Posted on May 16th. 2017
Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Jason: Hello there Mick and welcome to Metal To Infinity. I know that your band Corners Of Sanctuary is from Philadelphia, PA. I have to ask when you first formed the band was there much of a Rock/or Metal scene there at the time?
Mick Michaels: Hey Jason! Thanks so much for talking with me.
Jason: There has always been a strong Rock and Metal scene here in the Philadelphia area. There is some great music heritage from this region…very diverse. However, when Corners of Sanctuary formed, we knew we wanted to focus on the classic sound of Metal simply because it didn’t seem to have the presence we thought it should and it was the style of Metal we were most drawn to.
Jason: What year was Corners Of Sanctuary formed? Could you share with us how you met the other members of the band and came to form the band?
MM: Corners of Sanctuary formed in early 2011 after James and I were working on a short-term reunion project with the band Seeker, which we were in during the 80’s. We started talking about doing material that reflected more of our roots and thought it would be great to get back to the style and era that made Metal what it is. In 2013 we brought on Frankie (Cross) as lead vocalist and in 2016 Mad T on drums. We met Frankie through a mutual industry friend. We had been looking for a new vocalist and our friend mentioned he knew someone who would be interested in auditioning. The audition paid off. Mad T has worked with the band since its formation. He co-wrote several of our songs over the years, worked as a roadie and would fill in on drums when our previous drummer was indisposed. I also worked with Mad T on several side projects including Decypher and System Sonic. I also had the pleasure of working with Mad T’s band, Powerless Rise, during the making of their debut album.
Jason: How old were you when you first started playing the Guitar? Did you take lessons or would you consider yourself to be more of a self-taught player?
MM: I actually started playing drums around seven or eight years old and only picked up a guitar occasionally… learned a chord or two. I didn’t start really playing guitar seriously until I was about 13. My older brother played guitar and I would go and see him play in bands. I guess in an effort to be more like him, I switched to guitar.
I never took formal lessons, and in hindsight, should have made more of an effort to do so. However, I quickly learned a few chords and jumped into playing in bands and picked up things along the way. Not the smartest course of action, but I didn’t know any better then. I just did what I did. Yet I never seemed to give it a thought. I was playing and doing what I wanted to do and all seemed right in the world… well, my world at least.
Jason: How old were you when you got your very, first guitar? What do you remember most about that very, first guitar you got?
MM: I was eight and it was Christmas. Both my sister and I received two cheapy themed acoustic guitars… one was Kiss themed and the other was Happy Days themed… hey, it was 1979! Both were really cool and gave me something to work with when I was doing my best Ace Frehley impersonation while listening to Kiss Alive II. But my first “real” guitar was when I was 13… it was a left-handed Cort Les Paul copy… heavy as hell. Wish I never had gotten rid of it.
Jason: Who were Guitar Players who had the greatest influence on you when you were growing up?
MM: My brother, Ace Frehley, Glen Tipton, KK Downing, George Lynch, John Sykes, Jake E. Lee and Criss Oliva.
Jason: Do you remember what was the very, first song you learned to play on Guitar?
MM: Outside of noddling with my own things, it was Smoke on the Water.
Jason: Why did you choose the Guitar as your Instrument of Choice Mick?
MM: Besides at the time wanting to be more like my older brother, I realized that it gave me more of a creative versatility. I remember trying to write songs while playing the drums. They were more of an orchestrated percussive ensemble, which was cool, but not really what I wanted to do. Guitar gave me more flexibility and expressiveness. However, my time with drums afforded me a better understanding of rhythm, timing and flow which I was able to apply to guitar.
Jason: What would you say is your all-time favorite album in your record collection Mick that you feel has had the greatest influence on you? Could you share with our readers why that album had such a huge influence on you?
MM: I actually have two… Stained Class by Judas Priest and Paul Stanley’s first solo album in ’78. Stained Class demonstrates to me a true maturity and mastering in song writing. You can be heavy but still maintain clarity and focus with the music and writing. Plus it contains my favorite Priest song ever – “Beyond the Realms of Death”, co-written by my favorite drummer of all time Les Binks.
With Paul Stanley’s album… emotional content is the driving force of all those tracks. For me, it defined the artist – very deep and very expressive. To me, it was the best of the four solo albums.
Both albums resonate with me on a spiritual level. It is ironic that they both released in the same year. There is a “uniqueness” to sound and the style of the albums. The lead work on both is very moving.
Jason: Corners Of Sanctuary has just released a new EP, which I understand features some new, updated re-recordings of some previously recorded songs. Talk a little about these 2 songs and about the bands decision to re-record these songs?
MM: The decision to re-record these songs came out of the way they both have evolved over time being in the live set. “Wild Card” has always seemed to be a crowd favorite. Over the years the arrangement had been toyed with for shows and it was a song we knew that we wanted to redo since having Frankie take over as lead vocalist. The song originally appeared on our first album Breakout. It was a good song on that album, but with a few tweaks and a new recording we made it an even better song for the EP release.
“My Revenge” was another song that seems to morph over the years. I guess to some degree all the songs change but “My Revenge” seemed to be calling out for it. The arrangement has been altered somewhat and the lyrics are all new. I feel this song has finally come to form as it was meant to be.
Someone once told me…”The music is always new to someone.” A song can live forever in different forms.
Jason: One of the previously released songs which you re-recorded was “Wild Card” which the band has released as a single/video. Talk about the band’s decision to chose “Wild Card” as the lead-off single for the new EP “Cut Your Losses”.
