“Last month we were talking to guitarist Bryan Holland from the band Reverence. This month we hear from their singer Michael Todd Hall. Enjoy!”
Who`s idea was it to form the band?
Bryan Holland was really the main impetus behind forming the band. He had just finished reforming and playing guitar in Tokyo Blade and he was looking to start a new project. Bryan searched MySpace for singers in the Michigan area and stumbled across my page and listened to some of my previous recordings. Bryan liked my voice and contacted me to see if I would be interested in starting a new project.
Once we got writing, we then turned to our friends to help fill our ranks. Bryan was friends with Doc Killdrums and he signed on immediately. Doc then suggested Pete Rossi for the second guitar slot and then I asked Ned Meloni, my friend from Burning Starr, if he would like to play bass.
REVERENCE – why this name?
We struggled with thinking of a name for the band. We wanted something that we felt meant something to us. Bryan’s wife, Tracy, suggested the name Reverence, which came to her from lyrics I had written for the song Revolution Rising. The lyrics include the line “Bow down in reverence, bow down in fear. They don’t care as long as you adhere.” We thought the name projected a strong image, but also seemed fitting, because we revere 80’s metal and so in our minds the name makes reference to that.
Which bands are your sources of inspiration?
Right from the start Bryan and I were on the same page with what we wanted to sound like musically speaking. The focus is on heavy guitar oriented music with soaring melodic vocals. The influences are many, but obviously come from the music we grew up loving like Judas Priest, Dio, Savatage, Queensryche, Malice, etc. We hope we are putting our own spin in things, but I’m sure our influences shine though as well.
What are the lyrics about?
Generally speaking, Bryan writes the music and sends me a completely arranged song. Bryan normally suggests a title for the song, but it is just a suggestion and often I come up with something else. I listen to the music and see what lyrics and melodies come to mind. If it is a good song, it essentially sings to me and the melodies and lyrics just start popping into my head.
Lyrically, the topics usually stem from my life experiences and often have to do with my frustrations. Even though I am generally a positive guy, it is the things that I struggle with that usually come out as song topics. “Too Late” has to do with process of agonizing over decisions that have already been made, when in reality, it is too late and you should just move on with your life. Monster is a Jekyll and Hyde type of story about a guy that seems calm and collected, but really becomes a jerk when he gets angry. Revolution Rising is about feelings of helplessness in the face of a system that seems to reward politicians and their cronies rather than the everyday people. After The Leaves Have Fallen is a lament about how each generation keeps making short sighted decisions that have a negative impact on future generations. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
My traditional question: Do you have a favourite song you have written and why?
As an artist, this is a difficult question to answer. Your songs are like your children and it is hard to pick a favorite. I am really proud of every song on When Darkness Calls, which also makes it difficult for me to pick a favorite. I love “Bleed for Me” for the catchy chorus melodies. I love “Too Late” for the heavy music and soaring vocals. I love “Revolution Rising”, because it was the first song that Bryan and I wrote together and it has a singer’s chorus. And I love “After the Leaves Have Fallen” because it makes me think of my children and puts a lump in my throat. I could list things I love about the other songs too, but that would probably get annoying for you. :^)
Have you any favourite singer?
I have been singing since I was very little and I have had many influences over the years. Some of which, I would probably be slightly embarrassed to even admit. I was influenced by Boston, REO Speedwagon and Styx in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but for sure the early to mid 80’s metal is what made the biggest impression on me. I listened to a lot of bands with great singers like Manowar, Queensryche, Iron Maiden, Dio, Warrior, Malice, Q5, TNT, Shy, Surgin’, etc. However, Geoff Tate from Queensryche and Eric Adams from Manowar were always my two favorite singers.
In more recent years, I have grown disappointed with Geoff Tate. When he released his first solo CD, he did a promo tour and I listened to an interview that was streamed on the internet. He talked about how he did not consider himself a metal singer and how Queensryche was never a metal band, etc. I was really bummed out, because this was a fellow that I held in high regard as one of the best singers in metal and he was essentially taking his crown and throwing it on the ground and stomping on it. I have purchased every new Queensryche CD since then, but I find it difficult to say that Geoff is still my favorite. Only the old Geoff I guess.
Eric Adams on the other hand has stayed very true to himself and I really appreciate that. Eric has an incredible voice and getting to perform at two Magic Circle Festivals with Manowar while playing in my other band Burning Starr was a real treat for me. Eric and Joey from Manowar were on the side of the stage while Burning Starr was performing and it was very surreal for me to be playing in front of them after being a fan of theirs since 1984.
What about the tour to support your awesome album? Any plans for Europe?
We really want to tour and Europe is the most likely place to book shows. We have booking agents working on shows which are tentatively scheduled for the last part of November. We are looking at shows in Ireland, England, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Switzerland so far. We have some good buzz going for the band we’re really looking forward to getting a chance to play live.
What do you think is different between 80`s metal and the current metal scene?
This is a difficult question to answer, because I think the music scene in general has really splintered into many different niches. People listen to lots of different music and if we ignore all of the other variations of pop, country, rap, hip hop, etc., even the metal world is splintered with new metal, black metal, death metal, old school metal, power metal, progressive, etc.
For me as a singer, I tend to associate 80’s metal with strong singers that have big vocal ranges and high screams. Although, there are plenty of metal bands from the 80’s that do not fit that bill. Not that James Hetfield is not a great singer, but let’s face it, James is not trying to be Geoff Tate. So you can see that even though I associate 80’s metal with big vocal ranges and high singing that is not necessarily the case.
What is your favourite food and drink?
My favorite food is an easy one. I absolutely love pizza. My favorite drink is a tough one. I sometimes get teased, because I really like milk with a meal. However, if I am really thirsty a glass of water or an ice-cold beer really satisfies me.
Have you any message for metal fans and K4M readers?
We worked really hard on our new CD, When Darkness Calls, and I hope that everyone will give it a listen. Thank you for taking the time to read my interview and for your support of metal music.
Thank you very much for this interview and for sharing your time with us.