We’re looking forward to making some new music. There’s a good chance that we could be around for a while”
Kurdt Vanderhoof: Hello?
Wikimetal (Daniel Dystyler): Hi, may I speak to Mr. Kurdt Vanderhoof, please?
W (DD): Hey, Kurdt, this is Daniel, from Wikimetal in Brazil, how are you?
KV: Good, man, how are you doing?
W (DD): Very good. So were you just playing guitar right now, or were you rehearsing or something?
KV: Oh, there you go: writing, writing the new Metal Church record.
W (DD): Oh, so let’s start with that! So you’re writing a new record for Metal Church, that’s absolutely great!
KV: Cool! Yeah, let’s hope it is, I’m working on it.
W (DD): So, so far have you got something already written, like a song or two songs?
KV: About five songs. Five songs, musically, are written right now.
W (DD): Excellent, excellent. I’m really looking forward for that.
KV: Cool, yeah. It should be fun.
W (DD): Kurdt, we’re going to be talking about all the great things you’ve been doing throughout these years, but in order to start I’d like to ask you about the reunion at 70.000 Tons of Metal. Can we say that Metal Church is back to life on a regular basis from now on?
KV: Yeah, for the most part yeah. I mean, that’s kind of the idea, the whole break-up… You know, most break-ups now anyway are a reason to get back together. Even when I pulled the plug on it, five years ago, I knew it was something that we’d get back together and do again. But we’re approaching things a lot different this time, we’re going to start doing things in a new way, and we’re not going to try to do them old school, which is one of the reasons we ended up getting kind of burned out, a few years back. So the way we’re approaching things is: we’re doing everything ourselves, and we’re doing everything that makes sense, not just, you know… It’s hard to explain, but basically, we’re going to approach this whole thing… Like putting our record on my label, we’re going to be in control of everything, so that’s going to give us some longevity, we’re going to take advantage of the way the new music industry is. So, yes, that makes things very exciting, and the fact that everybody’s excited, and we’re looking forward to making some new music… You know, there’s a good chance that we could be around for a while. Some people… Some people won’t be very happy about that, but… Oh, well.
W (DD): Well, we are. We are very happy. And since you mentioned the cruise, what was like to play on a boat with so many headbangers in a cruise?
KV: It was an awesome experience. It’s something I never thought I’d ever do. And it was really great, because we played well too. And, you know, the crowd there, and it was really well received, so that made it really fun. And that’s what solidified us getting back together – yeah, let’s do a new record – and that whole thing. So yeah, it was a really awesome experience. It was a little strange, though, because you’re playing on a stage, and it’s big… Lots of people there, and then everything starts moving, because it’s on a ship, and you forget that you’re out on the middle of the ocean, you know, on this giant ship, and you’re playing on stage, and all of a sudden everything starts rocking back and forth, you start thinking that you’re going to pass out. And then you think “Wait a minute… It’s the boat!” So that experience was really weird. But, boy, I’ll tell you, that was an interesting experience.
W (DD): That sounds awesome, I’m looking forward to it. Maybe next year I’ll go on that one, it should be really, really great.
KV: Yeah, that’s cool.
W (DD): Let’s go back to the beginning of your career. Do you remember how music came into your life, especially Heavy Metal music?
KV: Heavy Metal no, but I started listening to music very, very young. My parents ran a radio station in the early 60s, when I was born. So I was really into music. Well, my first memory is listening to the Beatles, so that’s what I remember. And that’s when it all started, because my parents worked in a radio station. But at that time, in the early 60s, they weren’t playing Rock ‘n Roll, they were playing adult contemporary at that time, just like Percy Faith, and… Just really God awful crap, right? So they were getting all the Rock ‘n Roll albums and stuff for promotion, so my dad ended up bringing them home to me, so I was into it really young. And so… Heavy Metal, I don’t know, I think it was just a natural evolution out of the first generation punk stuff that I was doing.
W (DD): Very good, very good. And now, talking about the beginning of Metal Church, the first two albums of Metal Church were great, and they were also successes, especially “The Dark”, the second one… What do you most remember from those days?
KV: Just a lot of excitement. I mean, there was just a lot of excitement, because it was working, and it was a great time for music, it was a real boding with the whole Metal thing, there was a scene, you know, the record companies were looking for bands like this, and things were really just taking off and becoming national, and part of that was great. But at the same time, for me, it was a very interesting time, because I had all of this happening, with the band becoming successful and stuff, and I was being pulled more into the studio side of things, which, as everybody knows, is why I left the band, but stayed on as a songwriter and worked on the records. You know, I just… It was a great time, and lots of learning. And it was exciting, and, you know, that time in your life where you kid of figure out how your path is going to go, so… It was great, it was great.
