Stereo satellite and Adrenaline Mob's Mike Orlando
By Jay Oakley
Mike, thank you for taking some time to talk about Stereo Satellite. However, I wanted to start out with this because your fans are going to want to know. How are you feeling physically and how are you feeling in general?
First of all, thank you for asking. I appreciate that. Ya know, it's an everyday battle. There's just really no way to sugar-coat it. Physically, I'm still deep in recovery and there are injuries that will probably never heal. I do a lot of physical therapy and different types of stuff to help my back and neck injuries. I've had some surgery and unfortunately it's something I'm going to have to live with. I pray to God and thank Him that I'm still here, first off. What can I say? I'll never be the same. It's something that has changed my life 360. It's a daily battle to deal with it, I try my best and that's really all I can do. I give it all I've got, whatever my heart's got, I give it.
Absolutely, Mike. It's important for you to know from your fans and people like us that are in the industry that do support you and have so much respect for you, we are here for you and we really appreciate everything you give to us.
Man, that alone, the feeling you get from the community that you're in which is this wonderful world of rock music, it's been amazing. Everyone has reached out, people like yourself and people in the industry, in bands and friends and it's been amazing. The outpouring of support among-st them and I'm giving it my best shot, that's all I can do. I'm going to keep going because as long as there's a breath in me I'm going to keep playing that guitar and trying.
Absolutely, man. Before we go into the band and to finish this segment about the recent accident, I actually went, a couple months ago, to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra when they came through Baltimore. You may be aware but they do a meet and greet after the show for anyone who wants to participate and your band mate Russell (Allen) was back with the band again this year. I got to take a couple of minutes, nothing major, but some time at the table to talk with him and it was nice to hear that he's doing OK but but very similar to yourself there's struggles but he feels the love and he thinks about it on the regular but it's very important that he's still with us.
Yeah, it's true. It's all we can do. Again, it was months and months of recovery where I couldn't move well so I didn't have the luxury of going out and all you can say is, "OK, I'm still here and there's a reason." Regardless of all the broken bones and all the pain and suffering but thank you to the Big Man up there for looking out. Hopefully he's taking care of Dave (Z) and Janet (Rains) up there.
Yes, I'm sure he is. I actually had a personal relationship with David, through his bands. I'd known him for many years so that was very hard on me personally but that was one of the reasons I wanted to go to TSO so bad. It was, kind of, a closure thing and I wanted to say hi to Russell and see everything and they made a very nice mention to him which gave you the feels but it was wonderful.
Dave was one of the sweetest souls I've ever met, period. Laughing all day long, always joking around, he was an amazing person. As was Janet, she was a dear, dear friend and is missed.
Of course, there has been so much sadness when it came for that incident. If you don't mind me asking, how did David join the band? Did you have some kind of history with him?
Ya know, I didn't. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing him that long, unfortunately. Russell had brought him in, after the album was done. We needed a bass player, so he came in after We The People was done, so right before the tour, well right before the album wrapped and went to press. Yeah, I didn't have that pleasure of knowing him that long, unfortunately.
Absolutely, I can understand that. You also mention Janet so why don't you take a second to let everyone know about your relationship with her.
Oh, I've known her for years. She was one of the nicest, sweetest people. Geez, I can't say enough beautiful things about her. Occasionally, I would do these one-offs with her of like 80s music. She loved that stuff. We did a USO tour and went and played for the troops in Honduras and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and did a lot of fun things together. I've just known her for years and she was a ray of light. Always super positive and a really great talent, beautiful voice and a beautiful person.
And, to put a little bow on this, for the time being, with Adrenaline Mob before we kick right into Stereo Satellite. At the moment, is there anything you can tell us about if Adrenaline Mob will continue or if you have plans in the future with the guys?
Right now, I'm just 1000% Stereo Satellite. It's so hard for me to look back right now. It's a very painful thing for me so the only thing I can do is look forward and I'm very grateful, like I said, to still be here and doing this and to have this amazing opportunity with my new band members and my new band. So, right now, I have to move forward, it's to hard to look back.
Absolutely, Mike. We're gonna keep this a positive as possible.
