TOMORROW STARTS TODAY for French punk/metal band Bare Teeth

France was on my mind back in ’82. They played one of the best international football games I’ve seen, a 3-3 draw in a World Cup semi final against Germany. The album Repression by punk/metal band Trust was never off the turntable. Alright that was only two things but fast forward to 2017 and the postman drops through the letterbox a copy of First the Town, then the World EP by punk/metal band Bare Teeth. It’s always good when the lyric sheet is included and a list of production details which are sometimes overlooked.


An introduction to the band on an earlier blog (Hungry Like Wolves, September 3rd) reveals the 4 piece are from Lille in Northern France. Greg (guitar & vocals) “We are really big fans of bands like Blink 182 and NOFX, but we also dig thrash/metal and hardcore music. We don’t really like putting labels on music, especially ours”. I wouldn’t dream of it either Greg but that sound is at the core of this album. A quick check on NOFX and yes I can hear a big influence. Pardon my French but you could call it gros son. Straight out the starting gate it’s all out attack. The EP continues on this road until ‘Parted Ways’ about a lost friendship… ‘We’ve parted ways since then, we said friends till the end. We’ve never imagined how we could have grown that old’. There is no pause for breath with stand out track ‘These Towns Need Guns’ with the chorus ’Remember that weapons don’t kill but a man does. It’s just someone who pulls the trigger. One more prayer for the fallen before you claim these towns need guns’… A plea for peace and disarmament around the world ? Indeed that’s the way to go but unfortunately world leaders haven’t heard this song with the closing line…’Let’s raise our voice so loud bullets remain silent’…great addition those lyric sheets. Leading into the closing acoustic track ‘Behind the Wall’.
Greg talked about the meaning behind the song “The song is both a reference to the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. I had the opportunity to tour several times in Central and Eastern Europe, these countries are way poorer than France. People from these countries lived a very different youth than ours, but we’ve all united through music. That’s incredible”.

‘First the Town, Then the World’ clocks in at just under 30 minutes, with the EP recently released in Japan, Bare Teeth are spreading the word. Their new single ‘Tomorrow Starts Today’ is taken from the EP. Greg (guitar/vocals. below 3rd left) explains… ’This song is about dedication, motivation and commitment. In short, get your fingers out of your asshole – as we say in France. Chase your dreams, make them happen, be proud of yourself and be confident about what you do!’


’Tomorrow Starts Today’ music video is out now. The new EP ‘First the Town, Then the World’ is available on Digipack CDs, 12″ vinyl and in all digital formats.

Gary Alikivi September 2017.


VINYL JUNKIES – Tony Higgins, 7 songs that shaped his world

The love for vinyl has always been there and many stories are attached to it. There is whispers in some quarters that vinyl is back, and they are getting louder. Not in the same numbers that it was in the pre-cd day’s of the 70’s and 80’s, but the records are up on display shelves of record shop’s. There is hundred’s of reasons why we like a certain song. Vinyl Junkies is looking for the stories behind them.


Jarrow Lad Tony Higgins now lives in Murcia, Spain. He is author of ‘Homage to Murcia: a season of football anarchy’. The book follows a lower league Spanish football club whilst capturing the history, politics and culture of the place that Tony now calls home. As well as helping run an English Academy in Murcia, Tony is currently working on a new book about his families exploits in World War 1. The book has many stories about characters from Tyneside and elsewhere, whilst tying in events that were happening in the wider world at that time. Tony tells me it’s a bit like Peaky Blinders and Catherine Cookson all rolled into one. 

(Link to book) – 

Intrductions over, here are Tony’s 7 songs that shaped his world.

Whiteman in Hammersmith Palais – The Clash (1978) This was the first single that I ever bought. I purchased it in 1978, from a record shop in Jarrow called Records from the Past. The shop was at the bottom of Ellison Street, next to the newsagents – come toy shop, called Freddy Furlongs. In Furlongs you could buy Airfix soldiers and Subbuteo teams but at that time I was slowly shifting to a different type of moulded plastic, the flat pressed vinyl kind that played music.
As an impressionable eleven-year-old I had no idea what the lead singer, Joe Strummer, was singing about. It was only later in life that I would get the lyrics about Delroy Wilson, Leroy Smart and Ken Boothe. The messages in the lyrics of this track are just incredible and still resonate today, especially the one about “if Adolf Hitler flew in today they’d send a limousine anyway”. The artwork of the pink sleeve and smoking pistol in the middle of the disc is just something else too.


The Murder of Liddle Towers – Angelic Upstarts (1978) – Shortly after my purchase of Whiteman my search for more Punk vinyl took me to nearby South Shields and another small record shop, on Ocean Road, called Pete Edmonds Records, those in the know reckoned you could get all the new sounds there. Anyway, this time I was in search of The Murder of Liddle Towers by local band Angelic Upstarts. The song is about the death, at the hands of the police, of a thirty-nine-year-old electrician and amateur boxing coach from County Durham, called Liddle Towers. On the B-side is the fantastic Police Oppression, which basically told the life of a teenager growing up on the streets of Tyneside, through the eyes of the lead singer Mensi. I also owned a Who killed Liddle badge and t-shirt and you had to be careful when wearing them as Northumbria’s finest weren’t too keen on the sentiment.


Public Image –Public Image (1978) – I was just that bit too young really to be into the Sex Pistols when they were in their prime and literally I just caught onto their shirt tails, as they imploded on that infamous last tour of the USA. However, shortly after, The Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten, who had changed his name back to his real name John Lydon, was heading up a new band called Public Image Limited or PIL for short. Their first single, called Public Image, is a classic and I think I may have bought it in Newcastle when it first came out. I still think it is a brilliant song and the single was originally packaged in a fake newspaper that made outrageous statements such as “Refused to Play Russian Roulette”, “No One’s Innocent, Except Us”, “Donut’s Laugh saves life”. Apparently the song’s bass line was named as the 18th best bassline of all time by Stylus Magazine in 2005 but if you’ve heard it you know that it is even better than that!


