Interviewed by Chris Martin (Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
Myglobalmind: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Been a fan for a long while now and it’s an honor speaking with you.
I remember listening to Obsession back in the day. Lucky for me my local radio station were “metal friendly” and played some cool stuff in regular rotation as well as doing special shows dedicated strictly to the genre. That’s where I first heard “For the Love of Money.” Been hooked ever since. What was it like in the beginning when the band was just getting their start?
Michael: At first it was a bit difficult for a metal band to get gigs, be taken seriously, etc.(especially doing original material). At that point in time (here in the States) the cover bands were the only groups that could get gigs, but we hung in there, started getting quite a local following, filling clubs. Within a year we became the biggest drawing band in Connecticut and surrounding areas. It was an amazing time, it became a great metal scene.
Myglobalmind: What ultimately led to the bands demise? It was a shame that it came to an end.
Michael: Many personal reasons among the band. Bruce Vitale and myself were the only original members left. Bruce felt we should go in a different musical direction, but I didn’t think that was the right thing to do. Obsession had it’s sound/style, and I thought we needed to stay true to that. Ultimately, it lead to my leaving the band.
Myglobalmind: After Obsession, you were aligned with some pretty incredible acts like Loudness and Yngwie Malmsteen. What was it like going into such a legendary Japanese band as the frontman? As a huge fan of theirs I was shocked when Minoru Niihara left and you came in, but in the end I felt that your voice worked perfectly on those two albums. How was it working on those records and touring with them as well?
Michael: It was amazing to sing with Loudness. I was a big fan of the band previously. I got a call out of the blue from their management asking if I would be interested in flying to Tokyo to audition for Loudness. They had seen me on MTV and thought I would be the right guy for them. I agreed and 3 days later was on a plane to Japan. Working on those records was a great experience. Touring was also insane. The band was great live, the guys were awesome, production was killer. Although Obsession had pretty good success, Loudness was at a whole new level. Especially in Japan, all the biggest venues, tons of press (TV,Radio, Magazines, etc.). They were considered a Supergroup in Japan (as well most of Southeast Asia). We did some touring in the States( minimal ), but unfortunately never made it to Europe, where we had quite the following as well.
Myglobalmind: As for the time with Yngwie, how did that come about and how did you enjoy your time working with him? I found the albums you appeared on to be some of his finest work. His playing and your unique voice meshed well together. To this day, Magnum Opus is one of my all-time favorite Yngwie albums.
Michael: Working with Yngwie was a great experience as well. Crazy at times, but overall very cool. I got a call one day from Mike Varney (Shrapnel Record) with Yngwie on the phone. Yngwie had heard me with Loudness and thought we would work well together. We got together in Miami, hit it off, did some demo’s and decided to move forward. I think we did sound very cool together. For some reason, my voice really fit Yngwie’s style of writing/playing well. We had huge success during those records. I think the band/recordings had a really cool attitude and vibe. Yngwie was great, I had quite a bit of fun with that.
Myglobalmind: After that you did several different projects like Dr Sin, Killing Machine, Joe Stump’s Reign of Terror, just to name a few, as well as doing some stellar solo albums. You’ve consistently put out top notch material. How does working with so many different people/acts over the years benefit you as a performer?
Michael: It really opens up your mind . I’m always learning something new and exciting musically. I’ve been fortunate in my career to play with some of the greatest musicians in the world. Everyone is a bit different in how they write, record, so it keeps it quite interesting.
Myglobalmind: As much as I have loved what you have done over the years, I geeked out a little when I heard you were doing Obsession again. How was it getting back into that project? What sets it apart from what you had been doing prior? What made you decide to do more Obsession music?
Michael: Obsession has always been such a big part of my life. I always missed it and thought that I would someday resurrect it. While touring with Yngiwe/Loudness, I would get asked about Obsession and if we would do a re-union record or tour. Bruce and I got back together for the re-issues of “Scarred” and “Methods”. At that point (I think around 2001) we stared discussing recording a new Obsession CD. We spoke for a few years on and off. Bruce became too busy in his persona life, so Jay and I decided to move forward with new members, but keep the authentic Obsession sound. We did ask the other original members (Art and Matt) to be part of this, but both were unable.
Myglobalmind: The two reunion albums I have heard, including the new one Order of Chaos that just came out and Carnival of Lies, are phenomenal. What was the writing/recording process like for Order? Also, how did you approach working on the first new Obsession album in almost 20 years?
Michael: The writing process went quite smoothly for “Chaos”. The guys are great players and understand the Obsession style/sound. John, Scott and I get together with a bunch of different ideas and sort out what we think is best. Of course Chris and BJ do their own thing, but it all seems to work great and sounds like true Obsession. It’s really natural for me to fall right back into Obsession, it’s been part of me for so long now.
Myglobalmind: You are in a small group of singers that have managed to maintain the same vocal abilities now as they did in the early days. How have you managed to keep the voice just as fresh? You also have such a distinctive voice. You are one of those singers that as soon as I hear you I know exactly who it is. When did you discover your talent?
Michael: Thank you!! I’m very lucky to have maintained my voice. It really just sort of happened. In the early days of Obsession I was still learning how to sing. I think being so dedicated to rehearsing/ recording, playing, live things just fell into place. Again, I’m fortunate to have the talent and to have an original voice. Although I was influenced by some of the greatest singers (Dio, Freddy Mercury, Halford, etc.) I always wanted my own sound and style.
Michael: You’re also doing the Animetal USA project as well. Will that continue while doing Obsession? How did you come into that band?
Michael: Sony Japan contacted me about doing a CD for them. We went back and forth with ideas and decided that the Animetal USA project would be cool to do. Rudy Sarzo is a huge fan of Animation and Anime. He’s actually an amazing animator himself. I knew Rudy and thought he would be great for this. We decided on Scott Travis and Chris Impellitteri to complete the band. This has been a great project to be part of. It’s very different for all of us, but a bunch of fun. I will continue with “Animetal USA” along with “Obsession”. These are my main priority’s now.
Myglobalmind: Any plans to tour in support of Order of Chaos?
Michael: Yes, we do. We’re speaking with promoters now and will putting together a World Tour. We hope to announce something soon.
Myglobalmind: What is the future of Obsession? Will the fans be getting more music from this great band over the years? Any other projects lined up? Any plans to do another MVP album?
Michael: Right now my focus is on “Obsession” and “Animetal USA” We already have a bunch of ideas for the next “Obsession” CD, so there will definitely be another one(and hopefully many more). I’m not sure about another MVP CD as of yet. Maybe at one point, but right now I want to put all my time and effort into Obsession and “Animetal USA”
Myglobalmind: Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions. Any final thoughts for the readers and fans?
Michael: Not a problem, I appreciate you taking the time for this and supporting Obsession. We look forward to getting “Obsession” on the road and bringing this to all our fans worldwide. We have the best and most loyal fans in the world. We love you!! “Bang “Em “Til They Bleed”
Webzine Review for Obsession – Order of Chaos