If you have ever been to a live MMA event, especially a big event like the UFC or Strikeforce, you know how much effect music has on the atmosphere when a fighter makes their entrance. There are certain songs, when as soon as you hear them, you know what fighter is about to walk out and make their way to the cage.
Mikey Rukus has combined his love of MMA and music and is providing a very unique service for fighters. His passion and energy is intense and can be felt and heard in everything he produces.
If you are a fighter looking for that perfect theme song, or maybe you have a radio show or an MMA clothing brand, or even something outside the MMA world that needs a kick ass balls to the wall soundtrack, check out Mikey Rukus, he might just be what you are looking for.
PRO MMA NOW: How long have you been into music Mikey and how did you get involved with doing the MMA stuff?
MIKEY RUKUS: As a kid I was a straight up hip hop head, all through elementary school, I was into the break dancing and everything, used to have little contests outside my house on cardboard, the winners of the contest got to come in the house for the REAL break dance battles. Of course all of this went down when my parents were at work. I started getting into rock music when I heard Run DMC and Aerosmith perform Walk this Way. When I was 13 my big sister took me to my first concert, Metallica during their “And Justice For All” tour with The Cult. That did it for me. I have been playing music ever since then. I started out playing guitar, learned to play from listening to Metallica, then began studying other groups like Megadeth, and Dream Theater to learn a more technical style. My high school years I would teach myself to play drums, bass and other percussion. My synthesizers came later on in my early 20’s when I realized I couldn’t find anyone serious enough to play with, so I began doing my own thing. To this day I cannot read a spec of music. Having hip hop roots was something I would come back to later down the line, just because I realized that I would have too much to write about in one song, and singing a few words for each verse was not enough. I have followed MMA since the mid 90’s, and it was always something I loved. I love the strategy, the unpredictability, the energy. A lot of the music I write is in that vein. My shows are adrenaline charged, I leave it all each time I perform. they just seemed to go hand and hand. Honestly I don’t know how I didn’t think of it sooner. I decided I was going to do it and I was very surprised at the overwhelming response that I was receiving right out of the gate.
PRO MMA NOW: I have checked out a lot of your work and you are definitely passionate about what you are doing. What inspired you to want to do this?
MIKEY RUKUS: I was always a fan of the WWE, and their music producer has a knack for capturing not only the identity of a superstar, but the spirit, the essence of that character. As I moved into composing feature film and scoring video game/movie trailers I realized that telling the story was the most important thing. But the way it was done in WWE, in a live setting, you summon the emotions of a fan in an instant. That’s what makes the build up, the entrances so magical. In MMA, the build up is always there to a fight, and some fighters and promoters use so many different ways to build, promote or create a drama, the music will always play a part, and I want to be the guy that does that for MMA.
PRO MMA NOW: Why do you feel it’s important for fighters to have good walkout music?
MIKEY RUKUS: Having a walkout theme that identifies a fighter is an amazing way to connect with a fan base. Even when that fighter is not in the public eye, if the fan base knows their music, they see that person in their mind instantly. How often, and this may seem off track, do you hear a song on a radio that makes you recall an old girlfriend or a situation and you’re caught up even for a few seconds? And in the same sense, look at how a pro wrestler, such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, has an arena of 15,000 people rise to their feet when they would hear the glass break, or the Undertaker’s bell toll at the beginning of his theme. This is what will connect fighters and fans. And if the fans recognize you, love you, and that fighter puts on a great show every time, that sticks in the fans’ minds, it’s part of the entire package. And the more fans want you, the more fights you will get.
PRO MMA NOW: Who are some of the fighters out there that have the best entrances and walk out music right now?
MIKEY RUKUS: As of right now, there are a lot of fighters that change it up every time, something like this is still relatively new to the MMA scene, even though some may have been doing this kind of thing for years, it hasn’t hit a national scale and the importance of having it has not quite been fully established within the community, but brand identity is essential and is trending now, not just with merch groups, but fighters, and all MMA affiliates alike.
PRO MMA NOW: Who are some of the fighters currently using Mikey Rukus produced music? I liked that Robbie Lawler song, are you a big fan of Robbie’s and how was it working with him?
MIKEY RUKUS:I am a huge fan of Robbie Lawler, I have followed his work along with the rest of the HIT Squad for several years. While I did not work with Robbie directly on it, I worked with one of his sponsorship managers who communicated with him regarding it. I’m hoping he gets to use his theme for his fight on Jan. 29. As for others, I have teetered between pro fighters just starting out. One interesting thing I should mention is that I have several fighters that I communicate with in the UFC who want their own Custom Entrance Themes but as a policy UFC only allows popular music. Those fighters will remain nameless but there are several that aren’t particularly happy about it. I have others in Strikeforce that will have theme music coming down the pike, one of which made his Strikeforce debut on Dec 4, Coltin “The Truth” Cole. Several other fighters will be getting theme music from me within the next couple of months for several promotions to include Strikeforce.
