A talk with
MICHELLE MADDEN (Vocals)
(Questionnaire by Stefan)
Way back in the 80s, Michelle Meldrum started her musical career while she played in a Thrash Metal band called Wargod of course followed by the most famous, female fronted act Phantom Blue! In days of Wargod she met drummer Gene Hoglan, you know the legendary drummer who participated in so much other bands such as Dark Angel, Death, Testament, Strapping Young Lad, Forbidden, Tenet, Dethklok, Fear Factory… to name but a few. Michelle and Gene became close friends, both started with their own musical journey as time passed by. Very good point was that they came together as one to form the band Meldrum at the end of 1999.
Throughout the following years, Meldrum created two albums with Michelle who unfortunately passed away on May,18 - 2008. Recently, Meldrum brought out a third strike, actually a heartfelt tribute to one of the most impressive female guitar players ever in the world of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music. I wrote the review for their new album “Lifer” a little while ago and now I feel honoured to have a talk with the band’s new singer Michelle Madden, originating from Australia and also active in Extreme Metal band Tourettes.
Q: Hello Mrs. Madden, good to have your hear on Belgium based Metal To Infinity webzine - thanks for your time doing this interview. What’s up in Down Under at the moment?
A: Hey Darlin', good to talk to you. It’s summer down here and I am working with my amazing band Saint Cecilia. We are a 5 piece. I am lucky to be working with some of the best musicians this country has to offer so I am really living my game. I play second bass and sing. Its heavy and melodic as fuck! I'm also writing for Inked Magazine and hosting a new music show. Interviewed Eyehategod last week. Good times.... My website is coming into its 11th year. I'm staying out of jail and working hard so it’s all good.
Q: I listened to Michelle's guitar skills since she played with her first band Wargod - in what way do you know Michelle Meldrum?
A: I met Michelle though Gene who is one of my oldest and closest friends. My old band Tourettes opened for SYL in 2002 and he swore that one day I would be his singer. Heady shit indeed. When Tourettes thankfully ended he was straight on the phone to me offering me the position in Meldrum as Moa had just left. I had just moved back from Hamburg and ended up moving straight to LA to start writing. It was one of the best times in my life.
Q: Along with the band Wargod she came in touch with Gene Hoglan - do you have any idea how the collaboration came to be?
A: They were kids and it was their first band together. They were truly soulmates.
Q: Without beating around the bush, Phantom Blue was Michelle’s most shining diamond to me. This legendary female Heavy Metal band formed in 1987 released two fantastic albums entitled “Phantom Blue” and “Built To Perform”. How do you have experienced these efforts yourself?
A: It was a bit before my time but I got into it later and loved it. They were so far ahead of the curve. Michelle always was. She was a true pioneer.
Q: Have you had the pleasure to meet her personally? If the answer is yes, what type of person Michelle was?
A: Of course I met her! We were in the same band! She was one of the most determined and loving women I have ever know. My life is richer for knowing her and darker for having lost her. I miss her everyday as a friend and a band-mate. The most wicked sense of humor and some of the most natural and intuitive guitar playing I have ever borne witness to.
Q: First Meldrum album “Loaded Mental Canon” saw daylight in 2002. A bit of a controversial album because of problems with the record label those days. What happened?
A: You would have to ask the original members that.
Q: Did you like the songs on it - how would you like to describe this debut Meldrum work?
A: I loved it.
Q: European label Frontiers Records released the second album “Blowin’ Up The Machine” in 2007. Same question here Michelle – what’s your meaning on the effort?
A: Like I said, they were always ahead of their time. I have nothing but love and respect for both Frieda and Moa. They treated me like a sister when I came in as they were departing and having their support and blessing meant and continues to mean the world to me.
Q: By the way, did you like the vocals on both albums?
A: Moa is one of my favorite vocalists full stop. Check out her solo work as it is nothing short of astounding. The track "Bulldozer" is flawless.
Q: Two promising efforts were released so far, Michelle Meldrum and soulmate Gene Hoglan just completed the writing and recording for a follow up but fate hit hard! In critical condition, she was transported to St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank where she stopped breathing three days later on. I have no words for such a tragedy, the world of Hard Rock and Metal mourned massively… how have you heard this very sad news?
