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 four piece Cumbrian death metal band Repulsive Vision who formed in 2010. Both bands have recently released albums.

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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)

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‘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, 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 didn’t 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.

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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 seven 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 hometown 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’.

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‘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 a small indie label. 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 ’80s 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 ?

’There’s 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 was before mobile phones. It was broad daylight when our Dutch friends found us’.

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‘Back in ’83 myself and vocalist Brian Ross were fortunate enough 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 paid 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 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’.

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‘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 favourites. 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.

Recommended:

Brian Ross SATAN/BLITZKREIG: Life Sentence, 20th February 2017.

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

Micky McCrystal, Cat Scratch Fever, March 17th 2017.

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

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

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

Richard ‘Rocky’ Laws, Tyger Bay, 24th August 2017.

TYGER BAY – interview with Richard ‘Rocky’ Laws, Tygers of Pan Tang original bassist

In 2016 Tygers of Pan Tang released an album of new tracks mixed by Soren Anderson, filmed video’s for the single’s ‘Only the Brave’ and ‘Glad Rags’, completed tours around Europe, including dates in North and South America – not forgetting brewing their own beer -Tyger Blood !

This year they continue to support the album with UK dates arranged for November.

But way back in the 1970’s in the small seaside town of Whitley Bay in the North East of England…

‘I think it was about 1976 when I met Robb (Weir, guitarist) and Brian (Dick, drums). I knew Brian through some other musicians I used to hang out with. Drummers were rare beasts in those days, especially one’s as good as Brian so I made sure I jammed with him as often as possible.

I met Robb when someone gave me his telephone number as he was interested in getting a band together, actually we didn’t start playing together at first. I started to roadie for his punk band first, they were called Trick’.

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Who were your first influences and how did you get involved in playing music. Was there a defining moment when you said ‘I want to do that’ ? 

‘I wanted to be in a band from a very young age. A live band played at a Christmas party for kids where my father worked. This would have been in the sixties so they were a bit like The Beatles and had red guitars which I was fascinated by.

I got a very cheap acoustic guitar as a Christmas present but didn’t know anyone who played guitar or could teach me and the few lessons I had only taught stuff I didn’t want to play.

It was only when I was given a copy of Space Ritual by Hawkwind and heard Lemmy play bass, especially Lord of Light, that I knew I wanted to play bass guitar.

So I got a cheap bass and started learning bass lines by ear. So yeah, as a bass player it was definitely Lemmy that got me playing’.

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When did you meet up with the Tygers, when did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ?

‘When Brian and I decided we really wanted to get a band together I suggested we try jamming with Robb. It was an instant success!

We started writing songs and looked for a singer and a guy called Mark Butcher joined the band. We did about 25 shows with Mark.

After Mark left we had a bit of a hiatus then got back together and Jess Cox joined as singer and we started gigging regularly.

There was no real metal scene around Newcastle at the time. There were no regular venues for local metal bands but there was a metal audience for bigger bands who played the Newcastle Mayfair or City Hall.

There were three metal bands already playing locally when we started. There was Raven though they had not really hit on their athletic rock style at that time.

There was Axe, who eventually became Fist, and there was Fastbreeder who now would be most notable for having Andy Taylor on guitar, later he joined Duran Duran !’

‘What separated us from these bands was that they all predated punk rock whereas we were starting during the punk scene and were heavily influenced by it.

Although there was not a local metal scene apart from the three bands I mentioned, there was a thriving local music scene generally in Newcastle in the mid to late 70’s.

Many pubs had a room upstairs where bands could play and take money on the door. I can’t remember all the pubs we played but the Gosforth Hotel and the Bridge Hotel were ones we played regularly, as well as pubs further afield in and around the North East.

In fact the Tygers first ever gig was at the Coach and Eight in Durham. As well as pubs which didn’t pay very well we got a club agent so we could play the CIU working men’s clubs’.

‘Often these clubs, as well as serving the excellent Federation Ales would have rock nights where we could play, even playing our own material.

You had to play two one hour sets, so you had to have quite a lot of material and obviously you had to play some covers. We played AC/DC, Ted Nugent, Motorhead, Status Quo, ZZ Top among others.

One club we played was Sunderland Boilermakers, though playing in Sunderland was always an adventure for us Whitley Bay boys as of course they never clapped, something which Sunderland was famous for.

