Talking ‘The Galloping Hordes’ and the West Coast with Mick Michaels of Corners of Sanctuary
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Corners of Sanctuary are currently finishing up their six full-length release entitled ‘The Galloping Hordes,’ and also recently released a single with Kayla Marie from Powerless Rise called “Dreams.” The band is really excited about the new album, and Mick Michaels (guitar/keyboards) says “it is definitely heavier but more musical at the same time, while keeping to our modern, old school style interpretation.” They are hoping to release the CD later this year and have some small excursion tours in the works, as well as a couple festivals, and the Metal Babe Mayhem tour on the West Coast.
ALISON “METALBABE” COHEN: Hey Mick! We have come a long way since our first interview in February. Now COS and MBM are a Team, working together, supporting one another, and we even have you booked on your first West Coast Tour, Sponsored by Metal Babe Mayhem.
MICK: We have and it has been such a pleasure working directly with you and Metal Babe Mayhem. It’s amazing when this sort of connection is made and a common vision is shared. True relationships are built on supporting one another…That’s how real success is achieved.
We are very excited to be heading out to the West Coast this fall and appreciate all your time and effort in making it happen. It’s going great and we are looking forward to bringing on the Mayhe
METAL BABE: Thank you Mick! I agree. Let’s jump right into talking about the new album. What can you tell us about your upcoming release ‘The Galloping Hordes?’
MICK: We are really excited about the release of ‘The Galloping Hordes.’ This album is different for us. We knew we wanted to go a bit heavier, and change gears somewhat, but without losing that COS sound. We also found that we went a tad darker in some places and a little progressive in others. To me, that adds to the development of the band and its songwriting. Writing this way also immediately lent itself to giving more space for the vocals to do their thing… To be more musical. My opinion is that the music’s job is to back up the vocals and allow them to stand out. I feel we achieved this with ‘Galloping Hordes.’
METAL BABE: Have you determined the first single yet, and do you have a video in the works?
MICK: We have already added the title track, “The Galloping Hordes,” to the live set list. However, we haven’t determined if that will be the first official single released. There are a few in the running… “If You Dare,” “Hail, Hail” and “Vengeance of the Warrior.” We will see.
As for a video, we will definitely include some form of video for the single’s release. Lyric videos have definitely become high-quality outlets for song promotion, so that is always a possibility too.
METAL BABE: That’s awesome. Is there an overall concept lyrically?
MICK: Originally, we were working towards writing an album that would metaphorically and symbolically represent events of World War II. But as we got deeper into things, other ideas were being brought up, considered, and developed. We decided to expand things to include more of the struggle/fight individuals, groups, and societies have to go through to overcome the odds. For example; ‘The Galloping Hordes’ track is about what soldiers might have felt in ancient times when the land’s strongest armies came calling. The track “Encage, Enslave or Die” is a symbolic take on main players of World War II, and the track “Vengeance of the Warrior” is a depiction of a samurai in Feudal Japan. But, given the way we write at times, other interpretations can be inserted.
METAL BABE: What was the writing process like?
MICK: The writing process for this album was so enjoyable. There were a ton of ideas floating around and we managed to record a lot of material. James and Mad T got involved in the lyric writing for this album. Plus Mad T also plays guitar, so that offered us a different take on our riff composing. To date, I have had the most fun recording this album than any in the past.
METAL BABE: I’m glad to hear that! How about the recording process?
MICK: Because of our show schedule, we worked on the album in chunks as time was made available to us. So when we weren’t performing, we were recording. This was a contributing factor as to why more material had been written. The time in between just seemed to garnish more ideas. But it was a good thing. It gave us choices.
The overall recording process was very relaxed. We knew there was no need to rush anything. Unfortunately, we had done that to ourselves in the past for one reason or another, and the results were not always the best. It is what it is. This time around we just took our time and had fun doing it.
METAL BABE: That’s great. How does it compare musically to your ‘Cut Your Losses’ EP?
MICK: Sonically, the album is very similar, simply because ‘Cut Your Losses’ was recorded during the same sessions as ‘The Galloping Hordes.’ It was the best use of our time since we were already in the flow.
‘Cut Your Losses’ was a collection of different song styles and ideas, two of which are retoolings from our first album ‘Breakout.’ There are some distinctive differences among the songs, each representing COS in a particular way. With EPs, I feel we have more freedom to experiment and play with things. So, it doesn’t have to have a theme musically, as I believe albums should.
