ROKSNAPS #2

Roksnaps are fan photographs which captured the atmosphere of concerts on Tyneside during the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was a time when rock and metal bands ruled the city halls up and down the country. On Tyneside we had the main venues of Mecca in Sunderland, The Mayfair and City Hall in Newcastle. The gigs were packed with tribes of mostly young lads from different towns around the North East. T-shirts, programmes and autographs were hunted down to collect as souveniers – and some people took photographs on the night.
One fan who kept his photo’s and kindly shared them on this blog is John Edward Spence…


‘The first gig I went to I was 15. It was on the 31st of October 1977 at the Newcastle City Hall and the band was Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. The support band were called Kingfish. Rainbow came on really late and we missed our last bus home so one of friends had to phone his dad for a lift’.

‘Around October ’78 I decided to take my camera to a few gigs. I had a job so I bought a roll of film and some flashcubes, my camera was a Kodak 126. I couldn’t take it to every gig as the film and flashcubes used to make a dent in my pay packet’.

‘I used to go to loads of gigs at the City Hall and the Mayfair of course, that was my favourite venue. I was also lucky enough to see the bands associated with the NWOBHM, just loved the music around then’.

‘I don’t go to many gigs now. I always try and watch The Tubes when they come over, in fact the last gig I went to was to see The Tubes supporting Alice Cooper at Leeds, great gig’.

 

Interview by Gary Alikivi 2018.

Recommended:

Pyromaniax – Bombs, Flashes & Burnt Eyebrows, December 2017.

New Gang in Town – When Heay Metal Hit the Accelerator, May 2017.

Have You Heard This One ? December 2017.

1980 – The Year Metal was Forged on Tyneside,  February 2018.

Roksnaps#1  February 2018.

 

ROKSNAPS #1

scorpions

Scorpions at Newcastle City Hall 13th May 1980.

Roksnaps are fan photographs which captured the atmosphere of concerts on Tyneside during the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was a time when rock and metal bands ruled the city halls up and down the country. On Tyneside we had the main venues of The Mecca in Sunderland and over in Newcastle were The Mayfair and City Hall. The gigs were packed with tribes of mostly young lads from towns across the North East. T-shirts, programmes and autographs were hunted down to collect as souveniers – and some people took photographs on the night.

 

One fan who kept his photo’s and shared them on this blog was Tony Maddison…
‘I started going to gigs in 1978. My very first was Rush at Newcastle City Hall on February 15th 1978. As a 16 year old and still at school, I was musically influenced by older lads. A few of my contemporaries had been to gigs with their older brothers, and I’d heard exciting tales of noise and crowds of headbangers going wild. Should I fear for my life? Should I say a final goodbye to my family?’

scorpscity hall

Scorpions at Newcastle City Hall 13th May 1980.

‘Walking into the City Hall that night was a sight to behold. Everyone looked like me! Denim jackets covered in patches – everywhere. GET IN! I can’t remember much about the actual performance, but I know it caused an addiction to live music that I can’t get enough of after almost 40 years’. (Below pics of Danceclass supporting Judie Tzuke at Newcastle City Hall 30th April 1982).

 

‘Fast forward a couple of years and during the 80’s I was a regular gig-goer. Going to see bands 3,4 or 5 times a week, EVERY week. I was also becoming interested in photography after devouring each page of music weekly Sounds and NME. I bought myself a 35mm SLR camera. I soon started taking it to gigs and experimented taking pics of whatever band I was seeing, with varying results. The better ones you see here but invariably they returned blurry’.

gschooll

Girlschool at Newcastle City Hall 4th May 1982.

‘My photographic enthusiasm soon faded when I had to sell my collection of camera equipment at the outbreak of the Miners’ Strike in 1984. But more recently with the vast improvements in smartphone cameras, I find myself taking just a couple of photos as a keepsake. Just recently I got reminded that it was a year since I’d seen The Pixies at Newcastle Academy. The lighting was on the dark side, and it was a lively crowd..well, thats my excuse for a dodgy picture!’More Roksnaps coming soon from contributors Ian Coult and John Spence.
Gary Alikiv 2018.

Recommended:

Pyromaniax – Bombs, Flashes & Burnt Eyebrows, 12th December 2017.

New Gang in Town – When Heay Metal Hit the Accelerator, 6th May 2017.

Have You Heard This One ? 18th December 2017.

1980 – The Year Metal was Forged on Tyneside,  11th February 2018.

COMFORT IN SOUND – for Danny McCormack vocals & bassist with The Main Grains/Wildhearts

Music can heal and put the pieces back together again. It listens when no one else does. It’s alive. Music makes everything better…and it can trigger memories. One of my earliest was listening to the radio and hearing ‘Leader of the Pack’ by The Shangri-Las. I asked Danny about his memories… ‘When I was younger I used to play my dad’s Johnny Cash cassette. I played it on one of those portable tape recorders under my pillow, it was my first headphones haha’.

img45MGSep2017

In an earlier interview with Danny (Death or Glory 8th September 2017) he talked about his time with The Wildhearts, The Yo Yo’s and current band The Main Grains. I asked him after your health problems and being away from music what does it feel like playing again ? ‘Well it’s taken it’s toll out on me you know with the drugs and that. I‘ve only got one leg left and I’m trying to learn how to walk around with crutches. But I’m getting there you know. It all started at Reading Festival in ’94’ (Watch the clip on You Tube as The Wildhearts play the main stage and during ‘Everlone’ Danny injures his knee. At the end of the song the crowd are chanting his name. Then Ginger (vocals/guitar) steps up to the mic… ‘You probaly thought Danny was turning into a hippy sitting down but he’s actually dislocated his knee so we gonna wait until the end of the gig and pop it back in’. Danny plays the rest of the set sitting on a flight case grimacing in pain).
‘We were live on stage, first song I jumped up in the air and bang, landed awkward. My leg bent the wrong way. The roadcrew said ‘we’re gonna take you off’ I said ‘no fuckin’ way just get me a Jack Daniels and a line of coke’ haha. Afterwards I went to hospital and was operated on, it’s been really weak since then – but I did finish the gig!

25591745_1005669862905437_5681946629421335400_n

His current band The Main Grains are JJ on guitar, Ginna on drums and Ben on guitar with Danny on bass and vocals… ‘When we first got together it all fit in place. You know playing now is really fresh and exciting again and I’m doing it for the right reasons. Rehearsing, preparing and planning for gigs. I’m loving it, I’m in love with music again’.

The Main Grains have recently finished a tour with Tylas Dogs D’Amour, how did that come about ? ’I’ve known Tyla since Bam Bam was in The Wildhearts so that was going back to ’92. When I got The Main Grains together I got in touch with Tyla and said we’d be up for any gigs that are coming up, he said yeah no problem man. He kept to his word and got in touch a few month ago and mentioned the December gigs. We were more than willing to go for that. Normally a tour can be weeks at a time but this one we were doing 2 or 3 dates on with a couple of days off inbetween. It was good because with the gigs like that you have a few days to recover, come home, shower, get changed and get some proper food in yer. We started at the beginning of December and went up till Edinburgh on the 22nd. But with the Ryan Hamilton tour coming up in March that’s different cos we’re 10 days on and 1 day off. Supporting Tyla’s Dogs was brilliant. The Dogs crowd are same as our rock n roll crowd so yeah went down really well, it was great. Great bunch of lads, drinking buddies with a gig inbetween haha’.

