Unleash The Beast!! Mike Flyntz speaks out.
Riot are no strangers to the world of real Heavy metal, formed back in 1975 by founder guitarist Mark Reale, this New York act soon became one of the biggest name in metal. Having signed for the debut album 'Rock City' in 77 the band soon became well known in and around NY state. In 79 the band signed to Capital Records and soon released the album 'Narita', this was a turning point for the band. It wasn't long before the band would play the 1st Donnington 'Monsters of Rock' festival with Rainbow, Judas Priest, The Scorpions, Saxon and many more. The band have recorded tons of albums and have had their fair share of line up changes and with 2 sad deaths, the 1st been singer Rhett Forrester who was shot and killed. In later years founder member Mark Reale lost his life due to illness, sadly died in 2012 .. but the spirit of Mark lives and on & this new album shines with tons of energy, passion and love for Mark whos spirit seems to be still in the bands music.
I spoke to guitarist of 25yrs Mike Flyntz about the new album 'Unleash the Fire', which is released on SPV in Europe about the new album and what the future holds for the band. here is what he had to say.
OK Mike it's a pleasure speaking to you, I hope you're all well. I'd like to start the interview off by asking you why the band back in the day never played the UK except for the 1st Monsters of Rock back in the 80s?
"I really don't know why that is? We never had any offers from promoters over there for us to play the UK. We get offers from all over the world to play but sometimes the offers are not that good, so we have to decline the offers."
As a musician Mike who are you're influences?
"Well as a musician I grew up with 'Doo Pop' music, which my parents were into, so there was always the 50's stuff in my house with bands like 'The Beach Boys', so I grew up listening too harmonies all the time. For me it was 'The Beatles' who were the 1st band I got into and I got heavier and heavier as I got older. I am also a big Kiss fan and I also became a big Van Halen fan too and later on a Riot fan. As far the the N.W.O.B.H.M. goes I grew up on Iron Maiden there my favourite band from the UK. I met the band in 96 when Blaze was in the band, we played a festival together in Japan. Steve Harris got mad with Blaze on stage when they did the song 'Number of the Beast', we Blaze could not get the timing right. I also like Judas Priest, Queen. When I 1st heard Yngwie I was like who the hell is this? I could not believe it was like Richie Blackmore on steroids."
So before joining Riot, what other bands were you in?
"Well I was in local bands that you may never of heard, they were called 'Evolution' with my brother and we warmed up for all the local national bands that came through New York at a place called 'The Sundance' club. We played with Cinderella, T.T. Quick. I went to a school for music and I 23 with my band with my brother and joined Riot when I was 24."
Since you have been in the band so such a long time, who is the easiest to work with?
"Well our current sing Todd is totally easy to work with and he is not like a typical lead singer who demands anything, he is just a really cool guy. Tony Moore was a good friend of mine but he had his issues not wanting to tour and he was not built to be a singer. Mike DiMeo was a great singer too within the band, I liked his work with Masterplan but Mike left the band as he didn't speak the same language as the rets of the band and he felt like a loner on the tour bus. I have only heard one song from his current band 'Creation's End' and it is good, I love his voice so anything he does rules with me! I asked Mike if he wanted to do the new album but he said no without Mark."
This must of been such a difficult album to record without Mark been in the band, how much did you want to record this album?
"Yes it was hard to do, I thought it would be impossible without Mark been in the band. It was his father who told us we should do another album. I take care of his father since his mum pasted away. His father spends time with me and my family as he is alone now and he asked me to continue with Riot in memory of Mark."
Listening too the new album just sounds like Mark is still in the band or his spirit is with you all, do you agree?
"Well thank you Jason, that is a big compliment and I appreciate that, well all do. I played along side of him for 23yrs now."
Moving on Mike who came up with the title for the new album 'Unleash the Fire'? Did you have any other names in mind?
"Well that was a band Decision in which we all thought about which song title should be the album title. We went back & forth and we came up with titles like 'Return of the Outlaw', 'Unleash the Fire', 'Metal Warrior', I think it was Todd and Don who picked the name for the new album. As Riot we have tried not to break into cheesy titles for the album and sometimes its ok to have some fantasy in Heavy Metal. We tried to do a tribute album in honour of Mark with all the different sounds and styles of Riot."