Metal Church always stayed very musical. And I think that part of it is having a lot of line up changes, and different people coming in to play “
W (DD): Very good. Kurdt, we have a classic question on our show that we ask every single guest we have, which is, imagine you’re listening to your iPod on shuffle mode, and there are tons of Heavy Metal songs, or you’re driving your car and there’s a rock radio station playing a lot of Heavy Metal music. And then, all of a sudden, a song starts that makes you loose your mind and you feel you need to start headbanging immediately, regardless of where, you can’t control yourself. What song is that so we can listen to that one on our show right now?
KV: Oh, God. Give me a minute on that one, because that’s a great question, because that kind of stuff happens to me all the time.
W (DD): OK, OK.
KV: Oh… Oh, man… I don’t know, does it have to be Heavy Metal, or a good Hard Rock song that I remember as a kid?
W (DD): Yeah, it’s fine, Hard Rock as well, yeah.
KV: Oh, man… Every time I hear… Oh, man, there are so many, oh my God!
W (DD): Everyone we ask that question to has the same reaction.
KV: OK, cool. I’m going to say a couple of them right now, just to get them out of my head. Snorting Whiskey, by Pat Travers, when that comes on, that’s just like… That’s driving down the road, rolling your window down, and… You know Snorting Whiskey! That’s just got such great attitude, it’s not a Metal song, but it’s a good Rock song. Metal, it would have to be… Oh, God… Oh, no… Wheels of Steel, by Saxon. That’s a good one.
W (DD): That’s a great one.
KV: Yeah, Wheels of Steel. When that group gets in there, that’s… Oh, man… Saxon is a very underrated band. I’d have to say Wheels of Steel, by Saxon.
W (DD): Perfect, perfect. In spite of all the changes in the band’s formation, all albums have been viewed positively by the critics. Do you think the fact that many different musicians contributed in different ways was important for the band to reach great quality in all the records?
KV: Yeah, I would like to think so. I mean, I… As a matter of fact, I was just listening to… And I haven’t done this probably even before the record was even done – I was just going through the songs and listening to Hanging in the Balance. I’ve had to completely avoid that record, just because of a lot of things that were happening at that time, you know, management troubles, and rip offs, and all that kind of stuff. It was the end of the band, so that album had kind of a strange feel for it, to me. And the sound was mixed wrong. But I was listening to some of the songs there, and I was blown away by how musical it got, and I was wondering if that was some of the stuff that was hurting the band, or not… In the reviews, some of the people really liked that. So I think the fact that Metal Church always… We came out as a Thrash thing, and we had that element to us, but we are… I think Metal Church always stayed very musical, or at least tried to. And I think that maybe part of it, is the fact that… Yeah, having a lot of lineup changes, and different people coming in to play and stuff, I think that contributes as well, but I think it was also the fact that Metal Church always had established a very musical approach. Even though we turned off to the very thrashy, you know, that kind of thing, I think it progressed into a more heavy, more melodic, more musical type of stuff. Almost kind of progressive in some spots. But I don’t know, I think that was something where music was always the first thing important to us.
W (DD): Yeah, very good, very good. I know you’ve been busy with your current band Presto Ballet, which is active for a while now. Do you consider keeping both bands active and working simultaneously?
KV: Oh, absolutely. Both bands are definitely going to be very active. I have to keep Presto going, because Presto is very much a passion of mine, and I really, really want to get that off the ground, and get out and start playing. The problem is that it’s such a niche kind of market, there’s nowhere really for us to be flying or anything – at least in America. And for us to get over to Europe and down here area, and things like that, where we may have an audience, you know, first, it’s really expensive, we just can’t afford to do it right now, it’s just kind of a double exhort. I mean, because we’d have to go out a few times, and it’s going to cost us a lot of money to get started, whereas, with Metal Church, we already have a fan base following, and people show up, so we don’t actually have to… we can afford to do these things, but with Presto we can’t, we just haven’t been able to yet. So that is definitely a serious goal, seeking Presto, and getting Presto out there more visible. And so, as soon as this Metal Church record’s done, then I’m going to be working on a new Presto album too, so…
W (DD): Excellent. And are there plans to play “The Dark” full and live?
KV: I’ve thought about that. We were just talking about it, because we’re doing that one more tour on the first album over in Germany, and I’m thinking that we probably won’t, probably won’t ever do that again, play the first album. We have the greatest hits set that we played on the ship with two sets – one was the greatest hits, and the other was the first album that you know. And the greatest hits just works so good, and then we’re going to add new stuff to that. So doing the first album, I think that might be kind of the last time we do that, unless it’s a very special occasion.
