THE LADY WORE BLACK with Thunderstick vocalist Raven Blackwing

Best known for his time with New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band Samson, Barry Graham-Purkis formed Thunderstick, a band renowned for its female fronted power rock. July 2017 saw the album ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ released, the first new Thunderstick product in over thirty years. Following the success of the album Graham-Purkis put a live band together for a series of festival dates and live gigs. The band recorded one of the shows and Roulette Records are releasing the live album this month.

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I caught up with lead vocalist Raven and asked her about the new album…. I’m pleased with the album. It’s raw and genuine and I’m very excited about the upcoming release. The whole gig was a blast from start to finish, a beautiful way for me to cherish the memory of that performance. It’s my first album with the band and I’m really hoping that people listening to it will pick up on the enjoyment that I and the guys had on stage that night.

How did the job with Thunderstick come about ? I was very fortunate that a guitarist friend of Barry’s had seen me play with my covers band some months earlier and passed my name across to him. I am very grateful that he did ! Although I very nearly didn’t audition because I wasn’t convinced my voice would suit, but love it and I’m learning to perfect the scream.

I’ve been with the band about 11 months now and couldn’t imagine doing anything different.

What is your performing background and are you from a musical family ? I did Theatre Studies at school and performed with the local dramatic society. But my love of music has come from my Dad singing around the house. Although he would confess he could never remember the lyrics, so it was always the same lines repeated over and over !

Have you a highlight or a magic moment on stage ? I would say playing The New Day Festival in Faversham last year, and looking out to a crowd of complete strangers singing the songs back at me. That was an amazing feeling, but then so was going abroad to France for the first time. We had such a great time and met so many amazing people.

Have Thunderstick confirmed any live dates, and anywhere near North East UK ? We are in Birmingham at Breaking Bands on the 24th May, and I’m extremely excited to be launching the next album in my home town of Deal at the Astor Theatre on the 8th August. Would love everybody to come and see where I live!

It would be so good to come up to the North East of the country to play live, an area that takes it’s rock and metal seriously. We have numerous friends and followers, not to mention fellow musicians on our Thunderstick social media pages that ask if the band will be heading out soon – as soon as we have confirmed dates we will let everyone know.

‘Something Wicked This Way Came – Live in France’ is released 20th March 2020 on Roulette Records.

Pre-order from: https://www.roulettemedia.uk/thunderstick-store

A follow-up studio album is currently being recorded and is scheduled for release in July 2020.

The full Thunderstick line-up is: Raven Blackwing (vocals) Barry Graham Purkis aka Thunderstick (drums) Vinny Konrad & Lee Quenby (guitars) & Rex Thunderbolt (bass).

Interview by Gary Alikivi  March 2020

THUNDERSTICK in RETURN OF THE MASK – “so many things have happened along the way…it would make a great book”

 

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

56_thunderstick‘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 songwriting 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 parents 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 songwriting.  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’.

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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 Thunderstick’s Facebook page.

Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2017.

 

 

 

ROCKY ROAD FROM DUBLIN – but Bernie Torme has travelled well.

I was last in touch with Bernie Torme in March this year just before his gig in South Shields. (The Dentist, March 2017) He had just released a triple album Dublin Cowboy and was starting a UK tour to promote the record. I asked him how did it go, were there any stand out gig’s or surprises ? ‘It went really well, which was great for new boy Sy Morton on bass. The boy done good. Stand out gigs? Well for political reasons since you’re from the North East I’ll say South Shields! It was, but actually they were all fucking brilliant!’

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‘Edinburgh was a blast, we had my old bass player Phil Spalding from The Bernie Torme Band back in ’77 -’78 play one of our punk classics Secret Service and the great Doogie White got up to sing Smoke on The Water. That was wild’.

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What was the initial feedback from supporters to Dublin Cowboy ? ‘Really good, different people had different favourites, everyone seemed to dig the Dublin Cowboy track lots, and the acoustic album and live album. It was one of the best reactions I’ve had to any album, pretty pleased about that’.

In 1988 you worked with ex Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snider in the band Desperado, how did that come about, what was it like writing with Dee and did you play live ? ‘It was great working with Dee, I love the guy, he’s one of a kind, great guy, great front man, awesome singer. The singer bit often gets ignored because he’s such a huge personality, but that man could sing the ass off anyone’.

