Ronny Munroe: Power Straight Ahead

Sunday, 20th July 2014

The Northwest metal scene in North America was plentiful and diverse in the 1980’s prior to the alternative/grunge explosion that infiltrated the 1990’s mainstream music marketplace. Names still familiar to a lot of deep metal maniacs to come out of that movement include Queensryche, Sanctuary, and the recently rejuvenated Metal Church, the latter currently featuring vocalist Ronny Munroe. During his down time with that power/thrash group, Ronny has released a couple of solo outings in 2009’s The Fire Within and 2011’s Lords of the Edge, so the time is ripe to strike while his profile is ascending through his third and latest studio offering, Electric Wake.

Regarding the songwriting and outlook on this new album, “The record was recorded live at Rock City Sound in Detroit, Michigan,” Ronny tells me. “As far as the songwriting process, (guitarist) Paul Kleff and I wrote a majority of the material, all of them but “United” as (guitarist) Sean Baker brought that to the table. It was a two year process, we wrote a bunch of material, threw some out, went back and re-worked them. I just wanted to get to the choruses as quickly as possible and just write a straight ahead power metal record.”

It’s rare in 2014 to find an album chock full of material that has that straightforward verse/chorus power template, and not succumbing to any of the latest thrash or extreme nuances. I wanted to explore the lyrical content of favorites such as “Turn to Stone” and “Ritual Damage.” “The first one is really kind of a take on my brother who is a sergeant in the Army, he’s done 5 tours of Iraq and what not and what it did to him. When he came back he was a bit hardened, like anybody would be when you go over there fighting, doing what those guys have to do and seeing what they saw. “Ritual Damage” is really about addiction, of any kind. Could be drugs, could be alcohol, could be self-hatred, that’s what that one is about.”

Those lucky enough to purchase the deluxe international edition of the physical album will get 2 bonus tracks, “Tainted Nation” and a cover of the Iron Maiden song “Total Eclipse,” most notable to North American consumers for the fact that it was originally supposed to appear on The Number of the Beast but only came out as a b-side for the single “Run to the Hills.” What made you choose that particular long lost classic from the UK veterans? “Clive Burr was a great drummer- and I was a drummer growing up before I became a singer, he was one of my favorite drummers, and I used to play those Iron Maiden albums a lot. Of course Clive contracted multiple sclerosis and eventually died of MS, and I actually worked on Clive-Aid, a non-profit organization of his. So I did this as a tribute to him.”

Given the fact that Ronny has been a singer in various metal bands since the 1980’s, and also does work for acts as diverse as the Presto Ballet (progressive rock), Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Metal Church among others, are there any special ways he is able to transform his delivery to suit these different outlets? “Basically I just try to take care of myself as best as I can. Getting sleep on the road is kind of hard for me, but when I do I’m usually on fire. I really sing to the music, and I’m pretty good at adapting to the style that I need. Metal Church is one way, my stuff I can be a little bit more myself, and so on and so forth. Presto Ballet was more melodic, and I’m actually going to be doing a project with some good guys in the UK that is more of a rock project.”

Ah Metal Church, a band that has a rich history and put out some classic material with both the late, great David Wayne and Mike Howe over the years. In fact, as you’re reading this article, seek out the self-titled debut or Blessing in Disguise and be floored by the likes of “Beyond the Black”, “Fake Healer”, or “Badlands”. Was it challenging to know that you would have to cover both eras when you took over as the front person in 2003? “No, I was a little more worried about the fans reaction. I knew I could sing both styles because I had been singing along to those records for quite a few years, because I was a fan of Metal Church to begin with.”

Metal Church would take a 3 year hiatus from 2009-2012, and the latest album that hit the streets in 2013, Generation Nothing, was a welcome return to that classic power/thrash style we’ve come to know and love from the group. Were there any particular changes that took place when the band reformed to make things stronger and better in the long run? “I think we needed a break. Metal Church was getting run down. Between Kurdt (Vanderhoof- guitarist) and I we spoke about it, we just needed a break. I knew that eventually we would get back together, and finally that did happen. We are rejuvenated, Kurdt wrote a great record and we have some cool stuff coming up. I feel good about it.”

Rat Pak Records is the home to both Ronny Munroe and Metal Church, as well as a host of other great hard rock and metal artists that have established a name for themselves through their previous accolades and accomplishments. Electric Wake features guest appearances from George Lynch, Pamela Moore, and Dave Rude for instance. “That came through Joe O’Brien at Rat Pak Records, as we are all label mates. We all kind of like to help one another out so when Joe brought up the idea I was all over it. I think they really have their pulse on the internet and the understanding of things promo wise. He is honest, we have a partnership, (Joe) has never done me wrong so I have no reason to stray. We have some really good stuff on tap with Metal Church as well, and Joe is going to take care of us.”

Enjoying down time in Rhode Island currently, as Ronny loves photography, poetry, and nature during his down time, there are plans in the works for “2 to 3 gigs, maybe in October” to support this new release. There are also 3 new videos to check out online, and even Ronny understands that he needs to stay up with the social media times even if he is an older heavy metal guy. “The internet is a necessity, and it is still a double edge sword as far as money-wise. You have to have a break sometimes, but understand that Facebook and all these other sites are not the be all and end all. There still is print (media) out there, and I believe that and radio should be used as much as possible in addition to the internet. These people will make a group and advertise on Facebook and wonder why their live shows don’t have bigger turnouts- it’s because there is more to promotion than that one social media platform.”

As for the rest of 2014 and future plans in Ronny’s world, he suggest some interesting future product with Metal Church in the pipeline. “I’m not exactly sure how the new Metal Church will turn out, when Kurdt gets into writing mode time will tell. As far as the next year, I am planning on having some time off to work on this new rock project, spending time in Rhode Island. We are working on the newest Metal Church record, and that is going to be a surprise, as well as bang out a new studio record. Plus we have another 2-3 week run of shows coming up in September for the band.”

Ronny Monroe official website