Todd Michael Hall, a Voice contestant and Saginaw native, brings metal music to Wenonah Park

The long-lost sonic echoes of Harlet and Pulling Teeth will come full circle once again along the Saginaw River. 
The Voice himself, Todd Michael Hall, is bringing his world-wide pipes home for a show with the legendary band, Riot V on Fri., Aug. 4 at the World Friendship Shell in Bay City. Riot V was inducted into the Heavy Metal History Hall of Fame in 2018.
Hall has been performing as a solo artist and in bands including Harlet, Pulling Teeth, Reverence, and Riot V since the 1980s. He won a spot on the TV show The Voice in 2019, making it onto Team Blake and into the top 20 before being eliminated.
Not to rest on his laurels, Hall still lives, works, and operates out of Saginaw, serving as President of his family business Glastender Inc., as well as molding his world-class vocal chops. 
Todd Michael Hall made it into the Top 20 on The Voice in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Todd Michael Hall)A non-stop force of focus, humanity and drive, Hall spends the majority of his musical year on tour overseas. 
“We just did four shows in Europe,” Hall says during a recent phone interview. 
“I’m around Saginaw most of the time and this fall will be 10 years since I was officially announced in the band,” he says. “It gets a little crazy in the summer, but that’s about it. The guys – two are from New York and New Jersey, and bass player Donnie (Van Stavern) is from San Antonio. Sometimes they get together and practice right before we fly out. 
“We talked about doing a hotel room rehearsal in Europe basically where the drummer is smacking on a pillow and the two guitar players and the bass player can jam together and I kind of lightly sing. The next day when we did soundcheck we did four or five songs. For this latest run there were two older classic songs that we had never played together, so we ran through those.”
Hall was happy to share his tale on how he ended up in Riot V, after the 1990s musical switch from metal to grunge. 
“When I was in Harlet, we petered out and ended (in) Pulling Teeth around ‘95,” he recalls. “My brother Jon was overdosing on Pantera and he decided I needed to start singing like Phil Anselmo, because the old ‘80s style of singing was gone. Nobody wanted that kind of singing anymore.
“In ‘96 I took guitar lessons with Jim Pagel and was doing stuff on my own. In the early ‘00’s I started thinking, maybe it would be fun to get in a heavy metal band again and I kind of threw my hat in the ring with a couple of bands.”
By that time, the Great Lakes Bay Region was the last place Hall was going to be playing metal.
“In 2004, my brother Rick shared an article with me that Jack Starr was looking for a singer he was going to put out on Magic Circle Music. The interesting thing is Magic Circle Music was a record label that was owned by (the band) Manowar. I was always a big fan of Manowar. I sent my CD in and they ended up deciding to call me. I remember getting a call from the bass player from Manowar. It was Memorial Day Weekend and I remember thinking, ‘Man I’m talking to Joey DeMaio!’ 
“He said, ‘You’re a diamond in the rough. I want you to fly out here to see the studio.’ So I ended up flying out to upstate in Auburn, New York. Joey liked me and said, ‘You’re in the band.’ Joey told Jack that I was going to be the singer in Burning Starr.”

Todd Michael Hall has been performing with bands, including Harlet, since the 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Todd Michael Hall)For the next couple years, Hall wrote and recorded music with Burning Starr.
“Then we went to play the Magic Circle Festival over in Germany. In 2009, we finished the album, released it, and we played another festival in Germany. It was kind of my first taste of going abroad. 
“When that happened, I did a second album with Burning Starr around 2011, Land Of The Dead. It was produced by this guy named Bart Gabriel from Poland. He knew Donnie and the guys in Riot and was interested in producing the next Riot album. Riot was looking for a singer as Mark Reale had just died and they had just released Immortal Soul.”
That was the moment Hall found himself at the center stage for an even bigger event.
“I went to Europe with Burning Starr for four shows and Bart was kind of our tour manager,” he shares. “Bart told Donnie that Riot should consider me. This was back in the summer of 2013. I started talking to Donnie and one of the things I did was ask for a list of songs that would be like a set. I wanted to get a feel for if I could sing these songs. 
“I took two or three songs off Immortal Soul and I recorded vocals on them at home so he could see how I sounded. He tried out a few singers unbeknownst to me. I didn’t hear too much from him. All of a sudden, he got back and said the record label liked those and wanted more. I was announced in November as the new singer, but I had written with them already before then.”
Also moonlighting with former Tokyo Blade guitarist Bryan Holland in Reverence and working for Glasstender, Hall had a very full plate.
“I was technically in three bands, Burning Starr, Reverence, and Riot. I never realized that Riot was going to start playing out as much as they did. I was used to Burning Starr where you did one or two shows every couple of years. With Riot, I was gone for six to eight weeks a year. I ended up having to jettison my other bands.” 
In 2019, Hall was chosen for Season 18 of The Voice.

