NAMM 2018: Interview with Metal Allegiance’s Mark Menghi and Mike Portnoy

Photo from Metal Allegiance Facebook page.

Hello, I’m here with Mark Menghi and Mike Portnoy of Metal Allegiance at The Tascam booth NAMM 2018. I was first introduced to Metal Allegiance last year when I covered this show. I was so impressed with the amazing talent and how much fun everyone was having. It was such a joy to photograph and watch. This show was the first on my list to cover NAMM week.

I know Mark Menghi this your baby. Can you tell just a little bit about the band?

Mark Menghi: We started … Metal Allegiance started in 2014 with Mike Portnoy, Dave Ellefson, Alex Skolnick and myself started getting together jamming, having fun and playing in shows and wrote a record, played shows, made another record and it’s just every year it just gets bigger and bigger.

Alex Skolnick, Dave Ellefson, Mark Menghi and Mike Portnoy. (Photo Credit: Tammy Greene)

Mike Portnoy,  when I was doing my research you had mentioned in an interview that you were a glorified cover band?

Mike Portnoy: I said that? I don’t know if I said that.

I thought it was interesting, I don’t find it a bad thing. You are all accomplished musicians.

Mike Portnoy: Well, we started as a cover band. We’ve been doing this for many years and it started with just a bunch of guys that were friends just happened to be in other bands but we all grew up listening to the same stuff; Maiden, Sabbath, Priest. And we started you know, for years just doing covers and then eventually said, “Hey, why don’t we write our own music?”

You released the first Metal Allegiance via Nuclear Blast Records two years ago, correct?

 Mike Portnoy: Yeah.

There is another album to be released this year?

Mike Portnoy: Coming out in the beginning of the Summer, yeah.

Is there a name?

Mike Portnoy: It says “Volume 2” at the moment and maybe more added to it but, yeah.

Everyone has their respective bands that will be touring, Will Metal Allegiance go out and tour the new release?

Mike Portnoy: Yeah. Well, we’ve carved out some time in the Summer to do some festivals in Europe you know, Alex is available from Testament and Dave’s available from Megadeth so, the schedules have aligned and we’re going to go out and do some of these awesome festivals and hopefully more beyond that, we’ll see.

Mike Portnoy. Photo credit Tammy Greene

Will there be tour dates scheduled here in the States?

Mark Menghi: Right now, we have nothing pointing to the States besides what we played last night. That obviously could change, we’re just figuring that all out right now.

Metal Allegiance is always during NAMM week, is there any significance to that besides all the artists being in town?

Mike Portnoy: That helps.

Mark Menghi: It helps.

Definitely!  🙂 

Mike Portnoy: Yeah. I mean, this is where it began. Even before Metal Allegiance, we were doing this sort of thing for years, always at the NAMM show. It was always you know, this line up of guys.

Mark Menghi: Just became a tradition, yeah.

Mike Portnoy: Yeah, it’s been a tradition for years and for me it’s always my favorite Metal Allegiance show. It’s just because with all the guests and everybody’s in town, it’s always fun.

The crowd was phenomenal last year another phenomenal crowd last night and there was stiff competition show wise, that always has to feel good.

Mike Portnoy: Yeah.

Mark Menghi: Yeah.

Plus last nights show was at the New House of Blues Anaheim. How was that?

Mike Portnoy Yeah. Beautiful venue. We’ve done it at House of Blues Anaheim two or three times through the years but it was the other location but this new one is beautiful… beautiful room.

Mark Menghi: Awesome venue.

A couple more questions before I let you go. Last year there was a huge production with a lot of guests. This year you decided to focus more towards the album?

Mark Menghi: You know, we want– last year was awesome you know? We were celebrating the lives of our former heroes. This year you know, we wrote and recorded a record in 2017 after that show and we kind of honed in how we want to do it. You know, we were doing it for you know this guy wants or this. It was like, you know what man if we want to be a fresh band, we’re going to write a fresh record. We just want to streamline it. You know, I’ve gotten so many phone calls and texts over the last few months on dude’s wanting to jam last night. We just made a collective agreement that we weren’t going to add anybody who was not on the album.

Mark Menghi. Photo credit Tammy Greene

Oh, okay. It was great!!

Mark Menghi: Yeah, it gets out of control real fast. We had a real specific setlist last night. You know, there was a lot of especially from Mike. I mean, Mike was on fire. I mean, felt bad for him.

Mike Portnoy: Well, I was the other one without a break. So, pretty brutal I’m feeling it today.

You can pull out a Hello Kitty drum set, you can do anything. You kicked some tail last night!

Mike Portnoy: Yeah. If I play Slayer on a Hello Kitty kit, I’m fine with a real one.

Thank you very much, I love Metall Allegiance, love you guys you’re amazing.  I would like to do a quick push on your new album coming out.

Mike Portnoy: The new album is great. There’s a lot of new people on board, lot’s of different singers that haven’t worked with us yet. So, it will be out in the beginning of Summer and we look forward to actually being able to tour with it a little bit which is something we really didn’t get to do last time very much.

Again, thank you very much, I hope to see you on tour here. If not see you next year during NAMM week. I look forward to Metal Allegiance II.

Mike Portnoy: Thank you.

Mark Menghi: Awesome.

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