Though you were still expected to do an encore, which they called a false tap, on the basis that if you were still alive they must have liked it!’

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One of Tygers of Pan Tang early gig’s at Mingles Bar, Whitley Bay.

How did the record deal’s come about with NEAT and MCA ?

‘We invested in some pyrotechnics which always ensured a good reception in the clubs as they were a bit unusual. We played schools as that way you could play to kids who couldn’t get into the pubs and clubs.

It was at a show at Whitley Bay High School where we were seen by David Wood of Neat Records. His kids went there and I think having a fan base with school age kids was what helped our first single to sell.

A big help to our early progress was doing a residency every Wednesday night at Mingles nightclub in our home town of Whitley Bay. It was already a venue but I think even after we stopped playing there it carried on being a sort of Heavy Metal club.

Our biggest local gig before we had a record deal was when we headlined the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle. It was a bit of a disaster as we had loads of technical problems and probably because I was nervous I had got completely pissed and could barely stand up!

Still we attracted 1,500 people which was a lot for a local band and due to a misprint this got reported as 15,000 in the industry magazine Music Week and we got a record deal with MCA Records as a result!

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Did you come across other NWOBHM bands ?

’The first support we did was Iron Maiden for two nights at the Marquee in London. This was the first time we had travelled any distance to play and the first time I had ever been to London.

The venue was packed and they were amazing gigs. Maiden were unbelievably good and you could tell they were going to be big.

We did a support tour with Magnum which was our first national tour. Later they supported us on a UK tour and they weren’t very pleased about it.

We also supported Def Leppard and Saxon. Saxon were very good to us as Motorhead had been good to them in the same circumstances.

Saxon were my favourite NWOBHM band and when we toured with them we helped out in their show by doing things like operating smoke machines, dry ice generators and spotlights just for fun.

We also supported Scorpions at quite large venues and it was a steep learning curve as we were not used to big venues. They weren’t impressed by our first couple of gigs and I think we were close to being sacked off the tour but we had a storming gig in Glasgow and then everything was fine.

We learned a lot from Scorpions as they did everything very professionally’.

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What were your experiences of recording ?

‘I would be a bit hazy on dates! We first recorded at Impulse Studios in Wallsend. In fact our first session was doing three tracks for which we got cheap studio time by doing them as a competition entry for the Vitavox Live Sound Awards, this was David Wood’s idea.

This would have been in 1978 I suppose. We hadn’t really thought about the Awards competition, we even put false names on the entry form. But actually found that we had to play at the competition and won it!

We did two other sessions at Impulse one of which was just to record our live set so we just set up and played the whole set live without stopping and no overdubs.

Much of this was eventually released as the First Kill album so those tracks would be a pretty good example of what we actually sounded like at the time.

We also did a session to record the Don’t Touch Me There single with two b side tracks, which was our first single and was released on Neat. All of the Neat stuff was produced by Steve Thompson’.

(Featured in an earlier blog The Godfather of North East NWOBHM in June 2017)

‘I don’t think he had worked with a band who knew so little about music, as we couldn’t have played a scale between us!

After we got the record deal with MCA, at first this was through Neat. Well Neat wanted us to record our first album in their studio at Impulse in Wallsend, but the producer Chris Tsangarides came up to look at it and said he couldn’t work there and wanted to use his usual studio which was Morgan Studios in London.

That was where we did the Wild Cat and Spellbound albums.

We actually demoed Spellbound at Guardian Studios in Durham. The demo’s were the first time we had recorded with new singer Jon Deveril and new guitarist John Sykes both albums represented an amazing leap forward for the band.

When I first listened to the demo’s at home after the sessions, I couldn’t believe how good this line up sounded’.

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‘Recording Wildcat and Spellbound was a great experience but there was no time for self-indulgence and both albums were done in a couple of weeks. Guitar, bass and drums were recorded in a couple of takes, then guitar overdubs and vocals.

We did get to add a few extras like kettle drums and bass synth pedals, I was a big Rush fan at the time!

‘The next recording we did was with a mobile at a gig in Nottingham at the Rock City venue. For some reason which I still don’t know, John Sykes listened to it and said it was unusable and it got forgotten about until it was released some 20 years later.

I think it would have made a massive difference to our career had it been released at the time because instead we had to do the Crazy Nights album, and we weren’t ready.

