Friday, January 17, 2014

Midnite Hellion Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?

Drew Rizzo:  Hey hey, thanks for having us!  We’ve just released a brand-new 7” single, “Hour Of The Wolf,” on Witches Brew on Black Friday, November 29th, which has been selling like hotcakes!  On the near horizon, a live cassette is being released by Contaminated Tones called “Bitchin’ At Champs,” which was recorded in mid-November.  Internally, we have started pre-production for our full-length, and 10 songs have been written thus far for the record with a few more songs near completion.  We hope to have it released by the summer, and it will be released on Witches Brew with a tour to follow.  In the meantime, we’re continuing to perform within the NYC/NJ/PA regions, and we will be heading to Chicago in April as part of the Ragnarökkr Metal Apocalypse and will be performing alongside Grim Reaper, Hallows Eve, Picture, Riot, and more! 

2.How would you describe the musical sound of the new ep and also how does it differ from your previous releases?

PJ Berlinghof:  I think the new single keeps the spirit of what the band has been doing since its inception, namely fusing the best of traditional metal with thrash, speed and death metal elements, while allowing us to really embrace our melodic sensibilities. It also shows that we've solidified as a unit, we're continuing to grow and that fans can expect to see the band really start pushing boundaries.

DR:  Musically, I’d say that we haven’t altered too much from our previous releases.  Our influences and styling is on the same page as the older material, but I think that different elements come out at various times in the various compositions.  The only thing that has changed among the releases is the personnel, which definitely plays a factor.  Also, this time, we worked with Len Carmichael as the producer and engineer from the base tracks onward instead of just the mixing and mastering phase as we did on the “Enter The Unknown” release.  Len really brought out the best in us, as not only did he push us to play our best, he also was passionate about every track we recorded and wouldn’t settle for an inferior track when he knew we could do it better.

3.Your musical style is firmly rooted in the old school metal sound, do you feel this musical style has made a huge comeback over the years?

PB:  Old school metal is certainly making a comeback.  It’s always been around in the underground and in certain countries it simply never went way, but I think that a lot of new fans are coming into the fold. Let's hope the trend continues and that they start going to more live shows!

DR:  I concur with PJ, it’s always been alive in some form or another!  With regards to the newer bands, I’ve honestly not noticed much of the Traditional Metal comeback until recently, and even still, there is a lot of originality and it doesn’t seem like there’s a new Traditional Metal band coming out every other day.  On the other side of the coin, the new wave of Thrash Metal movement is one that cannot be ignored because it has become popular even in the mainstream.  As much as the new bands are springing up, it has also brought interest in the old bands to reform and give their careers second chances.  I personally love it when the bands do it for the right reasons, but when it’s just a cash grab, one can smell it a mile away.

4.When I was listening to the lyrics on the ep they seemed very interest, can you tell us a little bit more about them and also do you have an interest in Occultism or Mythology?

PB:  I've always been an avid reader with a keen interest in mythology, philosophy, religion, history and esotericism. I also read a lot of classic literature and poetry, but I'm particularly influenced by writers of classic "weird tales" like Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood and poets like Tennyson, Spencer and Scott. All of those interests and influences work their way into my writing, but I really try to focus first and foremost on developing a strong narrative. I think you have to strike a balance between good storytelling, the exploration of philosophical issues and songs that are raw and visceral. Ideally, I want to transport the listener in some way by immersing them in a fantastic tale or giving them some sort of transcendent experience.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Midnite Hellion'?

DR:  There isn’t a real meaning behind the name itself, and it is derived from Krokus’ “Midnite Maniac” and W.A.S.P.’s “Hellion.”  A former member and I named the band together, and we took about two to three weeks to come up with a name that wasn’t already taken.  The alternate spelling of “Midnite” was also inspired by the aforementioned Krokus number, and the Midnite theme was in-tact for about a week before finally pairing it with Hellion.  I wish I had kept a list of all the suggestions, there were some really good ones in there, such as “Midnight Hotline.”

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

DR:  There’s a lot that stand out, but to name a few, I’d definitely have to include when we supported Raven in Long Branch, NJ 2013, Morbid Saint in Brooklyn, NY 2012, and OZ, October 31, and Attacker in Trenton 2013.  Our EP release show in 2012 was also another great one as it was our first headlining show, and last but not least, when we played Castle Graeskul on our tour in 2012.  Stage performance is high energy, lots of action and crowd interaction.  We try to make it as fun as possible for the audience, as people go to shows to forget their troubles and have a good time.  We try to build on each show to improve the overall production, and we have some surprise s for 2014 that are currently being assembled.

7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?

