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Interview with Mike DeLeon aka MDL (Guitars) (Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals)

 

Interview by Marianne Jacobsen

 

 

I decided to continue my trek through all things Illegal by interviewing the Tri Facta of new additions to the Illegal fold.  Mr. “Metal” Mike De Leon.

Mike was kind enough to take some time out after returning from a very successful recording session at Nodforatu’s Lair.

 

MDL:   You ready?

MGM:  I was just gonna fair warn you that no one is ever ready for me…

MDL:   Oh really?

MGM:  I hear you are the funny one of the three Junior Varsity Illegals.  Both Blue and Walter said “Ya gotta talk to Mike!”.

MDL:   That’s funny that they say that because I’m totally the prankster of all the guys.  I’m always cracking all the jokes – trying to have fun with it. Junior Varsity illegals is Bad Ass!  That totally describes me, Walter and Blue.  I don’t know about Stephen.  Stephen is ….

MGM:  No man – he’s Varsity!  He’s an OG.

MDL:   Yeah both Phil and Stephen are definitely OGs that’s for sure.  They are for sure OG and a big part of the writing process when it comes to the Illegals.  That’s for sure.

MGM:  I find the whole process to me pretty amazing.  Being able to create something from nothing is pretty rad!

MDL:   Totally.

MGM:  K, so right to it.  I was told that the Illegals had 11 ½ babies (songs created) at the last session is that correct?

MDL    Yes we did!!!! I would say its 10 1/2 .  It’s like 10 full songs and then there is an interlude which would be like the ½ song.  It’s not a full song but it’s a nice little chunker that’s there for the album.

MGM:  So one of the things I love about the JV Illegals is that you are bringing a new level of MORE into the scene.

MDL    Oh yeah we are definitely bringing more.  I think that we are bringing what I like to say is a “Breath of Fresh Air” in the extreme metal community.  The tunes that we are working on its definitely gonna be new and exciting again to hear the things that we are working on.  I don’t know, I haven’t heard anything with the vocals yet but I cannot wait to hear how its gonna get more twisted than it already is.  It’s gonna be awesome!

MGM:  So my description of what the Illegals are right now is a big bowl of Jambalaya just simmering until perfection.

MDL:   That’s a great way of putting it!  Everybody has their own personality and touch and uniqueness.  Everybody brings their own flavour to the table for the Jambalaya.

(NOW MGM IS HUNGRY)

MGM:  One of the things that I love about you guys is that you celebrate each other.  Because you see a lot of bands where the new guy comes in and he’s treated like shit or left out of the process because the band is “set in their ways”.  The camaraderie that you guys are showing is just fantastic.  Maybe it’s your heavy metal carpools – which are both fun and environmentally friendly!

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MDL:   YEAH THE HEAVY METAL CARPOOLS ARE THE BEST!!!  We have so much fun!  All those hours on the road together (Travelling from Texas to Louisiana).  All the laughs and talks we have and just like you said the camaraderie is definitely there.  With Walter being the new guy – you know, even me I’m still the new guy.

MGM:  Technically its Walter but I call you second first new guy.

MDL:   (laughter) Exactly!
Yeah so Walter is the new guy and he has been around the band for about a month or a month and a half – however the love for him is already through the roof.  We all love Walt to death and as Phi would say, “We all look out for each other.” And we all take care of each other and its awesome.

MGM:  So basically you have jammed as the Illegals really just three times (once in Texas no vocals and twice in at the Lair).  On the second visit to the lair – you guys create 10 ½ songs!  That is sick shit man!

MDL:   Yeah well it’s pretty insane.  We were just out there this past weekend (June 2016) and we wrote maybe a song, song and a half on Friday (after carpooling for 10-12 hours) and by Saturday and Sunday we were recording the songs for the album.  I mean it was that awesome.  We went in on Friday and Philip already had some riffs, some ideas and we put them all together and the next thing you know we have 5 minutes of music and its arranged and it’s a day later we are cutting the track for the album.  It’s pretty awesome how it works and how it’s been working out with the Illegals.

MGM:  I remember the days where bands were taking years to make a new album.  Meanwhile, you guys are walking in and you are all business!

MDL:   Oh it’s all business.  We like to call it productivity.  We get in there and we are definitely having a blast – we are knocking out jokes and stuff.  At the time time though, we are getting a lot of work done.  Not just a little.  We are getting some work done out there.  And eating a whole pile of Oreos.

