One of the most significant news items from the metal music world has been Mike Howe’s return to the ranks of Metal Church. Howe originally joined the band in 1989, replacing the original vocalist David Wayne. The revised lineup released albums BLESSING THE DISGUISE (1989) and THE HUMAN FACTOR (1991) which are still the band’s most successful albums to date. HANGING IN THE BALANCE followed in 1993, but it was less successful than its predecessors. New music trends, politics, and wrong decisions led to internal conflicts and as a result, the band broke up in 1995. Metal Church was re-established in 1998. The line-up was the band’s original members, the same line-up which recorded Metal Church’s first two albums in mid ’80s. The band released the album MASTERPEACE In 1999. However, the line-up did not last for a long time together. With the exception of Kurdt Vanderhoof, the line-up fell apart one after another. Vocalist Ronny Munroe replaced David Wayne in 2001. The band released four albums with Munroe before he unexpectedly left the band in fall of 2014. The future of the band was once again at stake. In April 2015 the band announced that Mike Howe had returned after more than a 20-year hiatus. The band’s eleventh album XI saw the light of day in March 2016. In August, the band arrived in Finland and performed in Porispere festival. There, I got a chance to sit down with Mr. Howe. We discussed about his return, the past and the future… Read on!
Porispere festival, now held for the sixth time, has gradually grown into one of the most significant festivals in Finland. Although Porispere is still unable to compete financially against the bigger festivals, they have managed to capture a couple of very interesting artists every year. This year, those were the two US metal bands – Metal Church and Twisted Sister. Porispere’s main idea has always been try to please everyone. And because of that, the festival’s supply was at the very least, peculiar. There were artists from all genres; starting from Finland’s leading pop stars, schlager and rap artists, children’s bands to metal bands. Although there were a couple of other interesting names on the festival too, like Children of Bodom, I only reviewed the legends.
Hello Kurdt! It’s JP from Metal-Rules.com. Thank you for agreeing to the interview. You may or may not recall we met on 70, 000 Tons a few years back and I interviewed you (and the entire band) at that time. Time for another one! Thank you! The new album is charting and selling extremely well. To what do you attribute this new success?
I really don’t know other than the fact that having Mike back in the band has really grabbed fans attention. And apparently people think the record is good?
Where did you record the new album? Did yo have a chance to jam out the songs in the studio with the band or was it a matter of everyone learning their parts and sending them in?
We recorded it at my studio. We built it up around the drum tracks after the demos were completed.
As always you wore many hats for this album; lyricist, songwriter, producer etc…was it hard to switch roles back and forth during the project?
Not really but, it does help to have input from the rest of the band. It can be a bit difficult to keep perspective when you are so close to the project.
I realize you have been asked this many times but how the return of Mr. Howe come about? Were you at all apprehensive about the state of his voice after so many years away?
I was a bit concerned at the beginning but, after speaking with him the 1st time he said he was still able to sing and had taken care of himself so any apprehension was gone quite quickly. And the when we started doing the demos it became very clear that he was singing better then ever!
My friends and I often discuss the singers of Metal Church. Three studio albums by Wayne, four albums by Monroe and now four studio albums with Howe. With the return of Howe, does this in a sense, make him the official, ‘one -true’ singer of Metal Church…or ‘the voice’ of Metal Church if you prefer?
Well, in a way but he is THE singer for Metal Church!
Can you tell me about the inspiration for the album cover art? I must admit it seems a bit plain as compared to some of the other album covers. Did you make a deliberate decision to move away from the iconic ‘cross-guitar’?
It is the cross guitar. I made a deliberate decision to stay away from the cartoony typical metal album covers.
All of the Ronnie-era albums were excellent but XI seems to have a newfound energy? Where did that come from?
Im sure it was from the excitement of having Mike come back to the band and the fact that he was sounding bettr than ever. It gave us a new injection of life. And I also new that with him in the band that the atmosphere within the band would finally be a very positive one.
Many of the ‘classic’ US Power Metal / Thrash bands are experiencing nice career resurgences with Vicious Rumors, Helstar, Flotsam and Jetsam and you guys all putting out new albums this year. What is it that gives these bands the longevity?
I believe that its just the nature of the music. You never really outgrow it and you really never stop loving it. Besides with the new music biz totally affords us to keep doing it.
