A talk with
MIKE SKIMMERHORN (Bass/Lead Vocals)
(Questionnaire by Stefan)
Loaded with great appreciation for US Metal and Hard Rock Music, it’ s my sincere honour to present a four piece band from Midwest, USA. Listening to the name The Mighty Swine. Formed by Mike Skimmerhorn (Chastain/CJSS) a few years ago, their third album will see daylight really soon by the title “Last Man Standing”. I have had the honour to listen to the album in advantage… feel free to read my mind HERE. Better believe I like The Mighty Swine’s style which takes me back to the good old days of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music, “Last Man Standing” became an album with a nostalgic value to me. I’d like to have a conversation with singer/bassist Mike Skimmerhorn, a Metal veteran who knows whereof he speaks.
Q: Well hello Mike, hope all is going great in the US at the moment. Before we start talking things on The Mighty Swine, I’d like to take you back into the 80s Metal era. As a member of both, Cult US Metal acts Chastain and CJSS, can you still remember the way you got involved with these bands?
A: Thank you Stefan... I was in a club act with David Chastain called Spike. We disbanded and formed CJSS with the drummer of Spike (Les Sharp) and Russell Jinkens who was in another Cincinnati cover band at the time. Somewhere along the line Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records got involved and put the band Chastain together.
Q: How many albums you’ve recorded with them, which one you prefer and why?
A: I believe 3 with CJSS, 5 with Chastain and 1 with Spike. Not to mention the Cincinnati Improv group. I'd have to say the first 2 Chastain albums stand out best in my mind.
Q: What is for you the most notable difference between the 80s and the nowadays Metal scene?
A: Well thank God hair metal is gone except for some parody acts like Steel Panther. Modern metal (at least here in the States) doesn't seem to be as melodic s 80's material.
Q: If you have the chance to turn back the clock, would you hesitate to relive this era?
A: Hell no!
Q: Any other bands to announce you teamed up with those days?
A: We are researching a few different options for touring here in the USA and abroad. Nothing definite as of yet.
Q: Recently, I made up my mind on the new Chastain album “No One To Surrender” and was impressed by the end result Mike. Excellent Classic US Metal reigns all over the cut, good to see you re-joined the ranks as bassist. Where the decision came from?
A: it was kind of a no brainer, David called me one afternoon and asked if I'd be interested in playing on a new Chastain album.
Q: It must be a happy reunion playing alongside members like David and Leone after so many years, right?
A: Absolutely. I have great respect for both of them.
Q: By the way, what’s your point of view on “No One To Surrender”? What are the future plans with Chastain?
A: I think Stian absolutely makes that record what it is. I like David's approach to the guitar leads and Leather never sounded better. As far as future plans, you'll have to ask the boss. He runs that show.
Q: About the mighty CJSS fame, is there any hope for a return?
A: Wouldn't count on it. I busy with my own band as is Russel Jinkens.
Q: Back to the real essence of this conversation, let’s talk about your new band The Mighty Swine ! By whom and when the band was formed?
A: I formed the band late '07 with the intentions of just playing some clubs in Cincinnati. I very quickly got bored with that and started writing again. Broad Horizon Records got involved and we recorded "Everlast"in '09. Everything just snowballed from there.
Q: A recurring question, what were the ambitions during the early days of existence?
A: Recording and touring - has not changed much since.
Q: I’d like to ask for a briefing history of the other members?
A: Stacey and I have had a rapport for many years. He could of and damn well should of been the bands original guitarist. Think of the records we'd have completed by now... We talked about myself joining an original band of his back in 2006. Never worked out for whatever reason but we crossed paths again and here we are. Jeff was brought in by Stacey and they are good friends. I happened to come across Rory on YouTube.
While looking at a drummer that was interested in an audition for the band Rory's instructional video came up. I looked at it and thought "what a pro", and never thought he'd be interested. 2 or 3 weeks went by and I seen an ad for his session work. I thought, that's twice I've seen this guy so, what the Hell and sent an email.
We sent some emails back and forth and I finally sent him two songs for drum tracks. He sent them back in just a few days and I knew I was on to something. He's a great guy and more so a killer metal drummer! He makes this album what it is! Smokin'!!!!
Q: “Last Man Standing” included, The Mighty Swine has three running efforts up to date. Is the style of the first two efforts comparable with the new one?
A: Not at all. Everlast was more of a hard rock commercial album and not so much metal in my opinion. We did release two singles and the video "Lust" in 2012 but I was never satisfied with the results or productivity. I wanted harder & heavier but it was never and couldn't be achieved. The line up at the time all had different visions and some with serious personal issue's so, it never worked in the long run. Writing only 3 songs in a year will get you nowhere. I decided that if I was going to put out a real metal album I'd have to find serious player's with the same goals.
Q: By the way, how would you like to describe the band’s way of music?
A: Last Man Standing is a heavy traditional metal album. I'm very happy with every song.
Q: The Mighty Swine, has this moniker a special meaning to you?
A: Not so much - I had friends over for a cook out. I made pork tenderloin on the smoker. One of them said, "That's some mighty fine swine" . It stuck and the rest is history.
Q: As an American outfit, is it difficult to develop some familiarity with this style of music?
A: I would think that as traditional as European listeners are they would enjoy this album.
