A Talk With
MIKE FLYNTZ (Guitars)
Questionnaire by Stefan
The legendary US Metal band Riot now goes through life as Riot V, founder and guitarist Mark Reale died at the age of 56 from the effects of Crohn's disease in 2012. This fallen guitar wizard was last heard on Riot’s album number 17 called “Immortal Souls”, it also meant the end of the existence of the band which lasted nearly 40 years ! They have now been re-established under the band name Riot V featuring both old and new members, the new album “Unleash The Fire” was recently released on the well-known German record company SPV/Steamhammer and the honour is mine to speak with guitarist Mike Flyntz who teamed up with Riot founder Mark Reale back in 1986. Let’s talk about the past and present days, I also like to know all about these guys’ future plans.
Q: Hi Mike, thanks for your precious time doing this interview for Metal To Infinity webzine. You’ve entered the Riot camp back in 1989, how did you get to this legendary band?
A: I went to college with a guy named John Dunne in 1984. We became friends and it turned out he was the first cousin of Mark Reale. We went to see Riot together in 1984. I met the band and got their autographs. They were great.
I be came a big fan and played Riot songs with my cover band. In 1989 John called and said Mark was looking for a guitarist. I was the first and only audition. 6 weeks later I was in Japan supporting the Thundersteel record.
Q: How were the first weeks and months with Riot, tell me about please?
A: Mark came over my house and taught the tunes. I worked for about a month and then rehearsals started. The band was so professional. Everyone was larger then life and I was very nervous. Japan treated us like the Beatles (RIOTMANIA) and the shows were a huge success. We then did a U.S. Tour that wasn't so glamourous. 6 month later we returned to Japan and it was another great tour.
Q: The first album you’ve recorded with Riot must have been the masterful “Thundersteel” album, correct?
A: No. 1994 Nightbreaker
Q: Those days you’ve entered the Riot ranks, they had already brought out a few masterly cuts like “Narita”, “Fire Down Under” and “Restless Breed”. Through the years, first singer Guy Speranza was replaced by Rhett Forrester, can you tell me for what reason basically?
A: Guy became a born again christian and decided to leave the rock world to be with his family. I never met him unfortunately.
Q: Did you ever met these guys in person?
A: I did meet Rhett at a Riot show in 1984 and then again after he left the group and came to see us with Tony singing in Texas.
Q: Rhett passed away after a mysterious carjacking back in Atlanta 1994, Mr. Speranza died in 2003 at the age of 47 by pancreatic cancer. The loss of special people is always a hard pill to swallow, how did you dealt with this painful situation.
A: I was shocked but I didn't really know them so it was like losing a hero as just a fan. Still very sad and upsetting.
Q: I have to say that the last Riot album featuring Mark Reale entitled “Immortal Soul” could enchant me again after quite a long time. This one brought back the feel of good old Riot in full glory. An album that makes me happy and well-disposed – an effort where Mark Reale’s world class guitar skills can be heard for the very last time which makes me very distressed instead. What memories will you always keep on the collaboration with this great musician?
A: Mark wrote for Immortal Soul but didn't really get to play much on the actual recording. As his health was deteriorating he pushed me to go and record all the guitars with the hope he would get better and record his parts. He never was able to do that. I tried to copy his style. I could never play certain things as good as he could.
Q: The band name Riot came to an end at the request of his father. Will you tell me some more on that?
A: Tony Reale asked me to continue with Riot so his sons music would never die. He suggested a slight name change to acknoledge that Mark was gone. He approved RIOT V.
Q: Now the band goes on by the name Riot V because Todd Michael Hall is the fifth original singer in the history of Riot. First on, why did Riot’s fourth vocalist Tony Moore called it quits?
A: Tony didn't like touring and was always pressured by the rest of the band to go out on the road. He hated being away from his wife.
Q: With all respect and highest dignity for the all Riot’s former frontmen, my appreciation for Todd is interminable. According to myself, one of the greatest singers I’ve heard over the last few years. In what ways you teamed up with him?