I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles – Cockney Rejects (1980) – I really don’t know where I first heard the Cockney Rejects or how I grew to really like the band. Nevertheless, they became one of my favourites, as punks began to give way to Boot Boys and Skinheads. The Rejects were a post punk band that around 1980 seemed to morph into a new musical street movement called Oi! This new musical faze was led by Garry Bushell, a journalist with the Sounds newspaper, and it became the flagship of the new wave of Skinheads that hit the scene around the early 80’s. In my opinion the movement was wrongly labelled as racist after some trouble erupted at a big Oi! gig in Southall.
The Rejects were and still are big West Ham fans and I remember them appearing on Top of the Pops, whilst drunk, performing this track. The song is a cover version of the West Ham football anthem. You can still see this performance on YouTube, it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time. This all happened just before the 1980 FA Cup Final which West Ham went on to win, beating Arsenal 1 -0. Remember these were the days when FA Cup Final day was a big event in most British households and the whole world seemed to come to a standstill for a couple of hours. I recall the cover of the single being in the style of a West Ham shirt. I actually got to see the Rejects do a gig in Murcia a couple of years ago.


Baggy Trousers – Madness (1980) – Around the same time as Oi! we had a revival of SKA music in the UK. Bands such as The Specials, Selecter and Madness were all attached to the Two Tone label and around 1979 these bands and others did a UK tour. This new British version of SKA however was a bit punkier than the original bands from Jamaica and although I loved all of the new groups I think my favourite was Madness. Madness soon moved from the Two Tone label and got their own record deal. I had bought their first and second album and the band released Baggy Trousers as a single, which I dutifully bought. This song was all about the bands school life and it seemed to reflect how I had grown up too. Of course I don’t suppose that I am alone in that feeling. The cover of the record had most of the band decked out in Crombie coats and the following Christmas yours truly was bedecked in one too.
I must have seen Madness over a dozen times now but I remember, around 1980, a mate and me bottling out of an opportunity of seeing them at Newcastle City Hall. It was at the time of the big Skinhead revival and I think we were worried about if we would get there and back in one piece, as violence at gigs was quite common then. Nevertheless, I do recall going to the cinema to see Dance Craze, a movie about all the new SKA bands and I remember skanking in the aisles with loads of other likeminded youths.


Too Much Too Young – The Specials (1980)The Specials came a very close second to Madness for me and again they are a band that I have continued to listen to throughout my life. I remember buying this single in Jarrow Woolworths, a place you could get many a vinyl bargain in the cheap 50p rack. Anyway, Too Much Too Young got to number one and it was released as a five-track live EP in January 1980. As well as Too Much Too Young it featured cover versions of the old SKA tracks the Guns of Navarone and Skinhead Symphony – a medley of Long Shot Kick De Bucket, The Liquidator and Skinhead Moonstomp. Some of the tracks were recorded at Tiffany’s in Coventry, the bands home city, and the single had an iconic photo cover of the crowd. Many years later I got to see the band play their comeback gig in Newcastle and also later on in Coventry. Again this is another band whose lyrics still resonate today.

All Together Now – The Farm (1990) – Whiz forward to the 90s now but vinyl was still in vogue, just I think. Liverpool band The Farm are one of the most underrated bands ever in my opinion. I was right into them from the off and bought their first album Spartacus that went to number one. People say they were part of the Baggy or Madchester scene but I just like to say they were an indie band. They released from Spartacus one of the most iconic tracks ever, All Together Now. The song was written about the famous unofficial treaty, during World War 1 between British and German troops, that happened on Christmas Eve 1914. The track was produced by Suggs, the lead singer of Madness, and had a British Tommy in a Subbuteo style on the cover. As we know from the beginning of this piece, Subbuteo, toy soldiers and Madness had already played a big part in my life so that cover was just perfect! At any rate the single got to number 4 in the charts and the band were the first group that my wife and me ever went to see. They played that iconic Newcastle venue, The Mayfair, sometime around late 1990 or early 1991. Through the mysteries of social networks, I have become quite friendly with the band and recently I attended the guitarists wedding in Liverpool. The Farm are actually back making music and I have been to see them play on numerous occasions over the past few years. I even got to see them support Madness earlier this year!

Intro by Gary Alikivi September 2017.

NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE – First new Warfare album in 25 years. The noise, the chaos, the mayhem – the world of Evo.


As we’re talking on the phone the memories from 30 years ago are flooding back for Evo…‘We recorded a version of Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer, the record company banned it and stopped it going out cos we changed the song to Addicted to Drugs. We done a gig at the Marquee in London and it was one of my dreams to play on that stage. It was a great gig and for an encore we did Addicted to Love. We got a porn model on stage with us, she stripped off and squeezed lotion all over the audience, the kids at the front loved it, lapped it up, it was in their hair, everywhere, what a laugh – backstage she wanted to play with my snare drum haha. Those were the days, and I lived it to the max’.


It can be difficult to pick out the best bits of your career but isn’t it strange how events happen and years later they come back round… ’I’ll tell you about the inspiration that started me out on the long road to rock n roll. After 25 years I’ve released a new album. It’s a follow up to the noise I created in the 1980’s. On the album I’ve got a few friends and guests like Fast Eddie Clarke from Motorhead, Lips from Anvil and Paul Gray on bass (UFO/The Damned) he wrote Do Anything You Wanna Do. I remember as a 14 year old boy in a cafe skiving off school I heard Eddie and the Hot Rods on the radio singing Do Anything You Wanna Do. That’s where it all started. The rest is history’.

How did you get started when you were young? ‘I could play bass guitar but drums appealed to me simply because they were loud and I didn’t want no 9-5 fuck that. I could create more mayhem than I even did at school. I wasn’t influenced by any drummers, I have my own style, possibly Rat Scabies from The Damned if anyone.
I started off in local shitty bands when I was around 16 they weren’t much but the first name band was Major Accident. We supported Chelsea around the UK, I was very young and enthusiastic wanting to get on but you know with some bands it just doesn’t work I got on really well with the group but thought I wanted to go up to the next level.’

During the early 80’s you were living in London, what was the scene like ? ‘Yes we were having a good time in London, however I went there for a reason, to further my career and experience. I went out drinking around Soho with the Stranglers and Motorhead. There was a band called The Blood who were talked about as the next big thing. I joined them and cut an album False Gestures for a Devious Public which is regarded as a cult classic now. It got to number 62 in the album charts. But after some internal fighting I left the band and joined Angelic Upstarts’.


