Interview with vocalist Michael Podrybau
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: December 6, 2020
Bands that were active during the "Golden Years" of Metal, in the 1980s, have been reentering the scene in huge numbers for the past decade. Glacier, from the Portland, Oregon area on the west coast of the United States, is a band that released a couple of demos and an EP in the middle of the decade, but lineup changes brought about the end of the band before they could gather any more speed.
Singer Michael Podrybau, who sang on three of the five songs on the Glacier EP put a tribute band together at the behest of a promoter and the feedback was so pronounced he decided to revive the Glacier name (with the approval of the other original members) and has released the band's debut album, The Passing of Time, through Greece's No Remorse Records. The album really captures the energy of the '80s and remains true to the band's original material. Michael was kind enough to talk to The Metal Crypt about the history of the band, the new album and where he hopes to take Glacier from here.
Hey Michael, how are things where you are right now? The band was originally from Portland, OR. Are you still in that area?
Michael: I am doing great. I actually live an hour south of Portland in Salem, Oregon.
Congratulations on the release of the band's first official full-length album, The Passing of Time, out on No Remorse Records! It has been a long time in the making, hasn't it?
Michael: Yes, for sure. Thank you so much. I had not realized how well-known Glacier really was until we started receiving invitations to play at festivals. There were a long 32 years between my last show with Glacier and our first show back on stage.
Tell us a little bit about the album if you would. How did the deal with No Remorse come about? What can fans unfamiliar with the band's activities back in the '80s expect?
Michael: We started writing new material after the first few shows we played. The first song we wrote was "Eldest and Truest." We actually played it live for the first time in Athens, Greece at the Up the Hammers fest. Chris, the owner of No Remorse, is a Glacier fan and loves the old '80s stuff. Anyways, we sent them some of the recordings and they loved it. We made a deal and they made it happen. The album has an old-school feel, but with technology comes modernization—as in the recordings and with the gear. We have seen nothing but fantastic reviews, hopefully the fans will love it.
You are the only remaining member from the band's original days. Can you tell us about the musicians who joined you for The Passing of Time, who they are, how they came to be in on the recording of the album, what they brought to the table, etc.?
Michael: A promoter had contacted me to do a reunion show. I gave him Sam's contact info. Sam and I had talked about doing a reunion, but nothing ever came of it. So then the promoter put a band together (Michael Maselbas-guitar, Adam Kopecky-drums, Michael Mendoza-guitar, and Alfonso G Polo Cuevas-bass) in Chicago so I could come sing at his festival. While I was in Chicago, at my very first practice with the guys, we received an invitation to play the Keep it True festival in Germany. Today, only two of the guys are from the original Chicago band, Adam Kopecky and Michael Maselbas, and we have Marco Martell and Alex Barrios with us now as well. Great guys and great musicians.
Did any of the material on The Passing of Time originate back in the '80s, besides "Sands of Time"? Who wrote the music and lyrics for the songs on the album?
Michael: Yes, three songs; "Sands of Time," "Live for the Whip," and "Infidel" are from the '80s Glacier era and have never been recorded until now. All of the guys in the current band lineup contributed to each of the songs in various ways. Everyone was a part of the creative process.
Glacier started back in 1979, according to the band's website, and you joined in 1983 in time to record the debut EP Glacier which was released by Axe Killer Records in 1985. How did it feel to be at the height of the metal explosion and seeing all your hard work show up on vinyl? Did you feel like you'd "made it" and what were your expectations going forward at that time in the band's history?
Michael: It was 1983 when Glacier started writing original material and I joined the band. Actually, I was out of the band in 1985 before the deal with Axe Killer happened. That is why the EP has three different singers. I sing three of the songs on the EP. I was also the only singer that played live with the band.
Who were your inspirations, the bands and musicians that made you want to be a singer in a metal band and who did all the guys in Glacier look to as musical role models?
Michael: I started out as a guitarist in my old band, Harlot. We had trouble finding a good singer, and I could sing, so I gave up all my guitar gear and bought a PA and started singing. My favorites back then were RIOT, Saxon, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest. Loren was a huge KISS and Maiden fan, and the others liked Maiden and Priest as well. Tim was more diverse, he liked lots of different styles of music, but he was definitely a Steve Harris fan.
You sang on "Ready for Battle," "Devil in Disguise" and "Speak No Evil" on the Glacier EP with Rex Mcnew ("Vendetta") and Keith Flax ("When Heaven's at Hand") handling the other two songs. Why were there three different vocalists on the EP?
Michael: When I left the band, they only had the three songs recorded that I was singing on. Without two more songs, Axe Killer would not do the record deal. So the guys brought in Rex to sing one and Keith to sing one. Once they had met the 5-song minimum, they got a deal.