With the rise of Spotify, You Tube and others what impact has the internet had on music ? ’It’s totally changed the game. You can make a video yourself, put it on the internet and have worldwide release, overnight. Before you had to have a record company and certain amount of backing to get a video shown on TV. But our track Unscrewed has had 25,000 hits on You Tube so far which is not bad for an unsigned band’.

img56TMG Warehouse 23

Do you think social media is essential for any band ? ‘Yes I do all that, it’s relentless. You have to be on it to let people know whats happening and it keeps you in the public eye. Especially when you are starting out again because I had years off the scene and just getting myself together in the last few year. But it needs to be done. I moved to London when I was 19, I wouldn’t had to that if the internet was about then. Managers, record companies, journalists were all in London so we had to base ourselves there. The companies were all in London, New York or Los Angeles. That was the 3 main places, then Seattle was added with the Sub Pop label who were very influential back in the 90’s. Nirvana are still making them obscene amounts of money now with the re-releases.’

Danny was in The Yo Yo’s who formed in 1998 and were signed to Sub Pop who released their debut album Uppers & Downers in 2000. Before that he was in The Wildhearts with Ginger who was also originally from my hometown, South Shields. Danny has been rehearsing some new songs written by Ginger. How did you get back in touch ? ’We had fallen out and hadn’t spoken for 10 year but he called me up out of the blue and asked me to play at his birthday bash in December 2016. We had a great time so we’ve kept in touch and now The Wildhearts are going to be playing some gigs this year. It’s really exciting planning new stuff again it’s like I’ve got something really positive in my life to aim for you know. I’ve done a lot of growing up lately, I’m clean now. I can talk to Ginger just as a friend, a human being. Together we’ve been through a lot you know’.

24837671_10155618286886195_6319975873686787403_o.jpg
(The Wildhearts are on the ’Britrock Must be Destroyed’ UK tour during May 2018. Line up is CJ & Ginger (guitars) Danny (bass) and Ritch (drums). Also added to the bill are Reef and Terrorvision. Dates during the Summer festivals are also being arranged).
‘I love the bloke to bits and I have a lot of respect for the guy. Back then we were thick as thieves man, we were very close. In the 90’s we used to go to a pub in London called The Intrepid Fox on Wardour Street in Soho. I loved that place. It was a sort of goth rock punky bar. People must have been buying us drinks cos I’m not sure how we could afford it – we were all skint! The owner of the pub had a boot of a cadillac car converted into a couch and the amount of times I ended up sleeping on it after the pub closed haha. Next morning I would wake up and start all over again. We were always at The Marquee on the guest lists. There was a page in the Kerrang mag called View From the Bar and we were always trying to get our faces in there, that was a big thing getting in the gossip columns of the mags. The Wildhearts spent a lot of time in the studio’s and we released a load of records. Ginger must have written at least a couple of hundred songs by now.’

In our last interview you talked about The Wildhearts supporting AC/DC. What are your memories of that tour ? ‘We were support on the Ballbreaker tour in 1996. We done a couple of months with them. We got on great with their vocalist, fellow geordie Brian Johnson, he really looked after us. I watched them on stage every night, it was brilliant. Some nights I saw Brian full of cold, really bad, but they never cancelled a gig. Before he went on he’d take a sly nip of whiskey then straight into Back in Black. Brilliant. I remember one night he came into our dressing room and said ‘Pack yer t-shirts lads we’re going to America’. We thought we had another few month on tour but sadly we ran out of money and left the tour earlier than anticipated. Gutted. But that’s the way it goes sometimes’.

KERRANG

Have you any favourite songs or studio moments from that time?Earth Vs The Wildhearts album was a great time recording. Mark Dodson worked on it, he was great. He also done Anthrax stuff. Mick Ronson played slide guitar on My Baby is a Headfuck. Mick Ronson..Ziggys Spiders from Mars…unbelievabe ! He got it down in the first take but we let him play on cos we just wanted to listen. It was the last thing he played on before he died. Really sad it was, he was a really nice bloke. That song goes down really well at gigs, it’s a sing a long, quite simple in context with the rest of the album because some of those songs are quite complicated. Songs like Everlone had more to them you know. I like the song Mindslide. I love the sentiment of the song and I love the drumming on it by Ritchie, it’s phenomenal. (Mindslide was a b-side to the single ‘I Wanna Go Where the People Go’ and Earth Vs The Wildhearts was their debut album released in August 1993).
’I love working in the studio getting the bass down then watching the layers of guitars and vocals added. I love watching the track build and listening back on the big speakers. Hearing the finished track it’s such a buzz, a real rush. But playing a song live you get a cheer and it’s instant gratification. All the hairs on my arms stand up, it’s like being plugged into the mains. It’s better than any drug that I’ve tried, wish I could bottle it’.

img20TMG 3 June, Camden Rocks

What has music given you ? ’Well it’s got me around the world and it’s like a feeling of belonging. You go to a gig and I feel one of the crowd. I’m with my people, being part of a community of music lovers, and I can express myself in music. Being confident and comfortable in yer own skin which is important. It’s freedom. The ultimate that music has given me is freedom’.

Debut mini-album ‘Don’t Believe Everything You Think’ available on cd and ltd edition 10″ red vinyl NOW! http://maingrains.com/store

Next up for The Main Grains is a tour in March with Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors.

25586857_1860912760838419_4874645119467422479_o

Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2018.

Recommended:

Mond Cowie, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, Angels of the North 12th March 2017.

Neil Newton, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, All the Young Punks 4th June 2017.

CRASHED OUT, Guns, Maggots & Street Punk 6th July 2017.

Steve James, WARWOUND, Under the Skin 9th July 2017.

Danny McCormack, THE MAIN GRAINS, Death or Glory 8th September 2017.

Steve Straughan, UK SUBS, Beauty & the Bollocks 1st October 2017.

Carol Nichol, LOWFEYE, Radge Against the Machine 15th November 2017.

 

1980 – THE YEAR METAL WAS FORGED ON TYNESIDE

It’s one year on from the start of this blog, with over 18,000 readers, 150,000 words, 115 posts and more to come. But enough of the stats – this one rewinds the clock back to 1980.

Skipping through Spotify or You Tube today people have the choice to listen to different styles of music. Billions of songs at your fingertips. But there was a time when music lovers listened to only one genre – creating different tribes. The 70’s brought in hard rock bands Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Motorhead and the hairy rock tribe followed. Disco filled dancefloors with Donna Summer, ‘Le Freak’ by Chic, a real Saturday Night Fever. But they were followed by the Disco Sucks movement in America. One night in 1979 at a ball game in Chicago, rock radio DJ Steve Dahl took to the field with his anti-disco army and blew up thousands of disco records. A publicity stunt he thought would bring in an extra 5,000 people to the game – it brought 70,000. Where they a tribe of firestarters, or was it the 98cents entry fee if you had a record under your arm ready to burn? The disco tribe never recovered. By ’78 the Sex Pistols had played their last gig in San Fransisco and at the start of ’79 Sid Vicious died in New York. By the end of the year The Clash had called out to London. Was the punk tribe dying out ? What did 1980 hold for the tribes ?

