Interview With Mick Michaels of Corners of Sanctuary

LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up? 

Mick Michaels: James and I have been playing together since 1985. The initial lineup of the band consisted of a three piece which included James on bass, Sean on drums and vocals and myself on guitar. We all played together in a band called Seeker back in the 80s. Around 2010, a reunion project was going on with Seeker.  During that time we discussed the idea of doing something new that reflected more of our musical roots; music we wanted to hear. So by 2011 we were working together as COS.  Frankie was brought on as lead vocals in late 2013 once we realized that we weren’t able to do what we wanted to as a trio…we needed a dedicated lead singer. We replaced drummers in 2016 with Mad T. T had been already working with us as part of our road crew but he was also involved in writing some of our music as well as filling in on tours as drummer on multiple occasions.  The fit was just right and it was one of the best decisions we ever made as a band. We have cycled through a number of singers over the last few years, but somehow always seem to gravitate back to Frankie 🙂  Destiny?  I don’t know.

LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?

Mick Michaels: We are doing what everyone else has been doing…taking one day, one moment at a time. It’s the best any of us can do right now. It’s been hard for everyone.  We are just making the most out of each day.

Though there hasn’t been any real opportunity to tour or perform live we are doing what we can. The down time gave us an opportunity to finish our latest album, “Heroes Never Die,” earlier this year and had it release in October through RFL Records. We also managed to release two EPs, an acoustic single, and a new Holiday song along with several videos.  Plus, we have been participating in a number of online streaming events which has given us and the fans an opportunity to connect.

By taking each day as it comes, we have been able to see the opportunities before us rather than focusing on all that we lost. Just look for the open doors…there are plenty of them.

LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?

Mick Michaels: Absolutely…again, we have been making the most of what we have been given. A lot of writing has been going on for sure.  We have material already in the works for a new EP for early 2021…reworking some older material, and we have started work on our next album.  Plus some side projects are in the works.

This time has also made it possible to explore new areas of interest for the band…again, looking for the positives.

LOMM: Modern sounds are my thing J How about you? What does your genre means to you, why did you choose this genre?

Mick Michaels: Well, I think organically I am definitely a “throwback” type of person. Maybe it is a nostalgic trait, I don’t know.  But I like the analog sounding music.  With that said, I have grow very accustom to digital recording techniques.  It really has simplified things to such a degree that it’s not so labor intensive and it gives an artist so many more avenues to explore during the creation process. As much as I like the analog sound, I do not miss the old recording process…a lot of hurry and wait.

For me, Heavy Metal has always been about personal empowerment. Good Metal is uplifting and inspiring…music should be that way in my opinion.

Though we call what Corners of Sanctuary does as the New Wave of Traditional American Heavy Metal, there really is so much more to it.  It’s our roots…NWoBHM…early American Heavy Metal… late 80s Metal…Rock…. It’s all that and much more to us.  We play the music we feel most connected to and how that comes out is how that comes out.  We feel being true to ourselves makes the music honest in the end. That may not be for everyone but it’s for us and we enjoy doing it.

LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
Mick Michaels: Well lyrically, being that we feel Metal is a form of personal empowerment; we tend to write a lot about that and overcoming challenges and obstacles.  We also tend to write about battles and war…some fantasy, some historic.

Music-wise, we just write as we feel, how it comes out is what it is.  We seldom if ever try to write a particular way, saying, “Let’s write a song like so and so or in this style.”  That’s not us…but that doesn’t mean that songs won’t come out that way…it’s just we don’t intentionally make the effort to do that.  We are all influenced and inspired by our roots.  No one is immune.  And that’s not a bad thing in our opinion. You go with what you know.

: Are you happy with your product? I mean, what aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Mick Michaels: Song writing can always get better…structures, arrangements, chord progressions, technical aspects and of course lyrical content.  This is part of the process…it’s a maturation of the artist and their process. This band has definitely been making strides with the last two albums in terms of the above in my opinion. If you are working at your craft, and being honest with yourself, growth will begin to occur.

