METAL CHURCH INTERVIEW
Born out of the West Coast Metal scene of the 80's, Metal Church quickly became one of the standout talents of the genre. After signing a deal with Elektra records, they released two critically acclaimed albums. Their self-titled release "Metal Church" postured the band as one of the pioneers of the thrash/metal scene. The All Music Guide had this to say about the debut: "The band's incredibly tight musicianship is a highlight all on it's own. This album remains an overlooked classic of straight-ahead American-bred heavy metal." With the heavy metal scene starting to rise in the U.S., Metal Church set out on a very successful tour with Metallica.
Next came "The Dark," the fury of its opening track, "Ton of Bricks" was championed as one of the premier metal releases of the 80's. The Dark also led to one of a few lineup changes with the departure of vocalist David Wayne. However, more success was yet to come. With the addition of former Heretic vocalist Mike Howe, and Metallica guitar tech extraordinaire John Marshall, the riffing became heavier and the subject matter deeper. They tackled political and social issues of the day with the releases of "Blessing In Disguise" and "The Human Factor." At a time when heavy metal bands moved from the underground and became part of the hair band/pop fad, Metal Church stayed true to their roots.
During the mid 90's, the members of Metal Church headed in their own directions. Kurdt Vanderhoof worked on his namesake project, Vanderhoof, while Kirk Arrington was playing on various sessions including a recording with Sir Mix-A-Lot. 1999 led to a well-received reunion of the original Metal Church lineup with the release of "Masterpeace". The band went back to their classic sound and played several festivals overseas.
2004 saw them back with a new vocalist, whose style has been described as "Rob Halford meets Dio", as well as Jay Reynolds (Malice) on guitar and Steve Unger on bass. With a new record.
In 2006, twenty years after their cult album "The Dark", Metal Church presented their brand new release, "A Light In The Dark", forging a creative arch that skillfully links the band's past with the present.
In 2008, guitarist Jay Reynolds was replaced by Rottweiler guitar player Rick Van Zandt. This Present Wasteland, Metal Church's ninth release, is a return to their roots and contains some of their strongest material to date.
In 2013 the band released the highly successful "Generation Nothing”. In 2014 founding guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof convinced Mike to rejoin Metal Church.
The coinciding “XI” tour took them to audiences around the world, where they performed at several European festivals
In March of 2016 Metal Church released their eleventh studio album “XI” that featured the return of legendary front-man Mike Howe. “XI” reached #57 on the Billboard top 200 and also landed on several other charts around the globe.
Twinmusix got to talk to Mike Howe From Metal Church about their new album and more.
TM - What can fans expect from your new Album Damned if you do?
MH - I think it is a normal metal Church album with a variety of fast to medium to heavy metal a classics. Metal Church albums are written by us, so there are more metal to songs your teeth into.
TM - You released your new album Damned if you do and living by the numbers how have fans responded?
MH - Very positively on the Facebook page and YouTube page, all our fans seem to love it.
TM - How did you come up with your video clips for them?
MH - I Worked with Jamie Brown we talked on the phone and discussed what we wanted to do. Then we meet one weekend and did two videos on two different days.
TM -A video per day, that's impressive. You must of been tired by the end of the weekend.
MH - Yeah, it was good fun though, we enjoyed ourselves.
TM - What was your writing and recording process for your new album?
MH - It is the same process we always do, Kurt has a studio in his house and he goes into his studio and gets inspire to write songs and when he gets a handful of songs he sends them to me via Dropbox. Then we say I do like this one I don't like that one and then he keeps writing. We get about 18 to 20 songs together then I go up to his house he gets a microphone and froze that in front of the console and says what do you want to work on then I say this song then. I start singing and screaming it out and get Melodies and lyrics going we try and be as natural as we can without overdoing it after the rest of the band lays their touchdown and then we can record the whole album.
TM - Who Designed your Album cover for Damned if you do?
MH - Kurdt designed it with the record company then we had a artist draw it up.
TM - You left Metal church and then came back what made you want to return?
MH - Kurdt Vanderhoof, its his fault blame him (laughs). Ronny Munroe quit the band and Kurdt was going to hang it up because he didn't have the energy to find a new singer, so he rang me and asked me to rejoin. We had two conversations, he said I'm file sharing over the internet so I said let's write it step by step and try and make a great record. We did that and accomplished that so we decided we were happy with the songs rewrote and decided to take the show's on the road and that's what we did now we approach the new record with the same attitude.
TM - Stet Howland is drumming on your new record how does that effect your sound?
MH - Each person who plays in our band has their own unique playing sound, feel and personality, so it changed our feel by having his personality but the outline has always been there because Kurdt always writes the riffs and writes the powerful rythms and puts his metal church stamp on there.
TM - You chose different themes for your new song what made you want to go different directions for each song?
MH - We always like to have an album that has a mixture of feel of songs, so it's just not one Thrash album from beginning to the end we like to have a variety of metal on our album to make it more interesting to us and the fans.
TM - If you could have any band play one of your songs which band would it be which song and in your style or theirs?
MH - Judas Priest singing one of our songs in their style because Rob Halford is my idol.
TM - If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be and why?
MH - Rob Halford because hes my hero from the very beginning and that would be a dream come true.
TM - what's your favourite to a memory?
MH - In 1991 one I opened up for Judas Priest on the operation rock and roll tour in the United States, my mother came to the show with my family and she knew Rob Halford was my hero. I was playing as his opening act and she wanted to meet him. I said I will make that happen but it will have to be after our show, I took a shower after the show and left my mum sitting at the table and Rob Halford was talking to someone across the tent. I said to Rob "Hey, can you do me a favour my mum would like a photo taken with you because she knows how important you were to me" and he says to me in his English Accent "we'll let me tell you something made your mum is just like me Mum your mum has already been over here and got in her picture with me" and she sitting over there looking at me like a little girl like, she got her hand caught in a cookie jar". It was a very sweet moment one I will never forget, I still have that photo of my mum and Rob backstage it is very special to me.
TM - That is so sweet, I love that story!
MH - I still have the photo.
TM - That is so Awesome and special!
TM - What is your favourite band you have seen perform live?
MH - Metallica is always a very powerful what the hell is going on live they are mind blowing and blew me away.
The first band I saw was Judas Priest I mean my buddies went to see them it was like a religious experience it was a epic night.
TM - I haven't seen Metallica live yet, it is on my bucket list, also Judas Priest are one of my favorite bands and they put on an Amazing live show.
TM - If you could make the big 4 the big 5 what band would you add
MH - Metal Church can you make that happen.
TM - I wish!
TM - Will you come to Australia anytime soon?
MH - We need prometers who would to come to Australia.
TM - Is there anything else you'd like to announce to your fans?
MH - I would like to say thank you for to our fans and I am honoured to be a 53 year old that can still play metaland being supported by all these beautiful fans.
TM - Thank you for this Interview, we hope to see you in Australia soon.