Sabbs riffs, tonsil ripps and Aleister Crowley love songs. I’m on a HIGHWAY TO HELL with drummer & vocalist Kat Gillham

‘The attraction to Death Metal ? It’s about being able to raise a big middle finger at mainstream society. The attitudes, trends and all the bullshit that goes with it. It’s like “fuck you, I don’t want to be part of your mainstream plastic pop culture”.

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Kat pointed me in the direction of some of her work via You Tube. With song titles like ‘Full Moon Nights’, ‘The Horrors Of Highgate’ and ‘The Arrival Of Apokalyptic Armageddon’. I had an idea what was coming. Or so I thought.
The storm clouds gather. Make one last sign of the cross and click play. What does it sound like ? The cry from nosferatu when his internet connection goes off. No, that makes light of a beastly and brutal sound. The lyrics might be ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death’… I’m not sure, as the death growls, and growls. But who said hell ain’t a bad place to be ? Has Kat caught the full moon fever ? Has she danced with the devil once too often ? Am I running out of cliches ? But this is hard. This is heavy. This is feral. With Sabbath riffs, tonsil ripping vocals and Aleister Crowley love songs, surprisingly, this theatre of pain hold’s a real narrative for better things. Yes it does. Is it hope ? I asked Kat what has this music given you ?
‘Being able to channel negativity through the power of music and convert it into something positive gives me a natural high and the biggest buzz ever! That feeling and surge of adrenalin before you play a gig and get up onstage is like no other feeling in the world. When that adrenalin and raw live power is in full flow, everything is gelling and you see the crowd getting into it – that’s such an amazing feeling.
I get away from mainstream attitudes by playing niche underground music. The music has heaviness, aggression, raw energy and non-conformity. It has also given me the chance to express myself creatively. It has helped forge long lasting friendships and introduced me to so many like minded people. They have became good friends. In hard times it has gave me strength emotionally, and over the years countless hours of listening pleasure’.

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Who were your influences when you were young ? ‘It was 1990 I was a 13 year old kid and I first heard bands like Death, Morbid Angel, Metallica, Celtic Frost, Slayer, Autopsy, Obituary, Entombed and Dark Angel. That was my introduction to death metal and it fuelled a hunger to form a band and create my own music. By the summer of ’92 my first death metal band Morstice was formed. We mainly played locally and around Northern England. By ’93 we had recorded two demo’s and filmed two music videos.
The venues I’ve played with various bands over the years have been a mix from floors and stages in pubs, to bigger well known clubs with huge professional PA’s. The Doom metal band I formed in late 1993 Blessed Realm played across England and also got to mainland Europe, of Germany, Austria and France. I have played all around UK with a couple of my current bands too, but I’d love to get back over to Europe to play live. I’ve shared the stage with touring bands like Cathedral, Orange Goblin, Hooded Menace, Iron Monkey and Hellbastard’.

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Kat is currently writing and performing in 4 bands. 3 of them – Uncoffined, Enshroudment and Winds of Genocide… ‘They are all heavily influenced by traditional Doom metal from the 80’s and 90’s, to the Swedish Crust/Käng Punk scene’.
Her fourth band, Lucifer’s Chalice have this year released an album. ‘The Pact’ out now on Shadow Kingdom Records… ‘We play heavy metal in this band and are heavily influenced by early stuff from NWOBHM bands like Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Mercyful Fate, Witchfynde and Metallica. The drummers from these bands were a big influence on my style of drumming. We have various members for the 4 bands that I’m in but the current line up for Lucifer’s Chalice is Myself on Drums, CW (guitar), SRM (lead guitar), DH (bass)’.