Musically, ‘Hordes’ is unified and very solid. We definitely tried some different things, and that’s what creating is all about. We are very proud of this record.
METAL BABE: Very cool. You also recently put out a single with Kayla Marie of Powerless Rise called “Dreams” that we debuted together live on the air on The Keep it Metal Show on Digital Revolution Radio. This was something really different musically for COS. How did this come about? You did some producing for Kayla?
MICK: A friend of mine, who plays, tours, and teaches music at a college, challenged me to write something different and out of the normal context of COS music. After thinking on it, I knew I wanted to go with something that had a slow, but building draw to it. This would include more keyboards and multiple bass lines that keep leading the listener on. Those elements alone would immediately create a darker feel to the song in my opinion. Once the music was written, the lyrics were addressed with the assistance of Mad T, who already had something that he believed would fit. “Dreams” was born.
I actually first worked with Kayla in 2015 while Powerless Rise was recording their first EP. I did some guitar work on a few of the tracks, and then again in 2016 producing their first album, “Set Sail.” Kayla has this powerful eclectic, yet unique style and tone to her voice. I knew she was the voice for the song. After we concluded sessions on “Set Sail,” we talked with her about doing “Dreams.” We played the demo for her and she was onboard.
It really is a cool song and opens up the COS catalog to other avenues and opportunities in songwriting for us. So far the response has been positive. It’s always cool when people are open to new things. It gives an artist a chance to grow.
METAL BABE: I agree, and it definitely opens COS up to a new and different market! I’m super excited that Metal Babe Mayhem is bringing COS to the West Coast this November. We have a few dates lined up and are currently adding more. What part of this tour are you most looking forward to?
MICK: We are so grateful to be working with Metal Babe Mayhem and for the opportunity to come out to the West Coast and perform. It really is a big deal for us. Thank you for all the hard work and effort you have done with making this happen.
The chance to play in a new environment is probably the most exciting aspect for us. The West Coast scene is well established and has so much substantial history, especially to American heavy metal, that to have an opportunity to play there is electrifying for us. There’s a feeling of like we’ve been offered this rite of passage as performers. It’s very inspirational. Plus, we are looking forward to hanging with you Alison and promoting our love of Metal Babe Mayhem!
METAL BABE: Me too! I am so grateful this has worked out too and definitely looking forward to it. I think you said the furthest west you’ve been as a band so far is Missouri. Is this your first time coming to the West Coast?
MICK: Yes, we played Kansas City, MO a few years ago. So as a band, this will be the first time on the West Coast. I have personally been to a few states out West and have always enjoyed the time. I love sun. I’m not a huge fan of winter… At least the winters in Philly! A winter that’s in the low 80’s sounds like an awesome thing. Spend my Christmas mornings watering the flowers and catching some rays… Nice!
METAL BABE: I can’t complain on that part, and definitely don’t miss the cold winters! Speaking of touring, you have toured with a lot of great bands, including Anvil, David Shankle, Saxon, and Damon Johnson. Any tour highlights or stories stand out that you want to share with us?
MICK: We have been fortunate enough to work with so many incredible bands. We have played with Stryper, Britny Fox, Grim Reaper, Butcher Babies, Tracii Guns, Tantric, Act of Defiance, and so many others… As well as the bands you mentioned. The experiences have been unbelievable. It’s great connecting with artists who we grew up listening to.
METAL BABE: Definitely! I feel the same way when I do interviews with the artists I grew up listening to.
MICK: I picked up some cool pre-show guitar warm up tips from Chris Broderick, words of encouragement from Damon Johnson, as well as international travel hacks from Steve Grimmett. Plus, eating breakfast with Dave Shankle at four in the morning is a riot!
METAL BABE: That’s great. That’s the kind of stuff you will never forget too! What final words would you like to say to your fans?
MICK: First, I want to thank you Alison, for all the support and for believing in our music and being part of our team.
We also want to thank all of our families and friends for their constant sustain of love and faith… Without it, we would be lost.
And we want to thank all the fans… the COS Nation… without whom we would not be doing any of this. Each of you has given our music a voice and forum to be heard. It is so incredible and a constant source of our inspiration. Your support is what makes this all worth doing. You ROCK! COSnROLL\m/\m/
Frankie Cross (lead vocals)
James Pera (bass and backing vocals)
Mad T (drums)
Mick Michaels (guitar and keyboards)
Check out the official Corners of Sanctuary website at www.cornersofsanctuary.com