Thirty three year old Michael Lombardi is most known for his portrayal of “probie” Mike Silletti in FX’s critically acclaimed show ‘Rescue Me’. While most people are only familiar with the character he so convincingly brings to life on the show, the truth is, there’s another side to Lombardi. Between filming for ‘Rescue Me’ and other acting projects, Lombardi has found time to form his own band. Apache Stone has been described as sounding like everything from Led Zeppelin to Alice in Chains and they are poised to make a big splash in the realm of rock music. The band, led by Lombardi and his amazing songwriting, have conquered the east coast and are now looking to take their music to their fans across the country. Although he has had ups and downs throughout his career, Lombardi has stayed focused and pursued his dreams with ferocity. Lombardi’s persistence and focus has paid off and his career in the entertainment industry will likely continue to flourish because of it. Steve Johnson of Icon vs. Icon recently caught up with the actor/musician to discuss Apache Stone’s self-titled album, the band’s upcoming tour, what he has learned from Denis Leary, and his experiences on the set of ‘Rescue Me’.
Where did you grow up?
I actually grew up in a small city called Waterbury in Connecticut. It’s about an hour and a half north of Manhattan, New York.
How did music first come into your life?
I was definitely influenced by music at a very, very young age. My parents are very musical people. They always had something on, ranging from Motown to rock. They were very much into Stevie Wonder and all of the sounds of Motown. Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson were always cranking when I was a kid. My parents used to have parties and as a kid, I would dance. I was just always really influenced. It was always in the air, that’s for sure. But like I said, everything from Motown and R&B stuff, to rock and jazz, just the whole array of music and sounds.
How did your band, Apache Stone, get its start?
Let’s see… I came to New York originally to study drums, to try to be a professional drummer. As to whether it was going to be in a band or be a studio drummer, I wasn’t sure. I was actually going to school at a place called The Drummers Collective to study drumming. I started drumming at an early age. I got my first drum set from my uncle when I was a kid. I played really hard throughout my teens. I really buckled down when I was seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. Then when I was twenty I came to New York and started playing. I started getting some work as an actor though. Then, through a few years of studying acting and doing small parts, I hit ‘Rescue Me’. That’s when I started Apache Stone, after that. To be honest with you, ‘Rescue Me’ was able to afford me the opportunity to have a band in Manhattan. It’s certainly not easy in that city to have a band, afford rehearsal space, put together the right group of guys, and find the time and all of that.
How did you come up with the name of the band?
A just picked Apache Stone because I feel it’s a very fierce name. I think it symbolizes things that represent the band, to me. I like the fierceness. Getting back to the Apaches, who were actually referred to by an old Custer-type solider back in the day as the tigers of the human species. That just struck something with me. I just felt like they were very passionate, fierce people.
Your self titled album was released on July 28, 2009. For those who might not have had the chance to check out the album, how would you best describe it?
It’s really interesting when I get asked this question because I’m so close to the album and all of the music. I probably have a different interpretation than what other people might have. I don’t like to talk in detail too much about what the lyrics mean to me and what the songs mean to me. I feel as though I’d like to have people have their own interpretation when they listen to it and let this music take them on their own ride and journey. What I can say is, I definitely feel as though the music and the album will take you on some sort of ride. It will take you somewhere. The lyrics have real meaning. I feel they are poetic and they have weight to them. I think the music really rocks. I think all of the guys in my band are awesome musicians. There’s some really hard stuff, but it rides the fine line between hard rock and stuff that’s melodic and easy-listening as well. I think it has a classical vibe. We have some cool classic rock vibe, like Led Zeppelinly stuff in there. There are songs like that, that are influenced by Zeppelin and The Doors. A lot of stuff of the nineties like Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Audioslave, Alice in Chains. I think we definitely have a lot of that influence in our music, but with a modern vibe.
Were there any challenges while making the album?
