Ronny Munroe - Metal Church

August 12, 2008


Photo Credit: www.thegauntlet.com

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Iím originally from Seattle, Washington. I was a drummer before I became a singer. I played for about seven or eight years. Then I heard Ronnie James Dio on the radio singing ďMan On The Silver MountainĒ and that was it for me. I knew I had to be a singer. Thatís how that happened. Iíve been around for quite a while. Iíve done a lot of things. A lot of bands in Seattleís original scene, Top 40, tribute bands, and then in 2002 with an original Seattle band called Rottweiler. We did the Wacken festival in Germany. We did that in Ď02. Right before I was ready to start recording vocals for the new Rottweiler CD, I was asked to join Metal Church.

Oh, wow. Were you a fan of the band before that?

Yes, I was. I was a huge fan of Metal Church. In fact, I used to drive around in my car screaming ďGods Of WrathĒ at the top of my lungs not knowing that 20 years later Iíd be the singer.

That is awesome.

Yeah, Iíd say one of those dreams come true.

How did you wind up landing the gig?

A friend of a friend actually. I was actually heading up to audition for Kurdtís solo project, Vanderhoof and we started talking. I mentioned to him about Metal Church and asked him why he wasnít doing that. He gave me a list of things that have happened in the past and whatnot. He didnít really want to do it but after two weeks of phone calls from me hounding him a bit, saying ďwhat about Metal Church? What about Metal Church?Ē Then he decided thatís what he wanted to do and he called me and asked me ďokay, so you want to do Metal Church?Ē I said ďshit, fuck yeah.Ē

After youíd been hounding him for a while.

Thatís how the band was reformed. I just did This Present Wasteland. Thatís my third CD with the band.

Thank you so fucking much for getting him interested in bringing Metal Church back together. That has always been such an awesome band.

Yeah, definitely. Theyíve always had a cult following but they were one of the pioneers of thrash metal there in the Bay area.

Now the fans know they owe it to you that theyíre finally back.

Yeah, Iím happy about that too. This new album is very good. Weíre all pleased about it. Itís a return to the roots of Metal Church in my opinion. The songs are a bit more simplistic than A Light In The Dark. Thereís some reminiscent things there from the first couple of Metal Church records so weĎve been told. So weíre really happy about that.

Yeah, this one is definitely a lot thrashier I think.

This one is?

I think so, yeah.

Well, good. Thatís what their beginning roots were was thrash metal.

The band has had three different vocalists and that always tends to change the way a band sounds.

Well yeah, vocally it does. As far as writing and whatnot, Kurdt writes all the music and generally always has with a little bit of input here and there back in the past. But since Iíve been in the band, heís generally wrote probably all the songs. He tries to keep it as close to the old stuff as possible but also as you get older and you evolve, things just turn out differently sometimes. You get a little bit of different influences thrown in there and then the end result is a great album which weíve done this time.

A lot of times when people start out in a band, theyíre really young and kind of immature and sometimes they write some rather childish shit. Give it 10 or 20 years and they mature.

Well yeah, exactly and I know there was some of the content back in the old days which was fitting for what was going on at the time. Now I think if you listen to some of the words and whatnot, itís not really political now on this new record but the album title is This Present Wasteland so all the songs deal with that situation. Just my opinion and Kurdtís opinions on the world today. Observations.

Yeah, my dad talks to me sometimes about politics. Especially all the weird shit weíre going through right now with Bush and he always talks to me about songs that he grew up with that talked about politics a lot. He always asks me if people still sing songs like that. I say yeah, people still write songs about political situations and social situations but I donít think people pay as much attention to that kind of stuff as maybe they did in my dadís generation.

Well, you could be right about that. I want to say that thereís nothing overly political at all or overly religious on this new record and really never has been. Kurdtís vision from the very formation of Metal Church in the beginning was just to always have positive lyrics because thereís enough negativity in this world without us adding to it. And also just to point that out, two things I donít talk about especially over the microphone and I donít really talk about religion and politics a lot at all, but is politics and religion. That always gets you in trouble because everyone always has their own opinion and sometimes that gets to be a very heated debate. There you have it. Thatís what the problem with all that is.

