Check out the song: “Hellspawn”

Tony Dolan, the bassist/vocalist for the metal band M-Pire Of Evil spoke with me recently about the bands newest release, Hell To The Holy. Besides Dolan the other members of the band guitarist, Mantas and drummer Antton Lant have all played with the classic, iconic metal band Venom. This disc has a serious old school thrash metal feel to it and metal fans of all ages are sure to dig it. Here is how the conversation with Dolan went.

Now that your new disc, Hell To The Holy is complete how do you feel about it and are you satisfied with the outcome?
Tony: Yes very happy. I think it’s some of the best work we have done to date. You know you usually worry when recording…I mean you get into it, and then once done, worry what press or fans may think. You hope they like it and it’s a strange time but this time…there was none of that. We just did, from start to finish, what we wanted and liked and didn’t think about any of that and then handed the result over to the label, then waited to see what they thought and our manager too. They responded very well and that was that. It was such a pleasure to do that when we finished we wanted to keep going.so we kind of have the next EP and album preparing.

What was the writing process like for this CD.? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
Tony: Well I think it took really the whole of 2011 to prepare then the latter past months of 2011 to record and produce. Mantas handled all of the mixing, editing and mastering but writing wise? Well, Mantas came up with riffs and sometimes we added little arrangements and other times didn’t touch songs as they seemed to be bang on the button. Then we approached the writing in several ways, some I wrote and handed across, other stuff, myself and Mantas wrote together, as we have an instinctive way of working together. And seem to bounce back and forth easily. Other lyrics came from the drummer and myself and some he contributed and I edited and used and added to. So it was a truly instinctive process, with input across the board. Good stuff stayed and bad stuff went.simple.The one thing Filippo, the label owner, said to me was…no fillers Tony, make every track count; so we did!

Give us some insight into the record and the meaning behind its title?
Tony: Hell To The Holy consists of 10 tracks. The title and title track itself, is an editorial about the darkness coming to put out the light of religion in a way. So many faiths and so much misinformation, lies and falsehoods and all pointedly put into the blind faith box and neatly pushed under the bed. We kind of verbalize the hypocrisy a little of all organized religion and mainly challenge the fact that our type of music or even simple rock ‘n’ roll is classed by most religious groups as “The Devil’s Music” yes most rock fans…be it metal, thrash, hardcore etc, etc… are a fraternity of brotherhood and sisterhood…sure the black metal scene went a bit lopsided at one point but that’s an exception. There is a festival in the UK called Bloodstock which began in memory of a young girl who was kicked to death for wearing the wrong clothes and listening to the wrong music; metal/rock. That’s what our world does and what our people do; come together not walk into shopping centers and blow themselves up killing innocent people, not sacking Jerusalem and murdering each other on a crusade in the name of either Mohammed or Jesus Christ…well you get my point. Myself I was raised as a Roman Catholic so of course I am now very happily non-religious…it’s safer I feel these days. Ok so that’s where we start I guess with the album and title…was I ranting? “Hellspawn” is simply for our fans; if we are fond of the Devil’s music then we must be born of hell…Hell Spawn!!! I actually wrote the lyrics for “Metal Messiah” for LC and the guys at Metal Messiah Radio, who were very supportive to me/us from the start. It is about our music being our religion really. “Snakepit” is about a club we used to frequent when younger and explores feeling from our youth I guess. “Wake Up Dead?” Is about this world and the pressures of non-conforming driving you insane enough to end your own life, waking up dead. It is very sad that society doesn’t see young people in pain some times. “All Hail” is about being requested to simply praise without question but who, I mean, which one is the one to praise? Every sacred being? Hence the cynical title. “Devil” ties the whole thing where we now are musically back into the bayou and those old blues players. Robert Johnson famously sold his soul at the crossroads to the devil to play the blues (the story goes), we take our lead on this track from their…blues to black metal…opposing? Mmmmm…not so much…founded, I think. “Shockwave” is simply about weak minded people who hide away. These days everyone is strong behind their computers but use false names (more than one most times I have discovered) to attack people but in real life they are weak. This is talking about finding one of these weak, people who have perhaps tormented you. Let them feel you coming…by the Shockwave! “The 8th Gate?” Ah…extending the “7 Gates” classic Mantas penned for Venom we discover the “8th Gate” lies beyond those 7 and behind is the Evil of all Evil’s……You….Me….Man. Finally, “M-Pire (prelude)” out of the black pitch the M-Pire is Rising…prelude? Yes now you will wait for the second installment; welcome to the next album.

As a veteran of the scene, does it get harder or easier to tour with the live shows?
Tony: Easier and harder.…does that work? Well, ok…easier because you know what to pack and what you will need and how to get shit and use facilities and time properly. When you are younger you take the clothes you are standing up in and leave everything else to chance; you wanna play music and that’s that! You know when to rest and when to relax. You know the game better. You threw the ball around in the park on Sundays with friends but later, you are a real Quarterback, you train. You rest and you understand how it works so employ better richer more mature strategy. Harder because, you are not as resilient, you need more comfort, more food, more sleep, blankets, wheelchairs, comfy pillows, tea, thoughtful conversation , a glass for your teeth at night (just kidding of course)etc and all you get is metal mayhem i.e. none of the above and how great is that??? Life is beautiful.

After so many years in heavy metal, how do you stay inspired when recording a new album?
Tony: I have no idea it’s just like any narrator of any kind a writer, a comedian, director or actor. Life is all around you and you draw from that. To be uninspired is to be blind and deaf; unaware of anything around you. Inspiration is life and life is everywhere. With no life on earth I guess there would be no inspiration. To simply look at what we can achieve and have achieved for the good as humans is itself inspirational. But the bad side allows for commentary and for those words, the inspiration comes from man himself and his dark side which was, is and will always be because it is a primal part of us.

Check out the song: “Reptile”

Did you ever imagine you would still be making music so many years later?
Tony: Yes, we never stopped just not really with the higher profile stuff. Once it is in your blood it never leaves you. How many bands come back to the reunion thing? Why? Because you may find times when you need to break from it sure but it stays in your soul and even if you don’t continue in some guise for a long time you will find a way back someday in some way, some how that’s how it goes. I guess, we thought maybe some time we might do it again on a bigger stage but that was at the back of the mind and we never really followed it through like this. We feel this is real and genuine and that is the only way to do it. Doing it for money or for ego is just useless, unfulfilling and soulless …I’d rather not do it.

What kind of touring plans do you have in support of the record?
Tony: Next? Well on March 19th in Seattle we begin three weeks of touring in the USA and Canada, then back to Europe for several shows, festivals and a tour. Then a new EP will be penned with a special guest appearance or two for the end of summer. The next album follows that then a tour of South America and Japan and then the US again; everywhere we will miss this time around…and that should take us part way into 2013!

What is next for you guys?
Tony: You mean after all of this? Hopefully open a haberdashery shop in a quiet town in Middle America and then just spend sunny days on the porch telling the neighborhood kids stories of the old demonic days and how to scare their parents. Seriously, just playing and having fun and producing music for the sake of enjoyment.