When he's not touring or recording, Todd Michael Hall works as President at his family's Saginaw-based company, Glastender Inc. (Photo courtesy of Todd Michael Hall)“When I was on The Voice, you’re in a hotel with all the contestants and they force you to have a roommate because they don’t want to pay for so many rooms. It’s funny, I’ll walk down the hall rehearsing my song and just kind of getting the timing, make sure I know the lyrics and I’d hear someone just wailing!
“They have a vocal coach who would listen to you and give pointers and stuff like that. I don’t want to sound arrogant but there weren't really a lot of suggestions for me. They weren’t like ‘You should do this or do that.’ Debra Byrd was one of two vocal coaches and I remember her suggestion that at the beginning of the Foreigner song, make it a little more breathy so I had a little rasp to my voice.”
Hall knew that honing his skill on the road for years helped smooth his path to the show.
“By that point on The Voice, I'd been singing for so long,” he says. “I actually learned and solidified my voice even more when I was in Riot, learning how to do 27 songs in one night, learning how to sing live and use in-ear monitors. I was pretty advanced in my experience I guess you would say. 
“But I’m self-taught mostly when it comes to singing. I’m just a stickler for pronunciation when it comes to singing. So I guess my technique must have been all right, because they didn’t mind what I was doing.”
Back in Riot V, Hall and the band are on schedule to release their 17th album soon, their first since 2018.
“The biggest thing for me is we are putting out new music. We are getting the impression that people really – they sing along hard with our new songs. Like over here, people only want the classics. In Europe, they want the classics too, but they like the new songs and sing along with them too. Singing my words back to me, that is amazing. 
Hall also recently helped create a book by musician Don Steele based on Hall’s father, who started Glastender. It is now handed out to each new employee.
“It all started with me sitting my Dad (Jon Sr.) down and videotaping him for posterity sake so our grandkids and future kids can hear stuff right from him,” Hall says. “Right after that we saw a presentation on a family business thing and we saw a book on Shepler’s Ferry up in Mackinaw City that Don Steele had written about them. It just turned out that Don Steele and my dad had gone to high school together. I think my sister somehow talked to Don and asked him about writing one on our dad. 
“There’s a chapter that I pretty much wrote on some of my dad’s innovations. My sister Kim and I helped Don write and edit. We helped him get content and all that stuff and photos. We are really proud of our dad and our family business too.”
In the fall, Hall had a few nerves about his voice for the recent run of shows.
“I was a little nervous going into these four shows in a row,” he shares. “But I was blessed. My voice held out really great, and on the fourth day my voice felt strong, if not stronger than the first day. There’s definitely a very big mental component to singing live. If a crowd’s there and they are into it, it gives you this great energy that helps you get through. It’s hard to describe. It really lifts you up and makes you feel a little invincible.”
Riot has had a major influence on many bands over the years.
“Fire Down Under was a bigger album here,” he notes. “Early Riot influenced Metallica and a lot of people. But Thundersteel was huge in Europe and got bigger after the ‘80s. So when we go to play shows, we’ve got to play stuff off of Thundersteel. We’ve done special shows where we do the entire album.”
Hall has released a bevy of solo material up through 2021’s Sonic Healing.

He’s excited about the Bay City show, but might be a little jetlagged. A few days before the show in Bay City, he’s performing in Germany. And a few days after the show, he’s scheduled for shows in Belgium and France.

“We kind of got this three-week period where we are jetting to Europe and back. It’s just a ton of traveling. But music is a passion for me. 
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Scott spent time freelance writing/photography for The Bay City Times and Saginaw News from 1997-2014. He was picked to cover local entertainment before graduating from Delta College, landing cover stories a handful of times. During that time, Scott worked as a head cook for four different restaurants over a 34-year stretch. Married with twins, Scott has freelanced for magazines and blogs as well and continues to photograph, mainly for social media. Taking his own music to the masses in 1999, Scott has put records with his band Muddy Gumbo and his sixth solo record, Purpose, was released in 2023. He frequently plays statewide solo acoustic and with his Scott Baker Band. Scott has enjoyed opening for the likes of CCR, Styx, Blackberry Smoke, Bettye LaVette, Popa Chubby, 3 Days Grace, and more. Scott has recorded/performed with the late Dick Wagner, Adam Levy, Larry McCray, Bob Hausler, Mike Brush, Jeff Yantz, and many others. Scott currently is a Job Developer for local non-profit Do All, Inc, operates a music studio between the shows, and continues entertainment and beyond writing for Route Bay City.