Yeah and then you start alienating fans and shit like that.

Exactly and thatís not what weíre about. Weíre about our fans and every band is Iím sure or should be if theyíre not. Because bottom line, the fans are who keep us around. Weíd all still be doing music individually or whatever it is because we all love music but weíve got to have the fans to come out and see the shows, to buy the t-shirts, and to buy our CDs so really itís a lot about the fans. Just like the new album cover. We held a contest for fan artwork. I think the cover we have right now is very simplistic but for Kurdt it told the story that he wanted it to for as far as the way Metal Church has been and what Metal Church means to him.

I read somewhere that you were saying this album for the most part is more about how you guys feel about the music industry.

Well, thatís involved in there too. And Iíll point out the song ďMonsterĒ. Thatís the one song in particular right there that the subject matter is a little bit about everything. Just downloading and digital everything. How easy it is now for recording which sometimes can also be a downfall. So basically what I said earlier about This Present Wasteland, there are a lot of different elements that are mixed in there. What I just said about the digital age, war. Things like the song ďWar Never WonĒ, virtually that is written about world wars as well as personal wars that we all battle. Basically there are a few different subjects but it all pretty much if you really listen and read the lyrics, it all pertains to the title.

How long did it take you guys to work on the record?

I think we were working on that for about six to eight months I believe.

How do you feel the record differs from the last release and how is it similar?

Well, letís see. Itís not as progressive as songs from A Light In The Dark like ďBeyond All ReasonĒ and ďDisappearĒ and whatnot but there are still a little bit of those elements in there. Basically I think this album has elements from the first album I did with Metal Church, Weight Of The World, and some of the stuff from A Light In The Dark and also newer stuff. Like I said Kurdt does all of the musical writing and basically when he goes in and starts to write, he formulates whatever. He gets in a certain mood and I get MP3s and every time everything is pretty cohesive. But it has changed a little bit from A Light In The Dark but like I said there are similar elements. Long story long.

So he writes the music and sends it to you in MP3s and thatís when you put your input into it.

Yeah, I write the lyrics from there but then there will also be times that Iím up at the house there with them and heíll lay down a riff and say ďwhat do you think about that?Ē. Majority wise, he writes all the music and I get to write the lyrics.

The digital age is good for something.

Well yeah, it is. I donít want to go off on the whole downloading thing because I guess itís a necessary evil. With that said, with downloading and whatnot your music is getting out to a lot broader audience then it may not have reached. But then the downfall is that people download for free. But the true fans out there, which Metal Church has a lot of, even if they download something I know that theyíre going to go out and actually buy the album when itís in the store. Because like myself, I want to see the liner notes. I want to read the lyrics. I want to know weíre in the special thanks. I want to see the pictures because to me, Iím old school, I used to wait in line at 12 midnight at Tower Records for the newest Judas Priest release.

Yeah, I come from the generation that still had LPs and the most exciting thing to me was to just sit there and look at the artwork. Then when it turned into CDs that was still something I always enjoyed and I still do. I like to sit there and look at the artwork because it says a lot about the band.

Well yeah, exactly. On what they choose for their artwork and whatnot, youíre right. That does say a lot about people.

Thatís my favorite part of any record. When I got your CD in the mail I sat there looking at the artwork. In some ways it looks kind of depressing and in some ways itís kind of neat because it is so simple.

Well, yeah. The depressing part will probably be the barren field. When you see the cross and then you look at the reflection, itís the guitar cross instead which has been Metal Churchís insignia forever since day one. For me thatís the cool part of that. Also for Kurdt that was basically stating what he thought was his vision for Metal Church from the beginning like I said about just being a positive band. You can smile in metal.

Nah, you have to have that metal sneer and that growly voice.

