Michael Lubbert — he's been known as "Sneaky Mike" since he was a teenager — is in the midst of explaining his recent turn toward the spiritual, and how he balances his life as a yoga instructor with his longtime presence as a party rocker.
"Without sounding too head-up-in-the-clouds," he says, "I've been experiencing so much synchronicity recently, so many serendipitous events —"
He pauses abruptly.
"Sorry, some water just dripped on me from the ceiling."
A surprise baptism for a guy whose new album is called The Last Temptation of Sneaky Mike.
"I decided to go with the Scorsese reference," the onetime Hood Gang leader explains. "I'm really interested in Jesus — I mean, I'm not sure if there ever really was a real person who did all that. But I'm interested in it, and a lot of the ideas associated with him.
"Plus, a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘You look like Jesus!'"
Which is one more reason why the Catholic League might not be that keen on his crown-of-thorns-wearing visage on the cover of the new album. But it's all part of the line Sneaky Mike walks: somewhere right where spirituality meets the party.
"Before I found yoga, [music] was my connection to higher realms," Lubbert explains. "I would perform and there would be these moments where I would feel a real connection to something that I didn't understand."
After years of hosting famous and at times infamous parties at his Garfield home and performing with the Hood Gang, in 2010, Lubbert moved briefly to New York, where he became a yoga instructor. (He had begun yoga after a cross-country trip with a girlfriend that ended in a break-up, leaving him struggling to find meaning.) After returning, he put out an EP, I Look Like Sneaky, early last year. Last Temptation is the follow-up, maintaining the silly party vibe, with Sneaky rapping over beats from local electronic producers.
But that doesn't mean there's no change going on here. Lubbert admits that he's still not sure whether he plans to completely give up the "hedonistic" aspects of his lifestyle; he does, he says, plan to kill off the Sneaky Mike character ritually in the future after he starts a new band. ("People will still probably call me Sneaky Mike for a long time, though," he admits.)
This Friday night, Lubbert celebrates the release of The Last Temptation of Sneaky Mike with a performance as part of the Get Weird dance party at Belvedere's; he even has a track on the album named after the monthly event, hosted by DJs Cucitroa and Dizcrepnnc. And while it might feel like just a party, keep in mind that it's also part of Sneaky Mike's philosophy.
"The music thing is a way to get people more interested in the rest of it," Lubbert says. "It's like one prong of an eight-pronged attack."