MM: “Wild Card” was one of the first songs ever done by Corners of Sanctuary. Even though the song has been a relative staple in our set since 2011, we felt that it never got the push it deserved. The song has a definite groove to it and seems to grab your attention from the start. So the new EP was all based around “Wild Card”. The EP’s title, “Cut Your Losses”, is a line from the lyrics of “Wild Card”… what better way to kick off the track lineup.
Jason: The band also shot a really fantastic, really pro-looking music video for “Wild Card” could you talk a little bit about the location of the video shoot and what you remember most from the day of the video shoot?
MM: Thank you. We really love the video as well.
We shot the video at Green Lane Park in Pennsylvania in late February. I think we picked the coldest day of the winter to film. There was a lot of wind and we were all freezing but it was a bright clear day for shooting a video. The wind made it very difficult to get the card playing scenes… they just kept flying away. Most of Frankie’s scenes that ended up in the video were shot on or under the old Farm Bridge in the park. It’s now closed off to traffic and made it great for filming. The bridge just has a really cool look and feel which the director thought would add flavor to the visual and we agreed. We actually shot at three different locations; however, the other footage just didn’t seem to have the same impact as the footage done at the bridge. We had a lot of fun despite the cold and some minor complaining from cast and crew… I think if you look really close, you’ll see Frankie shivering!
Jason: Corners Of Sanctuary has released a number of decent music videos throughout the band’s career so while people of course can view all the band’s videos On-Line for free has the band ever thought about putting out some kind of official DVD that would feature the COS Music videos to date along with bonus material, which would also include a COS Live Concert performance?
MM: We have considered and it has been an on and off topic of discussion the last two years. We have tons of live footage from the past five years… some good, some not so good. We had plans to put together a DVD last year of a Midwest tour we did… on the road stuff and what not… it just never panned out the way we wanted and around the same time we had gotten caught up in releasing the best of compilation, “Declaration of Metal”, and it was never revisited. As a group, I know there is an unspoken feeling of “who the hell wants to see a DVD of us” sort of thing. But I am sure at some point we will get something released.
Jason: Corners Of Sanctuary recently opened up a show for Tim “Ripper” Owens who previously sang with Judas Priest and Yngwie Malmsteen. I have to ask Mick what did it mean to you having your band get the opportunity to open a show for Tim Owens?
MM: For us it was amazing. We are huge Judas Priest fans and to us, this was one step closer to getting to work with Priest! Six degrees of separation brought down to a single degree. Just getting the opportunity to talk with him and discuss music was surreal. His voice was stellar…Ripper was amazing and he was one of the nicest guys I have ever met. Very friendly and was appreciative. It was a great night.
Jason: I also saw a photo of Twisted Sister Front man: Dee Snider wearing a COS T-Shirt. What is it like for you to see a Rock Icon like Dee Snider wearing a Corners Of Sanctuary T-Shirt?
MM: If Dee Snider is wearing a COS T-shirt I would shit myself. This is actually a fan rendered Photoshopped image. We appreciate the fans support and the hopefulness that someone of Dee’s caliber notices COS. Dee Snider was one of my favorite singers in the 80’s – he just embodied the frontman persona… in your face, over the top and full throttle – definitely the real deal. If Dee wants a shirt, I’ll send him two… just let me know the sizes!
Jason: I recently received a Corners Of Sanctuary Press release about the new “Cut Your Losses” EP and “Wild Card” video and in that very Press release it describes Corners Of Sanctuary as New Wave Of Traditional Metal act: I love that description…Who came up with that Mick? I must say that’s a great description of the band and it will really help people remember the band’s name!
MM: When we first hit the scene, we were calling ourselves Heavy Metal. To us that said it all. However, we quickly found that what we thought was Heavy Metal, was not considered Heavy Metal by today’s classification. So we always went with the Traditional badge more than the Classic Metal tag. People were labeling us Power Metal, Hard Rock, Old School, Classic… we had even been compared to ZZ Top, Sammy Hager, AC/DC and Anthrax at times. It would run the gambit. It was all cool for us to be associated with any of these great bands. But we felt that we needed something to help set us apart. Since we were definitely influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal but also many American bands, such as Kiss, Savatage and Queensryche, we put the two together and came up with the New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal. We recently saw an article that appeared about bands using the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal moniker, however, COS wasn’t listed. J In the end, whatever anyone wants to classify us as is okay with us as long as they are listening.
Jason: I also read on the band’s FB page that April 22nd the band will be playing a Record-Store In-Store Live Performance. Can you talk a little bit about this event and what they can expect from it should they get to attend this event?
MM: April 22nd is the 10th Annual National Record Store Day. It’s a day to celebrate stores that sell vinyl records and memorabilia. We will be doing an in-store performance at Vinyl Closet Records in Jeffersonville, PA. It is a lot of fun. You’re face to face with the audience – everyone standing pretty much alongside you… like a house party. It’s really cool. This is our second year doing the event. Plus it’s a free event!
Jason: How did you come to name the band: Corners Of Sanctuary?
MM: “Corners of Sanctuary” are places that each of us can go to be ourselves without fear of judgment or ridicule – we can just be who we are. Anything or place can be a “corner of sanctuary” – it can also be a state of mind, thus, a state of being. For us, music is a “corner of sanctuary” and we want to share that with others in the hope that they may find our music a “corner of sanctuary”.
Jason: Anything left that you’d like to say to all the COS fans out there Mick?
MM: Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me Jason and for sharing Corners of Sanctuary with your readers.
We also want to thank our families, friends and especially the fans for all their support. We would not be able to do this without you. You make it possible and we are very grateful. The band is currently working on a new full-length album, titled “The Galloping Hordes,” which we hope to release later this year. We can’t wait to share it with you all! COSnROLL! \m/\m/