Production techniques are always developing as well.  We’ve gotten much better with tackling the digital recording process from where we began, that is for sure. But it’s a learning process and it’s something you work on daily. Some days you make great leaps and other days you stay in one spot. It’s just how things go.

LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
Mick Michaels: We have been very fortunate that people are appreciative of our music and for that we are truly grateful. We have a bit of a throwback sound and we realize that for some that maybe a turn off. But as I mentioned, we are working in a “be true to yourself” type of environment, so we know it won’t be for everyone and that’s okay.  We appreciate all the support we’ve received and thank you all.

LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
Mick Michaels: Touring is what Corners of Sanctuary does…we are believers in bringing the music to the people. This band has been fortunate to have toured throughout various parts of the US as well as Europe and the UK…and have shared the stage with so many great bands.  So not playing live this year has been tough but it’s been tough on everyone…the fans as well.
We were in the UK on tour when the travel ban and lockdown restrictions started in March.  Our flight had been canceled and we scrambled to find a flight home.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel the remaining part of the tour but we do plan to go back and finish what we started once things settle down and it’s safe to travel.

LOMM: What do you see for your future? How is it looking?
Mick Michaels: The future is always filled with infinite possibilities…so in reality, anything is possible in my opinion.  For us, we are going to keep doing what we are doing.  We definitely have plans to have new music coming out in 2021 and there will definitely be another album…or two coming. And when the time is right, we will be back out playing live again.
For now, we are focusing on the moment and looking to make each second count. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn’t happened yet, all we have is the present…live in it!

LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus onor plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do theyinfluence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
Mick Michaels: Again, we write a lot about wars and battles and self empowerment and overcoming challenges. Maybe much of it is self therapeutic in a way…we remind ourselves to stay true to the path and be strong and brave.  We all have our vices we need to overcome and work through.  Music is a great outlet.
I write a lot of the lyrical content but over the last two albums James and Mad T have gotten more involved as well.  It really has expanded things quite a bit for the band.
Ideas come from anywhere…movies, TV, family…pretty much anywhere. If something strikes you as interesting, it often winds up in a song somewhere.

LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Mick Michaels: Both have their ups and downs. For me, I truly enjoy the studio, working on new material. However, I have to say that in the last several years I have come to enjoy touring more and more.  Part of that was my perception and how I approached things…often making it much harder on myself than I needed to…I tend to do that at times. And not being able to tour and perform live this year as really put things into a new light…you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone…

LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
Mick Michaels: Musically I lay out a lot of the ground work but in the end everyone places their personal stamp on the songs…that’s what makes them Corners of Sanctuary.

LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Mick Michaels: For me, Judas Priest, Kiss, Accept, Savatage are band that I draw a lot of influence from, but there are so many others…a number of non Metal acts and artists as well. It would be unfair to say it is only these bands when the truth is there are countless bands and artists…there are bands that I was heavy influenced by who never made it to the big time or never left the local scene, but there impact was massive and was invaluable.

LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
Mick Michaels: I think writing from the heart is what really counts.  If you are true to what you do, it comes through.  The audience can see and feel that.  If you are playing dress up, they can see that too and it’s not a sustainable model. Be true to yourself and your music and let the chips fall as they may.

LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Mick Michaels: That has yet to come…but I am amazed at times that I’m still able to do what I am doing and share it with some really great people…and that’s greatly in part to the fans.  I am truly grateful.

LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?

Mick Michaels:  Thank you for talking with me today, it has been a pleasure.  We want to thank everyone for all their support.  Be safe and stay strong.  Have a great holiday Season…COSnROLL and Make Your Merry Metal! \m/\m/

Corners of Sanctuary

Official: www.cornersofsanctuary.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CornersofSanctuary
Instagram: www.instagram.com/cosnationmetal
Twitter: www.twitter.com/COSnROLL

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