Cookie monster.

I understand that youíre involved in a solo project of some sort.

Yeah, the guitar player that weíve hired for Metal Church is my guitar player in my solo band. As well he was the guitar player in Rottweiler. Rick Van Zandt. Iíve done a few shows. Iíve recorded a demo and when we get back from a couple of shows here, within the next month weíre going to start recording my solo record. Kurdtís going to engineer and produce it for me and Iím really looking forward to it. Balls out metal with little progressive hints here and there. Iíve got some of my demo tracks as well on my MySpace that people can check out.

I think I will check that out because Iím curious.

I appreciate that. There are a couple of metal songs. Then thereís a song called ďAlwaysĒ that I took off. Iím going to put that back up. I took that off to put the new Metal Church clips on. Thatís something a little bit different. Itís more rock because on my solo record Iím going to go balls out metal but thereís also a side of me thatís a bit more 70ís rockish. Deep Purple. Ian Gillen, Ronnie James Dio, and things like that. Thereís a lot in store in the future, Angela, coming up and weíre all very excited about it.

I grew up with ďSmoke On The WaterĒ and I used to think that that was the only song that Deep Purple ever put out. Itís kind of weird. Sometimes you grow up with something and you never really pay any attention to it. Then one day you get a hold of a Deep Purple album and you actually listen to it and think the bandís really cool. Then next thing you know, youíre buying all of their CDs and wondering why you never listened to them all along. I did that. It was about 10 years ago. I fell into this love for Deep Purple.

You know what? Youíre not the only one because believe it or not, even though I knew a few of their songs, I just recently became a huge fan of Uriah Heep.

You find yourself buying all of their shit.

Well yeah, exactly. Actually Iím going to cover one of their songs, ďStealinĒ, on my solo record.

Oh, thatís cool.

I was going to do ďMan On The Silver MountainĒ but I heard that song on AM radio when I was a kid. Then all of a sudden it popped on the radio again just a couple of months ago and I was like ďhey, wait a minute. I need to go get that.Ē Listened to it a few times and started singing along and Iím like ďI want to do that song.Ē So thatís going to be cool.

I DJ on a couple of my friendsí radio stations and Iíll play a song and people are like ďI havenít heard that in a while.Ē It starts bringing back memories.

Yeah, exactly. Thatís what music is all about sometimes. Itís universal.

You guys had a guitarist change where your old one left and your friend joined. How did you guys decide on who you wanted as a replacement?

Well, we had of course a lot of qualified applicants that would have liked to join the band and it was kind of a location thing. First of all, Rick is a kickass player. I need to state that. There are other elements involved in there. We brought him in. I told Kurdt about him first and foremost and then he came in and just played a little bit. That was it. He fit in. Heís got a good personality. Kept very long hair. Longer than mine. Rickís just the right fit. Chemistry is everything.

I definitely love to see guys with hair. I just canít get into the bald thing for some reason.

Yeah, Iím going to keep my hair for as long as I possibly can.

Cool. So you guys played at Rocklahoma.

Yeah, my solo band did.

How was that?

That was awesome. I had a great time. The stage was nice and big. The PA sounded great. Thank God we got to play the day before the storm hit. The side stages collapsed and they even shut the whole main stage up but they recovered. They were able to set up the side stages in the main tent later on that night I believe and things went on according to plan. That place where it was held is a mile away from Kansas so I think thatís like tornado city.

Yeah, Oklahoma is anyway. I havenít been able to go to that yet but it seems like ever since they started that itís been such a phenomenal success.

I had a lot of fun and Iím thinking of going back next year as well. Iím going to be performing one of my songs at the Rock The Bayou thing with my friends Azraelís Bane.

You guys are coming through Dallas with Judas Priest arenít you?

No, we had a tour and things fell apart. Basically all financial reasons and thatís basically all Iím going to state on that because I donít want to bad mouth anybody. Things just did not work the way they were supposed to work and it was going to end up costing us out of our own pocket to go on the road and thatís not the way itís supposed to be.