Challenges? Well you know what… It’s always tough trying to find the right group of guys that everyone shares the same influence and has the same vision. It took me a lot to put the band together. Basically how it works for us, I would bring in lyrics and stuff. With my lyrics, I sort of have a book of poetry and lyrics. We’d work together as a band. I’d say, “You know what? I feel this melody.” Then the guys would do something. At the end we had what we had for each song. There’s always going to be challenges and bumps in the road during that process, but I tell you, it went really smoothly. Songs came together really quickly. Then we went up to a studio called Sonalysts Studios in New London, Connecticut. It’s an exact replica of The Power Station, which is a pretty famous place in Manhattan. This place Sonalysts was owned by one of the Bon Jovi brothers. We went up there for like a week, stayed in a little hotel right next door, and we just did our thing. It was awesome. It was pretty smooth.
Has the digital revolution of music been a positive or negative impact for someone like yourself and your band?
I think it’s very positive. We have a little deal with myspace records. It’s strictly a digital distribution deal. It’s kind of cool. Rather than being signed on with myspace records and having them give us a bunch of money and all of this stuff and putting our stuff in stores and what not, they just take a little percentage and they put us all over the Internet. We’re on amazon.com. We’re on iTunes and stuff. So for us, at this point, it’s been positive, but I can’t say it’s been tremendous for us. It’s just been a good thing. It’s been cool. The music is out there. It’s up on iTunes and Amazon, so we can’t really ask for more than that right now.
What do you consider the defining moment of your musical career so far?
Wow! Good question! I feel like it’s hard to say if there has been one exact moment at this point. I was trying to think when you asked me that, has anyone really listened to my stuff? I don’t even know who’s listened to it or how many people have. I would like to be able to say Eddie Vedder was like, “Dude, this stuff rocks!” Or Chris Cornell. What it’s been for me is, the whole process of touring and being in these different situations where we are playing in front of a lot of people and they really seem to be enjoying our stuff. The past five months or so we did thirty or forty shows. We played all up and down the Northeast. We played in Baltimore, Philly, Boston. We play in Manhattan a lot. We’ve had some really nice responses. We’ve played some places where a lot of famous people have played in the past when they were on their way up. Bands that I really admire. So that’s been really cool for me.
When and where can people catch up with your band? Do you have any plans for a tour?
Yeah, we sure do. Right now you can hit us up on www.myspace.com/apachestonemusic. We have some tunes up there. There’s a lot about the band and tour dates. We’re doing a lot of one offers right now, here and there. We’re hitting different spots. We’ve got a couple of gigs coming up. We’re playing the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Connecticut, which is a very nice gig for us. It will be really good. We also have a website, which is www.apachestonemusic.com. Our stuff is available, like I said earlier, on iTunes and Amazon. We’re going to get some stuff up on our website too. Tee-shirts and that sort of thing. We’re putting something together now for a tour. We’re working with our booking agent and stuff. From now to the next three to five months, we’re going to be hitting shows. One offers here and there. We’re looking to put together a big tour for April and May. Get out on the road for an extended period of time and try to hit some of our fans and make some fans. Get out and see the people and play live, which is what we love to do most.
What’s next for the band?
Right now what we’ve got going on is we’re constantly writing. We’re deep into our rehearsal space in Manhattan and writing. We’ve got a bunch of new songs we’re working on. We’ve got some really cool uptempo stuff that I’m actually really proud of. We’re going in a really cool direction. It’s just coming together. We’re constantly playing and working on stuff. We’re playing it in our live shows too. So it’s been really cool.
Did any specific actors influence your acting career?
Yeah! The obvious answer would be Marlon Brando. Johnny Depp has been a big influence to me. I love everything he’s in. I think he’s an incredible, incredible actor. I love the parts he plays, the movies he is in, what he does, and the choices that he makes as an actor. He’s a huge influence. Some of my favorite movies are ‘The Godfather’, ‘Boogie Nights’. I love that film. I love off-beat, independent movies and stuff as well. There are a couple of mainstream films that I mentioned that I really like and admire, but I’m really big into indies and stuff as well.
‘Rescue Me’ just finished its 5th season. When the show first started did you expect it to have the longevity that it has had?
No. Absolutely not. Listen, all I hoped for was my first part, my first break. We shot the pilot. I was like, “What’s going to happen with this?” Before that, I had just done a bunch of off-broadway stuff and a couple of small TV parts. Pretty broke in New York as a musician/actor just trying to make my way. I was studying and doing everything I could to sort of improve myself as an artist and just evolve and learn. I got that pilot episode and I think it was anywhere between three and six months later we heard that we got picked up for a full season. I was like, “Oh my God! Is the show going to continue? Am going to die in a fire? Are they going to keep my character? What’s going to happen?” The next thing you know we’re filming our sixth season.
