CORNERS OF SANCTUARY – A Talk With MICK MICHAELS (Guitars/Keyboards)

 

Posted on March 12th. 2019

Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM


Jason: Hello Mick and welcome back to Metal To Infinity. hank You so much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to do this interview with us.

Mick Michaels: Hello Jason! Thank you for having me back. Always a pleasure talking with Metal To Infinity. You guys have been such great supporters and we are very grateful for that!

 

Jason: Since the last interview we did Mick I know the band briefly went through a Lead Singer change.  The band briefly had a female Singer.  Talk a little bit about that situation.  Who was she and what was that time period like having a different Singer and why did she end up not staying with the band?

MM: By July 2017, the band had been on the go non-stop for more than two years running. I guess it was taking its toll on everyone, moreso Frankie… but we wanted to keep going. So, sadly, we parted ways. We had to find a replacement as we were already scheduled for a number of shows including a West Coast tour that Fall. We connected with Treese Logan and we all felt that making a change in the lead singer dynamic was a good move. So we went with it.

 

To be blunt but short, it was a difficult time for all of us. Personality-wise we just did not gel well at all. However, I think the biggest challenge was that our work ethic was different. Joining a band is a huge commitment and unfortunately, that commitment is not glamorous and requires a ton of work that most often results in a lot of sacrifice. Inevitably it just did not work out…which is unfortunate, as we felt there was a lot of potential to do some great things together. But everything happens for a reason.

 

Jason: I was reading on the band’s FACEBOOK page that the band was a big winner in regards to the 2019 Rock Wired Report.  That’s really fantastic!  Talk a little bit about this accomplishment and what it means to you and your band mates.

MM: We were pretty excited to receive word that we were nominated in seven categories in the Rockwired Readers Poll. That was really cool. We wound up winning four of the seven nominations including Best Band, Best Album for “The Galloping Hordes,” as well as Best Album Artwork and Best Guitarist. The band is very proud of this accomplishment for sure. But we are very grateful to all the fans that made it possible. We can’t thank them enough. It means we are doing something that people like and that they like it enough to let others know about it.  That is the greatest compliment a band can ever hope for…so thank you everyone!

 

Jason: Corners Of Sanctuary is described on your own FACEBOOK page as The New Wave Of Traditional Metal.  Now most people have heard of The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.  Talk about the descriptor in regards to what “Traditional Metal” is to you.

MM: The full moniker is actually the New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal…J The name is just a collection of what influenced and inspired us and what we aspired to do musically. Bands like Judas Priest and Accept from the NWoBHM era had a big impact on us…but so did their American counterparts like Savatage, Kiss and Queensryche.  So what we do is an eclectic mixing of what resonates with us…that’s the music of Corners of Sanctuary. Traditionally the elements of what made those bands great are what we strive to do ourselves…it’s an honorable pursuit to try and emulate your heroes.

Jason: Mick I know you’re a huge Kiss fan so I have to ask you what do you think of Kiss making the announcement that they have decided that their current World Tour will be their FINAL Tour?

MM: If we have learned anything from the X-files, everything ends… I think it’s a pretty fitting way to go out; a three year tour, doing everything and anything…maybe we will get lucky and see Kiss do a Super Bowl Halftime slot before their end of the road comes about. However, I think Kiss will endure… this isn’t the end, maybe the end of the big tours, traveling the world, but I would guess that Kiss has a lot more in store for the fans…one-off shows, appearances, club dates, maybe even Broadway…hell Springsteen is doing it, why not Kiss? I have my tickets to see them on this tour. I really don’t care about all the BS that has been spewing around about lip syncing and backing tracks or whatever. It’s the show to see regardless. You are either a Kiss fan or you’re not…it’s that simple…and I’m a Kiss fan.

 

Jason: One more Kiss related question.  2019 marks the 40th anniversary of Kiss’s DYNASTY album.  Because of the song “I was made for loving you” Kiss fans are divided in that there’s a portion of fans that love it and there’s a portion of the Kiss fans who think of Dynasty as a Disco album because of that one song.  My question to you Mick is what are your thoughts on Dynasty as an overall album?  I mean are you with the portion of Kiss fans who love it or with the portion of fans who hate it?

MM: I loved the song from day one. It’s a killer tune regardless of what people want to label it. It’s music man…it showed up on the “Endless Love’ soundtrack…hahaha! I think Dynasty is a great record. The only song I don’t like is “Dirty Living”. …but “2000 Man,” “Magic Touch”… and “Charisma”…all killer tunes! People love to judge… there is comfort in it. Most bands only wish they could put some groove into their tunes… It’s a favorite of mine.

 

Jason: Just had a chance to hear the new Corners Of Sanctuary album:  The Galloping Hordes which I understand you produced.  Talk about your decision to produce the album yourself rather that to bring in an outside Producer?

MM: People often like go to an outside producer to either get a fresh perspective that they may be lacking or to attach a name to the project to give it some lift. We were presented with that opportunity as well on several occasions. There are always pros and cons. However, the band felt that we really needed someone who understood the music and the goal we were trying to achieve. The guys felt confident that I was the person to do it…and I am grateful for that, and I took what was needed to be done very seriously. For one thing, this meant getting everyone involved in the writing, which to me is what makes this album shine…the rest just fell into place.

Jason: Serving as the band’s Producer I have to ask you Mick what did you enjoy the most about that experience?

