional musician for over a decade, performing original music and covers at highly-regarded establishments, private parties, and events throughout NEPA, Allentown, and Philadelphia as well as New York City, Florida, Utah, Massachusetts, Vermont, Illinois, Hawaii, California, Canada, and even Ireland. Rock bands he has led over the years include McNothing (2003-2010), The Likely (2004-2006), and Silent Addictions (2018).

Known by his own name as well as “Mike Twang,” his career highlights include touring 12+ cities in the Midwest with The Likely in 2005, opening for Boston in Berwick and for Robert Randolph and the Family Band at Blender magazine’s Blender Blitz in 2009, singing the national anthem at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 and 2010, performing in front of 4,000 people at Still Grateful Fest at Mountain Sky in Jermyn in 2018, being featured on the global Acoustic Guitar Project, and recording his 2019 singles “Promises” and “Heartache” with Grammy Award-winning, Emmy-nominated producer George Noriega (Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez) at Cutting Cane Studios in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The former Wyoming County resident is now based in Los Angeles and occasionally returns to his hometown area to play, including a surprise set at the NEPA Scene Open Mic at The V-Spot in Scranton in January.

Photos by Rich Howells/NEPA Scene