We didn’t demo that album and quite a lot of it was written in the studio. It was recorded just bass and drums with a guide guitar and later guitars were added then vocals. It wasn’t a very good way to record because we had never actually heard the songs before we recorded the basic tracks as there were no lyrics, just a chord progression or riff.

Only a couple of songs were actually written properly before recording. There are virtually no overdubs and no backing vocals.

We hadn’t used Chris Tsangarides, partly as we just wanted a change but partly as he wanted a writing credit on a track on Spellbound which annoyed us.

Anyway we got in Dennis MacKay on Gary Moore’s recommendation but he was totally wrong for the band. He was doing a Stanley Clarke album in the States at the same time and was flying back and forwards.

It was also our own fault as we were partying too hard at that point and not taking the music seriously enough. Still there are some good tracks on the album.

Crazy Nights was partly recorded at Trident Studios in London which closed down straight after though I don’t think this was our fault. The vocals were done on the Virgin recording studio on a boat on the Thames!

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After the first three albums what was the band’s approach for the fourth ?

‘After the problems with Crazy Nights we decided to get serious and get a commercial producer in and this was Peter Collins. He had never done rock before but he must have liked the experience as he went on to do Rush and various other rock bands after us.

He came to a rehearsal said he couldn’t believe his first experience of hearing loud rock guitar in a confined space!

Our first recording with Peter was Love Potion No 9 while John Sykes was still in the band. Love Potion No 9 got a lot of radio play and was our biggest single. Obviously it is a cover but it doesn’t sound much like the original.

It was suggested by Peter Collin’s manager who was Pete Waterman who later became part of Stock, Aitken and Waterman of Kylie Minogue fame.

At that point John Sykes left the band to try for the job with Ozzy after Randy Rhodes died. He didn’t get the job but when he asked to come back we said no and looked for a replacement.

At first Fred Purser was just supposed to be temporary to do a French tour we had booked but we got on so well we asked him to join full time.

Fred had been in local punk band Penetration but in fact he was quite a sophisticated musician, at least compared to the rest of us’.

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‘We recorded The Cage with Peter Collins at Marquee Studios in London. We had picked some cover songs to do after the success with Love Potion and there were also some co-writes with people outside the band and Fred had a few songs so it was a different pool of songs to our usual stuff.

We still didn’t get that long to record and it was the usual couple of weeks to do most of it but Peter Collins was a real slave driver so we got a lot done.

The Cage was a commercial success and was our biggest album and we went to Japan and did a big UK tour and did supports and some headlining in Europe’.

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What festival’s did you play, what other bands were on and was there any stand out moments ?

‘Festivals in the UK in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s were not like they are now and were pretty rough and ready. I’d say they were a bit like the wild west and from the stage you looked out on thirty thousand people seemingly all throwing cans of piss at each other. It was pretty scary.

The only UK festival we played was Reading which we did twice. The first time was 1980 it was John Sykes first proper gig with the band. It was mega exciting to do though we were well down the bill and must have been playing early afternoon.

The second time we played Reading was in ’82 after The Cage was released and was scarier still as by this time we were well up the bill. In fact we had been given a very strange spot.

There were two stages but these were for the same audience and they were set apart so they could be setting up one bands gear whilst another played.

One stage was slightly smaller than the other so the top of the bill and second on the bill played the bigger stage and we had to play between them on the second stage. Therefore we were sandwiched between Blackfoot and Iron Maiden.

We knew how good Blackfoot were and were not keen on the idea of going on after them as they were a bigger band than us. We contemplated not doing it but a majority of the band wanted to do it so we went ahead.

Our agent said the secret was to start playing the moment that Blackfoot left the stage so that is what we did and it was a fantastic success’.

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‘Reading in 1982 was still a bit lawless and during the performance I did get hit by a bottle though I barely noticed it at the time and there was a large bruise afterwards.

Backstage was a bit different, before our performance we were eating strawberries and cream with Brit Ekland!

In Europe we did a few festivals and we did two in the Netherlands a week apart which left us staying in Amsterdam for a week with nothing to do but enjoy ourselves!

Festivals in Europe were different to UK festivals as they were not specific to a genre of music.

So in one festival we played with The Beat and Killing Joke, at another it was Dexy’s Midnight Runners and at a festival in Sweden we headlined one night and Simple Minds headlined the next night.