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‘He asked me to do it initially because he had heard the lead guitar work I had done on the Mammoth album (I was the potential Mammoth that just wasn’t fat enough!) it was an interesting time, just before the bubble burst on the mega deals for rock stuff in the music biz. I couldn’t have given a fuck about all that, but it was important to Dee and his management.
So we careered through a few years of huge money and chaos. Dee on Atlantic being sued by Bill Graham (of Filmore fame), chapter 11 bankruptcy and out of the Atlantic deal. A new deal with Elektra, turned out a bad mistake! We recorded the album, which they initially loved, then they dropped the band after having a million dollars spent on us because someone had a bad weekend or something. That’s the politics of New York cokehead music industry execs…. Fuckin eejits! Quite traumatic at the time, but you survive and ride on free’.

‘Dee was great to work with, huge talent, good writer, always loads of ideas, sometimes a bit of a control freak, but thats understandable, he was the guy who had to carry the can. Fucking giant, I love the man’.

‘Only gig we ever did was in Birmingham, I think it was the International club or something? Maybe wrong about the name, but it was definitely Brum. It was a showcase for Atlantic, but with an audience. Good gig. Motorhead wanted us as special guest on their Euro tour in ’88 or early ’89 but Dee wouldn’t do it. I really wanted to, I still think not doing it was a big mistake, it would have put a real world value on the band’.

Bringing your story up to date what are your future plans, any touring in 2018 ? ‘Thinking about that one….not sure, maybe end of the year. Perhaps not, life is a bit complicated right now’.

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Lastly, what has music given you ? ‘A life, dreams, happiness, unhappiness, friends, enemies, experiences and seeing places. Meeting great people, shit people and doing things that a shy kid with a stutter from Dublin could never have imagined in a thousand years! Gave me everything really, for which I am eternally grateful, I wouldn’t have exchanged my life for anyone else’s. It definitely did not make me rich though! Hey music are you listening???!!!’

For information about the Dublin Cowboy album and more check the official website http://www.bernietorme.co.uk

Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2017.

Recommended:

Bernie Torme, The Dentist 21st March 2017.

 

BACK FOR GOOD ? Return of NWOBHM band Troyen

Troyen are from the North West UK, they formed in 1980 and were active until late ’82. The NWOBHM band reformed in 2014 and are now ready to release new material in July, drummer Jeff Baddley takes up the story… ‘We were requested to play Brofest #3 by the promoter Stu Bartlett, during and after the gig the reception was great we all agreed we had to carry this on. So the past few years we have been riding the wave playing around the UK and Europe. That’s included gigs at The Borderline in London and appearing at Heavy Metal Maniacs festival in Holland’.

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How did you get your name and who were your influences ? ‘We were originally called Trojan until we found another band in the UK with the same name. So we decided to change to Troyen which is French for Trojan and is inspired by 1858 Hector Berlioz opera Les Troyens. We all have an eclectic mix of music and influences ranging from traditional classic rock like UFO, Rush and Judas Priest to new rock sounds like Shinedown, Alter Bridge, Opeth and Joe Bonamassa’.

Did Troyen get out on the road ? ‘It was really hard in pre-internet days for Troyen to get noticed. It was down to hard work and gigging as often as possible. We did over 130 gigs all over the country in the two years we were together, including support dates with Spider, Girlschool, Rhabstallion, and Diamond Head. We also enjoyed a six week European support tour with Nightwing’.

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What were your experiences of recording ? ‘Our demo was Gil Norton’s first ever studio job. At the time, Gil was just learning how to record, engineer and produce music. Gil’s current portfolio consists of work for the likes of The Pixies, Foo Fighters, Feeder, Counting Crows, Terrorvision and many more of the same calibre’.

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‘The demo cassette was recorded in 1981 at Amazon Studios in Liverpool featuring Dreams Never Lie, Crazy Lady, Futures Friend and Don’t Send Me To War. That sold out of two runs of 250 copies and Troyen enjoyed good radio play alongside the promise of a contract with NEAT records for a three-track single and a possible LP’.

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‘Rough demos for the single were done, but sadly the band split prior to completion of the single’.

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‘Since re-forming we have produced an eight track cd featuring digitally enhanced tracks from the original demo, two old tracks that never made to tape or vinyl, Syrian Lady and First Blood. Also two new tracks Backlash and the title track Finish What You Started. This was recorded at Elusive Studios in St Helens and was partially crowd funded’.