Awe, thanks, man.
So, Stereo Satellite, you guys debut next week with Shiprocked.
Yeah, what an exciting thing and an honor to have such an incredible venue have you and get to debut this great new band. I'm so thankful.
So, it's yourself and your guys, Lukas (Rossi) and John (Moyer) and Jordan (Cannata,) your Adrenaline Mob band mate, it's such an amazing situation that you've got going.
Yes, I feel blessed.
So, I'm under the impression that you've been working on Stereo Satellite for the last couple of years, is that true?
Yeah, I started it around 2014, 2015 and unfortunately, you get called back to the main job at the time and gig of Adrenaline Mob and I always kept it top priority when it was being done so it was tough. I always had to put it on the back burner but there was a ton of songs. I had completed almost an album and a half to two albums of material and just kept it on the back burner but after the accident a few months went by and it was just like, "OK, what do I do? I'm losing my mind." And, I had to turn to music. So, it took every ounce of me just to press the play button and start listening to the songs again. Then I called John Moyer, my buddy, one of my best friends and not only from Adrenaline Mob but just as one of my dearest friends. I said, "I've got to do this." and he was like, "Without a doubt. Let's do this." He always loved the music and jumped at the opportunity for us to do something again and that's where it started, that was the reset button. We were looking for singers and a mutual friend turned us on to Lukas and what can I say, I saw one video, "Hello" from Lukas, the Adele cover and my mouth dropped to the floor. It was stunning. Within two days he sang a track, at least what vocals were on the track, the tracks and I was like, "Do your own thing, man. This is our band now. This is our music, a true collaboration." He sent us back "Glass Houses" and oh my God! This guy is amazing and here we are. Not only is he an amazing singer, he's an amazing person and he is, for myself, as a collaborator, he is truly the best writing partner that I've ever had the honor to connect with.
That's awesome, man. How did Jordan fit into this puzzle?
Yeah, so then there's the three and looking for the four. He's my boy from Adrenaline Mob. He came on board in Adrenaline Mob, a complete unknown, nobody knew him and he was a recommendation and we took a chance on him the kid's one of the greatest drummers I've ever seen in my life. As well as one of the nicest people. So, that's a lot. You really want great people around you, the positivity and just want to make the situation better and that's Jordan, he's an incredible talent and that kid's gonna be one of the most popular drummers on the planet very soon because he's breathtaking.
But, you've got him right now.
That's right. There was no other choice for myself. Jordan is a beast and he came down and laying down the tracks, he's a one-taker. He bangs them out and you just go, "Jesus Christ!." [Laughs] And that's it, there was our Stereo Satellite Fab Four, our little family was complete.
So, having this music that you've been sitting on for a while and then having it pushed into the forefront to where you really need it to get you back centered, with the release of "Glass Houses" that must have been really exciting for you to have new music out.
It was. This band literally saved me in many ways. No doubt, I have no shame in saying that. I was in the darkest place of my life and just complete blackness and getting to collaborate with Lukas and make this music and form this band with John and Jordan. His voice alone, just hearing it, saved me in many ways. It just gave me that hope. It showed that something good is going on here out of something so horrific in my life, that time period. I feel blessed and I couldn't be more thankful to him for that and my band members. Everyone involved in this, band and crew.
When it comes to the release of a full album is there any information that you're able to tell us right now?
Yeah know, right now, I think we're excited about the Shiprocked debut and then we're going to come back and it's right into the studio. We easily have two albums of material so it's going to be a battle. We're going to record it all and a battle to see what songs make it and, I think, we're gonna shoot for coming out in late Spring. As quick as we can. The whole setup time for setting up an album is a few months so it's gonna be real soon. Then we're gonna hit the ground running and I hope to be touring as soon as possible. Everywhere we can.
Oh absolutely and for what it's worth, I strongly hope that you will consider Baltimore again. I'd love to see you, say hey again and see the new project.
I love Baltimore. And, when it comes to touring, I always say to people, music is life and so is touring. For me, there's no better connection and everywhere I've been there's been nothing but great fans so I'm eternally grateful for it and I can't wait to get to each and every city again.