In the UK the different audiences would have killed each other but they all got on fine in the festivals in Europe’.

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The Tygers recorded a few TV appearances notably The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Tube. How did they come about and what other bands were on ?

‘There wasn’t as much opportunity to be on the TV in those days. You had to have a hit single to get on Top of the Pops and we were one spot away from that with Love Potion but never actually made it.

Our first TV was in Manchester on a show presented by Tony Wilson who went on to start the Factory label. This was on the Wild Cat tour and is on YouTube. It is the only film of us with Jess Cox and we did Euthanasia.

We did a local North East TV show but I can’t remember the name of it. It was a kind of chat show and we were the band that played in the middle. We did Don’t Stop By off Spellbound but whilst there are some photo’s there is no surviving film.

After Crazy Nights we did a TV special about Viz magazine. The show was called Something Else and was a kind of magazine show that each week did something about a particular city. The one on Newcastle centred on Viz. The two bands on were us and Angelic Upstarts who were great’.

‘The music bit was filmed in London at BBC TV Centre and we did Raised On Rock and Love Don’t Stay these are both on YouTube. Whilst we really liked Viz, they didn’t really like us and I know that Simon Donald of Viz didn’t want the Tygers on but was told he had to have us!

We then did the Old Grey Whistle Test. The other band on was someone from Wings but I can’t remember who they were.

We did Running out of Time from Crazy Nights and Love Potion No.9 which by then I think was out as a single. This was our last TV with John Sykes on guitar.

By the time we did OGWT the format had changed a bit from the early days and there was an audience of sorts but when they applied for tickets they didn’t know who was going to be playing. It was just a generic TV audience and not fans of the band.

After filming we went out for something to eat and were stopped by the police as apparently, we fitted the description of people they were looking for in connection with criminal damage. We were able to give them an alibi !’

‘Our final TV performance was The Tube in 1982. It was one of the early episodes of The Tube and we were on with Iggy Pop and Twisted Sister.

Unfortunately Iggy Pop was a total dick and a complete diva and by the time he was happy with his sound there was no time for anyone else to sound check.

It was great meeting Twisted Sister. They were a fantastic band, great performers and we felt very reserved and British in comparison. They were all absolutely enormous as well, it was like meeting a bunch of wrestlers!

I think The Tube was the last time the version of the Tygers I was in played together. We split up shortly after. We were not in a very good state of mind but the film which is on YouTube is better than I remembered it at the time.

As to who arranged the TV appearances I suppose it was our managers or the record company. I know our managers used to badger local TV to put us on as we were a local band’.

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NWOBHM, did you realise the impact that the genre of music would have ?

‘NWOBHM was quite big at the time and had pretty much an instant impact but I certainly didn’t realise that anyone would be talking about it in thirty years time.

Or that it would directly influence the future of metal by inspiring the thrash metal bands that would come after it.

The first time we heard about NWOBHM was Geoff Barton’s piece in Sounds Magazine. At that point we were doing quite well on the local scene.

There was a local indoor music event called the Bedrock Festival at the Guildhall in Newcastle and we headlined one of the nights. There were many local band’s on so I would say we were quite a big local band.

However, the problem was how to expand outside of the North East and the NWOBHM was that opportunity’.

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‘When the first article about Def Leppard and the second about Maiden was in Sounds magazine our manager sent Geoff a tape saying that we were a similar sort of band but in Newcastle rather than Sheffield or London.

The next week there was a sort of round up of heavy rock and metal bands around the country and we were in that.

Our single started selling outside the North East and we started to get national attention. I don’t know if any of this would have happened without the NWOBHM.

Obviously there was a few NWOBHM bands at the start including Maiden, Saxon, Leppard, Diamond Head and Girlschool but I think we kind of stopped thinking about being part of the NWOBHM once we got to release our second album.

I was aware of Venom of course as we knew Conrad (Cronos) quite well from before Venom and in fact I went to their first gig with Cronos.

I just didn’t understand it at all though, of course they were right and I was wrong as they went on to be probably the most influential NWOBHM band other than Maiden’.

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Can you remember when the Tygers called it a day?

‘Unfortunately in the success of our fourth album The Cage lay the seed of the bands demise. MCA records wanted to do more covers and more rocked up versions of soul classics and we didn’t want to do it.