So who did the art work for the new album? Did you consider having any other covers in mind too?
"Well Donny Van Stavern who wanted to incorporate the fire with the seal and the thunder steel robot with the building having Johnny on it, referring to 'Johnny's back' the Johnny saga."
What length of period did it take to record this album?
"Well the actual recording part wasn't that long, maybe about 3-4 months of work on and off and these days we do not have a budget to go on and record in a studio. A lot of it was laying the drums down in one studio and then you send the files over to Donny and he would do the bass in Texas and then he would send them over to New York were Nick and me would lay the guitar parts down. Then they would be sent to Todd were he would do the vocals. Then they would come back to New York were we could do the guitar solos and then I sat with Josh for 3 wks and we mixed it. Nobody has any budgets anymore and there is no money involved. Donny wrote about half the songs with lyrics and Frankie wrote lyrics to one of my songs called 'Kill to Survive' and I wrote the music and lyrics to the song I dedicated to Mark called 'Until we meet Again' (Ed: It must of been very emotional for you to write and record the song dedicated to Mark). Yes there were many tears when we recorded that song for Mark."
I heard you had somebody else mix the album for Europe, how did this come about?
"Well what happened was to have Josh Block track the record and do the drums and record all the lead guitars and mixing the bass and then send it over to Bruno Ravel, he produced and engineered our last album for 'Immortal Soul'. Then we had to go over to Europe in February , came home to play gigs and and then went back to Europe in June and all that traveling we did almost mist our dead line for Japan which was 5 wks previous to Europe. So the SPV record is going out in Europe and in the States and Canada. The Japanese said no we could not have more time as we were under contract and you have to deliver it. So we had Josh who tracked it and then we sent it to Bruno who did the real mix and that is the one that will come out in SPV."
So from the new album which songs stand out for you and why?
"Well I like the songs 'Love Hard Ride Free', 'Metal Warrior', 'Fall from the Sky' are the 3 ones that I like the must. We went for all the different styles but on the other hand you have softer songs like 'Land of the rising Sun', 'Return of the Outlaw', I also like the song 'Take me Back', which is a hard rocker song, which reminds me of old Riot. I also liek the song 'Until we meet Again' which is a ballad dedicated to Mark. I have no favourites."
Do the band intend on releasing a promo video and if so for which song?
"Well we have made one already for the song 'Metal Warrior' due to our small budget but it is a little cheesy, so we are trying to fix it up. Next few days we will try to do videos for the songs 'Fall from the Sky', and 'Take me Back', that song everybody is talking about and it has 4-5 more hits on You Tube than any other song, it is a song that the fans seem to like the most."
Besides SPV, who else did you approach for a record deal for this album?
"Well we didn't approach anybody else, we were still under contract with SPV and Marquee/ Avalon in Japan. Now we have fulfilled our contracts with both labels we will see how this record does and we will have to see what the future brings."
When you started to record this album did you ever try to get our previous drummer Bobby Jarzombek into the band?
"Well we wanted Bobby to do the new record but he wasn't sure if he could do it as he plays with 2 other bands, Fates Warning & Sebastian Bach and he wasn't sure about doing it without Mark and he said he didn't want to play too much of the old stuff without Mark. We told him we were doing this record with the request of Mark's father as he wanted use to continue the band in honor of Mark. I know there will be a lot of people out there sayings that there are no original members left in the band now. The fact that I have been in the band 25yrs and the fact that Donny write 'Thundersteel' and 'The Privilege of Power' with Mark, who could of gone out there and done this new stuff any better then Donny & myself."
Could you tell me why the band have not released a live DVD yet? With the band been around for such a long time, it is very strange you have not released one.
"Well we just never had anybody record it and it is just Riot on a small level with no management or limited management and every time we trey to get a manager it did not work out, they just took what little money we had. Even in Japan the record companies are very tight and would not give us anything. It would be great to do a live DVD, only time will tell."
Well Mike thanx for taking you're time out and for doing this interview, do you have anything to say before we finish the interview?
"Yeah thanx for the support, thank you to our fans for their support too and please support and respect the band in the right way. Enjoy the new album!!
Thanx to Roland @ Work Hard & SPV for seting up the interview. Cheers to Mike Flyntz.