Have you any funny stories from playing gigs ? ‘We have many ! Countless times meeting other bands in motorway services in the wee small hours of the morning and swapping experiences. Sadly most are not printable but here’s a few that are! We were gigging in Germany and driving down an autobahn, we didn’t notice till much later that someone was missing, it was one one our roadies !

Another one was in June ’82 and we were again in Germany playing the Schutorf Festival and during some down time we went to a park to play football, we recognised the other team but couldn’t think who they were. Turns out we played against Simple Minds. Think that was the night Jeff the drummer slept in a dog basket, or was that after a gig in Munster ha ha. Sorry we can’t reveal much more of this story but one night we had a very traumatic experience in a German night club with a pair of step ladders and a metal bucket’.

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What are Troyen doing now ? ‘We have recorded an EP Storm Child to be released in July to coincide with appearences at the Drunken Monkey Festival in August, Grim Up North Fest in Bury with a great line up. Also the British Steel in France with O/D Saxon, Cloven Hoof, Salem and a few more bands. In addition to other gigs in the UK and Belgium which are being arranged as we speak, we will play as long as people want to hear us’.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi April 2017.

 

 

 

SHINE ON – the atmosphere is right for a new album say’s Cloven Hoof’s bassist Lee Payne

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On the eve of the release of their new album on the 21st April on High Roller Records, I spoke to Cloven Hoof bassist Lee Payne ‘We are just about to release Who Mourns For The Morning Star. This new album explores the full sonic width of the band. There are epic tracks next to more hard hitting numbers that build and cover a whole spectrum of moods and atmospheres. The album combines all the best qualities of the trademark Cloven Hoof sound played with precision and feeling with a vocal delivery that is off the scale. I feel it is our best ever album that we have done and really stretched ourselves on this one’.

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Who were your first influences in music ?  ‘The 70’s was a very good decade for me and I spent every penny I had buying albums and listening to music. Over the years I saw hundreds of metal bands. The first live show I saw was Rainbow at Birmingham Odeon in 1975, then Black Sabbath on the Technical Ecstasy tour in 1977.
For influences I thought Cream were great and I loved Alice Cooper but I always go back to the old tried and trusted favourites like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Rush’.

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Was there a defining moment when hearing a song or watching a band when you said ‘I want to do that’? ‘I got into music because of Highway Star by Deep Purple. I heard that song and it hit like a bolt of lightning. I was an immediate fan, no question about that. I knew I just had to learn how to play it! First I learned it on guitar then switched to bass because I wanted to play with Ritchie Blackmore one day haha’.

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‘I started Cloven Hoof way back in 1979. It was a fantastic time for me growing up in England at a very exciting time in metal history. Everyone would go anywhere to see a live band and with the British media supporting Heavy Metal it was an inspiring time. Geoff Barton, who formed Kerrang magazine, was the most important writer at the time. He worked for a music paper called Sounds and all the metal kids bought it. Even before we had a singer I sent a tape to him asking what he thought of the music. He loved the fledgling Cloven Hoof sound and when we eventually got a singer I went down to London and was interviewed by him. It was very prestigious and that gave Cloven Hoof respect even from day one thanks to Geoff. He tipped us for success in his Breaking through in 82 article along with Motley Crue and Venom’.

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What venues did Cloven Hoof play ?  ‘1983 saw Cloven Hoof touring throughout the length and breadth of the UK, earning ourselves a sizable underground cult following. In the summer of that year the band recorded a four-track session for Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show on Radio One and a similar session for a local radio station for DJ Mike Davies. Things were starting to happen for the band, we were really in the mix’.

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‘On the strength of the bands popularity Tyneside based Neat Records signed us to record the album Cloven Hoof. The album notched up figures of 24,000 units in 1984 alone. And off the back of some very successful overseas sales a European tour was organised. The tour was great and it culminated on the Shockwave Festival in Belgium. The Dynamo Club in Holland was another good memory of the gigs abroad. These venues provided some of the most enthusiastic Heavy Metal fans we had experienced. The reaction from the crowd at the end of the set’s was astounding.
 A big highlight of our recent gig history was playing on the Sweden Rock Festival in 2014 amongst Heavy Metal greats such as Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper’.

