Q&A: with Mike Munro
Sheila Rene': Hello, Mike, we're rolling tape my good man.
Mike Munro: (laughing) Am I punctual or what?
SR: Good god, if you were more punctual I'd flip out. I'm just sitting here listening to this new CD.
MM: This is Mike Munro. Do you like what you're hearing?
SR: You bet.
SR: I thought I was going to interview Tony. Nevermind I'm prepared for anything.
MM: It's the voice, the myth, the man.
SR: I'm wondering if there are still come copies around of the early demo you did in ‘88. Have you gone back to listen to that recently?
MM: I haven't gone back and listened to that in a long time. I don't even have a copy.
SR: I just thought it might be an interesting exercise.
MM: You're right it would be. Actually, just listening to the last two albums is definitely different.
SR: Kill To Survive and Solidary Solitude. Do you still keep those hit songs,"The Witching" and "Beginning Of The End" from those albums in your show?
MM: Yeah, we will be including them. We did a video for "Beginning Of The End" so it's worth having in the show.
SR: How about those Epic Record people? The only other album I could find in my collection of yours is the Live Kill EP.
MM: You weren't on the special list I guess.
SR: Give me the difference in working with Epic and Backstreet?
MM: For one thing, Backstreet is hands-on. We deal directly with the folks that make all the decisions.
SR: I got this new albums from a publicist that I deal with a lot on this type of music. I got it right away.
MM: See, I just had an interview about an hour ago. He heard through word of mouth that it was out. He talked to Chip, your friend, and it was in his hands two days later. I don't like to burn bridges, but Epic just showed a big lack of interest when we lost the help of the A&R guy who signed us.
SR: Therein lies the problem. They labels seem to lose momentum when that happens.
MM: I know. It was definitely a problem. We've had some personnel changes and we went over budget on a couple of things. It just wasn't a good time for us then.
SR: In 1991 Anthony and Koury got you back in the band and you brought in the ex-Wargasm vocalist/bassist Bob Mayo. He still has a big voice.
MM: He's my best friend.
SR: You're doubly blessed with two great voices.
MM: If you listen closely you'll hear him on a couple of tunes. That was one of the reasons he left Wargasm. He wasn't into singing and never liked to sing from day one. He filled the position because they could never find a vocalist they liked. He just wanted to play bass. He had to be pushed to do backup on this album.
SR: What were you doing in '92, '93 and '94?
MM: I was band jumping. I started playing more melodic stuff, very much King's X type of material. A lot of harmonies and a lot of backups. I got sick of what I was doing. I wanted to use my voice more. They have been a very influential band on me. I found it in a band called Flat Black. We were together a couple of years. When the guitarist left we couldn't find anyone to replace him. Without a doubt, the lineup in this band is the strongest yet.
SR: You and Mayo wrote most of the songs as well as some of the music.
MM: Anthony wrote all of the music.
SR: "Death Valley Dream" opens up with the wind swerling around to a very Hetfield-sounding vocal.
MM: I've always loved the way James sounds. I don't try to sound like him but there is some influences there.
SR: Hetfield has just started really singing on these last few albums.
MM: Maybe, he sounds like me. (laughter) I think they've been around longer than us. I still enjoy the compliment.
SR: "Stranger" is a strong cut with the lyrics taking us through Bible, bottle and weapons. An interesting take on what's happening around the world today. "Media" is my favorite I think with lyrics such as 'sick to death of it all...'
MM: That one really touched me. The song was written about a guy in the Boston area who axed his wife. What is going on? It hit home because it was a local story.
SR: There's a subdued sample there. It sounds like you took it off the TV.
MM: Actually, it's a walkie talkie. The studio where we recorded, Sherwood Forest, the owner's daughter had some walkie talkie equipment so I just borrowed them for that cut.
SR: You actually gave credit on the album for that equipment.
MM: Yep, that's us.
SR: "Crow" is interesting. This tune would fit on the second soundtrack The Crow: City Of Angels.
MM: I was hoping we could get that placed on that soundtrack but we were a little too late. I loved the first movie.
SR: That soundtrack is hitting number one today.
MM: See, see. I knew it would be big.
SR: The "War Journal" cut has the walkie talkie credit. Matt Temple does the sampling. I had a hard time getting the songs matched up because of cut 12 not being listed. That's a '92 demo tune, isn't it?
MM: That's about the Punisher comic book. There's an off shoot of that comic that's called Punisher War Journal which is a list of all the weapons he has. I'm highly into the Punisher.
SR: I smell some cross promotion here with comic book stores.
MM: (laughing) Really. That's a good idea. I'll investigate that one.
SR: "Prideland" is the very American Indian tune...'I watch in horrow as the tears and blood flow together...'
MM: I recently got married in October and we took a month-long tour across the country. I was beside myself with all the beautiful scenery and the utmost beauth there. I clearly remember when we were on tour with Metal Church back in '89, the landscape I saw I never forget. It was interesting meeting a lot of the Indian fans. It's no secret that we really screwed them badly over the years. It's a very strong belief I have.
SR: Talk to me a little bit about Joe Moody and his input.
MM: He's great. We had a very, very small budget on this album. He put in triple time into the project and didn't get payed for it. He's one of the best producers I've ever worked with. He's just a genius.
SR: You voice comes across on CD as European English.
MM: I'm Scottish. That's close. My mother and my father were both opera singers. I guess they brought me up right. I started singing around ten years of age. It was at a family reunion for about 2,000 people. I didn't start singing publically until around fourteen. That's when I asked for some help.
SR: Who were some of your early influences?
MM: My favorite vocalist...I remember when I was young. Before I started singing, I was into Journey. Steve Perry had a great range. and speaking strictly as a singer, to this day I listen to all kinds of music. Even if the band is terrible, if they have a great singer, I'll listen and give them all the respect. I started getting into Ozzy Osbourne and Vince Neil.
SR: I hear a little Ronnie James Dio there too.
MM: Anyone who really sings, not yelling I'm into.
SR: Any of the newer bands getting your attention today?
MM: Soundgarden's Chris Cornell is the greatest voice I've ever heard in my life. I thought he was the best in Temple Of The Dog. It's hard to pick just one.
SR: Where does the name Meliah come from?
MM: It comes from a tribe of Indians. I'm going by what I was told a long time ago. Meliah Rage was a state that the Meliah Indians were in when they went on the warpath. They smoked opium and got really screwed up before they went on the warpath. I don't believe it's a tribe of American Indians. I could be wrong, but Jim Koury had a band at one time called Meliah Craze and opium was the craze the tribe was under. We just changed it to Rage. I stole it from him.
SR: What does the touring situation look like?
MM: We're waiting for the album to come out on September 17 and until we figure out how it's selling we'll just sit back. There's no tour support to talk about right now. We'll keep playing locally with some dates around New York, Massachutes and Maine.
SR: Are you a collector of rock stuff?
MM: Yeah, I'm really into Elvis.
SR: When you get to town you'll have to come out and see my Elvis bedrood complete with a neon piece "The King."
MM: I'll definitely put that down for later. I'm hoping all goes well with this ablum and we can get out on tour soon. Thanks for you support.