We all knew we would get back together at some point”
W (DD): Very good. And since you mentioned set lists and stuff, we’re very excited about you guys playing here in Sao Paulo on the 14th of April at the Live and Loud festival. What can the fans expect of Metal Church on this night, and is there any tip from the set list that you can share?
KV: Oh, it’s going to be the obvious ones, man, you know, the greatest hits set. Obviously, we didn’t have any hits, but it’s the most popular stuff, it’s four tracks off the first record, three off the second, two off “Blessing”, and a couple off “The Human Factor”, so it kind of covers the whole thing… So, it’s a blast of light, it’s just a blast, so…
W (DD): Very good, we’re very anxious and looking forward to that day.
KV: I can’t wait to get there either, we’ve been waiting to get down there for a long, long, long time, so the fact that we finally get to come down there and do a big venue, you know… We’re really excited about that, because then, once we do that one time, we’ll be able to come down there and do a small headlining tour.
W (DD): Absolutely, absolutely. And it’s going to be a great festival with Twisted Sister and Sodom, and it’s going to be great. Let me ask you this: now, can you choose a song that you are really proud of being a part of, or that you recorded, or wrote it, so we can listen to it right now?
KV: From the Metal Church catalogue?
W (DD): That would be great, yes.
KV: Boy, wow. Let me think, let me think, let me think… Oh, God… Boy, I don’t know… Beyond the Black, I think, I really like that song.
W (DD): We’re almost reaching the end of our interview, Kurdt, but before we let you go, let me ask you: it’s just a curiosity. By 2009, you guys co-headlined Killfest Tour with Overkill in Europe, and suddenly the band split up and it seemed to be the end of the line, at the time. Right after the split, did you reconsider the break up, or did the idea of re-gathering everybody together just come up a couple years ago?
KV: Well, we knew that… When we called it quits there for a while, we knew that we would eventually get back together, we all knew that, we just really needed to take a break. So maybe, by pulling the plug on it at the time, everybody was burned out, a lot of shit just did not work out, and it was just a mess. So it was like “OK, we’re done.” I think in the back of our minds, we knew we’d get back together, because it had nothing to do with internal problems, it had nothing to do with us, about how we were getting along with each other and working together, it all had to do with outside influences, like the way we were booking tours, and you know, things like that. And our record company at the time was going bankrupt, because of the changes in the industry, so things were changing, you know, things weren’t really working, so… Yeah, it just got to the point where it was like “Before we kill this thing and make it never happen again, let’s pull the plug on it now”. We all knew we would get back together at some point. And I think when everybody does break up, I think they all do that now, so… It certainly wasn’t a marketing ploy or anything like that, buddy, because it was definitely done for a while, but I think we all kind of knew.
W (DD): Excellent, and we hope you guys are really back and up and running.
KV: I think with the way you can do things now, with the new industry, it allows us, we can do everything ourselves, like I said, we’re putting our records out on my label, we’re going to do everything in our pace, we’re going to do everything the way we want to do it, and we’re not going to have anyone else tell us what to do and how to do this. So that in itself is going to make it, you know… It’s much more appealing, and it’s much more exciting when you think of it in terms of that. So that’s the one things I do love, and have finally come to terms with the new industry. It was tough for a while, but the way things are now… It’s pretty cool.
W (DD): Very good, Mr. Kurdt Vanderhoof, from Metal Church, it was really nice talking to you, a pleasure to have you on our show, it was really great, we look forward to the concert on the 14th of April, at the Live and Loud festival with Metal Church, it’s going to be great. And can you please leave a final message to the Brazilian head bangers that are listening?
KV: Thanks for being so patient, man, we can’t wait to get down there, and just kiss some serious ass and get things rolling, so we can come back. So we’re really, really excited. We’ve been wanting to come down there – well, I know I have – for years, and years, and years, so this is a huge, huge event for Metal Church right now, for us, so we’re really looking forward to it.
W (DD): Thanks so much, Kurdt, and count on Wikimetal whenever you need to promote something down here in Brazil, either from Metal Church, or from your solo projects, you can count on us, we’re going to be in touch with you.
KV: I actually wanted to do some Presto stuff there, that’d be great. That’d be awesome.
W (DD): Yeah, definitely, let’s exchange some e-mails, and we can promote Presto here in Brazil.
KV: Excellent, man. Awesome.
W (DD): Very good. Thanks so much, Kurdt.
KV: You bet man, thank you.
W (DD): Bye, bye.
KV: Bye, bye.
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