Was that a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire ? ‘No I got on well with my old mate Mensi. We toured all the time, on my very first gig Mensi the singer said get yersel ready cos in a few days we’ve got a little gig up in Leeds. I was still living in London and I went round to Algy Wards place (The Damned bassist) just around the corner from where I was living and told him about this small gig we’ve got. I’d never played live for about 6 month cos I’d only recorded with The Blood. Algy said, what? no the gig’s at the Queens Hall – it’s called Christmas On Earth it’s gonna be the biggest punk festival. On the day we arrived at Leeds there’s huge Trans Am trucks inside the place unloading the gear, the place was massive. We ended up second on the bill. There was The Damned, Chelsea, Anti Nowhere League, GBH, UK Subs a few more…On stage you could feel the power of the audience. 15,000 people bouncing… a little gig in Leeds haha’.


‘But I wanted to try a few more of my own ideas you know, fronting my own band. So I formed a 3 piece mixing punk and metal – the way no one had done it before. Metal riffs and intellectual lyrics that stank of the street. Not at 10 but hitting the volume at 12, thrash wasn’t even invented then. Around early ’84 I came back up North and signed for Neat records, this was the beginning of Warfare. Neat was known as a very loud label, no commercial releases, you’d always be gauranteed to get yer ears blown out. A lot has been said about Dave Woods the label owner, some stuff I’ve heard about his dealings with bands. But personally I got on with him. It’s how you do business together isn’t it – he put me on a wage, because that’s what I asked for. We’d go out for meals, he became a family friend.
Anyway we went in the studio and recorded the first single Noise, Filth and Fury. On guitar there was Mantas from Venom, Algy Ward from The Damned on bass, and I did drums and lead vocals’.

(Nerd alert:The 7” three track ep single was produced by Evo at Impulse Studio’s, Wallsend the home of Neat records, and released in 1984. A side Burn the Kings Road, b side The New Age of Total Warfare and third track Noise, Filth and Fury.)
‘That immeadiately got to number 2 in the Heavy Metal charts. Then we cut the first album Pure Filfth’.

‘The 2nd album was Metal Anarchy and iconic Motorhead man Lemmy produced that. Tracks like Electric Mayhem, Disgrace, Living for the Last Days, a big seller along with Venom and Raven. You know looking back Neat had some good bands on the label, but if you really wanted your music big, angry and fucking loud that’s where Warfare, Venom and Raven came in. We didn’t take any prisoners’.

Any memories from that time ? ‘This one was fucking chaos. Typical Warfare. We played Newcastle Riverside and didn’t get paid. It was supposed to be 50/50 split on the door but the Riverside were letting in people free as a promotion before 8pm which I was never told about and certainly never agreed to. It all ended up in court. Anyway, when they didn’t pay we went mad, headbutting the manager, pissing in the amplifiers, smashing a huge hole in the centre of the stage, the crowd pulled the speakers off the stage, I smashed a bouncer in the face with a bass guitar. We created absolute mayhem. Same when we went to Holland, we gigged there and the same sort of thing happened. We threw real pigs blood at the audience. It was mental in Warfare – that’s what I wanted it to be – totally over the top. Gleefull and all in a days work’.


What’s changed in the world of Warfare, why choose now to realease an album? ‘Back in the early 90’s I got really pissed off with the industry, I had ran out of ideas, I wasn’t a young kid anymore, it all came to a head really so I decided to stop. Over the 25 years since, I’ve been offered jobs with name bands, guest vocals, producing albums, but always turned them down until I had a dream one night. No, seriously. I was in a band again. On stage, the lights, the noise. When I woke up it was like the dream was still there. So I dragged my bass guitar out of the garage, I didn’t have an amp so I went to see my mate Fred Purser at his studio (ex Penetration, Tygers of Pan Tang) we knew each other from way back when we were starting out. Plugged into a valve amp hit the first chord albeit a bit rusty and blew everything off the desk haha. He said ‘Evo can you not turn that fucker down ? I said ‘no, on the contrary Fred, I’m going to turn it up haha’. Then the noise filth and fury was back in my polluted bloodstream’.

Next stop was writing and recording during 2015 & 16, after hearing the newly released Warfare album on High Roller Records it sounds like he was having a blast, ironic that one of the studio’s was Blast in Newcastle. Friends including Nik Turner (Hawkwind) Fast Eddie Clake (Motorhead) and Lips from Anvil making appearences. The album was also recorded at Wild Wood studios and at Trinity Heights, the hometurf of Fred Purser who supplies guitar on 2 tracks. The first ‘Screaming at the Sea’ a spoken word intro and bang into the attack of ‘Cemetery Dirt’ and attack again, again and again. Fast Eddie Clarke plays guitar on ‘Misanthropy’ ….’Step into the Fire they do as they are told, Greedy for a future always fighting for some gold’ …sounds like a scathing attack, look up the meaning of Misanthropy – well what else you got ? Religion and the clergy are in the crosshairs on ‘Black’ and Evo keeps up the relenting pace from the spoken word first track, until the perfect book ending to the album ‘Stardust’ which offers a nice escape route. It must have made an impact – it will for you.
‘I asked Lips from Anvil to do a spot on the album he agreed straight away, great guy. I liked Anvil cos I always thought they were the first thrash band with Warfare being the first punk metal band. And we’ve got Nikky Turner from Hawkwind on the album that driving bass from Lemmy and the powerful sound they created’.

Have you any future plans for Warfare ? ‘Well the album is out now and doing very well but I’ve no plans as yet to take this out live, I’ve been offered shows but nothing has stuck with me yet. I’m looking to do some producing work, maybe if the right act comes along. I’ve got a top class engineer working alongside me so yeah looking to get into that side of the business. Counting back I’ve recorded 17 albums in my career. I‘ve had quite a journey in music and a load of experience to take forward into production. I may consider doing a guest vocal or two’.


