Friday, March 21, 2014

Heavy Metal Anthem Interview: 
New Wave Hits the New Millennium

Conducted by Anthony Servante

While listening to KPFK, the show Headroom Hour, where experimental and independent music can be heard each weekend, I first heard the band Heavy Metal Anthem. The sound was Retro New Wave, 80s music updated for the New Millennium. It struck me as a cross between Strange Advance and Men Without Hats, both from Canada. Only HMA, as they refer to themselves, was from the Eastside of Los Angeles, where you are more likely to hear Chicano Rock bands such as MALO, El Chicano, or Los Lobos. But HMA was nothing like that. Their sound is not regional; it is international. 

So, I hunted them down on Google. What a bummer. There was more than one band called Heavy Metal Anthem. Then I tried YouTube and found their videos and a link to a Facebook page. Just like that, I messaged Rich Michalowski, one of the founders of the band, and invited him and co-founder Adam Merrinto to talk to my readers about HMA. They accepted and here we are. I'm anxious to introduce the band to the Servante of Darkness music followers, so let's get started.

The 88

Anthony: Let’s start at the beginning. Where do your stories begin prior to HMA?

Rich: "Adam is a founding member of the band The 88 as well as a backing musician for Ray Davies and I believe (occasionally) The 3 O' Clock. I was the lead singer and principle songwriter for a band called Mighty Six Ninety who released music from 2003 to 2008 on various record labels in the US, UK & Japan. I also compose music for Film and HMA is my first jump back into having a full time band."

Adam: I am not a bum, I'm a jerk. I once had wealth, power, and the love of a beautiful woman. Now I only have two things. My friends and... uh... my thermos.

Anthony: How did HMA begin? What musical goals did you have in mind?

Rich: "Adam & I ran into eachother at a record store in Eagle Rock, but had been introduced previously. I had been a fan of The 88 for years and always thought highly of Adam's playing. It began with one song that I had demo'd and progressed into the two of us recording 8 tracks, 6 of which made the EP. While I can't speak for Adam, my goal was to record music that was personal to me without concern for how it might be received. Well, that's kind of a half truth. I still care."

Adam: Heavy Metal Anthem started in the beginning when it began and it will go on till we come to the end: then we will stop.

Anthony: I hear a lot of 80s New Wave influence in your music, especially in the song, “Say Tonight”. If there is New Wave influence, which bands did you follow? If no, what music or bands did influence your sound?

Rich: Morrissey, New Order, The English Beat & FUN (the band) are my influences and can be heard throughout the recording. As you can see from his answer below Adam has odd taste in music.

Adam: Menudo.

Anthony: Can you tell us about “Say Tonight”? That’s the song that caught my attention when it was played on KPFK’s Head Room Hour.

Rich: "Say Tonight" was the first song I had completed (at least demo'd in Pro Tools prior to meeting Adam) that I was happy with since Mighty Six Ninety dissolved in 2008. It was really Adam's urging to finish the track and record more material that lead us in the direction of HMA.

Adam: It’s about a girl.

Anthony: Do you share songwriting duties? How do divide up the duties for the band?

Rich: Adam is the producer, but that is an understament. He also plays multiple instruments on the record and we key in finding musicians to play with us as well; trumpet, sax, trombone players, percussionists, etc. most of the tracks were roughly demo'd in pro tools before sharing with Adam. Adam brought the songs to life.

Adam: I cook and Rich cleans.

Anthony: What are you working on now? I’m anxious to hear more of your sound?

Rich: The new material we're working on is much more uptempo than the Say Tonight EP and very minimal in production. A lot less happening in terms of instrumention.

Adam: More anthems!

Anthony: I call your sound Retro Wave? What name do you prefer?

Rich: That's a good description. I'd have to say Retro Wave Vs. Ska - Ska is a big influence on the new material.

Adam: Infant Contemporary

Anthony: Do you plan any type of tour, local or national? International? If not, how do you plan to get the word out on your music? I’ll help in any way I can.

Contact Rich about the CD

Rich: Anthony, thanks for your help and the write up. We've been supported locally by KPFK, KCRW & KCSN as well as local venues offering us shows. We're booking west coast dates for end of April and would love to play nationally as internationally. To take you up on your offer to help, we're actually looking for a drummer to join the band. If you know of anyone who might be interested and available please do let me know. Contact: They can be contacted at

Adam: Yes, Heavy Metal Anthem plans to set a record for the number of shows played in a year. The goal is to play two a night, every night for a year.

Anthony: What do you see for yourselves a year from now?

Rich: Touring consistently and putting out more material (whether independently or through a label).

Adam: Taking a break from touring, and recording more songs.

Anthony : Can you give us a Top Ten List of Songs that you've written or from other bands that have been important for you growing as serious musicians?

Rich's Top Ten List (plus a few bonus picks):

1. Morrissey - The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

2. New Order - Regret

3. Morrissey - Ouija Board

4. The English Beat - Can't Get Used To Losing You (cover)

5. Andy Williams Can't Get Used To Losing You

6. Richard Hawley "Born Under A Bad Sign"

7. The Smiths "Work Is A Four Letter Word" (cover)

8. New Order "Procession"

9. Ritchie Valens "Donna"

10. Roy Orbison "The Crowd"

11. Leave This World - Mighty Six Ninety released on 7" - CITY ROCKERS/UK

Click HERE to watch Video.

12. Have You Ever Asked Yourself - Mighty Six Ninety - released 2008 Invisible DJ Records/ Sony *A track I wrote in 2003 that our UK label never released and was later released in 2008 on our re-release of Cheers, To The Bitter End with bonus tracks - my favorite song I've ever written.

Click HERE to hear a sample

Adam's Top Ten List:

1. 123456789101112

2. Greatest American Hero 

3. Pussy Pussy Pussy 

4. Go Potty Go 

5. You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile

6. Let’s Go Mets Go 

7. Night Songs 

8. Disneyland’s Main St Electrical Parade

9. Pac-Man Fever 

Click HERE to watch video.

10. Heartlight (


And there we have it. Heavy Metal Anthem's Rich and Adam taking opposite approaches to addressing you, the readers. Rich gave us some background and insight into HMA, while Adam had fun with his answers. Rich gave us an impressive list of songs that reflect the sound of HMA and reveals the influences behind their music, while Adam supplied us with a mish-mosh of inane selections that some readers may find nostalgic, but others will simply be puzzled how a band with such great music would dilute the music of the band with such a crass selection. But for every great Ray Garton interview, there's got to be a John Shirley interview to remind us that we must suffer for our art. 

Thank you Rich for maintaining the dignity that the band deserves. I hope your music finds its target market and soars from there. I do hope you found it entertaining and enlightening on both Rich and Adam's parts. Perhaps they'll return when their next CD is out with a new outlook on how the band would be best presented to the Servante of Darkness readers.

I'll end here with the final words from Rich:

Thanks again Anthony.


Rich Michalowski

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