The mastermind behind Metal Allegiance, Mark Menghi, gives Metal Hammer an exclusive guided tour of his photo collection during the creation of the band’s debut record.
We’d all known of each other, from the metal scene and former Metal Masters clinics, but Dave really was the catalyst. Dave and Mike and I have been friends for a long time and likewise Dave had been really close friends with Alex for a long time. Alex and I hit it off on the Motörboat cruise last year. Megadeth were slated to headline the cruise but had to cancel ‘cause Dave Mustaine was ill so Dave Ellefson is there and suggested we come together to do something. We closed the boat Tuesday and Thursday with Metal Allegiance playing covers of metal anthems like Killers and War Pigs. There was a bunch of us – Phil Anselmo, Chuck Billy, all the Anthrax guys – that played on the boat and that’s sort of where it started.
The Motorboat got caught up in a hurricane so in between the shows we were just circling around Cuba and Dave and I said ‘Let’s write a record.’ Within 45 days we were in Mike’s studio writing original material…
There’s a great mix in the band as Mike and Alex are properly educated musicians. Alex is trained in Jazz, he’s incredible, and Dave and I are from the streets ha ha. It works really well.
One of my favourite things about Metal Allegiance is Alex and Dave taking the forefront and ruling the creative input which isn’t always possible in their main bands (Testament and Megadeth). Alex has never recorded rhythm guitar whereas he plays everything bar a few guest solos on this album. He’s an incredible guitarist and has a lot of music inside of him – he brought a lot of the riffs. He says they were just made up on the spot when we were writing, they were just flowing out of him. Although I’m not convinced, he must’ve had some of those riffs already in his head!
Mike was like the mad scientist of the group, he took control and had the whiteboard where he’d just write stuff down. He works so fast-paced – I was always the trouble maker throughout the entire thing, but he’d bring us into shape. Alex and I could just sit and jam for hours and we do frequently. During Let Darkness Fall we were jamming forever and Mike would be have to be like ‘Come on stop it dude!’.
Pie in the cunt. This is actually on the record with a different name now, it’s within the first four songs – see if you can spot it. When we were writing all the music basically everything had a title like this…
With the writing sessions, we did everything in two sessions – one in December and one in January – with five songs in each session, and there was so much music left over we’re already thinking about record number two. We still have four or five songs and I guess I did always have a specific vocalist in mind for certain songs which wasn’t always possible with our timeframe. There’s some big names there that we can’t give away yet so some songs we held back for this reason which will hopefully happen on the next record.
When we wrote the music for this I came up with the title Gift Of Pain and we just had Randy in mind. There was no-one else for this track – it had to be his voice. It was the last song for us to record as Randy was busy with Lamb Of God so we waited. When he came in the studio I gave him the title and he started writing in his little book and wrote all the lyrics with the exception of the chorus, which we wrote. I sort of sang it to him in an attempt at his voice ha ha. He wrote all the lyrics an hour before we recorded and we got it all done then.
There wasn’t one disagreement the whole time we worked together – we had a blast. We would just joke and have fun. The music just flowed.
Portnoy’s dogs (Mickey and Maggie) were around during all of the writing sessions – they were really the fifth and sixth members of Metal Allegiance. We did demos with them but it didn’t quite make the cut ha ha.
Portnoy and I got the MA tattoos together at Shiprocked. On top of the MA tattoo I got on my arm, Mike tattooed “MP ♥ MM” next to it ha ha. It looks like a prison tatt!
It was awesome playing the original Metal Allegiance songs for the first time ever, and mixing it up with covers. Everyone was singing along to Can’t Kill The Devil – they knew all the lyrics already!
Metal Allegiance’s self-titled debut album is out now.