Warfare new album out now on High Roller Records

For more info contact Evo Evans on his facebook page or Lucy at Mayhem Management

Interview by Gary Alikivi September 2017.



THE DEVIL RIDES OUT – with NWOBHM band Satan’s Empire

During winter 2015 heavy metal band Satan’s Empire reformed. They first got together in 1979 and were originally from Dundee in Scotland. Then moved to London in 1981. Today the band have 2 founding members left, Derek Lyon on vocals and Sandy McRitchie on guitar. They replaced Duncan Haggart and Billy Masterton with Paul Lewis coming in on lead guitar and rhythm section Wayne Hudson (bass) and Garry Bowler (drums). The band sat down and revealed all about Satans Empire… ‘We’ve been really busy setting things up. We signed an album deal this year with 3Ms Music from St Albans and have finished recording the album, the final mixes are being completed as we speak’.


Where did you record the album? ’The drums and bass were recorded at Smokehouse Studios in London, then we travelled to the Coach House Studios in Hesdin, France to do guitars and vocals. In all it took about 12 days to get it down. We are still sorting out the order of the songs but the album is called Rising. Titles of some of the tracks, Satan’s Empire, On the Road to Hell, Slaves of Satan, Dragonslayer and Soldiers of War. It will be available early 2018 as a Limited Edition 8 track Vinyl with a bonus 7″ 2-track single of a demo from 1984. Sleeve design is by Andy Pilkington of Very Metal Art’.


When you started out who were your influences and how did you get involved in music ? ‘ Music began for us from a school band doing covers and as our skills developed we played more difficult songs. Untill eventually we started jamming and writing our own stuff, that was about 1979. We were listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden’.

When did Satans Empire start playing and have you any funny stories from those early gigs ? ‘We did local pubs and clubs as well as dates all over Scotland. For a name band we supported Budgie in Dundee at the first Dundee Summer Festival. I remember one time we did the American naval base at Dunoon in Scotland as a favour for a friend. When we turned up, we got the gear ready on stage, then looked around and saw most of the punters were wearing cowboy hats! One guy said ’Hey boys you must be the Country & Western band ?’ When we cranked up the volume and started playing they got a bit of a shock!


What were your early experiences of recording ? ‘Our first proper session was at Craighall Studios in Edinburgh. The demo was recorded on a small sixteen track where we came out with 2 tracks, Suicide Man and Soldiers of War’. (Nerd alert: ‘Soldiers of War’ appears on Lead Weight, a compilation released by NEAT Records on cassette in 1981. There are 11 bands with one track each on the tape including Raven, Warrior, Blitzkreig and Venom. Although Fist are on twice, their first track is ‘Throwing in the Towel’ and they are listed as their former name Axe to record ‘S.S.Giro’. Another compilation on NEAT Records is ‘The First Strike of N.W.O.B.H.M’ released in 1996. This also features ‘Soldiers of War’ and 16 other tracks by bands including Jaguar, Tygers of Pan Tang, White Spirit and Hellanbach).

Satan's Empire Brofest Live 2016

Are you aware of the impact that NWOBHM has had ? ‘We had a bit of an inkling when people kept asking us to reform – kind of cemented that assumption. There are a few bands within the NWOBHM movement that we are friends with and done gigs with’.

What is it like now rehearsing and playing live compared to 1980’s ? ’We rehearse at Farm Factory Studios in Welwyn Garden City and its fine there. To be honest there is no difference really only that we are more focussed at playing and not too much larking around. Bands we have met are more friendlier than the 80’s and we have made some good friends here’.

How do you sort out the set list, what songs are first/last and is tempo important ? ’We initially had sets for 30, 40, 45 and 60 mins to cover all options, and until recently, we always kept the same relevant set, but now we are just kind of flying it to see how it goes with the audiences’.


What are the future plans for Satan’s Empire ?  ‘By the end of this year we will have done around 30 gigs as part of the On the Road to Hell tour. We are up and running and when the album is released we will be ready to promote it. For starters we are off to Europe in October with gigs in Belgium and France followed by two dates in the North of England in November at Newcastle and Dundee’.

For more info contact the band on various social media pages Facebook, Reverbnation and Bandcamp.

Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2017.



BEAUTY & THE BOLLOCKS – UK Subs & Hi Fi Spitfires guitarist Steve Straughan


‘Since joining the UK Subs I am more busy than ever, which I love. The UK Subs have a 40th anniversary gig in November, a UK tour then a 5 week tour of Europe’.


The line up for the Subs is (right to left) Jamie Oliver on drums, Charlie Harper on vocals, Alvin Gibbs on bass, and Steve on guitar… ‘I’ve got a lot going on and always have since I first picked up a guitar after hearing Never Mind the Bollocks. Blew me away. It still does today’.


Who were your influences Steve and how did you get involved in playing music ? Was there a defining moment when you said I want to do that ? ’1970’s music was healthy at the time but nothing was opening the doors for me. Music was always there in the background like the glam rock thing, but it just wasn’t grabbing me. It was like black and white tv, nothing special. But when punk came around it gave me that extra thing like colour tv. It just had that extra spark, that beauty. What can I say, it was incredible.
I remember watching video clips from The Great Rock n Roll Swindle, songs from the Bollocks album – that made me want to do it myself. Also listening to The Stranglers album, Rattus Norvegicus, and a lot of other punk stuff from 1977. That whole scene was electric. I rode the wave of punk rock to get into music first, then went back to the likes of 70’s glam to appreciate it. There was a keyhole to my musical heart and it was punk that opened it’.


‘Where I lived in Sunderland we had a healthy punk scene. Watching the likes of Red Alert at Monkwearmouth youth club was very influential. Watching lad’s from my area and who were just a little bit older made me realise that it can be done. Being in a band back then was more like being in a gang but extended with instruments. Punk gave you the ability to tell your story and release your frustrations’.


