ROKSNAPS #5

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Lemmy, Motorhead 1979.

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

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Thin Lizzy, 1980.

One fan who kept his photo’s and shared them on this blog was Paul White…

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‘The pics I’ve managed to dig out here are scanned from my original prints as the negatives went walkabout many moons ago. Here’s what you’ve got. Whitesnake – Trouble and the Lovehunter tour. Thin Lizzy – Black Rose tour, Motorhead – Overkill and Bomber tour (I think). Enjoy.’

 

‘I went to my first gig in 1975. Status Quo’s On The Level tour. What a night. Back then when a band like that played, the first few rows of seats would be ripped up immediately the band came on. Along with Glasgow Apollo the City Hall and Mayfair were the best gigs in the country for touring bands. If there was a band like AC/DC on at the Mayfair you could be lifted off your feet by the crowd and pushed from side to side. You certainly had to know how to use your elbows. The exhilaration when the lights suddenly went down and a massive cheer would go up. Nothing like it. At some point I realised we had an old Minolta SLR lying round the house that nobody was using. With only a rudimentary understanding of how to use it, I bought some film and took it to a gig. The Scorpions first Newcastle gig I think it was. I remember, because the gig tickets were white and loads of people had photocopied a mates and applied a perf with a needle, including me. The staff on the doors never had time to properly check tickets back then, it was easy peasy. That happened more than once I have to say. The photos were crap though. I had no flash and was wary of the staff taking the camera. Worse, I was on the balcony and didnt have a great view. No idea what happened to those shots. Just as well. I was more lucky from then on’. 

 

‘Next time it was the Whitesnake first tour to promote Trouble which had just been released. Better seats meant better pics. A few times I queued overnight for tickets and got great seats. One time in a blizzard for Rush’s Hemispheres tour. The weather was so bad it made the local TV news. I just remember waking up under a foot of snow. Queuing overnight wasnt always a good idea though. One time me and a mate got the last bus from Blyth to Newcastle to queue for Rainbow tickets only to find a sign on the doors saying ‘Rainbow tickets will not be on sale’. Unfortunately the last bus home had gone and we couldnt afford a taxi. We kipped in a doorway of the Civic Centre and got the first bus in the morning. Wouldnt swap those days for anything though. Happy days indeed. The list of great bands we saw is hard to believe these days. Tell some young kid that you saw AC/DC or UFO at the Mayfair and their mouths drop open. We were blessed for sure’.

 

 

Interview by Gary Alikivi June 2018.

Recommended:

When Heavy Metal Hit the Accelerator 6th May 2017.

Steve Thompson (Songwriter & NEAT records producer) Godfather of NWOBHM, 27th June 2017.

Roksnaps #1 18th February 2018.

Roksnaps #2 22nd February 2018.

Roksnaps #3 27th February 2018.

Roksnaps #4  4th April 2018.

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

DEFENDER OF THE NORTH – Guardian Recording Studio stories #1

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Gaurdian Sound Studios were based in a small village called Pity Me in County Durham, North East UK. There are various theories on the origin of the unusual name of the village – a desolate area, exposed and difficult to cultivate or a place where monks sang ‘Pity me o God’ as they were chased by the Vikings. Whatever’s behind the name, it was what happened in two terraced houses over 30 years ago that is the focus of this blog. From 1978 some of the bands who recorded in Guardian were: Neon, Deep Freeze and Mike Mason & the Little People. A year later The Pirahna Brothers recorded a 7” and there was also an EP released by Mythra. 1980 saw E.P’s from Hollow Ground, Hellanbach and a compilation album, Roksnax. From 1982-85 bands including Red Alert, Toy Dolls, Prefab Sprout, Satan, Battleaxe and Spartan Warrior had made singles or albums. I caught up with a number of musicians who have memories of recording in Guardian… 

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TYGERS OF PAN TANG – Demo’s & B sides.

ROBB WEIR: ‘When we arrived at the address for the studio I thought we had got it totally wrong! It was a small street full of pit colliery houses. Nothing wrong in that of course, just we couldn’t see a recording studio anywhere. We pulled up to number 32 or what ever the house number was and knocked on the door expecting to be told we were in the wrong area. The door opened and a young man with a ‘bush’ on his head greeted us. “Hi, I’m Terry Gavaghan, welcome to Guardian! As we walked in his front room it had been converted into a make shift studio with sound proofing on the walls. Terry had also knocked a huge hole in the wall dividing the lounge (studio) to the dining room which was now the control room and fitted a large plate glass window. I remember asking him where he lived, “upstairs,” he said as if I should have known. Anyway we recorded the entire Spellbound album there as a demo for MCA our record company and Chris Tsangarides our record producer. We also recorded the “Audition Tapes” there, John Sykes and Jon Deverill’s first Tygers recordings. Which was to be a free 7 inch single to be packaged with Hellbound when it was released. I think we were there for a few days recording and during one of the sessions I was in the studio by myself laying down a solo. When I had finished I put my guitar on it’s stand and as I made my way into the control room my foot caught the stand that John’s guitar was on and I knocked his Gibson SG on the floor! He was watching through the control room window and ran into the studio going ape! I of course apologised but he couldn’t forget it. In the end I told him to shut the f**k up as no damage had been done and if he didn’t some damage WOULD be done! What did come out of Guardian were some fantastic recordings. Terry did us proud I have to say. His studio and his warmth were fantastic! The moral of the story is, “Don’t judge a recording studio by it’s colliery house appearance!”

