Interview by: Marianne Jacobsen
“It is never to late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot
How many musicians out there, due to economics had to “get a real job”? Never knowing what it is like do what you love while being able to have a decent life (car, kids, house, whatever) and (end up like most musicians)/not live out of a cardboard box. What’s the statute of limitations on being able to live out the rock and roll fantasy becoming a reality?
I say NEVER!
If you’ve never heard Mark Menghi’s name before, you are not alone. Mark has been around a long time on the business side of music (ie – feeding his family) – without these folks there are no shows regardless of the performer.
During an unlikely weather issue on the Motorboat (2014) cruise that Mark had taken as a holiday with his close friend Mike Portony – an idea was brought to light and now calls itself Metal Allegiance. Mark is noted as the “Mastermind” of the band. And since Mastermind was my favourite ESP game of the 1970s. I couldn’t wait to talk to Mark as Metal Allegiance gets ready to begin a short tour of the East Coast of the United States on March 31, 2016.
Mark called me via Skype which is good because if the phone rings too much my mom gets mad.
MGM: Hey Mark thanks so much for taking a call on a Friday afternoon.
MM: No problem.
MGM: Ok, where do I start? How about what many people are asking – Who are you?
MM: That’s the best part.
MGM: Yeah well from what I have read, it seems to me that its kind of a dream come true kinda story?
MM: Yeah well…I used to think that!
MGM: No I’m sure now it’s a nightmare! But in the beginning, when you were on the other side of the grass.
MM: Yeah you know its pretty amazing. Metal Allegiance actually started off the heels of Metal Masters. Metal Masters was basically a bunch of shows that I had put together for a company. Which is very similar to what we are doing now with Metal Allegiance.
MGM: So did you work with these other musicians before on a industry/business level? Is that how you met them?
MM: No, I’ve actually been friends with these guys for a long time and have been a musician myself since I was 15.
MGM: So how was Metal Allegiance formed. I know that it had something to do with the Motorhead Motorboat cruise of 2014 as I remember when Megadeth cancelled almost at the last minute – which sucked but at the same time this great musical formation came out of it. It very much reminds me of another David Ellefson music venture called HAIL.
MM: Yeah, you could say that Metal Allegiance is HAIL on steroids – as I like to call it.
MM: Our first appearance was on Motorboat 2014 and we only had 30 days to prepare. It was like, we got the call – and then BOOM – we’re on a boat.
MGM: As a fan I really appreciated that it was never announced and you only got any hints by seeing pictures of people like Mike Portnoy boarding the cruise ship.
MM: We were all going already Mike and I – just as two friends/fans taking a vacation. And then all of a sudden – we got work to do. But I’m really grateful for that trip and for everyone giving us that opportunity because that’s where Metal Allegiance happened. If you were on that boat (Motorboat 2014) you’ll remember that we couldn’t dock one of those days. We were supposed to go to Key West and we were out at sea longer than expected. And Me, Mike and Alex (Skolnick) were just hanging out as we circled Cuba – we just kept circling Cuba and that’s where the idea came about. “Hey why don’t we start a record?” and that’s when the lightening bolts started coming out.
MGM: Yeah from what I heard from anyone that was on that one particular cruise was that the vibe was amazing and Metal Allegiance had a big part to do with that.
MM: Oh yeah the energy and the vibe and the comradery everyone had – it was truly amazing. And that’s where the idea cam about to take this idea (Metal Allegiance) seriously and record something.
MGM: Who came up with the name?
MM: It’s a name I came up with. I came up with it in July of 2014. I just woke up one morning and went “Metal Allegiance – I like that.”
I like the way it referred to loyalty and a word that goes with loyal is allegiance and it kind of picked up from what I was doing in the past so I ran with it….AND HERE WE ARE!
MGM: Yes, we are! Ok so if there’s anyone that you would like to solicit to serve in the Metal Allegiance who would they be?
MM: James Hetfield, James Hetfield and James Hetfield.
MGM: You mean Jimmy Jam “Jump in the Fire” Hetfield?
MGM: So what? Just James? You won’t take Kirk?
MM: Of course we will take Kirk – absolutely!
MM: Metallica is at a level that none of us can even comprehend. I am a huge Cliff Burton fan. I love Cliff, Steve Harris and Geezer Butler. And I think Cliff would be #1 for me.
MGM: Hey man, I bet for sure Geezer would jam with you guys.
MM: Geezer did jam with Metal Masters back in 2010/11 which was amazing.
MM: Yeah so those three guys are my bass heroes. And for me, Cliff Burton set the bar. He was THE GUY that was doing shit that no one else was doing and he was doing it in a Thrash Metal band.
MGM: I got to say hi to Cliff’s dad at the first night of the XXX (Metallica shows).
MM: Yes. Every time I see him I say Thank You.
MGM: That’s what I said to him! Hahahaha
MM: I am really into the Bay Area Thrash Metal music even though I’m from New York.
MGM: You are from Long Island right?
MM: Yeah and it’s an amazing scene and culture out here. We have spawned everything from Dream Theatre to Billy Joel to Twisted Sister, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and the list goes on and on. They are all very accomplished musicians but there was never really ever a metal scene in this area. Or at least it was not recognized for its metal.
MGM: So you are about to embark on a tour with Metal Allegiance right?
MM: Yeah we are gonna hit Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and a few different spots in New York state that we have not been before – it’s gonna be fun. We are looking forward to doing this and making it grow to other places besides NY and LA.
MGM: When are you coming to Canada?
MM: Yeah I’ve been asking about doing a Canadian tour, we actually want to tour everywhere. However due to logistics and people’s day jobs – it can slow things down. When you are trying to coordinate with people from 18 different bands its no easy task. You know if we can find these weeks or week and a half where we can all get together. Hence these little short runs that we do.
MGM: For you…right at this moment. What would be the ultimate place to play with Metal Allegiance?
MM: For me, Madison Square Gardens in New York City.
MGM: Ahhhh representing!!
MM: I have been to so many… I can’t even tell you how many concerts I’ve been to there and sporting events. So for me Madison Square Garden is a pretty special place for me and that is definitely on my bucket list.
In closing – be a fan of late bloomers, early starters and all around go getters and never count yourself out. Mark “Mastermind” Menghi is a perfect example of what Jimmy Bower means when he says “Never Too Late!”.
If you are lucky enough to catch Metal Allegiance on one of their short runs. GO!!!
Below are the confirmed METAL ALLEGIANCE East Coast shows!
3/31/2016 Lupos – Providence, RI
4/01/2016 Main Street Armory – Rochester, NY
4/02/2016 The Machine Shop – Flint, MI
4/04/2016 The Chance – Poughkeepsie, NY
4/05/2016 Toads Place – New Haven, CT
4/06/2016 Chameleon Club -Lancaster, PA
4/07/2016 The Gramercy – New York, NY