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What were your experiences of recording ? ‘In the old days we used Mad Hat studio in Wolverhampton. I recently saw our old producer Mark Stuart and we had a great time reminiscing about A Sultans Ransom which we recorded in 1989. He agreed that it was a killer album and he was proud to be part of it, I think we all felt that. For our recent recordings we have used a variety of studios for putting down base tracks’.

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‘We are with High Roller Records now and are really happy with the relationship, they care about metal and nothing else. They have some awesome names on their books Onslaught, Witchfynde, Exodus, Tokyo Blade to name but a few, we are in great company!
High Roller have been good to us, they were responsible for releasing Eye of the Sun for the first time on vinyl. The album was previously available only on CD but now it will be available on both formats and downloads. Through High Roller we also have access to one of the most respected audio engineers in the shape of Patrick Engel. He is an absolute wizard, when we got sent the final mix for approval – it was jaw dropping’.

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What’s next for Cloven Hoof ?  ‘We have a few gigs already confirmed this year, we can’t wait to take the new material on the road. On 25th August we’re playing at the Blast from the Past with Riot V in Belgium and the next day we’re at the Trueheim Festival in Germany. Then it’s the Britsh Steel Festival in October and we are hoping to get a few more confirmed for this year, can’t wait. Music is my life.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi March 2017.

Recommended:

SAVAGE: The Mansfield Four, 8th May 2017.

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

CLOVEN HOOF: On the Hoof, 21st August 2017.

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

TO HULL AND BACK – with Salem’s Paul Macnamara

‘In 1983 we won a Battle of the Bands competition and the prize was to record in a Professional studio in Huddersfield. We were very pleased with the sound quality and I think it captured the developing maturity of our song writing. So we took this demo to several record companies but they all said “It’s good but not what we’re looking for at the moment”.

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Paul Macnamara, guitarist with Hull based heavy metal band Salem, who from 1979 to ’83 were part of the NWOBHM scene with Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang and Iron Maiden. They reformed in 2009. I caught up with Paul when he came back from a Salem gig in Barcelona and asked him who were his influences ? ‘Probably the biggest influences were Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore and American bands like Kansas, Boston, Sammy Hagar and Ted Nugent. I also listened to a bit of jazz and classical music that was my dad’s influence’.

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How did you get involved in playing music ? ‘Music was always on at home it was a big part of our lives, my dad played piano and guitar. Around 12 years old, I started learning a few chords on that guitar and I haven’t looked back.
I was taught classical guitar at school, which was great for picking up music theory and the technical side of things.
I had a band at school that played a few small gigs and at the same school was Adrian Jenkinson who is Salem’s bass guitarist and music producer. It was he who recommended me to the ex Ethel the Frog guys and so formed Salem in 1979’. (Ethel the Frog had their song ‘Fight Back’ released on the compilation album ‘Metal for Muthas’ alongside Iron Maiden, Samson and Angel Witch)

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Where did you rehearse and when did you start playing gigs ? Salem started rehearsing in a garage in a little street off Spring Bank in Hull, then we moved to the Hull Truck studios on the High Street.
Our first gig? well that was in the Autumn of 1980 in Hornsea a couple of miles up the coast supporting a band called The Crack. It was in a venue called The Floral Hall the gig wasn’t very memorable, to be honest there was hardly anyone there, just girlfriends and the other band…you’ve gotta start somewhere haven’t you!

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What venues did you play ? ‘We played in pubs and clubs in the Hull area, we travelled all around the North we got to Leeds, Sheffield, Grimsby, Cleethorpes and even as far as Darlington!! In 1982 a friend put me in touch with Neil Jeffries who was a journalist at new Heavy Metal magazine Kerrang. He recorded an interview and got it published in the May issue so we got a great turn out for the Darlington gig. It made a big difference to sales of the single. That’s a great memory from those early NWOBHM days’.

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What were your experiences of recording ? ‘Our first recording sessions were in the well established Fairview Studios in Yorkshire, where many famous people have recorded great records there, so we were in good company. Notably in 1979 they had Def Leppard recording their EP – whatever happened to them haha. Fairview also made records for Witchfynde and Tokyo Blade who were part of the NWOBHM scene.
The first time we went in the studio was on 4th January 1981. This was a massive learning curve for me, I thought I could play the guitar ok, but the discipline of the studio was something quite different so we really had to be focused.
That demo cost about £200 which was a small fortune to us, it was about two weeks wages for me!  The studio looked like an old garage from the outside, but on the inside it seemed to bristle with complicated gear and technology. We recorded four tracks there, Coming For You, Cold As Steel, Fool’s Gold and Make The Grade. We were there for the whole day and felt shattered by the end’.