PRO MMA NOW: Talk about some of the other services you offer other than just the walk out music.
MIKEY RUKUS: Aside from just Custom Entrance Themes for fighters, I create theme music for MMA websites, TV/radio shows, fight gear lines, and organizations looking for stock music at events, whether it be stock walkout music, or music to play in between fights. The key to all of this is any music done by me for a purchaser is a flat fee work for hire, meaning THE PURCHASER RETAINS 100% OF ALL COPYRIGHTS. That way there are no licensing fees, no royalties that need to be paid. These fighters, companies, etc. can actually build their brand through music, and can even set their music up for download on Itunes and Napster, or sell on Cd’s at their merchandise tables during their events. So the acquisition of the music is a two-fold investment, to create a brand identity and to create an additional flow of revenue, for fighters it could be extra gas money for an event, for an organization if could mean extra revenue to reinvest in the promotion for better production. I also perform live, MikeyRukus the band, where I am a solo artist with my own back up band, kinda like Kid Rock. We are a cover band in our local music scene, but look to perform at several MMA events in 2011 where I have provided music, not only for pre-fight festivities, but as live walk out music and even after parties!
PRO MMA NOW: When you are putting a walk out song together or making the music and producing some other product for a client, how much can they be involved in the creation process? What I mean is, say you put some lyrics down… and they hear it and maybe want you to put in a girl’s voice instead of your own, or maybe they want a certain type of sound or a different instrument playing, how does that work and how involved can they get on the project?
MIKEY RUKUS: It’s very simple, first is the agreement that the party must sign which basically states that any music I do for them is work for hire, and when the process is completed I relinquish all copyrights over to the client. In the music world, this is unheard of, but more on that later. A Paypal notification will follow. once the flat fee is paid the client and I either exchange emails or have a series of phone calls. They list every single thing they want said about their brand. For a fighter, it would basically chronicle their story, examples would be for “The Outlaw” Aaron Cobb, his story was how he served in the military and nearly died twice in Iraq, and him gaining the courage from that and used that as fuel to step in the cage. Or Coltin Cole, who actually died on a hospital operating table and was revived. I tell their hardships and their battles that they have conquered to get to where they are today. For brands or companies it could be catch-phrases that they want to be known for, or maybe they want their story told as well. I have them write all of that down, they let me know what style they are looking for, whether it be rock, hip hop, heavy metal, orchestral, whatever. My specialty is in the dramatics and high energy, I then create three small samples, completely original and all completely separate from each other. The client then chooses what they like the best and I complete it. The primary focus is on the music first, and the vocals usually come in later. They tell me if they want rapping or singing and I go with it. This is the client’s song, and I give them what they are asking for all the way up until completion.
PRO MMA NOW: I’m sure you are aware a lot of up-and-coming fighters don’t make a lot of money. What about people who like what you do and would be interested but think something like this might be out of their budget, what would you say to them and what kind of cost are people looking at for this type of service?
MIKEY RUKUS: Many times in the case of a fighter on a smaller circuit looking for music, either myself or the fighter gets into contact with their fight manager and has them reinvest some of their sponsorship money to pay for the cost of the music. Some do typically pay out of their own pocket. As a policy I normally require full payment up front before work can begin, and I try to do everything through Paypal just because I have had issues with clients attempting to pay through money order and having it sent to the wrong address, etc. and it becomes a huge hassle. But again every client is a case by case basis. In some cases fighters can borrow the money from family members and when they receive their music they set it up on Itunes/Napster, and urge all of their friends and fans to download it. If an ammy fighter has 2,500 Facebook friends and 300 of them download the song at $1 then he has already made his investment back. There a ton of potential to not only make a return on the investment, but it connects with the fans, so when the build up in a fight takes place, it will be peaked when that fighter moves through the curtain, and there are hundreds, maybe thousands of fans singing back that song to a fighter, in essence, ushering him/her into battle.
PRO MMA NOW: What else would you like people know about Mikey Rukus?
MIKEY RUKUS: I am a happily re-married man with eight children, six of my own and my loving wife has two of her own. All range in age from 15-8. Also I have a great passion for the sport of MMA, and know without a doubt that what I am doing will help grow this sport. my goal is to become the “go-to guy” in the industry for any music needed! Also get ready to catch Mikey Rukus live in 2011, dates TBA!
PRO MMA NOW: Thanks for talking to us Mikey. I think you are providing a solid service. The production and quality sounds very professional and I wish you the best of luck. Tell people where they can learn more about you, check out some of your work and contact you if they want to get in touch.
MIKEY RUKUS: All of my work can be seen here: www.soundclick.com/mikerivera and I can be reached on Facebook: Mikey Rukus. All of the clients that I have done work for previously and all that will be releasing soon are on my Facebook page and I encourage others to contact them for references on my work.