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Mick Michaels Tells Tales And Shares Wisdom Of Being A Rock Band!

SRR: It’s been a few years since we last spoke. The band has evolved since then. You have a new drummer in Mad T, and seems to be an excellent addition. What you can tell us about the transition from Sean Nelligan, they both have different styles of play. How did the impact the music?

MM: It has been a few years since last we spoke… thanks so much for having us back. With any transition there are ups and downs. That’s to be expected and we knew that going into it. But bringing Mad T on board was part of the band’s evolution. T had being working with us from the beginning… penning several of our songs including “Only One” and “Shadow Soldiers” among others.  Plus T acted as a fill in drummer on numerous occasions from 2014 to 2016 before joining us full time midway through the year. The choice for us was a simple one.

Styles were definitely different but different is good, in a way that his style added more flow and air to the COS sound. So for us it was a positive. In addition, T also plays guitar and co-wrote some of the music that appears on our latest album “The Galloping Hordes”. For us, the change brought about better songwriting.

SRR: Your latest studio album “The Galloping Hordes” is a bit of a departure from Declaration Of Metal and Metal Machine.  Songs like Cloak of Fear pays homage to progressive metal and one of my faves Soldier’s Last, a drinking song of sorts. No complaints here but why the change up?

MM:  We don’t really look at it as a change-up but more as a natural progression any band would go through.  The songwriting changes… maybe even dare to say it grows, thus, the music changes in kind. Are there more progressive parts associated with this album? Sure… but again just part of the growth. “Metal Machine” was a homage album for us and “Declaration of Metal” was more of a compilation showcasing some highlights from our catalog.  “The Galloping Hordes” might be considered our “coming of age as a band” album. Bands should be expected to grow and not to stay exactly the same album after album… otherwise things get boring on both sides of the record. Bands can “change” and still not lose the essence of who and what they are in terms of style and sound. But regardless of how it’s perceived, we are very proud of it.

SRR: Speaking of something different, you have released a CD that you made available only at your live shows, Finding Sanctuary. The record including some remakes with your current lineup  and updating some of your songs. I love the uniqueness of that idea. Can you tell me more about how you came up with that and why you thought it was the best way to promote the album?

MM: We wanted to bring things up to speed. Songs are always evolving, especially the ones that are played in the live set.  Almost all of the songs on “Finding Sanctuary” appear in our live set, with the exception of a few. We wanted the chance to present those songs as they are today, which in some cases, are very different from when they were first written and recorded. A song is always new to someone regardless of how long it has been around. And just because it was on a past album doesn’t mean it can’t be dusted off and improved. That’s how we look at things.

Having “Finding Sanctuary” available only at the lives shows give people another reason to come see us… something that can only be had by being there and being part of the experience. It’s a newly polished compilation album of songs from the live set for those who want a little of everything to take home with them.

SRR: You recently toured the West Coast and the Midwest, how is that different then playing your home base of the East Coast.

MM: Touring is such an experience regardless of where you are and it’s something this band enjoys greatly.  Touring the West Coast means never having to worry about snow and ice while traveling…. 🙂 But there really is no difference to us.  It’s all about bringing the music out to the people and sharing an experience. The last two years has had us less on the East Coast but that’s been more because of scheduling and what we are presented with than anything else.

SRR: Do you find the rock and roll and metal are alive and well as opposed to the continued discussion of rock is dead?

MM: For the artist, Rock and Metal are alive and kicking. Go into any town or city, and you’ll find the venues are crawling with artists working hard to get their music out there for all to hear. How can something be considered dead when the people who create it are still creating?  It’s very much alive for us.

SRR: Now I am going to ask you a comparison question based on the rock is dead theme. Now that you have played throughout the U.S. and saw those crowds and reaction to your music. But you just came back from a tour of Europe. You had to have seen a difference. Can you tell me what the experience was like to be there and the whole scene and some highlights from that tour?

MM: We had a great time in Europe.  It was definitely one of the pinnacle moments for this band. The people were very welcoming and the music was well received. We definitely saw a difference with the Metal fans in Europe. Their connection to the music seems to go beyond just their favorite bands… they are one with the music as a collective. They are very knowledgeable as well and can talk for hours on not just Metal music but all music genres.  It’s amazing. Sure people have their favorites, but their acceptance and appreciation of music in general is very inspiring.

A couple of the immediate highlights that come to mind are playing at a Festival in Hagan which had the entire town in attendance… and playing to a packed house in Hannover.  It was great. Another highlight has to be being able to film a video in Hannover for our song “Hail, Hail.” That was really cool. A couple of times I had to tell myself that it was really happening. We had an awesome time.

SRR: Continuing on the live story line, since we last spoke, you have shared the stage with many major acts like, Saxon, Stryper, Britney Fox, UDO and the Bullet Boys to name a few. How’s that experience been meeting them and playing with them?

MM: It’s been nothing but positive. It’s great to not only have the opportunity to perform with some of our favorite acts but also to have an opportunity to just talk to them and experience that they are regular people like the rest of us. We are all in the same boat… they just have staterooms on the upper decks.

SRR: Any crazy stories you would like to share about them?

