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Michael T. Ross - Anthology

Interview with Michael T. Ross from Anthology
by Jean-Francois Poulin at 24 June 2019, 5:16 AM

We always dig having to interview some of the veteran artists out there that have collaborated with the best and biggest names in the business. Michael T. Ross is part of that group of artists, a great hand and an accomplished artist on his own. He's got a new band called ANTHOLOGY featuring vocalists Paul Shortino, Terry Ilous and Mark Boals. Metal Temple writer Jean-Francois Poulin recently caught up with Michael to talk about his current and past projects.

You perform five days a week with Rock Vault at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas (which I heard is great being I know some people that live out there and have seen the show), how awesome is it to be almost always on stage in the fabulous world of Vegas?

It feels great to play 5 days a week in the entertainment capital with an amazing group. Keeps me in shape and polished even though I'm not on tour. There is a lot of talent in this town. When I was on tour, I remember the month long gaps between shows and always felt eager to play more even though I was technically on tour. Now, I enjoy my days off from performing and get to be home. I don't do much outside of Rock Vault since we started 6 years ago.  I've been dealing with my diabetes, which requires me to be close to my doctor at this time, so this gig is a blessing for me. Once or twice a year, I'll play with Lita Ford, and do some special guest spots. I recently played live with Steelheart here in Vegas as a special guest.  Once a year, I usually have a handful of shows with Frank DiMino (Angel) on the East Coast. I have done Rock Vault corporate shows in Cancun, Canada, and Alcapulco. Being in Rock Vault with a residency in Vegas has been a perfect picture for me. I came here from Hollywood, Ca. and couldn't of asked for a better gig. We are around 1,300+ shows to date.

You have been with so many bands throughout your career, from HARDLINE, to ANGEL, with LITA FORD and also MISSING PERSONS. You got any cool road stories from those bands and tours?

Lots of goofy stuff happens while on the road. Some good, some bad. But at the end of it all, it is comical when looking back on it. My stories usually fall under the injury category, which isn't funny at the time, but is now. Playing near San Francisco with Angel, all pumped up, just played The Fortune live for the first time, and after the show, I had a couple shots of whiskey (I rarely drink), chest out in the air. Get in a van in my white outfit to go down the street to our hotel, acting all cool…step out of the van and trip over a curb in front of me. 10+ years later, still getting epidural shots for low back. Performing with Lita in Texas, and while getting on stage, a security guard collides into me. I had platform shoes on and cracked my left ankle. Played the show in extreme pain. Ambulance to the hospital and stuck over night. Out of commission over 6 months. Almost 10 years later, still never healed and pops daily. Now, the right ankle…in rehearsals at The Plaza Hotel here in Vegas a few years ago for the grand opening of a new show, fell off stage and broke my right ankle. Out of commision for months, still painful today. Being a performer has its occupational hazards. Besides my injury stories, I will always remember the good times like being with my bud Michael Maysonet back East after we performed with Missing Persons and visiting Cheers with Tommy Tutone.

Rock Vault performed in Cancun a couple years ago and I kept storing my passport in my backpack. Sir Harry took it out and let me sweat bullets before returning it and warning me not to put it there. I did it again. So, he snuck it out again and let me stress really making me think I lost it this time and in Mexico with no documents, before returning it with a smile. Lesson learned. It goes in my front pocket from now on. Lastly, when I joined Lita in 2008, we were in New York City and on the Eddie Trunk show and after, got a tour of the county jail. We also performed live in the fish bowl at Rockefeller Center the day after Paul McCartney was there.  I liked my time on the road with Dale Bozzio. We are both big cat lovers and would find homeless cats on the road and feed them. I learned most of the tricks on the road from drummer Stet Howland. He took me under his wing when we were in Lita together and showed me so much of the biz in a short time.

Frontiers Records are one my very favorite labels out there, you worked on the upcoming Josh Ramos album, how did this come about?

I met Josh after joining Hardline in 2002, and we've since become lifelong friends. We did three releases together with Hardline on 'II', 'Live at The Gods' DVD in England, and 'Leaving The End Open'. I also was a special guest on his debut solo record in 2003. Since his recent departure from Hardline, he signed another deal with Frontiers and asked me to play on a couple tracks.

What was your musical background before joining HARDLINE in 2002?