When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ’From the start I’ve been really busy gigging and recording. I haven’t stopped, over the years I’ve played in a number of bands. Way back in the early 80’s my first punk band Formal Warning played youth clubs and school halls in the Fulwell and Seaburn area of Sunderland where we lived. That lasted till around ’82. As I got older I joined Red London and toured all over Europe. I then joined a band called Holy Racket. Again toured all over Europe. We played brilliant gigs but one great memory was supporting Rancid at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Loved that. I’ve played guitar for the Lurkers touring around Europe with them from 2009 until 2012. I was guitarist for a couple of years in the Angelic Upstarts we played many great gigs including a USA tour. I formed Hi Fi Spitfires and toured a lot in the UK and abroad. One great tour we done was supporting TV Smiths Adverts and toured with 999 in Germany. We have supported everyone in the punk world really, like The Damned at the North East Calling gigs. Since joining the UK Subs just over a year ago, we have played extensively in the UK, Europe and the USA. Is that enough for ya’ haha’.


What were your experiences of recording ?  ‘Over the years I have recorded with all of those bands I’ve talked about. Best thing is I’ve kind of found my home when working with producer Fred Purser at Trinity Heights in Newcastle. Fred was once guitarist of the North East 70’s punk band Penetration.
Some of the bands who have recorded at Trinity are Angelic Upstarts, Toy Dolls, Red Alert, Red London, Holy Racket and Hi Fi Spitfires. Holy Racket recorded the album Anthems For The Doomed And Dazed there, North Rebel Radio and Subliminal Chaos all of which were released on cd. We also recorded some material which was later released on a 7 inch single called Anoraxia.  Hi Fi Spitfires recorded the album England Screaming there which was released on cd and the album Nightraid which was released on cd and vinyl’.

‘We have always paid for everything ourselves, no record companies involved at all. If your serious about being in a band it’s obvious you have to record and release material. It’s not cheap to do it though. To record where we do it’s £220+ per day. On top of that there is the cost of pressing on cd or vinyl. The price of vinyl is unbelievably pricey. This is why I have only managed to do the vinyl route a couple of times. We are at the moment talking to a good friend who has agreed to put the money up to release our first album on vinyl like he did with our second’.


Have you any funny stories from playing gigs ? ‘I could honestly write a book. Here are just two. A long time ago I played a charity gig in Sunderland. A friend of mine asked if he could come along as he had not seen any live bands before. I remember beforehand he was a bit nervous meeting the rest of my band. He kept asking if everything would be ok. I kept assuring him that everything would be cool and there certainly would not be any kind of trouble as it was a charity gig. As I got ready and packed my guitars he went to the shop and got some ale just to take the edge off as he was quite nervous around new people. At this point I just thought he was having a couple of drinks.

Fast forward to the gig and just before we went onstage he told us how grateful he was for letting him come with us. About 5 songs in I was aware that something was going totally wrong by the people’s faces in the venue. I turned to my side to see my once very nervous mate running round the stage and pogoing naked. The security was called and he was escorted from the building. We were told to get off the stage. I asked why and the bouncer said, shut up, get your gear off, your barred. After the initial shock I laughed my head off all the way home. I think we gave those people something extra thanks to my mate’.


‘Years later I agreed for the same lad to come on tour with me in Belgium with the band I was in at the time Holy Racket. He assured me all the way there that he had learned his lesson and he wouldn’t do it again. There would be no repeat performance. I know he was very embarrassed about it. During our performance on stage he was looking in a cupboard and found a horses head mask. He came running on the stage naked, with the horses head on and a sock fastened to his cock. I couldn’t play for laughing. I remember the audience loving it’.


‘Next stop for Hi Fi Spitfires are return recording sessions with Fred Purser at Trinity Heights, Newcastle. We are recording a 5 track cd called Doors To The USA. Yeah can’t wait’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi September 2017.

ANGER IS OUR ENERGY – 5 minutes with French punk band Hightower

In 2014 Hightower released their debut album ‘Sure. Fine. Whatever’ produced by Steve Evetts in Los Angeles, USA. In 2016 they again headed for LA to record their second album ‘Club Dragon’ also produced by Steve Evetts.

Romain: ‘After producing our first album we asked Steve if he was interested in producing our second album and he said yes ! We went out to LA and stayed in Motel 6 near the studio where we stayed the first time. We recorded Club Dragon late last year at Omen Room Studios in Garden Grove, California’.
Attila: ‘It was really hard work and Steve pushed me to give my best. But I really enjoyed the whole process’.
Jeremie: ‘I’ve had several recording experiences, but the most important was working with Steve Evetts for both of our albums. Recording in Los Angeles was unbelievable, and as our producer he understood how we wanted to sound and what the band was all about’.


A lot of punk songs come from anger or injustice. Where do your ideas come from ?
Jeremie: ‘Most of our ideas come from our experiences in life, we’re trying to write down our thoughts about the frustrations that we share. It’s usually hard for me to write about positive feelings’.


Where did it all start and who were your influences ? 
Jeremie: ‘We come from a few different towns. Our drummer Romain and I are from Paris, guitarist Benjamin and bassist Alexis are from Nevers in Central France and Attila the vocalist comes from Budapest in Hungary’.
Attila: ‘I live in a different country so sometimes I fly to France to just play a single show. I remember one time I flew to Paris, than we took a 4 hour drive to the festival, played a show at 4pm, than spent the whole night there. Next morning travelled back to Paris than onto Budapest’.
Jeremie: ‘When the 90’s/2000’s punk rock scene was exposed big time in the media I was really influenced by all the music. I realized I wanted to get involved when I saw Rise Against with Anti-Flag in Paris in 2004, that’s when I knew that I could never get away from music’.
Attila: ‘Back in the day when I was 13 I ran into a random punk show at the local skatepark and instantly became a punk rock fan. Then my friend found his father’s guitar and we started our first band. That was around 2003’.
Jeremie: ‘In 2008 I started playing in some small local clubs around Paris. That’s where it all began’.
Attila: ‘I’ve been in a bunch of bands since 2005 and have toured Europe with a couple of them. I couldn’t pick a favorite venue we played, but I like the small sweaty clubs with a good crowd’.


Are there any musicians or bands that you admire today ?
Jeremie: ‘I don’t have any hero’s in music but I admire some punk bands from the 90’s era that are still active today’.
Attila:Daggermouth are my favorite band, I’m really happy that they are back together. I wish I could see them one day! They were a big inspiration for me’.
(Daggermouth are a Canadian punk rock band formed in 2004 in Vancouver).

