Michael Jack Dole is a Chicago musician who works a blue collar job. He refuses to change his raw, punk inspired garage rock sound in order to satisfy the industry’s predetermined, cutter-cookie, over-produced format that record execs and radio program directors look for.
“I will gladly wither away for the rest of my life in the warehouses I work instead of seeing my music be over-produced,” he told us defiantly, without self righteous indignation.
He gets a bit testy when it comes to this particular topic. Dole is not a fan of the endless refinements that go into modern popular music, where the line between human, tech talent and skill sets has essentially vanished.
“When people listen to this album,” he says forcefully about his new album, Crass, “ I'd rather they hear the passion and hard work of ONE man's efforts, instead of critiquing or caring about the overall production value because it’s supposed to be raw and unrefined.”
For the new album, Crass, named for the sound he adores, Dole is resolute in his stance of remaining true to his work, avoiding, at all costs, any noticeable sense of fine-tuning.
Songs like the standout, Nirvana-inspired, “Intoxicated,” and the tragic, blazing guitar and bass of, “Jack & Cocaine,” as well as the sluggish, edgy, “No Sleep,” the 90’s alt-driven “Beautiful Mistake,” and the punk/garage rocker jam, “Dumb.”
The album, in total, has a blazing, buzzing, raw and angry sound.
“I like when people call my lyrics and sound brash and crass,” he says, “hence the album name. I love my guitars *loud* like sludge metal, which is the biggest reason for the drums and bass being lower. I have always been driven by guitars more than anything. When I was a kid, I didn't listen to lyrics, drums or bass. I was all about the vocal melody and riffs. I faded out the rest.”
As a tenaciously fierce DIY warrior and alt rock bedroom artist, Dole does not have, and does not want, access to a studio. Instead he is self trained on guitar, bass and a Mac mini with Logic Pro, a pre-amp, and some plug-ins. He has named his endeavor, Empire of Gold, after a chance encounter with a homeless man who heard him playing and told Dole he was “building an empire of gold.”
For Dole, that encounter unexpectedly resolved his dilemma of coming up with a ‘cool’ moniker. As a DIY, self- sufficient entity, Dole has no intention for Empire of Gold to be anything other than a one man band.
“I don’t care about having a band,” he says. “Right now what matters to me is to keep improving my sound and production skills while retaining the edgy, unrefined sound I love so much.”
Empire of Gold’s second DIY single from the album, “Beautiful Mistake,” reminds Dole of “MTV unplugged sessions.”
His cover of Nirvana’s “Sappy,” he says, is a track he is ‘very proud’ of, adding, “I made it unique and it would be so humbling if, even in a small way, some Nirvana fans felt it was a good homage to the band, since I realize that it is a really high bar, and not one that many musicians aim for in fear of being ridiculed.“
In June of 2015, Empire of Gold’s debut EP, Raw, was released. Crass is his new debut album.