Interview – ANIMETAL USA

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by Tom Pinchuk | contributor

INSIDE AX: You guys have a pretty impressive pedigree between all of you as a supergroup – - so what’s the proverbial “big in Japan” experience been like?

Mike Vescera/Metal-Rider: It’s been awesome. The fact that we’re doing heavy metal and anime and being embraced by the country and the original artists of some of these songs… it really just blew us away. They’ve chosen us as their ambassadors to the rest of the world to introduce anime and this music, so it’s really just been amazing.

IAX: How would you compare the Japanese and US crowds – - which ones have the more lively pits?

Rudy Sarzo/Storm Bringer: Well, it’s not really about the crowd, it’s about the experience. Because, you know, we’ve all been to Japan with our own bands. Impellitteri for Chris. Loudness for Mike, he used to live in Japan. John has been there with Testament. I’ve been touring for 30 years with Ozzy, Quiet Riot, White Snake and Dio… and the major difference is that when we tour there as a metal, we just go do our metal show and then leave.

Now, we’re going there, we’re embracing Japanese culture by being an anime-centric band. It’s a totally different experience because now we go there, we do all the Good Morning shows in Tokyo and all the press. You know, we’ve had our photo in the Tokyo Times on the front cover after we performed at Loud Park. It’s a completely different experience. It’s kind of hard to compare to a typical metal crowd in the United States, or in anywhere in the rest of the world, because it’s about anime and very Japanese culture-centric.

IAX: Sounds like you guys have a pretty active relationship with the anime scene. Have there been any fun cases where the original composers have responded to what you’ve done?

Mike Vescera/Metal-Rider: Oh yeah. Mr. Mizuki, the Mad Singer, “Madly We Do,” – - he actually came out and sang with us for our first showcase. Kageyama from Jam Project we got to work with. And it’s a trip because these are the guys that sang these songs – - the original versions – - and they love us! And we love them, because they’re so awesome! We’ve had a lot of opportunity to work with these people and meet them and it’s so cool.

IAX: Now, of course, you’re taking the torch from the original Animetal that was based in Japan already. So… who would win in a fight? You guys…or Eizo Sakamoto and an army of sexy robot ninjas? I want a very a serious answer, right now.

Rudy Sarzo/Storm Bringer: This is best answered by Chris Impellitteri, our martial arts expert.

Chris Impellitteri/Speed King: I would have to say that, unequivocally, Animetal USA would definitely win.

IAX: Are there any stories behind the make-up you have? Any characters you have worked out for this project? Or is it more up to the interpretation of the audience?

Mike Vescera/Metal-Rider: I think it represents us individually as our characters. You know, Metal Rider, Speed King, and… who are you?

Rudy Sarzo/Storm Bringer: Senor Storm Bringer.

Mike Vescera/Metal-Rider: I’m the over-the-top metal singer. A little demonistic. It does relay our characters a bit. And, of course, it’s very kabuki. That type of thing. So there is some thought behind it, it’s not just, you know, throw stuff on our faces.

IAX: There’s also this Japanese pro wrestler, Jushin Thunder Liger, who’s got a very popular anime about him. Have you ever thought about trying to push for something similar about the exploits of Animetal USA?

Mike Vescera/Metal-Rider: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely…

Rudy Sarzo/Storm Bringer: As a matter of fact, on the first album we covered “Tiger Mask.”

Mike Vescera/Metal-Rider: Yeah, we did Tiger Mask, which is a wrestler. We want to be involved in whatever we can, in any part of anime.

IAX: Is there any gear that you’ve enjoyed using – - we’re talking like amps, guitars, or even makeup – - that you’d especially like to recommend?

Chris Impellitteri/Speed King: Wow. We went right from anime to the technical guitar questions and bass and drums. Haha.

IAX: We’re covering the gamut today, man!

Chris Impellitteri/Speed King: Well, listen… we’re playing in two worlds here. As Rudy said, this is very cultural specific. I mean, we’re in an anime world, so we’ve got to satisfy their demands, their needs, right?

On the music side… we’re a heavy metal band, so obviously you can hear that in the music. So there’s a lot of equipment that we use to technically play this music which is fairly challenging. For me, I use walls of various amps from Marshall’s to Engel’s to technical stuff. My guitar – - right now I’m endorsing a company called Dean, so I’ve got a crazy half flying-V/half SG. I use my old, vintage stratacasters and then Rudy has his signature BB basses.

Rudy Sarzo/Storm Bringer: And acoustic amplifiers. Things like that. It’s not that much different from being in a regular metal band. After all, that’s the music that we’re playing, so we’re not really adapting, we’re doing it as a metal band. Only in our consciousness, in our approach to our music and the imagery, you know… that’s where we actually step into the anime world. But as far our performances go, they’re very metal.

IAX: You’re talking about trying to bridge the gap between two worlds. Say you take one theme from any anime show – - what’s a little quick breakdown of the creative process of putting your personal stamp on it?

Rudy Sarzo/Storm Bringer: Music has been traditionally – - especially in the 60’s, and then perfected in the 70’s with progressive rock with bands like Yes and King Crimson – - you could actually look at the album cover and listen to the music and stare at the album covers and let your imagination wander with this soundtrack along.

Anime, to us, is exactly the same thing. You look at the imagery, you look at the graphics, you listen to the music. The storylines, you know, they’re fantastic! So you must have fantastic music to go along with that. Which really opens up our possibilities of where we can take our music. There’s no limitations here.

As a matter of fact, we always keep pushing ourselves to take it to the next level.  But traditionally, we’ve always been fans of that type of music, the music that really liberates you as a creative force, as a musician. And we’re all storytellers, whether we tell a story through an anime storyline, or we do it through the lyrics of a metal song. It’s all about the story, that’s the most important thing.

IAX: You’re talking about taking things to another level and pushing this forward, and the show at Anime Expo was your first in America as Animetal. So, do you have plans to do more of these? What is to come from you guys in the future?

Mike Vescera/Metal-Rider: We’re talking with an agency, right now. They’re putting a world tour together for us. We want to do a lot more conventions like this. That’s probably next for us – - doing the States, Europe, South America, wherever we can -  – and then we’ll probably go back to Japan again.  And, somewhere in there, we’ll do another record.

But yeah, there are plans for us to tackle the US, Europe and South America and anywhere that will have us, really.

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