Thatís sad. I was looking forward to that.

Yeah, Angela with the weak economic times, gas prices, and things like that, there are a lot of bands that Iíve seen that have had to cancel tours or theyíre all going out instead of in expensive buses, theyíre going in RVs which is what we were going to do. We were actually going to go out in an RV instead of a bus because we would like to tour. Then at the last minute the budget came in. There were missing figures and we kept being told to just get out on the road and theyíll fix everything. No, weíre not going to go out on the road and have you fix things. Anyway, long story long, it just didnít work out and weíre sad about that because we love to play and I know the fans are pissed off, certain ones, and sad about it as well. All I can say is that weíll make that up.

Yeah, thatís kind of scary to go out on tour and you donít know what to expect. Then you wind up high and dry somewhere.

Yeah, exactly. Weíve got hiring road crew off the street or something like that. That would give those people a few extra bucks but they really donít know what theyíre doing. Besides that factor, all kinds of other things can happen. Something can happen with the RV and this and that. If we donít have the correct funds because of certain issues it just gets to be a complete headache and it takes the fun out of a lot of it because thatís what music is about. And touring and playing gigs. Itís what we live for. But then when people on the other end donít make things correct the way that they should have or the way they promised, that leaves us no choice.

Yeah, true. Thatís a fucking bummer though.

Yeah, but weíre going to make it up and weíre going to do it right.

Cool. So you guys are doing an acoustic show for charity.

Oh yeah, thatís just me and my guitar player Rick Van Zandt. I live in Castle Valley, CA and itís actually through the Rotary Club. Thereís a lady there that basically serves low income children breakfast and also gives tutoring to better the children and their families lives and whatnot. Itís a benefit. Iím doing it for free and whatnot and Iím going to try to bring in a choir and Iím going to have I donít know how many piece orchestra but thereís going to be some strings there. Iím going to do four songs and try to raise a bunch of money to help these kids out and feed them. Thatís very important. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Yes, it is. Itís supposed to fuel you for the whole day and help you learn better. I guess I should eat breakfast myself since it fuels you up for the whole day and is supposed to give you energy.

Yeah, but I do think you need a couple of sandwiches after that.

Yeah, just a couple. I was looking at a photograph of you and you had what looked like a really cool assed tattoo on one of your shoulders.

Iíve got a couple. Which one? The cross with the wings?

The one that I guess would be your left shoulder.

The one on my left shoulder would be Saint Michael about to slay the head off of a demon.

Why did you decide to get a tattoo like that?

Iím into heaven and hell basically and the struggle between good and evil. For what ever reason, thatís always drawn me there. I like crosses and that whole thing. I prefer good over evil though. I need to state that fact. But I just like stuff like that. I got that one done in Germany from Bleeding Roses Tattoo. Same guy that does Bobby Blitz from Overkill. I met him at a festival and he asked if I wanted a tattoo and I said yeah. And it went from there.

Iím always curious about tattoos because I think they look cool. People who have them are so expressive.

Itís been a long, long time. Iím not going to say how old I am but it took me many years to actually decide on one because just remember, once itís on you, itís on you for life. At one time I did think about getting a lionís head on my chest and then I figured that when Iím 60 those eyes will be pretty droopy. The lion would not be roaring.

I look at some of these peopleís tattoos and Iím thinking that when theyíre 80, theyíll wonder why the hell they did that.

Yeah, exactly because oh, you donít even want to go into that. Thatís ugly.

Any other thoughts or comments?

It was nice talking to you. September 23rd, This Present Wasteland is going to be released in the U.S. on SPV and also September 26th or 28th in Europe. Iíd like everyone to watch out for that and go out and buy it. Watch for upcoming news. Weíve got a lot of stuff thatís going on and you can go to the Metal Church MySpace or the official site, www.metalchurchmusic.com.

Metal Church