MGM:  I love Oreos!

MDL:   Yeah Blue had this bag of Oreos the other night and it was down to the last one.  He was a nice guy though and let me have it.

MGM:  Oh yeah man wow.  He is your friend!  That’s like friends forever kinda stuff.

MDL    Everyone were eating these Oreos.

MGM:  Isn’t it way more fun to hang around and get bellyaches from eating candy and cookies instead of hangovers and fights?

MDL:   Yeah the whole time we were there we were eating chicken wings and burgers the whole time.

MGM:  Hey you also made some of the famous Metal Mike’s Spicy Mexican Rice right?  I’m not letting you get away from me today without sharing the recipe.

MDL:   For sure!  I made that on the last day that we were the (the Lair).  I had finished all my guitar tracks on Monday.  Jimmy and Kevin from Superjoint just so happen to surprise everyone and showed up.   We had no idea they were coming over!  So they popped in and they were there while I was finishing my guitar tracks – I think I had 3 or 4 more songs to do.  And Im tellin ya my nervousness was through the roof!

Mike De Leon_1

MGM:  Nervous in front of the Superjoint guys?

MDL:   Yeah well Jimmy and Kevin were right behind me and not too many people know this – but I play the Kevin Bond signature Jackson.  That’s my guitar!  That’s my main guitar!  It’s a signature model he put out about 15 years ago.  To have Kevin literally standing right behind me while I’m cutting my tracks was very surreal.  It was an incredible moment.

MGM:  I would have puked.  My nerves are terrible.

MDL:   EXACTLY!  Luckily though I just went in there and ripped it up and did exactly what I was there to do!

MGM:  Blue mentioned that he found the Superjoint guys really encouraging.  They encouraged him to get in there and really kill it.  Did you find the same thing?

MDL:   I would totally have to agree and especially with Jimmy.  Like the first few times that I went out there to the Lair and practiced with the guys – Jimmy would always be around and ALWAYS the most encouraging Kat – most down to earth.  He’s a funny dude and a total character.  Like he’s totally the coolest.  Jimmy helps push you to be the best you can in the most sincere ways.

Phil is at a really great place in his life too.  All he wants to do right now is have fun and jam and it’s all happening as far as the Illegals are concerned.

MGM:  I will say to you that the last time the Illegals came to Toronto the walls were sweating in the venue.

MDL:   How was that?  What was that scene like?

MGM:  Same as all the others where PHA is involved.  Toronto loves him and there is a strong fan following of his work here.  So basically psycho.

MDL:   Nice!

MGM:  Ok, so, a lot of fans of Philip Anselmo’s work say that the Illegals first album was not their favourite project.   Now that the Junior Varsitys have arrived do you think that you are bringing something new to the table and that fans should give the Illegals a re-listen?

MDL:   I would say for this new album, the direction compared to the first album is night and day.  I honestly love the first Illegals album.  Especially now playing those songs is a lot of fun.  But this new stuff – it is very pissed off, very aggressive, totally in a different direction that the first album.  You are gonna get a lot more extreme fucking songs.  I think a lot of people are gonna love this new disc.   The Illegals are not messing around.  We are all on the same page.  All focused and all trying to bring our A game with this new disc.  The direction is totally different from the first album.  I really think everyone is gonna love it.  It’s a great album to be pissed off to.

MGM:  So they lyrics are written or are you saying the actual sound itself is pissed off?

MDL:   I would say that there are definitely lyrics written.  I’m not too sure how many songs Philip has lyrics wise but I know he has lyrics for most of the songs already.  I’m actually very excited about what he’s gonna put down vocally.  I’ve been actually working with the mix that we did from this last weekend.

MGM:  So when you listen to it – do you find things you want to redo or fix?

MDL:   Oh yeah!  Like I still have to go back and add some, what we like to call in the band and Philip likes to call “Sweeties”.  I have to go back to the Lair and add some Sweeties in the next week or so.  I guess Sweeties  would be more like the solos and just some extra parts that I definitely want to add.  I have been totally into the CD/mix the last two days and I know where I want to add and do things already.

I have to go back out in a couple of weeks to add them.

MGM:  Ok let’s go back to the beginning.  Who are you? Where did you come from? And how did you get into music?