Considering that you're going right off of Shiprocked and into the studio, do you have any rough plans for your second single or do you have an idea what song that may be?
Yeah know, we're not sure yet. We just had a big meeting about it last night with the band and talking. Ya know, our heads are spinning. [Laughs] It's tough because there's so many great songs that we feel that we're so passionate about. So, our heads are spinning a little. [Laughs] We're not sure.
With the announcement of the formation of this band, there was a lot of buzz about you guys. I can only imagine how that must have felt.
It feels great. Again, it feels great for so many reasons for me. There's so many emotional things going on that I'm dealing with that, my God, it takes me away sometimes, it takes my breath away. But, the guys in this band are all phenomenal and total pros. Lukas, John and Jordan as well, even though he's a newcomer, this is a lineup that I'm super proud of.
With everybody being vets in the music business, one of the terms tha, of course, gets thrown around with new bands is "supergroup." I, personally, have never been a big fan of "supergroup." I don't really like the term because, to me, "supergroup" pretty much means that the band could be done in five minutes and we don't want you to be done in five minutes.
No, you'll never hear the word "project" come out of this camp. This is a band, we're in this for the long haul. I don't mind if people label it that, that's fine. Maybe we can break the mold because we will definitely be sticking around. There's no plans for us to be doing anything else in the near future. So, "supergroup" is fine, I'm not a fan of it but I don't knock anyone for their opinion. We'll get out there and time will prove.That's all. [Laughs]
Getting back to your debut on Shiprocked, will you have multiple sets during that time or do you have one show?
No, we're just doing one, big debut show. That's it. We're gonna go out there and leave our every ounce of everything on that stage. [Laughs] We're just excited, we're just excited to get out there and finally, officially launch this thing.
Absolutely, Mike. You should make some of the people on your crew bring some Go-Pros so when you release the record you can release a little DVD of your first show.
Yeah, I think there's going to be some of that going on. I can't say exactly but I know that we're going to definitely capture the moment some how.
And, one more thing for you, just as far as the band itself. Not only for the healing, being together with your brothers and for the music that you're gonna give to us, what in a big picture way would you like to see this band accomplish? Ya know, it doesn't have to be about money, it doesn't have to be this, that or the other thing, this is a Mike Orlando answer about Stereo Satellite and what you want.
I feel I just want this to get to where it belongs, to where it deserves. I feel the music is so strong and it's the best stuff I've ever done. I've put my heart and soul into it and you're right, it's not about money. I just want to get out there and to be able to play for all the great fans and be able to take this all over the world and make music and just get back to what I do. This is no B-plan, there is no B-plan, this is what I do, this is my life and my heart only tells me one thing and this is Stereo Satellite to me. So, I just want to continue and make great music and make fans happy with music, man. It's the best part of music, putting a smile on people's faces.
Mike, thank you so much for taking some time for me, man. This was a real pleasure and I was very excited for the opportunity to speak with you again.
Oh, anytime. Same here and again thank you for the support, it means the world to us. Thank you very much.
Mike, how was the trip in?
It's been good, man. The tours been going great, Drowning Pool and Full Devil Jacket have been killing it. We've been having a great time.
How long's the tour?
Just about a month but then we continue to go. We keep going with Full Devil Jacket, then we keep going by ourselves until May 1st and then we head over to South American for a while and then come back. A lot of touring and I'm glad to be doing it.
So after you get done touring with Drowning Pool do you switch to the headlining role?
Yeah I believe so but we'll figure it out. We've got the few shows with them and then the rest will be just with us.
Where did you guys play last night?
Last night was Clarkesville, Tennessee. It was great and a hell of a loud crowd.
So you've had some recent lineup changes. You had John Moyer leave and you had Eric (Leonhardt) step in. How's he fitting in?
He's great and the funny thing about Eric is I started the band with him even before Russell (Allen) was in it. It came full circle. I had started this whole Adrenaline Mob thing being called Adrenaline Fueled Junkies and it was with me and Eric. Then we dissolved that because he had to do some Tantric stuff, I needed to forge on, Russell stepped in and it became Adrenaline Mob. But it's funny how it came full circle I don't remember if it was 2009 or 2010, it was 2009 I was working with Eric, but now he's back. He's a great friend of mine, he's an amazing addition and he's just a bad ass in every way.