A: Bart Gabriel suggested him. He sang on a few tunes from Immortal Soul and we loved it. We actually posted those demos on Facebook for a week and nobody knew it wasn't Tony. Ha Ha
Q: Is Todd still active in Both US Metal acts Jack Starr’s Burning Starr and Reverence?
Q: Along with bassist Don Van Stavern, both of you are the only survivors from the good old days of Riot. Please introduce the new guys in action.
A: Nick Lee is a former student of mine and current teacher at my music school. He is the closest guitarist to me besides Mark. I've worked with him for ten years and now it's hard for me to keep up with him. He's brilliant and is one with his instrument. Frank played drums on Army of One and was very close to Mark. A great drummer and was my only choice after Bobby J decided not to continue. Todd is just a force of nature and a sweet man besides.
Q: Riot V’s new album “Unleash The Fire” was first released in Japan in August 2014 followed by the European release through SPV/Steamhammer 2 month later on. What about the first reactions coming in from these two continents?
A: I think people were shocked that we were able to put out a good record given the circumstanses. We were on a mission to prove ourselves. Also this record was made to honor Mark and we had to deliver something great for him.
Q: Who may designate himself as the author of the lyrics these days – where are most of the topics based on?
A: Todd and Don wrote most of the lyrics. Frank and I each wrote one song lyric. Most of the tunes were honoring Mark and the Riot legacy.
Q: The first album after the death of Mark Real must give a very special feeling deep down inside, right? Can you express how much this new album means to you Mike?
A: A lot of emotions on this record for obvious reasons. I know their should be no crying in metal but we shed a lot of tears. It was very difficult. The fans let us know how much this album means to them. For me it is bitter sweet. I wish Mark was here and I miss him dearly. I think we made a great record for him.
Q: Are you pleased with the final result?
A: Most musicians are never truly satisfied. I think I could have done better but overall given the situation I am very proud.
Q: Metal To Infinity co-editor Officer Nice’s review for “Unleash The Fire” has already been posted online. You've already had a chance to read the article?
A: I'm sorry not yet but I will.
Q: You’re way of pulling strings still sounds as usual, full technical and melodic all the way out. Now that I get the chance I would like to ask when you've taken a lightning guitar in hands for the first time – who has inspired you and for what reason?
A: Thank you. I love Eddie Van Halen, Al Dimeola, Steve Morse, Jimmy Page, Brian May, Michael Schenker, Gary Moore, Randy Rhodes, Richie Blackmore, SRV and of course Mark Reale. There are many more.
Q: Do you have a certain preference for a guitar/amplifier brand name?
A: Gibson Les Paul, Kramer Pacer, Marshall type amps and an Ibanez tube screamer. That’s the Riot sound.
Q: What about the live performances at the moment, how the current setlist looks like? I guess you guys are very busy at the moment giving the best of yourselves on stage, right?
A: Trying to book tours but it is very difficult to find shows that we don't lose money on. It is a very difficult time now to tour.
Q: Can we expect the Riot V train passing by in Europe soon?
A: We are trying to find something now.
Q: Since you are active at Riot, are there certain moments that you will cherish forever?
A: The first Japan Tour will always be remembered. I was a young kid and it was my first time to see what it was like to be a “rockstar” Ha. Also Mark was sick for a show in Belgium and couldn't perform. It was the first time I played with Riot without Mark and we did pretty good. Spain and Greece are always amazing too.
Q: Approaching the end of each interview, I usually like to ask for the future plans… feel free to speak about Mike?
A: We are trying to book shows we could afford. Then a new record with some Reale songs I have statshed away.
Q: Glad to have you hear at Metal To Infinity webzine, therefore my deepest respect and dignity. Maybe you want to speak some last words before we let the curtain whirl down… Thank You !
A: Thank you Metal to Infinity. Without you and the fans there is no Riot. I truly thank you for your support.