Post punk, Ska and Two Tone were heard around the country – they were all three minute hero’s. But a new tribe were gathering pace – one that followed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The movement started in the late 70’s in the UK and reached international attention by the early 80’s. The DIY attitude led to self-produced recordings and new independant labels setting up. The movement spawned many bands with Iron Maiden and Def Leppard becoming international stars. Bands from the North East were also delivering the goods. Newcastle had chief headbangers Raven, on the coast in Whitley Bay were Tygers of Pan Tang, and across the river Tyne in my hometown South Shields – Fist, Mythra, Hellanbach, Hollow Ground and Saracen were all recorded on vinyl by the early 80’s. Neat records were based in Wallsend and close by in Durham, was Guardian Records. Venue’s like Sunderland Mecca, Newcastle Mayfair and the City Hall had regular visit’s from rock/metal bands and the tribe followed. 1980 was the year metal was forged on Tyneside.

January
Canadian rock band Rush released their 5th album Permanent Waves and UFO released their 8th album No Place To Run.

On 17th & 18th Newcastle City Hall saw a concert by UFO with support from Girl. Over at the Mayfair AC/DC had Diamond Head opening on the 25th, and at Newcastle University Def Leppard were on the 26th supported by Witchfynde.

FEB

February
This month will be remembered for the passing of Bon Scott, lead singer of AC/DC. He was only 33 when he died on the 19th. On the same night Rainbow played Newcastle City Hall. They also played on the 20th with support on both nights fom Samson. The City Hall also had a visit from Uriah Heep with support from Girlschool on the 6th.

Newcastle Mayfair promoted Heavy Metal Fridays with Tygers of Pan Tang plus Southbound and Axe on the 15th with Saxon plus Crypt and Mythra on the 22nd. Def Leppard played on the 29th with support from Witchfynde.

March
Three rock/metal albums were in the shop’s this month – On Through the Night the debut from Def Leppard. Van Halen’s 3rd Woman and Children First and Scorpions release their 7th album Animal Magnetism.

Newcastle City Hall saw Gillan on the 6th. April Wine with support from Angelwitch on the 10th and Judas Priest with openers Iron Maiden on the 20th. On the 21st both bands play the Mayfair which has an 18+ entry. The City Hall also saw Pat Travers supported by Diamond Head on the 30th. Over at The Castle Leazes Havelock Hall were Tygers of Pan Tang with openers Magnum on the 4th.

April
AC/DC found a replacement for the recently deceased Bon Scott, bringing in Geordie vocalist Brian Johnson. This month they enter the recording studio to work on the new album.

In this month 3 albums of note were released. The debut from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest 6th album British Steel, and Heaven and Hell from Black Sabbath. Their first with vocalist Ronnie James Dio.

Sammy Hagar with openers Riot played at Newcastle City Hall on the 12th. Def Leppard plus Magnum and Tygers of Pan Tang on the 20th then Saxon on the 21st.

20280259_10154835856767005_8162999928253549175_o

May
Saxon released Wheels of Steel their 2nd album. Whitesnake release their 3rd album, Ready n Willing and Kiss release their 8th, Unmasked.

Newcastle City Hall saw visits from Thin Lizzy on the 1st & 2nd. Scorpions with openers Tygers of Pan Tang on the 13th, Black Sabbath with support from Shakin’ Street on the 18th & 19th. Over at Newcastle Mayfair were Iron Maiden and openers Praying Mantis on the 16th. Also on the 23rd were Fist, White Spirit and Raven.

mythFISTtygers

Mythra, Fist and Tygers of Pan Tang in the Sounds charts in May 1980.

June
This month’s studio albums you could choose from I’m a Rebel – Accept, Danger Zone – Sammy Hagar, Demolition – Girlschool, Metal Rendez-vous – Krokus, Head On – Samson, Scream Dream – Ted Nugent or Tomcattin – Blackfoot.

Newcastle City Hall saw visits from Rush supported by Quartz on the 12th. Whitesnake with support from GForce on the 13th & 14th. Van Halen with openers Lucifers Friend on the 17th. Sunderland Mayfair had Iron Maiden and Praying Mantis on the 11th. Then Fist on the 20th.

11219319_1095379463854137_1935540714137821083_n copy

July
AC/DC release Back in Black the new album with Brian Johnson.

At Newcastle Mayfair was Trespass on the 18th and an all dayer at Bingley Hall in Stafford on the 26th – The Heavy Metal Barndance. Headliners Motorhead were joined by Girlschool, Angelwitch, Saxon, Vardis, Mythra and White Spirit.

August
This month saw the debut album Wild Cat released by Tygers of Pan Tang. Also records by the Michael Schenker Group and Stand Up and Fight from Quartz.

Newcastle Mayfair saw Ted Nugent supported by Wild Horses on the 7th. Fist plus Raven on the 15th with Diamond Head and openers Quartz on the 29th.
South Shields Legion welcomed hometown band Fist on the 14th.

16th of the month saw the first Monsters of Rock festival held at Donnington Raceway in Derbyshire with Rainbow, Judas Priest, Scorpions, April Wine, Saxon, Riot and Touch.

Reading festival on the 22nd-24th had headliners Rory Gallagher, UFO and Whitesnake with Gillan, Iron Maiden, Samson, Def Leppard, Ozzy Ozbourne, Angelwitch, Budgie, Samson and Tygers of Pan Tang.

September
Sadly, the Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham dies aged only 32.

The debut from Ozzy Osbourne was released this month while Strong Arm of the Law, the 3rd studio album by Saxon and their 2nd this year was released.

Newcastle Mayfair had Angelwitch on the 5th, Tygers of Pan Tang with support from Taurus and radio DJ Alan Robson on the 12th and over at Newcastle City Hall were Ozzy Osbourne plus support band Budgie on the 17th.

OZZOCTsunderland

October
Released this month were the 3rd album by Gillan – Glory Road and Chinatown the 10th album from Thin Lizzy.

A full month of gigs at Newcastle Mayfair. Gillan with openers White Spirit and Quartz on the 1st. Scorpions supported by Blackfoot on the 10th for over 18 fans. UFO supported by Fist 15th & 16th. Ozzy Osbourne 17th with Budgie and Raven. Motorhead with support from Weapon on the 29th & 30th. AC/DC plus Starfighters on the 31st.

At Newcastle City Hall were Michael Schenker Group supported by Dedringer on the 2nd. Scorpions plus Blackfoot 7th & 8th. Over at Sunderland Mayfair UFO and Fist on the 21st and Ozzy Osbourne the 28th.

November
This month saw the release of Ace of Spades the 4th album from Motorhead, a double from Whitesnake – Live…In the Heart of the City and the debut from Fist, Turn the Hell On. There was also Roksnax on Gaurdian Records. A compilation album produced at Guardian Studios in Durham, UK. The album features 4 songs each from South Shields bands Hollow Ground and Saracen and Teeside based Samurai.

Newcastle City Hall had visits from AC/DC supported by Starfighters on the 4th & 5th. Triumph with openers Praying Mantis the 12th and Iron Maiden on the 25th with support from A11Z.

December
Concerts at the Newcastle City Hall this month by Girlschool on the 5th with support from Angelwitch, also on the 16th Saxon with support from Limelight.

