INTERVIEW WITH STEELCITY GUITARIST MIKE FLOROS
Date: February 24, 2018
ONE INTRIGUING MATCH UP THIS YEAR HAS BEEN THE COMBINATION OF IDORA GUITARIST MIKE FLOROS AND MELODIC ROCK SINGER BRYAN COLE WHO HAVE TEAMED UP ALONG WITH BASSIST SCOTT WEST AND DRUMMER RON MCCLOSKEY TO FORM STEELCITY. THE GROUP’S DEBUT ALBUM ‘FORTRESS’ IS SCHEDULED TO BE RELEASED VIA KIVEL RECORDS ON MARCH 12, 2018. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH FLOROS TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT STEELCITY!
Sleaze Roxx: How did the SteelCity project come about?
Mike Floros: I started recording material for what was to be a solo record. I was considering doing something fun, such as incorporating a multitude of players on the album and that would have included singers, as well. However, after Bryan Cole sang the first few songs, I knew we were onto something special. I asked him to sing the entire album. He obviously said “yes” and the rest is history. As a band, we couldn’t be more excited. By the way, I’d like to share the band with you now. It will be myself on guitars/vocals; Bryan on lead vocals; Scott West on bass/vocals; and, Ron McCloskey on drums. We were also very fortunate to have Tony Stahl from Livesay play keys on a few tracks. That guy? A total stand-up guy and musical badass!
Sleaze Roxx: How did you end up hooking up with Kivel Records?
Mike Floros: Believe it or not, John and I didn’t get along a while back! We both had a “come to Jesus moment” and acknowledged that we were probably more alike than we’d realized and subsequently became friends. At the completion of SteelCity, I’d heard from a record label that the preliminary mix was not up to par. While chatting with John on Facebook, he offered to give it a listen. Two or three songs in, he called me and offered to put SteelCity on Kivel Records. For me, it was the perfect match — an American hard rock label that knows how to promote its artists and treats them like family. While I’d promised right of first refusal to another label — I think you know who that was — I knew this was where I really wanted to be. This isn’t just a record label. Tango Down, Livesay, Romeo Riot, The Rumours, The Great Affairs, and Steel City — we’re all treated like family and John goes the extra mile for all of us.
Sleaze Roxx: MelodicRock Records’ principal Andrew McNeice posted that he passed on SteelCity. How do you feel about that and is that extra motivation to prove him wrong?
Mike Floros: You know, I really don’t have a problem with Andrew turning us down. It’s his label, his call. In the end, all worked out the way it should. We’re exactly where we want to be and we couldn’t be more excited about it! As for your question of motivation, the only motivation I need is to give 110% as a songwriter, guitarist, and performer. I’ll do my absolute best and leave it all on the field, so to speak. Self-motivation, self-respect and accomplishing life goals mean more to me than proving the naysayers “wrong.”
Sleaze Roxx: I have seen the term “arena rock” more and more these days, and that is how SteelCity describe their sound. How would you describe what “arena rock” is like?
Mike Floros: Great question! I would surmise that most people reading this grew up in “our era.” To me, “arena rock” is anything from the classic hard rock of the ’70s, all the way through to about 1992. That encompasses a lot, but it’s a feeling in the music, an attitude. “Arena rock” is music that is larger than life, ignites the soul, and inspires your heart and mind. It has big guitar riffs, huge choruses, memorable melodies, and it stays with you. To me, this music is an extension of who you are.
Sleaze Roxx: How has it been working with Bryan Cole?
Mike Floros: That guy? Oh man, where to begin? First, for a guy with immense talent, he’s such a down-to-earth dude. You don’t come across many people in this life that are that genuine and, much like Johnny Lima, he was truly a musical brother from day one. I initially reached out to him with two songs — “Back On The Streets” and “Turnabout” — the latter of which I’d been struggling with the right harmony lines for over a year. He literally had that song done in a matter of a few days and as you’ve heard, it was nothing short of amazing. In some cases, Bryan would just reshape and improve harmony lines that I’d created. In other instances, he’d just reinvent the harmony lines for the entire song. It was when he came on board that this album truly became the monster that we feel it is.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your favorite tracks on SteelCity’s debut album?
Mike Floros: Wow! That’s a tough one. For me, every song on this one is personal, as it should be with any release. Some of these songs, I’ve carried them around in my head for 25 years! That being said, I think my favorites are “Heart And Soul,” “Do You Love Me” and “Someone Like You.” Truthfully, though, I really do love them all and am very proud of this album.
Sleaze Roxx: Why is the band’s debut album called ‘Fortress’?
Mike Floros: So many times, a band will just self-title their first album and rightfully so. It’s their introduction to the world. This album meant a great deal to all of us, however, and we felt it needed a name worthy of the music it showcased. We’re called SteelCity. All of us felt that any song could be released as the single for this album. Based on what we felt was a strong album and the name of the band, Fortress just seemed logical. Nothing could break us. Nothing could bring us down — just like a fortress.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s the status of your solo album?