RICHARD LAWS ‘Tygers of Pan Tang recorded at Guardian twice. Although we were usually associated with Impulse Studios (home of Neat Records). We had sort of fallen out with Impulse and Neat so we recorded the demos for our second album Spellbound at Guardian. We recorded about 5 tracks I think. These demos were later released on various compilations. The demos for Spellbound were the first time we recorded with Jon Deveril and John Sykes in the band. Later we recorded two B sides for singles off our fourth album, The Cage. Whilst we were there doing the B sides our record company came up and did a play through of the fully mixed album which was the first time we had heard the finished product’. 

More stories from Guardian coming soon. A quick search of 26-28 Front Street on google maps reveals a well known supermarket where the two terraced houses were. This needs to be confirmed if it is the exact location. I wonder if customers buying  tins of beans and bananas know the rich musical history that Gaurdian Studios contributed to recording in the North East. The Tap & Spile is just next door, the pub where many of the bands went for refreshment. If anyone has information or recorded in Guardian studios, much appreciated if  you get in touch.

Interviews by Gary Alikivi.

Recommended:

 

Steve Thompson (NEAT Producer) Godfather of NWOBHM, 27th June 2017.

Richard Laws TYGERS OF PAN TANG: Tyger Bay 24th August 2017.

Robb Weir TYGERS OF PAN TANG: Doctor Rock  2017

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

ROKSNAX: Metal on the Menu, 9th March 2018.

LOST IN MUSIC – interview with North East musician Bernadette Mooney.

War Machine went on to play many gigs after the album was released in 1986 and I was asked to do a photo shoot in Kerrang called ladykillers. I really enjoyed the day as Bon Jovi was getting his photos taken the same day and for that month’s issue we both appeared in the Kerrang magazine. We also appeared in Viz as the meanest band in the North East but I think Venom should of got that one!

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How did you get started in music ? ‘Bought my first guitar when I was 15 and had lots of song ideas but wasn’t sure how to write. There was lots of lyrics in my head so I wrote them down, taught myself to play guitar from a book and started to write my own songs. A friend heard them and played them to a guy who was in a band. He liked my voice so I ended up doing a few gigs with him. Then I joined a band called Chapter 24. I played a while with them as a guitarist and vocalist but then moved on to a local band called She with Lee Robertson. I played a few gigs with them before forming War Machine with Steve White on guitar. We were both from Wallsend and Les Fry was living in Jesmond he was on bass. We had a drummer called Steve Smith who still gigs in the North East. My influences then were Pat Benatar, Steve was into Black Sabbath and Venom. I first met Steve White at college and we dated. Before he formed a band with me he was in Atomkraft with Tony Dolan who is now with Venom Inc. Steve and myself would write the songs together just by jamming. I had lyrics and give them to Steve who would write the guitar bits and Les added bass. I think Les wrote some songs too’.

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Where did War Machine rehearse and gig? ‘We used to rehearse in an old building. I think it was in Felling near Gateshead. It was horrible. The guys used to pee in Brown ale bottles as there were no toilets. I used to stand in a cardboard box with newspaper in to keep my feet warm. But we were skint and it was cheap. We did a few gigs around the North East and in Scotland. When we did a gig we went all out with the show. Pyrotechnics and explosions which always seemed to be going off near me! One night at Chrystals Arena in Scotland we set a ceiling on fire and got sent a £300 bill. We never paid of course. Couldn’t do that now with health and safety I don’t know how we got away with it. We even got offered a gig in what was then Yugoslavia. But they wouldn’t let us in because of our name. I remember we entered a Battle of the Bands held in Gateshead Brewery. We came second, or was it third ? War Machine would rehearse a lot before a gig, getting really tight and after playing many venues in the North East we ended up with a good fan base’.

 

What was your experience of recording ? ‘We recorded a demo at Neat records and on it was a song I wrote called Storm Warning. Dave Woods who owned Neat records, liked it so much he offered to record our album. The line up of the band that recorded was me, Steve and Les and we had Brian Waugh on drums. We didn’t get much time in the studio and we felt it was a bit rushed. Our album did pretty well abroad but we never received any royalties or from any other songs that were used on compilation albums. Dave Wood said all the money from the album paid for the distribution. (Nerd alert: War Machine released Unknown Soldier in 1986 on the Neat record label. An 8 track album including the tracks Power, On the Edge and No Place to Hide. The same year the album was also released by Roadrunner records in the Netherlands. Tracks by War Machine appeared on at least four compilation albums released in the 90’s). ‘We were young and naive so never questioned it. We were like many bands in that respect. We were played on a lot of radio shows across the world even the USA. I hosted the Alan Robson North East radio rock shows as he was a fan and played our music on his broadcasts’.