We had a four track machine on which we demo’d some songs written by Fred but this did not change MCA’s mind and whist other companies were interested in the band they were not interested in buying us out of our deal with MCA.

However the fifth album demos were interesting as we recorded live drums and everything as we would in a studio but on the four track. We turned one of the rooms in my parents’ house into a studio and put mattresses on the walls and used the next door room as a control room.

Fred was actually a pretty good producer and now owns a studio in Newcastle. Anyway, as a result of all the frustration we split up as there seemed no way forward.

Apart from Venom I was completely unware of all of the bands who came along as the kind of second wave of NWOBHM or that NEAT had become some sort of NWOBHM label.

The Tygers thing all happened between ’78 and ’82 and then it was over and I completely lost touch with the whole scene that carried on after that’.

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Mischief or Madness, have you any funny stories from being in the band ?

‘There is a rule among bands that what goes on the road stays on the road so there is a lot I could tell you about which I am not going to tell you about. But a couple of funny things come to mind.

We were always looking for practical jokes to play on people or each other and when staying in a large hotel in France, having returned from the gig Brian and I noticed that people who wanted their breakfast in their rooms hung a cardboard notice on the outside of their doors with what they wanted for breakfast, and more importantly what time they wanted it. So we went round and changed all the times to 6am.

The next morning pandemonium ensued as half the hotel were woken for breakfast several hours before they wanted to be, including our band mates and managers who were traveling with us’.

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‘Another time whilst recording at Morgan Studios we knew our manager was coming to visit the studio so we set up pyrotechnics just inside the studio door and got reception to warn us when he was coming in.

He opened the door and found himself in total darkness and then a few seconds later a whole bank of magnesium explosions went off! He didn’t know what had hit him.

We didn’t always know when was a good time for jokes and when wasn’t. Jon Deverill was doing vocals at the studio and the rest of us were at the apartment we had rented so we decided to set up a few surprises for when he got back.

What we didn’t realise was that he would actually get back at about 4 in the morning after a particularly gruelling vocal session, was exhausted and was therefore not really in the mood to have a bucket of water on his head from the top of the door, his bed sheet folded over so he couldn’t get in properly, and the legs of his bed collapse once he was in it!’

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Current Tygers bassist Gav Gray with Richard Laws.

What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ?

‘I am involved in the music business as after the band I qualified as a lawyer and started working in the music business and have been doing that for the last 30 years or so.

I tend to represent companies rather than artists and whilst I still do a lot of record company and publishing company work, the industry has changed in the time I have worked in it. There is a lot more brand related work and merchandising.

I don’t go to many gigs these days as my days in the Tygers left me with permanent hearing damage and some gigs now are so loud it is actually painful unless I wear hearing protection.

I did go to see the current line-up of the Tygers about a year ago and it was great to see them as they were really good. It was great to see Robb again as I hadn’t seen him for 30 years though I am now in touch with some of the old band on social media and speak to Robb on the phone occasionally.

I still play music though I didn’t for many years. I only started again because at one of the places I worked someone had the idea of putting a band together for the Christmas party so I dug out my bass and we ended up doing quite a few private parties just playing covers.

Now I just play for my own amusement and guitar rather than bass, though I still have my old Rickenbacker bass from the Tygers days. At least I know some scales now!’

Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2017.

Recommended:

Micky McCrystal, Cat Scratch Fever, 17th March 2017.

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

Robb Weir, Doctor Rock, 5th November 2017.

ON THE HOOF – Lee Payne bassist with Cloven Hoof

‘We play from the heart and soul and after every show I can throw my stage clothes against the wall and they stick there!’

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Originally formed in 1979 in the West Midlands, UK, New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Cloven Hoof went on to record five studio album’s including this year’s release on High Roller Records ‘Who Mourns for the Morning Star’.

To support the album they have lined up three gig’s starting on August 25th in Belgium supporting USA hard rock legends Riot.

I got in touch with Cloven Hoof bassist Lee Payne as he was preparing for the gig’s.

‘A lot of logistics need sorting out with Hoof as the line up is Anglo-American. We are always mindful of one another’s commitments before committing to anything.

We usually plan six month ahead to avoid problems, that way gigs are hand picked and we only do the ones we really feel enthusiastic about.

