Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
Thank you for talking to me
My pleasure! How are things in your world?
They are awesome.
Back on the road, making music again.
Yeah, it’s a beautiful place to be.
Yeah, I bet. We are really lucky to have you here tonight.
We are lucky to be here
It’s great to see the band active again and in such great shape. How is it these days to be in Metal Church?
It is an amazing, unthinkable event. We’re just grateful for every day that we have and with our older age we can appreciate life more than when your young and invincible, you know. So it’s really great place to be.
You’ve already mentioned older age, it also in your latest video Reset.
Obviously, it was written specifically for our situation.
What does that song mean to you?
Well, as I said. I never thought I would be singing in Metal Church again and I have made statements about that. So never say never, right. You never know what’s going to happen.
Exactly, I know a lot about that.
I think a lot of people do.
Your time away from Metal Church, what did that time look like?
Just like everybody else, living my married life, doing my work and raising 2 boys.
Just the groceries and the chores and…
Exactly, just living my life. Doing my job, living life and enjoying my family again.
How did that conversation go, to get you back into the band?
Well, Kurdt and I, we’ve been really good friends for years. And I think if you are really close and friendly with somebody from a younger age, and if itś a true friendship, if you reconnect later in life it really shows that it is a true friendship. So it’s kinda like a rekindling of friendship again and we clicked. He presented me coming back to the band again and I was like “Nah, not really”. It wasn’t like “Yeah!” Right away.
There were still some doubts there?
Of course, but we’ve had many talks on the phone about how things have changed and how we could do it now. Time wise, and distance wise, and outside pressures of management and what not. We are in control now in our lives, we are adults. We make the decisions and we do exactly what we want to do.
Do you feel many things has changed with being in a band?
Yes. Almost everything has, in a good way. Well not everything I a good way of course. Being back now for almost 2 years you see the music business again for how it is now. There are always down sides to everything. So you just try to navigate those as adults and it’s kinda like raising a family. You problem solve and you move on.
I think you might have learned some things from being a father.
Well, if you have half a brain then you will learn. You are forced to learn, to survive.
In what way would you say things are different now in the band as opposed to how it was before?
The main thing is there is no management or record company pressure. No pressure to put records out when we’re not ready or put record covers out we don’t agree with and all these kinds of external pressures.
Those were the reasons you left the first time around, right?
Exactly. It was not in my control. And when I tried to interject my Ï don’t like this” it was pushed through anyhow. It’s a business and it’s a tough business.
Last year you released your 11th studio album simply titled “Eleven”, your comeback album you could say, How was it to make that album, to make new songs?
It was a great experience. Because as I said, in our conversations, Kurdt and I discussed how we were gonna do it and got to the place where we wrote our first record together. Not thinking about managers, just going into the studio, having fun, and making music together. Connecting, and laughing, and singing, it was awesome.
Did it come naturally or was it a bit rusty at the start? Or did you just immediately got back on the horse?
Just right where we left of. He is an amazing songwriter and he is very open to ideas and we work really great together. There’s a great chemistry and that is something very special to me.
How big is the stamp of your input on the current album?
Well, we work together. Like I said, he is the songwriter and he comes up with the main structure of the song and he looks at me to see if I am excited and he …. To how it feels and how it sings to it. I put some melodies in and we rearrange the production as we go along and with the modern day technology we have now it makes it a lot easier. When we’re writing we can do it all digitally and take parts out and move them around and keep the flow of the creativity. It’s a great experience.
That must make it a lot more fun to write music these days I think.
It seems like it. You know, in the past you had to stop and re-record it on to tape and change it around. But now it’s just like done in 5 minutes, just cut that part without having to replay it.
Even though the new album has some new elements on it, it really has some old school vibes. What was it that the band set out to do with this new album?
Basically just pick up where we left of. Just create and record music that is true to what Kurdt and I think Metal Church sounded like which is basically who we are. That’s the bottom line to this whole thing. We make metal music the way we feel it should be for us. It’s all about feelings and emotion.
It’s not about fitting in a box or something like that.
The band was one of the influences for the thrash scene back then and that scene has changed a lot as well. How do you feel about the current music scene, the metal scene?
I don’t know. I know it is out there but I am not really educated on all the …. out there right now that I don’t know about because I got older and I listen to a lot of different things, all genres of music. And I love exploring and finding different things I have never heard before. So when going back to the metal bands there is all sort of different things and different names and I feel like an old guy, you know. And that’s okay, I embrace that. Because I am an old guy. And when I say old I mean detached from all the young people that are coming up with the new things and new arts and stuff. But that’s okay, I am comfortable with where I am at. I am who I am and they are who they are and it is the beautiful thing about music.