What happened next with the band ? ‘After a couple of years gigging I decided to leave the band as I got offered a job as a costume designer in London. It felt like the band was just doing the same round of gigs and I needed a change. Steve White the guitarist went on to play for Venom and Les went on to open Voodoo cafe. I worked in London for a few years where I did a lot of gigs with different bands’.

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What are you up to now, are you still in music ? ‘Being back home in the North East I have always played music and mainly my own. I write, record and produce my own songs. My style is very mellow now, a bit like me. Not like my wild days with War Machine which I really enjoyed’.

Listen: bernea on Reverbnation

Interview by Gary Alikivi March 2018.
Recommended:
SATAN/BLIND FURY: Lou Taylor Rock the Knight, 26th Feb & 5th March 2017.
WARRIOR: The Hunger 12th April 2017.
FIST: Turn the Hell On, 29th April 2017.
TYSONDOG: Back for Another Bite, 5th August 2017.
ATOMKRAFT: Running with the Pack, 14th August 2017.
VIIXEN: Fox on the Run, 19th March 2018.

WITCHES OF TOKYO – interview with Japanese metal band Coven

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Heavy metal band Coven are based in Japan. Formed by musicians Ito and Taka they have released an EP to attract interest from record companies…
Taka: ‘At present the line up is just Ito on guitar and other musical instruments and me on vocals and playing bass’.
Ito: ‘We are currently looking for other members to start gigs in 2018. We are in the middle of preparing for some gigs as Coven. We are recording, mixing, arranging, and mastering ourselves. Now we are using just a cheap rehearsal studio in Tokyo and paying a one coin (500 Yen/hour). I have used recording studios in other bands before’.
Taka: ‘One reason why we’re still just a newcomer is because we don’t have much money. We have paid our own way until now and got a release. Our first EP on Svart Records in Finland was all without any help of Japanese labels. So we think we can make better songs without spending much money and without using high‐class recording studios. Of course it is not easy, but it depends on how much effort we put in. We think this has to be done on our own power’.
Ito: ‘We thought we needed to make a strong impression of Coven from Japan. So we needed to produce ourselves totally because it is very hard for Japanese bands to succeed all over the world’.

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Who were your influences in music ?
Taka: ‘Thank you for giving us this interview and we feel honored from you in the land of NWOBHM we love! Firstly, Angel Witch, Satan, Blitzkreig and a lot of NWOBHM bands were a huge influence on us. Also Mercyful Fate, Metallica, Riot, Manowar and early 90’s Japanese Metal of Loudness and X Japan. We have also been inspired by many songs and stories of Japanese comics and animations. We think it is also one of Japanese honour and cool culture in the world, so we added this essence into our songs.
As you know our band’s name Coven means a gathering of thirteen witches and people have an image during the medieval period. But we didn’t want to use such conventional images or any old Japanese-style painting because many metal bands have used such pictures. We wanted to make our original main character…yeah, like a Eddie, Iron Maiden! So, we developed the ideas and thought out a futuristic witch while getting hints from some great Japanese animations.
Our main character like a Eddie is a witch re-born in the future getting a half machine body with immortal life and great power. Take a close look and you find twelve unborn children spreading out from her hair. It’s also our wish that we spread our songs out to the world’.

How did you get involved in playing music ?
Taka: ‘I listened to heavy metal and hard rock from childhood. Because I have big brothers who were always listening to traditional heavy metal, hard rock and playing bass and guitar. Traditional metal like Iron Maiden and NWOBHM made me want to sing and play in a band influenced by NWOBHM. At that time I began to realize the power of music, especially metal power!’

Ito: ‘When I was a child, I listened to X Japan and Metallica. At that time I felt an electric current running through me. I started to practice, play guitar, bass and drums in some bands. I liked every musical instrument, but especially liked guitar and then joined Fastkill (Japanese Thrash metal band). I was playing in Fastkill for ten years since I was a teenager. I had supported bands like Destruction, Razor, and Assassin in Japan and overseas’.

Where do the ideas come for your songs ?
Ito: ‘When we started this band, we already had some ideas. Firstly the traditional sounds like early Iron Maiden and other NWOBHM bands. In addition we wanted to add Japanese elements, Japanese lyrics, singing rhythm with oriental pronunciation and accents of our identity. Because we are proud of being Japanese, we believe that we can do something special all over the world. We think it’s our style, the fusion of Japanese and Western, this characteristic is one of our special strengths’.

Taka: ‘But on the other hand, we know it also has a harmful effect. It is hard to understand Japanese lyrics and not easy to sing songs for people from different countries. We think singing loudly together is one of fun in Metal! So we’ve thought out some ways of putting some sing-along parts for singing together. We always make some English parts the chorus for singing easily. We have also made a lyric video with Japanese pronunciation on our Youtube channel’.

