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Exclusive Interview with Malice Guitarist Mick Zane

By Michael Fischer, Writer, @toonsthatrock
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 @ 4:07 PM

New Record and Tour in the works.

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It's been 20 years since Malice split up and now the Gods of Thunder are back and ready to stir up their mighty cauldron of fans who have waited many moons to see this band hit the live stage once again. Malice are made in America and truly one of the most incredible bands from that glory days era. They're somewhere beyond another level compared to their West Coast counterparts Queensryche, WASP and Metallica.

Malice are one of the world’s most intriguing power metal bands because in 1989 they mysteriously faded into the neon lit abyss of Sunset Strip at the top of their game. The Hollywood Rock Scene was something Malice once owned and easily had in the palm of their hand. They had great success taking their music to the world stage and the next level and who can forget that infamous one liner; "To Charlie, Party til you puke, Love Malice" from the 1988 movie "Vice-Versa" thanks to actor Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop, Fast Times at Ridgemount High). Netflick it on 420!

Malice recorded two Pure Rock Gems during their 1980's onslaught. "In the Beginning" with Engineer Producer Michael Waggener (Kings X and Dokken and "License to Kill" with Max Norman (Ozzy, Loudness, Lynch Mob, Armored Saint, Megadeth). Despite their long absence from performing. Guitarist Mick Zane and the other members from Malice have never forgotten the music or their loyal legion of followers. So they are reuniting once again to deliver the metal to a whole new generation of fans.

KNAC.COM is honored to drop in on Mick during rehearsals to fill us in on the festival, rumors of a new Malice record and a few personal reflections of Ronnie James Dio.

KNAC.COM: Hey Mick, whats happening in sunny L.A today?

ZANE: Well, it's 98 degrees and We're having a Spring heat wave. It's smolderin'.

KNAC.COM: Tell us about Malice getting ready to invade Germany.

ZANE: Yes! We're playing Keep it True Saturday Night April 30th on the 2nd night of the festival. Agent Steel is headlining after us and we'll play right before them. Vicious Rumors is doing their all-original members anniversary show with Carl Alberts son Kevin on vocals with Crimson Glory headlining Friday Night. It's a two day festival and we're playing with fourteen bands that day.

KNAC.COM: Your playing two shows in Europe?

ZANE: Yes! In Germany and then the next night May 1 at Rock City in Switzerland. Both shows we'll be playing with Vicious Rumors and some old Hollywood friends like Bitch. These will be our only shows in Europe this spring. Eventually we would like to play larger festivals and the U.S. We're taking things one step at a time.

KNAC.COM: So your deep in rehearsals right now? Who is your current line up?

ZANE: Yes! Mark and Pete are rehearsing together working out all the bass and drum parts, so when Jay and James fly in, we will have the whole set worked out. Our line-up for this tour has three original members including myself, Guitarist Jay Reynolds (Metal Church), and Bassist Mark Behn (Monster). We've added drummer Pete Holmes (Black n' Blue, Michael Schenker Group, Monster, Black Symphony) and a new singer named James Rivera (Vicious Rumors, Hellstar).

KNAC.COM: The new addition of Pete Holmes on drums is really going to improve the power and performance level of the band live? Much like your original singer James Neal, James Rivera is also from Texas and a super addition to the Malice line up.

ZANE: Yes indeed. Pete's been out on the road with Michael Schenker Group for the last ten years and he's doing some dates with Black n' Blue. They have a new record out and they're playing with Whitesnake and Twisted Sister in Baltimore this summer at some huge outdoor Festival. We're excited to have James Rivera come in and do these shows with us. He did a great job on the Vicious Rumors Warball record, so we're anxious to play on stage with him and grateful he was able to join us at such short notice. Brian Allen who did our last reunion show is now singing with Vicious Rumors and we even approached Tim "The Ripper" Owens (Judas Priest) at one point who I heard is now with DIO Disciples. James Rivera is the guy for now!

KNAC.COM: When was the last time Malice performed in Germany?

ZANE: God, (Pauses) It's been since the Slayer Rain Blood Tour which was 1987.

KNAC.COM: What do you think about this wave of European Metal promoters? They really have their Festivals together and it seems nothing has changed over there, they still love the vintage 80's Metal.

ZANE: Yeah, they're pretty rabid about their Metal in Europe. I was just reading an article that in Finland, Heavy Metal is the mainstream. Your hear it on the radio over there like you hear love songs and the same old crap over here.

KNAC.COM: Are you excited to go over there and play again?

ZANE: Yes! We're very excited to go over there and play. We're playing for fans that are devoted to Metal and dedicated to hearing the type of stuff we specialize in. So yeah we're pretty excited. I'm looking forward to going over and cooking for the Germans.(Laughs)

KNAC.COM: Are you going to play songs off your first record "In the Beginning?”

ZANE: Yes! We're going to be playing stuff off both our records "In the Beginning" and "License to Kill" and then we're going to pull "Mob Rules" out of the hat for RJD since the Festival is being dedicated to Ronnie James Dio.

KNAC.COM: Are you going to break out the Shark Cage for your singer?

ZANE: (Laughs) The Shark Cage! We used to call it the Tiger Cage. No there'll be no cage over there with us, we're just going bare bones. There will be no thrills, we're just flying in and cranking! We're pretty much an exclusive act. Oliver the promoter of the Keep it True Festival has been after us to come over there and play for the last five years. He wanted us to be an exclusive act so people would travel from all over Germany to come in and see us for the first time in twenty-three years. So we promised him that.

