It was 2009 in the bustling city of Seattle, when a group of passionate musicians came together, united by their love for the legendary metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Mark X. Plog, who’s journey as a guitar player was rooted in a deep affinity for Dio's classics, helped propel the tribute into an international touring act. Forging a bond with like-minded talents: Chad McMurray, a powerhouse vocalist with a soaring voice matching Dio's range and passion and Michael Robson, a drummer who’s style encompassed the uniqueness of Ward and Appice.
Under the name Rising, the band quickly gained acclaim for their faithful renditions of Dio's greatest hits from his long career. Fans flocked to their shows, and they took great pride in bringing Dio's magic to life on international stages. Yet, a desire grew within them to create something uniquely their own.
Returning on a long flight from Ireland in 2014 after another great run of gigs, they contemplated the next chapter of their musical journey. Seeing the chemistry and energy that developed between them, Mark X. suggested they take up his concept for a band he long dreamed of creating with the name RivetSkull. The idea resonated with Chad and Michael, and so the seed was planted. Slowly over the next few years RivetSkull emerged.
Drawing inspiration from their shared love for the original forms of heavy metal and infusing their own unique and diverse influences into the mix, they spent countless hours refining their sound. In 2020 after adding Mark Hopkins on bass, RivetSkull took a bold step forward, unveiling their debut album “Trail of Souls.” Which was self-recorded and released just as the world shut down for Covid.
Wanting to better represent the music and the band after the lost year, they decided to re-record the original album and call it “Trail of Souls: Samsara.” Samsara is a Hindu word that means “rebirth.” The re-release of these songs includes a cover of the Aerosmith song “Kings and Queens” that has always been a metal song in hiding – until now.
What sets RivetSkull apart is not just their sonic prowess but their poignant lyrical themes that delve into life’s struggles. Their lyrics are a reflection of the human experience, exploring the highs and lows, and triumphs and tribulations that define life’s journey, a genre the band likes to call “Heady Metal.” RivetSkull’s lyrics invite listeners to connect with the raw and visceral aspects of existence, transforming the listener into a cathartic and empowering experience. As they carry the heavy metal torch, RivetSkull’s lyrical depth adds an extra layer to their sonic intensity, making them not just a metal band, but storytellers of the human condition.
Embracing the ethos of their musical forefathers while carving out a unique space for themselves in the ever-evolving world of metal, RivetSkull is writing a new chapter in the history of metal, a chapter where the past meets the future.
Over the years Chad has been a singer, bass player, producer, engineer, and composer. From rock to opera, his solid technique and versatile style can be attributed to years of studying with the great Maestro David Kyle who trained many powerhouse rock singers, including Ann Wilson, Geoff Tate, and Layne Staley.
Because of this training, Chad can pay tribute to some of the best singers in rock and roll and heavy metal with ease. Past tributes include Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), and Geddy Lee (Rush). In addition to several other original projects.
Chad has toured the world with Led Zeppelin tribute No Quarter as “John Paul Jones” for the past 20 years.
Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2017, he owned and operated Khaos Studios and has produced hundreds of Seattle bands. Chad was also owner of the live music venue "The Mix" in Seattle, WA.
MARK X. PLOG
Mark always wanted to be a drummer. His parents thought drums would disturb the neighbors so they purchased a Fender Mustang guitar and a Fender Twin amp for him. Well, that was a mistake. There were lots of broken broomsticks from his mom beating on the floor above as he literally wore out the grooves on vinyl albums while learning to play Sabbath, Priest, and Thin Lizzy riffs.
Fast forward to Houston, Texas in the mid-1980s and his band Guardian that was deep in the music scene at the time. Having graduated to a Carvin half-stack, a classic white Gibson Les Paul Custom, and a Jackson Custom Soloist, he was a frequenter of venues like Cardi’s and Rockers where he cut his teeth doing shows with local bands like King’s X, Pantera, and Hellstar.
Then life happened and he left Houston and the music scene only later to emerge in Seattle hungry for more. In Seattle, he found himself a place as lead guitar for Rising – a tribute to Ronnie James Dio. After close to a decade of big shows and international tours covering the guitar work of Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, and Vivian Campbell it was finally time to bring RivetSkull to life.
Mark still plays that same classic San Dimas Jackson Custom Soloist but has become seriously infatuated with his ENGL EL-670 Special Edition head and Mesa Boogie oversized cabinets. Never used anything but Ernie Ball strings from day one.
Born in Spokane, WA, Mark moved to Bellevue, WA with his family when he was a small boy. He came of age in the town that spawned Heart and Queensrÿche. When he first heard KISS at the age of 12, he became hooked on hard rock and heavy metal. He started playing guitar at age 15. There was a great heavy metal scene in his neighborhood that was centered around a roller rink that became an "arena" called Lake Hills. Queensrÿche came out of that Lake Hills scene. Heart came and spoke to his high school music class about life as a professional musician. This made a big impression.
After high school and a few years working in plastics factories, Mark got his degree in computer science and went to work at Microsoft. He also built a recording studio which he operated commercially for several years.
He played guitar in several bands and released three albums throughout the 1990s and 2000s. After many years and many bands as a guitarist, a long-time friend asked if he would be interested in playing bass in his band. They'd been friends for about 20 years and had written and recorded many songs, but had never been in a band together. It sounded like a great way for them to play together so Mark said, "Sure!" That was in 2012. It turns out that Mark ADORES playing bass and should have switched years earlier.
Now that he's found his instrument, Mark could not be more excited about playing bass in RivetSkull. Heavy metal is the music that made him want to be a musician. He proudly plays custom basses made by the late, great luthier extraordinaire, Mike Lull.
Michael is a veteran of the Seattle music scene. His feel and groove are the result of years of playing all styles of music but his roots are 100% metal.
Michael is an avid hiker, a phenomenal artist with pen and paint and all sorts of other media. There's not much Michael cannot do.