Bassist Mark Menghi started out walking in different areas of the music business, but in the last decade made a name for himself by starting the project Metal Allegiance with several known musicians in the genre and now he is spearheading another project in BPMP, which has the likes of drummer Mike Portnoy, guitarist Phil Demmel and Overkill vocalist Bobby “Blitz”.
This band recently released their first album, American Made, and it’s focused on covering somewhat unknown songs from some of the musicians’ favorite American bands from the 70s. This project was Mark’s idea, interestingly enough, and I had the opportunity of doing a short interview with him (at least for my standards), where we discussed the new band, a bit of Metal Allegiance, his influence and a lot more.
You can buy American Made on CD or Vinyl and a T-shirt here.
Thank you for taking the time to do this, Mark. I appreciate it. How are things going in the States with you and your family during these hard times?
Definitely interesting… but we are doing OK. All healthy, safe and trying to make the best of a shitty situation.
How much of a toll this pandemic had on your plans for 2020?
It took a huge toll… BPMD was supposed to play a bunch of shows and festivals this summer (actually right now) around the release of American Made… that’s why we originally set a June 12th release date. But we had to make the best of it. And to be honest, it has been fun doing loads of press, getting involved in the creative, etc… Same with Metal Allegiance, we were supposed to do a tour later this year and of course our annual show in Anaheim in January is up in the air now. So we’ll see what happens. I do know one thing, once touring does resume full-on, every band on planet earth is gonna be hitting the road, so the competition is gonna be pretty crazy.
I always start from the beginning with these interviews: How did you get into Metal music when you were younger?
It was a progression… started with Fleetwood Mac very early in my life, then The Who and Queen, then Iron Maiden then the early 90’s hit and that scene, then Metallica, then Exodus and now I am a full-fledged music-holic. I love all kinds of music… not just metal. My heart lies in Thrash, but I am literally all over the map when it comes to music.
Who were your biggest influences as a musician?
In terms of bassists, Cliff Burton (Metallica), Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) and James Jamerson (Funk Brother and Motown Studio bassist). Bands; Metallica, The Beatles, Exodus, etc…
For those readers that perhaps are not familiar with your career, what can you tell us about your career before Metal Allegiance?
I worked in the music business before MA.
One project that has Metal fans very excited is BPMD, which is you with Mike Portnoy, Phil Demmel and Bobby Blitz. How did you guys come up with this project?
Last summer I was hanging out in my backyard (it was shortly after our independence day holiday of July 4th), listening to tunes, relaxing, making S’mores with the kids and Skynyrd’s Saturday Night Special came on… my youngest son goes to me “Hey Dad you guys should play this…” and I initially thought, this is not for MA and said “Son… we’re a thrash band” but then as the song was playing, I started to think to myself “If I were to play this, what would I do?” I immediately started hearing guitar parts, Hetfield-style riffing, drum patterns, etc… coincidentally at the same time, Blitz and I were in the middle of one of our famous ball-busting text exchanges… I texted him and said “Dude, in all seriousness, I’m calling you…” I called him and asked his thoughts about covering a tune like Saturday Night Special, tunes from the 70’s, etc… and before I even finished my initial thought(s) he said “YES! I wanna do Never in My Life by Mountain, I wanna do a Cactus song… American Made”… and that was that. Within 5 minutes, the seeds for BPMD were born and the album was named. When he asked who would play drums and guitar… I said regarding the drum spot “I know a guy” I texted Mike and asked him if he was down and then hit up Phil to get his thoughts. We all had great chemistry within the Metal Allegiance ranks, so we all know each other, we all know each other’s capabilities, etc… and just like that, a few weeks later we all met at Mike’s house in Leigh Valley, PA to start arranging and recording.
Obviously, you being a bass player, having a good connection with the drummer is very important. What can you tell us about the experience of playing with Mike Portnoy?
It’s fun. This is my fourth record with Mike. I know how he works in the studio… plus we’ve played a shit ton of live shows and tours together with MA. Familiarity is sometimes the key…
Is BPMD only a cover band or can we expect new material from you guys?
Never say never… who knows what will happen. I guess it all depends on how this album does. We have ideas of covering other regions of the world from the 1970’s… so who knows what will happen. Right now with everything going on in the world I am in a creative writing mode and have been going back and forth with one of my favorite guitar players on planet earth trading demos and preparing to write a record…
How did you guys choose the songs for American Made?
We had three rules before we even got together. Rule 1: We each get to select two songs (8 total with two community picks making 10 – which were Walk Away and We’re An American Band) and no one can argue or complain about each other’s picks. We had to do them. No questions asked. Rule 2: Our selections had to be released between January 1st, 1970 – December 31st 1979 and Rule 3: Had to be a band that was 100% American. It would be very easy and typical for us to cover songs like Sabbath, Purple, early-Priest, Scorpions, Zeppelin, Kiss, etc… coincidentally we all picked songs that weren’t necessarily “hits”, some are deep cuts, some are known, but weren’t the respective bands’ most popular (or even in the top 5 of their most popular) tunes… we did have some challenges; for example, Blitz wanted to do an early Fleetwood Mac song and we were like “nope, they were an all-English band then” or Mike wanted to do an Amboy Dukes tune and again “nope, that was released in 1969”. It was fun coming up with the selections… it challenged us as fans of this music and as musicians. I never thought in a million years I would cover a BOC tune on record!
Can we expect any potential shows with this band?
Absolutely. One day when the world opens back up.
Besides BPMD, do you have any other projects in mind for the near future?
Well, of course Metal Allegiance… but I am working on a new project right now with someone. I can’t go into much detail yet, but should be pretty epic.
Do you prefer stable projects or do you like doing multiple bands?
I am all over the map… obviously Metal Allegiance and BPMD are not stable. But I like that… I love being spontaneous and that’s how MA and BPMD started and that’s how we roll. But this new thing I am working on will be somewhat of a stable project (I think?) who knows…
Thank you for taking the time to do this, Mark. Any last message for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media and buy your albums?
Thank you for the support. I truly appreciate it! You can follow me on Instagram!