Mike Floros: Well… As stated previously, SteelCity started out as that solo record. Bryan Cole was just so damn good at what he does that this took a welcome turn. It’s a turn that Ron, Scott, Bryan, and I couldn’t be more happy about. Will I do something solo in the future? Maybe, as I’ve spoken with a few artists who would be down to do something cool, but for the immediate future, the focus is on SteelCity.
Sleaze Roxx: And what about Idora. What’s the status for that group?
Mike Floros: We’re still going to record another Idora album, hopefully later this year. We’ve got quite a few songs written and the key is to select the right ones to maintain the heavier sound of the band. We also want to evolve a bit, as well. Brian Colkitt is quite literally chomping at the bit to get going on the next album, but we’ve gotta get SteelCity out there, up and running, before that can happen.
Sleaze Roxx: SteelCity are scheduled to play Rock N Skull’s 2018 edition. Will there be any additional gigs in 2018?
Mike Floros: Man, I sure hope so! I’ve been flying back and forth to Youngstown [Ohio, USA] to rehearse with the guys and things are going very well, in that regard. Bryan Cole’s voice, “live,” is just as good as Bryan Cole on album, by the way! Anyway, I know we’re looking at a few things in June, as well as August/September, and of course we’re crazy about playing Justin Murr’s event, Rock N Skull. There are five other Kivel [Records] bands at that fest, so yeah…we’re pumped for the family reunion!
Sleaze Roxx: Will SteelCity be releasing any videos in support of the debut album?
Mike Floros: We haven’t really talked about making a video, even a lyric video. However, I wouldn’t rule anything out, especially with John Kivel at the helm.
Sleaze Roxx: Prior to SteelCity signing with Kivel Records, you were the prototype for a “do it yourself” type band with Idora. What are the pros and cons of doing it yourself in the music industry?
Mike Floros: Fantastic question. The pros are that you answer to no one. There isn’t an executive somewhere telling you “NO.” You wanna make a metal polka album, you make that metal polka album! Next, you are the sole proprietor of your product. Marketed properly, you won’t need label assistance. Key words — “marketed properly.” The cons are that there’s no executive somewhere telling you “NO.” If you’ve got an idea that you think is fantastic — metal polka, for example — and it’s actually pure shit, you’ve got absolutely no one there to correct the misstep before it happens. Going it alone, you don’t have the marketing expertise and the resources that are available to you, either. That’s a massive benefit of signing with someone like John Kivel.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you — what are your top three favorite albums of all-time and why?
Mike Floros: Dude! So not a fair question…only three!!! Well, I’m not going to give you a fair answer!
For album ONE, I’ll say it’s actually three KISS albums. First, ‘Rock And Roll Over.’ It wasn’t my first KISS album, but it was the one that absolutely solidified the thought of me being a guitar player. To me, this is their best ’70s album, far beyond ‘Destroyer.’ From the opening line of “I Want You,” I was sold. This was what I wanted to do with my life. The second KISS album would be ‘Creatures Of The Night.’ KISS was at the crossroads of remaining relevant or becoming a ’70s dinosaur. With larger than life drum production and a host of instant classics, KISS announced to the world that it wasn’t going down without a fight. No, this was more of a haymaker to the jaw that proclaimed they weren’t going anywhere! Great, great album that also proved to the doubters that Eric Carr belonged in KISS. The last KISS album would be ‘Revenge. After two albums of toiling in “Bon Jovi land,” KISS came back with a vengeance with one of their heaviest albums. When in doubt, draw from your roots and yes, that’s what they did. Further, Mr. Carr would have been proud of Eric Singer’s performance on that album.
OK, now that I’ve cheated a bit… the second album! Saigon Kick’s self-titled, debut album. Few bands can take you on a musical journey the way Saigon Kick can. That album encompasses everything from pure metal to hard rock, power pop, punk, and just about everything in between. This is what an album should be — a vast array of sound that doesn’t keep you walking in place. Jason Bieler and Matt Kramer are vastly underrated, in my mind, as great songwriters of our era. From the first time I heard Tom DeFile’s bass line hit the airwaves on “Suzy,” I was hooked! Further, if this band had been marketed in the vein of Alice in Chains or Pearl Jam, I believe they’d have enjoyed multi-platinum success well into the 2000s. This is the band that could have sustained the hard rock genre of the 1980s and taken us all in very new directions.
Third and final album? Such a tough call, but I’m going to have to roll with Journey, Evolution. To me, THIS is Journey. Sure, the ’80s stuff was fine, but Journey includes Ross Valory and Gregg Rolie. This was their best line-up, at least for me. Still bluesy, still ballsy. When I think of a band that can blend the best of everything, I instantly think of the ’70s version of this band. Just amazing. I’d love to cover a song from this album one day.
Thanks again, Olivier, for the opportunity. Hopefully, I didn’t talk your ears off! And for everyone who took the time to read this, thank you as well. SteelCity truly hopes you enjoy our new album. Keep rockin’, peeps!
SteelCity‘s “Do You Love Me” song:
ARENA ROCK at it’s best!!! Put the top down, grab your girl , hop in and hit the gas!!!