Article and Interview- Curt Byrd
Photos- Jeremy Moore and Craig Noce
Seattle’s own favorite metal band, Metal Church rolled into Columbus on a rainy night and stopped at O’Shecky’s nightclub where a packed house was waiting for their first taste of the reunion between Mike Howe and the rest of the band. Not a ticket was left to be had and it was a mass of bodies from wall to wall. Those that were unfortunate not to get a ticket, could only stare on with envy of those that had made it inside. All waiting for the an onslaught that was about to happen. Mike Howe’s return to Metal Church immediately re-invigorated the band’s success and delivered a punch to the face of metal fans everywhere.
With the release of XI, Metal Church has become Rat Pak records most successful release to date by shooting up the world charts at breakneck speed. And that night we all found out why. The band opened the show with “Reset”, and instantly grabbed the crowd’s attention with an aggressiveness that shouted “We are back and better than ever”. By the end of the show, Metal Church left no doubt in anyone’s mind as to why they are still a force to be reckoned nor why they are heavy metal legends. All I can say is look out Europe, here comes Metal Church.
We recently caught up with the band in Columbus, Ohio and sat down with Mike to find out more.
Before we start, first let me say thank you to Mike for taking the time to speak with ZTPMAG while
on tour supporting the latest release of the Metal Church album, XI, which dropped worldwide
on March 25 via Rat Pak Records and Nuclear Blast Europe.
It has been 20 years since Mike last fronted the band so let’s jump in and see what he has been up to.
1. Mike, what have you doing since the last time we saw you with Metal Church?
I have been living a happy family life with my wife raising two boys.
2. How does it feel to be reunited with Kurdt after all these years?
It feels awesome. Kurdt is an amazing and gifted song writer, engineer, producer and musician.
But most of all he is a great person and I am lucky to have him as a friend.
3. When Kurdt first contacted you back in 2014, in an attempt to bring you back in to the Metal
Church fold, what were your main concerns at the time about the possibility of rejoining the
My main concerns were
1 Is my voice still up for the challenges that come with singing Heavy Metal.
2 Can we still write and record material that is strong and relevant.
3 We need to be in complete control of the process from beginning to end. No outside
4 And make sure we are having fun through it all.
4. I have to admit, your voice sounds stronger and edgier on the new album, than it did twenty
years ago. Do you feel that the time away from the punishment of performing has restored your
vocal cords, or is it that you have found a new drive and passion that is fueling this resurgence?
Has being away from the rigors of singing Metal for years preserved my voice? I don’t know.
But I think about that. It is an interesting thought. I do know that being reunited with Kurdt
sparked a renewed energy of creativity and passion for making the music that defines Metal
Church in the Mike Howe era. What also played a role is being older and more focused.
Knowing myself better and what I wanted to achieve. Kurdt and I have a great chemistry and
he is so much fun to work with him. He is an amazing talent. It is not like work at all!
5. What influenced you while writing the lyrics for the new album?
Spontaneity. We approached this recording with open hearts and minds to just let the
creativity flow. Whatever came out we would build on. We had no preconceived ideas. It was
an absolute blast! I hope it shows.
pressures real or perceived.
6. With the new tour underway in support of the latest album, how does it feel to be back on the
road with the band?
It feels incredible. Like a new chapter has opened in my life and I am just living in the moment.
My new band mates ROCK and the fans have been overwhelmingly generous to me. I am
forever grateful to them. I love coming face to face with the fans.
7. Of the songs being played on the tour so far, I noticed that there is a well balanced mixture of
songs from the Metal Church catalog. How does the band go about deciding which songs to
Kurdt and the band have been very gracious in this aspect. They all told me their favorite songs
and then let me chose the ones I like to sing. There are so many songs to pick from. It was very
hard to whittle the list down. What a great problem to have!
8. One last question before you go Mike. Is it too early to start thinking about the possibility of
another album in the future?
Yes it is. I’m a person that doesn’t like to look too far into the future. You may miss what is
going on right now. And for me. What is happening right now is awesome!
Mike, thank you again for taking the time to speak with us today as I know you are in the middle of a
short break before tackling the rest of the world tour. It has been a pleasure and I look forward to
seeing you on the road in the near future. Thank you Curt!
Metal Church has also 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 . XI was produced by
Kurdt Vanderhoof and co-produced by Chris “The Wizard” Collier.
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