If you haven’t seen a STOMP show live, it’s likely you know someone who has, and even if it happened just once—that performance surely left an incredibly positive impact on your creative spirit. Much more than a display of percussion-based talents, the cast of STOMP rhythmically engages with everyday objects within their staged environment such as brooms and trash cans. Every show has structure paired with natural flow. The same numbers are repeated, but equally so, the cast has freedom, following directional queues from their leader “Sarge,”—no two shows are ever the same.
“Your body just never really gets on a set schedule of: This is when I’m supposed to be asleep.”
Mike Hall is a traditionally trained percussionist who moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2015 to pursue a career in the cannabis industry, after a four year international tour with STOMP (August 2011 – July 2015). CULTURE caught up with Hall to learn about his experience stomping and how he’s become professionally integrated into canna-culture working for the L.A. delivery service and dispensary, The Herb Connection, powered by a team of growers called the Hydronauts.
When he was 11 years old, Hall officially began to play percussion in school and was exposed to STOMP by his brother on a band-class field-trip. “I remember sitting in audience watching the show thinking, “Hey, I could do that,” but never in my life did I think I would actually end up doing that.” At 14, Hall began playing marching snare and continued on throughout high school. He enjoyed competing with his high school’s winter percussion indoor group and was rightfully proud to note they were one of the best in the state, having won state finals several times. After high school, Hall continued on to march indoor drumline competitively with different (non-school associated) groups, such as “North Coast Academy” based out of Saginaw, Michigan.
A week after world finals, Hall’s older brother encouraged him to travel to New York City for STOMP auditions, with a convincing deal that took little consideration. Hall arrived an hour early for sign-ups and saw a line of people wrapped around a New York City block. Little did he know, he would make it through the emotionally grueling week of auditions and call back, to be one of the few people who were selected.
Going into this STOMP experience, Hall said he was the only person who didn’t know how to dance. “It was all really just like monkey see, monkey do kind of stuff. They would show us what to do with our feet, they would show us when to clap our hands. Thankfully being rhythmically inclined from marching and drumming for so many years, it kind of came second nature to me.”
Beyond the physically demanding nature of performing musical acts with your whole body on a regular basis, Hall recalls the hardest part about traveling and performing with STOMP while on the road, being the constantly changing time zones. “Your body just never really gets on a set schedule of: This is when I’m supposed to be asleep.” Hall began using cannabis medicinally when he was 21 years old to aid in anxiety, depression and a severe lack of appetite. While touring with STOMP, he began medicating with heavy indicas to aid in sleep.
Pre-dreadlocks, Hall was 50 pounds heavier with a “huge beard.” Lacking the locked element of his current reflection, Hall was grateful he was still able to find accessible medicine while traveling. He regularly found kind gestures within the medicine trade from people who had watched his performances and later run into him at a pub. Tinctures, edibles and “one hitters” were the most convenient, go-to consumption methods.
After leaving STOMP, Hall began as a patient/consumer who placed an order through The Herb Connection. Owner, Ryan Walker, happened to deliver Hall’s order. As they were finalizing their transaction, Hall asked to purchase an extra edible and as Walker was digging around through his backpack, Hall asked Walker about a job. Walker slyly said, “Yeah, I know the boss. I’m pretty sure we can get you a job.” Ecstatic, Hall came back from a fishing trip two weeks later to a job working for Walker via The Herb Connection, which is powered by Hydronauts.
Even though Hall no longer performs in the athletically demanding STOMP shows, he’s still able to embrace the herb that helped him live through it. Now he assists other cannabis patients by directing The Herb Connection’s drivers to the correct addresses, and he communicates directly with patients.