PB:  Absolutely, the 2014 show calendar is filling up quickly. As I mentioned we're schedule to appear at the Ragnarokkr festival in Chicago in April; Picture, Riot, Grim Reaper, and Hallows Eve are all on the bill, so that's going to be one hell of a weekend!

DR:   While we do not anticipate any lengthy touring until the full-length is released later this year, we are playing in Philadelphia this month, the first time since our 2012 tour, and it was also just confirmed that legendary Thrashers Toxik have reformed, and we are honored to be supporting them in Brooklyn in April.

PB:  Keep checking the web site for updates - there's a lot in the works!

8.The ep came out on Witches Brew, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

DR:  Witches Brew is a mom and pop shop-styled label, set in the old style of doing things such as a handshake being the official contract, so to speak.  It’s run exclusively by the Brew Mistress Cheryl and she has built up a cult status over the years, not to mention her effective internal business practices.  She gives 110% toward everything she does and goes above and beyond for her bands.  She doesn’t have a large roster at any given time so she can give all of her bands the most attention possible.  I’ve worked with Cheryl while in a previous band, too, and based on all experiences, I could have never imagined a label so awesome.  She and I have already been discussing our plan of action for 2014 ever since sending the 7” single masters to the record pressing plant, so there’s going to be a lot of great things happening between Witches Brew and Midnite Hellion this year!  Also, be sure to check out what she’s up to with the rest of the roster at; she’s already got a lot planned for the first quarter of 2014 alone!

9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of metal?

DR:  Extremely positive!  Most people who have heard us or have seen us offer encouraging remarks, and based on sales alone thus far on all releases, the response has been excellent!  The new 7” single has been selling especially well in Japan, which is a fairly untapped market for us, and the sales have been increasing overall in previously established US and European markets.  There are some who have offered constructive criticism, in which I am noting and keeping in mind for our next release, as constructive criticism is always welcome.  Of course there are people who are indifferent for various reasons, but we can’t please everybody!

10.Are the band members involved with any other musical projects besides this band?

DR:  Dan has a project called Stench, which is an incredible band!  It’s more of a joke band in terms of lyrical content and some musical arrangements, but the riffs are beyond heavy.  I’ve just joined a Misfits tribute band called Astro Zombies NYC, focusing exclusively on the Danzig-era of the band, and we will be making our live debut on March 8th in Brooklyn.  My old Death Metal band, Skinslip, is in the process of recording a full-length, but due to the fact that we all live far away from each other, it has been difficult to get everything together.

11.What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

DR:  North, South, East, West, and all points in-between!  We will head whichever way the wind takes us, but will always have our Heavy Metal roots firmly planted and audible in every number.

12.What are some bands or musical styles that have infleunced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

PB:  I'm firmly rooted in the NWOBHM and proto-metal, but I also listen to a lot of early thrash, speed, gothic, doom and viking metal, as well as classic and hard rock, so we're talking about bands ranging from Angel Witch, Mercyful Fate, Diamond Head and Budgie to Rainbow, Sabbath and Deep Purple to Pentagram, Exodus, Venom, Razor and Heidevolk (people often have difficulty reconciling my album collection!) The single greatest influence on my music though is Ronnie James Dio. Lately I've been listening to Tyr a lot and trying to figure out whether or not I actually like Ghost!
DR:  To quote the late Alex Nelson of Lizzy Borden, “everything I’ve ever seen or heard.”  I grew up in a very musical household, with a strong focus on Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Bands such as The Who, The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix, and Aerosmith were all very important in shaping my adolescence, as well as Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest and Queen.  However, Jazz, Classical, and Blues are all influential on me, as well as Country and Rap – like I said, I try to take something away from everything I’ve ever heard!  Old Thrash Metal was and is very important to me, as well as Traditional Metal, ‘80s Death Metal, and the NWOBHM movement.  Currently, Armored Saint’s Raising Fear, Grim Reaper’s Fear No Evil, and E-X-E’s Stricken By Might are on current rotation.

13.Outside of music what are some of your interests?

PB:  I live in the city, so I spend half of my time escaping to the mountains and woods (camping, hiking, snowboarding).
DR:  My girlfriend and I enjoy traveling.  We attempt to do at least one major trip per year, with some mini trips in-between.  However, these travels almost always turn into music-related ventures, as there’s always an opportunity for me to plug the band, not to mention us looting the local record stores.  Also, lots of the trips are exclusively made to see a particular concert, with exploring the location as a secondary venture.

14.Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
DR:  There’s so much going on behind the scenes that we wish that we could mention, but for now, let’s just say that there’s a lot of cool plans for 2014!  Thank you for taking the time to interview us, and also thanks to all of our fangs, friends, and supporters!!  Keep checking outhttp://www.midnitehellion.com,, and for the latest news, tidbits, videos, and more!  Keep the flames of Metal burning strong!

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