It is commonly felt that the lyrical subject matter of the band deepened when you originally joined the band. In what way do you think your new life experience shows through in the new album?
We had some really deep subject matters that we knew a lot about. We don’t care about it now but it was a lot of problems in the world today too. But we actually went in to this lyrically and musically with trying not to overthink it. We said, let’s just write from our hearts and whatever comes out comes out. Not sitting down and thinking we need to write a song about all the injustice in the world, we didn’t do that this time. Just sit down and writing and screaming and if something great comes out we write it down and go with. Just be organic.
Do you ever look back at lyrics you’ve wrote and think how the hell did I think back then?
Sure. But more so Kurdt, he is an amazing songwriter. Just epic songs that I feel lucky I was the one singing them.
When you were the singer back in your first term, he was not an active band member. How was it to contribute in a band where somebody that is a main contributor doesn’t perform with you?
That was a difficult part for me when I first joined the band. Because Kurdt was the active member to actually getting me in to Metal Church because he produced the band I was in at the time. That’s how we met and started to hit it of and having this chemistry together. And he said Metal Church is looking for a singer, you should try out for that. I didn’t know at the time that that was happening. So I went out and ….. that was his baby at the time so I went in to the studio with him, he gave me the lyrics and said “Let’s do this!” because he was very excited about that song and he wanted to see I would sing it. And so we were continuing our studio experience out there for Metal Church and then he said “Okay, now go play with the guys and see how they feel about you”. And that was the beginning for me with Metal Church. And what we first did was the writing without Kurdt, because he was back there …. and it was very difficult because I am the new member in the band. And then I realized that Kurdt really is the main source of the band. Writing with the band was a bit tough you know, and we said Kurdt you need to write some stuff and he said sure. And he came to the studio and we started writing some stuff.
So he is kinda like the wizard behind the curtain?
Yeah, exactly. Because at that time, you know, the band was young and would like to party, And he was not like that. So it was thought to be in a band where all the other guys are just partying, and you can’t blame them, they’re 20 years old and then you go out partying right. But not him, he was all about the music. He was more in to writing and wanted to know all about production and the engineering.
This time around he is on the stage with you, does that feel better?
It feels awesome, and that’s part of the Metal Church phase 2 for me. And he and I have always talked about being in a band together, playing on stage. So it’s one of those things in life where you’re so grateful because it was kinda and unfinished business in your life where you never thought you would get the chance to do. And here we are, together on stage and just loving it.
How does the current lineup feel to you, do you think this group of people has a lot of Metal Church music left in them?
Oh yeah, there’s a lot of excitement. I think every guy in the band, we are all older guys and we just feel grateful. When you have gratefulness in your heart it shows and it just energizes you I think. So yeah, we’re older but we’re not old. We have a lot of energy and creativity.
Has something changed in the way you prepare for a show, like tonight here in Eindhoven?
Well yeah. Like I said, because we’re older. I do yoga and meditate before shows instead of sitting in the back and going oh god oh god and full of stress. It is nice to do some warm ups and be calm walk out on stage and start yelling, you know. It’s great. It is a great feeling. I feel very comfortable about it all and that feels great because you can enjoy it more instead of being caught up in it.
Now you’re enjoying it more and you feel more relaxed on stage. Do you also feel you connect more with the crowd.
Yeah. Every aspect of being in Metal Church is better now. And it was already great back then, so can you imagine how it is now? Like I said, I am the luckiest guy on earth as I feel it.
Metal Church has had quite a turbulent ride so far, many different members, several breakups, you could say different era’s of the band. How do you look at the different chapters in this story?
It’s is a little detached. When I was gone for all those years I wasn’t thinking about Metal Church or metal per say and when I was I was stuck in my old genres of Metallica, Judas Priest and all the ones I was in. I was listening to some modern stuff that were playing at the metal stations like Five Finger Death Punch and those kinds of bands and I was like, yeah they’re metal. But other than that, I heard some of it but I wasn’t really interested. It wasn’t what I felt Metal Church had to be for me. But I was happy for them and for Kurdt of course. Thinking I hope you guys do great things. But other than that it wasn’t something I could listen to because it wasn’t Metal Church for me, you know.
You still perform those songs live, from those era’s that you were not a part of?
No, I don’t even really know those songs.
So you just leave those era’s to be on it self.
Yes. And that’s good. Kurdt actually just said the other day, there’s this one song I will play for you and I want to hear your take on it. So we are discussing doing on of the songs.
Would you consider doing a re-recording of it? Like you did before with Fake Healer?
I don’t know, we haven’t discussed that yet. But maybe first doing it live and then we’ll see how it goes down the road.