A: I was there. I don't want to talk about it. I have before and I have said all that I can. I am still not over it and I doubt I ever will be.
Q: Were you present on the Memorial Concert in Hollywood, California?
A: I was. It was amazing! I got to share the stage with some of my best friends and hero's. It was also the first time that I shared the stage with the love of my life. It was an heartfelt night all around.
Q: Later, you should be contacted to work on the new album “Lifer” - by whom you were hooked up and what were the conditions to accept the proposal?
A: I was already in the mix like I explained. I met Michelle through Gene a year before I joined when I was recording what was to be Tourettes final album,Treason Songs, with Rob Hill in Manhattan Beach. A year later I was back there and in the band. I was always going to work with Gene in any project he asked me to. I got on the plane, it was a no brainer and one of the best decisions of my life.
Q: Since many years you’re the singer in Tourettes, an extreme Metal band where you deliver the most unique, wild and free type of vocals. Does singing in a band as Meldrum cost a lot of effort and adjustment?
A: Only on the turning front but I adjusted fast. It was higher than I was used to. I have a 3 and a half octave range so after I got used to it I was fine. Michelle passed away before we could change it. I have always been more than a one trick pony. Ha!
Q: I’m sure that “Lifer” has been realized to honour Michelle Meldrum - she wrote the songs before she died but how are the reworked compositions established?
A: Gene went out of the road with Fear Factory and sent me to Canada into the very capable hands of Rob Shallcross aka "Professor Chicken" who held me aloft through the whole harrowing process This was 2 weeks after we lost Michelle so it was very raw. Gene and I talked every night. He on the tour bus, me in the studio. He has always loved and encouraged all that I can do vocally so he told me to go for it and I did.
Q: Deliver vocal duties for both acts Meldrum and your own band Tourettes… what are the inner feelings?
A: Tourettes was a Search and Destroy mission for me. I was one of the 1st women doing what I was doing and I was not freely accepted which suited me just fine. I didn't dress up, I went out barefoot and brutal every time and I think that is why we have a cult following to this day. Kids are still discovering it and contacting me years later. Its cool Meldrum really let me spread my wings and it lead me onto two years of touring acoustic with my super-talented ex and then founding my dream band in Saint Cecilia. I am a lucky woman.
Q: Which songs do you prefer and why?
A: I dig 'em all. I wrote 'em and I stand by them.
Q: Are you personally pleased with the entire album?
A: Very much so.
Q: How’s the feedback from the world-wide press so far?
A: It’s been some of the best that I have ever had personally which I am not used to! It’s a nice change! All in all it has been very respectful and good.
Q: I’m a big fan of the powerful drumworks of mighty Gene Hoglan - no doubt about, he_s one of the greatest, pounding evil drummers of all time? Nothing but respect for “The Atomic Clock” / “Human Drum Machine”, how’s working with this big guy?
A: It’s the best fun ever. We are both perfectionist Virgos so we make sure that everything is of the highest standard. I love turning round and seeing him drumming, driving the whole machine. We warm up with snippets of great Motown songs at soundcheck which always shocks the metal heads and makes us laugh.
Q: Who takes command of the nowadays Meldrum ship?
A: That’s Gene. He is so busy with everything else that we have not toured since '09. I would always drop everything to be there if he said the word.
Q: You were asked to offer your impressive vocals to a band like Meldrum and that’s a real honour to me. How did you get yourself to experience this adventure so far and what about your stay in the band based on the future?
A: We are still together in my eyes, just not playing. I get to make a lot of noise with my dearest friends when we are in the same town. It’s a forever thing and there is not much finer.
Q: To whom you’d like to offer Meldrum’s new album “Lifer”? Feel free to leave an address where to order!
A: I know that it’s out on I-tunes and CD Baby and at www.revervedrecords.com .
Q: Well I’d like to thank you a lot for the collaboration, send my deepest respect/regards to Gene Hoglan and the rest of the band. I scream it out that we will never forget Michelle Meldrum, a fallen legend gone but not forgotten - forever in our hearts! Any final words to our readers?
A: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me and for supporting us.