see also our review of Say Your Prayers

The Empire Hideous: Say Your Prayers
~by Blu
(photos posted here with permission by Colin Vozeh )

The new CD – Say Your Prayers - by The Empire Hideous deserves quite a bit of fanfare for several reasons. Technically it’s THE debut release on Hell’s Hundred Records – a brand new label and part of Middle Pillar created as a home specifically for dark and brooding rock bands. With US labels like Projekt historically favoring ethereal bands, Cleopatra wading in the land of re-mix/tribute CDs, Metropolis’s heavy backing of all things EBM and synthopop and Middle Pillar Presents delighting in obscure goodies like apocalyptic folk, dark ambient and experimental; the comeback of deathrock bands and dark rock bands have had no where to go until now. Middle Pillar’s purposeful creation of a label for these bands, at least to me, signifies the label’s confidence in the continued growth – dare I say impending explosion - of this genre. And who better to hold as the first example of what they’ve set out to accomplish then an American band that in the underground scene, can surely be considered legendary. Most bands that started out when Empire Hideous did have long since retired and yet here we are in 2004, many member rotations later and Myke Hideous is still the hard working, hard talking rock n roll front man of a band that that sees the future through a dark crystal ball of doom.

This is the band's first studio release in 5 years.

Eager to get Myke’s comments on the new CD I set up a date to call and interview him over the phone. The day came and as Murphy’s Law would suggest, one of my roommates uncharacteristically embarked on a World Record Phone Call that lasted most of the afternoon. I missed my appointment. By the time I was able to call him, he laughed and said, “you’re not going to believe this but someone is here right now for another interview.”  Huh. It seems Mr. Hideous was in demand that day and I had lost my turn. Ironically DJ Charlie the Slut and his partner Sarabeth had been dispatched by my fellow Californian Mark Splatter, to go and interview Myke for Beat to the punch I sulked the rest of the day and vowed war on Splatter for snatching my interview. Ha ha! We’ll see who gets their interview online first. (winkwink)

Myke called back after they left (and DO look out for that interview on because if any of the antics that transpired according to Myke makes it into print, its going to be rather interesting!) and we bullshitted for a while and agreed to do the interview the next weekend. This time it worked. No marathon phone calls, no surprise guests.

We started by going over the CD packaging. The CD itself is a beautiful thing – a digipak that is slim and sleek in the hand that features photos of Myke on the front and back with elegant script and a new EH Logo. It is a real work of art. 

Myke commented, “I was very surprised when I got it. My first digipack. I’m very happy with the way it came out – both artistically and musically.

Kyle Cassidy did the photos. I’ve known Kyle for almost ten years. He had requested a photo shoot and wanted to recreate Michelangelo’s Pietà – which is Mary holding Jesus after he was crucified. We did it here at my studio – Alcove Studio. I got a model [Gina] who I knew would be able to handle taking off her clothes and posing with me. We did this whole thing – stigmata – blood – the whole thing. It came out really good. I said to him ‘if they come out good, I want to use them for the album’. I never knew – never had any idea at the time that the album was going to be called Say Your Prayers

[The logo] was designed by a friend of mine – Paul Fragoso – who actually drew one of the pictures in my book of me sitting next to Death.

[The inside photos] were taken by Gina Marie [the model on the front and back cover]. I cant actually go into detail about what she does because its highly confidential – but she takes photos of dead bodies – I’ll leave it at that. She’s very good at what she does and those were fetuses that were mummified from formaldehyde jars that had evaporated.” 

Moving onto the inside of the CD, I note the last bit of text that reads “R.I.P. Hyena 94-02.”  I knew the story but asked Myke to elaborate for curious fans:

“Yeah, that’s my cat who died in November of 2002.   I had her for 7 years. I got her in 1994. I rescued her from an apartment building in NYC. A friend of mine told me a cat was in the hallway for a week. She couldn’t have been more than a year old when I got her – she was just a baby. There’s a picture of her in my book as well on the last page where I’m sitting at my desk typing and she’s with me.” 

The next subject I pressed him on was about the decision to record a new CD after such a long break and what the recording process itself was like five years later. 

But first, if you’re unfamiliar – here’s an EH refresher course from our very first interview with Myke to better understand where they were and how they got here: 

After nearly ten years of hard work and 8 marketable products (including some 12" EPs, LPs, cassettes, film/video and CDs), in December 1997 hampered by a lack of funding and label interest coupled with a desire to stretch and test his talents elsewhere; Myke ended the first incarnation of The Empire Hideous with one final gig playing to a sold out crowd of 750. 

