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A Dirty Dozen with MICK MICHAELS from CORNERS OF SANCTUARY – March 2021

| 26 March 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Hailing from Philadelphia, New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary (COS) formed in 2011 with a desire to bring back the sounds of Classic Heavy Metal. 2020 started out with a bang as the band headed to the UK for its first tour in March along with the release of two new EPs For COS and Country and Quarantined Lockdown and an acoustic rendition of the track “Metal Machine.” COS signed with RFL Records (US) in June 2020 and has already released the album, Heroes Never Die, in October 2020 and the EP, Blood and Steel: Volume One in March 2021.” We guitarist Mick to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Corners of Sanctuary’s latest release is the EP Blood and Steel: Volume One. It’s a bit different for us in the way that the tracks are somewhat darker and grittier. The casual COS listener may not pick up on that right away, however, those who have been following us for some time will immediately hear the difference… but with that said, it’s still Corners of Sanctuary without fail, there’s no mistaking that. There are no real hidden nuggets per se on this EP. However, a couple of the songs were pulled off the shelf and given some new life. There is a track on the EP called “A Fitting End,” that features a narration by a longtime friend and former band mate who passed away right before the pandemic started. It was a chance for us to pay our respects musically to him.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

As far back I can remember I have always been drawn to music in more of a spiritual way. I remember hearing the Jackson 5 on the radio and just dancing around my kitchen as a kid. KISS had an early influence on me and my wanting to play. My older brother played guitar, my grandfather played in string bands, I started out playing the drums, so music was a big part of growing up. I think, though, it wasn’t until MTV hit the airwaves and I was able to watch all these artists and bands that I truly realized this is what I wanted to do.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Again, KISS was a big influencer for sure. As a kid listening to Alive II over and over, I don’t know if I was aware of the impact it was having on me. But I can tell you that when I heard Judas Priest’s “Beyond the Realms of Death” from their Stained Class album I was blown away and knew at that moment that music was what I wanted to do, and I wanted to play like that.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Musically, as a guitar player, they would be K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ace Frehley, John Sykes, and Jake E Lee. But the list is much greater than that. Influence comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s everywhere; we just need to open to it.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I would like the opportunity to work with K.K. Downing. I have always been drawn to his playing style and it would be great to write a song or two together.  K.K. was at the forefront of the Heavy Metal scene back in the 70’s, so there is a lot of knowledge there and to have such an experience to collaborate as an artist would be an invaluable resource and opportunity for anyone in my opinion. If I had a second call I could make, I would like to work with Paul Stanley as well.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

We consider ourselves the “modern sound of classic Heavy Metal.”  We have a throwback type of style, yet it does not sound dated and it’s not a copycat of what some other band has done. For us it’s a collect of influences that we’ve made our own. COS has been compared to so many different types of bands from Judas Priest to Manowar, to ZZ Top to Sammy Hagar and AC/DC. We have been called Power Metal, Speed Metal, Hard Rock, Classic Rock. Some haven’t even considered us Metal at all. I guess it all depends on the listener’s perspectives and what and how they relate a certain sound or style of music to their experiences. In the end, being compared to any band that has made a name for themselves is not a bad thing in our opinion, regardless of who it is, we look at it as we are in good company.  Doesn’t really matter who or what they compare us to, what matters is that they are listening.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a sing-along?

To be honest, we aren’t that kind of band. When we are on the road, everyone is responsible for themselves to some degree. We each have different eating habits and diets, so food is usually an individual, personal thing. When we are working together; studio or rehearsal, we will sometimes go out to a restaurant or diner afterwards and talk and discuss business and such. Also, not everyone in the band drinks, so again, it’s very much an individual thing. Sing-a-longs are not our style. We do more joking around with each other than singing – ball busting and the telling of bad, outdated jokes that only we get more so than anything else. We have been a band for 10 years now and friends for much, much longer. So we have a lot of shared history; there is a lot of connection and a lot of respect that along goes with that.

8. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Man that has happened a few times to be honest. I was a bit star struck when we opened for Stryper and I met Michael Sweet. I was super star struck when we opened for UDO! I had a chance to speak with K.K. Downing (Judas Priest) on the phone and I was nervous as hell, so starstruck doesn’t even cover it. And there was that time I call “my brush with Paul Stanley,” but basically all I was able to muster up was a couple of blurry photos on my cell phone, so not sure that really counts. I’m not ashamed to say it because I’m a fan – any time you get to meet your musical heroes there is a bit of “whoa” that happens.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part of being a musician for me is the creative process – hearing something in your head and putting it together to a degree where others can share in it. It’s just amazing. It’s like magic to me. At this stage, I don’t know what my dream job would be as I have been fortunate enough to be able to do the thing I’ve always wanted to do. Being a bus driver at Disney World doesn’t look too bad, it’s like summer all year long in Florida and you work in an air-conditioned environment and you get free park passes for you and your family. Sign me up!

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what questions are you tired of answering?

I’ll start with the second question. After 10 years answering questions about how Corners of Sanctuary started does get old, but I am happy to answer and I now have a solid, streamlined version to give. For the one question I have always wanted an interviewer to ask, that I don’t know, haven’t really thought about it. Maybe it’s because I don’t find myself that interesting. I’d rather learn about someone else and their experiences than my own. You can learn so much by listening.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Absolutely. I think everyone has those moments.  There are tons of missteps when you are an artist; they are unavoidable at times. But the trick is to roll with the punches the best you can.  The other thing to consider is whether it’s the good, bad, ugly, or indifferent, the decisions we make and the choices we take have made us who we are today…and if we go back and change them, we change the now and I don’t want to do that.  I just make it a point to do my best to learn from it and keep moving forward…what other choice do we really have?

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would have liked to be part of the making of Judas Priest’s Stained Class album.  That is one of my favorites.  I realize it’s not a top of the charts type of album like Thriller or VH’s 1984 and such, but for me as a fan of the band, this is an incredible album on all fronts in my opinion. Again, my favorite track off that record and possible my favorite Priest song is “Beyond the Realms of Death.” To me, this is a masterpiece.  The solo alone gives me chills every, single time I hear it. Plus I love the drumming style of Les Binks on that record. For me that is the Priest I always see in my head. And again, if I had a second choice, I would have liked to be part of Paul Stanley’s ’78 solo album; maybe be Kiss’ Destroyer. I’ve never been to summer camp.

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

Definitely the freedom to come and go as you like. I think that has been the hardest part of all this for so many of us. But every day we are making positive steps towards a better tomorrow.  We just all need to remain positive and believe it will happen. As a musician, I miss what everyone else misses – performing live.  But things are slowly starting to open up, so I remain hopeful that our day is coming. Stay safe and COSnROLL\m/\m/





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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