CHRISTILLOW'S Kenny Mettler & Michael Christillow Interview with hairbandheaven.rocks
HBH: Tell us about Christillow?
Kenny Mettler: Christillow was formed back in late 1988 early 1989 when
Michael Christillow returned to the east coast after years in California. He
was looking to do some song writing for labels out of New York. Michael and I
were introduced by some mutual friends and we started working together on
multiple songs some that actually ended up on the “Christillow” demo
release in 89 that eventually evolved into the HHR “Standing in the Rain”
record. So the band really started out as a song writing partnership between
me and Michael. It wasn’t long after that it was decided that we needed to
become a band and Jessy Marks (Bass), Rod Taken (Drums) and David
“Whitey” Guistwhite (Keyboards) were added to complete the original lineup.
Each of these guys contributed to the arrangement of the songs with Jessy
adding in with some key song writing concepts too. We signed with Rock
Whirled Management in 90 and many shows followed primarily up and down
the east coast sharing the stage with some of the great acts of the 80’s and
early 90’s. The band evolved over 4 years with members changing out the
last 18 months before we called it quits in late 93 when grunge was coming
in and the market saw a shift in style. The original band lineup is what you
hear on the record.
HBH: How did you get involved with Heaven and Hell records (HHR) for
the release of Standing in the Rain?
Michael Christillow: So when I tell this story people shake their heads and
don’t believe me but this is the truth...In 89 Christillow released a cassette
tape that we sold at shows (made up of 3 demos completed for labels in New
York). In 2016...yes, 27 years later... a friend of Gary Shaffer - HHR
Delivery/Logistics bought the tape at a yard sale near Philadelphia for $1.00.
He gave the tape to Gary who then forwards it to Jeremy Golden - HHR
Owner in North Carolina. Jeremy tracked Kenny down on Facebook and three
weeks later we signed a deal to re-release the songs with new audio
masters, artwork and cover. The CD came out in October 2016 followed by
the vinyl in October 2017 and the relationship with the label remains strong.
We couldn’t ask for more, good guys to work with, great product and strong
distribution. It all started from a yard sale...and now you see why people
don’t believe the story? LOL.
HBH: What are your favorite songs off Standing in the Rain?
Michael Christillow: I would really have a hard time picking one song off the
album because all of them boils down to a great writing experience for me
working with Kenny. If I was made to make a choice it would have to be All I
Want because that is where it all started. It was the first song Kenny and I
wrote. I know from there something was great here.
Kenny Mettler: I agree with Michael that All I Want was special as it was the
first one we wrote together. I would also say the title track – Standing in the
Rain. This was a riff I had and we worked it for some time but we couldn’t get
the parts to mesh. I became frustrated and I remember telling Jessy and Rod
I wanted to scrap the riff/song and they said...no that will not be happening!
In the end they were right, I was wrong and it turned out to be one of my
favorites. I’m glad they didn’t listen to me!
"All I Want"
HBH: What are you up to musically now?
Kenny Mettler: Michael and I still write songs and perform together. We are
currently working on songs to complete a second Christillow record. There
was material never finished from years ago as well as unreleased songs
already recorded that were not included on the Standing in the Rain release
because master audio files were not available at the time. This material
along with some live tracks recorded in 93 and a brand new song will build a
second album that we hope will be completed later this year. Besides that
Michael and I perform on a weekly basis in an acoustic act called the “Relics”
playing classic rock and Christillow songs.
HBH: Are you still in touch with the former band members and if so are
they involved in any projects?
Kenny Mettler: Yes we are still in touch with all band members. Most of all the
past members are currently involved in music other than Whitey. Rod has
been in a few regional bands since that time and had racked up a ton of
shows while the drummer that replaced him Mike Radka is now a sound
engineer and owns a recording studio. Jessy played with me in an acoustic
act performing about 70 shows a year and his replacement on bass Mike
Moritz stayed active in bands playing in the central PA area post the
Christillow years. It’s very sad to say that both Jessy and Mike M have
recently passed away.
HBH: What are some of your fondest memories of playing with
Christillow in the late 80s?
Michael Christillow: Working in the studio on the demo tapes and see thesongs come to life. Going on the road with a group of guys that really lovedeach other and seeing the crowd dancing and sing the songs with us.
HBH: I love that you guys released the album on vinyl? Was that the
bands idea or record label?
Kenny Mettler: Early on the label came to us and said they thought vinyl
might be a good idea for Germany and Sweden. The CD was just hitting the
street so it was really in passing we had the conversation and nothing really
moved on it. After about 6-8 months after the CD was released the
conversation came up again and it was decided to do the vinyl. We are really
happy HHR released the vinyl and they were right as the majority of the vinyl
copies have sold in Germany.
HBH: Growing up who where some of your musical influences?
Michael Christillow: Steve Perry from Journey and before that Daryl Hall and John Oates.
Kenny Mettler: Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Page, Van Halen, Floyd and some UFO in there too.
HBH: Give us your top 5 albums of all-time?
Michael Christillow: Boston’s first album, Hall and Oates Live album in Hershey, PA because I was there, Hall and Oates Abandon Luncheonette, Journey’s Escape, and Night Ranger’s Dawn Patrol.
Kenny Mettler: These are always on the top of my list...Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell, Eagles – Hotel California, Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy, Van Halen 1 and Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic.
HBH: Is there anything else you would like to mention (new projects, websites etc.) anything you would like to promote?
Michael Christillow: I guess a few things to mention...Keep a watch for the second Christillow record! Once the second record is complete the band will be playing reunion shows in late 018 and throughout 019. Checkout the Christillow Fan Page on Facebook as that will have the latest news on the records and shows etc. and lastly here’s the link to the current HHR release, check it out!
We would like to thank Hairband Heaven for the record review and taking the time to have us talk band, the record and music! Rock on!
You can check out hairbandheaven.rocks album review for Christillow "Stannding In The Rain" Here.
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