Afterwards he’d spend almost a year touring as The Misfits vocalist – an uneasy story - that is chronicled in his autobiography called KING OF AN EMPIRE TO THE SHOES OF A MISFIT. Upon his return to the states, fans from the Misfits scene wanted to see Empire Hideous and Myke was only too happy to indulge:

“And I wanted to do it. It’s my love. The performance of EMPIRE HIDEOUS is my passionate love – its something I live to do… lets do it because there are all these fans saying, ‘We’d love to see you’ and I had nothing…I only had SpySociety99, which is a great band, but it isn’t EMPIRE HIDEOUS. SS99 is a completely different concept.  The idea to get HIDEOUS back was always there but there was always a matter of finances and decent musicians and all that crap that goes along with dealing with a five-piece band. But now, living here on the east coast and having seen the devastation that took place on September 11th – (pauses)… Primarily all of what EMPIRE HIDEOUS stands for and is about is the destruction of mankind, the end of the world, war, the apocalypse. 

Just recently someone brought to my attention that there’s no better time to bring back HIDEOUS than now and I thought about it and that person was right. I read through my lyrics, listened to my music and I said, ‘This is it. If it’s not now or it’s never.’”

Fade back to the present. So what do you do when you’re a band whose fans won’t let you go? You indulge them of course and after a flurry of live shows on the East Coast and even a trip to the West Coast for a 3 show stint in California, The Empire Hideous was back and finally whispering and hinting at recording a new CD. Fans salivated at the rumor. 

Myke recalled, “Well, we had wanted to record at Hideous Studios, we were trying to record and it just wasn’t working. We had so many problems with the computer and with the person we were working with that it just never panned out. Finally – a guy by the name of Mike Venterola [Hidden Sanctuary] said to me, ‘You HAVE to put out new material. We can’t wait anymore, too many people want to hear new stuff’. And we were already playing these new songs but just didn’t record them. So Mike persuaded us to go into the studio – and we did. If it wasn’t for him – on two subjects – I don’t know what I would have been doing. But I guess it took him to push us over the edge. Mike was very, very supportive. 

[The recording process] was very different this time around. We recorded everything on the computer as opposed to recording live, acoustically. It was very different but very modernized and very easy after a while. It went a lot easier than it used to be. I’m satisfied with the results that came out, however, I’d still like to do real recordings in a big studio live. Capturing the live sound in an analog system is far more superior. It has a much more warmer sound than a digital recording.” 

And how did Middle Pillar react to hearing it the first time? There was obviously a lot at stake with a new label being developed around this CD as it's first release. 

Myke explained, "Honestly? They loved it. We didn’t even give them a demo, we gave them the final copy and they even said, 'normally we ask for a demo, but you, we didn’t, we trust you.'" 

Since the CD’s release the press has been abuzz with excitement and compliments including a very upbeat review on along with some unlikely but positive reviews in magazines like Outburn. Could it be that Empire Hideous has even persuaded Outburn to turn its ear away from techno dance music long enough to remember why rock is so good? Wonders never cease. 

On the press and initial reaction to the new CD, Myke related, “I’ve been very pleased. We just got a Hot Topic deal with some distribution there. We’re also getting a lot of European acknowledgement and recognition. I’m really hoping that the more it builds, the more there’s going to be a demand for us to come out there and play.” 

And now my attention turned towards the music itself, observing that inbetween the songs are sound clips and samples and I asked what they are and if those serve to set the stage for each song.  Did he find them before or after the songs were created?

Myke said, “Some of its me and some of its samples right off the television …(laughs) interesting you ask that because as we were getting ready to record, I began to tape stuff off the television constantly so I had a full 90 minute cassette full of samples (I’m doing that now for the next record infact). I like using samples but its not really safe because you can get in trouble for it.”

And what about the overall theme for Say Your Prayers?

“As I began putting the songs together I realized they had a genuine theme to them and that is like most of my previous writing – it all tied into my surroundings at the time and travesty the world is going through right now. If you look around with what’s going on -- everyone’s saying their prayers. Everything just fell into place – miraculously. I’ve been classifying the new Empire Hideous CD as the ‘new gothic rock Pink Floyd millennium album of the year’.”

I mention how diverse the CD is -- “Two Minutes to Midnight” is straight ahead rock with a punk edge compared to “Bound to Happen” which is a ballad. 

Myke replied, “I write a lot of things on an acoustic guitar and “Bound to Happen” just turned out to be one of them. Oddly enough the original demo sounded a lot like Joy Division but when you listen to the song now, there’s no comparison. It was just another song that was like the theme of my life.”

I noted Gabrielle from St. Eve is a guest vocalist on it  and knowing she’s had a pretty hectic schedule with performances that have taken her to Europe, asked how he managed to pin her down.

“We sent her the recordings and she did her share at home and sent them back. Gabrielle and I know each other well and I always wanted to work with her. I asked her if she would do vocals with me. I’m glad she added her female touch to it.”

“Terror Clone” is the opening track on the CD. In it, Myke is heard speaking ominously* as the music builds into a driving dark anthem. I asked about the political overtones in the lyrics. 

Myke explained, “Two things – its kind of like a look into the future if we were to begin cloning humans. I don’t know if you saw Star Wars (laughs) but I did and I saw the clone wars and I know what happens. They created an army and eventually there’s no need to worry about human life because you’re creating clones and you send them out with guns and tell them to kill and if they die, no big deal. Secondly, the issue of man playing god: from that point on man has played god and created man, man becomes terror.”

