Interview Metal Church – Dynamo Metal Fest / Eindhoven –
July 20th 2019
Hey guys, you are on the road again here in Europe for
some club and open air shows mainly with your colleagues Armored Saint
from L.A. How are you feeling so far being in Germany and Holland again?
It’s good to be back, cause we didn’t come over here last summer, we had
a little break. Touring with Armored Saint is great, we did a West Coast
tour with them, about one and a half / two years ago. It’s great! We’re
old school metal, so it’s really a perfect package.
Your last record ‘Damned if You Do’ from 2018 was a great
comeback to the Mike Howe era of the late 80’s / early 90’s. It got
highly appreciated by the fans and by the press equally. How was your
approach to that album music-wise and lyric-wise compared to the old
Ah, compared to when Mike and I worked together in the
80’s? We tried really hard to make sure it was the same as we did back
then. We wanted to approach it the same way as we did but this time we
did it with just him and I, without any influence from managers,
producers, anybody else. This time we got to do it exactly the way we
How important are the lyrics to Metal Church, what are
they generally about and what are you dealing with lyrically in these
times of globally ecological and social / political confusion?
Well yeah, we try to give some clarity with the
confusion. One of the things that we don’t do is any of the satan stuff
or any of the dark stuff, we stay away from that. Actually quite the
opposite. But, it’s really important that keeping it in the heavy metal
frame, keeping what we’re singing about positive. Didn’t really get too
political you know, on this one we kind of stay away from that. But you
know, like the song ‘Revolution Underway’, that is kind of about how
people are waking up to evil and going wow! Wait a minute! The
governments and all those people are not out for our best interest. So
some there’s a little commentary on that, but kind of staying away from
that. But then again also staying away from the meaningless stuff too.
It’s a balancing act.
Please tell us something about the actual line-up, who is
in the band right now and how the consistency / chemistry is.
Well, we have a new drummer Stet Howland took over from
Jeff, who left because, you know it was his time, he was so busy with
Trans-Siberian Orchestra and stuff like that, so it’s cool. It’s all
completely applicable. But other than that Mike, myself and Steve Unger
have been in the band since we reformed, and Rick van Zandt who took
place for Jay Reynolds.
Going back in history, how did it all start in the very
beginnings when you formed the band Shrapnel, and who were the members?
How did it develop to Metal Church and where were you located?
I moved back from San Francisco, I was trying to start
Metal Church. It just wasn’t happening, I couldn’t find the right
people, nobody was interested. So I ended up moving back to my home town
Aberdeen, putting it together there with a couple of people I knew from
high school, people I played with when I was really young. And we put it
together there and we were called Shrapnel because we were playing cover
songs. As soon as we got the line-up right, we changed the name to Metal
Church. Cause the Metal Church name had already been established when I
was in San Francisco. So that was kind of how it was, as soon as we
thought ok, this is the line-up, we’re going to start writing our own
stuff and call the band Metal Church.
How do you remember the times with David (Wayne) up to
his tragic death in 2005?
In the 80’s it was great, we were all young and healthy.
But very quickly that changed. I left cause I wanted to spend more time
working on more records. During the ‘Masterpeace’ thing, we tried to put
it back together and it just didn’t work. You know there are some fond
memories but there also some bad memories. Like the reunion with Dave,
that was a disaster, that was just awful. We were under so much pressure
from record companies and management. And we were like, no! It’s not
working! They were like: No, it’ll be fine. And then we went out there
and it didn’t work. They asked “What happened?” we said “We Told you”.
How do you see the traditional metal scene in the US and
in Europe or Asia right now? Is there a younger audience interested in
this music and are there younger bands playing this kind of music in
There seems to be something going on, I don’t know to
what extent. We were in the US with Doro and the crowds were great!
Surprisingly. So yeah the scene seems really good. Now here with Armored
Saint the club shows we’ve been doing were bigger than we expected. So
maybe there’s something going on. What exactly, I don’t know. I’m not
really aware of young bands starting to make traditional heavy metal
again. I would like to, but I wouldn’t know where to follow.
Thank you very much for your time and enjoy the rest of
the tour! Patchman Marco for Headbangers Zine &
Kurdt Vanderhoof – Guitars
Steve Unger – Bass,
Rick Van Zandt – Guitars
Mike Howe – Vocals
Stet Howland – Drums
1984 - Metal Church
1986 - The Dark
1989 - Blessing in Disguise
1991 - The Human Factor
1993 - Hanging in the Balance
1999 - Masterpeace
2004 - The Weight of the World
2006 - A Light in the Dark
2008 - This Present Wasteland
2013 - Generation Nothing
2016 - XI
2018 - Damned If You Do