Led Zeppelin release a press release about the break up of the band due to the death of drummer John Bonham.

Unfortunately a sad end to a frantic year, but what did the 80’s have in store for the tribe ? Again from the North East there was a little band forming. They had kept an eye on what was happening and now it was their time to strike. Venom were gathering their own tribe, but that’s a story for another day.

Gary Alikivi 2017.

Information from discogs and various websites. Thanks to everyone who supplied information, ticket stubs etc.

Recommended:

MYTHRA Still Burning 13th February 2017.

Lou Taylor SATAN/BLIND FURY: Rock the Knight, 26th February & 5th March 2017.

Steve Dawson SARACEN/THE ANIMALS: Long Live Rock n Roll, 2nd April 2017.

Harry Hill, FIST: Turn the Hell On, 29th April 2017.

When Heavy Metal Hit the Accelerator 6th May 2017.

Martin Metcalfe HOLLOW GROUND: Hungry for Rock, 18th June 2017.

Kev Charlton, HELLANBACH/BESSIE & THE ZINC BUCKETS: The Entertainer, 23rd June 2017.

Steve Thompson,( NEAT Producer) Godfather of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, 27th June 2017.

It’s Only Rock n Roll 1st August 2017.

Pyromaniax -Bombs, Flashes and Burnt Eyebrows 12th December 2017.

Have You Heard This One ? -10 best stories from this years interviews 18th December 2017.

 

 

 

PICTURE THIS – interview with music photographer Sally Newhouse

Talking about a gig we are more likely to say we have seen a band than hear them, and armed with camera phones images of bands are now like wallpaper. But the trick is to make the picture stand out. Capturing the sweat soaked gritty performance of a rock n roll band is what Sally Newhouse aim’s for… ’My favourite photographs are probably not the most perfect in composition or taken on the biggest stages of the most famous rock stars, or the ones that have been published. But are often the ones that show passion in the performance’.

1375311_426826714088215_1547451314_n

Where are you based ? ‘I’m a live music photographer based in Bedfordshire and London. You’ll find me as ‘Punkrocksal’ online’.

When and how did you get into photography? ‘I bought my first ‘proper’ camera when I was at school studying for A levels, yet never took it to gigs with me. How I wish I had. My brother was a bouncer and took me with him from when I was 15. I always had Access All Areas passes and met Lemmy, Dire Straits, Wilko Johnson, Midge Ure – to name a few – and got hooked on live music for life. Then I got married, had 3 children so spent the next 16 years or so being ‘mum’. When the boys were old enough to be left alone, I started gigging again with just a compact camera and got some good shots. I also started filming bands for my YouTube channel with my nifty little camera. Bands liked what I did and kept asking me back. I thought I’d ‘up my game’, so bought a digital SLR and my hobby grew from there’.

Have any of your photos been used for adverts, printed in magazines or entered into competitions? ‘Yes, yes, yes, too many to mention all around the world and no – I’ve not entered any competitions, apart from an online one once, where I got a highly commended in a nature category.
 I really enjoy photographing wildlife as well as wild rock stars – and do the occasional wedding. 
There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t take a photo. I carry a fab little compact camera for when I run cross country to get those wildlife shots. I live in a very rural area so am blessed with woods, rivers and lakes to explore. 

My most recent publication was in ‘L’Eco Di Bergamo’ an Italian daily newspaper with a circulation of circa 5000 – It was a full-page feature on singer Luca who I spoke about earlier; they used 2 of my photos. I have quite a few credits on albums where my photos have been used too, of which I am extremely proud’.

Do you use flash or any extra lighting? ‘No, never for gig photography. It’s so off-putting for a band having a flash blinding them and annoying for the audience too. Most venues don’t allow it for those reasons anyway. You just have to do your best with what light there is. It’s always interesting arriving at a new venue and guessing what lenses you’ll need to do the job and if you’ve only got 3 songs in the pit, you have to get it right first time’.

Have you had any photo days when nothing seemed to work and shots weren’t as good as you hoped ? ‘Not really. I dropped a camera once on a hard floor and broke a lens. I blame the lovely Nathan James of Inglorious for that; buying me too many vodkas and making me rather wobbly! I also had a camera body pack up during a shoot – but I always carry 2 bodies and spare lenses for that reason’.

What are your favourite photographs that you have taken, and why? ‘I was dreading you asking me that question!…That is so difficult to answer. My favourite photographs are probably not the most perfect in composition or taken on the biggest stages of the most famous rock stars, or the ones that have been published and so on, but are often the ones that capture memories with friends, show passion in the performance, and capture personal moments. They are the ones I am proud of’.

Arron Keylock – the young blues rock guitarist/songwriter/singer I first met in 2014. I pressed the shutter just as he lifted his head and his hair went flying. The stage lights lit his hair up like a rainbow which I liked. BUT, I nearly deleted the photo as I didn’t like that his face was illuminated bluey-purple as well. I dithered for a while and decided to upload it to Facebook anyway. Arron loved it, so did his management and the photo ended up being used for the next 2 years for all his promotional material and was used for his debut album ‘Cut Against The Grain’.

1. Aaron Keylock

Uriah Heep at Koko – The end of the gig and the band called me onstage to photograph them with the audience behind them. I just love all the happy faces and that buzz I felt – honoured to take the picture. I can see quite a few friends in the audience too. It was a real tag-fest when the photo went on Facebook’.

2. Uriah Heep

Michael Monroe – October 2015 taken side of stage. Lots of stage smoke and lights flashing on and off – it was the last song of the set and I anticipated Michael would do something dramatic at the end. I caught the moment as he launched himself from the bass drum’.

3. Michael Monroe 15.10.15

Luca Ravasio – my Italian friend who I am blessed to hear sing every Sunday at Metalworks in Camden, the rock/metal night I PR for. He is one of the best frontmen I know and always gets the evening going with his zeal and energy in every performance. I’ve photographed Luka more than any other performer over the last 4 years. I never tire of watching, listening to and shooting him’.

4. Luka 2016

Richie Faulkner – Judas Priest, formerly of Metalworks, and comes to play with the band if he is back in London. I just love that snarl he is pulling in this shot’.

5. Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest)

Craig Ellis – the drummer of Tygers Of Pan Tang. I have hundreds of photos of Craig. He pulls the most wonderful faces whilst playing. I particularly liked the colours of this shot, taken at Cambridge Rock Festival’.

6. Craig Ellis of Tygers Of Pan Tang

Any photos that have surprised you how well they have come out? ‘Most of them! haha…You never can quite tell how good a photo is till you download the raw file and look at it on a pc screen. Sometimes, even the darkest photo can reveal something beautiful during editing – the beauty of Adobe Lightroom’.

What and where is your next project? ‘As I type, I’ll be in Camden Sunday shooting Metalworks as usual, then off to Butlins Rock & Blues Weekend in Skegness 19th January where my personal challenge is to shoot the 51+ acts over 4 stages during the weekend. I’m under no obligation to photograph all of them, but always try. I always attend Butlins Rock & Blues Festival in January and the Alternative (Punk/Ska) weekend in October. I might also be squeezing in a quick promo shoot for an imminent album press release midweek too’.

To see more of Sally’s work go to:

www.facebook.com/punkrocksalmedia

http://www.facebook.com/metalworksband

http://www.twitter.com/Punkrocksal

Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2018.

