A native of a small upstate New York town called Endwell, Mike Rizzi was practically born with drumsticks in his hands. At age 3, he began drum lessons and was reading music before fully knowing the alphabet. During this time, he developed an affinity towards singing and creating songs while drumming, accelerated by his discovery of The Beatles. Embracing Ringo’s approach to drumming, he was drawn to their strong melodic songwriting. By ninth grade, Rizzi began singing lead from behind the drum kit with his band, Uncle Jam. Throughout high school, he was writing and recording albums while selling cassettes out of his locker daily. After experiencing the power of performing original music and seeing the affect it had on others, he was determined to make this his life’s work.
Mike Rizzi has spent 30 years touring drumming/singing with numerous artists/groups including: The Sweet Tea Project (featuring singer/songwriter Ed Roland of Collective Soul), John Driskell Hopkins Band (of the Zac Brown Band), Five Eight, Sonia Leigh to name just a few. Sharing stages with groups including REM, Zac Brown Band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Styx, Foreigner, The Jayhawks, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Chicago, Blackberry Smoke, Need to Breathe, Lynyrd Skynrd, Drivin-N-Cryin, Starship, Cheap Trick, The Killers, Collective Soul, Seven Mary Three and many more.
In 2003, Five Eight was featured on Atlanta’s legendary 99x radio station with two singles in heavy rotation: “Square Peg” and “I’m Still Around.” and hand-picked by REM to open their Around The Sun world-tour (2004).
In 2007 he relocated to Los Angeles, developing music for video games (with the band Ghost Hounds) They recorded a full-length record produced by Nile Rodgers (Chic) and engineered by Bob Clearmountain. Two of these tracks, “Ashes to Fire” and “Wind Me Up,” were featured on the Rock Band II video game.
Rizzi has a featured song, entitled “Nothing Fades,” on The Sweet Tea Project’s new album, Alder Lane Farm released in 2017. Rizzi/Hopkins recorded music for a soon-to-be-released movie, Adolescence. Hopkins plays a biker (Spider) who sings in a band dubbed The Bloody Wolves Of Venice and Rizzi plays the drummer. Rizzi also serves as the drummer in the John Driskell Hopkins Band and already started recording Hop’s new album called “Lonesome High” due out in the fall.
Today, Rizzi readies his debut solo record “Appreciate What Remains”. It serves as a tribute to his son who lives in Holland. His first single/video “Great Divide,” debuted on CMT, staying in the top 10 for the 9 weeks allowed. The album is produced by Hopkins and Rizzi. The music represents his favorite and diverse genres, ranging from Rock to Americana, and Folk to Country. AWR is a melodic record, full of personal lyrics coming directly from the heart.
Rizzi shares, “It’s cathartic to revisit my feelings of the past and present — from the darkest struggles to the most euphoric moments; embracing them equally and finding motivation to move forward in a positive direction while honoring the experiences. The songs on Appreciate What Remains explores the challenges of remaining positive while experiencing life’s intense highs and lows. In the end, I hope the lesson everyone experiences is getting to a place of gratitude.”