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Michael Tolcher discusses music and his love of Notre Dame

Bob Costa | Friday, April 22, 2005

Although he has never visited Notre Dame’s storied campus, Michael Tolcher feels he has been there a million times in his mind. A popular emerging singer-songwriter and lifelong Fighting Irish fan, Tolcher is excited about playing at Legends Saturday evening as one of the headlining acts in the Student Union Board’s AnTostal concert. “When I was growing up, I had all the interlocking-ND sweatshirts and hats,” Tolcher said in an interview earlier this week. “[Notre Dame] was the place I always thought I’d go. I really identify with its community spirit and sense of spirituality.”Blending an infectious mix of southern rock, world beat, hip-hop and pop, Tolcher recently released his debut album, “I Am,” which has garnered a fervent following on college campuses around the country. Recorded by Chris Shaw (Bob Dylan, Weezer, Dashboard Confessional), “I Am” aptly melds hooky rhythms with Tolcher’s optimistic lyrical message. You may have heard the album’s second track, “Sooner Or Later” on TV, which is the theme song for ABC’s “Life as We Know It.” “There are so many dimensions in my music, and I think mostly what people hear is hope – the describing of experiences and the wonders of life,” Tolcher said. “My music embraces the ups and downs, the cycles of emotion. It is unguarded honesty.” His debut album is hard to typecast, as Tolcher encompasses his experiences into a sound that reaches beyond any specific genre. From his enthusiastic single “Mission Responsible,” which challenges listeners to enlighten themselves, to the trip-hop bounciness of “Taxi Ride Kinda Night,” “I Am” is a vivid and bright release. For the past two years, Michael Tolcher has been touring relentlessly, opening for Maroon 5, Gavin DeGraw, Hanson, Ingram Hill, The Funky Meters, George Clinton, Virginia Coalition, Sister Hazel, Hootie & the Blowfish and Collective Soul. Just this week, in the few days before he plays at Legends, Tolcher will have opened for Howie Day, My Chemical Romance and Pat McGee Band.Tolcher’s touring band, comprised of William Duvall on guitar, Big Tiny on bass and Lefty Thompson on drums has been together for over a year and has won praise from many audiences for its ability to jam and segue from song to song during the live show.”We’ve been together for about a year and four months – and we’re down to a core group of four guys,” Tolcher said. “With the four there is more power than with five, more balance … more solid. It’s been cool because we’ve lived with each other. We’re a fateful match, and pretty much came together out of nowhere.”Tolcher is known to cover a diverse array of tunes in concert, from Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” to Tag Team’s early-1990s hit “Whoomp, There It Is,” which earned a raucous ovation for Tolcher at Muhlenberg College last week. Notre Dame will surely be exposed to a montage of Tolcher’s hip-hop, soul and rock influences. Tolcher is eager to finally come to Notre Dame tomorrow evening and see what Notre Dame is really all about. His music has already been playing on WVFI and been spreading around dorms through numerous CD samplers and MP3 files.”There might be conflict around the world, but our group of people on Notre Dame’s campus will be together, enjoying life and all that’s to come, if just for a little while,” Tolcher said. “It’s going to be a great party. I just want to help facilitate that vibe, join that vibe, and feel it myself. I hope to leave Notre Dame inspired.”