The storm clouds clear as death metal makes way for heavy metal and Eddie from Iron Maiden presses play on the Lucifer’s Chalice album. His fingerprints are all over ‘The Pact’. Was that the sound of Vincent Price, creaking doors and howling wolves ? Remind me, what is the number of the beast ? This album is a soundtrack to war in the Middle East. American soldiers with headphones and night vision goggles kicking in wooden doors and taking prisoners. Pounding. Intense. Ruthless…‘Each recording experience has been different and very special and memorable in their own ways. I’ve recorded a lot with various bands in recent years, most of those recordings from 2010 onwards with Winds Of Genocide and Uncoffined took place at Studio 1 in 12 in Bradford with Bri the guitarist from crust/punk legends Doom producing’.

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‘But a few years ago I got to travel to Stockholm, Sweden and work on Winds Of Genocide debut full length album Usurping The Throne Of Disease with a well known producer called Fred Estby. He played drums in one of my all time favourite death metal bands Dismember. To be at Gutterview the studio he co-owned with Nicke Andersson from Entombed and The Hellacopters – was an amazing experience. To get to work with someone who’s music and producing I’d admired and respected for years was awesome. It was eye opening to see how someone like him worked. I learnt some valuable things over there’.

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What are the future plans for you as an artist/musician ? ‘Just to continue creating music and playing live as regulary as possible, which actually isn’t as much as I’d like at the moment. Hoping 2018 will bring more live opportunities for my various bands. Also planning to make good progress on the writing of the 3rd Uncoffined album as well as sophomore albums of Winds of Genocide and Lucifer’s Chalice. Enshroudment will also record our debut EP in the very near future which will be titled As The Light Is Extinguished.

Discography:
Winds Of Genocide The Arrival Of Apokalyptic Armageddon EP (2010 self released)

Split CD – Winds Of Genocide/Abigail (Japan) Satanik Apokalyptic Kamikaze Kommandos (2012 Witchhammer Productions)

Uncoffined – Ritual Death And Funeral Rites (2013 Memento Mori)

Winds Of Genocide – Usurping The Throne Of Disease (2015 Pulverised Records)

Uncoffined – Ceremonies Of Morbidity (2016 Memento Mori)

Lucifer’s Chalice – The Pact (2017 Shadow Kingdom Records)

For further info contact Kat or any of the bands on Facebook.

Interview by Gary Alikivi October 2017.

 

BACK FOR ANOTHER BITE -with Kevin Wynn, bassist with NWOBHM band Tysondog

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Have you any funny stories from gigs ? ‘I could fill a book really !!! Some of them unprintable haha. But one of the stupidest was when Tysondog were in Scotland and before a gig in Glasgow we were due to be interviewed by the legend that is Tom Russell on his radio Clyde Rock Show. We were trying to find the studio, no sat nav’s in them days !
We stopped in the Clydebank area and asked these young kids for direction, I noticed some of them were carrying guitars. Well years later around 1991 I’m in the Cardiff Post House hotel on business when I get talking to, well pissed really, with Wet,Wet,Wet, yes the pop band.
They had just performed at Cardiff Stadium in front of 50,000 people and after the gig the drummer Tommy Cunningham bought about a dozen bottles of champers in the hotel bar. Tommy says to me ‘Kev I hear you used to be in a band ?’ When I told him yeah Tysondog you won’t have heard of them we were a NWOBHM band from the 80’s. Well from his reaction he nearly died. He jumped up shouting ‘No fuckin’ way man !’ ..yup …it was him and some of the other lads out of Wet, Wet, Wet, who we’d asked for directions ha ha.
They said that night they tuned in to the radio to hear us being interviewed and were telling everyone they’d met some rock stars haha.
Oh forgot to tell ya that after the radio interview we all jumped into our hotel swimming pool bollock naked. They had security cameras so most of the staff had a good laugh at a bunch of skinny, pissed up, hairy arsed Geordies !’

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Where did it all begin ? ‘When we were 16 year old we just played the local church halls and youth clubs. Then progressed to pubs in the Newcastle area’

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Kevin also talked about his influences…‘Early on I liked Bowie, Queen, Sweet, T.Rex. then proper rock of Deep Purple, Sabbath and Zeppelin. That lead me to heavier stuff like Judas Priest and Saxon. I decided to get involved in playing music after watching my first concert The Sweet at the Newcastle City Hall. They were heavy as f##k !’