Recommended:

Par Can – Stage hand and Lighting Designer, Backline, 20th November 2017.

MAN FOR ALL SEASONS – interview with North East musician Davey Ditchburn

12552744_1160617553970678_427851953506876645_n

Davey Ditchburn has been vocalist and songwriter in bands including Brass Alley, Geordie, Fogg, Talisman and Pilgrim – spending a lifetime in music. We arranged to meet up as I thought he would have plenty of stories to tell from his time becoming a professional musician, signing with major record labels, recording in Rockfield studio, playing The Marquee in London, but first I wanted to know what turned you onto music ? ‘I think it was just the advent of rock n roll really. I was at the High School in South Shields at the time and didn’t have any idea about what I wanted to do. Like a lot of kids I wasn’t really into school you know. Me mam bought us a guitar that I had been ogling for quite some time in Savilles Music Shop in the town. But the problem I always had and still do to this day was being left handed. Of course there was no amenities for left handed people then and no way you could get a guitar that was left handed. So I tried learning it upside down but I couldn’t do that. I changed the strings around and got away with that for a bit. But to really learn you had to go to somebody local and there wasn’t many local guitarists about. So I ended up going to this guy who lived in the cottages beside Vaux breweries in Sunderland and learnt a few chords off him. At that time skiffle was really big and I loved all those players, Dickie Bishop, Lonnie Donegan, all those people so I got a skiffle band together. We were called The Worried Men and used to play the youth clubs and over 60’s pie and pea suppers things like that.
That ran it’s course and rock n roll came round, Elvis Presley happened and that changed the whole thing. So that was the advent of proper rock n roll, like Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, I absolutely loved that era. I used to go to see every band that I could. We played with Johnny Kid and the Pirates, Gene Vincent and several other bands’.

What type of venues did you play then ? ‘Some of them would be dancehalls like The Majestic on the Sea Front at South Shields. We’d play the Picture Houses in Newcastle and one thing led to another and I met Vic Malcolm, Joe D’Ambrosie, Mickey Golden and we formed Vince King and the Stormers. That was around ’62 or ’63. We played the dances around the North East like Wheatley Hill, Low Spennymoor, Coxhoe places like that. Then of course the look was lame suits and all that tackle. We went on a while like that then The Beatles happened and the scene changed to a hippy come rocky sort of thing. The Stormers were quite successfull, we played with The Beatles in Middlesbrough we supported a lot of big bands at the time at venues around the North East. Then I met up with some other guys and one of them was Barry Alton. The other members were some of his family and they played jazz rock. It was an eight piece with sax, trumpet and guitars – we were called Brass Alley.
But the trumpet player, who worked in the shipyards, got crushed by a big pipe so he couldn’t play. The two sax players also left the band. So that left a four piece that became the real Brass Alley in 1972 and we went professional, we made a living out of it. But it wasn’t an easy decision to go pro because we had wives, kids, and steady trades. But I thought if I don’t do it now I never will and the other lads were of the same mind. So we just went for it, we were young and had confidence’.

FB_IMG_1514981135235

Brass Alley had a manager called Mike Rispoli he was a bit Mafiosi he introduced us to quite a few people in London. He was a very strange guy. Mike got us this house next to Richmond Park in Surrey. There were 13 of us living there and we’d buy a sack of spuds and it was chips every day haha. But don’t get me wrong some times we had to go the Temp Agency and get temporary jobs, one was in a wine factory. It was just to get by you know even then London cost a fortune. Because we’d have families we’d send money back home so we’d do without you know. That’s why young professional musicians are skinny as rakes, they’re emaciated you know haha.
But we used to play places like The Marquee, The Speakeasy, Colleges and Universities in the South we had some great gigs down there. Then we got a contract with RCA around 1972. They gave us an advance but we blew that all on a van and some gear, cabs, amps that sort of thing. We met a guy called Matiah Clifford who was an African songwriter and we recorded some of his songs like Mongoose and Rainbow. We had a good relationship and I’m still in touch with him now.
We recorded an album in Rockfield Studio with Dave Edmunds who at the time was part owner there. The studio is in Monmouth in Wales, it’s pretty well known. We also made an EP for the Hartrock Festival in Hartlepool and one of the songs was written by musician Kenny Mountain. It was called Pink Pills and it’s recently been picked up and released on a compilation album in Chicago – great stuff to release it, bloody awful song though !’

25659965_1818221454876948_4611120374256578206_n

The Brass Alley time was the best as in terms of still having hopes and dreams when you’re young and getting that one big break. You get that beaten out of you after a while and become just another muso. We always did well, played great gigs, we got radio play through Johnnie Walker, Dave Lee Travis, he had us on his Radio One roadshow but the band did great live but never managed to transfer that to the studio and make that one great record. We travelled all over the country and made a few records with RCA and Alaska but never had much success’.

R-6837707-1494778480-1990.jpeg

‘It lasted until 1976 and I formed another band with Vic Malcolm who had just left Geordie. We were a Brass Alley 2/Geordie 2 but we couldn’t use the Geordie name because it was copyright of the Red Bus record company. We ended up as Brass Alley 2. We had George Defty on drums, Vic on guitar, Frankie Gibbon on bass, Alan Clark on keyboards who went on to be in Dire Straits and me on vocals. Jonna (Brian Johnson ex AC/DC) was hanging around as he was original singer for Geordie, and we sang together. But I was having all sorts of problems at home and the band split up after a year’.

FB_IMG_1514981090349

Davey (far left sitting) Brian Johnson (far right).

‘Next I got a knock from a guy called Dek Rootham who had a band called Fogg. I’d known him for a few year and their singer was struck down by an illness so I joined the band. We recorded a few records and were on TV show The Geordie Scene which can be watched via You Tube’.

‘But that band fizzled out and I was kicking about with Jonna when he had just joined AC/DC and he said why don’t you get a band together and I’ll see who I can introduce you to. So in came Paul Thompson from Roxy Music on drums, a guy called Peter Morrison on guitar, again Frankie Gibbon on bass and Alan Clark on keyboards. We were called Armageddon and we got picked up by this American who shall I say was a bit shadey ha ha. He used to met us in his room at The Ritz in London and bring a suitcase full of money out from underneath the bed, it was stuffed with dollar bills haha. He used to give us quite a lot of money for our gear and wages. We’d get paid more for rehearsing than some of our gigs haha. He said he was gonna do this and that for us, then one day he just disappeared. But again that band didn’t last long and I was at a loose end until I met up with former Armageddon guitarist Peter Morrison and we cracked on and formed Talisman. This was around the 1980’s’.

STILL BELIEVE IN LOVE 1989OTISRECORDS

‘We were together for 8 or 9 years and it was the most successful band that I’ve been in. We done some stuff on North East Radio and TV with people like Mike Neville. We played a lot, some festivals in the North East like Gypsies Green on the seafront in South Shields, Budgie headlined. In fact I’m busy recording an album with Talisman now. We’ve all accumalated songs over the years so we have loads to choose from. We’re not intending to play live but want to make a decent album. We’re using First Avenue studio in Newcastle, when they have a slot we can jump in there’.