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What are the future plans for Coven ?
Ito: ‘We want to play not only in Japan but also all over the world, and we want to make a full-length album. We have already been making some new songs. We think it will be really great and we have confidence too!’

Taka: ‘We’ve just started, so keep on doing our best, and hope to see many people at our gigs !

Contact Coven at the following:

Coven Official Site: https://www.coven.site/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Coven.Japan/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CovenJapan
Bandcamp: https://coven.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/coven_japan

Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2017.

FOX ON THE RUN – interview with the new Thunderstick vocalist

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Viixen is the new lead vocalist for Thunderstick. The line up is Rex Thunderbolt (bass, backing vox) Baz Roze (guitar) Dave ‘Kandy’ Kilford (guitar) and of course the masked man Thunderstick (drums). I asked Viixen was there a defining moment when you said I want to do that…‘I can’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. When I was little my mother would hear me singing and say ‘it sounds lovely but why do you have to change it’. I was always changing the words and the melodies. I sang in the choir at school and I used to enter school music competitions. Always coming second to a girl who sang opera. I grew up in a small Shropshire town and had a religious upbringing so I didn’t have the exposure to bands that I could join. Then I got married and had children very young so it wasn’t until I hit 31 that I finally formed a band. I had recently got divorced and moved in with a girl who could play guitar. One evening she was playing the song Zombie by The Cranberries and I joined in with the vocals. It sounded pretty good so we decided to form a girlband’.

Who were your influences in music ? ‘I’ve always been a rock chick at heart. Listening to rock and metal makes me feel free and rebellious. Some of my favourites are Deep Purple, Kate Bush, Skid Row, Marilyn Manson and Evanescence. If the music makes me feel something… I’ll love it’.

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘I have been in two bands before joining Thunderstick. We gigged mostly in London and Kent. I started gigging in 2010 and played in pubs and clubs. Then we started playing festivals which were amazing. I loved the big stage and having plenty of space to bounce around. We had a large biker following so we played various biker rallies and festivals. I did a big gig for Gibson guitars during the London Olympics in 2012. The venue looked over the Olympic stadium and was pretty cool. I played at the London Hard Rock Café in October last year, which was a great venue’.

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Viixen has brought both her vocal strength and stagecraft experience to her new challenge; Thunderstick. The ex-Iron Maiden/Samson drummer is known for having strong female vocalists fronting his band and Viixen fits that role. He recently commented “I had been after Viixen for a while but the timing was never right, now in 2018 it will happen. The band is perfect for her, theatrics, energy and outrage allow her to express all of her personality’. 

Where do the ideas come for your songs ? ‘Like most artists I tend to write lyrics based on personal experiences. However if the band has already written the music I search for how the music makes me feel and write from that perspective. It helps that I’m incredibly empathic. I feel other peoples pain deeply even if I’ve not experienced the emotion myself. To me music is what feelings sound like and it’s a fantastic form of self expression’.

What is your experience of studio work ? ‘I’ve done some recording work in the studio with the band and I love it! Especially when you’re recording your own material and you get to hear all your ideas coming together. It’s a magical experience!

Have you recorded any TV appearences or filmed any music videos ? ‘I have recently recorded a music video with my other band Black Roze. The song is called In the Darkness and it’s an autobiographical tale about the darkness of depression and coming out of the other side. The guitarist and I wrote the storyline and how we were going to capture the concept of the song. It did involve running through a graveyard in a wedding dress during mid winter but it was well worth it!

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Have you any stories from playing gigs ? ‘Haha yes I have a few…On two occasions we have set up all the equipment, started playing and the electrics blew in the venue! One of them was my sisters wedding which didn’t go down too well!

Due to my head banging and stomping around on stage I’ve had some wardrobe malfunctions. I did a biker festival last year and wore a tight cropped top. At the end of the gig the guitarists mum ran on stage and told me my bra was showing. Looking back at the pictures I saw that I’d basically played the whole gig in my bra! Recently I bought a new pair of goth platform boots from a charity shop, they were beautifull. I wore them to the gig and I was 6ft tall in them and I was boasting that I was taller than the other band members. Just before the second half one of the shoes gave way, the heel snapped and I fell over. A guy in the crowd fixed it with duct tape and I carried on. Next thing I know mid song the other shoe did the same thing. Leaving me feeling very small in my socks for the rest of the gig! At least the socks matched!’

For further information contact Viixen and Thunderstick on their facebook pages.

Interview by Gary Alikivi March 2018.

Recommended:

PAUL DI’ANNO, True Faith  22nd April 2017.

THUNDERSTICK, Return of the Mask  19th July 2017.

 

IRON MEN – interview with British Heavy Metal band Kaine.