I grew up playing classical piano and got in to 70's prog music at an early age. I was in a band in Southern California with Accomplice that included founder and guitarist Sean Michael Clegg, who was highlighted in Guitar Player Magazine when he revealed he owned one of Randy Rhoads' lost guitars. Also, bassist Scott Snyder was a member. He has been in Great White for the last 10 years, and also played bass on Josh's debut solo record. We put out a release called 'She's on Fire', featuring vocalist Johnny Gioeli and produced by Simon Phillips. I then moved to Hollywood and studied with Derek Sherinian for several years and co-engineered on his 'Mythology' release in 2004.

Who were the artists you grew up listening to?

Although being a keyboardist, I was most influenced by guitarist such as Gary Moore, as I'm a huge Thin Lizzy fan. Of course Randy Rhoads because he was so elegant, melodic, classically rooted, and had an amazing tone. Al DiMeola has always been a favorite and influential. Steve Lukather is one of the best. Alan Holdsworth gave me a lifetime of licks to puruse, Frank Gambale and his cluster like arpeggios, Tony MacApline, Joey Tafolla. The list goes on. Mozart and Chopin for classical. Today, I listen to a lot of Tommy Emmanuel. As far as keyboardists, Rick Wakeman was my go to guy. I listened to Keith Emerson growing up, but found myself being more like a Wakeman style player.

Any bands you would like to tour with in the coming future?

I love the band Pagan's Mind out of Norway. They are so good and right up my alley. I would like to work with Michael Sweet one day. He has been a big inspiration to me. His voice, piano and guitar abilities, his song writing. Just an amazing artist to me. I would be happy just meeting him one day, let alone get to jam with him.

You have performed live with the likes of Bret Michaels from POISON, Lou Gramm from FOREIGNER, Ritchie Sambora from BON JOVI and Jon Anderson from YES. That's gotta be one hell on a trip to perform with legends like them.

If you asked me 10 years ago about these guys, I would of said I hope to meet any of them one day. But to perform with them live I would never of imagined. Bret Michaels sticks out the most to me. Not because he's a fellow diabetic like me, but how joyful and thoughtful of a guy he is. He treated everyone equal and made every moment a really nice experience. He made me feel very comfortable and worthy.

I heard you were a special guest on the new Nozomu release with Paul Shortino, how did this come about? We don't know much about Japanese artists, how was it working with him?

I work with Paul nightly in Rock Vault since our first show over 6 years ago and have built a close relationship with him. He has been a big brother to me, guiding me, and giving me the best advice. He has such a tremendous heart and helps so many. I've been to his studio and did some work but this is the first record I've got to work on with him. He is tracking so much stuff and kindly asked me to play on a track or two with Japanese guitarist Nozomu Wakai.

How did the whole project of RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT happen? I love supergroups and always amazed how they gel together.

One of the most successful managers in music history, Simon Napier-Bell, who's worked with such artists as Wham, Sinead O' Connor, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and The Yardbirds, had an idea one night at a pub in Bangalore to put together a super-group playing all the hits. Along with business partner Sir Harry Cowell, Raiding The Rock Vault was launched.

As far as my connection, I was performing at the Namm Show in Anaheim, Ca. with Lita and met John Payne. He watched me perform when I was doing a clinic the next day for Arturia Keyboards. After, we exchanged numbers, and later, he called asking me to join Rock Vault. I went to Nightingale Rehearsal Studios in Burbank and played with Howard Leese, Paul Shortino, Robin McAuley, and Joe Lynn Turner. The rest of the band joined in and we had our first show in Los Angeles in November 2012.

What are your touring plans for the rest of 2019?

I'll be performing nightly with Raiding The Rock Vault at the Hard Rock Hotel until the end of the year, as Virgin purchased the hotel and will be doing renovations. At this time, Rock Vault will be embarking on U.K. dates. It has always been in the plans for Rock Vault to tour, so, I'm excited for the next chapter touring with them.

I formed a band last year with Zoran Maddox (who also performs in Rock Vault for the last several years rotating on guitar) called ANTHOLOGY. To date, we have done 2 shows, both with Mark Boals (Yngwie) on vocals, Blas Elias (Slaughter) on drums, and Cian Coey (Dweezil Zappa) on vocals. On bass we rotated with Jason Ebs (Peter Criss) and Scott Griffin (LA Guns).  Since those 2 shows, we have expanded the group to three singers: Mark Boals, Terry Ilous and Paul Shortino. We have also included original singer and violinist from KANSAS Robby Steinhardt. When I'm on Rock Vault shows, Yngwie Malmsteen's keyboardist Nick Marino covers the keys. We can be reached at AnthologyOfficial.com

Thank you for the opportunity to interview you for the Metal Temple Website!

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