When Jimi Hendrix was 15 years old, he received his first acoustic guitar, developing a love of music that would last the rest of his life.
Hendrix is one of Mike McDonnell’s musical influences, along with the Beatles.
McDonnell, a sophomore psychology major at Oakland University, has something else in common with Hendrix besides his love for music.
Like Hendrix, McDonnell also started playing the guitar at age 15.
“I had just moved to a new neighborhood,” he said. ” I didn’t have any friends, so I rented a guitar and the rest is history.”
McDonnell is the guitarist in the band Breach. Breach’s other members are Mike Parit and Dominic Tironi. The band formed in 2007.
McDonnell met Tironi in middle school but the pair didn’t develop a friendship until high school.
“I haven’t played with a better drummer since,” McDonnell said.
At the time, Parit was in a band with Tironi, which was in the midst of breaking up. Parit and Tironi weren’t ready to give up music, though, so they joined with McDonnell to create Breach.
“We were all just in the right place at the right time I guess,” McDonnell said. “I had a lot of people telling me what a great singer and bass player Mike (Parit) was. Once I heard it for myself, I knew it would be perfect if he joined the band too.”
McDonnell said that Parit came up with the name Breach. When they were trying to come up with names, Parit mentioned he was born breech — with his bottom out first.
“I thought that it would be funny if we named the band after doing things ‘ass first,'” McDonnell said. “But, I wanted to spell it with an ‘ea’ like the Beatles.”
Breach plays original songs as well as cover songs by bands and singers such as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, CCR, Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, Sublime and, of course, Jimi Hendrix.
Even though McDonnell plays in a band, he said he doesn’t consider himself a musician.
“It’s just something I do because I love doing it,” McDonnell said.
In late November, Breach played at the Presents for Pints event at Sherwood Brewery in Shelby Township. The event was sponsored by Detroit’s Classic Rock Station, WCSX 94.7 and hosted by personality Dave Doran.
Breach’s first performance was in November 2007 at the Sherwood Brewery, which has been named best brewery in Detroit for the last three years by the Detroit Free Press. Breach performs at the Sherwood about once every other month.
Owners Ray and Lisa Sherwood discovered Breach by searching for Michigan bands on MySpace. They sent the band a message asking them to perform.
“I don’t think we ever heard about each other,” McDonnell said. “But they were very friendly, and we needed a place to play.”
When Ray and Lisa were notified that WCSX wanted to host a radio show from the brewery, Breach was the only band they considered to play at the event.
“(Radio personality) Doug Podell had been scouting out local places that keep good music and traditions alive, and he found Sherwood,” McDonnell said. “WCSX originally insisted another band play for the event, but I was very flattered when Ray and Lisa Sherwood said they wouldn’t do it unless Breach played.”
The Presents for Pints event raised money for underprivileged children. Anyone who brought a bus pass, duffel bag, gift card, new clothes, paper towels, toilet paper or bottled water received a free pint of beer.
McDonnell said his favorite part about playing for the event was seeing all of the people who came out to support charity and their band.
“If the crowd is having a great time, I’m having an even better time,” he said. “Music is a strong form of communication, and it’s surprising how much you can relate and interact with somebody when you’re on the same musical wavelength.”
McDonnell’s goals for Breach are to finish a full album and to go on tour.
In addition to Breach, McDonnell also plays with the band Asphalt Barnyard, a Lake Orion based band. He was invited to play with this band by his uncle, Gregory Poche, who works at OU.
McDonnell said the biggest difference between his two bands is the age difference.
“The Asphalt guys are bit older, so it’s kind of an older crowd,” McDonnell said. “But they are both great bands. We help each other a lot.”
Breach will perform at the Sherwood Brewery on Jan. 9. McDonnell also hosts open mic night at the Sherwood every Thursday at 8 p.m. .
To get information about Breach’s upcoming performances and listen to their music, visit the band’s page at facebook.com/breachrock or myspace.com/breachtunes.