MM: Many of the subtle changes happened in the studio…some vocal parts and inflections; guitar over lays, things like that. That is when the magic seems to happen.  That is the part I like…the song starts at one place, as one thing and ends up somewhere else as something you didn’t expect. To me that is pure music magic.

 

Jason: While I know you’re quite busy with Corners Of Sanctuary if the opportunity were to present itself would you ever have any interest in producing other acts?

MM: Most definitely!  I have been fortunate to work behind the scenes with a few projects besides Corners…it’s very cool to be part of the development process. So yes, hit me up and let’s get to work!

 

Jason: I’d like to get your thoughts now on something that has become more of a trend lately.  What do you think of the fact that so many people now at sporting events not only take a knee when they play the National anthem but that musical acts are now being protested, boycotted when it is announced they have been hired to play the National anthem?  I mean look at the recent Super Bowl.  There were a lot of acts that backed out from playing this year’s Super Bowl because they received such a nasty backlash.

MM: It’s a free country I guess. All I’m going to say is you either view yourself as an American or you don’t. Ask a Veteran what it means to be an American…

 

Jason: In regards to the new album Mick was everyone in the band involved with the songwriting process?

MM: Yes, this time around we had everyone contribute to the songwriting writing process…moreso with lyrics, but everyone puts their flavor and stamp on the music too, otherwise it wouldn’t be Corners of Sanctuary.

 

Jason: I know home base for Corners Of Sanctuary in Philadelphia.  Is there much of a music scene there these days?

MM: Music is everywhere.  Some of it is right out in the open for everyone to see and others have to be uncovered and discovered. Philly has always had a music scene and it’s rich and diverse. People often confuse venues with the music scene.  Venues are but a place where bands and artists can perform but they aren’t the music scene…the artist is. It’s alive and kicking here!

 

Jason: I saw on the band’s FACEBOOK page that you’ll be doing a show with Ex Iron Maiden Singer:  Blaze Bayley? Were you a fan of the albums he made with Iron Maiden?

MM: We are stoked for this show with Blaze in April. It’s gonna be a good one.

I always thought the albums Blaze did were good solid albums; they were just a bit different from what fans were used to hearing, but solid nonetheless.  Those albums were released during a time when most Metal was unpopular, so I am sure that didn’t help. Hey, I have always looked at it this way: if Steve Harris thought Blaze was good enough for Maiden then so did I.

 

Jason: I will agree Mick that I think your band:  Corners Of Sanctuary reminds me of old school Metal.  I’d say the band sounds like a cross between Iron Maiden and Judas priest.  Were you at all influenced by those bands?

MM: Absolutely!  For me, I was more influenced by Judas Priest.  KK Downing is my favorite guitar player. But Maiden gave us the gallop and that is something we like to use a lot.  It just drives a song like a steamroller leaving nothing standing in its path. I don’t think Metal would be where it is today without the likes of Priest and Maiden.

 

Jason: In regards to the new Corners Of Sanctuary album I really urge people to go out and get it.  I mean 10 really great Metal songs and the thing is Mick that the album really flows in a nice way and as the album progresses the songs just get better and better.  By the time track 10 ends you wish there were 11 tracks.  How happy were you when you got the final CD in your hand and played it for the very, first time?

MM: Thank you for that, it means a lot to us to know people enjoy the music. We are very proud of this album. From start to finish we had a great experience making it.  There was a lot of positive energy put into it. When we heard the final mastered mixes from Bill (Metoyer) we were blown away.  I think I made the comment that “I wished I could play with this band”… to me it was that good.

We put the track listing together just like they did back in the day…each song builds on the next, creating continuity, flow, tension and intensity. We don’t look at an album as a bunch of singles strung together but as a collection of like-minded themes. To us, that is part of the process of making an album.

 

Jason: In regards to The Galloping Hordes were all the songs written specifically for this album or is there any older material that you had laying around that finally made it on to the new album?

MM: All the songs for this album were written for this album specifically. Actually, when we started writing and recording, we had planned to release a double album of material. As the recording sessions went on we realized that in today’s climate that wouldn’t be so prudent. So we have a handful of songs shelved and waiting for our next record.

 

Jason: How many of the new songs will make it into the band’s set list?

MM: Right now we have three songs in the set: “The Galloping Hordes,” “Hail, Hail,” and Encage, Enslave or Die.” We did perform “If You Dare” once last Fall but plan to have it part of the regular set rotation by late spring. We have a number of songs people enjoy hearing.  So to put a new song in, something else has to come out… and that’s hard to do.  So instead of completely removing something permanently, we use a set rotation with a handful of songs…this way things remain fresh.

 

Jason: What’s the hardest thing about coming up with a set list for you?

MM: Leaving something out…especially a song you know rocks.  But for us, set lists are designed based on what moves the crowd… we are doing this for them; they are giving us their time, so we try to make it the best time spent.

Jason: What plans does the band have Tour wise?

MM: We are putting together dates now which include a number of shows on the East coast that may encompass a short New England tour as well as another West Coast tour in the Fall.  We are also looking to head back to Europe in 2020.

 

Jason: Anything left that you’d like to say to all the C.O.S. fans out there Mick?

MM: There is nothing to say but thank you to all the fans for all their support! You guys rock!!

 

Jason: Thanks again Mick!

MM: Thank you Jason for having me. All my best and keep rockin’ brother! \m/\m/

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