By Andrew Catania
This interview with Mike Orlando I’ve been waiting three years to do. Back in 2017, I was supposed to interview him when Adrenaline Mob made a stop in Orlando on there We The People tour. Sadly to say, that interview never happened as the band was involved in a horrific accident that killed David Z and Janet Rains.
Bruised, battered, and rehabilitating for the last three years, Mike is back with a couple of different projects in the works one named Her Chariot Awaits. Mike spoke candidly with me about his current projects and AMOB.
You’re a busy guy Mike!
MO: I have a new band and an album that I have to hand into the label in about three weeks, and I am super excited about that.
Well, Her Chariot Awaits already in, is this another band?
MO: Yes, this is another one. (Laughing) Yep. Chariot comes out next month—this one, I don’t know the slated date, but it’s a killer album. Different from Chariot. Real heavy, monster, monster players.
(Chuckling) Do we know about this yet, or…
MO: Uhm, no. It’s a band called Blacken the Sky, and I got the okay from the label that I can talk about it. So, it’s myself, the fantastic Aquiles Priester on drums, which I have in my other band – he’s terrific — he’s also from DragonForce now, and the vocalist is impressive, Andrew Freeman, from The Last in Line.
Andrew Freeman rocks.
MO: Oh my god, absolutely one of the greatest freaking vocalists on the planet.
Is this a Frontiers project?
MO: Yes! Yeah! I am handing it in, like I said, June 1st. I don’t know, like I said, because of what’s going on in the world, as far as the slated release or anything, but we are wrapping it up right now, Andrew and me.
That’s good to hear. How are you doing physically?
MO: Oh, so-so. I mean, it’s been tough. I have a lot of back and neck issues going on from the accident, and unfortunately, now, being on lockdown, I can’t even go to my doctors. It’s been like six weeks. I was on tour when this all hit with Sons of Apollo in Europe. So I flew home, and as soon as everything went crazy, the plot thickened. So I haven’t seen any of my doctors for seven-eight weeks now, and it’s tough. I do pain management, and chiro and PT and everything is closed. So, it’s a little scary right now.
That accident was hell on wheels, literally and figuratively, and Thank God, that I’m still here because I really shouldn’t be here….you know?
I was supposed to interview you the next day when you arrived in Orlando for your show.
MO: Oh, wow. I didn’t even know, to be honest, you know?
After the accident and the passing of Jane and David, there hasn’t been one ounce of news coverage here. Are the lawsuits pending, I’m sure?
MO: Yeah, everyone is, everyone. I mean, that’s a big on-going thing. But these things take a long time, as they always do. It’s not just us. Any massive accident like that takes a long time, a real long time, so we are all still going through it.
The driver didn’t get hardly any charges? He didn’t get arrested either.
MO: The unbelievable thing is he got off scot-free with a 6-month suspension and $1000 fine. For killing two people and critically injuring seven others. Yeah, it’s lovely.
And his truck shouldn’t have even been on the road either.
Did he admit to anything at the time of the crash?
MO: I don’t know if he was over in his time of driving, but what I was told that as soon as he was spoken to, he admitted it right on the spot that he fell asleep. He crossed two lanes and hit us at 80mph. So, going through our bus. It was pretty much cut in half. Yeah. It was pretty much hell on earth, let’s just say that.
Is it safe to assume that Adrenaline Mob, that that book has been closed for good?
MO: You know, everyone always asked me this, and all I say is that I adore Adrenaline Mob. I love that band. That music is part of my, my blood. Would I like to do it again? Of course, I would. But it’s just something right now that I don’t even look back on, I look forward as much as I can these days because it’s all I can do, you know? I look forward to feeling better; I look forward to trying to still heal from all of my injuries. And still working and having a great time doing a lot of other stuff, you know. So I am grateful for that. So who knows. I hope? Who knows, though.
How are you playing so well when you’re still dealing with so much pain?
