– Hello, thank you so much for answering our interview. How is everything doing right now with MINISTRY OF HATE?
(Mike Cusumano) Everything is just fine. We have gotten a good response to the record which makes us all feel good, M.J. and I are especially happy since the songs are our babies’ so to speak.
– Though you are not newcomers at all, you have just released your debut album. Due to this I guess some people won’t known you yet so, could you please share some history of the band?
(Mike Cusumano) The band came about after M.J. approached me in May of 2010 asking me if I felt like writing some heavy songs again. We hadn’t written together since the mid 1980’s in Prowler. We were both doing our own after our very successful Metal cover band, “Angry Drunk Men” broke up in 2003. We remained very close though. He lives in the same town in New Jersey and I can’t avoid him (laughs). We started riffing around with what is now “912” and thought it sounded pretty good so we wrote and recorded more stuff with drum loops. After a couple songs, I called Scott LePage (Hades). He was in “Angry Drunk Men” too in the 90’s. I asked if he would like to lay down some lead and rhythm. My thinking was it would sound loose and not contrived but the drums were still bothering M.J. and me. That’s where Ron Lipnicki (Overkill) came in. I played with Ron in a Metal cover band that I started in 2008 called “Grime Factor”. I gave him a call and said “I know you’re real busy with Overkill but do you have time to lend a hand to a recording project I am working on. I think you’ll like the songs”. I am glad he said yes because the songs took on a different attitude. We raise hell when we’re together, drinking and playing!
– And which is that “ministry of hate” you are making reference with the band’s name?
(Mike Cusumano) Wow, I knew someone would ask that at some point. Plain truth is M.J. and I were throwing names around and that sounded the coolest. (laughs) There is no meaning behind it for us. We certainly aren’t a “hate” band. We are equal opportunity haters! You can tell by the lyrics to the songs that we aren’t preaching.
– I’ve read MINISTRY OF HATE was born as a parallel project for the members involved, and its activity won’t affect the activity of your other bands so, is MINISTRY OF HATE just a hobbie for you?
(Mike Cusumano) Well, the only full time rock start is Ron. M.J., Scott and I all have full time day jobs so this is just a project but I would like to play some shows and see crowd reaction. Ron keeps asking when the tour starts. (laughs) That will happen if the masses want it. Any European promoters out there want a kick ass band for a festival?
– Your first record has just came out, “All your Godz are Dead”, it was unleashed last May. How is its feedback being so far? And are you satisfied with the final outcome?
(Mike Cusumano) Feedback has been great. The first person outside of us to hear it was Dan Lorenzo, founding member of Hades. Ron played it for him and Dan sent me an email saying it sounded “great!” and Dan isn’t a pushover. Now that it is out there we have gotten a lot of compliments and good reviews. The record was recorded in two locations and I did most of the engineering in my basement studio. My wife was a widow for a couple months.
– You’ve created an aggressive Thrash Metal opus without using the usual speed just for speed’s sake. Is this sense of melody and contrasts an important part of the band’s musical personality?
(Mike Cusumano) First, thanks for noticing. M.J. and I write stuff that is certainly influenced by early metal and maybe we put a different twist on it and speed it up a bit. We have always thought that writing 7 minute songs with a hundred parts is good if it has meaning but not just because other bands do it. The hook is the same whether it is pop, country or thrash metal. The main ingredient in a good thrash song is a heavy guitar lick with a great chorus. Hit em’ hard, fast and get out quick as the song calls for. Leaving them wishing the song was longer!
– In fact your sound is really diverse and full of different elements so, what are your main musical influences?
(Mike Cusumano) My early influences are Motorhead, Priest, Michael Schenker, Maiden. I think the usual metal staples.
(MJ Malinksi) Zeppelin, Tank, Maiden, Motorhead.
– If I’m not mistaken, during the songwriting you didn’t use real drums, so I guess it was an easy choice for you to look for a drummer but, was it easy to choose the right guy for such duties? And are you happy with the result of having real drums?
You’re totally correct on the fake drums for the song writing. I was lucky enough to be in a band with Ron for a while and even after I left we stayed in touch. He was the only guy on my radar because we really wanted someone who could bring it and Ron did. In fact I did a lot of re-recording of my vocals and guitars because he brought so much intensity that the prior stuff didn’t match!. Look what he is doing for Overkill. I always loved Overkill but Ron brings intensity there too, it’s very noticeable. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer, more competent guy to complete the task.
– As I guess everyone else would be, I’m really curious about the last tune on the album, “Ballad of Charlie Sheen”. How did you come up with this track?
(laughs) Well, the music for the song was done 25 years ago. MJ wrote that in Prowler and it was called “Adolescent Drunks”. We broke up before the next record came out and never used it. Being a little older and singing about kids drinking seemed corny so MJ changed the words. At the time of the writing Charlie was relevant. Hopefully we can get him back to “winning!”. It definitely has an S.O.D. feel. We have another for the next record called “6 Chin”.
– Talking about such, what are some of the main ideas covered on your lyrics?
MJ and I usually try to write about something that is current in our lives.” 912”, “Bagged” and “Blood of Achmed” all have war, terrorism themes. I wrote “Achmed” after trying to get in to Ron’s show (Overkill) at the Nokia theatre in NYC a couple years ago when that terrorist dude tried to blow up Times Square and I couldn’t get in to see him. I was PISSED! Some are about my shitty child hood and being pissed off. Music helps with that. We rarely go into fantasy stuff although in Prowler I wrote a few. M.J. wrote the song “Thrash and Bang” after we did a show with Overkill in I think 1986 when we were in Prowler. The kids tore the floor up! So it is pretty much relevant stuff to us at the time. I know with a band name like ours, people may think were writing hate messages in the lyrics but it just isn’t so. We only hate assholes!
– And all this being said; how could you describe “All your Godz are Dead” in just 3 words?
A proud achievement! MJ and I didn’t know if we would ever write metal again.
– Finally, what are your near-future plans?
Believe it or not we are going to start writing in the next couple months. We have some stuff already. Playing out is definitely on my radar. If and when we play they would be weekend shows, for now we just try to keep the songs fresh in our heads by playing to the record.
– So that has been everything from our side, thank you once more for taking your time. If you now want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
It is an honor and pleasure to have a chance to talk to the metal heads of Spain! Maybe if the stars align we can get a show over there. I hope people like the record as much as we loved writing it!