Catching up with Metal Church’s Craig Wells
I love Metal Church. Well, I love the David Wayne/Mike Howe eras. Seeing them in 89 was an awesome experience. When Mike Howe left the band, only the return of David Wayne could have kept me interested in them. Well, he rejoined the band and they put out Masterpeace which
unfortunately did not have Craig Wells on it. Fortunately though, Craig did play on David Wayne’s solo album which was called Metal Church. It was a good album overall!
Thanks to the internetz, I was able to catch up with Craig and he graciously agreed to answer some questions.
What/who was your main inspiration to pick up a guitar and what was your first guitar?
“When I was about ten my Father bought me a semi hollow body red Sears Silvertone guitar at a pawn shop in Seattle. I asked for it because I listened to records all the time, mostly Beatles songs..I just liked anything really, Smokey Robinson , Temptations, anything on the radio and available on vinyl…”
How did you end up in Metal Church? Did you know those guys beforehand and just decided to put a band together?
“Metal Church coming together is kind of complicated…We were school friends but I had moved away from the home town to Kent, which was not far from Seattle so to get together I had to drive 100 miles to rehearse. I knew everyone from school bands and after being a band then not being a band a few times, eventually it all came together. I saw Dave Wayne’s phone number on the wall in Guitar Center of Seattle, it was an ad he posted claiming he was the best singer in the North West! It said “I can sing Whole Lotta Love and hold the end note longer than any living being”.
Sounded good to me…. I called Dave and soon met up with him and we began writing some music in my families home. We wanted to get a band going but he was in work release from jail so every weekend he had to go back in or violate his parole so everything took a while to get going….soon Dave’s time was over and I convinced him to go with me to a rehearsal with the rest of the future MC members and it became MC soon after that. That was with David, Duke , Kirk , Kurdt and myself…David and I lived in the Kent area and the band was 100 miles away in Aberdeen so rehearsal was minimal in the beginning till the rest of the band came to the Kent area [or closer] and we then rehearsed in my Grandmothers garage, we rehearsed there for about five years, coming and going on tour …”
What are some of your favorite memories of those early days in the northwest metal scene?
“Many memories but we never had a whole lot of a club scene or metal scene, all of us in the band lived and worked far from the city in the early days, I drove delivery, Duke and Kirk worked in a shake mill, Dave was a nurse, and Kurdt still lived a hundred miles away in Aberdeen. We played our first Seattle gig at the Moore Theater it was the Headbangers Ball and not till after we had toured a couple years did anybody in Seattle even really know us…then we had many friends in our home base of Kent, they all lived close and they were the Kent Bangers, they were awesome friends, and of course we had a great time..We were outsiders all growing up in a logging town on the coast of Washington state called Aberdeen and Hoquiam.. so nobody in Seattle knew us.”
What Metal Church album are you most proud of?
“It is very hard to say I am most proud of one album over the other but I can say that the first album period was the most fun time in MC because we were making music as a band effort with us writing stuff that was inspiring to us and we worked together and everybody had input. I guess I pick the first MC album…It was recorded in only a couple weeks of overnight sessions.”
How did you end up on Sir Mix*A*Lot’s song Iron Man? (see video below)
“I ended up on playing Iron Man for Sir Mixalot solely because of Terry Date our joint producer…it was his idea and he asked me to track the guitar so I said sure, pay me with a bag of Dicks Cheese Burgers, and he said yes, so we did it! That`s all…nothing more to it than that, just a great time at the studio.”
What led to your departure from the band?
“The main thing that lead to my departure from MC was a lack of vision and the desire to choose to solder on from everybody…my opinion was if we are going to agree to make a new album then we are going to do it and continue making albums and not stop, We agree to make the band again and it be our livelihood, I can not go back and forth…. no matter what happens we are not turning back and we will expect to tour and live it out. Nobody else wanted to see it that way…they wanted to make a test album and just throw something out and see if it gets some bites and maybe do something later…I realized that I was at a cross road it was either music and touring or stay with my family and the band members were not concrete in choosing the band, so I chose to go my own way…”
Did you join another band after?
“I have never been with any other band…why should I?… I did not need anything beyond that…because MC was my blessing, all we had to do was SHOW UP and we could make music and we rocked…who would want anything else?”
Do you miss touring?
“Sure, I miss touring, who wouldn’t? fortunately now I have a life with my family that I value very dearly so I can just look back and smile at the old days..It was great!”
Losing David Wayne was a pretty devastating blow to the fans and especially to his family and former bandmates. What impact did his sudden death have on you?
“Dave’s passing was very sudden as you said…we had some rocky times, we kicked him out of the band and then years later I became friends with him again and he was back with us all again so all I can say is that I am glad that we became friends again prior to him leaving but I am sad I did not get to say good bye.”
Are you still playing music? What’s going on with Craig Wells these days?
“Yes I still play music at home in my free time purely for enjoyment…I work as a broadcast engineer for FOX and that keeps me busy and my plate is full with my family. Maybe we will jam again sometime and if we don’t, I will always look back on the day with a smile!”
Thanks Craig for taking the time to do this. Metal Church helped provide the soundtrack to my life and I’ll always regard them as one of the best metal bands ever. I’ve asked Mike Howe and Kirk Arrington to do interviews, but to date they have not responded to my requests.
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