Interview with: Tony Nichols, Meliah Rage's guitarist.
One of the greatest thrash groups that were active in the late 80's and early 90's, was Meliah Rage, a band that released several albums that are, in my opinion, some of the best the genre has to offer.
But the times were changing, and metal became a thing of the past, and so Meliah Rage, as many other excellent metal bands, got dropped off the major labels, that wanted to cash in on the grunge movement that grew at the time.
But they are back, news of a new album has been circulating for some time, and now Barley Human, the band's latest release, is finally out, to celebrate the occasion, I talked to Tony Nichols, the band's originator and master mind:
A: Hi Tony! Barely Human is out now, what can you tell us about the new album?
T: Well, it's very much the kind of music we always did, power metal with speed metal thrown in, very similar to Death Valley Dream out last official album,
It's very aggressive, but still melodic, typical Meliah Rage.
A: You've worked with two former Wargasm members, how did you contact them?
T: Wargasm are from our home town, and they broke up during the 90's, they were good friends of ours, So former band members used to play with us,
A: Why did they break up?
T: It's actually the brothers in the band, they used to fight a lot, and eventually they decided to disband.
A: The album is also released in a limited pressing with a 95' album you recorded but never released, why wasn’t it released, and how would you define it, music wise?
T: After we got dropped by Epic we worked with Sally Erna, who's now Godsmack's vocalist's, who's also a very good drummer.
We did some demos that were never released, and that's the album known as Unfinished Business, which Screaming Ferret, our label, decided on releasing as a bonus disk on the new album.
A: Was that your idea?
T: No, I'm not too sure about them doing that, but I guess they wanted something extra go give the fans, added value for their money, and they have more experience than I do in such things.
A: what brought on your current re-union?
T: We never really split up, we had songs that we demoed for a long time, we just got the right offer from Screaming Ferret.
A: Where is Mike Munro, your former vocalist?
T: Mike is married and he has two kids now, so he didn’t want to commit to something which will take up so much time now, and u can understand that, no one else in the band is married and has similar obligations,
A: Where did you find your current vocalist?
T: Me and Paul know each other for ten years or so, and when we decided on recording I immediately suggested to him to sing with us, he has a great voice, a really good vocalist, and he also has this look to him, something like Mike had, he looks really aggressive and intimidating on stage, which is great for live shows, I'm really happy with him being with us.
A: what did you guys do during these years?
T: We kept on working, we did several things, but we kept on working on stuff.
A: What can you tell me about the video for the album?
T: The video was filmed on the set of a film called God Of Vampires, which is an independent horror movie, we did this song that'll also be on the film's soundtrack, and also got to use the set, which saved a lot of money, and also could put in clips from the film in the video, I'm very happy with the result, I think it turned out great.
A: there's been quite a resurgence of classic metal bands re-forming, was that a part in your decision to regroup?
T: Not really, we were somewhat active all along.
A: What is your take about this string of bands, all doing the kind of music they did in the 80's?
T: I like that, even though you can also take Metallica, a band that changed and managed to stay on top.
A: Yea, but their last record sucked bad, I mean, Load and Re-load were pretty much OK, but the St. Anger one was total garbage…
T: I know what you mean, but a band that kept on going as long as they did, you have to re-invent yourself, you have to do new stuff all the time, and I actually quite liked the Load album,
A: I think they got things wrong after the black album,
T: Maybe, but they got a few albums that are history, things like Master Of Puppets and Justice for all…
A: How did you sign with Screaming Ferret? I know that a lot of the re-united thrash bands opted for a European label?
T: They just had a good offer, and were really persistent, they actually wanted us to sign, and when they showed up at my house…
A: Showed up at your house???
T (Laughs…) Yea, I understood I just have to sign with them...
A: When did you feel. Back in the 90's, that thrash isn’t selling anymore?
T: It was during shows we did in Seattle, the grunge scene was just emerging then, there were a lot of posters for bands named Soundgarden and Nirvana, that no one knew at the time, but we could hear people talking about them a lot, so we knew that things were changing.
A: How is working with a major label different then your work process now?
T: Well, evidently there's a lot less money to work with, so you have to be much more focused in the studio, you don’t get the amount of studio time you were used to,
When we did Solitary Solitude we had like three months to work with, with a 100,000$ budget, and now, of course, we have much less.
So what I do is that I do all the preparations in my home studio, I do all the songs, I have a clear vie of how they'll sound like, and only then we went into the studio to do the actual recording, we only had to play.
A: what are your plans now, once the album is out?
T: We certainly want to tour, I don’t know exactly what's our status in Europe, but I did tons of interviews with European magazines, and I hope we get a good audience over there, we have something like 4 months of shows next summer, with lots of Europe, South America, USA shows, and also in Canada.