 

What were your experiences of recording ? ‘Our first demo was a live recording of a gig in a working man’s club in Ashington, Northumberland. We sent a copy to NEAT records who had just started releasing heavy metal records. They asked us to record a single there. It was our first time ever in a studio and we came out with Eat the Rich’. (In 1983 Eat the Rich was released as a 7” single on NEAT records. The studio also released two albums by the band. Beware of the Dog in 1984 and two year later Crimes of Insanity, which included a version of School’s Out, the Alice Cooper anthem).

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What are Tysondog doing now and have you got any plans for the future ? Yeah Tysondog released their third album Cry Havoc on Rocksector Records in 2015. In September this year we’ve got a gig at the Gaura metal festival in Brazil with Anvil. Later that month we go to Manchester for the Grimm Up North festival with a few bands on the bill including founder members of Saxon’.

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‘Then in December it’s the big HRH NWOBHM festival in Sheffield with Satan, Raven and a few others before a few club shows in Newcastle and over to Holland. Last gig this year is in December with Girlschool, Diamond Head, Tytan, Spartan Warrior and a few others, it’s a great line up at the Blast from the Past festival held in Belgium.
We are busy planning more European dates for 2018. Yeah that’s enough to be getting on with’.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi June 2017.

Recommended:

WARRIOR: The Hunger, 12th April 2017.

VENOM INC: Hebburn or Hell, 28th July 2017.

ATOMKRAFT: Running with the Pack, 14th August 2017.

HEBBURN OR HELL – Venom Inc. drummer Antony Bray decides…

Out of the North East of England came a band who exploded onto the heavy metal scene and created their own genre of music. Black Metal. In the early 1980’s they scorched a path for American thrash bands Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica.
Over the past thirty years Venom have released a series of studio, compilation and live albums. This year Venom Inc. signed a record deal with Nuclear Blast and release a new album in August. But what is the story behind Venom ?

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In an open and honest interview, drummer Antony Bray looks back….Venom had it’s own momentum we were trying to do everything wrong, be blasphemous, be over the top, HMV wouldn’t display our third album in the window things like that. We were trying to get banned, wanting to be in the worst top ten records all that, we were trying – but it kept working’.

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What is the situation with Venom Inc now and how did the band get back together? ’A guy called Oliver Weinsheimer who promotes the Keep it True festival in Germany, came over to Brofest in Newcastle and saw Tony Dolan on stage with his old band Atomkraft. Guitarist Jeff Dunn was also there and he got on stage and played a couple of songs. Well I was stood at the bar there and Oliver came over and said would you fancy doing six songs at Keep it True in 2015. I said yeah if the rest of the band are ok about it, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. So that’s how it happened. We got together to do a one off festival in Germany, just rattle off some old songs we thought it’ll be good fun.

After the gig the phones lit up, people saying will you do it again, will you come to Japan, places like that, we got requests from different countries. There was a lot of interest. We got together, sat around the table saying do we realy want to do this ? We talked it through, just forgot our old problems and yes, we agreed to go ahead and do it.
After that there was a month in America some time in Europe, Australians want us over there. We went back to America twice, been to Asia, done a South America tour, it’s been a very busy time. Actually were doing more gigs than the original Venom did in the 80’s’.

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Compared to Venom’s earlier output, production of the new single ‘Dein Fleisch’ has a very slick and polished sound, is that what the band were going for ? ’Jeff had a lot to do with that, his Empire of Evil stuff is quite slick, he spent a lot of time on it with pro tools. Jeff said the record company are happy with it and that’s cool. We had the opportunity to crash through some demos but it went very modern and slick. We don’t live in the same country never mind city haha so it suited us to work this way. I done the drums at Blast Studio in Newcastle, Jeff sent over some guitar licks from Portugal, Tony lives in London’.