100% commitment and dedication is demanded by all band members and a lot of effort goes in by all concerned to make it work – especially as we have a continent to divide us.

The good side to this of course is we can play in America and Europe easily because we have a base camp in both territories’.

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‘All the band meet up about a week before a show in England and go into seven days solid rehearsal. We practise 12 hours a day continuous to get the set slick. In truth we have it down in about a day but use the rest if the time to work out fine details and stagecraft’.

‘No one has ever forgotten their passport so far thank goodness, but we have a fair share of scares along the way with touring.

Once due to fog in Milan we had to take six flights to get home to England due to rescheduling. You have to be super dedicated to your craft to take these things in your stride.

Endless hotels waiting around and travelling is the biggest drag in any musicians experience. We all live for the time on stage when we can kick ass and get off on the music along with the fans. It makes all the hassle seem worthwhile’.

After the Belgium gig the Hoof go to Germany where you are headlining the Trveheim Festival. Have you played any of these gigs before ?

’We normally try to break new ground and play new venues and territories to keep things interesting. On occasions some festivals are so prestigious that you feel you should perform at them more than once.

Sweden Rock Festival was incredible last time so we would play it again in a heartbeat. The same for Keep it True, Headbangers Open Air, Bang your Head, Sword Brothers and Up the Hammers. They are institutions these days so we would be silly not to play at these festivals when asked.

In fact I think we will play Sword Brothers again next year as a point in question. America will be our prime target 2018 so it will be very exciting to play there at long last.

Brazil and South America is another place we are eager to tour to help promote the re-releases on the Classic Metal label’.

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For the third gig the band travel to France for the British Steel Festival on 7th October 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 ?

’The set list is tricky because we have so many songs to choose from these days. We always exclude someone’s favourite song unfortunately but it can’t be helped.

There are only so many songs you can fit into a set. 90 minutes is our longest set time because any longer and we run out of energy.

We like to keep up a high tempo set and it takes it out of you burning up the stage. The fans tell us what they want to hear via the website so we are governed by them what to include in part at least’.

‘We always start off with a fast song either Inquisitor or Astral Rider that everyone knows because we have the fans attention right from the start. Then we introduce a new number early on before the usual stage favourites.

A show has to be structured and flow so the audience can interact with you at the right pace. We let the singer suggest the order songs are in to protect his voice.

We always finish with Laying down the Law because it is a famous audience participation song and an old classic. You have to balance the back catalogue and tracks from new albums seamlessly.

At least that is our aim, something for everyone in fact. Old fans and new can come to our shows assured we will all rock out together and they will hear at least something they are familiar with’.

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What kind of ages are in the audience and do you see familiar faces ?

‘We are lucky enough to have whole families attending our shows these days. Some have been fans for over 40 years and have followed us right from The Opening Ritual up to the present day.

We do see a lot of familiar faces but lately we have seen a lot more young kids on the front row. It seems there is a revival in NWOBHM that is very encouraging and it bodes well for the future.

Music can defy age limit or nationality and that is what is fantastic about metal. Young kids get off on our energy level, it is still high octane from start to finish. Not many bands out there can match our drive, power and stagecraft’.

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Is there any difference from coming of stage now to when Cloven Hoof played their first gigs ?

‘Definitely! In the old days I would come off stage and still be full of energy to run a marathon. It would take me hours to come down I was so pumped up with adrenaline. Now I am totally shattered!

But I am quietly pleased I can still rock out with the best of them. As long as I can run about the stage like a crazy man and deliver the goods then I will do it till I drop.

I give the fans everything, all the guys in this band and the audience knows that. We play from the heart and soul and after every show I can throw my stage clothes against the wall and they stick there!

If they didn’t then you are not working hard enough, the audience deserve and demand your very best… and when they see Cloven Hoof that is what they get in spades!’

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For more info, merchandise, photo’s and tour dates visit the official website at clovenhoof.net

Interview by Gary Alikivi August 2017.

Recommended:

CLOVEN HOOF: Shine On, 20th April 2017.

SAVAGE: The Mansfield Four, 8th May 2017.

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

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

STORMY DAZE – Life’s like that for North East guitarist Jim Clare

In the early 1980’s guitarist Jim Clare played for North Eastern UK bands Hellfire and Geneva…

‘It was hot pies and cans of Carlsberg Special in the rehearsal rooms with my first band, in the next room were Fist and the other was Hellanbach… it was like the Walk this Way video by Aerosmith and Run DMC !

