Q&A w/ Michael J. Iafrate

Band/Artist Name

Michael Iafrate / M Iafrate & The Priesthood

Hometown and current homebase

Parkersburg, WV. Currently in Wheeling, WV.

Either make up a new word for your genre, or give us 5 words to describe your sound



Often, just myself. But just as often supported by kindred musician spirits. On an upcoming recording I'm backed by a group we call "The Priesthood," and it includes David Klug, Clint Sutton, Dallas Campbell, and Sean Decker. Another recording features more of a rotating cast of musicians and vocalists.

What are you listening to now? What would you have been listening to when you were 15?

The music I typically have on my phone would include things like Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, Will Oldham, Doug Paisley, Elephant Micah, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Dallas Campbell, The Jayhawks, The Innocence Mission, Jason Molina, George Harrison, Lungfish, and lots of old time music whether old recordings or newer versions of it.
At age 15 I was listening to a lot of R.E.M., The Cure, Billy Bragg, The Smiths, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Robyn Hitchcock, 10,000 Maniacs, "Weird Al" Yankovic. I was also getting into punk and hardcore, so stuff like Fugazi, Minor Threat, Shelter, Endpoint, etc.

What are you promoting/what are you working on now?

Right now I'm trying to wrap up the tracking of two new full length records, both of which I have been working on for some years now. The first is under the name M Iafrate & The Priesthood and it will be called Christian Burial. Should have that out by the end of 2016. After that will be a record under my own name called Nonsubstantiation. It's my latest batch of songs, and I started recording them as a distinct record while I was tracking Christian Burial. Both records feature a lot of really talented friends who helped bring the songs to life how I imagined them in my head. I'm also playing old time music in a three-piece called The Elk River Rounders.

How do you write a song?

These days I write in a pretty solitary way, so the main thing is that I just stop and pay attention. Pay attention to a tune moving through me, or some words that want to come out. And then stay with those things long enough to organize it and make it interesting. Those are the basic things, but beyond that it can happen in different ways, and it can take quite different amounts of time depending on what is going on in my life.

What song do you wish you wrote? (Assuming money and credit would NOT be factors. i.e. Only you would ever know that you wrote it and would only be rewarded with the private satisfaction of that knowledge)

"Tell Me Why" by Neil Young. "Wild Goose Chase" by Elephant Micah. "I See a Darkness" by Bonnie "Prince" Billy. "All Things Must Pass" by George Harrison. 

If there was one place in the area you could play a show, where would it be?

I got to play on stage at the Capitol Music Hall once, but not for a typical performance. Maybe at one of the great old theaters in the area. There are great churches too. I bet St. Joseph's Cathedral would be fun to play in.

Are you "there" yet? (Interpret this in any way you see fit, but I really refers to your own assessment of your progress as a musician, songwriter, or band)

I'll let you know once these records are finished. But really, like most people who do this, I'm working to figure out what place music has within my larger life and how to make art that is fulfilling and connects with people in a way that makes sense for me. If my songs are received by and are meaningful to some people, then I am "there," and I am doing what this is all about.