METAL CHURCH's KURDT VANDERHOOF Believes Antidepressants And Prescription Pills Played A Part In MIKE HOWE's Suicide
May 6, 2023
In a new interview with Australia's Metal Mal , METAL CHURCH guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof spoke about the passing of the band's singer, Mike Howe, less than two years ago.
Howe was found dead at his home in Eureka, California in July 2021. According to TMZ, Howe's official cause of death was determined to be asphyxia due to hanging. A spokesperson for the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department told the site authorities were calling it a suicide. He was only 55 years old.
Asked by Metal Mal if he saw any "signs" that Howe was battling severe depression, Vanderhoof said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's an interesting thing because he was going through a rough time. He had gone through a divorce and gone through some stuff which I know hit him really, really hard. So he was struggling with that; the family breaking up and things like that was really hard on him. But we kind of left him alone to deal with it; we didn't put any pressure on him to do band stuff. 'Cause I was moving and we had that all set up. So we just let him be. [I stayed] in contact with him, just [to say], 'Hey, how're you doing?' every once in a while, just to see. And when I spoke to him and it was time to start writing a new record, he was doing fine. He was coming out of it, he was feeling good, he was kind of on the mend and was getting some help and things like that. And so he was coming out of it. So I said, 'Hey, let's start working on a new record.' He thought that was a great idea."
Kurdt continued: "He just went through a real bad time, like we all do. I knew he was struggling a little bit, but… I don't wanna get too personal about what was going on with him, but he was coming out of it. We spoke, we had a couple of great conversations. Mike was coming back. He was ready to make a new record. So I started writing. And then, all of a sudden… I got him the record. We had a conversation. He listened to it and called me back [and said], 'Oh, I like this. And I like this. Let's do something with this.' Blah blah. The usual process. And then about a week after that, I got the call."
Regarding how he has dealt with his longtime friend's death, Kurdt said: "If it would have happened about four or five months prior to that, I probably would have been surprised but not as shocked. But after that, it was like… To be perfectly honest, I still haven't processed it, because I can't. I can't, and so I'm not gonna try. My best friend is gone. And I'm kind of one of the people that, and most artists probably are like this, there's a certain amount of depression and emotional things that go into creative types — for better or worse. But I don't understand [and] I can't relate to the feeling of being so depressed that something like that is the answer. I can't get my head around that. I don't understand. So I think there was some… I fully believe that there was some of the antidepressants and some of the chemicals and pills and things that are prescribed to a lot of people had a lot to do with it. That's just my personal opinion. I think that.
"So I haven't really processed it," Kurdt repeated. "I can't. I don't know what to think. So I'm just gonna keep moving forward. And it's not that I'm insensitive; it's just… I can't. Especially somebody like that, who was the most kind-hearted, nicest, most loving, caring guy I've ever met in my life, for him to be in that much pain, that just breaks my heart."
When Mike's death was first announced, TMZ stated that cops in Eureka got a call just after 10 a.m. on July 26, 2021 reporting an unexpected death at a home. By the time deputies arrived, they found Howe dead at the scene.
According to police, drugs and alcohol are not believed to be factors in the death and no controlled substances or paraphernalia were located at the scene.
Four days after Howe's death, the surviving members of METAL CHURCH shared a statement on social media in which they blamed his suicide on the fact that he "was victimized by a failing health-care system and subsequently poisoned by the venom of Big Pharma," a term which refers collectively to the global pharmaceutical industry. "In short and in essence, he fell prey to the real 'Fake Healer'."
METAL CHURCH's statement was quickly met with criticism from some of the band's fans who felt that the long-running metal act was using Howe's death as a platform to assert its political views. As a result, METAL CHUCH pulled its original post from social media and replaced it with a revised version, in which the musicians said they were "in no way, shape or form referring to anything in relation to vaccinations, COVID or politics. We were saying our brother was hurting and while he was seeking medical care for it, the treatments he was utilizing did not protect him," they wrote. "Otherwise, he would still be with us today."
Howe, who fronted METAL CHURCH from 1988 until 1994, officially rejoined the band in April 2015.
Prior to joining METAL CHURCH more than three decades ago, Howe spent two years fronting California metal act HERETIC.
The reunion between Mike and METAL CHURCH was put in motion in July of 2014 when Mike started working with Vanderhoof on a side project Kurdt was forming with Nigel Glockler from SAXON. Through these initial conversations, Kurdt convinced Mike to ultimately return to METAL CHURCH. The idea was to see if they could recapture some of the magic from the three albums METAL CHURCH released in the late '80s: "The Human Factor", "Blessing In Disguise" and "Hanging In The Balance". Out of those sessions, 2016's "XI" was born and captured the sound that made the band fan favorites in the '80s and mixed it with a new, invigorated sound.
Howe is not the first singer of METAL CHURCH to die. David Wayne passed away in May 2005 from complications following a car crash. He was 47 years old.
Wayne sang on METAL CHURCH's first two classic offerings (1984's "Metal Church" and 1986's "The Dark") before leaving the group and being replaced by Howe.
This past February, METAL CHURCH announced that it had enlisted ROSS THE BOSS and LET US PREY vocalist Marc Lopes to sing for the band.
METAL CHURCH's first studio album with Lopes, "Congregation Of Annihilation", will arrive on May 26 via Rat Pak Records (America) and Reaper Entertainment (Europe).
BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).