The PEACEMAKER and the Zombie Sheriff
Those familiar with Heaven's Metal magazine over the decades know we've never been content to sit in our church pew and not interact with the world around us. The fact is that the world out there is hurting and needs christians to show love to them. You may even remember our series "What So and So Says," where we conversed with many a mainstream band about matters of metal and faith. Our fearless leader Doug Van Pelt published a couple volumes of those interviews in Rock Stars on God on HM Press. For the conscientious listener, we always try to clue you in when we do reviews, interviews, etc. that fall into the "of interest to christians" category. Enough said.
Peacemaker is a new band made up of veteran musicians, releasing their debut Concrete and Terror this month on Matt Hunt's newest imprint for mainstream releases, Brutal Planet Records. It was great to talk to singer Ronny Munroe. Gone are the long black locks, but this is still the powerful singer who has fronted Metal Church and Trans- Siberian Orchestra. What do you get when you get when you're channel surfing late night between classic metal videos, a western, and The Living Dead? Are you ready for Peacemaker and the Zombie Sheriff J.P. Diggs?
Ronny, I've seen you quite a few times with Metal Church, but quite honestly, I had no idea the extent of your musical career. What made you fall in love with heavy metal, and how did you start your singing career? What bands have you sang for?
I started on drums around 9 or 10 years of age and then became a singer at 17 after hearing "Man On The Silver Mountain" on the local radio station. My love for metal began at an early age , I used to sneak into my sisters room when she was gone and listen to her records. She had Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad, Jethro Tull and such. Black Sabbath is still one of my faves. I have sang for a few bands in my career, some of them are Metal Church, TSO, Lillian Axe, Brutal Gods and now PEACEMAKER. What singers inspire you? And what is it about them, or their performance, that made them masters of their craft? I would have to say Ian Gillian, Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury. They are all different kinds of singers style wise and they are and were all great on stage. What have been some of the best moments of your career, when you've been the proudest of what you've accomplished, or how high you've reached? I think that TSO had to be the biggest highlight. Playing sold out coliseums is the biggest high there is. There will also some cool moments in MC as well, like when we were finally in Euro and American MTV and playing the festivals over seas. Which is more fulfilling for you- the live performance, or recording an album? I like both, but if I had to pick...live. Is it more difficult to walk into an established band, like Metal Church or whoever, try to fill someone's shoes, and stay within a trademark sound- or to start a band from scratch, building it up from the ground, but have creative control? I think it depends on the person and how they handle things. I was fine with coming in and replacing Dave and Mike because I had the confidence that I could fill the role. I also knew before coming in that I would be under the microscope and prepared myself for that. Fortunately there wasn't much of that. Is the above question even a choice, or do you just have to take what's offered you as a musician trying to pay his bills, and keep aspiring for more? You always should aspire for more and never just take something because you think you have to. You have to your heart into what your creating. In today's climate of dwindling royalties and stealing downloads, how does a band build and grow a fanbase? You have to tour and have a very strong internet presence to survive but mostly by touring And for the fans' part- how can we help promote great quality metal music? Does buying music from certain places (physical or digital) matter? Or is it concert attendance and radio play that helps the most? Its a mixture of all of that ... but you really have to have LOYAL fans that will help promote you and get your music sold. It's also imperative that the label you are on pushes the band on a content basis. On to your current band Peacemaker. The band is made up of all veteran players in the metal scene. How did this band come together? Riff and I started talking about writing some songs and that's how it all started. When the time was right we put the other guys in place and recorded a very solid record, musically and sonically. I'm very proud of this record and the guys involved. Where'd you come up with the name Peacemaker? Sounds ominous- like you could be referring to God, or the Colt 45 was nicknamed "the Peacemaker" in the Old West, wasn't it? It reminds me of a song from another band I just interviewed -Bride- a song they did in 1991 called "Hired Gun" about a crazed killer who went around telling his victims "I hope you and Jesus got it all worked out" just before he killed them. Ha, ha! Hmm...I just thought it was a cool name Zombie Sheriff J.P Diggs- where'd that character come from? Is he the mascot? Will he make an appearance on stage, like Eddie for Iron Maiden? Is there a Walking Dead fan in the band? I think there is going to be something cool showing up when we get out and play these songs. We wait with baited breath. I've heard a few songs from the album, and it sounds great! What's your favorite song, and what are your plans for the band- touring, festivals, more albums, etc? I really don't have a fave at the moment. I dig listening to it all as a whole. Is Peacemaker your only band at the moment, or do you have other musical outings in the works? No, I have Munroe's Thunder which is managed by my Beautiful wife J Von and I am also working on some singles that will be coming out as well. Keep watching my sites. What would be your dream lineup for a tour billing? Would love to open for Metallica We like to think rock and roll lasts forever, but the motto is sex, drugs, and rock, and roll, and living destructive lives has prematurely ended the lives of many, many musicians. How do you avoid the pitfalls of the industry as a career musician? Yes, we have lost way too many great artists to addiction and overdoses and also suicide. It does not have to be that way....be healthy, think healthy, stay healthy... You live in the Seattle area. As someone who plays a traditional metal style, has Seattle ever overcome the stigma of being the birthplace of grunge? I guess it never seemed to hurt Queensryche's rep (lol). The band Bloodgood lives up in Washington state, too. I actually live in Rhode Island now, but I am from Seattle. Seattle will always be the birth place for grunge and that's ok. It will also always be the birthplace of the others you mentioned including Heart and Rail. I took my first vocal lesson from Les Carlson of Bloodgood back in the 80's. Good singer. Anything else you'd like to say, Ronny? Your voice is a powerful gift, and I'm glad we'll be able to hear it in a new band. Great talking to ya. Best of luck. Please tell us when and where we can find Peacemaker- Concrete and Terror and any pre-order details. Thanks for having me Chris, I appreciate it. You can pre-order the new PeaceMaker from Matthew Hunt and Brutal Planet records. Release date is Sept.28th. Metal Horns!!!