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August 6, 2014

Warren rocker has the ‘edge’ on metal music

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Warren resident and 1988 Stevenson High School graduate Harold “Howie” Herula takes a break in his home studio where he interviews well-known heavy metal and hard rock bands for the “Hard Edge Radio” show he co-hosts with Rachel May.
Members of Detroit progressive metal band Imminent Sonic Destruction play loud and proud at the “Get Into The Pit” music festival held last June in Riverview, which Herula organized.
 

WARREN — When Harold “Howie” Herula was about 10 years old, he attended his first-ever rock concert with his mother.

Mom was a huge Journey fan, and the experience of seeing the arena rock band perform live in front of thousands of cheering fans put Herula on his own journey.

“I was awestruck,” he said. “I started looking at the lights. I was fascinated with putting on a huge concert like that.”

That fascination never dwindled. The 43-year-old Warren resident took his passion for hard rock and heavy metal, and carved it into a career to which many diehard rock fans wouldn’t mind banging their heads. These days, Herula is kind of like the Eddie (“That Metal Show”) Trunk of the local hard rock scene.

Over the years and through plenty of hard work, Herula has brought rock bands and their fans together as a club disc jockey, event host, booking agent, talent manager, promoter and more.  His latest gig is as owner and coordinator of Hard Edge Entertainment, a company that organizes hard rock and heavy metal shows in metro Detroit.

“I put together my own stuff for festivals,” said Herula, a feat that includes finding sponsors to help with expenses. “I do five or six a year.”

His latest festival was June’s “Get Into The Pit” at Rocky’s Pub in Riverview. Last fall, he pulled the strings for the Fall Metal Festival at the Diesel Lounge in Chesterfield. The rock ‘n’ roll enthusiast, who isn’t afraid to wear a Trash Brats T-shirt, also penned several articles for the website www.nationalrockreview.com.

And when he’s not promoting or writing, Herula — a 1988 graduate of Utica Community Schools’ Stevenson High School — co-hosts the “Hard Edge Radio” live radio show with local rock star Rachel May from 8-10 p.m. every Thursday night.

While tuning in to www.tapdetroit.com, listeners can catch up on happenings around town, and hear interviews with their favorite Michigan and Ohio acts, plus from musicians who have made it nationally. There’s even a live chat going on during the broadcast.

And if you miss the show, don’t fret as it is re-broadcast on AM radio 1610 in Detroit from noon to 2 p.m. every Saturday. It’s also in about 120 outlets through the Internet. 

Powerman 5000, Society Hostile, Killswitch Engage, Sevendust, Alter Bridge and Chris Jericho are among the artists Herula and May have interviewed. Other guests have included Dream Theater, Overkill, Taproot and Dave “Snake” Sabo of Skid Row. Herula said the show always works best when the co-hosts and the musicians have a conversation rather than a formal interview.

“It’s more fun and informative,” said Herula, who always learns something new each show. “There are definitely some questions I didn’t know the answers to.”

Detroit thrash rockers Battlecross, a band that has toured the U.S. and Europe, have been radio guests of Herula’s.

“He interviewed us a couple times, for Mayhem (Festival) last year and the Detroit Music Awards this year,” Battlecross vocalist Kyle Gunther, 31, said. “He’s a local guy so he already knew who we are. He fit right in. He understands how to do an interview, so that is nice.”

Something Gunther really appreciates is how Herula “tries to shed the spotlight on the bands not getting looked at. He helps bands succeed.”

The radio show is recorded from the tapdetroit studios in the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit. However, when it comes to interviewing national acts, Herula pretapes those interviews from his home studio.

“The national acts call me,” he said. “The call comes through the computer, and I pretape them.”

Herula’s studio at home is equipped with mementos that tell the history of his lifelong relationship with music. Autographed guitars set the tone, as pictures of his favorite artists with their signatures decorate the walls. Bobbleheads of Ozzy Osbourne and his family can be spotted on a top shelf, along with Iron Maiden cups.

While heavy metal and hard rock are always on the radar, Herula also is a fan of many country acts, including Dwight Yoakam and Gary Allan. While Herula has known Allan many years, meeting Yoakam is on his wish list.

When Herula danced with his wife at their 2006 wedding at the Ritz in Warren, he did it rhinestone cowboy style. His friend Hank Williams III was the hired band for the night. Williams — the grandson of the late Hank Williams Sr. and son of Hank Williams Jr. — provided enough honkey-tonk two-stepping and some late night metal for 300 wedding guests.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.