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‘The next time we recorded in Fairview was April ’82, that was for our single Cold As Steel / Reach For Eternity. By now we had Simon Saxby in on vocals and second lead guitarist Mark Allison to create a fuller sound. Not that memorable apart from Simon keep getting the lyrics wrong. As we were recording the reverse chord on the beginning of Reach for Eternity, I counted the band in, then when I nodded my head, my headphones flew off !(Back then Salem were selling the double A side single for £1.20)
Then in September ’82 we went to Adda Studios in Hull that was with a new drummer Paul Mendham who completes the current and well established line up. Adda cost us somewhat less than Fairview as it was, let’s say, not as sophisticated. But still we recorded six tracks that day. There was The Keeper, Fighting For The Cause, Coming For You and a few others.
The last demo was at September Sound in Huddersfield. This was a much bigger place because they normally had silver and brass bands there, but now they were hoping to get into rock music.  This time we recorded five fairly new songs: Rock Fever, Save The Night, The Other Side of Hell, The Hangman’s Noose and The King Trilogy III’.

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Have you any stories from playing gigs ?  ‘We supported a few touring bands when they came to Hull. There was Budgie, Magnum, Diamond Head and Tygers of Pan Tang who are still gigging now. The only time we got a mention on the front page of the local Hull Daily Mail was when we DIDN’T support the Alex Harvey Band, they turned up with their own support!
We used to experiment with pyrotechnics, thinking back, if the Health and Safety Executive had known we would have been in a lot of bother. I remember one gig we played in Sheffield there was so much smoke from the flash bomb it just hung around on stage so we couldn’t see anything at all!
Our ‘flash bombs’ comprised an old camera flash bulb wired to the mains electric, then flash powder poured on top and as we made our dramatic entrance to the Hall of the Mountain King one of our faithful roadies would throw the switch and BOOOM!! The crowd didn’t expect a mini nuclear mushroom cloud!
In hindsight, we could have travelled further, our horizons weren’t wide enough. So we never met with other bands apart from the touring bands we supported. One thing we could have done was have a manager to help promote the band, get bigger gigs and that illusive record deal. I tend to do all of that now!

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What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ? ‘Since re-forming Salem in 2009 we have been very busy, and have released two studio albums on the German label Pure Steel Records. We have played festivals in UK and Europe, gigged in places like Paris, Athens, Brussels, the Headbangers Open Air in Germany and we went to Sweden and played on the MuskelRock festival. We have just played the Brofest in Newcastle alongside Mythra, Tokyo Blade and really enjoyed that gig.
We’ve just come back from a gig in Barcelona, soon there’s gigs in Belgium, down to France then back to the UK and we’re looking to add more dates to take us through the year. We are also currently working on the next album which is sounding great! So, yes we are still very active, that is the plan to take it as far as we can’.

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Interview by Gary Alikivi 2017.

Recommended:

CLOVEN HOOF: Shine On, 20th April 2017.

SAVAGE: The Mansfield Four, 8th May 2017.

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

CLOVEN HOOF: On the Hoof, 21st August 2017.

SALEM: Increase the Pressure, 20th September 2017.

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

 

 

THE DENTIST – In For a Check-Up with Bernie Torme.

‘Creative process for me is always different, some are instant, some are like pulling teeth and it goes on for years, literally. You never can tell’.

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Bernie Torme is best known for playing guitar in Gillan, with the former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan. Ahead of his Dublin Cowboy UK tour, Bernie Torme broke off rehearsals to talk to Just for the Record. With an 8 date tour coming up are you looking forward to it and how does it compare to the Gillan era tours of the late 70’s/80’s ?
‘Its pretty much like the first Gillan tour dates I did to be honest, before we became famous and it all went bang and different, those were probably the best times for the band in truth! Marquee and Birmingham Barbarellas and all that. Ian was a legend but it was a low point in his career and when the Gillan band took off it became a bit difficult for all of us to handle. He knew how to, we didn’t!