 

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Kaine are a British Heavy Metal band based in East Anglia. They formed in 2009 and released their debut album ‘Falling Through Freedom’ in 2012, it’s follow-up ‘The Waystone’ came 2 years later. Vocals & rhythm guitarist Rage explains ‘I have spent a lot of time in various studios over the years starting out at Three Circles where we recorded our debut. Ade the engineer is great at what he does with top musical knowledge so that was a huge help. We did the second album at Angry Bee Studio’s and a separate building for the drums with Akis K, who sadly passed away not long after the album was released. Again a great experience working with Akis, very precise with his editing’.

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The current line up of Stevo Ellis (bass) Saxon Davids (lead guitarist/backing vocals) Chris MacKinnon (drums) and Rage (lead vocals/rhythm guitarist) have recently released ‘A Crisis of Faith’…

Rage: ‘We recorded our new album at Pointy Halo with Carl Brewer, a great engineer and studio. We decided to go with Carl this time due to the sound of the other heavy albums he had produced. Plus it fit in with the new direction of the band. He worked extremely hard to get this album sounding our best yet’.

Saxon:A Crisis Of Faith was a very fun album to record, as well as being quite stressful at times but it has paid off. I’m extremely proud of the work we did with Carl at Redwall Studios’.

They toured heavily completing two UK and Ireland tours. All this without any record label support. They also appeared on bills with Diamond Head, Praying Mantis, Tytan, Tygers of Pan Tang and ex members of Iron Maiden. Rage remembers one of the earlier gigs… ‘It’s been 9 years so there’s plenty of funny stories from gigs, and some are quite bizarre really. At one show an old man arrived with a shopping bag full of 12 cans of Fosters (beer) and a lettuce. He started jive dancing to the Metal bands. He shit himself there and then and flushed his kegs (underwear) down the bog. He just continued to dance the night away !!!! Kaine’s first gig was at Club Revolution in Peterborough back in 2010. The show itself was a bit of a disaster. We didn’t go down to well, the sound was terrible and the less said about it the better! I’d like to think things have improved!

Who were your influences in music ? 

Rage: ‘My biggest influences are everything from Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Judas Priest right through to bands such as Saxon, Iron Maiden and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Then up to the likes of Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and so on. Dio is a massive influence too. Playing wise Tony Iommi is easily my biggest influence, the first five Sabbath albums are my favourite albums ever’.

Saxon: ‘The main ones from when I started playing metal are the obvious ones such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and Black Sabbath. But since joining Kaine I’m influenced by a lot of Power Metal like Blind Guardian and Iced Earth. Also listening to a lot of Progressive metal in bands like Dream Theater, Queensryche and Symphony X. I’ve also been very influenced by guitarist Aaron Marshall of Intervals’.

Stevo: ‘As a metal bass player I am very much influenced by Steve DiGiorgio, Dan Briggs of Between the Buried and Me and Geezer Butler. As a musician and songwriter however I take inspiration from everywhere. Guys like Miles Davis and Michael Gira of Swans are huge influences on how I approach music as an art form. I take aspects from my entire taste in music when writing’.

How did you get interested in music ? 

Stevo: ‘I originally started playing bass when I was 14. I listened to a lot of Sabbath and Maiden around that time. Started with bass and never had any interest with guitar. My uncle helped me out big time as he got me into a lot of old school metal bands. As I was growing up he lent me the first bass I ever played which was a ’78 Fender P Bass. That’s what I learnt on. Around my area everyone wanted to be a lead guitarist, very few wanted to play bass so I pretty much got playing in bands straight away’.

Saxon: ‘I’ve been playing guitar since the age of 7. I remember as an early teen seeing my Dad watch the music video for Ace of Spades, that made me certain that’s what I wanted to do. After playing onstage for the first time around the age of 13 I fell in love with it completely. My first proper experience gigging was with my first band Entropy around the age of 16, which is actually how I ended up meeting Kaine. We were on the same bill with them on a local festival called OGfest’.

Rage: ‘In my younger years I’d go out and see a lot of bands, listen to a lot of music and it all sounded the same. So that’s where it started, bloody frustration. It was all essentially in the Trivium mould but I really like stuff like Iron Maiden, and there was none of that going on. So I learnt how to play the guitar and form a band essentially so there could be that option for people who didn’t just want a copy of whatever was popular at the time. I did dabble in a few other bands but nothing ever came of it, so I took it upon myself to move forward. I wanted old school Heavy Metal back’.

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Where do the ideas come for your songs ?

Rage: ‘I usually start with a riff, a lead or a chorus idea and build a song around that. I spend a lot of time trying stuff out and getting it right, honing it, taking stuff out, adding to it before I even show it to the bands where it changes again with everyone’s input’.

Saxon: ‘Usually I just fiddle about on the guitar and when a riff or lead line comes to me I’ll evolve it and structure it into a song. Heaven’s Abandonment from the new album is my full song contribution and was pretty much written in that format. I came up with the rhythm guitar riff for the verse and then built the song around that, added lead lines and a break section until I had the full song. That’s when Rage came in and added his lyrics to the song’.

