The Esther Caulfield Orchestra

Keba: So...The Esther Caulfield Orchestra consists of only you?
Michael Perkins: At the moment, yes. There are some plans in the works for a full lineup, but for the time being it's just me.

K: Who is Esther Caulfield? First thing that comes to mind is The Catcher in the Rye.
MP: The idea was to give the music a name that would paint a very specific picture in someones mind when they heard it. I floated around a few ideas and finally settled on The Esther Caulfield Orchestra because I thought it would be cool for people to imagine an elderly woman. I thought that made for nice, unusual imagery. I liked the idea of people inventing their own idea of what this woman looked and sounded like. And you're right, the Caulfield part was definitely taken from Catcher in the Rye. I was way into the book at the time.

K: How did you start playing music?
MP: I always wanted to write songs and play music, since as far back as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of writing songs on construction paper with crayons. I got my first guitar when I was in the sixth grade and I spent the next several years writing complete garbage, as is to be expected. Eventually I realized that I needed to disconnect myself from radio and television and gradually my material became legitimate.

K: Can you tell us a bit about your latest record Good Morning, Whiskey Breakfast?
MP: I made Whiskey Breakfast slowly over the course of a few years. The music that I got turned on to in that time gave me some new ideas about what it means to make music or to make art and I tried to apply that to my own music. I wanted to make an album that I, personally would really enjoy if I came across the LP in a used record store. Like when you hear a record for the first time and instantly know you're going to love it, that it's right up your alley. 

K:'s interesting that you're giving it away for free....
MP: Music is free whether I like it or not. So I might as well be the one making it convenient for people to get a hold of it. 

K: The Industrial Good Day Mantra...can you talk a bit about the origins of the song?
MP: Mantra is about fighting with yourself to wake up and start the day. There's this popular notion that a good, hard-working adult is supposed to be eager to hop out of bed and go toil away at whatever they do to make rent. So I guess the origin, for me, is the dish pit of an Indian Restaurant in Fairborn, Ohio. Although, I didn't write the song until several years later. 

K: Yea...that would probably be one of my biggest fears....wasting my life away on a "job"(hate that word by the way) that i'm not passionate about. but it seems to be the situation that most people are faced with...what are your limits? Like do you see yourself ever succumbing to that sort of lifestyle? kind of reminds me of the first verse of A Well Respected Man by The Kinks.
MP: At the moment I'm not in a position to be free of the hand-to-mouth lifestyle you're referring to. I've got no trust fund to finance a work-free situation, you know? And even if I did, that well would eventually run dry and I'd be stuck with the reality of having to do the 9 to 5. No matter what, it always comes back to digging the proverbial ditch. In theory, we're supposed to do things we hate as a trade off for things we love or require. What ends up happening in most cases is that the grand aspirations take the back seat in favor of the mortgage, and I haven't figured out how I'm going to avoid that. In a way, it's almost offensive for me to assume that I ever could. That's pretty much the basis for Good Morning, Whiskey Breakfast. It's the dilemma of overcoming the depression associated with being a wage slave. In the Whiskey Breakfast story, the nameless protagonist succeeds at doing that through discovering personal enlightenment.

K: What are your musical/nonmusical inspirations?
MP: Musically, outer space and nonmusically, Michael Jackson.

K: Why do we make music?
MP: Our brains probably have many unique locks and sensory combinations (light + sound + smell + taste + touch) to unlock them. Certain sequences might make pins fall into place and occasionally they open up. Sometimes when they do, the brain explodes. I'm sure there's a book about it.

K: What are you currently working on? 
MP: Right now I'm writing the material for the next record and, as I said before, getting the live band ready to go. So I've got a couple of things in the oven.

K: I always find it interesting when creative people have more than one outlet. I mean, it's very common to find a painter who also writes poetry. Aside from you do anything else that ignites the imagination?
MP: I really dig writing. Not necessarily fiction, but like correspondence. I like starting with a blank page and editing and crafting my words so that they put across exactly what I mean to say. I like the thought of text being pliable. When you have the opportunity to edit your words, rather than speaking them in a stream of consciousness sort of way, you have full control over the statement that needs to be made.