Considering the strength of the new material, will you be playing many of the new songs on the current tour? Will you being playing any songs from the Monroe era or leaning more heavily on the Howe era tunes? If yes, how do you feel about playing the songs that he sang on from the albums that you were not a part of at the time?
We are playing 3 songs off the new album and we are concentrating on the Mike Howe era for the rest of the set. We are doing a few from the David Wayne as well. WE wanted to play more of The Mike Howe era because a lot of these songs are new for this band and we wanted to play some newer material then what we have played in the past. We will not play any Ronny Munroe material.
When we last chatted on the 70, 000 Tons cruise, we discussed the possibility of a book, a DVD or a nice big Double Live album. Have there been any discussions along these lines?
Yes, we are still trying to figure out the best time and place to do a proper DVD and have a proper LIVE album. That is something that I very much want to do.
Lastly, what is your next step in world domination?
To play as much as possible and continue to make new music!!
TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and SAVATAGE guitarist Chris Caffery will fill in for METAL CHURCH’s Rick Van Zandt on the latter band’s upcoming U.S. tour, which commences March 24 in Portland, Maine. Rick had to go in for emergency eye surgery to repair a detached retina and will be unable to join the group on the road for several weeks.
Says Caffery: “I’m really excited to announce that I will be playing guitar with the mighty METAL CHURCH on their upcoming U.S. tour. Their guitarist Rick had a serious eye condition develop that needed surgery and we all pray for his continued, speedy and successful recovery.”
He continues: “It will be a lot of fun to play with my longtime bandmate Jeff Plate and the guys.
“The first time I toured with Kurdt (Vanderhoof) when his band VANDERHOOF was opening for SAVATAGE. Then my solo band opened for METAL CHURCH on my ‘Faces’ tour!
“All of these guys are amazing musicians.
“It’s gonna be so awesome to hear Mike Howe every night! I watched him on the [Monsters Of Rock] cruise and was blown away at how incredible his voice is!
“If you don’t have your tickets yet…what are you waiting for! It’s time to go to CHURCH!
“Lots of work on my end in the next few weeks but I can’t wait to play this stuff live! See you soon!”
Hard rock titans Metal Church are hitting the road in the United States and Europe in support of their latest Rat Pak Records release XI. The band will be playing two warm-up shows in the state of Washington before heading out on the Monsters Of Rock cruise this month. The first leg of the United States tour kicks off on March 24th in Portland, ME and runs through April 9th wrapping up in Rochester, NY at the Montage Music Hall. The record release party for XI will be the show on March 25th in Manchester, NH at the Jewel Nightclub. Admission to that show is free and is on a first come first served basis. Metal Church will be heading over to Europe in May and then return back to Europe for more dates in July and August. More tour dates to be announced in the near future. For more information on all upcoming tour dates, go to http://metalchurchofficial.com.
XI, the band’s 11th studio album available worldwide on March 25th, marks the return of legendary vocalist and front man Mike Howe. The album has been getting critical and fan praise alike with Decibel Magazine recently stating in a review: “On XI, Howe croon-roars like a man possessed, delivering a varied, vital, almost unbelievably pitch-perfect performance. As for the riffs, Vanderhoof remains a master crafter of speed-metal mayhem – a faithful keeper of the once-bustling aural bridge connecting NWOBHM and thrash metal proper.”
Metal Church just released a new video trailer for XI that features a sample of the album opener “Reset.” The trailer can be seen here: https://youtu.be/QfG0vw19RJM. The new album is available for pre-order in various exclusive bundles via http://www.ratpakrecordsamerica.com/metal-church. A limited number of the Deluxe International Version are available on the website and features a bonus disc of 8 extra songs. Other bundles include guitar picks, stickers, a special edition behind the scenes photo book, t-shirts and even a limited number of personal phone calls from Mike Howe himself. The album is also available for pre-order on Amazon, Google Play and via iTunes at http://smarturl.it/MCXIiTunes and fans that order the digital version will receive an instant download of “Killing Your Time” from the new album. XI was produced by Kurdt Vanderhoof and co-produced by Chris “The Wizard” Collier.
From the first guitar riff of album opener “Reset” through the driving outro of album closer “Suffer Fools,” it is clear Metal Church is back and better than ever. “Needle and Suture” and “Soul Eating Machine” showcase the songwriting that made the early Mike Howe albums The Human Factor, Blessing In Disguise and Hanging In The Balance such fan favorites. Musical opuses “Signal Path” and “Sky Falls In” clock in at over 7-minutes each and put the musicianship that Metal Church was known for on full display in 2016.