How did A.J. Pero come into the picture?
I've known A.J. for about twenty-something years. I've played with him and we even live on the same block in Staten Island. So I've known him forever and it was real simple we were looking to do the Men of Honor album and everything was written but we really couldn't find that right drummer who we liked. So A.J. came in and did a track. He was only supposed to do one track on the album and absolutely killed this track called "Gets You Through The Night" and I remember Russ and Moyer were like, "That's it! Right there!" so it was real easy and laid back. A.J. had always been telling us that he'd wanted to be in the band.
With Twisted Sister doing more festivals and one-offs was A.J. looking for a band to call home?
Yeah sure but what we realized withAdrenaline Mob is the home is me and Russell, that's the Adrenaline Mob. We're glad to have Eric now and we hope to have him for the entire span of what Adrenaline Mob is but at the end of the day it's me and Russ and whoever comes in and plays we are honored to play with them and if they have to go off and do other stuff or if they stay and play that's great too. I'm honored to have played with Mike Portnoy and John Moyer and all the guys, even Rich Ward who we did a tour with before the album even came out. It's been great to play with everyone in this band.
Is everything on good terms with John Moyer because you know how people talk when members leave bands and it seemed like there were some strange circumstances to him leaving.
John's still one of my closest friends actually. I work with him all the time. As a matter of fact I fly home for a week and John flies to my studio so me and John are buddies and he produces a lot of bands and he brings them to my studio so I'm actually doing a new album with John as producer at my Sonic Stomp Studios where I do all the Adrenaline Mob stuff. I'm engineering, mixing and mastering this eighteen song concept album for this band he's producing so I love John, he's my boy.
What do you have lined up for new music? Are you working on anything or are you concentrating on supporting the more recent releases?
We're out here to support Men of Honor and Dearly Departed, our new EP album, so we plan on supporting that this year and then next year we'll look to put out a new album since we've pretty much put out a record each year. It's just been working out that way. I don't plan it, I just go home and start writing and then eventually me and Russ will get together in 2016 at some point.
How far back do you go with Russell?
It's funny, I met Russ in like 2005 and we started working on something completely different. It was a totally different project, it was like some metal project we were looking to do. It spanned like three years because he was doing Symphony X and I was touring a lot with my Instrumental band Sonic Stomp so I was doing a lot of over seas gigs like touring China for a month, I'd go to Germany, I'd go to Japan for three weeks so I'd be doing this and he was busy with Symphony X.
Finally when I dissolved the lineup of Adrenaline Fueled Junkies all those songs were still there and they became 90% of the Omerta record. So we took all that music and I brought it to Russ and brought him a couple of tracks and told him that I think he'd be cool singing in a rock band. He's from prog (progressive rock/metal) but I've never heard him do this kind of stuff and he just knocked out a couple songs and boom that was it. Everybody started flipping and we had the record companies saying that we had to get a band behind us and we got Portnoy involved and he joined the band and it was great. That's how it came about.
So A.J. has recorded with you but has Eric recorded with you?
Yeah, Eric's recorded a few tracks on Dearly Departed. He plays on the song "Dearly Departed" which is on the radio, and "Tie Your Mother Down" and "Snortin' Whiskey."
Did A.J. record all of Men of Honor and Dearly Departed?
Yes, he recorded all the drum tracks for Men of Honor and Dearly Departed.
All-in-all how do you feel about this child of yours known as Adrenaline Mob? What has it brought to you?
I love it. Oh what hasn't it brought to me? We've toured the world continuous times and we continue to do this. Being in a band with my partner Russ, he's a phenomenal singer and one of the greatest singers in rock right now and we have a blast. Right now it's been phenomenal and we've only just begun so we're looking forward to a nice long career with this and wherever it takes us it takes us.
Mike, thanks so much for sitting down and talking about all things Adrenaline Mob.
Thank you and everyone go out and check out Dearly Departed and we'll be in a town near you.