BW&BK Exclusive - METAL CHURCH Frontman Talks About - New Record, Solo Material, Working With MELIAH RAGE
January 8, 2008, 10 years ago
While in the Boston, MA area this weekend, METAL CHURCH frontman Ronny Munroe checked in with BW&BK; to discuss upcoming Metal Church recording plans, future touring plans, and his Boston weekend recording with MELIAH RAGE. Munroe sang on the track called 'Last Rites' for the upcoming Meliah Rage album that will be released on the Screaming Ferret Wreckords Label later this year. A special report by Boston-based scribe Deb Rao follows:
I know you hail from the San Francisco Bay area. Now you are in town laying down a track for the new Meliah Rage album. Is this correct?
Munroe: "Yes, that is correct. I wrote a song. Tony (Nichols - guitar) got a hold of me and asked me if I wanted to contribute to the album. I said,” Yes of course". I wrote a song called 'Last Rites'. Right now I am just planning to do just one guest appearance with the one song."
Have you heard any tracks off of the upcoming Meliah Rage album?
Munroe: "Actually, I only heard a couple of tracks. But it is pretty heavy. Tony is a great writer".
Tell me about the track that you wrote 'Last Rites'? What kind of vibe does it have and what inspired you to write the song?
Munroe: "I am throwing some high screams in there, a little bit of the cookie monster gravel kind of thing. Basically, the song is written about, if the world doesn’t change its ways soon, the world is not going to exist any longer. That is what the premise of the song is. I am working here with Rich Spillberg, the producer from WARGASM at the Red Devil Recording Studio."
How did you meet Meliah Rage? I know the band previously toured together, not to long ago?
Munroe: "Yes, they shared the bus with us for quite a few days on the tour. We are like family. These guys are all very cool. If I didn't like them, I wouldn't have come out and recorded a song for them."
Yes, Meliah rage has been a Boston staple for so many years. Actually, they kind of started the Thrash Metal scene around this area.
Munroe: "Yes, that is what I understand." They are all very cool. They are a good band."
Ronny, you have been pretty busy lately. You actually played a solo show in Vegas on New Years Eve. Tell me a little about the show?
Munroe: "Actually, I had my back up band, some friends of my mine from Salt Lake City Utah, KATAGORY V. They did an awesome job. They had a very limited amount of time to learn the songs. The guys are very professional. It turned out very well, we had a decent crowd. I was really excited to turn up and see that many people. The show went really well."
Ronny, I know you are actually in the studio too recording some solo tracks. How is the writing coming along for your solo album?
Munroe: "Actually, right now my album is on hold. My number one priority is Metal Church. The end of January I go off to Washington and start recording the new Metal Church album. After that one is done, then I will go ahead and start recording my full-length album. I think I am going to stick with the Internal Quest for the name of my solo album."
How many songs do you have recorded so far?
Munroe: "I have three songs recorded so far. But I have about fifteen total that I have to choose from. I put a new tune on my space recently. When I was in Las Vegas, I went in to record a couple of different things. So I did a song called 'Ride Me'. That is on MySpace. That is kind of straight ahead rock. It is a little bit different from Metal Church. I am trying to get the voices out of my head that I've had for years and years. Some rock, some are metal of course. There is also a bit of progressive metal".
Ronny, on the last Metal Church album, you were the prime songwriter and sole lyricist. What are your thoughts on this?
Munroe: "I was very fortunate that Kurdt (Vanderhoof - Metal Church guitar legend) liked my lyrics and the way that I write".
In what direction do you feel that you took Metal Church with their last release, A Light In The Dark?
Munroe: "As opposed to the first album that I did with them, The Weight Of The World. A Light In The Dark was much progressive I think. With this next album, the way the material is standing as of now is leaning towards back to the old days. It is a bit more straightforward. In which, I am really excited about. Any band always tries to recapture something that they have done in the past. Metal Church has such a great catalog. Metal Church's first album was released around 1983 or 84. That is classic Metal Church right there."
You joined the band in 2004. How did this all transpire? Did you know Kurdt before?
Munroe: "I meant Kurdt through a friend. I was out seeing his solo thing called Vanderhoof. I had commented to that particular friend that introduced me that I didn't care for the singer at that time. Why don't you give Kurdt my number and have him call me, I would like to talk to him. Kurdt called me about a week later and asked me if I wanted to come and talk. I said,” Of course". I got the address and went up there that day. It was originally, the audition was for Vanderhoof, and it wasn't for Metal Church. But as I was up there, I was like,” Well Kurdt, what about Metal Church?" He is like no I don't want to do that. Too much bullshit, too many things that have happened in the past. I kind of moved on. Well, it was two weeks of constant battle, pushing him and the constant phone calls, me giving him gifts of prior stuff that I have done with a lot of screaming on it. He finally called me, a couple weeks after that and said, "Do you want to do Metal Church"? I said, 'Yeah I do.' He said, 'Let’s do it.' That is kind of how it happened. We found Jay Reynolds and then after that we got rid of the bass player because there was just some bad mojo going on there. We ended up getting my friend Steve Unger on bass, and the line-up was certified."
You are the third vocalist for Metal Church. Did you have any reservations about joining the band at first? Did you feel the fans would accept you? Did you go into the band with your own style and not try to recapture the style of David Wayne?
Munroe: "Actually, to be honest with you, I have been singing for 28 years or something like that. I have done a lot of different things from tribute bands to top 40, originals. I have done everything. So I was pretty confident in my ability. So I knew that I could pull it off. But, as far as coming into my own style, yeah I have my own style, but with the old stuff with David Wayne and Mike Howe, I try to make it as close to the old stuff as possible. Because, I think that is what the fans what. I am a fan first and foremost. I drove around listening to, 'Gods Of Wrath' when I was eighteen. Not knowing that one day, I was actually going to be in the band Metal Church. It is pretty cool to me."
What are the future touring plans for Metal Church? I know the band performed in Europe in 2006. Any plans to tour Europe this summer?
Munroe: "Yes, we took the past summer off, after going over for the three previous summers in a row. We went over to Europe to do all the festivals. But we are going back this summer."
Hopefully, the new album will be out this year?
Munroe: "Yes, it will be. We are on SPV still. As of right now, we don't have a release date. It definitely will be before the end of spring or closely before that. We will be going to Europe to the Festivals and then comeback to the US to a proper tour this year."
Would you say the San Francisco area is thriving once again with the resurgence of thrash metal? You hail from an area that so many great Thrash bands have emerged.
Munroe: "TESTAMENT has been around. DEATH ANGEL was having a CD release party last week or coming up. It is still going strong. It needs to be stronger. People really need in every state to come out and support the local music scene. We need all the help we can get."
Ronny, is there anything else that you want to say to the fans?
Munroe: "My number one commitment is coming up with Metal Church and their new release. I am also involved with Clive Aid. Clive Burrs, the original drummer for IRON MAIDEN, he has Multiple Sclerosis and has had for years now. They have a foundation, which is called Clive Aid. They have done shows over the past six or seven years in the UK and Europe, and now they are trying to get a worldwide charity, which I think is great. It will help teenage cancer victims and just everybody with education. They asked me to actually write the theme song for it. That is already written. I laid down some demos for that. I am waiting to just basically fly to London and work with a decent producer and make it kind of like a 'We Are The World' thing."
(Photo by Karen West)