Million Dollar Reload Go Out With a Bang
Ahead of the County Tyrone rockers' final performance, guitarist Brian Mallon explains why it's time to move on and what the future holds
Million Dollar Reload (M$R) has enjoyed its share of success in tours with Alice Cooper, The Darkness and a trilogy of Donington Park appearances. Not to mention two well-received albums. Why have you chosen now to call time on the band?
Brian Mallon (lead guitar): It was a decision we have been considering for about a year now. Over this past few months Million Dollar Reload has evolved, we've grown and developed a lot as musicians and our sound and approach to what we are doing has changed a great deal.
With band line-up changes and the passing of time we became aware that what were were doing would be very hard to continue under the M$R name. M$R released two hard rock albums, the most recent of which was released in 2012, and with the intervening time and the evolution of the band we became wary that it might divide fans opinion on the musical direction we are now pursuing.
As we understand it the band plans to re-emerge under a new guise. What's going to be different next time around?
We all really enjoy playing and writing music together, that side of it really hasn't changed, so when we finally decided to call it a day with M$R it was never even a question of whether we would still work together. When bands change name, or change key members, there tends to be a 'before and after' argument from fans.
I use AC/DC as the example, you have a lot of people claim the Bon Scott era is better than the Brian Johnson era or vice versa, which is a scenario we never wanted to create. We have just matured in our attitude to music and a fresh start allows you to move on essentially as a new band, without the baggage or comparisons to our first two albums.
What influenced the shift in sound?
In all honesty it has slowly been heading this way since our last album was released. When we worked on new material between albums, there has always been a slight development and growth and with a three year gap since our last release the evolution of the band has moved forward a great deal.
Last year, following the departure of one of our guitar players, we had to make a decision whether or not to look for a replacement or use the opportunity to shake up the line-up of the band. We decided on the latter, so instead of replacing our guitarist we took in a fantastic keys player, Kev (Brennan), which straight away dramatically changed the sound of the band.
You previewed some of this newer material in a warm up show in Belfast back in May. How was it received alongside the more familiar back catalogue?
We were blown away by the response! The feedback on new songs was great and a lot of people commented on the noticeable change in direction. The older songs didn't seem to sit in our setlist just as well alongside the new material, which at that stage took up most of our set. This made our decision to move on from M$R a lot easier and sort of validated what we had been considering.
Are you confident that your established fanbase will continue to follow and support the band's next incarnation or are you more concerned about branching out to new audiences?
We really hope so! We've always had the idea to be true to ourselves and that continuing as M$R just for the sake of it would go against everything that band was about.
Everyone really enjoyed M$R, we released two albums that we are extremely proud of and have been lucky enough to play to fans new and old across the world. We hope that most will have our backs and support what we do in the future and we don't take that support for granted.
Is there a difficult road ahead either way?
It's not going to be easy, it's basically like starting over and of course we are going to run into the 'I liked you better before' argument. That's why ending M$R and starting over is the right decision, it gives us the chance to work from a blank canvas and hopefully make it easier for fans to embrace our new music.
The band's swan song comes this Saturday with a farewell gig at the Empire. What's the mood in the camp like as the night draws near?
We very excited! It's sad of course that this is the last M$R show, and I'm sure each of us have some feelings about that, but we are all so excited about our future plans with our new project!
I'm very, very proud of everything we did with Million Dollar Reload and it's definitely the end of a chapter in my life, but its time to move on. There's a good buzz surrounding Saturday night so it's definitely going to be a good one. We're going to go out in style!
Million Dollar Reload perform their final gig at the Empire Music Hall, Belfast on Saturday, August 15 with support from The Rising. Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster, the Empire Bar and all other usual outlets.