Lunatic's Serenade

The Fire Returns
An interview with Riot’s Mike Flyntz

You have to admire a band that can withstand tragedy and soldier on pursuing the cause. Bands like the Stones, Metallica and Evile have all overcome the deaths of integral band members to continue making good music.

The band Riot have gone through similar strife, losing founding guitarist Mark Reale in January 2012 after a lifelong battle with Crohn’s disease. After some debate, the band decided to continue with some former members returning to the fold. It didn’t take long for the guys to write new music and the end result is “Unleash the Fire” – twelve solid tracks of molten metal to singe the hairs on the back of your neck.

Things are definitely looking up for Riot and the future seems bright, so to celebrate this momentous occasion, guitarist Mike Flyntz checks in to chat about what the future holds for Riot. Our man Tim Duran was given this assignment and I must say he was tickled pink to have the opportunity for the interview.

Please read on…

HMS: I have to say, first off, it is an honor to ask these questions to you. I stated in a review of "Unleash the Fire" that the Thundersteel record (and earlier ones) were our faves to play at parties back in "the day" or "daze". Anyway, I must say I am nervous and if these question sound like a teenaged star struck young musician it's the 80's talkin'. So, for those that don't know, please introduce yourself and the spot you play in the great classic metal band, RIOT...

MF: My name is Mike Flyntz and I have been playing guitar in Riot since 1989.

HMS: This new record is such a good listen. The production is thick and all the instruments play a big part. Most metal records these days have the bass low in the mix and the axes mixed higher than everyone else. Who's behind the board on this record?

MF: Josh Block from Virgin Steele tracked the record. He also mixed the Japan release. Bruno Ravel from Danger Danger mixed the Europe and U.S. release.

HMS: On many of the album covers, there's the baby white (Harp) seal head. (For instance the head is on the warrior dude on UTF and on a wrestler's body on the cover of NARITA.) Do you support the fight to ban the poaching that goes on in the Arctic?

MF: I do support the fight.

HMS: This record cover kind of reminds me of Iron Maiden's "Somewhere in Time". I also hear a bit of that Maiden sound on a couple of cuts. Who came up with the cover concept and did Maiden influence you on this record?

MF: Don came up with the concept to pay tribute to a combination of Mark’s past records with Riot. I don’t think Maiden was an influence.

HMS: Speaking of influences - who are the ones that motivate you most?

MF: Iron Maiden, Queen, Priest, Kiss and Van Halen were my main ones.

HMS: Over the years RIOT has been through a number of ups and downs with the hiatus in the mid-80's and the unfortunate loss of powerhouses like Mike Reale (guitars) and vocalists Guy Speranza and Rhett Forrester. What kept you guys going?

MF: The music was always great in my opinion. The main thing that kept us going was the fans. When we would question the future it was the fans and promoters who gave us the motivation to continue.

HMS: My heart breaks when I hear of the passing of musicians that have been an influence on my playing or just have a connection with; I morn for them more than I have when a family member has died. Then again, those guys become your family because you spend every day after school with them and carry them in your Walkman on the bus or walking around town. You read the lyrics as you listen and relate to what's being said. You air guitar and sing off key because you love it. The music bonds to your soul and that's the connection.

MF: You mean Mark Reale.

"The main thing that kept us going was the fans."

HMS: But to deviate a bit, I don't mean to get so serious. Your tone splits the night! What do you play through and what is your main axe?

MF: Gibson Les Paul custom shop and Kramer pacer from the 80’s. I used Marshall clones, Mojave Scorpion and Fargen Olde 800 - Both are beautiful sounding amps. There was also an Engl amp mixed in lightly.

HMS: Your new frontman Todd Hall has some chops! Where did you find him?

MF: Don got his name from some people in Europe. He auditioned by singing on two songs from Immortal Soul. He sounded amazing.

HMS: How did that big Headbangers fest in Europe go? Any crazy stories or pranks?

MF: No pranks or stories. We were worried about doing a good show and making Mark proud. We knew there were some people who questioned if we could do it. Also it was emotional and heartbreaking to play without Mark.

HMS: What are your plans now? I didn't see any U.S dates on the web site. Do you all plan to get on the road here?

MF: We will tour. Trying to figure out the best tour to take. We already turned down a few.

HMS: Given all your experience, what is your advice to the youngsters out there trying to get something started or just trying to get by?

MF: It’s a tough business at every level. You must be willing to sacrifice a lot. You must be driven and never give up. Learn the business end. It is a business and it’s not just about being a good musician. Write good songs!

HMS: Thank you, Mike for taking time out to answer a few questions from a star struck musician. I'm sure you would've had more joy watching asphalt grow.

MF: My pleasure! Next time let’s talk so I don’t have to type. Ha!

HMS: Whatever you all do as a band be safe out there and rock hard! Thanks again for your time.

MF: Thank you!

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Tim Duran, HMS

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