Despite the strength of the EP, Glacier would only release one more demo tape after 1985 before breaking up in 1990. You had already left the band by the time of the demo. Was Axe Killer Records not interested in working with Glacier after the EP and was that one of the factors that led to the breakup of the band? What were some of the other reasons?
Michael: I really do not know any of the particulars of the 1988 era of Glacier.
After you left the band, did you feel like you'd left some unfinished business behind or had it run its course for you at that time? How did you keep busy after Glacier? I don't see any other musical endeavors listed for you, but we all know the Internet isn't always completely accurate. :)
Michael: After I left, I put my old band Harlot back together, with Aaron Redbird on guitar, Kelly Lemieux (BuckCherry, Electric Love Hogs) on bass, and Mike Lowery on drums. We recorded one song for the local rock station comp record.
Obviously the metal bug had bitten you again in 2016 when you took Devil in Disguise, your Glacier tribute band, to Germany to play at the Keep it True festival. Did the festival reach out to you or were you actively looking for places to play? I assume you had been playing gigs prior to the festival but what was it like to step on stage at one of the premier metal festivals? Were the fans there familiar with Glacier's music?
Michael: The festival in Chicago was supposed to be just one show and done, but then we were invited by Oliver from Keep it True to play. We had not played any gigs at all. I was completely out of the metal scene, and I jumped in head first. My first show was Keep it True. I was standing side stage while the guys were doing their sound check, and the stage guy handed me the mic. The guys started in on the first song, and I was scared to death. Finally, it was my cue to go on stage, so I just went up and started singing. It was amazing, all of the people knew the songs, and they were singing with me. It was truly incredible.
Obviously the reaction to Devil in Disguise convinced you that the Glacier name deserved another shot at the brass ring and with the blessing of the original Glacier members you took back the classic band name. How did it feel to be in Glacier again 30 years later?
Michael: It really felt great. I feel very blessed that I am able to take the reins and charge down the path that I thought I was supposed to take all those years.
Now we have The Passing of Time, an album that sounds like it could have been released in 1987, right after Glacier, rather than 35 years later. Other than the benefits of a modern production, it is full of the same ass kicking traditional metal the band was known for back in the '80s. What were the most important things to "get right" when putting this album together?
Michael: No doubt about it—the band members are by far most important!!! The songs, in my opinion, had to still have that '80s feel, and I think they really do.
The passing of time (pun intended) is the same for us all, but your voice sounds as powerful as it did 35 years ago, one of the reasons the album is so strong. How have you kept your voice in such good shape after all this time?
Michael: I think my voice today is actually more mature and more powerful than when I was just a young kid. I really have no idea how my voice today is in such great shape, but I definitely am very thankful that it is. When we first started practicing in 2016, I sounded like shit. Hahahaha, but the more I practiced the better it got. I suppose neither drinking nor smoking plays a role in maintaining my vocal health, too.
Obviously 2020 has been one of the strangest years any of us can remember but hopefully, in the not too distant future, things will return to some form of normality. What are your plans for Glacier in the short term, while we're still waiting out the pandemic, and in the long term once travel and public gatherings for shows are realities again?
Michael: We have started writing for the next album, and hopefully we will be able to start playing live again. I really miss it, and I miss all of my friends around the world.
Where should fans go to get a copy of The Passing of Time? It is nice to see that physical releases are gaining in popularity again so will the album be available on multiple formats (CD, vinyl, cassette) in addition to streaming and downloads? Are physical releases the best way to support the band from a monetary standpoint?
Michael: You can get the new LP, CD, cassette, and downloads on our BandCamp page. glaciermetal.bandcamp.com and check out our website www.GlacierMetal.com also our Facebook page www.facebook.com/GlacierMetal It definitely helps to support the band as far as assisting with costs of airfare or hotels so we can play shows.
Will the EP see a re-release at some point? I should point out that fans can currently download all five of the EP's tracks from Glacier's official website (www.glaciermetal.com) for a nominal fee, something I highly recommend as they make for a great companion to The Passing of Time.
Michael: We are actually waiting right now for two different colored vinyl runs, coming from Cult Metal Classics out of Greece. The pre-order is available on our "Old Glacier" Bandcamp glacier80smetal.bandcamp.com
Well Michael, I really appreciate you taking some time to answer a few questions about Glacier for the readers of The Metal Crypt. Congratulations again on the new album, The Passing of Time and all the best with your future endeavors in and out of music. Is there anything we didn't cover you'd like to talk about before we wrap up this interview?
Michael: Just want to say that if it were not for our fans and friends, this would never have happened, and Thank You!!!
|Other information about Glacier on this site|
|Review: The Passing of Time|
|Review: Spears of the Empire|
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