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‘There’s different ways of recording and I like the new Mythra album to be honest. It’s like getting back to how we done it in the early days you know, getting in the room kicking it around and see what we can do because thats what Venom were about. With raw metal bands like us, if we are all in the room we can change it up and effect it.
Last month we were in California and we played one of the tracks off the new album. We played the song as it is on the record but Tony said can we pick this up ? Yeh I said, it needs a bit of drive I was hoping you would say that. We were sitting on a hotel roof in Rio being interviewed when Jeff said I have worked out what makes the Venom sound and he turned and pointed at me, well I was stunned it was great to hear that. I know I’ve been a hammer and nail’s drummer but that’s what Venom have only ever wanted’.

Where did it all start for you Antony ? ’Used to go and see loads of bands at the Newcastle Mayfair and City Hall. The first band I seen was when my brother took me to see Deep Purple, then I went to see bands like The Runaways, Rainbow and Rush. We’d queue up all night to get tickets. When I left school I worked at the electronics engineering company Reyrolles, in my hometown of Hebburn, that’s where I met Eric Cook. We started on the same day. Little did I know that later he would become our manager.
I started playing drums around ’77 and my first drum kit was called Viking, it was built by Mick Lewis in Jarrow. He showed me how to make them and I made all my toms there. Then I was in a band called Oberon with Eric Cook on guitar. As everyone was buying motorcyles with their first wages from Reyrolles, Eric bought a Stratocaster’.

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After a few line up changes Venom settled on the unholy trinity of Conrad Lant on bass, Jeff Dunn on guitar and Tony on drums. ‘We used to rehease in a church hall on Wesgate Road in Newcastle where all the motorbike shops are. Really Venom were punks with long hair. We saw the instruments as a means to an end. Conrad was really proud of his lyrics and put them across the best way. But as instrumentalists it was always about making the biggest noise and craziest fashion. Sometimes we used to get a crowd of 30-40 people come in to see us rehearse. Our neighbours in the North East, heavy rock band Fist came in one time, their drummer Harry Hill heard us and said what is that, I can’t hear myself think haha’.

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‘Drummers have a different style of playing depending on what bands you’ve heard. Before we started there was no Slayer or Metallica. We were in front of all that, we had heard Motorhead, and knew we had to be louder and harder than them. Venom weren’t known as a big touring band, yes we did some festivals, there was plenty in Europe. But when we started out we played a gig at a heavy metal disco at the Quay club in Hebburn. Eric Cook ran the disco and he arranged to put Venom on. We bought our stage effects from Sound & Lights store in Newcastle where former Satan and Blind Fury vocalist Louie Taylor was working. (Louie features in earlier blog Rock the Knight February 2017).  He ended up doing some pyro for us, we were big on that haha. Louie was all about the safety aspect and I was all about let’s chuck some more powder in and see what happens. Well that gig we fused the building, lights went off right through the whole club, the bingo mafia downstairs went mad haha’.

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‘We were putting all the money back into Venom, buying the pyro, all the stage effects. We got our drumriser built for us in the shipyards, the whole scissor lift, it was just one big thing it never came apart. It was huge, they couldn’t get it out of the doors haha. Around this time Conrad was tape operator at NEAT doing a few days here and there and he bugged the owner Dave Woods about getting spare time in the studio for the band. He kept asking him can my band come in on the weekend ? Woodsy got so sick of him bugging him he just said ok, just do it, but pay for the tape. So we recorded a three track EP and we thought it might get a little review somewhere. I was still working at Reyrolles then and one morning I wandered in and someone had a copy of the Sounds. Couldn’t believe it, there’s a two page spread about our EP, f’ing hell look at this. When Woodsy saw it he thought, I hate the band, think they are bloody awfull – but kerching!’

