July 21, 2024

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ROCKET Interviews Guitarist Mike Sloat of THE KING MUST DIE


American thrash metal act THE KING MUST DIE recently placed second in TMD’s ‘Unsigned’ Battle of Thrash online contest and is preparing to make their mark on the heavy music world. Formed in 2011, the band is comprised of Doggie on vocals, drummer Corky Crossler, guitarists Mike Sloat and Kent Varty, along with Scott Paterson on bass. They bring a new level of intensity to the resurging scene of thrash metal and are sure to gain fans all over the globe now that they have made such a big splash by receiving top scores from TMD’s judging panel.

The Metal Den’s Randy “Rocket” Cody has conducted an EXCLUSIVE interview with THE KING MUST DIE guitarist Mike Sloat for TMD’s loyal following of DEN HEADZ all across the globe!


ROCKET: Where were you born and raised?

MIKE: I was born in Santa Cruz and raised mostly in Santa Rosa, about an hour north of San Francisco.

ROCKET: Do you recall your first heavy metal concert?

MIKE: My first metal concert was Day On The Green, 1985 at the Oakland Coliseum ! This was EPIC for me, as three of my favorite bands at the time were playing: Scorpions, Ratt and Y & T. But then Metallica came on stage, who I had never heard before….and it was jaw dropping and eye opening. They just tore the place apart and it was like nothing I had ever seen or heard. That pretty much started my interest in the heavier music and led me to Death Angel, Testament, Exodus and all the bay area Thrash bands.

ROCKET: When did you first start playing guitar?

MIKE: I started when I was about 14, just playing my brother’s old acoustic guitar. Once I wanted to get serious, I asked for an electric and ended up with this funky Ibanez called an Axstar, which I still have today.

ROCKET: Who are some of your biggest guitar playing influences?

MIKE: I love all the bay area thrash from back in the day: Metallica, Testament, Death Angel, Exodus…This is what I was listening to when I started writing songs and playing in bands. I love that so many years later, these guys are still going at it and (most of them) are as heavy, if not heavier than they were back then. I’ve always been really into melodies and guitar harmonies, so Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were big influences early on too, and going way back, Y & T, Van Halen, Ratt, Quiet Riot. I’m really not a shredder but Randy Rhoads was a big influence in getting me to try playing leads back in the day.


ROCKET: How did TKMD first form together as a band?

MIKE: I was listening to an old demo from my band in the late 80’s and thought the songs still had some relevance to what was happening today in metal music. So I programmed some drums and re-recorded a handful of our old songs to see how I could re-work them into something simpler and cohesive. I thought it sounded really good, so I played them for my friend (and our bass player), Scott Paterson, and he instantly said, “Let’s get a drummer!”. So we started asking around the scene in Sonoma County and hooked up with Corky Crossler, who was also into all the old thrash music. Then he brought in his friends and ex-band-mates, Doggie (vocals) and Kent Varty (guitar), and it all fell into place. Scott and I have played together for many years, as have Corky, Kent and Doggie, so it all made sense.

ROCKET: Congrats on finishing in 2nd place at TMD’s ‘Thrash Battle’ online contest in 2013! How did the band react upon learning you did so well with the judges?


MIKE: We were really excited. I don’t think any of us really thought about what anyone else thinks of the music we’re playing; we just want to play what we know and like, so to have people place us so high in this competition was really an honor, especially after hearing some of the other bands! There’s so much amazing talent out there right now.

ROCKET: Let’s talk about the debut album that TKMD is working on, brother. When is it expected to be completed?

MIKE: We have 4 songs completed, 4 more awaiting vocals, then the final four some time in the next few months. We’re not in a rush to complete it, but I would say by the end of the year it should be done and ready to get out there.


ROCKET: Where is it being recorded and who produced it?

MIKE: We’re recording with Nick Botelho at NB Recording up here in Santa Rosa. Nick’s a young guy with a lot of talent and experience, and we’re really happy with what he’s doing for us.