MO: I can’t move the way I use to walk on stage because I have a lot of injuries. I have four herniated discs out in my neck and 4 in my lower back, so I can’t move the same, and thankfully my hands weren’t affected, but everything else was. So it’s tough to play a concert. When I’m done, I’m hurting. So the whole neck and back thing I still have excruciating pain all of the time. Headaches every day, because of just where the injuries are in my neck and my back, But I’m here, thank God, and some didn’t make it, which is horrible. So, I can’t – I can’t complain. It would be terrible for me to do that. So I just do what I do. I try to play, and hopefully, I still play the same way. (Chuckling)
Are they going to get you to… are you ever going to be 100% again, or are they just going to get you to 70 – 80%?
MO: Yeah… I don’t think so because the problem with discs is you can’t fix them. You can’t put them back in place. I’ve been told that there’s some new stuff coming up that you can replace them with artificial discs, but I have a lot of them damaged, and so that’s kind of scary and frightening. I’ve had six procedures already on my neck and back so, I don’t know if I’m…I don’t think it will ever be the same. But, I’m here, and I’m making music, and I’m still playing my guitar, and for me, it’s huge just to be able to do that, you know, let along to just be “Here,” you know. It’s a beautiful thing to be breathing.
How did you get Her Chariot Awaits together?
MO: So my manager, who I work with on a lot of stuff, his name is, Michael Kaplan, he’s a legend in the industry, and he was the bridge between myself and Frontiers so then that all worked out fantastic and the first thing we talked about was a female-fronted rock band. And I jumped at the chance because I love that stuff. I love Halestorm and No Doubt and Gwen Stefani and all of those girls. They are just great. They rock. So, it was a no-brainer for me. To work doing that genre, I jumped at the chance. The label sent my Ailyn, and we reviewed a few different people and but Ailyn was awesome. I mean, she has a five-octave voice, and she is a beautiful woman and a sweetheart of a girl. And it was easy to work with her. It was a little challenging because she is from a different background. She is from a symphonic metal band called Sirenia. So it was different. I pulled her into this crazy, commercial hard rock world, I guess, so they say. But she took it on like a champ, and she was great. It took some time to get her into this mode. I think it turned out great. I had so much fun writing this album.
Is this a project you’d tour with? Most of the groups’ Frontiers signs are just studio projects that never tour
MO: No, I would love to. I’m always about that. I’ve never put out an album and not supported it entirely, you know. So, for me, that’s not an option. The guys in the band – the guys and girls in the band – all want to play, tour and launch this thing and give it it’s arightful place, to so say. But in this day and age, how the hell are we going to do that right now? I mean, it’s impossible. So, I hope, when the time comes that we can get the chance to get out there and do it. We all want to do it. I don’t call bands’ projects’ because, to me, this is a band, and I had Ilene here for three weeks tracking everything, and others were here, and we did everything. Wasn’t it like “let me send you a file,” you know? The writing was that way because I wrote the album myself. But it’s still a band, you know? So, yeah, I would love to get out there and play with this. Hell yeah.
Whatever happened to that band, I saw you wearing all of this make-up? I was like, what the hell is this?
MO: (Laughing) That’s why that quickly went away. That was not a decision that I made; let’s put it that way. (Chuckling)
It just didn’t seem like you?
MO: Yeah. Listen. I love all kinds of music, and I enjoy…that was after the accident. It was something that I had already from previous years, as I do a lot of stuff because I do a lot of writing. I have a catalog of 100 songs, just sitting there, comfortably. So it was something that someone said hey, why don’t you do this now. And it just didn’t work out. That didn’t work out; it wasn’t something that I wanted to be involved in. So I quickly exited that project. At this point, I want to put it at people with whom I have a great time and say I’m happy to be here, man, so…I just want it to be a good match and have fun.
Good luck with the new album!
MO: Thank you. I am glad you checked out the album. Thank you for that. We are all excited about it. Hopefully, people will dig Her Chariot Awaits. It comes out on May 22nd.
To check out Her Chariot Awaits, please click here