What are your experiences of recording/studio work ? 

Saxon: ‘I had made one demo with my band before Kaine but my first official studio experience was in 2015 when we went to Three Circles Studio to record our song Justice Injustice. It was meant to be the song to introduce us as a 5 piece band, but shortly after we released that song we had further line up changes so that track now ended up as a one-off for that line up and appears as a bonus track on recent pressings of The Waystone. It was fun and exciting to be in the studio for the first time. And then with that experience it made going into recording the new album a little easier knowing the process.

What impact has the internet had on music?

Rage: ‘For a relatively unknown band like ourselves things such as filesharing and piracy has very little effect. We have a small but appreciative fanbase that will always buy our stuff so it really hasn’t had a huge effect on us. But the whole game has changed. Bands like ours generally don’t sell huge amounts anyway – our last album sold over 1,000 copies. Which is a great achievement given how small our promotional budget is compared to signed bands. I would say the choices of bands being pushed by the bigger labels and the lack of real investment in bands has done more damage to the sales of music than the internet has. Here they have a great tool for marketing to Metal fans but they sign bands that either don’t sell or they don’t promote. I don’t understand the logic behind it. Everyone complains about the music coming out but it seems to fall on deaf ears at the top. They seem to think they know better than their audience and I think ultimately that attitude is the problem coupled with the whole making bands pay to play supports, festival and tour slots limits the number of bands who can afford to push themselves. It’s all very short term. I’d like to see real artist development brought back essentially. That would do wonders for the industry – instead of cheap gimmicks, crap songs and paying your way to success. It’s so Un-Metal it’s just sad’.

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Have you recorded any TV appearances or filmed any music videos ?

Saxon: ‘My old band Entropy appeared on TV very briefly once during a news segment about a local festival but as far as music videos go, that’s still a milestone we’re yet to cross off our list’.

Rage:Kaine have never appeared on TV. There’s not a whole lot of options here in the  U.K. for television spots if your playing Heavy Metal. Mainstream culture seems to look down on us with a great deal of elitism and snobbery. Ultimately Heavy Metal isn’t something that they are going to push on television. As for music video’s it’s a budget issue – we simply couldn’t afford to do it justice at present. It’s better in my mind to have no video than a crap one. If you want to see our faces, come out to a show!

Have you any stories from playing gigs ? 

Saxon: ‘A funny story from the studio is when it came to recording guitars on our third visit, we couldn’t really afford a hotel this time round so Carl allowed us to stay in the studio. Which is supposedly haunted. Chris being quite unnerved by the paranormal decided to deal with this by drinking a lot of scotch to help him sleep. He had kept me awake for hours by yelling and throwing cushions at me so I already was in a fairly bad mood with him, but after eventually falling asleep, I see Chris wake up around 7am and sleepwalk off into the drum room. Then about 5 minutes later comes back in and flops into bed. When I told him about this later on he said he couldn’t remember a thing so I thought it would be funny to go over security footage to show Chris that he had been sleepwalking. Dean (one of the team at the studio) and I looked through the security footage and to our horror and amusement we see Chris urinating all over the nice leather sofa in the drum room. What made this worse is I then realised that about an hour after Chris went in there, I went in there to call my girlfriend and laid on that exact sofa. I weren’t too happy to begin with but we all found the funny side !

What are the future plans for Kaine?

Rage: ‘It’s hard to tell. We’ve just released this third album and we’ll see out our run of shows and obligations with this album before we consider the future. I expect it will be more of the same, but after 9 years it’s good to evaluate and move forward. It’s healthy. However, as far as making it big or whatever, it would be cool to tour with a bigger act again or play abroad. I’d love to do that at least one more time before I am done that’s for sure. I don’t expect to be signed or be the next big thing, so despite it not selling thousands of copies people have enjoyed this album so far’.

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New album Crisis of Faith out now. Contact the band on the official website at http://www.kaine-metal.com.

Interview by Gary Alikivi February 2018.

LITTLE DEVILS – 5 minutes with UK hard rock band Piston

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Formed 2012 in Staffordshire UK, hometown of Slash, Lemmy and Glenn Hughes, hard rock band Piston are Rob Angelico (vocals) Jack Edwards & Luke Allatt (guitars) Stuart Egan (bass) and Brad Newlands (drums).
On the live circuit they already have an impressive track record. Supporting bands like The Temperance Movement, Sebastian Bach, Love/Hate and an acoustic show with Whitesnake and Def Leppard. They have featured in Classic Rock magazine and the single ‘Leave If You Dare’ was on the playlists of Kerrang and Planet Rock radio. Guitarist Jack Edwards takes up the story behind the songs…‘The ideas are generally a joint effort between myself and fellow guitarist Luke Allatt. It will usually start with one of us having a brief idea of a riff, then the idea gets torn apart and redone – about ten times haha – before becoming a riff. Then parts start to flow becoming the different sections of the track. Once a rough sketch is made for the track, we all head into rehearsal where drummer Brad Newlands will arrange the ideas to formulate a song. Once the track is roughly wrote it is recorded and sent to singer Rob Angelico to work on’.