Metal Church recently released an official music video for the debut single from XI, “No Tomorrow.” The video can be seen at: https://youtu.be/ary17dRnC3o and was filmed in the Satsop Nuclear Facility, an abandoned nuclear power plant in Elma, Washington. The video was directed by Jamie Chamberlin of Black Dahlia Films and features a unique visual that ties in to the location. A behind-the-scenes video on the making of the video for “No Tomorrow” was also recently released and can be seen here: https://youtu.be/Rr0bHRjfhmU.
A lyric video for Metal Church “Killing Your Time” is available here:
You can now pre-order “XI” Worldwide on iTunes and get an instant download of this track! Metal Church “XI” will be available via Rat Pak Records (USA/Canada/SA),Nuclear Blast (Europe) and King Records (Japan) on March 25th, but you can pre-order your exclusive bundles ahead of time!!
Legendary front-man Mike Howe returns to Metal Church! In the summer of 2014 the band suddenly found themselves in need of a new singer. As fate would have it, Kurdt was already in talks with Mike for another project that he was working on with Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler, so he decided to ask Mike to rejoin Metal Church. Mike agreed, but true to form, didn’t want to make it official until he knew for sure that the integrity of the new material was there. In Mike’s own words, ” I didn’t want to come back to Metal Church just for nostalgia, it had to be for the right reasons, it had to be the best stuff we’ve ever written together or it just wouldn’t be worth it to anyone, especially the fans.” Soon after, Kurdt and Mike began exchanging ideas and writing new material with the band. The end result sounds like “Classic Mike Howe era Metal Church, it’s both heavy and melodic” says guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof and further states “Mike sounds the same as he did 20 years ago, this is going to be truly epic!!” Drummer Jeff Plate comments, “Mike Howe is the ONLY singer for Metal Church. He has a reputation of complete honor and respect. We can now take Metal Church to the next level!”
Mike Howe originally joined Metal Church in the late 80’s and released 3 albums with the band: “The Human Factor”, “Blessing In Disguise” and “Hanging in the Balance”. Mike was also the face of popular music videos “Date With Poverty” and “Badlands” that aired during MTV’s heyday like”.
The band is currently in the process of working on their new album, which will be released later this year via Rat Pak Records. Metal Church is: Mike Howe (Vocals), Kurdt Vanderhoof (Guitars) Jeff Plate (Drums), Steve Unger (Bass) and Rick VanZandt (Guitars).
New York native Jeff Plate is a professional drummer who’s best known for his drumming for legendary metal band Savatage which went to hiatus in 2002. Plate appeared on four Savatage albums including the classic DEAD WINTER DEAD (1995) and WAKE OF MAGELLAN (1997). Plate’s currently plays with Trans-Siberian Orchestra which was formed in 1993. The band is highly successful and they’re annually playing sold out Xmas tours mainly across the USA. The band mostly consists of current and former members of Savatage including the bands co-founder and main composer Jon Oliva. Plate is also a member classic metal band Metal Church. He first joined that band in 2006 and stayed until they disbanded in 2009. Only three years later the band was back and in 2013 they released GENERATION NOTHING, which was their first studio album in five years. Metal Church made their first ever performance in Finland in June 2014 when they arrived to the Tuska Festival in Helsinki. There we had the chance to sit down with Jeff and discuss Metal Church, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and of course, Savatage.
EDIT: After this interview was arranged, Savatage officially announced that they will do their long-awaited re-union show next year at the Wacken Open Air Festival. See ya there!
Ronny Munroe’s Electric Wake is by far his best work to date! Produced by Bruce Bouillet and mixed by Jon Wyman, this 3rd offering from the Metal Church front man truly captures all the magic of the classic metal genre! “I wanted to create something that was totally new, but at the same time allow all my influences to shine through” states Ronny on the recording of the CD. “I put two years into the writing process of this album, but when it came time to start recording, I threw everything out the window and just went with my gut and it worked out better than I could have imagined” Ronny further states. Electric Wake also features collaborations with guitar legend George Lynch, Tesla guitarist Dave Rude, Pamela Moore (Queensryche’s “Sister Mary”), Paul Kleff (ex Firewolfe), David Donigian, Sean Baker and Tony Rossi. Ronny Munroe’s Electric Wake delivers a healthy dose of fist-pumping, guitar-driven, well-conceived classic style heavy metal music and is a must-have for all fans of the genre! Three videos have been shot for this release, “United”, “Pray” and “The Others (Long Live Heavy Metal)” which features a duet with Pamela Moore, and Tesla’s Dave Rude on guitar which will debut in the coming weeks. Official release date is set for Tuesday June 24, 2014.
