Mike Howe figured Metal Church was in his distant past -- and why not after leaving the band in 1994.
But the Taylor, Mich., native finds himself back in Church again, having rejoined the band last year and appearing on its new
"It was a long process," Howe, 50, says by phone in transit to a tour stop in Maine. He was not particularly interested when guitarist and group leader Kurdt Vanderhoof first contacted him to rejoin the Metal Church ranks, but in subsequent discussions Vanderhoof's "charming personality and awesome challenge" eventually prevailed.
"Ultimately what I wanted to do was not just to come back and revisit old glory days, but to have something new to show," explains Howe, who sang with the band Heretic before joining Metal Church. "We're older and hopefully wiser and more mature. We know who we are. So we approached it with maturity -- 'Let's have fun and enjoy this.'
"Kurdt and I realized the chemistry we had in our 20s was still there, the joy we had in creating heavy metal music together. It wasn't work at all. It was still easy and still fun."
They did, however, approach "XI" with a certain degree of care. "We really took it slow and took our time and tried to do the kind of record we always wanted to do, since the very beginning," Howe says. "There was no pressure -- no management, no record label. Just us going in to make a record.
"So it was like, 'Let's take baby steps. Let's just go back tot he days we wrote together in a studio and find the fun in doing it and enjoy the process.'"
Metal Church plans to spend plenty of time on the road promoting "XI." But as happy as he is, Howe says he knows better than to make too many promises about what lays ahead.
"We did the first phase of it and I enjoyed the s*** out of it and it was way better than I thought it would be," he says. "Now we're in the second phase, getting to take this music right out to the fans and interact with them and really celebrate the music together. That's another high.
"As for the future and everything, how long we're gonna last, if we're gonna do more...That to me is open. I like to live in the present as much as possible. I'm just trying to enjoy what's happening right now, and we'll see what the future holds. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself."
Metal Church, Hatchet, Tyrant and Acoustic Hell
Wednesday, March 30. Doors open at 6 p.m.
The Token Lounge, 28949 Joy Road Westland.
Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
Call 734-513-5030 or visit tokenlounge.com.
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