10306724_10204271777615964_5785594705708375422_n

What happened after Talisman ? ‘When we split I joined Three’s A Crowd which was quite sucessful locally then after that I had time off and went to sea and travelled. When I came back I formed Pilgrim with my son Dean. Loosely still in them now as we play once or twice every six month. In fact I’m also playing in a Ukele band now, I’m not a music snob, I enjoy any music’.

Any stories from playing gigs ? ‘Well theres a few but I’m not sure they are suitable here haha’.

Did you use any stage effects ? ‘Yes Talisman once smoked out a venue we were playing. I remember we were at Sacriston Club and Merv the roadie/engineer was rat arsed on Brown Ale. He was an electronic whizz, and worked for Bill White in Sunderland who sold all the amplifiers. Anyway he pumped out far too much smoke from the machine and the whole club had too be evacuated haha’.

13475071_1259294197436346_6564636596139240992_o

Lastly, what has music given you ? ‘I can’t imagine life without it really. It’s what I exist for I guess. Really I’ve done a few other things in life and enjoyed them but still every night I sit down and play the guitar and write songs. I listen to The Eagles or Ry Cooder, all sorts of music I have wide tastes really. I go to see bands, just saw Chris Rea at Newcastle City Hall, he’s struggling now cos I remember how he was but he’s still getting up there playing his music. Got loads of happy memories, I would never change it you know’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi December 2017.

Recommended:

Steve Dawson (THE ANIMALS): Long Live Rock n Roll, 2nd April 2017.

Harry Hill (FIST): Turn the Hell On, 29th April 2017.

Steve Dawson (SAXON): Men at Work, 28th May 2017.

Trevor Sewell, Still Got the Blues, 21st June 2017.

Kev Charlton (HELLANBACH): The Entertainer, 23rd June 2017.

John Verity, (ARGENT): Blue to His Soul 7th November 2017.

 

 

DREAM ON – with Atticus Myst, lead guitarist of Belgian sleaze rockers Mr.Myst

thumbnail

‘While sitting here on my very cool porn-red sofa, drinking a Jack ‘n’ Coke I’ll give you the coolest interview ever!...OK  go ahead and give it your best shot…
‘My name is Mr. Atticus Myst and I’m the guitar player, songwriter and founder of the Belgium Sleaze rock ‘n’ rollin’ band Mr. Myst. On vocals we have Mr. JSD, on bass Mr. Demolition and on drums Mr. Pervert and he didn’t steal his name. We’re based in Ostend Rock City on the Belgian Coast’.

Who were your influences in music ? ‘I have a lot of influences in music. But I think Aerosmith and Guns ‘n’ Roses are the biggest. I’m a very big Slash and Joe Perry fan. If you talk about rock ‘n’ roll they are the main influences in all our songs. I also listen to a lot of very old Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Alice Cooper. The other day I’m in my Hardcore Superstar mood… In all my songs you can hear the influence of what I was listening to that day. No direct copy but just the thought “man why didn’t I wrote that riff it’s so cool”…
For example the song His Little Sister I was listening on a daily basis to Purple’s Burn while with Jack D (the first song for the upcoming record). I was listening to SlashStand Up’.

How did you get involved in playing music ? ‘That’s a funny story and totally Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was in 2004, I was 13 years old and my parents took me to an event called Night Of The Proms. That was the first time in my life I saw some real rockstars. That night I saw Joe Cocker, Zucchero, James Brown, John Miles. It was amazing. I told my mom when I grow up I want to be like them! She said “you’re crazy, just get a day job and make sure you can pay your bills”. She won, but 2 weeks after Night Of The Proms my grandmother bought my first guitar. And look at me now. I have a day job but I’ve played daily on my guitar since 2004. I played in bands since I was 18 and had a lot of fun so far! We all have those big dreams when we are kids, but the main part of playing in rock n roll bands is to have fun with people you can call more than friends!’

thumbnail-3

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘I started in my first band Tyraniz when I was 17. We played Deathcore with female vocals and did a couple of small gigs but stopped 2 years later. Then I was in a Black Metal band called Asatru, cool band! We did the support once for Pretty Maids. (interview on this blog with Ricky Marx from Pretty Maids, Euro Rock September 15th 2017). It took me 4 gigs to know I didn’t want to play black metal but rock ‘n’ roll. Our bass player played Black Metal music as well in a band called Mortifer. Our drummer has a big career. He was in Spoil Engine for their first 2 records. Did some big festivals and support for Motorhead in Vorst National (Brussels).
Now with Mr. Myst we do a lot of gigs all over Belgium. Some big shows and a lot of club and bar gigs. We’ve played in Netherlands, France and Germany. This year we want to get to Spain, the UK, Austria and Switzerland’.

thumbnail-6

Where do the ideas come for your songs ? ‘It depends on the mood. Most of the songs are about woman. Real life experiences, from crazy and horny girls to break-ups. We have a ballad called Jessica based on the tv show True Blood. She was the beautiful redhead. His Little Sister was a song I wrote to mess with my best friends boyfriend. I dated his little sister for a couple of weeks. Stand Up is a song about women who think they can lead their man like a dog on a leash. While Jack D is about having a lot of fun and drinking Jack Daniels.’

What are your experiences of recording/studio work ? ‘We’ve had very good experiences with studios. The first CD I recorded by myself as we didn’t have money to buy studio time. Now we sold all copies in one year and went to somebody I knew that worked in Producing. The studio is called Shell Shock Studio and I can tell you, Pieter is a sweet and cool guy to work with. If he likes a part he’s excited, if he doesn’t like it he says maybe you have to change that part, it gets kinda boring. That was all fine by me, the only thing I didn’t like was he said maybe you should half that solo, it’s too long. Dude I was listening to Steve Vai that day… but he won. It sounds killer now!’

1

Have you recorded any TV appearences or filmed any music videos ? ‘We have 3 music videos running at this time. Jack D, Red Light District and Jessica. Red Light is the title track for the upcoming album. It’s the coolest video we have, we recorded most of that video in a real Sex Club. That was pretty awesome! We also once did a commercial for Spotify in one of the cellphone networks called Base. Just 3 seconds but hey we did it’.

Have you any stories from playing gigs ? ‘Where do we start, haha every gig is funny. In our early years our first drummer Mr. Animal ran away during the show. He said this is a shithole I don’t wan’t to play anymore. So we asked the crowd can somebody drum. The drummer from the band Ethernal Breath came to the stage and we just jammed out Breaking The Law by Priest and Paranoid by Sabbath. Even if there are 10 people in the crowd we play a show like we’re playing Download festival or something. At the end of December 2015 we did the support for the Quireboys. I had to admit, that was a stressfull night. Spike is like a big hero for me for years. When they arrived he came out of that van with a fur coat, bandana, eyeliner and a big smile saying “where’s the fucking venue”. Later that night we hung out with Spike, had a lot of drinks and he told us some big storys.’

thumbnail-4

What are the future plans for the band ? ‘Well first of all our CD released on the 24th of February 2018. We’ll do some shows for promotion and some summer fests. We hope to do a little tour around some countrys, a new music video and off course to have a lot of fun with the guys and crew, cause without them, I would just be a guitar player with a lot of tunes in my head!’

‘There you go man, maybe a lot of words, but no bullshit!’

NEWALBUM

Contact the band on their official website and via social media:
http://www.mrmyst.com 
http://www.facebook.com/mrmyst
 instragam.com/mrmyst_official 

Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2018.

