On the 20th of April, the birthday of Adolf Hitler, about 600 fans come to party with Metal Church and don't think of the past. The rockers come to see one of the most understated bands of the last century. More about the band from bass player Duke Erickson.
Duke, please tell us about the beginning of Metal Church. Let's travel back in time!
Okay, we been a bunch of friends who know each other from school. We all come from a small town in the US state of Washington, about 100 km far from Seattle. It was just for fun at first. Starting by playing cover tunes that been in 1982. About a year later we wrote our first songs. After doing some shows with Metallica in the Bay Area the boys helped us with their contacts to Electra Records. The label signed us and in 1984 we released our debut. That was with our former singer David Wayne and guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof. We toured for awhile e.g. with Exciter in Germany and when the time was right to record our next album The Dark (1986) we have to recognize that we don't know anybody at the label. All the ones who supported us left or been fired and the new ain't interested in us.
So you looked for another company!
Yes, but with Epic the same happened after a while. In the mean time we toured with Metallica in Europe and played in the USA. Than Kurdt told us that he is tired of touring and that he dislike to be on the road any longer. He wanted to take the consequence and wanted to left the band. We are very glad that we found another way.
Kurdt is still in the band, as far as I know, right?
Yeah, he is our 6th member, he still writes the songs and is just missing on tour. So we searched for a guitarist and fortunately found John Marshall. With our former singer it was different. But we had the luck to find Mike Howe, he came from the band Heretic.
Mike gives you more variety in what you playing.
Mike was our lucky chance. With him we made Blessing In Disguise (1989). I remember I always told, it won't take again so long until we release our next record, but the time give me the lie. So now I say, okay it will take about 2 years, perhaps longer. In 1991 we brought out The Human Factor. Than the company dropped us.
You had a cult status, but the sales didn't satisfy the record company.
That was just one problem for us we had with the company. Now we nearly run our own business and we are free in our decisions. It makes it easier. Sure we have to watch the sales, but it turns out very well for us.
That brings us to the current album Hanging In The Balance. What is the difference to the last one?
It's just a natural progress, since our debut we grow and you can hear it in our music. In 1984 it was trash, now we're more melodic, but even hard. The lyrics changed. On our debut we wrote about killing, murders, death, etc. Now we bring in things that happen to us, we write about everyday-life, society problems, e.g. racism or drug abuse. I think these are the themes of heavy metal. Lyrics about flowers or so wouldn't fit. Heavy Metal is to bring out aggressions to find a way to deal with the bad.
Do you all write together on the material? Or does Kurdt come up with an idea and you all continue? Who write the main part of the lyrics, Mike?
We do it in all ways, sometimes Kurdt presents us a finished song, sometimes he had an idea and work it out with John. Or we all sit together doing it. It depends. The lyrics been mostly written by Mike, sometimes together with Kurdt. Sometimes John also helped.
You give yourself the space to work in different ways.
What are your plans for the next time?
We'll play wherever we can. Last time we played in Italy, it was great, but the promoter think he couldn't profit from it. He won't do a thing like that again. That's the problem. Definitely we play in the USA after returning from the European tour in the end of May.
You would like to play in Russia?
For sure, but we have no deal there, that make it difficult. As soon as we have a distribution deal for Eastern Europe we will tour there. Perhaps it won't pay out for us, but we definitely will have fun there and that's what it all is about.
Thank you very much, all the best to you and hopefully you'll soon get the chance for releasing and playing in Russia.
Again I met a very nice guy and I learnt a lot about the band. Perhaps I'll get another chance and can talk to Mike Howe next time...