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‘This all happened in one big wave, we played our first proper gig in Belgium, it got massive reviews. Next we went to New York and Metallica opened up for us. We did two nights in Staten Island but our gear got impounded, we were supposed to play the Aardschock festival in Holland with King Diamond and Raven. We trudged over there with no gear but we did take with us the Bloodlust video that we shot at the Peoples Theatre in Wallsend. It cost £3,000, the first sales of our album Welcome to Hell paid for that. We told the promoter what had happened and he watched the video and loved it. He said ‘This is the idea, we’ll show it on the screens and you can get up and tell the crowd you are sorry you can’t play because of what’s happened with your gear, and then you’ll sign some stuff afterwards’. We said yeah no problem. As Raven were setting their gear up on stage we walked out and told the crowd what had happened but we will play next year, big cheers. We played the video and the crowd went apeshit. Dave Woods was backstage saying I don’t get it, I just don’t get it’.

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‘I was in the NEAT offices one day as I was doing photo’s for bands like Avenger, and logo’s for Atomkraft. Just hanging around the scene and happy to be be there. A guy called Michael Rod came up he was from the TV programme Tomorrows World or something. He had a film company and was partners with Dave Wood in D.W. Enterprises who had NEAT records and Impulse Recording Studio. Woodsy pulled me to one side and said do you want to do this video with a few bands on, it’s called ‘Metal City’? Funny because Woodsy didn’t like heavy metal apart from Raven. We had a laugh putting it together but not sure why Saracen were on because they weren’t heavy metal like the other bands Avenger and Warfare. A couple of Venom live track’s were on from Hammersmith Odeon plus a video for Nightmare. Yeah it was good fun’.

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’We brought Metallica over here and they opened up for us, they were heavily influenced by the North East NWOBHM. I remember we were topping a bill in Europe, I was on the gantry at the side of the stage. I was looking down and listening to the band who were on before us. I turned to the person next to me and said ’They’ll be headliners soon’. This was around 1984. The band were Metallica

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After one more studio album ‘Possessed’ was released in 1985, Venom were heading for changes…’Jeff left the band, so me and Conrad got Newcastle musician Jim Clare in and an American lad called Mike Hickey. Venom only recorded one album then as I had a falling out with Conrad’.

1987’s studio album ‘Calm Before the Storm’ was released plus a live album. Conrad went on to front his new band Cronos… ‘I went along with Eric Cook to see Brian Johnson’s ex-wife Carol, we bought Lynx Recording Studio off her and as we were on a hiatus from Venom we were just putting other bands through the studio. We had Kieth Nicholl engineering for us after ex-Angelic Upstart Mond Cowie left.
One day a call came in and it was Music for Nations, they wanted to meet up. So I went down to a meeting in London and talked to the label. They said they would be very interested if Venom got back together. Travelling back on the train to the North East I thought this could work. So I rang Tony Dolan who was a long time fan of the band and he said I’ll take your arm off to be in Venom. We got Jeff Dunn back and we made the album Prime Evil in 1990. We stuck together a few years and recorded three albums in that time. Because it was a really good label, there was proper advertising, the lot, it was a big step up for us’.

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Fast forward to 2017, what are the future plans for Venom Inc ? ‘We’re working our balls off. In the past two years we’ve done 300 gigs. Now we’re promoting the album it’ll get heavier. We have another five festivals in this summer, then five weeks in America starting September. We’ve got UK dates in November and then full European tour through Christmas and New Year. We’ve got good set up’s in America, Australia and Europe keeping us working. Our set is an hour and a half and a lot will be off the new album but we’ll always do Black Metal, Countess Bathory, Die Hard and a few others. People at gigs shouting for some other old songs so we are re-learning some of them, yeh really looking forward to the tour’.

For more information about the new album ‘AVE’ released by Nuclear Blast and the latest tour dates check official website http://www.venom-inc.com

Interview by Gary Alikivi June 2017.

Recommended:

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

WARRIOR: The Hunger, 12th April 2017.

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

TYSONDOG: Back for Another Bite, 5th August 2017.

ATOMKRAFT: Running with the Pack, 14th August 2017.