I probed further on the subject of content. In contrast to the outward nature of “Terror Clone”, the song “My Mind Plays Tricks On Me” seems inwardly reflective. Uncharacteristically vague about this one, Myke would only say, “Well, (pause) its pretty personal. Mental torment induced by another element – both physically and mentally.  Usually, if you read the lyrics you can always interpret it to be something else which is what I enjoy when people give me their view on what songs mean.”

And what are Myke's favorite songs on the CD?

"If I’m listening to the songs and not the interludes.. I listen to 3, 6, 7 and the rest after that." 


"'Heaven Raining Bullets' is such an energetic song. Especially at the end – it gives me goosebumps."

I commented on how good the vocals sound on this recording - how crisp and he said he used alot less vocal affects on this than he did in the past. I said his vocals always sound great - impressive as hell live - and yet he smokes like a fiend. Does he do vocal training still to keep in shape? He admits to not having doen them in a while. I observe that he's just a lucky bastard then.

Laughing, he said, "I guess so yeah. I’ve been very abusive to myself over the past few years and I’ve analyed my life lately and a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m just not happy. I haven’t been happy for about 3 ½ years. So what do I do? I abuse myself…rather than abusing others.. I abuse myself (chuckle)..."

And make good records in the process?

"... that’s what its all about. If I was happy it wouldn’t work."

The Empire Hideous has seemed at times, a turnstile of band members fading in and out of the limelight. It’s a problem that plagued the band from its early days and continues even now in the search for musicians dedicated and serious enough to follow through with the vision. Even at the time we spoke for this interview, things were in flux: Freddie Hayes had switched to bass guitar, the old bassist gone, and a new guitar member was being inducted that week. I asked Myke if the change in musicians changed established songs at all and overall, how did he deal with it and manage to hold the band together?

“Depends on how talented they are. You give them the CD, you tell them to learn this and then they should play it. I’ve been very fortunate that it’s been like that the last few times. It’s a tedious process. Sometimes it changes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I’m not opposed to change, however, when a song is recorded a particular way, I think it should be played that way.

I’ve decided – and I don’t know if this was part of the question but I thought I’d throw in my own two cents – I’ve decided to become a bastard again to work with…”

At this point  - knowing how much of a perfectionist he is, I had to laugh and sarcastically ask, “when did that change?”

He protested a bit and then seriously commented, “it changed when I started up Hideous again. Because prior – the old hideous – I used to not take any shit from anyone. If you fucked up you’re out. And now I’m at that point again. I’ve had too much shit go on the past two years with bass players and guitar players. I’m like ‘Jesus Christ I just want someone to play fucking guitar’. I’m tired of it. People have come in and given me direction and I’m like there’s no way I’m gonna do that again.”

All you hopeful band members out there be forewarned. 

And as tough as he talks, as demanding as he is, as grueling as he can be as a perfectionist on stage and off, Myke Hideous is extremely charismatic, charming and funny. If you can survive his high standards, he’s a loyal friend and has a bigger heart than most I know. He is the kind of person who was born a star, who inevitably would become famous for something – good or bad - depending on how those bundles of energy got channeled. In this lifetime he is a musician. Wise for his age he comes across as an experienced sage to young bands just starting out. I watched Belisha actually take notes once during a band meeting before a show here in California. They had taken to calling him “Daddy Myke” and it was quite clear that his words were golden. 

In that regard, his memoirs in the book KING OF AN EMPIRE TO THE SHOES OF A MISFIT, offers not only a rare glimpse inside the world of a big touring band like The Misfits, but also a personal insight on the life of a musician and just what it takes to survive. 

About the book, over two year’s since its release Myke said, “It’s still selling. I just wish I had a better publishing deal. People are ordering it through and Barnes & Nobles, even through Middle Pillar. It’s selling, just not where I want it to be.”

Check it out of you haven’t had a chance. It’s well worth the time.

So what's next for this band back from the grave? 

"We have four or five new songs preparing for the next record. Meanwhile trying to get out on the road. Finish another record. I’d like to be in the studio to record by September. I also want to go out to California in October. I think we’re coming no matter what. I’d like to see what happens maybe with the Vampire Bizaare..."

For current up to date news items - check out their webpage frequently:

*If you know what movie the words on "Terror Clone" are taken from, you can enter our monthly contest

The Empire Hideous:
Buy all EH merchandise at Middle Pillar:

Myke's book is available through Middle Pillar,, Barnes & Nobles or directly from Author House:

Middle Pillar Presents:
Hell's Hundred Records:

Kyle Cassidy:
St. Eve:
Colin Vozeh  / Available Dark:

Other articles on StarVox about Empire Hideous:

The Empire Hideous Interview #1, 12/04/01

The Empire Hideous Inerview #1, 3/01/02

The Empire Hideous/Belisha West Coast Tour. 12/14/02

The Empire Hideous photo gallery on StarVox:


Mick Mercer's review of SAY YOUR PRAYERS