ROCKET: What kind of guitars are you playing live and in the studio currently?

MIKE: I build my own Gibson-style Flying V’s from scratch. I started a few years back and got hooked on it. My dad has always been a wood-worker, so I learned a lot from him and ended up buying quite a few tools so I can just build in my garage now. I have three main guitars: a 1958 replica, a red & black guitar I call “Face Melter” and my #1 guitar is my newest, a maple top, single EMG with a blue finish. You can actually see the making of the first two on youtube. Kent plays a Gibson Les Paul Custom (black and gold), and an Ibanez Alex Skolnick Sledgehammer, with a Mesa Boogie
Triple Rectifier (rack mounted) and a Mesa Boogie cabinet with custom metal side plates.

ROCKET: What kind of amp rigs?

MIKE: I had a Marshall MG series stack, but it just didn’t match up to Kent’s Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier! So I sold that and ended up going with a Blackstar HT Stage 100 series. I use a Zakk Wylde Wah, a harmonyman pedal and the amps built in distortion
and reverb.

ROCKET: Your band remains unsigned at this point. There are a ton of great independent metal labels out there. Which ones currently impress you the most as being the perfect home for your band?

MIKE: It’s something I haven’t even thought about quite yet. There’s so many ways to get music out these days, it’s something we really have to spend some time figuring out what’s best for us. We all have full time jobs, kids, responsibilities, etc., so our time is very limited right now. I think once we have the full album ready, we might go down that road.


ROCKET: How does the songwriting process work for this band?

MIKE: I usually figure out the riffs, then do a basic demo with simple, programmed drums, then upload for all the guys to hear, plus I’ll record a video for Scott and Kent to see what I’m doing. From there, we bring it to rehearsal and figure out what makes sense for the song. Doggie writes all the lyrics, he’s an amazing lyricist!

ROCKET: Thrash metal has certainly experienced a resurgence as of late, which is really cool. Who are some your favorite bands from the New Wave of Thrash Metal?

MIKE: What I’ve heard lately that I really like is Saint Vernon, Warbringer, Hatchet, Municipal Waste, Zetro’s new band Hatriot… Machine Head has put out three amazing albums in a row, plus Testament and Death Angel are STILL putting out reallyamazing albums. I’m a music video director for a living, and have had the chance to work with Machine Head many times, plus I got to work with Testament last summer on the “Native Blood” video, which was just an amazing experience. I’ve worked with Zetro and Hatriot twice now…these guys have all been around, doing their thing since the 80’s and again, I think it’s really cool that they’re still making great music in the bay area.

ROCKET: What are some of the upcoming live shows for TKMD that we need to watch out for?

MIKE: Mainly local shows for the rest of the year; Cotati October 11th, Rohnert Park November 1st, and hopefully a record release party before the end of the year. We are shooting our first music video on September 6th for the song “Your Grip Is…”, then a follow up shortly after that for “The Birth of War”. “Grip” will be a full-on performance video, while “Birth” will be much more conceptual, following the vibe of the lyrics.


ROCKET: Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

MIKE: My “regular” job is so random, it’s really hard to say; it takes up most of my time, as well as just family and other commitments (same with the rest of the band) but we’re going to stick to this formula we have and keep writing the songs we like to play and hear. Doggie, our singer, is always referring to what we do as “mid-life-metal” and I think that really sums it up: Dudes in their 40’s playing the music they love, so hopefully we can continue to do that 10 years from now.

ROCKET: Thanks for rocking this out with me. Best of luck with your music. Any last words for your fans?

MIKE: Support live music! I know as we get older it gets tougher to get out of the house, but it’s so important to support live music, or it will go away! Check us out on facebook (facebook.com/tkmdband) and reverbnation. Check out our lyric videos on youtube, plus the videos I’ve done for other artist: www.mikesloat.com.