He is the bassist, leader, songwriter and the idea behind the supergroup called Metal Allegiance. Many of us may don’t know a lot about him, but it’s time for this to change. That’s why Rock Overdose and Konstantinos Sotirelis talked with Mark Menghi about the story behind Metal Allegiance, his bandmates, the debut album and the upcoming! So, enjoy!
Rock Overdose: Hello Mark and welcome to Rock Overdose from Greece. How are you?
MM: I’m doing pretty good. Thanks!
Rock Overdose: First of all, I’d like to congratulate you about the “Metal Allegiance” album. How do you feel about this release, now that it’s been 3 years since it came out?
MM: Thank you. Sept 17th of 2018 will mark the three-year anniversary… roughly 6 months from now. With that, our new record will be released by then (I hope)! Haha but its crazy to think that our debut album is nearly three years old, feels like it was just released last week. I am still very proud of that album as it marked the transition from a covers band to a creative writing band. It was four dudes who got in a room and wrote a record. Four dudes who never wrote together before… four dudes who didn’t know each other creatively… so with that, not a bad start!
Rock Overdose: Have you ever thought that the feedback would be so great?
MM: Honestly… no. Just the other day a friend of mine sent me a YouTube link of a kid in a car with his Dad singing to “Gift of Pain” and it actually got me pretty emotional. To see a Father and Son enjoying our music is something I never imagined. I wrote the title “Gift of Pain” and some of those lyrics back in January of 2013, which was a very dark time for me. Fast forward 5 years later… seeing how “Gift of Pain” developed, writing the music, co-writing the lyrics with Randy Blythe to seeing a Father and Son singing the tune and having fun is pretty surreal. I’ve had a ton of messages regarding the message of “Can’t Kill The Devil” as well and how those lyrics helped them through a rough patch and helped them try to defeat the “devil” in their life… so yah, this is all still pretty surreal to me.
Rock Overdose: There are some rumors about a new Metal Allegiance album coming up. Is it true? When should we expect it and how will it sound?
MM: Yes! The rumors are most certainly true. The new album will be released late summer/early fall of this year. I can tell you it's 100% thrash. No bullshit on this record... I am extremely proud of what we accomplished on this one. I can’t talk to much about it now, but what I can say is people are gonna freak in a good way... hopefully we chat again when the album is out and I then can go into great detail!
Rock Overdose: What about the line up? Will it be the same, with many guests participating?
MM: The lineup is still the “Core4” which is myself, Alex, Mike and Dave… regarding the special guests vocalists and guitarists, you’ll just have to wait and see…
Rock Overdose: A lot of people don’t know about your role. You are a bassist, playing the bass on the “Let Darkness Fall” and the “Dying Song”, and the main songwriter of the band, right?
MM: Yah, I am. I played bass on those two on the record, plus wrote a lot of the lyrics to “Gift of Pain”, “Let Darkness Fall”, “Can’t Kill The Devil”, “Pledge of Allegiance”, etc… along with a good majority of the music. During that time of writing, this whole thing was still new to all of us… our roles were still undetermined and we were still getting to know each other creatively. I never intended on being a “writer” or “musician” on this album. It was Portnoy who pulled me in, as he knew I could play and knew I had a ton of lyrics, ideas, etc… so from there, the Core4 was born.
Rock Overdose: What about the live shows? Do you play with two bassists?
MM: We do. Sometimes one bassist (just me), sometimes two (With Dave)… sometimes three! Haha it all depends on everyone’s availability. This past January we did a gig in California where Dave and I shared bass duties… there were even a few songs we played together which was fun.
Rock Overdose: It would be great if you could tell us a few things about the Metal Allegiance formation. How did you find these members and so many guests? I mean, this is a supergroup formed by someone we haven’t heard of!
MM: I used to work on the business side of things in the Music Industry, that’s how I knew and know everyone. MA started under a different name back in 2011… From there we just kept growing and morphing into new and different ideas. It wasn’t until late 2014 that we decided to try and write some original music. Motorhead gave us our first big break/gig under the Metal Allegiance name when we were invited to play on Motorhead’s first Motorboat. It was on that ship that we said “we should write some music together” and from that 5-minute conversation on a boat, my life has been completely transformed. Choosing the musicians was very natural… the Core 4 is myself, Mike Portnoy, David Ellefson and Alex Skolnick.
At this point, I was still the behind the scenes guy, I guess you could call me the “manager” hahaha Mike and Dave were on that boat to play with Metal Allegiance… we did our first of two shows that week without Alex, then on our day off we asked Alex to jam with us on our second show that week and low and behold, the Core 4 was formed… Mike, Dave and I had the conversations the same day on writing music together and when the question came up as to “who would be the guitarist?” we all answered “Alex!” at the same time. Regarding whom we ask to jam with us on stage or on the record? That all comes down to availability, who we are friends with and who is a good hang. It’s all about the person rather than the musician.
Rock Overdose: Is this something like a dream for you? Playing with these musicians?
MM: Oh yeah. It’s pretty surreal. I am the one with the most to prove. I am the no-name up on stage and on record with these legends, so I need to be on my A-game. I am very hard on myself in terms of writing, practicing, etc… the people who are closest to me tend to stay away from me when I get into rehearsal or writing mode as they know I drive myself super hard.
Rock Overdose: How did you gain Nuclear Blast’s attention and how did you decide which guest musicians would be included?
MM: We never sort out to get anyone’s attention… it was just four dudes in a room writing together. When news broke that there was this new band forming with these dudes writing we had a ton of label interest. But we didn’t really field many calls or meetings because we were doing this for ourselves. Labels didn’t hear anything until the record was done. We self-financed it, etc… we did everything ourselves. We went with Nuclear Blast because we just clicked with them. They saw our vision and what MA could be and grow to be… in reality, MA is still a baby band with a lot of room for growth…
Rock Overdose: Geezer Butler is one of favorite bassists. How did you feel when you jammed with him on a Metal Allegiance show?
MM: I just stepped aside and watched him play with my mouth open in awe. hahah
Rock Overdose: Does this project show that metal scene is a brotherhood? Is this something that you want to “state” with this project, having so many guest musicians from different metal styles?
MM: It’s definitely a brother/sisterhood. We have so many diverse musicians involved with MA that its one giant metal family.
Rock Overdose: Is it someone that you want to have as a guest on Metal Allegiance in the future?
MM: Yeah, if James Hetfield is reading this… have his people call my people. hahahahaha
Rock Overdose: Are there any plans for an upcoming tour with Metal Allegiance?
MM: We have three select Festival appearances in Europe this Summer. Metal Days, Fezen and Rockstadt.
Rock Overdose: Thank you very much for this interview, the last word is yours.
MM: Thank you for all the support. It’s much appreciated!
For Rock Overdose,