Brick By Brick Guitarist Mike Valente Talks About the Bands New Album “Hive Mentality”

Mike Valente is the guitarist for the Upstate New York hardcore/metal band Brick By Brick. The band is set to release a new album titled “Hive Mentality” on February 22nd and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Mike recently about the release, working with “Orange is the New Black “star Jessica Pimentel and the bands upcoming European tour.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your band Brick By Brick?

Mike Valente: The band has been around since 2004 and at that time we had confined ourselves to be just a local band. We had a couple members that couldn’t do a lot of traveling so it was basically something we did just for fun. As the band progressed and there was a bit of a demand for us we had to look at getting some new members who could commit more time. In 2014 we added Ray Mazzola on vocals and since that time things have been a lot of fun.

AL: What can you tell us about the band’s new album “Hive Mentality”?

MV: The last record we put out really didn’t have the distribution reach that we had wanted. In order to make up for that we went back in and re-worked a bunch of things and finished up some other material that we hadn’t done before. We are now working with Upstate Records and they have been really good to us. At the time we were slated to be part of the Rebellion Tour in Europe and we needed a new record so we went into the studio so this time when we were touring over there people had a better idea of who we were and could get our record. Getting picked up for this tour in March is what really kicked things into motion.

AL: There a few different guests on the record. Can you tell us about those?

MV: Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste/Iron Reagan has been a friend of mine for a long time. When those guys come through we always have a great time. I had been listening to a lot of thrash music at the time of writing the song and Ray and I though Tony would be perfect for the song as it has a real party vibe to it. The experiences we have had together match perfectly so I called Tony up and he didn’t even bat an eye as he was totally down for it. The song we “In The Ruins” which features Vincent Bennett of The Acacia Strain was a song we had originally released on a split with the band Ruckus from California about six or seven years ago. The original version was with our old singer and there was a limited amount pressed. Everyone was down for it so that worked out nicely. We also have Jessica Pimentel from Alekhine’s Gun. A lot of people know her from “Orange is the New Black”. I have known her for quite some time as well and thought she would be perfect for the rant part in “Hive Mentality”. Just like with the others I called her up and she was more than happy to do it.

AL: How did the cover of Motorheads “Iron Fist” end up on the album?

MV: We had been asked to be part of a Motorhead compilation that Upstate Records was putting together called “Damage Cases”. We had intended on doing a more obscure song but when we looked at the track listing a lot of other bands were looking to do the same thing. I couldn’t believe no one had picked “Ace of Spades” or “Iron Fist” being they are such iconic Motorhead songs. We chose “Iron Fist” as it’s such a fun song to play. We did our own spin on it and it’s just a great song to play live.

AL: Can you tell us more about the bands European tour in March and about any other shows you have lined up?

MV: We kick things off with our release party show on February 22nd. We are doing that at Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY. Anyone who buys a presale ticket will also get a copy of the album. We are doing a bunch of other cool packages for that show as well. The line includes Dying Fetus, Ramallah, I Am, Assault on the Living, Snap Mare and Close to Nothing. After that we aren’t doing anything until we leave for Europe March 6-18. I think this is the eight year that they have done the Rebellion tour/festival over there. We will be playing with Madball, Iron Reagan and bunch of other great bands. That tour is going to be a lot fun and we are defiantly looking forward to it.

For more info on Brick By Brick you can visit their Facebook page at and on Instagram at @brickbybrickhc

Film Review “Brick Mansions”

Starring: Paul Walker, David Belle and RZA
Directed By: Camille Delamarre
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 91 minutes
Relativity Media

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Has Hollywood reached that point where they see Luc Besson’s name and automatically write the check? He has 24 screenwriting credits over the past decade and off the top of my head I can’t come up with one good movie he has penned. His latest is “Brick Mansions”, a remake of “District 13”, which he also wrote. From what I’ve read, he didn’t change much with the story. He’s either getting lazy or he knows studio executives will automatically respond with, “Shut up and take my money.”

“Brick Mansions” has a fairly promising premise. We’re dropped into a crime-ridden, dystopian Detroit in 2018 (not too far off or inaccurate). In this not so bleak future, the powers to be have built a tall thick wall around the problem spot of the city, known as the Brick Mansions. A ruthless drug kingpin, Tremaine (RZA), controls the area under his iron fist, even though he’s only seen cooking and making aimless threats. He has two problem spots in his territory. One is an undercover cop, Damien (Walker), who fights the scum of the street that he incorrectly blames for his father’s death. The other is Lino (Belle), a scrappy fighter who fights for the common good because…who cares because the script certainly doesn’t.

One can surmise that is going to be a rough and tough action movie and while that is true to a certain extent, the fights never evolve beyond mildly amusing. You’ll begin to realize that each battle is actually just one chase after another with Lino pulling off his best Jackie Chan escape moves and Damien following suit. I have to give credit to Belle, who appears to do most of his own stunts besides the insane story high jumps and landings that would shatter anyone’s fibula and tibula. “Brick Mansions” can never quite agree on whether or not it wants to be an insane silly romp through the urban jungle or a serious crime movie and instead settles on cheap action gimmicks and choppy storytelling.

When it does try to be serious, you realize there was never an adequate set-up provided to propel the characters forward or enough sound reasoning to suggest that risking life and limb is worth chasing down these common street thugs. RZA is the weakest choice for acting I’ve seen this year. His emotional range is that of an enraged adolescent, constantly thrashing about while blaming other people and never realizing the consequences of his actions. Halfway through the movie RZA randomly picks up a Jamaican accent which he has a hard time verbally articulating if the script calls for him to speak above a whisper. The most frustrating aspect, without giving away the ending, is that Tremaine never meets a suitable punishment, but is instead revered in the most ludicrous way.

“Brick Mansions” is a technically sound movie. The choreographed escapes and fights (when there is one) are solid and the scenery of our future ghetto is more entertaining than the characters inhabiting it. “Brick Mansions” will be a box office draw because it is Paul Walker’s final role after he tragically died. In one aspect, “Brick Mansion” sadly symbolizes what his career was, one forgettable movie after another, but his on-screen time does remind the audience that he had the potential to do so much better.