Q: What about the “Let ‘em Eat Swine” and “Let’s Do It Again Tours? Feel free to tell us the some good memories Mike.
A: Blown trailer tires and bad food are good memories? Seriously though - I have family throughout the southern USA. It’s always good to see them while on tour.
Q: A video debut came as a result of “Lust” in 2012. Must be a real hit because Roxwell.com and Rock Charts gave you the highest rating for at least 13 weeks. On Youtube, there were 24,000 hits on the counter and above all, TMS earned a Cincinnati Entertainment Award nomination for Best Hard Rock Band. Nothing but great facts and I’m curious to hear a more detailed story from you.
A: The biggest fact and truth behind "Lust" is that Nikk Hearn (the videographer) was finishing another shoot that day. His production crew caught rumor we were shooting Lust and dropped in to observe. They quickly took command of production and made that video what it is. Without Nikk and his crew, that video would of came out mediocre at best.
Q: Next step in the career of The Mighty Swine was a full focus on a brand new album that’ll be released in May 2014 through Broad Horizon Records. What can you tell us about the label Mike, in what way you teamed up with them?
A: I met BHR owner Bob Lung in 2008. He has always been a big fan of Chastain/CJSS and aspirations of a successful record label. He approached me with the idea of The Mighty Swine album and we went to work. We have our ups and downs and disagreements but our end goals are the same. We have a great relationship with our label. They believe in us. Sometimes that's all that counts.
Q: I’d like to thank each one at the label because they hooked me up with a request to review The Mighty Swine’s new effort. I don’t had to think twice, after hearing a few songs only, it was clear to have a deal with a band delivering great US Traditional Hard Rock/Heavy Metal… actually my everlasting favourite style of music! I always knew you as a tremendous bass player, now it seems you’re a damn good singer as well. Where the ambition comes from brother?
A: Well I've always been a singer. My family comes from a long line of them. If you listen to the band Spike from 1982 thats me singing my ass off as a young green horn. I've always sang back up in Chastain and on CJSS album I sing lead on songs as well.
Q: How would you frame the new album “Last Man Standing”, musically?
A: Without a doubt our best work yet.
Q: I already wrote down my thoughts on your new cut, are you agree with my point of view. At some moments, I even compared your vocal delivery with the mighty Savatage’s frontman Jon Oilva and guitar works slightly reminiscent to Zakk Wylde/Rhandy Rhoads. At Least, that’s the way I feel, would you give a reaction to this?
A: Vocally I've been compared to Mustaine - Oliva - Hetfield - Ozzy and a few other's. I don't try to sound like anyone but I guess some of my influences come out in the studio. What can I say, I love all those bands. I don't mind.
Q: What’s your favourite song Mike? Why?
A: I'd say Two Graves, though there's more than one. It has some deep meanings to me and I love the groove of it.
Q: The Judas Priest song ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ – who came on with the idea to cover this legendary track?
A: I was cruising in my pick up truck one afternoon and it came on the radio. Rob Halford has always been one of my favorite singer's. I thought what a great old Priest song... I asked Stacey & Rory about it and they thought it was a good idea. \m/
Q: Who’s the songwriter in the band basically – what about the lyrical topics?
A: In the infant stage's of LMS it was myself. I asked Stacey to contribute and he had a lot of great ideas. i wrote all of the lyric's and Stacey did 4 or 5 song's of the music
Q: When “Last Man Standing” will see daylight officially?
A: 20 May 2014
Q: What about the distribution on a worldwide basis?
A: We would absolutely love that but that's a question for our label.
Q: It might be better to mention the url where fans of this beautiful gem are able to purchase their own copy.
A: Most information can be found at: www.themightyswine.com as well as FaceBook & Twitter. Available at Amazon.com 20 May 2014.
Q: I heard The Mighty Swine is looking forward to play on European soil. We have quite a few great festivals going on during the Summer months so take your chances and speak in the name of The Mighty Swine.
A: I believe Europe would love this band and we would love to deliver it loud and proud for them, LIVE IN CONCERT of course
Q: The Mighty Swine debut their new video for “Last Man Standing” (Shot and Directed by Nikk Hearn-Sutton (RUSH - Time Machine DVD) onTuesday April 29 Exclusively via youtube at: http://youtu.be/n66n0V3sysQ. To me, a good reflection of cold hard facts that happen in the world of today – what’s your statement on the video Mike?
A: Briefly, Here in the United States we have a real and growing problem with our Constitutional rights being infringed upon. It's turning into more of a police state everyday. American's historically have and will fight and die for freedom.
Foreign or domestic, we're not going to sit and take it lightly. The song addresses these issues and according to some of my friends (and family) in law enforcement, make's a damn good point. (Yes I'm catching a little Hell from some people). It's suppose to be and is controversial.
Q: What are the plans for the coming months and beyond?
A: I'd like to do a world tour with The Mighty Swine and at least one or two more albums.
Q: It was an honour to add The Mighty Swine to our own Metal To Infinity webzine. Managed by three long time friends/US Metal maniacs, MTI is proud to have you on board guys ! Do you have anything to mention before this connection will be interrupted.
A: We appreciate each and everyone one you. Thank you for having me here and we hope to see you soon! Metal Forever!