“Damned If You Do seems to be a bit heavier and darker”

Since Mike Howe returned to Metal Church I have had a wish to interview him. The dream came true, thanks to Nuclear Blast, so I asked him (via e-mail) mainly about his comeback and the brand new MC album Damned If You Do.

(Hungarian version comes tomorrow.)

Mike, you are my favourite Metal Church singer, so I was happy when, after a two decade absence, you came back in 2014. How do you feel in the band right now?

I feel amazing! I am so grateful to be able to be in this band again at this time in my life. And I feel we are putting out music that we all can be very proud of. And that means a lot.

Do you remember how did the fans receive you on your first gigs?

The fans were incredible and I was very moved at the welcome back I received. It was very emotional.

What did you do when you weren’t in the band? What was you civil job? Did you perhaps sing in another group?

I was a contractor. I remodeled residential homes. I did not sing with any other band.

What were the differences between the circumstances of making the last two Metal Church albums, XI and Damned If You Do? (I think of the process of songwriting, recording, etc.) Did you take a bigger role, for example, in songwriting?

The only difference was a change of drummers. Kurdt and I went about the writing process the same way we always have. Just having fun writing heavy metal music.

How were the songs born? Who participated in creating them? Did you wrote the songs together with Kurdt or did each of you write his own part separately?

Kurdt writes the basic structure of the songs and sends them to me over the internet. I work on melodies and lyrics. When we get together we take what we have and expand upon it and see what works and what doesn’t and finish things that are unfinished. If it rocks us it makes the album.

Kurdt Vanderhoof and Mike

Is there any difference between XI and Damned If You Do albums musically? If yes, what are these elements?

Damned If You Do seems to be a bit heavier and darker musically. That’s just the way our writing came about this time. And the addition of Stet Howland on drums.

What does the album title mean for you? What kind of thoughts are behind it?

I believe Damned If You Do can be applied to many different situations depending on where you are in your life. That’s why I like it so much. It can be interpreted by each person to fit their lives. For me sometimes it’s as if you try your hardest in life and it doesn’t matter. But that is life! Sometimes things work out sometimes they don’t. I believe that’s called living.

What are your favorite songs from this album and why?

My favorite song is Damned If You Do because of the humming aspect. It was something experimental and very different that came together in a very cool way to me. I love how it ties the entire song together in a beautiful meditative metal chant!

Since 2017 you have had a new drummer, Stet Howland. What are the main differences between his and his predecessor’s (Jeff Plate’s) drumming?

Just like any musician they are all individuals and bring an individual feel and sound to their playing. If you listen I believe like me, you can hear this style difference. They are both great drummers! And almost as crazy as singers!

Am I right that you didn’t play a concert since July of 2018? Was making the new album the only reason?

Yes. We took a break after two years of touring to write and record Damned If You Do.

When and where will you start your next tour to promote this album?

We are heading out mid April for a month in the States with Doro. We will be heading overseas all of July and most of August. We are currently working on more dates. We are also playing the mega cruise with Megadeth in October.

Steve Unger, Kurdt Vanderhoof , Mike Howe, Rick Van Zandt and Stet Howland

How many songs will you play in concerts from this album?

At least three.

You will be on stage in Hungary, Rockmaraton Festival at 9th of July. Have you ever been in our country?

I am very excited for that show. I’ve visited Budapest on a vacation in 2014. What a beautiful place!

We are looking forward to your performance. Until that, I wish you and the band all the best!

Me as well! Thank you very much for your support of Metal Church and a very humble thank you to all the Metal Church fans out there! Peace, Mike

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