KNAC.COM: Are you planning to play some U.S shows?

ZANE: Yes, that's the plan. We're going to see how these shows go and then start working on this new record with Max Norman. But yeah, we'd love to play some shows on the west coast. Gina Zamperelli Concert Promotions who used to book the Perkins Palace Shows is looking to get back into the business. So maybe we can hook up with WASP or Warrior again and play some shows around L.A. We have some killer new songs in the can and we're really stoked at the thought of getting back in the studio and releasing a new Malice Record. We released a new CD of rare and unreleased tracks last year on Retrospect Records that’s been doing very well. Everyone’s really going to like the new stuff. We're not going to play any new material for these shows, just the classics.

KNAC.COM: How did you feel when you heard Ronnie passed away?

ZANE: (Sighs) Oh you know, it hit me right in the gut! It was just really sad to have to hear. I was hoping he was going to battle the cancer and come out of it O.K. Just knowing what a fighter he was, and what a solid guy he was. I thought he was going to beat it. Our bass player and his wife both attended Ronnie’s funeral. It's really sad that we have lost the greatest rock singer of all time.

KNAC.COM: So you and Mark went to Ronnie’s last Heaven and Hell Show at the Greek Theater in L.A. What was that like looking back after we just lost Ronnie?

ZANE: It was unbelievable. I thought it was great for Ronnie considering his condition that he would even follow through and do that tour. He was a trooper and went out and gave it his all and he sounded awesome.

KNAC.COM: When was the first time you discovered Ronnie James Dio? Was it with Rainbow?

ZANE: Oh yeah! I had Rainbow albums when I was in high school. Long Live Rock n Roll was the first album I had, and then I bought Rainbow Rising. I even had an Elf album. I was very familiar with Ronnie and his amazing work with Rainbow and Elf long before he was in Black Sabbath.

KNAC.COM: Did you ever get to meet Ronnie?

ZANE: I did yeah. I met him on a few occasions. One of the most memorable times was when Malice was playing with Flotsam and Jetsam in Phoenix Arizona. I can't remember the name of the club. Senior Frogs or something like that? After the show, somebody told me to go down to the Mason Jar which was a well-known club in Phoenix. I walked in and was making my way through the club when I looked over and get this, sitting in a booth was Ronnie James Dio on one side, and Rob Halford on the other. I had to do a double take trying not to be obvious (Laughs) being six foot six tall in Black Leather. Rob motioned for me to come over and invited me to sit down with them.

KNAC.COM: Had they been at the Malice Show?

ZANE: I don't know, but they did know my name!

KNAC.COM: I bet they were there checking out your singer James Neal?

ZANE: It's possible. I didn't see them but they could have been off in the shadows. That was one of those moments sitting there with Ronnie and Rob you wish you had on video camera. Show some of your friends and say "Hey man, check THIS out!"

KNAC.COM: Didn't Glen Tipton (Guitarist Judas Priest) come over to your rehearsal studio in Portland and jam with you guys when you were still in high school?

ZANE: Yeah, that was back in the day when Judas Priest and UFO were touring together. All the guys came over for a little impromptu to jam after their concert. I have a picture of me and Glen jamming that night.

KNAC.COM: How shocked were you at Gary Moore dying?

ZANE: Yeah, that was another stunner. Gary wasn't even that old. But you know, when it's your time... it's your time. I've been a big Gary Moore fan for years, even before he was in Thin Lizzy. I followed him in G-Force. Max Norman was friends with Gary, he used to do sound for his band the original Skid Row way back in the day in the U.K.

KNAC.COM: So Mick, what do you think is lacking in Metal these days?

ZANE: (Long pause) Some soul! You know all that Cookie Monster knuckle dragger stuff (Laughing). I guess everybody kinda blends together and sounds similar. I would prefer it if all these bands would go for their own identity and try to write stuff that really represents their own personality, and their own take on Heavy Metal rather than trying to manufacture something they think everybody wants to hear, or what it should be like. I think there’s arrangements and quality song writing and key changes and really bands giving thought of how the song conjures up emotion. Basically music is emotion, it's a way to convey it. And man you sure can hear that when Ronnie was singing with Sabbath. I was just listening to Mob Rules today, and some of that stuff really puts you in a mood or flat out comes out and levels you. You just don't really get that anymore when you listen to a lot of the stuff out there.

KNAC.COM: So do you have your hockey playoff tickets yet?

ZANE: Well not yet but I am taking my family to the Kings game tomorrow. The kids are going because if Dad's a hockey fan, they're going to be to! (Laughs)

KNAC.COM: Malice may live on into the next century! Thanks Mick and rock the Mob at Keep it True!

ZANE: Right on! Thanks KNAC for supporting us all these years and we're looking forward to seeing our fans in Europe.

Malice 2011 upcoming Tour Dates...

  • Apr 30 Saturday 9:00pm...Keep It True Festival - Lauda-Konigshofen, Germany
  • May 1 Sunday 9:00pm... Rock City. Uster, Switzerland
Malice Official Website - www.MaliceMusic.com

Check out Michael Fischer's ToonsOnIce.com.

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