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Jack Edwards

How did you first start in music and who were your influences ? ‘I remember I wanted to play drums so I got behind a kit but it didn’t feel right or natural. I saw a local high school band and I was drawn to the guitar, I just thought it was the coolest instrument I had ever seen. I picked it up and it just felt right straight away, since then I’ve never looked back. Personally, my influences in music are based around the blues rock artists. I was always drawn to bands such as Guns N’ Roses, The Cult and anything with guitar based music. Hearing the opening chords of The Cult’s Lil Devil and the outro solos of G’n’R’s Paradise City influenced me from an early age. As a band Piston draw influences from artists such as AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, The Small Faces and everything up to new modern acts such as The Temperance Movement and Airbourne’.

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘I personally started playing shows in high school bands, moving through to jam nights, to cover bands, to tribute acts then eventually writing my own music and putting together an original band which is now Piston. In 2017, Piston made their debut appearance in France to a sold out crowd and Scotland joining the Wildfire Festival lineup!

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Any recording/studio work ? ‘For the new releases Piston have tracked everything organically. The music is played live together in a room and tracked that way’.
The music video for the single featured on Kerrang TV, ‘Leave If You Dare’ has a similar look to a band in an earlier post (Bigfoot, Get Yer Rock On, 29 October 2017). The energy of the performance is captured using fast flowing camera work, pull focus shots and some moody lighting. The song mixes AC/DC, Black Crowes and rubs shoulders with fellow UK hard rock band Bigfoot – but with a bit more swagger. On ‘Playing With Fire’ EP are 3 tracks Dark Angel, Playing With Fire and they cover a pneumatic version of Creedence Clearwater Revivals ‘Proud Mary’. Impressive stuff.

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What are the future plans for Piston ? ‘RECORDING, TOURING, WORLD DOMINATION’… Starting 2018 they are on the bill at Giants of Rock with Hawkwind, Toto and Boston at Minehead on January 27th . The next day they are at The Robin in Bilston with The Quireboys and on February 17th they are in Wolverhampton and The Giffard Arms.

Interview by Gary Alikivi November 2017.

Recommended:

BIGFOOT: Get Yer Rock On, 29th October 2017.

ADORN THE WICKED: New York Groove, 29th November 2017.

 

LOOKS THAT KILL – from Belgiums glam metal band WildHeart

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WildHeart are from Ninove in Belgium, 30 minutes from the capital city Brussels. They formed in 2014 and have recorded one album. The American radio rock anthems and shouty chorus’ of Guns n Roses/Bon Jovi/Motley Crue are their stock in trade. The video for single ‘Lovehunter’ should win awards for it’s ozone busting hair metal moves, or it’s production values in replicating the 80’s style music video. Lead vocalist of WildHeart, Farty, yep thats his name, explains…‘We didn’t have a lot of money to shoot the music video, so we were looking for someone who was just starting out to reduce costs. We found that person in Timo Vandiest. He had already proved himself by making the aftermovie of some of the bigger music festivals in Belgium. But he had never done anything like this. So we were very happy when he agreed to do this for us.
When we approached Timo, we already had an idea of what we wanted to accomplish. So that was easy for him. We wanted the setting to be in in the 80’s. We are all nerds playing video games and we don’t seem to have enough self-confidence to pick up girls. That all changes when we watch the VHS of Lovehunter and all got sucked into the TV. We all have our story trying to seduce the same girl and in the end one of us succeeds – me of course ! When the nerds are back, they all have the confidence they need and I kiss the girl at the end of the clip.
It took a lot of hard work and preparation to get this done because we all had to do it ourselves. Some of us even had to take a day off work to prepare the settings. We only had one day to shoot the video because of our budget, so we worked almost 24 hours to get it done. It was heavy, but in the end we are very happy with the result’.

Farty introduces the band… ‘We’re still playing with the same line up when WildHeart started out in 2014. That’s me on lead vocals, Foxx and Juice on lead and rhythm guitars, bass is Stevie Dee and Thunderberck on drums. Since we’re a glam metal band, our influences are especially the hard rock/glam metal bands of the 80’s. To name a few, Dokken, Ratt, Van Halen, Whitesnake and Y&T. The hard rocking kind of glam bands of the first wave’.

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How did you get involved in playing music ?  ‘To be honest, I never really thought about singing in a band until they asked me to join WildHeart. I already was a big fan of 80’s hard rock and I love singing. But I always thought that if I would end up in a band, it would be as a bass guitar player. But they convinced me to try and I accepted. And let me tell you, that’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done!  Something I’ll never regret’.

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘We started playing shows in September 2014. Most of the time those venues were bars and youth clubs near our howetown Ninove. They were small gigs but I guess that’s what you do when you’re new on the music scene. It didn’t take us long though before we could play gigs in other regions of Belgium. Especially in West Flanders, where people immediately noticed us. To this day, we still have a solid fanbase over there. That’s how in our first year we had the opportunity to share the stage with bands like Tytan, Quartz and Grim Reaper’.

