Metal Church: On Overdrive at The Whisky

kurdtmetalchurch1-1I’m just a damage case who just found overdrive!” rages the chorus from the title cut of Generation Nothing, Metal Church’s latest magnum opus now available from Rat Pak Records. A powerful collection of tunes that could very well be their best album to date, Metal Church found themselves on the road in support of Generation Nothing. This would include a stop at the world famous Whisky on the Sunset Strip – a packed to the rafters sold out performance which also included a good deal of classic songs in addition to the new material. A few hours prior to their set, we sat down and interviewed Metal Church founder / guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof to find out more about their compelling new album, life on the road in the 21st Century, his other band Presto Ballet, the infamous David Wayne Metal Church album, and other topics of interest. Read on as we go into overdrive with the legendary Metal Church

Is there a story or concept behind the album title Generation Nothing?
There is kind of a loose theme through the whole album. Generation Nothing is not necessarily about an age group – it kind of is – but mostly about a mindset. It’s about how everything is kind of fake now – everybody is so Facebook, everybody is so Internet, everybody is so on their phone. Your friends are virtual – they’re not real. Your music the young generation listens to is not real – it’s barely even sung anymore, because it’s all pitch corrected – and everything is just perfect – and the drum machines are computer generated – so even that’s fake. Even their activities are fake. Everything is just nothing – and nothing is real! And the rest of the record has to do with the ramifications of that – how the Internet is supposed to bring people together – it’s pulling people apart and it’s making a generation of shut-ins and people that don’t have social skills anymore. They don’t know how to interact with people. Everybody is staring at their screens and staring at their phones – everything is just fake – and that’s kind of what it’s about. Along with the fact that the place I was living, which was the town I grew up in,  was a timber town – and the timber industry is gone there – it’s just a very depressed town. Seeing the ramifications of how things have changed – and here’s this town – and it’s where the song Dead City comes from. The whole Generation Nothing within this city where everything is changing – there’s no industry where there’s no work. There’s nothing – everything is falling apart – and that’s kind of the theme of the whole record.

metalchurch8What is The Media Horse?
I kind of realized one day when I was walking into the studio – I had my IPhone, I had my computer in my bag, I had my IPod, and I had a friend’s IPad – and I felt like a pack mule and I had all this media. It was like a media horse – because it came from media horror. I was packing all this stuff and I was thinking “My God, how connected do we have to be now?” That’s where that comes from – especially on tour now I’ve got my IPhone and computer and IPod – and that’s way it is now. That’s what that song is about and it fits in to the whole “the Generation of Virtual.”

I don’t think you wrote this song, but what is your take on the lyrics to Hits Keep Coming?
That’s Ronny. That’s kind of one of those things. Have you ever had one of those days?

Always!
Exactly. And that’s what it’s about – and that was his take on it!

metalchurch7How do you think Generation Nothing compares to the classic Metal Church records?
I think it’s the closest we’ve come with this lineup sounding like the old Metal Church. It’s actually one my favorite Metal Church records of all of them. I really, really like this one! I think there’s a certain amount of maturity to it that the earlier records don’t have. That was part of the charm with the earlier records – we were a bunch of kids just full of energy. You can sit there and try and capture that kind of stuff but it never really happens again. We’ll take that and mature it and try to be Metal Church guys our age now. Because I don’t want to do something that’s disingenuous – that happens sometimes – sometimes you can’t avoid it. To try and pretend we’re 25 would be ridiculous – and the fans would see right through it. So we’re just trying to be honest with who we are and where we’re at now – but yet still take what Metal Church sounds like and make that something to where we’re at now.

metalchurch9What can fans coming here tonight expect from your live show?
All the classics and some new songs. We’ve got to throw in the new songs but we’ve got to play all of the classics.

What’s going on with Presto Ballet?
We’re doing Cruise To The Edge in April – we’re playing with Yes. Presto is a real passion project for me – but we’ve just had a hell of a time trying to get gigs – there’s nowhere to play that kind of stuff. We’re just going to put out records when we can and play gigs when we can. But Metal Church is taking a lot of my time too. But I love that project, and I’m excited that we got a real gig like Cruise To The Edge.

Would Metal Church and Presto Ballet ever want to do a tour together or would that be the nightmare of your life?
I don’t know if it would be a nightmare. It would be a lot of work! But I don’t think the crowds would mix. And that’s why I do the two separate things – it’s nice to have different outlets.

What did you think of the David Wayne Metal Church album and…?
I didn’t think much of it at all, because I thought that was a real slap in the face. It was too bad, because it was a good record. But the way he handled it – he did it behind out backs – he lied – and he went and did something and he got in trouble for it too. He was signed to another label – he ripped off the name. I didn’t know anything about it till it came out. I guess that kind of explains Dave and mine’s relationship over the years.

Did you have a chance to talk to Dave before he passed away?
No I didn’t talk to him. It was because of that record that I didn’t speak to him for years after that. You and I can have our differences – but if you go and do something like that, you’ve just made yourself look like an ass. Not to sugarcoat it too much…

metalchurch10What do you think make the teaming of you and Ronny work so well together?
We get along great.  The songwriting thing with singers and the guitar players – it’s like fire and ice a lot of the time. We’re working for the same goal and we’re friends – we’re really good friends – which is a really unique situation. Usually in bands, there’s a lot of animosity. But in this whole lineup, we all get along great. A lot of that has to do with maturity – we’re older now so we know how to behave. When you’re 25, you get full of yourself, you get full of beer, and there’s fights at the beginning and a lot of bands break up. Just through life, you learn how to deal with people and your social skills are better. You learn to accept people and their differences – and you just learn to get along in the world better. It makes this a lot easier to do. Being on the road is not easy – but it’s a lot of fun too – if you’re with some people you get along with, it’s great!

metalchurch11Being older and being on the road…
It’s different now – hence this belt for my back. It’s not a girdle for my gut – it’s for my back. We realized as we were driving down that there wasn’t a drop of alcohol on the bus. Hey don’t tell anybody – our street cred! The next gig was like, “Okay, we’ve got some beer on the bus now.” But you just learn – it didn’t even occur to us. It’s not that big of a deal anymore. It’s not party time – it’s work time – then we have our beers after the show and that’s all fine and that’s great. It’s different now – we’re middle aged guys out playing heavy metal. And if you want to survive it, you gotta take care of yourself.

Do you have any messages for Metal Church fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
Oh man, well it’s great to be back! It really is. The last time we played out here it was awesome – we had the place full and it we had a blast! We’re just really grateful that we’re here at all in any capacity. If you guys want to come out, you’ll hear the classics and you’ll hear some new stuff. It’s old school heavy metal!

Metal Church is:
Kurdt Vanderhoof – guitars
Ronny Munroe – vocals
Rick Van Zandt – guitars
Jeff Plate – drums
Steve Unger – bass

(Interview and Kurdt Vanderhoof Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

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