Let me start off by say hello, and congratulations to you on all the badass things you have been doing and will be doing in the future. I've known you for a long time now, so it's amazing to see everything. I'm always cheering for you, you deserve it all. So let's catch up a little. I know I haven't seen you in ages, so first question: How have you been, how's the metal life been treating you the last several years?
Mike D.- Hey Anna, wanna start off by saying Thanks for having me on here and for always supporting the metal, especially here in the Tx scene! I've been good.. been really busy working with 2 bands. Philip H Anselmo, and the Illegals and Tx based death metal band, Flesh Hoarder. These past several years have definitely took me around the world and got to see a bunch of really cool things and play some amazing shows. Its been a rad time! I always try and stay positive and bring a good positive vibe with me every where I travel so gotta say it’s been a lot of fun.
How did you end up playing guitar with Philip H. Anselmo, and the Illegals?
Mike D.- That dates back to 2014 when I was still in the group M.O.D. I was in Germany performing at a festival that Phil and the Illegals were also playing at. Was able to meet the guys and really had no clue that day, but while soundchecking before our set, I was warming up with some death metal riffs, getting the hands warmed up. A few of the Illegals were side stage and were checking us out and I guess were already just looking around for someone new to bring in on the axe… A few months went by and I got a call from my big brotha Stephen Taylor, who played bass at the time in the Illegals and he was wanting to know if I was interested in possibly jamming with them.. at the time I worked at this fast food spot in San Marcos and I can clearly remember flipping out at work! Haha.. I was still busy with M.O.D and about to record a new album with them. But as rock n roll happens in life, the band broke up immediately following the album’s recording. A few weeks had gone by and I was pretty bumming out so I reached back out to the Illegals, seeing if they still needed someone to jam on guitar and from there, the rest is history and I can say that it has been a blessing jamming with Phil and the Illegals. We are strong team of brothers and total wrecking machine of rock and rolls!
How was that first jam session with Phil and the guys?
Mike D.- I remember the very first drive out to Philip’s. I drove a straight 8 hours from Tx to Louisiana. I arrived really late in the night and woke up on a Friday morning. It was very surreal, still is, waking up at Phil’s. That Friday, I remember standing in and watching all of Superjoint rehearse full throttle for an upcoming Tour I believe it was. Now this was a band, I totally grew up on, moshed in the pit too, new all the lyrics, I was a fan! So to be at the famous Nosferatu’s Lair (Phil’s rehearsal spot and studio) watching these guys practice all the tunes I grew up on and I’m telling you, I was stuck in the corner in awe most of that jam. After their set, a couple of the guys split and then I knew it was my turn to plug in and jam. I was a nervous wreck, hahaha. I remember telling Stephen how nervous I was and he looked at me and said, “Don’t be nervous man, your’e here for a reason, just play you’re best”. A few min later, Philip walked back in the room and again I was tripping out that I was about to play some guitar for him and with him. Now he’s jammed with Dimebag, the best Metal guitarist of all time, now here I am, this young Mexican kid outta Texas, I just went with it and it all fell in place it felt like. Leading up to this moment, I remember learning almost every tune except 1 from the first Illegals Disc. I thought for sure, that’s what Phil was gonna want to play. I was trying out for the band.. But I had no clue, Phil wanted to start working on brand new songs which ended up on the 2nd Illegals disc. The very first song I jammed with the guys was the tune ‘Finger Me’ from our latest disc.. its a blaster! That whole first weekend, I learned like 5 new songs. The best part for me, was that the tunes were fast, brutal and unfknrelenting! They were right up my alley.
What's your most memorable experience while performing with the Illegals so far?
Mike D.- Whoa, this is definitely a tough question as there have been MANY memorable moments on and off the stage with these guys. A thousand awesome ones… I guess I’ll go with us being able to share the stage with Slayer in a castle, in Italy! That was one of our best set’s ever, especially doing the Pantera songs, but just overall and incredible time and experience.
Favorite song to perform on stage (and why)?
Mike D.- From the Illegals set, it has to go to 'Little Fkn Hero’s'. And from the Pantera set’s, I’d say the song ‘Yesterday Don’t mean shit”. Ripping songs from 2 different perspectives.
You've traveled and performed in many countries already, how has that experience been for you? Favorite places so far?
Mike D.- Being a Texas dude and mainly playing the Texas circuit most of my earlier career, I gotta say it has been one amazing ride getting to see the world. The Illegals have performed in most of if not all of Europe, all over the place in South America, Australia, Japan was wild, down South in the Mexico and all of the U.S. Seeing it all was definitely a wake up call letting me know, that there was so much more out there in this world! Seeing all the different lifestyles and cultures brings a whole new aspect to life itself.. totally rules! My favorite places would have to go to an awesome birthday dinner in Argentina and wild times with kangaroos in Australia. But, really everywhere has different meanings to me, cause they all have a cool story.
