Interview by Cristina M and Fruitbat
Altsounds: So you’re back at Download!
Mike: We’ve done it a few times. This is the first time we’ve ever done two consecutive years in a row though, we did last year, but, yeah we were asked last minute to replace Wolfmother this year.
Altsounds: How did you take that call? Was it a case of “Download! Not again!”?
Mike: We already had a European tour planned a week and a half from now, so we weighed up the options and AC/DC how can you say no to a show like that?! It’s amazing and it’s not very often a band of our level gets to play with a band of THAT level, you know? So, it’s pretty exciting!
Altsounds: Any surprises in store for this weekend? Go on you can tell us....
Mike: Yeah, I don’t think we had enough time to get surprises to put in our suitcases [laughs] We literally had a weeks notice, enough time to put together a stripped down set I suppose.
Altsounds: Did you still get the same buzz as you did the first time you played download?
Mike: Yes, being nervous and stressed out, hell yes! It normally takes me a few songs to even look up, just because it is that many people and it’s a little nerve racking. But once you see out of the corner of your eye that people are actually moving and excited you go “OK, I’m a part of this thing” [laughs]
Altsounds: Just how nervous is nervous when you step on that stage?
Mike: More anxious to get it over with and I suppose on a scale of 1 to 10 it would hover around a 7 or 8 for sure. The cool thing is, when you’re in a band, especially a five piece band is your part of a team you’re not just that one guy out there by himself getting looked at, you know, it’s like everybody pulling together.
Altsounds: Would you ever play download solo?
Mike: No I don’t think I would, I don’t think you’d want me here! [laughs]
Altsounds: Your album has been out for a while now but it is still getting a great reception...
Mike: It’s been doing well, it’s almost been a year now, seems like it’s longer than that. All systems go. Records hardly sell in the US these days, hoping the Europeans are going to throw some money down for us [laughs]
Altsounds: Have you started planning the next album already?
Mike: Yes, we are writing already. These days we don’t get in a room and jam together we’ll just bring demos to practice and play them so every little piece is there and people can decide right away if they like it or hate it or want to change it. Its not always set in stone what you bring to practice but it gives a good idea to somebody instead of going “I kinda have this riff, I think it would go with this, and it might do this at the end”. It’s more of a “this is what I was thinking” and laying it out on the table for everyone else.
Altsounds: Is the next album from what you’ve written, going to go in the same direction as the last?
Mike: It’s hard to say right now, all the stuff I’ve been writing is fast, really fast and that’s not really our direction so maybe not. [laughs]
Altsounds: How do you think that will be received by the fans?
Mike: Oh they’re gonna hate it. But that’s all right, my songs are usually at the end of the record so it’s all right [laughs]
Altsounds: One of the most important songs in your career was your cover of “Holy Diver”, how did you take the news of Dio’s death?
Mike: It’s extremely sad, the metal world is going to hurt for a long time. In his old age he was just as good as he was when he was young and you can’t say that for many of the old metal guys. He was always in tip top shape, right on his game. Power to Dio for sure.
Altsounds: You’ve released five albums with Roadrunner, a lot of bands change label, what’s special about Roadrunner?
Mike: They’ve treated us well and we were locked into a contract! [laughs] They are really good to us, especially when we’re here. They kind of threw us into the fire on our first tour in 2002, we’d never been here, we didn’t know what was going to happen they just told us to get over there and headline this tour of three baby bands. Because Roadrunner have such stature over here, people actually came and we will always be indebted to them.
Altsounds: Roadrunner are almost as big as a major yet they seem to do things with a bit more passion...When are you touring again?
Mike: We’re back again in a week and we are doing 3 weeks so I would definitely imagine the UK is on the list. I try not to look at too much scheduling in advance, because sometimes it falls through and it just stresses me out. I’m more stressed about flights, forgetting things, driving around, and getting parking spaces than I am actually playing the show. I’d rather just not know anything and get taken everywhere led by a collar. [laughs]
Altsounds: I know you don’t want to comment on recent events but can you reassure fans that it’s now all sorted?
Mike: Sure, they needed to get some help, the person got it and they're way better now than they have been in the last six or seven years so we’re excited. They're a lot happier now doing things they didn’t do before like coming out in the daytime [laughs]
Altsounds: Your very own personal vampire.
Mike: Yes! Exactly. [laughs] All systems go now.
Altsounds: What is more fun, being a festival goer getting wasted in the mud or being on this side of the fence?
Mike: I’d say being on this side. If you’re a drunken fan and you do something wrong you would probably get a talking to or thrown out, whereas if you have one of these bracelets, you get away with it. They just say “Hey, naughty you, get back here”. We have a little more leniency this way I suppose. But wow, there’s such a big difference between festivals in Europe and festivals in America.
Mike: As far as attendance goes a big festival in America is 20,000 people, that’s huge. But here it’s hundreds of thousands, big numbers. It’s also more of an event here.
Altsounds: Is there any chance of future cross-dressing in videos?
Mike: Of course! Why not, everyone! Nah [laughs] That was actually Adam's idea to wear a dress, we didn’t force him to do it, he was the one who said “I want to wear the dress” first. Let’s hope, I dunno, I’m not really into the dress thing. We’re not afraid to act stupid and be funny!