Interview with Corners of Sanctuary
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Mick Michaels: My family was into music...my older brother played guitar and performed in bands and so did my grandfather. He played multiple instruments and performed in string bands and with the Philadelphia Mummers back in the day. Music seemed to be always on growing up. My father loved the Beatles and Do Wop and my uncle enjoyed RnB and Motown. So there was a lot of diversity. I knew I wanted to be in a band...it just seemed normal to me.
I think if I didn’t go the music route I would have been a painter or an illustrator. I have a degree in Fine Art which gives me license to paint and live in a warehouse or a garage.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Mick Michaels: I enjoy time with my family...going out to dinner and watching movies. I also enjoy taking walks and breathing in nature. It all is inspiring. Doing things you love and enjoy creates this circle of inspiration...it’s a positive place to be.
How long has your band been around?
Mick Michaels: Corners of Sanctuary formed in early 2011...so we are in our 11th year and counting.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Mick Michaels: We are from the fighting city of Philadelphia. Philly has a long and rich music history. Back in the 80s, the Metal scene in Philly was on fire, so many great bands and they all had some level of impact on me...even moreso in some ways than the major acts did. It was right there, a stone’s throw away and we were in it...a part of it. Lots of those bands moved on to become bigger acts nationwide and that was inspirational. I still have that picture clear in my mind and refer to it often as a point of reference as I continue on this journey.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Mick Michaels: Corners of Sanctuary” are places each of can go to be who we really are without ridicule or judgment from the outside world. They are places where we can really shine and be who we want to be…or dream to be. For us, music is a “corner of sanctuary,” and we just share that corner with others and hope that they enjoy it as much as we do.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Mick Michaels: Back in 2017, opening for UDO in Philadelphia. We call it our Cinderella story. We felt like we had arrived to the ball...that night we were both fan and performer. Seeing UDO do all the classic Accept songs was amazing. Opening for him was even more amazing....that was an 80s Metalhead kid’s dream come true. But by midnight it was all over...we were back to being just some band...it was all pumpkins the rest of the night...I even got a parking ticket...haha!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Mick Michaels: Playing the Whisky Ago-go has always been a great time. There is so much history and energy to that place...you can’t help but get lost in it.
Definitely would like to get to Madison Square Garden someday...but who doesn’t...“We are the music makers and we are the dreamer of dreams.”
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Mick Michaels: Corners of Sanctuary, Judas Priest, Accept and Kiss.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Mick Michaels: Do what is true to your heart...don’t be something you’re not...that’s not sustainable long term. For a music artist...play what you want, what resonants with you...play the music you want to hear and listen to...and don’t let others tell you different...always follow your heart.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Mick Michaels: Same as above. Always, always, always...be true to yourself. Don’t waste time worrying about what others think or say and spending time trying to fit into some else’s mold is futile.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Mick Michaels: I think they all mean something to me...as each is part of me at some particular time in my life. Of course, that is what you would expect an artist to say. But to narrow that down to one or two is tough...it’s like asking a parent who your favorite child is...I guess for some that is possible but for me it’s not.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Mick Michaels: I really enjoy playing “Hellequin.” It’s just a hard driving song from start to finish...I always have a good time performing that song.
“On the Hunt” is one of our most popular and requested songs. The chorus has a basic format but the audience always chimes in.... That’s a very amazing feeling...seeing and hearing your song sung by so many. We have definitely been very fortunate.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Mick Michaels: Anymore, I find that anything and everything offer some level of inspiration. The trick is to be aware of it. If you are only looking for inspiration in certain things then you are missing out on everything else.
For songwriting, we usually start with a riff or even at times, just a word or two and that gets things moving forward. From there it’s just a matter of time until everyone puts their stamp on the song...that’s what makes it Corners of Sanctuary.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Mick Michaels: Definitely a personal/self empowerment one. We do write a lot about war and battle but moreso as a metaphor for overcoming challenges and bettering one’s self. I think for the most part, songs should be positive and uplifting, even if there is somewhat of a dark side to the context or subject matter.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Mick Michaels: Absolutely...who doesn’t? With any relationship, there are going to disagreements...there’s always ups and downs. But that’s normal really. Disagreements for the most part are just different perspectives...we look at them as opportunities to get a bigger picture of things. Not always easy I must add, and there have been times where it seems like we are in gridlock. But then we all go, “What’s best for the music?” and that usually provides the answer.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Mick Michaels: At the moment we have a host of shows scheduled including the Keep it Metal Fest this September, our 4x4 Tour in October and opening for TRAPT in November. We are also in the studio working on two projects; a new EP titled “This is Metal” and our next full-length album titled “Vengeance of the Fallen,” both looking to release next year. We are also starting to put together shows dates for 2023.
Thanks so much for spending this time with me, it was a pleasure talking. Appreciate all the support! All my best, be safe...COSnROLL\m/\m/
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