Recommended:

Danny McCormack, THE MAIN GRAINS: Death or Glory 8th September 2017.

LAST GREAT DREAMERS: Looking For A Kiss 26th November 2017.

WILDHEART: Looks That Kill 2nd January 2017.

 

BLINDED BY THE NIGHT – interview with metal band Dark Rites

Guitarist Wojtec Widuch introduces the band… ‘Dark Rites was formed by drummer Randy and I in early 2016. We used to play together in quite a few bands back in late 90`s and early 2000`s. After a few years break we decided to start fresh with new ideas and new energy. Around June 2016 Oskar joined us on vocals, the whole line up was complete and we could focus on writing and recording music for our first album. We are dispersed all over the world at the moment. I live in the UK, Randy is in USA and Oskar in Sweden, so it is an international project, but thanks to technology we can still work together, rehearse and communicate on a daily basis. At the moment we are a studio band because of the distance, but after releasing our second album we will be looking to playing live’.

DARK RITES BLACK LOGO

Checking their You Tube channel I came across ‘Hail of the Slain’. Hit play. It’s loud. The dogs in the street are howling. I turn the volume down. Still loud. An onslaught of brutal power. It reminds me of a Motorhead gig I went to at Newcastle City Hall in 2004. After showing my ticket to the doorman I walked straight ahead to the large doors of the venue. Music was pounding. The support band were already on. Who was it? As I opened the door my head jolted back. The sound wrapped around my whole body. What the feck is this? I stood at the back of the hall and got my bearings. Last time here was for a charity gig of songs and sketches from Tyneside actors Tim Healy, Jimmy Nail, Kevin Wheatley and former AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson singing ‘Nutbush City Limits’….a canny Sunda’ afternoon entertainment. But this, this was my first live experience of thrash metal. This was loud. Bone crunching loud. This was Sepultura. And Motorhead are coming on later …and louder!!!

Back to the interview, who were your influences Wojtec ? ‘I can say that we are very open minded when it comes to music genres, so there is no a specific genre we want to stick to or listen to. Metal in general is our influence, but saying that Randy is really into the more extreme side of the genre. He likes his black and death metal but also into NWOBHM and bands like Iron Maiden. I started my journey through the metal world with Judas Priest then I was slowly progressing towards bands like Vader, Dark Funeral and In Flames. Oskars favourite metal genre is definitely Melodic Death Metal, he is really digging it and you will be able to hear it on our next album which we`re working on at the moment’.

How did you get involved in playing music ? ‘In our case it was a sort of dream big. We started listening to Metal in our early teens, and hearing all this power coming out of the speakers, seeing our idols of that time on stage performing live was something incredible. So we decided that we wanted to be one of those guys on stage and that’s how it all started. First with basic equipment somewhere in a garage, first gigs, first little demos recorded in really poor quality. But it was all fun with no YouTube video tutorials how to play but instead with just your ears and good mates playing our first power chords’.

Where do the ideas come for your songs ? ’I compose all the sketches of the songs, and my way of working in the studio is basically through rehearsing and jamming. I like when it all comes together very naturally, without forcing it. I never have a plan for a song, saying, ok now I need a fast song to put on the album and this is what I`m going to write now. If we like a riff, I record it and I work around it, but if I feel like I can`t progress with it, I`ll leave it and go back to it later. When the sketch of the song is done I will pass it on to Randy so he can get the drums ready and give me his opinions. Then finally Oskar will get his lyrics and vocals done at the end’.

How has the internet impacted on music ? ‘Internet is a great thing to promote Independent music and Independent artists. On our way we have met some amazing people through the internet. Radio DJ`s, presenters and promoters who, without any money will help you to start in this business. We have a YouTube channel which is a great way to share our music videos. We have our own Facebook page with almost 6,000 likes where we can share all the important band information. We also run a Dark Rites Official Group on Facebook where we encourage people to share their own music, their favourite bands and anything to do with music’.

What are your experiences of recording/studio work ? ‘Back in the day we paid a lot of money for a day or two in the studio to record our songs. It was very expensive and the quality was not always what we wanted due to lack of time. With Dark Rites we decided that we will record in our own home recording studios and this way we will achieve exactly what we want. So, recording, mixing and mastering is all down to us’.

Have you recorded any TV appearences or filmed any music videos ? ‘We released a few music videos on our YouTube channel to the songs from our first album and also a tribute cover of Iron Maiden song Wicker Man’.

What are the future plans for Dark Rites ? ’As I said previously, we are working on our second album at the moment. All the songs are written and we are putting the vocals together. Mixing and mastering will take some time but we hope that by mid 2018 the album will be ready for release together with some merchandise. We will be looking to play some live gigs and promote our music as much as we possibly can’.

Contact the band on social media:
Facebook: @darkritesband
Youtube: http://www.darkrites/c/youtube.com

Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2018.

P.S. The Motorhead gig in 2004 was raw. Lemmy played the ‘Is it loud enough for ya’ game. What do you think the response was. ‘Ace of Spades’ left the building, headed down to the Quayside, bounced back off the Tyne bridge, ricoched off St James’ Park then flew back into the City Hall just in time for ’Overkill’. Which did exactly that. Goodnight Newcastle.

Recommended:
Kat Gillham: Highway to Hell, 31st October 2017.
OBSIDIAN: Bomb Tracks, 8th January 2017.

 

TAKE NO PRISONERS – interview with UK Power metal band Black Forge

18814539_1357849384283923_5660425733609786782_o

Black Forge are a three piece band from Somerset, UK… ‘We have a real mixture of influences from Motorhead, Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity even System of a Down. We do love 3 piece stuff though, so any power-trio gets special attention from us every time’.
Full line up is Chris Pilmore (bass) Chris Phillips (drums) and Matt Walpole (vocals and guitar) who takes up the story…’We got asked to play a wedding (yeah a wedding!) out in the sticks in deepest darkest Somerset near where we live. They said to play our ‘normal’ set, don’t change anything for the wedding they said, so we did just that. The highlight was the congregation including the bride’s grandmother, well into her 80’s, bopping to our cover of Dope’s ‘Die Motherfucker’.
(Checked it out …not exactly Rage Against the Machine ‘Killing in the Name’ but in that ball park with lyrics…..’I don’t need your forgiveness, I don’t need your hate, I’m not sorry… Bang your dead’‘Then as if it couldn’t get any weirder at the same wedding a burlesque dancer took her clothes off while we played the backing music! It was proper hard to concentrate with nipple tassels twirling around next to you I can tell you!’

3

How did you get into music ? ’I’ve been noodling around on guitar since I was 9 and I think it was seeing Guns n Roses at Wembley Stadium when I was 11 that stirred something inside. I also played in a few college bands through my teens. I then joined the Army and hardly jammed for over 10 years. It was during a tour of Afghanistan when it really dawned on me how ingrained in me my love of metal was. My iPod kept me sane for all those months as no matter where I was I could find my own sanctuary. When I moved back to the UK from Cyprus I started going to gigs and before long the bug bit me again and I had to get myself playing. So I got some refresher lessons on the ol’ geetar and met Chris Pilmore on the internet and we just started thrashing stuff out. Bit of covers, bit of writing, neither of us had done anything like this before and the rest as they say is history’.