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Obviously now I’m a lot older and much stupider and not trying to go mad all the time like the old days, just trying to stay alive through the mayhem, so thats different!
Also with Gillan we never did a run of more than 4 dates, Ian’s voice used to fuck up. I don’t need to worry about that because mine fucked up long ago!’14034862_10210049693749186_9218421111264127141_n

When you were young was there a defining moment when you said to yourself “That’s what I’m gonna do” was it seeing a band play live, hearing or watching maybe The Beatles?  ‘Thats a good question! Not sure there was ever a single defining moment though. I think generally it was the Rolling Stones followed by The Yardbirds with Jeff Beck if anything. I loved The Beatles, the songs definitely, but the guitar playing and sounds didn’t really hit me all that much, more John Lennon’s voice, though. I loved the riffy stuff like Day Tripper and Ticket To Ride.
Keith Richards did really hit me though, the sound of the guitar on The Last TimeSatisfaction or 19th Nervous Breakdown really blew me away. And the whole of the Out Of Our Heads album.
And then hearing Beck on the Yardbirds Heart Full Of Soul, just loved it. Shapes Of Things, Mister You’re A Better Man Than I, it was just wow! How can a guitar do that! It was the sound that I loved, that is still the thing for me, the sounds you can get out of a guitar. I love making those sounds’.

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Can you remember your first guitar and what influenced you to pick it up ?
‘Yeah of course! First guitar I ever had my hands on was some shitty Spanish with no name, borrowed from a friend of my sister! I liked it so much I saved up and got myself an Egmond acoustic for £6 10 shillings, lotta money in those days! Then my Dad, who had a second hand shop/auctioneers with his brother had a second hand Hofner Colorama electric turn up, for a tenner, so he gave me that. Lovely guitar, wish I still had it’.

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How do you feel about the work you are producing now and does the creative process take time or do songs come quickly ? ‘Well I do the best I can, I just do what feels right for me. Thats something that has changed since the old days, back then you were always trying to please a bunch of suits, some of them were good people and had a sense of respecting what you did, but most were just trying to get you to produce an instant hit, and that was all about money and not about music in any shape or form. So now I just follow my nose and do what I love, its working well for me.
Creative process for me is always different, some are instant, some are like pulling teeth and it goes on for years, literally. You never can tell. Just have to have a good memory really !
Lately I’ve been able to do a double album, a single album and now a triple album, mind you I’m not planning to buy a yacht or anything on the proceeds! Just as well really, maybe a toy yacht haha’.

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Was the pledge for your latest album ‘Dublin Cowboy’ successful ? ‘Bloody crazy successful! Best one so far, can’t believe it! Its also been a really fun experience this time, first one (Flowers & Dirt 2014) was great but I didn’t really know what I was doing or how it worked, so it was a bit stressy. Second one (Blackheart 2015) was weird because some nutcase broke into my house and beat me up and nearly killed me in the middle of it, so I was maybe not in the best headspace during that one, but this one has been a 100% blast, lots of fun’.

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On your upcoming tour are you playing any gigs where you’ve never played before ? ‘Yes, a few this time, South Shields Unionist club, Glasgow Nice ’n Sleazy and Manchester Factory, its always good to play new places, looking forward to them!’
Thanks for taking the time to answer Bernie and wish you very good luck for the Shields gig on April 1st. You can find all dates on the Dublin Cowboy UK tour on the official website bernietorme.co.uk

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Interview by Gary Alikivi March 17th 2017.

Recommended:

Bernie Torme, Rocky Road from Dublin, 14th July 2017.

ROCK THE KNIGHT (part two of an interview with Lou Taylor)

Over 30 years ago Lou Taylor was vocalist for a number of British Heavy Metal bands notably, Saracen, Satan, Blind Fury and Persian Risk. I asked him about some experiences he had in recording studio’s.

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‘When Satan recorded an album around 1984 (‘Court in the Act’ with Brian Ross on vocals, he is featured in an earlier post LIFE SENTENCE) the record company Roadrunner said we had done really well off the back of the first album and asked us to do a second one, they put us in a studio in Middlesex. It was Touch Sound Studio and the engineer was Roy Rowland and our producer was Steve James, the son of comedy actor Sid James. We didn’t believe him at first but sure enough he showed us some photos, yep it was him haha’.