What is in the future for Hightower ?
Jeremie: ‘Our new album Club Dragon was released on September 15th 2017 on digital platform and is already available at Krod Records on-line shop. Our next gig is in Budapest on October 7th and we are planning a European tour for February 2018. The band toured the UK back in 2015 and are definitly looking to go back again’.


For more info about album releases and tour dates contact the band on their Facebook page.

Interview by Gary Alikivi September 2017.



PLAYED HIS CARDS RIGHT – celebrating a 45 year career with vocalist Pete Allenby

‘Every 5 years or so I still get very small royalty checks… about enough to buy a bag of chips!’ New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Tarot came from South Yorkshire. They formed in 1979 but folded in late 82′ ‘There are no plans to reform. I have a four piece rock band called The Method and we play covers of band’s like Toto, Rush, The Who and Queen. We do about 30 gigs a year, we do it for the love !’


Who were your influences and how did you get involved in playing music ? Was there a defining moment when you said ‘I want to do that’ ? ‘I first got involved in music when I was asked to join a band soon after leaving school, and realised I wasn’t that bad at it! My main influences then were The Who, Queen, Joe Cocker and Alex Harvey. My defining music moment was probably when I first heard Won’t Get Fooled Again then I bought the album, Who’s Next and played it to death! Also when I first heard Seven Seas of Rye by Queen. I’d never really heard anything quite like it before!’


When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play. Was it in the immediate area or travelling long distances, and did you support name touring bands ? ‘I started playing in ’72 but my first gig’s with Tarot started in 1979 in working mens club’s. The line up was me on vocals, Malc King on guitars, on bass we had Brian Redfern and Andy Simpson on drums. We quickly started playing at recognised rock gigs of the day, Ford Green in Leeds, Boilermakers in Sunderland, in Halifax was The White Lion then over to Jenks bar in Blackpool’.

‘We also supported bands like The Jags, John Parr, Fischer Z, Frankie Miller and Def Leppard -whatever happened to them haha. On those gig’s we played the Universities, Newcastle Mayfair, Queen’s Hall in Bradford, we got to Doncaster, played The Cock and Lion in Bridlington and The Pier at Lowestoft. Back in those day’s we got around the North a lot, we covered a lot of miles’.


What were your experiences of recording ? ‘From 1979-81 Tarot recorded three demo sessions, first was in Halifax where we recorded five tracks in one day. I can’t remember the studio name but I do recall it was on the fourth floor cos I nearly had a coronary carrying the kit up there ! Our second and third recordings were at September Studios in Huddersfield, where we recorded 6 tracks in all, 3 at each session. I can’t remember how much the sessions in the recording studio cost, but coming from Yorkshire I guess it wasn’t mega expensive. HOW MUCH! Being the Yorkshire man’s mantra haha’.


‘The only published song from these sessions was Feel the Power which appeared on the compilation album – New Electric Warriors released in 1980. I remember seeing the album in the local record shop, was a bit disappointed with the cover. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it. How that came about was someone got in touch with us via Sounds magazine I think, they had checked our name as we were in the metal chart most weeks. Streetfighter were also on the album, I met their manager a few times. We did a gig with them at Leeds Uni and the BBC came to film some of it including us. I’m sure it was something to do with Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire Ripper not sure why. I don’t remember it being shown on tv’.


‘We also done a mini promotional tour for the album. To be honest I don’t know how many copies of the album were sold back then. It was re-released as part of a triple box set of NWOBHM, which I bought a copy of. I managed to by a cd version a few years back of New Electric Warrior’s and also a vinyl copy too! I still get very small royalty checks every 5 year or so, about enough to buy a bag of chips !’


‘All the Tarot material has just been released for the first time, on a remastered cd Rough and Ready. To order a cd you can contact me directly at or the band via facebook page’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2017.


INVADER FROM THE NORTH – Spartan Warrior guitarist Neil Wil Kinson

In a previous interview on this blog (Chain Reaction, May 21st) Neil said…’After Pure Overkill we thought things were starting to happen, the bloke who ran Guardian Studio asked if we wanted to do a full album, we said yeah let’s go for it’. Based in Sunderland North East UK, Spartan Warrior recorded 2 albums in the 1980’s, ‘Steel ’n’ Chains’ on Guardian Records and ‘Spartan Warrior’ on Roadrunner. They also appeared on compilations ‘100% Pure Metal’ and ’Pure Overkill’.

The band are still playing live so I got back in touch with Neil and asked him how long does it take to prepare for gig’s ? ’Well the amount of preparation depends on the gig really. Gigs abroad are definitely more complex as we have to book ferries or flights and there’s usually travel to the airport or ferry terminal to take into account. For a lot of gigs that involve the ferry travelling through Dover is usually the cheapest, which for us in the North East involves an overnight drive to get an early ferry and then drive to a gig.
There’s been times I’ve set off aroung 9pm on a Friday evening and drove to Dover for an early morning 6 o’clock ferry which gets us to Calais for 8am allowing for an hours time difference. Then drove to a gig and literally gone straight on stage to play having not slept a wink. I’m certain that’s a situation that’s not unique to us’.

‘Also if we need to hire a van it can be a lot of work – you wouldn’t think it, but it is. Also with a van comes a higher cost on the ferry. The whole thing can be a lot of work and probably way more involved than people think. So far there’s been no problems apart from the time Dan decided to wear his bulletbelt going through Heathrow airport ha ha – he actually put it through the scanner. He was lucky to make it to the gig that time and I was sat in the airport thinking how we could busk the gig as a four piece’.


Is there any difference from coming of stage now to when Spartan Warrior played their first gigs ? ’There’s a definite difference. These days after gigs people want to talk and meet us and even sign stuff for them which is really nice’.

What kind of ages are in the audience and do you see familiar faces ? ‘We get all ages at festivals I’ve seen old blokes – like me – and parents with babies with ear defenders on. Its quite a small scene so you do get to see a lot of familiar faces, a lot of them are now friends’.

