The Rage Returns
An interview with Meliah Rage
by: Adrian Bromley
Five years. That is a long time for a band to put their music on hold but Boston thrashers Meliah Rage did just that after just two releases. The time frame has been long enough and now Meliah Rage singer Mike Munro (whose band's second album _Solitary Solitude_ surfaced in 1990; debut _Kill To Survive_ in 1989) thinks it is time that his band find it's way back into somewhat smaller, less-focused on metal music scene with their stunning third effort _Death Valley Dream_. With a new line-up, keeping original guitarists Anthony Nichols and Jim Koury, the band assembled the 1996 version of Meliah Rage with drummer Dave Barcos and ex-Wargasm bassist Bob Mayo and recorded their third opus. Munro is pumped and excited about the record and possibly touring, but as most metallers know nowadays it's a tough scene in music. He explains to Chronicles of Chaos the ups and downs of being a metal band and resurrecting Meliah Rage. Here is how it went:

CoC: What was the feeling like for the band to, after years of putting the music of Meliah Rage aside, to start it up once again?

Mike Munro: I was busy doing some stuff. I was in three other bands when I wasn't doing Rage. I was in a King's X style band, a blues band and a hard rock band. I tried to use my voice lots when I wasn't playing with Meliah Rage. Getting back into was definitely kind of strange. It was hard to write again. I mean when I wrote the other records I had a lot of aggression in me and that was my outlet back then. And now I didn't have that built up aggression that I did. It was a different thing but I did miss it. You get a little older and you get away from things but it was fun to do this again.

CoC: Has you outlook on the metal industry changed?

MM: It definitely has. I am not as in touch as I should be with what is going on. I am still following metal to what I can but I am more into the Alice In Chains and Soundgarden metal and I am not really keen on the death metal stuff. For me personally I don't get into it. Also because I like singing and that is not singing that I enjoy in death metal. It is a type of singing but nothing I enjoy.

CoC: Do you feel that _Death Valley Dream_ is sort of a concept record or a record that is concentrating on one set of emotions rather than a assortment of scattered ideas and themes? Or maybe it is a collection of ideas...

MM: This record is a lot of ideas thrown together because Bob Mayo did half of the writing of the lyrics which was good because I was having a hard time coming up with stuff. I said, 'Hey Bob! Help me out here' and he came in and helped put a different twist into things. He came up with certain things melody wise that I couldn't come up with and/or something I wouldn't have thought of. I was so used to writing my way and singing it my way but with this record I had to adjust to his writing and his way of how it was supposed to be sung. I still made the music my way but with his ideas/ I liked it that way because I got a different aspect of writing in general.

CoC: Musically _DVD_ seems to be catering to that 80s/late-80s kind of thrash-riff metal but with a 90s sound. You seem to be sticking with that 80s thrash sound. Do you think you will ever try to lose that style of sound in Meliah Rage's music?

MM: This record is us. I can honestly say this that this is the same record we would have released if we had stayed with Epic Records (the band is now with indie label Backstreet records) back in 1992. This is the way we are. I couldn't see us coming out and sounding like Green Day <he laughs>. Some of the feedback we have been getting is, 'This is what we have been waiting for. We thought we might get it from Metallica but...' We wrote what we wrote at the time and this is what came out. The whole process of being a musician or writer is getting it all out and writing what ya feel at the time and your influences at that time. We also stayed with our influences being in the 1980s. I don't know where (James) Hetfield or Lars (Ulrich) got their ideas? Obviously they are into other stuff and it comes out another way.

CoC: With hooking up with Backstreet and putting out _DVD_, was that a make or break thing if you couldn't find a label to put out a record that would be in for Meliah Rage?

MM: We have been shopping the tapes of our music for the last little while, ever since we got off Epic. We have been pushing three demos but ever since we left Epic metal music has been on a decline and trying to find a deal was hard. It was aggravating but we kept at it. But in the meantime everybody kept at it doing their own thing. It wasn't like we were Meliah Rage for the past six years. We were doing different things which every musician does and that adds flavor to your life.

CoC: A lot bands from the era of metal that you surfaced in have either given up or have tried really hard to be accepted. Or bands like you will sit around and wait for the proper time to strike. How was it for you guys?

MM: I think we were lucky. I think people miss the metal scene and it can do well again, especially the music we play or bands like us. The problem is that there are not enough fans embracing bands like us right now. That is the problem we have now. I am doing all these interviews and people are asking me, 'When are you touring?' or 'When are you gonna be in Texas?' and I say, 'If I could be in Texas I would be there tomorrow.' But it takes money to get there. If you don't have the money and clubs don't pay you lots of money then it is hard to make it to Rhode Island, let alone Texas. We want to get out and tour, maybe even hook up onto a good tour but a lot of venues aren't taking the shows. It is tough but I can see it happening. It is now like 1981 or 1982 where things are in the small clubs again where bands are playing there and are now, like back then, breaking out into the scene.

CoC: I think people are just wanting something different again, don't you?

MM: I see what you are saying. I know a lot of people are sick of this whole alternative thing. I listen to the radio and I hear all that stuff on the radio and I wonder why anybody would by that crap. But if that is what they dig then cool for them. I just don't get it.

CoC: With the metal scene maybe on a course back into the spotlight, what do you hope will happen to the metal music this time around that may not have happened last time out?

MM: I hope that the labels recognize it more. I think they should recognize the talent more than just a pretty face. Glam Metal was a type of metal that sold records and got the teen-boppers. I think that the big factor was that the talent was lost. I don't think the labels gave credit where credit was due. That always aggravated me. I hope this time around if it gets bigger again that labels take focus in bands more.

CoC: In your eyes, how do you see this record?

MM: I see this record as us being us. Us being us in 1996. I think we have changed a bit. The songs are a little shorter, more to the point and with a little punch in them. I just really dig it. I have always considered us power metal. I always thought that and I still think we are that. I have always been happy playing this kind of metal and I happy to be doing this again. I think this is the best record we have ever done. I'm happy but at the same time a slight bit aggravated that we might not be able to get put an tour and play shows at this point. I wanna play for people who want to see us and hear what we do. That bums me out that people want to see us play the kind of metal we play and they won't be able to see us. Hopefully touring will be in our cards this year. We'll see.

(article submitted 2/1/1997)

10/11/1996 A Bromley 8 Meliah Rage - Death Valley Dream
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