MM: Nothing really crazy, but when we were with the Bullet Boys, they had just gotten off a plane from Phoenix. They were in sound check and the bass player was having issue with his bass being out of whacked.  Backstage he was chatting with James and expressed his concern about not being able to use it for the show.  James so kindly then offered my services to make some adjustments on his bass… “My guitar player works on guitars, he can fix that for you.”  Next thing I know I’m talking tech with the guy and making adjustments to his bass neck and all.  We were playing in the middle of summer here in PA and the drastic humidity change from Arizona wreaked havoc on the bass. Thankfully things worked out and he was happy. The show must go on.

I’m sure Frankie has a story or two when he had breakfast with Dave Shankle from Manowar at a Denny’s in Battle Creek Michigan at 4am… but that might be for another time and place…

SRR: When I first interviewed the band, social media was just taking off. How have you seen it change and how do you use it now compared to then?

MM: Actually, we are still learning the ropes ourselves. Social media adds a whole other element to being in a band. Without it, it’s easy to lose touch. We have found it allows us to stay current with band happenings… faster than our own website. Whereas the website was once our hub, now certain social media platforms have taken that role. That’s where the people are… that’s where they are spending their time and listening to music. So that’s where we try and be.

SRR: I have seen now that more bands, including C.O.S. are using internet radio and podcasts to get the word out about your music and shows. Do you think that’s the avenue to go now for bands trying to make it?

MM: I think internet radio and the like are a sign of the times. More and more people have discovered internet radio as a true source of indie and underground music. There’s a freedom with these types of outlets that give bands a larger voice and in turn, helps build a listening audience.Since things today are so genre specific, every type of music has its audience to connect with. We have always looked at these types of outlets as just another version of our live show.  As a band besides writing music, our passion is to play that music and share it with ours. This helps us do that.

SRR: A new thing that’s been taken off for bands is the Pledge Music, Kickstarter and the like as a way to make an album or support a tour, etc., Is that something you have considered?

MM: We have considered it. However, we are not completely comfortable with people just giving us their hard-earned money.  Unfortunately, there has been some who have taken advantage of fans generosity and don’t deliver.  This is not us. We want to avoid any possibility of letting our fans down. So we have approached it a different way.  We’ve created unique merch packages that we made available and have even sold advertising space on CD inserts and in music videos to generate funds for recording and touring. There are so many options available.  Bands just need to find what works best for them.

SRR: One thing I have noticed that bands are doing to sustain themselves is through sponsorships. You guys seem to have that down. How hard is it to get them, and what would you advise bands on how to get them?

MM: The toughest part is getting the first one. After that is does get a bit easier. But bands have to do their part as well. That means regular postings about the product, photos, tagging and touring. Most sponsors want to see that a band is active with shows, fan interaction, creating music, etc. Before looking to get any sponsor make sure the band is presented properly and professionally, and that the band acts as such. Sponsors are a business and they except those whom they work with it to respect that and act the same.

SRR: You have switched record labels recently. Can you tell me how that came about and what the experience is like trying to get one?

MM: We thought it was time to move on and find a label that was more suitable to our style of music… one that really appreciates the old school, classic sound.  We already had the new album in the works and began speaking with a number of people… we decided to move forward with Killer Metal Records. It was the right fit for our sound and this album.

Finding a label can be a long and drawn out process.  For many it’s a numbers games and we get that completely because it’s a business. But we also feel it’s important that the music is given its voice and not just thrown on a roster of bands where it can get lost in the shuffle. Unfortunately, bands don’t always have that choice. But regardless of label, in the end, a band is responsible for what happens to their music.

SRR: It’s exciting to see that you still put out a new Christmas song every year and EP. How did you start that tradition? Will it continue? Counting the Days ‘Til Christmas Comes is your most recent one and very well done. What inspires you to write them?

MM: Christmas is my favorite time of year. I had always wanted to write an original Holiday song. When this band first got together, writing a holiday song was on the list of things we wanted to make sure was included.  We didn’t plan for it to be an every year thing but it turned out to be that way.  People really seem to like them. We have done both original songs and classic Holiday favorites like “Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World” that include a bit of a twist… some instrumental and some that have vocals. This new EP, “Counting the Days…A Merry Metal Xmas V,” is actually our seventh outing in the Holiday song arena but our fifth installment in the Merry Metal Xmas series. It gives us a chance to do something fun and different. Will it continue?  We hope so.

SRR: What’s next for the band?

MM: We finish up 2018 with a couple of more shows then we are taking some time off for the Holidays.  After which we head back into the studio to work on our next full-length album. We are looking forward to recoding some new material and building on the Corners of Sanctuary sound. Right now 2019 is an open slate.  This band has been on the go almost non-stop since late 2015.  A little downtime never hurt no body… : )

SRR: As we close the interview is there anything you would like fans to know?

MM: We just want to thank all the fans who support us.  You have given our music a voice to be heard and a place in your hearts. For that we are extremely grateful. You rock! COSnROLL\m/\m/

You can learn more and follow the band here.

Check out their latest single Hail, Hail below.

#CornersOfSanctuary #MickMichaels

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