You met Jason Mamoa among many others well known people, who were you most excited to meet so far? Any fun stories you would like to share?
Mike D.- Have been very fortunate to have met quite a few of my favorite metal heroes… gotta say Meeting King Diamond backstage at a Slayer show(not the tour we did) was most definitely a highlight. He was a super nice dude and very kind. Ran into him again backstage at the Very last and Final Slayer show in Los Angeles and he totally remembered me. Awesome dude. Another one of my hero’s that was also super cool was Rob Halford of Judas Priest. I can say he had one of the strongest handshakes I've come across. Hahaha… one more and a cool story would be walking into System of a Down’s dressing room in Mexico City a couple of year’s back and smoking a big joint with their bassist Shavo. We got to hang for a bit, but the coolest part was right before we went our separate ways, he opened up his cigarette pack(which was full of nothing but rolled joint’s) and him handing me one as going away gift. Haha. He rules!
Any upcoming concerts you have that you are excited about?
Mike D.- Well before all this cover 19 stuff came into play, I was pretty excited for the Big Motley Crue/Poison stadium tour as well as catching one of my Fav bands, Steely Dan. Both have now been postpone D so hopefully I’ll get to catch them next year sometime. Was also pretty excited about the illegals big European trip this summer, and again, hopefully we’ll get back out there next summer and tear it up again! I miss live music very much and cannot wait to get back on the stage myself.
Have you eaten any crazy foods or met some wild people out there?
Mike D.- Most definitely have met some pretty wild folks.. there everywhere lol. From wild fans trying to meet the band and wait outside our hotel’s to people shaking the van and screaming at us as we try and drive away from there venue.. it can get a little crazy at times but it’s still a rad experience. Had some pretty amazing food around this big globe. One meal that comes to mind right away, would be my birthday dinner in Argentina. I was surrounded by all my Illegal family as well as our tour manager and we all got to feast on one amazing dinner. Lots of different kinds of steaks, desserts and other goodies. Japan also had some rad food. Food I would never recognize. Super cool getting to see and try some of these foods.
You guys have been doing some old Pantera songs, which is great to see. How's that experience been, and are there any songs you haven't played yet that you would like to?
Mike D.- Playing all those Pantera song, learning from end to end has been one awesome time. Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever thing I’d be playing those songs on stage with Philip himself. As a metalhead Texan, that band was a HUGE part of my up bringing. I always looked up to Dimebag and always tried to strive for that greatness. Although we are no way Pantera, it has been absolutely incredible to am those songs! Especially on the live front. The people go absolutely insane for those tunes.. it’s great to see all the fans, old and young, come together to enjoy these tunes just as much as we enjoy playing them and us in the Illegals are doing nothing but trying and playing our best. Definitely a tune I would love to bring into our live show would be a tune from the first album called “The Sleep”. That song means a lot to me and would be a great addition for the live set. Maybe “Rise” as well from the ‘Vulgar Display’ album. Both rippers!
Balancing a family life at home, and going these trips to perform all over the place has to be tough. What keeps you grounded, and where's your go to place to eat some good food when you have been away for a bit?
Mike D.-It can definitely be hard trying to balance family, music and traveling. As I am and always do, is just having some great communication as well as a strong bond and trust with my partner. Big shout out to my new fiancé Letty, for having my back and keeping me grounded as well as holding down the home front while I'm gone. She rules. On my end, I just try and treat people the way I’d like to be treated. Be nice and kind to one another, no ego’s involved at all and be the best person I can be on stage and off. It’s way better that way. Be a team player and help out when and where you can. Were all in this together, so there’s no need for anything else. I try and meet every fan I can cause it means the world to them getting us. When I’m home, I always try and hit up my favorite food spots.. Herbert’s Taco Hut, Gil’s fried chicken and Taste of China are my go to spots here in town, that you can usually catch me at. Haha. I'm there often. Haha.. as well as homecooking. I love to do lots of that too.
Covid-19 has really affected everyone. Many tours, concerts, festivals all cancelled or postponed. I'm sure you are anxious to get out there again. How are you keeping busy these days?
Mike D.- After years of wanting to have my own home recording studio, I have finally got it all up and running and got something nice going at home. I have been keeping busy with lots of recording. Stuff for other project’s and new idea’s for new Illegals, new Flesh Hoarder, as well as my own little solo project tentatively titled “Cornbread Head”. This has been keeping me busy and keeping me grounded with music. Like all my peers and friends, we all are bummed about this year, but all our trying to stay as positive as we can in hopes we can all get back to doing what we do. Tour and jam! I’ve also been branching out a lot and learning different styles of music and instruments. I was never to good at piano, so have been practicing that a lot more and the bass guitar too. Anything I can to stay busy and keep myself grounded and learning.