Rat Pak Records have officially welcome legendary US west coast head bangers METAL CHURCH to the fold! Rat Pak Records, in conjunction with Body Of Work Recordings will be releasing the bands tenth studio album, Generation Nothing, worldwide in early fall. This full length release marks the “return to the band’s classic metal sound,” says founding member/guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof. “It has elements of the first album and the The Dark, but still embraces the new sound of the band without chasing the past,” he adds.
Rounding out Metal Church 2013 are singer Ronny Munroe (singer), Steve Unger (bass), Jeff Plate (drums) and Rick Van Zandt (guitar). Read the rest of this entry »
“Ok, the new album has been recorded and now the mixing process begins!! This could be the best MC record of the Metal Church MK3 era!! Woohooo!!”
Metal Church are working on their 10th studio album and fourth with singer Ronny Munroe. The band had formally announced in 2009 that they were calling it quits but reunited last fall for the aforementioned cruise 70000 Tons Of Metal. Metal Church’s last album was 2008’s This Present Wasteland.
Did you think the ship went off course, lost faith and started to pray? Oh yes you will pray! But you will pray on board. You will pray in the METAL CHURCH!
METAL CHURCH with Ronny Munroe on vocals, Kurdt Vanderhoof and Jay Reynolds on guitars, Steve Unger on bass, and Jeff Plate on drums, will celebrate their official reunion on board 70000TONS OF METAL, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise.
For one of their two shows on board, they will play their debut album Metal Church in it’s entirety. The other show will be a Greatest Hits set. And guess what? You will be able to vote the songs for the Greatest Hits setlist. More details on how to vote will be announced… SOON!
So are you ready to start next year in style? Just imagine: In January 2013, 40 Heavy Metal bands and 2,000 fans from all over the World will go to the Caribbean to take over the luxury cruise ship “Majesty of the Seas” for 5 days and 4 nights. Book your cabin now at www.70000tons.com and be part of Heavy Metal History made in the Caribbean once again on 70000TONS OF METAL, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise! The Original Metal Cruise: Home of the biggest open air stage to sail the oceans!
And we also spare no expense to remove the seats in front of the stage in the theater, or do you really like seated Heavy Metal shows? This is 70000TONS OF METAL, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise where you enjoy unrestricted festival access to all live shows on board. And don’t forget, every band plays twice! There are also Open Mic Nights, Clinics, Work-Shops, the infamous 70000TONS OF METAL Karaoke, Bars that never close, you heard right: They don’t close, two full days at Sea, a fun-and-sun-filled day on a beautiful Caribbean Island and an opportunity to mingle side-by-side with the artists that all join us for the entire trip. It’s like everyone has a backstage pass!
The following 19 out of 40 bands have already been announced:
DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITER
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
METAL CHURCH (Reunion Show)
RAGE and LINGUA MORTIS ORCHESTRA
SUBWAY TO SALLY
70000TONS OF METAL, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise, will sail Monday, January 28, 2013 aboard the Royal Caribbean “Majesty of the Seas” from Miami, FL and will not return you to the real world for four days until Friday, February 1, 2013.
Ticket prices start at US$666 plus US$299 taxes and fees per person and include all on-board entertainment, non-alcoholic and non-carbonated beverages, all meals at the dining rooms, most on-board restaurants and even 24 room service!
What are you waiting for? You might even need a vacation from this vacation when all is said and done! Check out http://www.70000tons.com/ for more information.
Where Angels Suffer (WAS) is a new band featuring former W.A.S.P. members drummer Stet Howland and guitarist Chris Holmes. The band is completed by vocalist Rich Lewis (Animal), and bassist Steve Unger (Metal Church). The original line-up also included another former W.A.S.P. member Randy Piper but he split with the group earlier this year and he’s now been replaced by Ira Black (Lizzy Borden, Metal Church) The band was formed in 2010 and they released the debut album PURGATORY in the spring of 2011. Where Angels Suffer did their first ever European tour on last August and in Sweden we had the pleasure to sit down with Howland and Lewis and learn more about the band and its future plans as well as some old stuff… Read on!