During the late 80’s Jim was guitarist in Black Metal merchants Venom where he recorded the album Calm Before the Storm and went out on tour…

‘I remember we were in America and met up with the Cycle Sluts From Hell, basically they were the Spice Girls on PCP, that was some wild night at the Ritz in New York City’.

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Where did it all begin for you?

‘Music was around me from an early age, my older brother’s were into folk and my cousin Bob Henrit played in Argent and The Kinks. I started studying bass then moved on to guitar.

In 1980 I bought my Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Goldtop (1972) for £300 and used my brothers HH amp. I was listening to British rock bands like Queen, Thin Lizzy and UFO also American stuff like The Doors and Van Halen’.

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ?

‘In 1980 my first proper band was called Hardline, we played The Mitre in Benwell and a few other pubs in Newcastle. Then by 1981, I was in a power trio called Hellfire who had a couple of line ups and played a few gigs around the North East. That lasted until 1983’.

‘Then I moved down to London to join metal band Tank who were signed at the time, but that didn’t come off I can’t remember why exactly, it’s lost in the mists of time.

So I came back to the North East and although I couldn’t play NWOBHM to save my life, and still can’t ! I auditioned for a few heavy metal band’s that were on the scene, Warrior, Tysondog and Tygers of Pan Tang.

But eventually joined AOR band Geneva in 1985 and again gigged around Tyneside notably at Edwards Bar, Mingles in Whitley Bay, Tiffany’s in Newcastle, yes loved that band’.

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‘Then I joined Venom in 1986 which lasted a couple of years, that line up was Tony Bray on drums, (featured in an earlier blog) bass and vocals was Conrad Lant with me and Mike Hickey on guitars. Around ’89 we had Chris Patterson on drums and were called Cronos then. That lasted till around 1993’.

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What were your experiences of recording ?

‘First recording was using a 4 Track at Desert Sound in Felling. Ian McKie was the engineer he used a 1/4” Reel to Reel with Roland 301 Space echo. A great little sound with nice tracked guitars’.

‘With Hellfire we went to Guardian Studios in Durham. I can safely say that was the worst recording experience of my life. Starting with little or no overdubs, the producer told us all the old stories that the studio was famous for including the one about the studio ghost as well as the solo he played on The Carpenters track !

Other studio work was when I played for Warfare and Venom. We recorded a few things in Impulse Studio where NEAT records were based’.

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Have you any funny stories from playing gigs ? ‘To many to mention but here’s a couple of snippets for you. We were playing a gig in Newcastle with Hardline and for dramatic effect we came bouncing on stage on space hoppers and used a lot of smoke bombs. The landlord went crazy as it turned the beer flat and people retching in the toilets.

On tour with Venom we arrived in Japan with all our guitars and amps still back in London. We were sound checking with cheap radio systems that picked up samba music on the radio and it was blasting out of the 4×12’s’.

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What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ?

‘I play with The Ballbreakers who’ve been described as ZZ Top on crack. We’ve played quite a few Bikers festivals where we do a range of our own tunes She’s On….I’m Off and Shaved By The Bell. As you can tell with those titles we’re not collecting for charity, we refuse to compromise even when we do covers we do them our way.

I’m joined along with Pete Green on bass and Matty Wilson on drums. Right now we are in the middle of finishing our debut album which we are recording in Alnwick’.

‘I also play in a two guitar outfit called Balls of Steel playing a brand of anthemic, air punching cheese rock where the punters and the band have a lotta fun. I’ve been lucky enough to have taught players that are now ripping up the North East scene. So I’m busy as hell’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi May 2017.

RETURN OF THE MASK – interview with drummer, THUNDERSTICK

Famously pictured on the front of Sounds was Thunderstick, drummer for New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Samson.

By the early 1980’s he had formed his own band, but that folded in ’87.

Thirty years later, he’s back with a new album but he has noticed a few changes in the music industry…

‘Back then a drummer would have to do an entire performance without any mistakes allowing the bass player and guitars to ‘drop in’ when they mess up.  Today the stuff that can be done to make everyone in the band sound ‘perfect’ is in my opinion makes music kind of sterile’.

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‘I released an album of past Thunderstick material back in 2011, it was called Echoes from the Analogue Asylum because everything on it was recorded in analogue.