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‘Another time was when Blind Fury recorded the album Out of Reach and released it in ’85. The style of the record was Satan with added flash and brash, the production delivered the tunes with a great sense of grandeur. This album let out a really big epic sound which got the chance to escape on this record. It was a big step up from the Saracen stuff I’d done at Guardian studio.
Prior to the albums release we were invited to record versions for the BBC Radio 1 Friday Rockshow, we added a couple to the session that were not yet recorded Hard Times and a rework of the Saracen tune Feel Just The Same.
We were on the ferry to the Isle of Man to start a series of shows there for the bikers and Tommy Vance was introducing our songs on BBC Radio 1 Friday Rockshow saying this was our radio debut, what will we be like in a years time, and how good Blind Fury were you know stuff like that, you couldn’t have been happier. It looked like the trail was blazing’.

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Did you get offers from any other bands ? ‘When I was based in London and vocalist for Blind Fury we would go to pubs which hosted rock nights, and pop into the Marquee to watch a band, meet up with a few mates and have a right laugh. We were all gigging on the London circuit and these were usefull places to make contacts. We’d talk about what was happening on the scene, who was playing where and who with, you know thats where you heard of bands maybe splitting or looking for new members’.

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‘One night I was talking to another notable vocalist, I mentioned I’d received a call from Jet records, he said you’re not alone mate. Word going around was that they were looking for an unknown frontman who they could mould for a band they had on their roster. ‘They’ was actually David Arden, son of Don Arden, manager of Black Sabbath. It was music journalist Malcolm Dome who worked for Kerrang and Sounds, who referred me to Arthur Sharpe and in turn David Arden. For a few days I was going to the studios, singing some material, they asked me to cut my hair, wear certain clothes and take a tape home, learn it come back, and sing a few tracks. A demo was made but I wasn’t invited to join on a more permanent basis. The rock journalist Dave Ling revealed this story in one of his features’.

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‘There was also a Blind Fury gig at the Tramshed in Woolwich where a number of A&R men from Jet Records watched us. This is where not only me but the band where shall I say in a bit of a mix with Jet and our record company Roadrunner. At the same time we also had a few drinks with American female rock band Madame X and found that Jet were also interested in them. So that added a bit of spice to the mix. It was basically between them and us.
We didn’t know how it would end, to be honest, as a band we flirted with Jet, our heads were turned and Roadrunner could see this. I hold my hands up, I was pushing it, I could see we were moving up to another league, but the rest of the lads didn’t want to lose what we had. Jet records knew they had to buy us out of our contract with Roadrunner so that was a hassle they didn’t need. Not long after the phone stopped ringing from Arthur Sharp’.

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‘As a band we had a few discussions and it was a very difficult decision to make, amicably I may add, that we went our seperate ways. Blind Fury returned to being Satan while I joined Persian Risk, Tony Martin got the Sabbath job and Jet Records signed Madame X. You can say it was a whirlwind that we were in, and who knows what might have been…c’est la vie’.

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What happened with Persian Risk did you gig or record with them ? Persian Risk were on the London gig circuit, I was also starting Perrys, my rock club in London. But my first gig with Persian Risk was on a Saturday night headlinging at the Marquee, you couldn’t get better. I loved it all, the sweaty metallers, denim, leather, hair all over yeah loved it. We would headline our own gigs and also support bigger bands when they came to London, loved my time in that band. But it came to an end when my stage style was questioned by one of the band, it wasn’t the same as the previous singer Carl Sentance who was more of a perfect fit really, all muscle and fist pumping macho style ha ha sorry Carl. Strange because we got on well musically I just think live I was just so different from what they had before. But still had a good time’.

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What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ? ‘I’m still friends with some of the people I’ve met, I’m friends with Satan and still in touch with Metallica and currently playing in the North East with Ronnie James Dio tribute band Heaven or Hell. I’ve managed to make the love of my life the job of my life, I still get up on stage, sing and get paid for it. That’s entertainment’.

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From watching Ronnie James Dio at Newcastle City Hall in 1976 did Lou think that a decision he made as a kid all those years ago would come true? You bet ! Long Live Rock n Roll.
PART TWO of the interview with Lou Taylor. Taken from the documentary We Sold Our Soul for Rock n Roll also in conversation in South Shields 26th January 2017.

Added information from Raw Talent feature by Dave Ling in RAW magazine.

Interview by Gary Alikivi.

Recommended:

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

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

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

John Gallagher, RAVEN: Staring into the Fire, 3rd May 2017.

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

Richard ‘Rocky’ Laws, TYGERS OF PAN TANG: Tyger Bay, 24th August 2017.

Robb Weir,  TYGERS OF PAN TANG: Doctor Rock, 5th November 2017.