That was an interesting take by the way, the re-recording of Fake Healer.
It was a lot of fun!
How did it come about to work with Queensryche
Well, first of all Kurdt had re-recorded a bunch of Metal Church songs for a possible (Riding on roe?) re-release and then that never came to completion but we had basic tracks for all that. And that’s how I did the Badlands redo. We were on the Monsters of Rock cruise and the owner of the agency was friends with Todd. And he was like Todd loves you and so we were walking around the ship one day and there’s Todd and we introduced and we were talking for about half an hour and he is a great and sweet guy and thoughtful and philosophical. And we hit it off and he was like I love you and I love you band, and I was like right back at ya. So we made and instant friendship there and he came to our show with a blessing in disguise t-shirt that he bought at our concert in 1989 when he was there. And he was out in front with the crowd. And then Joe he said we should do something together. And we were like yeah that is a great idea and that’s how it came about.
Tod said he really loved Blessing in Disguise do we decided to do Fake Healers.
That’s a cool story. Nothing forced, it just happened.
Yeah, and that is the greatest thing and how it should be. Kurdt and I right now when someone says we need to do a record we are like we don’t need to do anything. We do it when it feels right, and that is great. You guys need to go on the road over here and… No, we need to go when we feel like that is right for us and when we want to do that.
I really liked the duet and I was wondering would you consider redoing more songs like that with other artists?
I don’t know. You don’t want to become a cliché or over do it, you know.
Do you have any heroes that you would love to record a song with?
Of course, I mean Rob Halford of course. He was very instrumental for me becoming a metal singer, you know. But you also have to think about you voices, you know.
But you also have to think about your voices you know, they have to go together. So that was the thing with Todd, will his voice be good with mine? Probably, because it is different than mine, you don’t want voices that sound the same together. I was very pleased with how it worked out. It turned out way better than I thought it would come out.
Seems like you have the right attitude these days, nice and mellow.
It’s survival instinct.
You released a great live album this year with all the classic Metal Church songs on it. Which of these songs is your absolute live favorite?
Wow, there are a lot., But that’s an easy one for me because Gods of Second Chances is such a great live song and so dramatic and fun, crowd interactive.
Are there any songs from the past that you don’t play live for whatever reason that you would love to perform?
Everyone wants us to play Metal Church which we played all the time. It’s a classic and everybody is, you know, hung up on us playing that song. But Dave Wayne was an awesome guy, he was an heavy metal icon for sure. The reason I believe that I became a good replacement is because I wasn’t him. I am a totally different kind of heavy metal singer. So that’s how I could get away with coming into Metal Church without being attacked or people saying “Oh, he is not as good.”or stuff like that. Apples and oranges, you can’t compare the two. We do Bring on the Black because it is more of a singer song than a screaming song and Metal Church is a screaming song. And that is a bit heavier for me, so Kurdt and I talked about it and he said that if I didn’t want to hurt my voice with it we would chose a different song. So sorry fans that want to hear Metal Church…
You can always play it live once, record it, and make everybody happy.
Well, there is one, from Dynamo I think. But it’s not very good. That’s a bootleg I think. I didn’t want that released, and that’s another reason I left Metal Church because that kinda shit happened. But of course, our manager, that wanted a lot of money, approved it and it came out anyway.
Well, you’re back here now at Dynamo so time to make some new memories!
That’s right. The past is the past. I am not angry at that, it is what it is.
How is your year going to look, tour wise?
We’re gonna finish this tour up. We are going to some places that I have never been so that is exciting. Barcelona, Dublin, Belfast. And Moscow, that’s our last show. And after this I am going home and have a show on a metal festival in Chicago and then we come back to Europe August first. Then we have 2 shows starting of with Megadeth in Oslo and Copenhagen. And then we have a handful of shows for a couple weeks. We go home in September and then we have one more show.
Is it doable to balance this with you personal life?
It’s doable. It can be difficult at times, that’s why we had to cancel a tour in US because out drummer got in trouble. WE could’ve done it, get a drummer real fast and play. But like I said, we want to do it when it feels right to us now. People were upset and defended by us but if they can’t understand that we lost our drummer. Well, we are not half machine, we have feelings, and that we wanted to take our time to make sure that we were right again. So we canceled that. And hurt people’s feelings, and I am sure that we offended people. And managers and promoters that weren’t happy with the band. But that is the point of being back now, I can’t wear myself out. I am sorry, it is not like we did it on purpose. Things happen.
Any last words for out readers?
Like they always are. I am very grateful for the readers and the supporters of metal Church from the very beginning. It’s a cliché but it is true, we are very grateful and if it weren’t for them we wouldn’t have been here. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much!
Transcription by Melissa Heesakkers