MDL:   Alright, I have been around the Texas scene for most of – My name’s Mike DeLeon – but everyone in the scene knows me as Metal Mike.  I come from a Texas Death Metal background playing with my old Texas death metal band Disfigured for the last 15 or 16 years.  We have been around since 2000.  So I’ve played around and done lots of tours and lots of shows and opened for so many national acts.

MGM:  Any of them “dream come true” bands to open for?

MDL:   Yeah we opened for Morbid Angel a couple of years ago…That was really up there for me.  We opened for Carcass a few years ago – that was pretty awesome.  Really the list goes on and on and all the old school bands that we get to share the stage with is just fantastic.

MGM:  Where are you from in Texas?

MDL:   I live in Central Texas right between San Antonio and Austin in beautiful city called San Marcus. It’s a great great place.

MGM:  And what do you do when you are not being Illegal?

MDL:   I have two fucking jobs man that I work at.  I am one busy ass Mexican!

(laughing)

MGM:  How did you get into the metal scene?

MDL:   I actually gotta hand that to my Pops.  He was taking me to shows at such a young age.  That was when I knew what I wanted to do.  I can remember he took me to see Stevie Wonder when I was 4 years old.  Just so many concerts growing up!  David Lee Roth, Van Halen Metallica, Motley Crue – this is back in the 80s and the 90s.  Thanks to my dad taking me to all these shows I just wanted to play the guitar.  I saw all these guys, especially Eddie Van Halen, I would see those guys up on stage jamming- I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

MGM:  Eddie Van Halen is waaay hotter now than he was in the 80s that’s for sure!

MDL:   From 6th grade to 12th grade I was a band nerd.  I played percussion and then freshman all the way through senior I was in the drumline.

MGM:  Isn’t that the same thing Tommy Lee tried to do on Tommy Lee goes to College?

MDL:   Yeah I remember that!

MGM:  He couldn’t do it so that makes you cooler than Tommy Lee!

MDL/MGM:    WOOOOOOO HOOO!!!

MGM:  So obviously being Junior Varsity you’ve already solicited and convinced Walter to drink the kool aid.  Who solicited you?

MDL    Actually I was scouted out when it came to joining the Illegals.  I was in a band called MOD at the time and we were playing a festival in Germany and it just so happened that Philip and the Illegals were playing that exact same festival that same day.  I had already known Blue through the local scene

MGM:  You mean the Satanic Hispanics?

MDL:   Yeah the total Satanic Hispanics man!   Me and Blue got the Brown Pride we like to say!

MGM:  So similar to Manson Family tactics – you were scouted by the Housecore Family to join the fold?

MDL:   Yeah we all bumped into each other briefly and I remembered meeting Philip just quickly saying “hi how ya doin?”.  That night though I remember Stephen and I hanging out.  We smoked a bowl together and I had never really met him and we got to know each other that night.
Well later on that evening MOD took the stage and I remember I was sound checking and I was just playing some death metal riffs , just warming up there on stage.  And the Illegals we at the side of the stage watching the MOD set.  I didn’t know that they were looking for a new guitar player.

MGM:  As I say “Creative crossroads and they need someone new to walk with them”.

MDL:   Exactly!

MGM:  I think it’s exciting that the JVs are around 15 to 20 years younger than the other members.  I think it’s great that you guys bring this completely fresh energy to the whole experience.

MDL:   As far as this album is concerned the world is about to get a dose of some real fucking metal!  And you haven’t even seen us live yet.  Wait till you feel the energy!  I cannot wait to jam live with these guys!  It’s gonna be such an awesome time!

MGM:  K make sure you come to Canada ok? 

MDL:   YEAH FOR SURE!

 

Thanks Mike for your time and Thanks to all the JV Illegals for letting me drain their brain!

Also:  MGM prediction – The Illegals will perform at the Housecore Horror Fest in 2016.  I’ll even be bold enough to say they will Headline one of the nights.

Get ready.  The thunder is coming.

 

METAL MIKE’S SPICY MEXICAN RICE
1oz. Of vegetable oil 1 cup of rice Half a can of tomato soup Table spoon of onion powder Table spoon of garlic powder Table spoon of pepper 2 table spoons of salt 1 packet of Goya 2 cups of water.

 

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