The truth be known I have used the basic principles of recording in an analogue way for the new album. Hopefully it gives that feel of a time gone by both in the song writing style and the recorded sounds’.

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” ?

‘The way I got involved did have a defining moment. I was a young kid helping my uncle collect stuff for a jumble sale.  Somebody threw out a pair of military drumsticks. Guess what? they didn’t make it – I kept them.

The flame had been lit. I started beating up on my parent’s furniture until they were forced into buying me a drumkit just to stop the carnage……I was 9!’

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When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ?

‘I started playing ‘serious’ gigs that had a beginning a middle and an end rather than just playing continually until it was time to pack up and go home, which was the way it all started.

I was about 14 year old when we started getting structure to the songs and were ready for people to hear us. The band were called Innomina Patris (pic.above) and the supports that we did were for UFO, Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, and Steeleye Span. It felt amazing to do a real gig where we actually got applause’.

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Did you realise the impact that NWOBHM would have ?

’No in a word!  It all felt like ‘work in progress’ each band trying to get tighter and more proficient at song writing. We would run across each other regularly.

It all started for real when the term NWOBHM and Kerrang was written in a gig review of us, Samson, Iron Maiden and Angelwitch by Geoff Barton for the music paper Sounds. Coupled with putting a picture of me in the mask on the front cover.

A movement had been born and suddenly each band was aware that we were part of something. Punk had been killed off after their little time of domination, move over, it was time for the musicians that could actually play their instruments to once again take the spotlight’.

Recording techniques are more fluid now, how and where did you record the new album?

‘I am fortunate that the musicians that I chose for this new album all live in the same country. Albeit scattered here there and everywhere in the United Kingdom. We did all of the rhythm tracks in a studio in Wales.

I worked with Dave (Kandy) Kilford who was in my band back in 1986. We recorded his guitar parts on the south coast of England where I live. Then it was back to Wales for the vocals and rough mixes.  Pre-mastering and eventual mastering I did with my brother in arms Rob Grain at his home studio’.

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What are your plans for touring ?

’Yes, I want to get it out there. I have just had some knee surgery and have to train my bionic leg to play kick drum..!
I haven’t chosen my gigging band yet it all depends on availability. I will of course keep you informed. Bye for now ‘it’s been emotional’!

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Scheduled for release at the end of July, the CD album ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ will be available for purchase via Thundersticks Facebook page.

Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2017.

TRUE FAITH – with ex Iron Maiden, Battlezone vocalist Paul Di’Anno

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Paul Di’Anno speaks candidly about his proudest achievments to date, and reveals a defining moment where his music career began.

‘You know it was punk that woke me up, it was like a giant kick in the bollocks ! Before that I was always listening to music like Nazereth, Led Zeppelin and the like but punk got me fired up.

My influences have gotta be the Ramones, but I remember I was in my bedroom listening to the Sex Pistols when it really hit me you know, that’s what I needed to do’.

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What has music given you ?

‘You gotta understand music is my life, it’s all I’m good at. It’s been faithful and true to me, as I am to it. I play all around the planet to some truly wonderful people.

I don’t like to use the word fan, because these brothers and sisters are all friends. They are truly awesome I love them and I think they know that. Having said that I still get nervous as fuck before shows. I’m a wreck but it’s the greatest high in the world, I absolutely love it’.

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What other music do you listen to or go to see live ? 

‘For checking out any musicians or bands I haven’t been out much as I’m waiting on surgery for a medical problem. So I’ve not seen any bands in England for ages but when I’m back in Brazil I always check out the usual suspects Sepultura, Krisium, Shocker and a few local club bands.

I had a great night at the Glen Hughes concert in Buenos Aries not long ago and of course my bands over in Brasil Scelerata and out in Argentina Doble Nuclear !’

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Is there any music or musicians that you admire today ?

‘Of the music that I admire today there is too many too mention cos you have all the old punk stuff, but at a push it’s gotta be Judas Priest and Metallica’.

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In your music career so far what are you most proud of ?

Looking back on my career the music I’m most proud of up to now is Running Free and the second Iron Maiden album Killers. After that in ’86 I released some good albums, Fighting Back by Battlezone, and the Killers albums. But you know the way I feel I’m sure there’s more to come’.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi April 2017.