“What would Bruce do?”
In the pantheon of New England metal bands, when I was coming of age in this business, there was one band that stood apart from the rest. In 1992 there was really only one powerhouse local metal act: Hammersmyth. “In a dark room” was a triumph of the local music scene. The one thing that stood out on that album, besides the impressive musicianship, was the searing, over-the-top vocals of Marc Lopes.
Marc is a vocalist who lives and breathes the philosophy of metal. His dedication to his fans and his art is unmatched — onstage and off, metal is his life. His vocal prowess can be heard on several projects and his talented singing style recently landed him a gig with none other than national recording artist Meliah Rage. Currently, he performs in Hellspeak, Meliah Rage, and Metal101. The Hellspeak album, “The Slaughter Rule of Agony” is one of the best local CDs I have come across and it rocks from start to finish. Lopes took a few moments from his busy, metal-making world to speak with me. I found him to be genuine and truly passionate about his music, the fans, and heavy metal in all its forms.
Tell me about the live shows coming up with Hellspeak, I know the first gig is June 21st at Axle’s Rock House in Connecticut?
It’s going to be great. We have 4 to 5 new Hellspeak songs in a heavier vein that we are also working on. We won’t do the mellower tunes for that show.
Will there be a tour with Meliah Rage?
Not this year. The guitar player just shattered his wrist. So we won’t tour with this album until next year. That band has had a stream of bad luck this year.
How did Meliah Rage get a hold of you?
Through a friend, Jonathan Jacobs, who has worked with them and Fate’s Warning. He recommended me and they checked out a You Tube video from another band with me in it. They called me up and had me send in songs. My audition was recording “These Scars” — that song appeared on a compilation album.
Besides Hellspeak, Meliah Rage, and Metal 101, are you working on any other projects?
Yes. Actually, another band in the vein of Nevermore and Soilwork; and a few other things. I’m trying to stay busy.
When do you sleep?
Ha ha. Well, you know — I nap a lot.
Do you do anything special to keep your voice in shape?
I rehearse every day. I go to the gym every day, I work, and I rehearse. I have a vocal routine that I do. I have a regimen.
Did you take lessons?
I took lessons for years. I have a vocal coach, Jaime, who I have been with for years. After singing for thirty years you just get your own thing that works for you.
How do you feel the metal scene holds up in New England?
There are a lot of bands. It’s cool. But I would like to see them do your own thing — there are too many bandwagon bands. But at least they are out there.
How do you feel about social media in regards to the industry?
Obviously no one of a five block radius would know you without social media. It is tremendous for young bands. I wish I had it when I was younger. I think a lot of us wish we had it when we were younger. On the other hand, It hurts the attention span. It’s about ten seconds now. Other than that I love it. I use it every day.
What is the craziest thing that ever happened to you at a gig?
Well just recently at a metal 101 show we had this girl onstage that wouldn’t get off. She was doing cartwheels and throwing shot glasses and yelling into the microphone. We didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to be rude because she was having a good time.
Favorite band growing up?
There is only one. Iron Maiden
O.K then let’s talk Maiden. “Hallowed be thy name” or “Fear of the dark”?
“Hallowed be thy name”. You know it’s not even close. I am a big fan of all Maiden does. A band that after 30 years can continue to reinvent themselves, and yet stay with the realm of what they do, is amazing. Brilliant. And a band that still, after all this time, records live. Bruce Dickinson is my motivator for life. I have a saying. If I’m having a bad day I just say “What would Bruce Do?
Oh yeah. We have not even tried to shop the band yet. We just put it out there and wanted to see what people thought. The response was way more than I could have asked for. So now we will push it forward. More than likely, we might go and do a fundraiser thing to raise money for the next cd. Some people will say it’s like begging but it’s not. You’re providing a product. Like pre-ordering a cd. So I don’t think that fundraising is like begging. You will be part of it. There is nothing wrong with it and the band gets to stay true to itself.
If you could sing with any other band who would it be?
Helloween. All of it. I love the Michael Kiske version of Helloween, but the last 4 or 5 albums lately, have been fantastic.
Any advice to aspiring musicians?
Get a real job to survive. Get an education. Do something besides music. Play because you’re passionate about it. You should always have a plan A-minus. I don’t believe in plan B. That is what I recommend. There is no money to be made in music, it’s an expensive hobby. I do Metal 101(metal tribute band) because I love the music but it also keeps my voice in top shape.
Anything on your iPod that metal fans might not expect?
One of my favorite non-metal bands is Muse. I like some of their stuff. I listen to so much different kinds of metal. I’m also a big fan of Barry Manilow.
Anything you want to say to the fans?
I can’t thank them enough. I promise to stay true to what I do, and there will be tons more stuff. Without them I am nothing. Thank you.
Bryan Martin is a rock journalist and lifelong East Providence resident. He has played guitar professionally for the past 30 years, but while guitar playing may be his first love, writing about music is his passion. Bryan is married with 4 kids; you can see more of his work at Ripplemusic.blogspot.com.