The set list, how do you decide what goes in/out, is tempo important to the order, how do you choose the first and last songs ? ’Putting a set list together is usually a joint exercise. Theres a core of songs that we class as must do, the one’s we think people expect to hear us play. Other than that we try and switch the set up as much as possible so that people who’ve seen us before will get to hear something different. Tempo is important and we sometimes try and run songs into each other.
Playing the gigs we do and with 4 albums worth of songs we usually have limited time so we try and play as many songs as we can. Both first and last song we try and choose something that will hit hard from the off. I remember reading something that had been written about us at Headbangers Open Air festival in Germany, they said Spartan Warrior opened with Stormer, ‘and nearly ripped my head off’. Well that was job done and exactly the reaction we wanted !’


In the coming month’s Spartan Warrior have a few gig’s coming up are there any that stand out ? ‘We’ve got the Trillians gig in Newcastle in November and we are looking forward to Grimm Up North which is a charity event’. On September 30th in Bury is the Grimm Up North Festival. On the bill are fellow NWOBHM bands Salem, Weapon UK plus a whole host of others who are coming together to help Steve Grimmet vocalist from Grim Reaper who tragically lost his leg while on tour in South America…‘We are really looking forward to those gig’s, not just because we are playing but we also get to catch up with loads of mates in bands who are also on the bill’.

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Neil Wil Kinson features in an earlier blog Chain Reaction (May 21st).

Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2017.



INCREASE THE PRESSURE – with Salem’s Paul Macnamara and Simon Saxby

This year UK metal band Salem completed dates at Brofest in Newcastle, Metarock in Barcelona and Wedfest in Hertford. They have also been working on new album ‘Attrittion’ with release date early 2018 on Dissonance Productions.

The Hull based group have lined up 4 gig’s starting September 30th in Bury at the Grimm Up North Festival. On the bill are Spartan Warrior, Weapon UK and a host of metal bands coming together to help one of their own. Steve Grimmet vocalist with Grim Reaper tragically lost his leg while on tour in South America. It left him and his family with massive medical bills. With a lot to sort out, Salem guitarist Paul Macnamara (pic. below on left) and frontman Simon Saxby told me about their plans.

Paul: ‘We played at British Steel in France 2015 and we’re really looking forward to do that again. Blast From The Past is new to us though we have gigged in Belgium several times already. And then Grimm Up North, well that’s something else quite special’.
Simon: ‘Preparing for gigs these days takes less time than it ever did when we were young and keen. I think because we’re old and keen to get out of going shopping…again. We tend to rehearse at home, and have a full band rehearsal nearer the gig just to make sure. Paul Mac does most of the travel arrangements and thankfully, so far nobody has forgotten passports. However we are guilty of forgetting that it takes longer to remember whether you have got everything you need before you set off. Maybe that’s an age thing’.
Paul: ‘I do remember one time when arrived to pick up Simon at 6am in the way to a gig in Europe. He was asleep and didn’t hear his phone – so we resorted to throwing stones at the window of his third flat apartment!


On 7th October they go to France for the British Steel Festival playing on a bill with Tytan, Satan’s Empire and headliners Oliver/Dawson Saxon. How do the band write the set list, decide what songs are in/out and is tempo important to the set order ?
Simon: ‘The set list is obviously governed by the time allotted, however, as we have continued writing and recording new material the choice of what to leave out gets more challenging. The first song is always one with impact and power and thankfully we have a few to choose from. The last song is usually a song like Forgotten Dreams. The pace of the set fluctuates between those two’.
Paul: ‘We try to select a good blend of old and new, some from the 1980’s and increasingly more from the recent albums. We are always excited to include our newest material, so we may start incorporating songs from our forthcoming Attrition album soon – maybe!

During December the band have two more festival gigs to wrap up the year. On the 2nd they are at the HRH NWOBHM in Sheffield with Avenger, Diamond Head and headliners Raven. What kind of ages are in the audience and do you see familiar faces ?
Simon: ‘With the popularity of rock music and the organisers of gigs being family people, we find a mixture of all ages. There is an honesty and warmth amongst the metal community that is ageless and the audience always reflects that’.
Paul: ‘And we do see more and more people at our gigs who have become our friends over the years. It’s great to see them there – singing along to all our songs.  We really appreciate their support’.


Finally they travel onto Belgium for Blast from the Past festival playing alongside The Deep, Tysondog and headliners Diamond Head. Is there any difference from coming off stage now to when Salem played their first gigs ?
Simon: ‘Yes it’s more tiring but many times more rewarding. We actually take time to enjoy every second on stage and enjoy a cold beer, a chat with people afterwards. Then a good night’s sleep before setting off again’.
Paul: ‘Definitely. For a start, we are playing bigger events than in the 80’s so there are a lot more people keen to talk with us at the merch table – which is great – and the dressing rooms are better, rather than having to change in the toilets! I’m sure we work harder to put on a show which as Simon says is tiring – and it’s so good to engage with the audience. It is such a brilliant feeling to see so many people enjoying themselves who know our music and are singing along with us’.

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For more info on gig’s, album releases, merchandise and listen to some of the tracks contact the band at the official website

An earlier post To Hull and Back (April 6th) features an interview with Paul Macnamara.

Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2017.



YOUNG BLOOD – interview with Avenger and Repulsive Vision drummer Gary Young

Based in the North East of England Gary is drummer for New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Avenger, who he has played for on and off over 30 years. He is also a member of 4 piece Cumbrian death metal band Repulsive Vision who formed in 2010. Both bands have recently released albums.


Avenger released The Slaughter Never Stops on Rocksector records in early 2016. Repulsive Vision released their debut album Look Past the Gore, and See the Art on 31st March this year on Danish metal label Mighty Music…(pic below Gary standing on left)


‘Being lucky enough to get a release from a hard working label like Mighty Music has certainly been a great step in the right direction for us. We have really been delighted with the reviews and positive feedback that the debut has recieved. For Avenger the new album really made it special for us as for quite a few people this was their first introduction to the band’.


