Behind the Scenes with Charlie Zeigler of The Militants
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
The Militants have released three albums to date and are halfway through the recording process of their forth album. Their third album, ‘Front Line Kill,’ was released on vinyl April 7th, 2017, and the follow-up will be released on vinyl as well. It was great to learn more about Charlie Zeigler and his thought process and background that has brought him to where he is today. I hope you enjoy the interview and will keep posted for their forthcoming album in 2019.
Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen: Hey Charlie! I am so happy to have you as a friend and that we are working together on so many levels. I am glad we are doing our first official interview together too!
Charlie Zeigler: Yes, the honor is all mine. It is great to work with you and MBM. True, it is a Win-Win to be with your company. You have done an amazing job keeping metal music alive around the world.
Metal Babe: Thank you Charlie! Let’s jump into the interview. You have quite a wide vocal range and can sing everything from southern rock to death metal. Do you have any vocal training?
Charlie Z: Yes, I do have vocal training. I was born with the gift to sing many styles. I always had the singing quality in me… I was a born natural. The reason I took vocal training classes was I wanted to push myself into another realm and the vocal teachers were quite surprised with how good I already was and told me I was a 100% natural born singer, with all the power and techniques that it takes to be a performer. I really do enjoy singing. It is a gift from the soul of my body that I deeply love doing. I like to entertain. It is a passion for me.
Metal Babe: It is definitely nice to be blessed with such talent! You also play drums and guitar. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a musician, and how did it all come together?
Charlie Z: I was destined to be a musician. I had no choice in the matter from birth. Music is born and blessed into my being and soul. The higher power put me on the planet to do this. I was always fascinated and intrigued with music and sounds when I was a baby. It always stirred my attention and made me feel complete inside. I could sense there was something different about me and I could feel it and see it. It is my sense of that musical aurora and presence of a higher spirit that is in my mind, soul, and body. It lives inside me, sees through me, and guides me.
Metal Babe: Who were your biggest influences growing up?
Charlie Z: I remember the first album I ever bought… It was Uriah Heep ‘Magicians Birthday.’ I just flipped out. That album changed my life. There are so many bands I enjoy listening to, but here are a few: AC/DC, Slayer, Kreator, Ministry, Genesis, Yes, Pantera, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, Pink Floyd, Death, Black Sabbath, COC, Queen, and ZZ Top.
Metal Babe: Do you prefer to sing, play drums, or both (when you’re playing a live show)?
Charlie Z: When I am playing live I prefer to sing and be the front man, even though I do play drums and sing at the same time. Entertaining the audience is my magic… Singing for the people. When I write a song, I always start with drums and compose all the drum parts. I get a great drumbeat going and the rest falls right into place. All great bands are based around the beat.
Metal Babe: That’s really cool. You definitely are a GREAT front man. Tell me more about The Militants, and the three albums you have released to date. I love that ‘Front Line Kill’ is available on vinyl!
Charlie Z: I started The Militants in 1992 and trademarked the band in 1994. That is when I knew I was onto something good and was going to do The Militants for the rest of my life no matter what the case. Trust me, it has been a roller coaster ride. I went through a lot of flakes and players. I did take breaks from the scene to reinvent myself at times…
In 2005 I decided to take an entirely different perspective in life and music. I decided to get an education in producing, engineering, mixing, and mastering. I bought some really nice recording equipment and my life changed for the better. I was right back on track with my musical adventures and discoveries.
Our first album, ‘One Nation Under Death,’ is a very good heavy metal album. When people started to take notice of how good the record was, they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the second album. Our second album, ‘Fuel The Aggression,’ made a really good impact around the metal community.
When I started to think about doing a third album, I knew I had to write and compose an album that would really turn heads. I had to take it to the next level. I wrote an album called ‘Front Line Kill.’ I had to find a way to make a big difference, so I said to myself…It is time to go back and do it old school and that is how I made the choice of releasing the third album ‘Front Line Kill’ on vinyl. It paid off, and took The Militants to an entirely new level that I had always dreamed about.
The music business realized that The Militants have a lot to offer and have taken us very seriously. They see the truth of a working class musician, and so did the people around the world in our heavy metal community. From now on, all of The Militants albums will be pressed to vinyl. And yes, I still have a record player.
Metal Babe: Thank you for that… Tell me more about Stone Clement.
Charlie Z: I really appreciate that Stone Clement has been by my side since 2015 and is my right hand man, not only in The Militants, but also in our unique cover song side project Rainbow Demon. Stone is an amazing person and a hell of a guitar player who really understands being in a real band and recording professional albums.
Metal Babe: That’s great. The Militants’ lyrics tend to focus on war and politics. Do you write all the lyrics yourself? Is there a message you are trying to get out there?
Charlie Z: Yes, I write all the poems myself. My messages are quite logical and directly to the point. I like to give the listeners controversial topics. Many people have told me my writing style is like painting a portrait. That is a groovy complement that I deeply adore. When I write the poem or song, I have a complete vision of where I want to go and how the song is already going to sound even before I start recording. That is a gift to have. That is the gift of SOUL.
Metal Babe: Love it! What’s next for The Militants?
Charlie Z: I am in the process of recording a new album, which will be the forth album from The Militants. I have written and composed five new singles and have side one completed. I am starting to compose side two. I like The Militants’ albums to be about 30 minutes of heavy metal music. I am very “metalized” and proud of the way the album sounds so far. The challenge is composing side two so all the songs flow together. The Militants forth album is going to be an amazing sound of heavy metal. People have told me that the way I write and compose music sounds like movie soundtracks. I love hearing that. The Militants’ songs do have movie musical vibes, and they do catch your attention immediately. That is what good songwriting is all about… To capture the imagination.
Metal Babe: Yes it is! I agree. You were quoted in Aaron Joy’s book Heavy Metal Music From The Inside: Quotes On Being A Rocker, which is quite an accomplishment. How did that come about?
Charlie Z: Oh good question. Aaron Joy and I met through FaceBook. He heard a few metal singles from The Militants and got a hold of me and asked me to be on his show called Roman Midnight Music Podcast. From there we have become very close. He likes to interview me about The Militants and digs the way I think about life and music overall… He is very talented and looked up to by a lot of people in the music community. He has done wonderful interviews with a lot of big-time and famous musicians. I am metalized to be in his life and have him write about The Militants and the music. It is a very good heavy metal book to read.
Metal Babe: That is definitely an honor. What final words would you like to say to our readers?
Charlie Z: Well, that is a question about the shocking truth about being in a band. Anyone can be in a band today…But to be in a REAL BAND you must give back to the community all the time… It is all about the people. Too many only care about the money and forget about the fans. I will always give back to the community because that is the only way it works. I will put a 47-cent stamp on a postcard and write a letter to our entire fan base. I do this all the time. Plus I will send gifts to show The Militants do really make a difference out there and the band really does care. Always give to the people… It is just that simple.
Metal Babe: That’s something you and I both do, and do together. It really does make a difference. Thank you for your time Charlie. It’s been a pleasure doing this interview and working with you through MBM Music.
Charlie Z: Alison, the honor is all mine, and true… WE Are Metal! \M/ ♫ Sending a special thank you to everyone who has supported The Militants and bought our albums.
For more information on The Militants: