(By: Groovey) Channel Zero from Brussels, Belgium stamped their importance on the European and global metal scene after their formation in 1990 and then after a handful of successful albums they called it quits in 1997 at the top of their career. After a thirteen year hiatus Channel Zero reformed and played a series of sold out shows in Belgium with Mikey Doling of Snot and Soulfly fame and Mikey fame as well because once you meet the dude you just can’t help but be a fan. The modern day Channel Zero has been smackin’ heads around with their new metal monster CD Feed ‘Em with a Brick which is produced by the legendary Logan Mader. They will be performing at several major festivals in Europe this summer including the Werchter Boutique festival on May 28th where they will be performing with Metallica, Soundgarden and Mastodon. I did two separate interviews with Channel Zero band members. The first was by phone with guitarist Mikey Doling and the second was by email with CZ vocalist Franky De Smet Van Damme.
Mikey Doling Section:
For the fans coming to the table from Snot and Soulfly how would you describe Channel Zero?
Mikey: Snot you have to realize was 13-14 years ago. I was just young and just going for it and Snot was just a band of brothers just trying to kick some fucking ass. Which we did well. Then when I went on to Soulfly it became a situation where we were supporting Max Cavalera which I totally did with honor because I was such a huge fan and still am of Max and I did that with a smile. It wasn’t my band it was his band and it was for his family and I understood what I was getting into and I just had a great time doing it. When it came time to leave, which was after five years in the band, I wanted to get back to what I had with Snot which was just a band of brothers kicking ass. So I left Soulfly, friends of course with Max, we’re still cool. And then I started a couple of other bands and I don’t know, I was kind of stuck in a rut. It was fun but then I left being in a band for a few years and I was just producing music on the side while trying to figure out who the hell I was after this ten year run around the world. So I took a couple years off and then Channel Zero came and hit me up to just do a few shows, actually six shows in Belgium, and I went out there to Belgium and jammed with the guys and did those six shows and in doing that we became total bros. It was amazing chemistry and they asked me to stay in the band and I really wanted to do itt because it became that band of brothers again. The four of us want to kick some ass. So as far as Channel Zero goes it feels like it felt when I was with Snot again. I wrote a new record with them which I am really proud of Feed ‘Em with a Brick. The fans really received it well. It was the first record I had done with this band and they had been around for years. It feels really cool to be jammin’ with these guys.
What has been the reception of the European crowds towards you as a member of Channel Zero?
Mikey: You know I have done a lot of European touring and I have as many European fans as I do in the US. It’s pretty much the same as here it’s a bunch of metal heads who want to hear loud guitars and good songs. So they have accepted me really well. The thing that was challenging me to be accepted was that I was joining Channel Zero which already had a fan base which they loved the ex-guitar player in Channel Zero. So here comes this dude Mikey Doling from the U.S. filling this European band’s guitar player’s shoes I did have to live up to something and it felt like I did. And from the reaction from the fans it seems like everything is really good so we’re all friends.
What was it like adapting to Channel Zero’s style of playing?
Mikey: You know what I did? I started with Channel Zero. I studied what they are all about. Where their vocalist Franky was strong, you know what he was strong at. What kind of riffs he sang well over and pretty much felt out what they enjoyed to play during rehearsal. And then talking to their fans, finding out what their vibe is, what they like. I kind of figured out their recipe for songs and then put my twist on it. I did the best I could to keep it true to Channel Zero but with my twist. I wasn’t thinking about radio this or too heavy metal this or rock that I just wrote songs that I thought Channel Zero fans really wanted to hear.
It’s been said in the press that you were a driving force and an inspiration during the making of Feed ‘Em with a Brick what inspired you so much to make that happen?
Mikey: It had been quite a while since I had been in that position and I felt like a bottle of Pepsi that had been that was shooken up and all you had to do was touch the cap and it was going to explode. I had a lot of pressure built up inside of me and it was time to write some music. I am an artist. I am in every sense an artist. I just want to make a create art and music is my outlet for that. They gave me the opportunity to do that being the guitar player in the band and that’s kind of where that spawns from and the guys just put me in the studio and said, “Go for it.” Dude, I was writing one song a day.
So did you leave any songs on the cutting room floor?
Mikey: Oh for sure. 14 songs got cut. I had a total of 27 and we used 13.
What is the vibe and feel of Feed ‘Em with a Brick?
Mikey: The name says it all. There had been a lot of people who were doubting that Channel Zero could come back from a 13 year hiatus. They split at the peak of their career and when they came back as me as their guitar player there was a lot of fans that wanted it and there were a lot of fans that were doubting it and there were actually a lot of fans that didn’t fucking want it. We thought up the name Feed ‘Em with a Brick and just give them the heaviest thing possible and just jam it down their throat.
You have been a longtime supporter of Hollywood Music, what have been some of your favorite memories?
Mikey: Well, haha, I have seen Steve at many shows. Steve and I go out to dinner once and a while and hang out. There’s been some great moment’s man; he has helped me out quite a bit with bands that I have produced like Gemini Syndrome, 9Electric, he has helped me promoting them and if you look back 20 years ago he used to play guitar and there’s some great 369 Club shots. They’re pretty rare but I saw them on his site. I think he’s great and everyone who has something to do with Hollywood rocks, man.
Franky De Smet Van Damme section:
How would you describe your new album Feed ‘Em with a Brick to a fan that has been with you since day one? Now how would you describe it to a metal fan who has never heard of you?
Franky: To the early hour fans I would say … this is CZ 2.0 … Mikey brought a complete fresh vibe into CZ and we stayed true to our roots while introducing a new impact to the songs and power of CZ.
And for complete new fans … I would say Feed ‘Em with a Brick is a new start, has all the energy and power a metal band should have in 2012 … we were not afraid to add melody and power and mix it together in an album that had balls and songs that stand the road for a while … check out Feed ‘Em with a Brick and get hooked to the songs … it’s a real car cd … once you put it in your player … it stays for a while
The title of the new album has some pretty heavy overtones what’s the meaning behind it?
Franky: Well it comes out of the song “Angels Blood” , the song is about how masses can be influenced into extreme situations … if you may want to voice your opinion … it reaches out for anyone who feels like you have a voice but are not being heard … gives you a reason to scream or make your statement … we are not gonna take it anymore … and on that point … you might want to feed your government with a brick , but otherwise we can all refer to that moment where you had it … and something inside you wants to react …. that also stands for Feed ‘Em with a Brick … it’s brutal and tongue and cheek at the same moment … you can squeeze it in your own vibe of the moment
Lyrically what were you going for with the new album and did your original concepts play out the way you thought they would or were there changes along the way?
Franky: For me it was a new breath of air that Mikey stepped along with me for the lyrics … I’ve always made a good job out of it but when you don’t speak the language day in and out .. sometimes 1 word can be understood completely different , and that was a great time for me to feel we were finalizing the lyrics to the point where any American really gets the words … but on the other side I still think very critical about what happens to
the planet and the struggle we all have to make things better … or the frustration to see how we all fuck things up … not looking back for the future that comes ahead … it almost like we don’t care … and funny enough we actually do … we’re just too ignorant to admit that …. these and many more items always will return in to the CZ lyrics .
How is the lyrical direction of “Feed ‘Em With A Brick” different than the other Channel Zero albums?
Franky: Like I said Mikey’s influence towards me is very positive … he brings also a new way of thinking into my word/ tittle choices … I believe the overall basics are still there … always … but I think I have a higher way of fine-tuning with Mikey.
What was it like working with Logan Mader in the studio? How did he challenge you while recording? How did you challenge yourself on this album?
Franky: Logan was instantly motivated to do this album since he heard the demo’s he was hooked . That was a great feeling, he has some interesting ways of looking at vocals /placements … he made me sing better than ever … his input was awesome … for me the challenge was to make an album that was now 2012 … and I believe we accomplished that very well … most bands look over their shoulder when doing a reunion … we had the guts to move on and take risks … I love taking risks … and we worked hard and together with Mikey’s producer’s experience we moved faster than ever in the studio … so … it was well worth the trip.
How did you choose Mikey Doling to join Channel Zero? What has his influence been on the band and the album?
Franky: Mikey was chosen by destiny … we felt that he should come over and try .. and even if we didn’t know upfront … he stepped up and made the band …a band again … we tested 20 guitar players in Europe but we didn’t get to the point where we were after 2 min with Mikey in the rehearsal room. It rocked out instantly … so that was a nice feeling to see someone step in the band and bring us to a complete new level …. His influence is for sure that new 2012 sound that we needed to get to … he completely remade that impact and it sounded fresh … I could hardly believe what he was writing … I loved it .
The big question everyone wants to know the answer to: When is the U.S, tour going to happen?
Franky: haha since we all know … the US is BIG … we would love getting on the road there … I hope it’s going to be any time soon … we never played there so we’re stoked to get things out there. Let’s put it that way that any moment we can we should be there already … maybe the end of the year I hope ;-)) I know that many US people reacted extremely well to Feed them with a Brick …. keep fingers crossed.