What has it been like working alongside Denis Leary and what have you learned from him?
Denis Leary is great. He wears so many hats on the show. He’s writer, producer, starring in the show. When he hangs out with us as an actor, he’s just one of the guys. He’s really cool. He’s a blue-collar, down to earth guy. What I’ve learned from him is his work ethic. He has a tremendous work ethic. He keeps it real. He keeps it grounded. It’s not easy to do in Hollywood, in that atmosphere. He’s a family man. He’s got a couple of great kids. A great family. He really stays grounded. One thing that really inspires me and I honestly keep in my day to day life is that it’s all about the work and the rest will come. I really truly believe that. With the music, sure I want great things happening with everything I am doing and we all want to succeed and be loved and be judged in a positive light, all that I feel happens after you be your number one, true self and really put your yourself out there and believe in what you do and be real and organic and work really hard.
What’s been the highlight of your ‘Rescue Me’ experience?
Let’s see… I’ve went to a couple of award things, but I can’t really remember what they were, so I guess they weren’t the highlight. Let’s see… I wanted to say working with Michael J. Fox, but I never even saw him on set, so that’s not one. I think all in all man, honestly, the highlight of it is is being able to play a fire fighter in New York City. It’s the coolest city to me. I have so much admiration and respect for what these guys do. Learning about what firemen do all over the country and the world. They’re just real true life heroes. To be able to play one of these guys, even a fake fire fighter, it’s amazing and it’s really tough too. It’s been incredible to be able to do that and try to portray these guys to the best of my ability as an actor. The show is incredible the way one minute you could be laughing and one you could be crying. It’s drama. It’s comedy. The training I had to do at Randall’s Island, which is probie school for firefighters. Going through that. Playing one of the guys and being able to wear the gear and carry the tools, all of that stuff has been awesome.
What’s next for you as far as acting is concerned?
Right now we’re filming our sixth season until March. After that, like I said, I plan to hit this tour for a while with my band. I’m getting myself out there. I want to say this. Hopefully my next choice as an actor, as all actors like to think, is something that I really believe in. I’ve learned so much along the way and I want the next project to be something that I believe in. A story that I really want to tell and a character that I really want to play. If I could do that and get a job doing that, what’s better than that? It’s really as simple as that. Whether it be a play, which would be incredible. Whether it be a little indie film. Whether it be a small part in a big film. Whether it be another television show. Something kind of cool, off beat, and edgy that tells a good story.
Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to get involved in the entertainment industry?
I would say you really have to love it. You really have to love it. You really have to know why you love it and you have to know who you are as well. It’s not about what a lot of people think it is. There is all of that there, but it’s all about the work. It’s all about self discipline. It’s all about taking it very seriously and working very hard. If you think you’re going to get by, or things are just going to happen, or you’re going to go out to Los Angeles and become a star, you’re dead wrong. You put in a lot of time. There are one in a million people who might just catch a lucky break, but how much longevity do they have in their career? You’ve got to be willing to put it out there. Believe in it and love it so much that you can go through ups and downs and hard times. If you don’t, then you really shouldn’t do it because it’s a tough life. I’m grounded as an artist. I’ve learned so much. I’ve accomplished some amazing things, as far as goals that I have set for myself, but there are so many more. There are a lot of ups and downs, like I said. I don’t know where my next job is coming from. As I said, I do it because I love it and I’m going to do what I love to do and do it my best. Hopefully people like it. It’s not easy. You’re never really set. You have to be really grounded, as I said. Number one, love it and be in it for the right reasons.
Is there anything else you want to add or say to your fans?
I really just have to say that I am so honored, and humbled, and privileged to be making a living as an actor. I truly mean that. Anyone who takes the time to either come to a live performance that I am doing with my band or turn on the television and watch something that I am in or whatever else, I really can’t thank the people enough for doing that. It’s incredible that people would even take the time to do that. I love it and I appreciate it so much.
Thanks for your time and best of luck!