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  • Writer's pictureMetal Allegiance

10 Years of Metal Allegiance

Crazy to think about this... 10 years! Let's go back in time and do a quick recap of the year 2014 with me (Mark Menghi), shall we?


January 22, 2014 was the last time "Metal Masters" performed (at the old) House of Blues in Anaheim, CA. For those that don't know, Metal Masters was something I created during my time with Samson/Hartke. We did 5 of them (all in different locations in the US). It was a series of "guitar/bass/drum clinics" roped in with an "all-star" jam (and then some). This particular one was Metal Masters 5 and featured a who's who of metal royalty:


Metal Masters 5 group photo at the old House of Blues (Anaheim, CA). Pictured L to R (Back row): Frank Bello, Kerry King, Billy Sheehan, Scott Ian, Philip Anselmo, Chuck Billy, Rex Brown, Jose Mangin (SiriusXM), Mike Portnoy (Bottom row): Chris Broderick, Charlie Benante, David Ellefson, Some young fan who won a guitar (hope he is doing well these days) and Mark Menghi.


Whats funny about Metal Masters 5 is I distinctly remember thinking to myself hours after the gig (trying to fall asleep) that was probably the last time we'll ever do this. At that point in time a lot was going on in my personal life. A lot... fast forward to the Spring of 2014 myself and Samson/Hartke parted ways and I was at a crossroads in life. I vowed I was done with the music business. I was simply burnt out.


Its now July of 2014, I remember sitting in a taco joint in my hometown of Long Island, NY right after the 4th of July and a light bulb went off in my head... METAL ALLEGIANCE. I had no idea what it meant, what it would become and how it would change my life, but I wrote that name down on a shitty used napkin. I remember going to the Chef aka Chef John (RIP dude, miss you) "Hey man, what do you think of this?" and I started rambling on what it could be and what Metal Masters once was... He looked at me and said "Awesome! Ya gotta do it."


About a month or so later after bouncing this idea of "Metal Allegiance" around in my head (and a few close friends), the phone call that changed it all happened. Dave Ellefson called me early on an August morning and said "Dude we're up to bat. Megadeth cancelled our appearance on the Motorboat" mind you, I was standing in my kitchen in flip-flops getting ready to head to the beach with my kids. That was the phone call that changed everything and Metal Allegiance was officially born...


The above photo is the fork I was using to eat that day at the beach after thinking long and hard about the phone call I had with Dave earlier in the day... my decision was made and well... this photo represents where my mind was at... its on.


Now that phone call was August of 2014 and I barely had any time to get Metal Allegiance together. I had to take all of my knowledge (the do's an dont's) from all those Metal Master shows, throw it in a blender and come up with something new to prepare for our first ever show(s) on Motörhead’s Motörboat in roughly a month and a half.


Metal Allegiance had nothing... no logo, no social media, no website, no official members, no songs, no set list, no financial backing, no merch, no money, no nothing... luckily, a lot of the dudes who played with Metal Masters in the past were already on the boat with their main bands. With that, myself, Portnoy, Dave and Chris Broderick flew out for what would be our first gig(s) as Metal Allegiance.



So from August of 2014 to the end of September we got it together... Metal Allegiance was built from the ground up and the seeds were planted, however, what happened on that boat changed everything. Yah, we were there as a last minute filler (thankfully), but the conversation that happened between gigs with Mike, Dave and myself was what changed it all...


There was a storm/hurricane happening and we could not stop at our first destination (Key West, FL). Instead the cruise ship circled Cuba a few times... a photo I took after the conversation Mike, Dave and I had (read below).


As we were circling Cuba the following morning (after our first of two gigs on the boat), myself, Mike and Dave were just hanging out, talking, etc... recapping the absolute rager of the first ever Metal Allegiance show from the night before and thats when Mike said "We should write a record" 🤯 Not thinking too much into it (at that moment), a casual conversation happened and on our way to Cozumel, Mexico we went... after being stranded on the boat for a few days, it was finally time to get to land and get off the drunk tank aka the Motorboat. hah That day was well spent with my dear friend, Darren "Bubbers" Sanders.


Darren "Bubbers" Sanders and I found the grungiest taco spot on Cozumel and we indulged in their local cuisine and drink.


On the walk back to the boat, one can say we were a little tuned up (to say the least), but again another pivotal moment in MA history happened... I meet Alex Skolnick (officially). Alex and I knew of each other but did not know each other. Alex, Mike, the Anthrax guys, Chuck Billy, Rex, etc... were all in the artist catering area eating and I storm in, straw hat and flip flops on, coconut drink in hand and point to Alex and go "Dude you're jamming with us tomorrow!" Word for word. That is how we officially met.


The following day MA played our second gig ever (this time with Alex) and that was a wrap... an absolutely mind-blowing experience that we somehow pulled off with zero time. After the gig, a lot of us said our goodbyes and thats when Mike, Dave and I reconvened for a few minutes to discuss the conversation from the day(s) prior on actually writing a record. Who would play guitar? What would it be? Is it all covers? Who wound sing? So many questions that none of us knew the answers to (at that point in time)… however, what I did do in the wee hours of the morning (hours before departing the boat for the airport) was leave Portnoy a message on his cabin door :-)


Myself and Dan Leo (the man that makes everything happen) made this work of art on Mike Portnoy's cabin door. Fun times.


At this point in time, we were all home from the cruise and everyone was to carry on with their lives… but the question I kept asking myself was “What now? Is that it? One and done?” Not knowing what could be or what the future holds... I sent a group text to Mike and Dave and said “Are we serious about writing a record?” After much dialogue between the three of us and about 72 hours from departing the boat we recruited Alex, writing dates for our debut album were booked for the first week of December (2014) at Mike’s house and as the saying goes…. The rest is history.


The first ever photo of the "Core4" L-R: Alex Skolnick, Mark Menghi, Mike Portnoy and David Ellefson at the local Red Robin (burger joint) in Coopersburg, PA. December 2nd 2014.


Here we are; 2 full length records, 1 EP, a ton of epic shows/tours all over the world later… it’s now 2024 and a LOT has happened/changed in the world since January of 2014. But Metal Allegiance still stands… not sure how, not sure why, but I am thankful for it. Almost 10 years to the date of Metal Masters 5 (Jan 22, 2014) we are back in Anaheim to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the mighty Metal Fuckin’ Allegiance on Jan 25, 2024.


As the saying goes, when one door closes another opens...


THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.


Hope to see you all in the pit on 1/25/24


MM



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