When Mike Boyne stretched the truth a little bit at the age of 12 and told friends he could play bass guitar, although he had not played bass before, he had no idea that story would put him on a path to touring the United States and Europe as a musician before thousands of fans.
Boyne, 26, returned home last week after a two-week performance tour of Europe with The Midnight Ghost Train, a three-man band performing a mix of hard rock, heavy metal and blues. The band traveled to eight countries, performing in 18 cities for an estimated 60,000 fans.
Boyne attended Bayou Vista Elementary and graduated from Patterson High School. Although he moved from Patterson a few years ago and lives in Lafayette, Boyne frequently returns here to visit his family. Wearing a hat emblazoned with a KISS logo, he spent an hour in an interview Friday afternoon during a homecoming. He and his mother, Julie Boyne, talked about his tour and what got him to this point in his life.
Mike Boyne was bitten by the performance bug as a preschooler while living in Alexandria, before the family moved to Bayou Vista. Hal Bruni, a Morgan City country music artist, was on tour and overnighted at the Boyne’s home when he performed in Alexandria. Boyne said Bruni gave an impromptu show in their living room, which he still remembers.
As Boyne got older his love for music grew. His mother bought him a guitar and he taught himself how to play.
“I hired someone to give him music lessons when he was young,” Julie Boyne said. “The lady told me that she could not teach him anything he didn’t know how to do on his own.” The rocker said he plays music by sound, not by reading it.
“My friends got together and wanted to put together a band, but no one played bass,” Mike Boyne said. “I told them I could play bass although I had not played bass before.”
Boyne’s mother credits much of her son’s success to his musical surroundings and a little bit to his genes.
He was exposed to music from a young age since his mother has been involved in radio all of his life. She is currently the general manager of local radio station KQKI.
“At KRRV in Alexandria, we were always doing concerts and Mike was always around that atmosphere since he was a baby,” Julie Boyne said. “I always exposed my children to music from the 60s and 70s; rock and country and every kind of music.”
His mother said there was another item that may have sealed Boyne’s destiny as a musician and performer.
“My mom sang with her sisters as part of the Theodore Sisters in the 40s,” Julie Boyne said. “They performed several times on the Bob Hope radio show.”
Mike Boyne remembers going to his grandmother’s house and she would play piano for the group and sing and entertain him and his friends.
Boyne said he likes to pattern himself after the band KISS, which may date back to a concert he attended as a little boy with his father.
Ed “Doody” Boyne II took his then 11-year-old son to see KISS perform at the Cajundome in Lafayette. That performance made a lasting impact on the youngster as reflected in the music he enjoys as well as the music he writes and how he performs on stage.
Fifteen years later, Boyne remains a KISS fan but more to the point he is a Gene Simmons fan. The heavy metal band’s loud, head-banging live performance once had Simmons’ blood-spitting rendition of “God of Thunder,” as its signature event. God of Thunder remains Boyne’s favorite song.
Boyne said his view of concert performances is shaped by KISS and Simmons.
“I try to perform the way KISS said it should be; ‘Be the band you would want to see,’” Boyne said. “Our performances have a lot of crowd interaction and head banging. You should play every show as if it is the one show you want to be remembered for.”
The Midnight Ghost Train completed its fifth European tour on Oct. 20, but this was the first one it made with Boyne on bass. Boyne said he joined the group, based in Kansas, in April on a temporary trial basis.
The group embarked on a 12-city, 14-day tour of the Midwest. Boyne said early in the tour, the band asked him to become a permanent member. Since then he has written the music to three of the band’s songs, he said.
The next major tour for Boyne, as the new bass player for The Midnight Ghost Train, was the summer tour which opened in Topeka, Kan., on July 17 and concluded in Warrensburg, Mo., on Sept. 7. By the time it concluded the group had been in 45 cities across the South, Midwest and West Coast.
Boyne said performing is demanding. The group is already planning an East Coast tour of 24 cities next month. That kind of schedule requires commitment from band members and the support of their families, he said.
He said his wife of four years, Stephanie, who is from Morgan City, is happy for him and supports him even though he said it is not easy on her.
“It is a great life,” Boyne said of this new chapter in his life and career. “You see a lot of new people and places. But it is a job. ... People pay money to come to see us. I want to be in the best position I can be to give them a great performance.”