22195768_1484016071667253_6993941653504340456_n

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘We just started playing locally to start with. Like I said we weren’t ‘connected’ in anyway, we knew literally no-one of influence, so we’ve had to play the long game to get into some of the venues and festivals we play now. We started in pubs and bars in the south west, often centered around Bristol and began very slowly to build a following and work our way out. We’ve been up to Yorkshire, Birmingham and Leicestershire and done a fair bit in South Wales since then’.

Are there any other musicians/bands who you admire ? ’I’m not gonna list famous bands that we’re fans of because ultimately I don’t really know how or what those bands went through to get where they are. But I do see a fuck load of bands on the underground scene who regularly blow my mind with talent that dwarfs anything the X-Factor can produce, yet don’t get the recognition they deserve. Many of them we are pleased to call our friends. Like Fury from Worcestershire – amazing powermetally kind of thing. We’ve supported them a few times and I’m consistently blown away by the virtuosity, and songwriting craft of this band. Witch Tripper are relatively new still, but fuck me those boys have rocketed through the underground scene through nothing other then pure graft. They have toured and toured almost all year, solidly, and I know they’ve made serious sacrifices to keep it going. But what a live act and what killer riffage…. love em. Their success thus far is wholey deserved’.

Where do the ideas come for your songs ? ’Anyway and everywhere really. On Your Conscience which has yet to be properly recorded and is our normal opener, was penned while I was in Afghanistan and is a serious dig at the sinister side of soldering. The acts of war and killing that society actively creates and encourages but accepts no consequence for. Whereas I am the Dark is the soundtrack for any nightmarish ghoul and is very much a piece based on fantasy horror and imagination. So much less profound but still just as fun to play. But whatever we create it is always from the heart. It may sound cheesy, but its the truth. We write and create what WE would like to listen to ourselves, its genuine and we couldn’t be any other way. We love the fact that our music appeals to people, but it’s us that must believe in it first and foremost otherwise we’d just be phoning it in – and as far as I’m concerned that is the worst sin of all in music’.

What is your experiences of recording/studio work ? ‘Arrrrrgh! Its tough. First we are a live band. That’s why we started playing music. So the studio is not somewhere where we feel at home. Although we love the results once all the hard work is done. We find it hard because as a live band we’re used to adapting, improvising, going with the flow, but in a studio you’ve got to be clinical. 100% accurate otherwise the playback will magnify all your imperfections 10 fold. So we work hard beforehand to ensure our shit is together before we start work. The other thing is that as an underground band funds are always tight and recording is done to budget, which always increases pressure on getting stuff down quickly so as not to waste what little funds we have available. But that’s life for most if not all bands nowadays, as I think the days of record labels simply chucking millions of pounds around for young bands to record albums in LA with lines of cocaine and 75 hookers are definitely on the decline. We’re usually grateful for free coffee and a hobnob!’.

LIVE1

Have you filmed any TV appearences or music videos ? ‘Na – no TV as yet. With the exception of our drummer (Chris Phillips) we’re not exactly a pretty band. All bald and hairy! So TV stations are not queing up to get our mugs on the box just yet. We’ve definitely got the perfect faces for radio! But we are in the process of working on 2 videos for I Am the Dark and Into the Blackness, both tracks from our debut EP. These will be ready soon hopefully’. (Listening to a live version of ’Into the Blackness’ the track was loaded with heavy bludgeoning riffs via Anvil/early Black Sabbath. Matt’s vocals sound like he’s been gargling a jar of metal filings while the bass and drums pummel the song to the finish. You get the feeling that every song will be beaten into submission).

What are the future plans for Black Forge ? ’We love doing this, and we would love to continue growing our friends and fans so that we can keep bringing our #purewestcountrymetal to the world until one or all of us drops dead. On a more recent projection, we’ve got a new EP in the pipeline for 2018 and we’ll be hitting the festivals hard’.

To contact the band check out the pages on social media – Facebook, Instagram and on You Tube.

Interview by Gary Alikivi December 2017.

Recommended:
WARFARE: No One Gets Out Alive, 8th October 2017.
Kat Gillham, Highway to Hell, 31st October 2017.
TENTATION: Over the Mountain, 5th January 2018.
OBSIDIAN: Bomb Tracks, 8th January 2018.

THE GRANTHAM FOUR – 5 minutes with New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Overdrive

Overdrive17

Overdrive formed in 1978 in Grantham, UK. The current line up is Luther Beltz (vocals) Stuart Meadows (drums) original members Tracey Abbott (guitar) and Ian Hamilton (bass) who takes up the story…‘Our influences were watching UK music programme Top of the Pops and listening to Elvis, Slade, T.Rex, Deep Purple and Sabbath. That spurred us on to start a band at school in 1974 – and we just kept going! Tracey’s dad played in a brass band and our parents funded the band and encouraged us. They also got us gigs’.

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ?  ‘Our first gigs were in the Workingmen’s Social Clubs in Sheffield, Nottingham and Leicester. Then we went on the same circuit as other NWOBHM bands – places like the Penguin Club, Lead Mill, Monsal Head and other’s. We supported many bands including Def Leppard, Bernie Torme, Raven, Lionheart even Freddie and the Dreamers. We had a gig once at Rotherham Arts Centre and due to home made pyrotechnics the show was stopped by the fire brigade. Recently the best gigs we have played have been in Europe, the fans really know how to rock!

(Overdrive self-released music under their own label ‘Boring Grantham Records’. First was a demo tape in 1978 with the tracks ‘All Day’, ‘Overdrive’ and ‘Once in a Dream Piebald Pinto’. This was limited to 50 copies. Next release was a 7” single in 1981 including ‘On the Run’, ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Stonehenge’. More releases followed).
What were your experiences of recording and did you record any TV appearences or film any music videos ?  ‘Now with modern technology it’s all done on a laptop in our kitchen but recording was strange in the early 1970’s. The engineer wore a lab coat and treated it like a serious school project. Recording was a mystery to us. Our first recording was in a place called Drumbeat Studios in Leicester in 1976. Funnily enough the same studio Showaddywaddy did their first album. We have never worked with a proper producer until our last album which was mixed by the Dark Lord himself, Chris Tsangerides (RIP). We’ve never been on TV or done a video. Just too damn ugly!!
(Chris Tsangarides was best known for producing heavy metal albums by Tygers of Pan Tang, Judas Priest, Anvil, Thin Lizzy and more. He has also worked with pop and alternative artists Depeche Mode, Blondie and Lords of the New Church).

22281971_1548113355248658_6242195936485008433_n

What are the future plans for Overdrive ? ‘We are now recording our 6th album, with the title Resurrection. Also planning gigs for 2018, with Greece Germany and Italy on the itinerary’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi November 2017. 

Recommended:

WARRIOR: The Hunter, 12th April 2017.

WEAPON UK: All Fired Up, 6th May 2017.

SAVAGE: The Mansfield Four, 8th May 2017.

TOKYO BLADE: Under the Blade, 26th May 2017.

SALEM: Increase the Pressure, 20th September 2017.

SATAN’S EMPIRE: The Devil Rides Out, 4th October 2017.

SNATCH BACK: Back in the Game, 21st October 2017.

JAGUAR: The Fast and The Fury, 24th October 2017.