I know Flesh Hoarder is still going strong, how about Disfigured? What has been going on with both bands?
Mike D.- Boy do I miss playing those old Disfigured songs. There’s not really much going on with that band at the moment. We had a great run that’s for sure. Maybe down the road one day we can get that band together and do something. It would be great! As for Flesh Hoarder, we are going strong! While I was away on the Slayer tour, Angel and Rene really nailed it and put together a brand new disc of ripping Texas death metal tunes! It will be our follow-up album to ‘Homicidal Necrophile’. Flesh Hoarder also just signed a new record deal with upcoming underground deathmetal label, New Standard Elite and we couldn’t be more excited about it! Great label with some great bands. Just will say that I cannot wait for everyone to hear what we are finishing up and tightening down. Its gonna be a brutal disc!
You and Disfigured go way back, do you ever miss playing some of those early songs?
Mike D.- I think about those days and songs often. I miss those early shows, We would play just about anywhere and everywhere we could. And we did too.. Those old songs still mean a lot to some people and definitely myself. Again, maybe one day we can jam again. Fingers crossed on that!
Speaking of way back, since I got ETM back, I've caught up with a few people from the old days. They all tell me the same thing. Everything has changed, and it's not what it used to be. Do you feel the same way? What would you say has changed, and what's stayed the same?
Mike D.- Yea I would agree and say that things are not the same.. people moved on, bands have stopped jamming and lots of the old venues are not around anymore. Its a whole new scene out there now.. not even sure there is a scene, but I will say, that the true diehards that are still here, are still keeping that death metal flame alive, so I love that and appreciate that. You can still go to a good show and run into all the homies of years past and it’s always so good to see these folks, but I guess the unity that there once was has now left the building… of the Texas scenes, I would like to go on paper and say that most lately, the Houston scene is still doing it’s thing. The shows there recently at the White Swan have been rad and packed to the gill for the underground bands. I love it! Maybe one day it’ll be as thriving as it one was in the Austin area, but till then, it’s still good to see which bands are still jamming and still going out to shows!
Its great to see a few bands from those days active still. I saw Vesperian Sorrow and Dead Haven started doing shows again some months back. Have you kept in touch with many people over the years?
Mike D.- I try and keep in touch with all my old friends and homies from years past. I myself have definitely been busy, but always try and get out and support the homies when I’m home and can. And running into all the old metalhead like myself now, is always a treat. I miss the old days when we were all young, dumb and just wanting to jam. I may have gotten older, but that flame is still much alive inside. But yes, I do keep in touch with most of the bands and friends from the older days. A lot of the social media today can help with all that, so that’s good too. To see what everyone's up to and doing. Its also good to see bands like Dead Haven getting back at it. Those guys rule.
How would you feel about doing an ETM show again? Maybe once things improve again?
Mike D.- I’d be so into doing another ETM show one day. Would really make me happy to something like that. I, as well as many others, came from the ETM scene and it helped many of us along the way. It would just be right to go back again one day and do another ETM show. We owe it to you for sure!! Let’s try and make that happen… maybe Disfigured could play. LOL
Before ending this little interview, do you have any upcoming plans for the next year or so with any of your bands or projects maybe we should prepare for?
Mike D.- Hmmm… definitely wanting to put out this new Flesh Hoarder disc. Pretty stoked for that! As well as get all the Illegals back in one room and us smoke a big joint and rock the fuck out, which would lead into a new album of ripping tunes! I believe Flesh Hoarder has a show coming up in October, as long as things go as planned, so I’m looking forward to that and getting back on stage. Hopefully the Illegals can get back to touring the world as soon as we can and rocking out for all the amazing fans around this world. I love it!! Maybe down the road. I’ll release my little solo project that I've worked on during quarantine. Not sure if anyone wants to hear these songs.. hahaha
Thank you Mike for taking the time to do this interview. I know its been a very long time since we have seen each other. Its nice to catch up and get things going again, albeit slowly. I'm so very proud of you and all you have accomplished and have experienced. Many of us live vicariously through you, you know. We'll be watching you!
Mike D.- Thank you for ALL the years of support as well Anna. You rule! You always looked out for all of us here in the whole Texas scene so lots of us owe it to you! Hopefully we can run into each other sooner than later. To all my friends out there readying this, I thank you as well and miss everyone! Hope to be jamming with you all again somewhere and sometime in 2021. Cheers ya’ll!