If we go back to when you started playing drums who were your influences and how did you get involved in playing music ? ’I started by jamming with a mate from school Dave Burn (pic.above), who is now a well known and respected guitarist. He is currently lead guitarist for Paul Raymonds band. I think meeting Dave and playing my favourite tunes of the era was what started me off’.
(Nerd alert: Paul Raymond, keyboardist/guitarist began his career in the late 60’s songwriting and performing with bands Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown, UFO, Michael Schenker Group & Waysted)
‘My influences were primarily classic heavy rock bands such as Thin Lizzy, Van Halen and Judas Priest – and a good bit of punk. But my primary influence to form a band, write and perform original music was 100% NWOBHM bands in the Tyneside area during the early 80’s. Seeing those lads get out of the North East and make such a profound impact on the scene worldwide was a huge motivation for me, and that continued after Avenger was formed. For rehearsals we rented a room at Spectro Arts Center just off Pilgrim Street in Newcastle. A lot of bands those days used that place and it did create a feeling of community for all involved. Curiously this community was going to last quite a few decades although we didnt know it at the time’.

With bands like Raven, Venom, Tygers of Pan Tang, Fist, Mythra and NEAT Records all based in the North East of England this led to the North East New Wave of British Heavy Metal highlighted by music journalist Ian Ravendale reporting a ’Matrix of Metal Mayhem’ in the 17th May 1980 edition of Sounds. Interviews on this blog have featured all of these bands plus Steve Thompson producer at NEAT Records.


What venues did Avenger play in ?  ‘Early on we used to play popular music venues in and around Newcastle such as the Newton Park Hotel and Tiffanys night club. I was also lucky to get off on tour when I was pretty young and play abroad. A stand out gig from back in the day is Avengers debut gig in Europe at Dieppenbeek Belgium in ’83. We played as headline band on a show with maybe 7 other bands in what was a large sports hall a bit like The Lightfoot in Walker, here in Newcastle. As our time came to play the crowd started chanting our name – it was unbelievable and a bit scary but once we got onstage it was great. Thanks to social media, all these years later I’m reunited with the lads who organised that show’.

What were your experiences of recording ? ’I worked in the Shipyards near my home town but for about a year before that I worked at Impulse Studios in Wallsend which was where Neat Records were based. Due to this I was involved in a lot of recording sessions and some of them for what are now landmark albums like Venoms – Black Metal and Ravens – Wiped Out. I had my first experiences of recording there with my own bands and helping people out on random recording sessions. They were great times’.

Have you any stories from recording two Avenger albums Blood Sports and Killer Elite ? ‘A long time ago now this Gary! One mad story was Ian Swift (vocals) and Mick Moore (bass) doing a promo interview with Metro Radio for Blood Sports shortly after recording the album. They mentioned on air before the interview Avenger were coming in to the station to talk live about their new album Blood Sports. Well some Animal Rights protesters turned up on the night going mad about us being ‘pro’ Blood Sports -we were like no!! You’ve got it all wrong’.


‘Recording Killer Elite, the most vivid memory was how much Keith Nichol the engineer mentored us during the recording. Encouraging us to try for better takes. Giving opinions on how to improve the dynamics of the songs, stuff like that. It really brought home to me that there’s more to an engineer than tweaking knobs and sliding desk controls. An Engineer who is a musician will motivate a band and encourage the best performance within a bands ability. Keith done that with us 110%. After that experience I’d always prefer to record with an engineer who is also a musician’.


Did you film any tv or music videos ?Avenger filmed three promotional videos for Killer Elite which was unheard of back then for a band on an small indie lable. Venom and their production team helped us out a lot on these shoots especially Venom drummer Tony Bray and their manager Eric Cook. They had done quite a few videos and had a far better idea than us about presentation and all that. They loaned us a fair bit of gear and managed the pyrotechnics for the video. Looking back they are what they are, very 80’s looking videos but even now people constantly refer to them, so over the years they have been a really useful promotional tool’.

Have you any stories from playing gigs ? ’Theres one or two stories that stick with me….funnier ones like playing with Blitzkrieg at Newcastle University and being paid in bottles of Brown Ale! We jinged down the street afterwards.
Another time playing in Holland when we were young lads. During the terrible winter of 1985 two Dutch girls asked me and one of the lads ‘do you fancy coming back to ours ?’. Being 18 at the time we said yeah. We got a taxi and ended up in a freezing cold rat infested basement under the student hall of residence. ‘Wait here we will see if the Night Porter is about because we can’t have visitors after 23.00’ they said. We waited and waited…Ahhhh it was a set up !…they left us in the freezing basement. This is before mobile phones. It was broad daylight when our Dutch friends found us’.


‘Back in ’83 myself and vocalist Brian Ross were fortunate enought to be asked to play a one off show in Holland with a variety of musicians from other bands. Lads from Satan, Mercyful Fate and Deep Machine’.
(in Avenger at that time, Brian Ross has also been frontman for Satan and Blitzkreig. He features in the blog Life Sentence Feb.20th)
‘We travelled across to the continent which was the first time I’d ever flown in my life. We rehearsed a set of covers for a week then played the set to a full house the following Saturday. It was great fun, it was also the first gig I played where we were all payed a significant fee.
Because of this one off show we managed to return and play three shows ten months later as a full band, one gig in Belgium and two in Holland. This was Avengers first gigs outside the UK and they went really well. So much so that we were signed for three albums by NEAT the day after we returned from those gigs.
We returned to mainland Europe the following year playing more shows in Belgium and Holland. ‘The following year 1985, the band played its first gigs in America but on return sadly the band folded’.


What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ?Avenger reformed in 2005 (pic above Avenger in 2016) and have played abroad every year since, including our debut shows in Brazil in 2013. We really enjoyed some great gigs for the early part of the promotion of the last album. Dates that stand out for me was the Triel Open Air just outside of Paris, Rock You to Hell Festival in Athens, Greece and sets at Brofest in our home town Newcastle upon Tyne. Not forgetting the SOS festival in Bury’.

‘Repulsive Vision has been enjoying several prestigious supports in the last few years playing with their heroes Discharge, Benediction and Destroyer 666. But the gig highlight for sure was performing at Las Vegas Deathfest in June on the same bill as Vader, one of my personal favorites. That was absolutely great. Both bands have recent promo videos up on You tube for the albums and a quick search takes you straight to them for anyone who would like to check them out’.


Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2017.