The band recorded their debut album in 2015… ‘We recorded our first full length album Wildheart in Tullamore Studio. The guy who ownes the studio is a friend of our’s and he already recorded our demo tapes a year before. We were very happy about them, so the choice to pick Tullamore once again was easily made. It took us about 2 or 3 months to record everything because we’re all working full time as well. We could only work on it during the weekend and some evening’s. It was great fun and interesting to see our progress. But you can imagine that we were all very relieved when it was finally done. 20424207_1936813716532950_2807539684562574212_oWe recorded the album at the end of 2015. We did that intentionally because we wanted to make the first edition of Wildfest our release show, which was held in May 2016. We thought it was a great idea to do that on our own festival, with a big audience and a lot of other awesome bands to share the stage with – Crazy Lixx, The Treatment, Hell in the Club. And as a matter of fact, it was! It was the best release show we could have wished for and definitely a night to remember ! We sold a lot of cd’s that evening and almost every review of both festival and album was great. So we couldn’t wish for more! It took a while before record companies showed interest in our music, but recently we’ve been signed to Rock It Up/City of Lights Records’.

Where do you get your idea’s for the songs ? ‘The inspiration to write lyrics depends on my mood and what kind of feeling/vibe the song has. Most of the time, one of our guitarist comes up with a riff and if we all like it, we start jamming until we find something to complete the song. Afterwards, we record it so I can get busy writing the lyrics at home. I have two types of texts – the first one are the classic 80’s themed songs, which are all about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, just like Lovehunter, Stone Cold Fox. But I always thought that it’s too superficial to write exclusively about these subjects. So the other type has some more depth in it. Themes that give me a lot of inspiration or the way I’m feeling about people. Things that happened to me or people I know and psychology in general. Like Hang ’em High and On The Run. It’s fascinating to explore the human mind and write songs about it’.

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Have you any stories from playing gigs ? ‘Every year we organise our own festival, Wildfest. On our second edition last year, we wanted to premier our music video for Lovehunter during our set. But in the middle of the song, the video got stuck and we couldn’t repair it. Our only option was to take the screen off stage and play the song live. It was more embarrassing than funny, but afterwards we had a good laugh about it’.

What are the future plans for WildHeart ? ‘Right now we’re really busy working on new songs for a follow up album. We still have a lot to do though. We’re also planning the third edition of Wildfest. Acts already confirmed are Bloody Heels, Emperors of Decay, The New Roses and WildHeart of course. And we still have some exciting bands to reveal, so keep an eye on our Facebook page’.

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‘We have some cool gigs confirmed for the near future as well. Being the support act of Y&T on their Belgian date was my dream come true, since Y&T is one of my favourite bands. Next year we’re going to the UK for the first time. We’ll be playing the Hard Rock Hell AOR festival in March with bands like Night Ranger, Skid Row, Jack Russell’s Great White, Bulletboys. Then in September we’ll share the stage with L.A. Guns, Tigertailz, Santa Cruz, Backyard Babies, Toxicrose, at the Hard Rock Hell Sleaze edition. We are really looking forward to that’.

For more info and tour dates check the official website  http://www.wildheartbelgium.com/ or their facebook page.

Interview by Gary Alikivi October 2017.

Recommended:

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

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

MR.MYST: Dream On 26th January 2017.

BODO SWINGS – interview with German rock drummer Bodo Schopf

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You might know German drummer Bodo Schopf from the sheer amount of studio projects and live work…’I have played several tours around the world, many great stages like Wembley Arena. Many big open air festivals around Europe as well as in the USA, Japan and Canada. I played in bands supporting Rush, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Scorpions, Ozzy Osborne and Bon Jovi’…..

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Or you might know him from his work on McAuley Schenker albums ‘Perfect Timing’ in 1987 and ‘Save Yourself’ 1989…. ‘In 1985 I played on the Rock Me Amadeus tour for Austrian star Falco. Then I got an invitation to go to London and audition for Michael Schenker. I was drummer number 64, and 2 weeks later I was in the rehearsal room with Michael Schenker. I played for 5 years with his band. We recorded the albums and made music video’s for songs like Love is Not a Game, Anytime and This is My Heart. After that I joined the German prog rock band Eloy in 1994, 3 albums and many tours followed. In 2007 I played again with Michael Schenker, then back with Eloy until 2013. In 2014 I founded with vocalist David Readman the band Pendulum of Fortune. We are currently doing promotion for our album Searching for the God Inside and then we are preparing for our upcoming live shows’.

Pendulum of Fortune are
David Readman – lead vocals
Bodo Schopf – drums
Vladimir Shevyakov – guitar
Franky R. – bass

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Pendulum of Fortune

How did you get involved in playing music and who were your influences ? ‘I’ve played music since I was 5 and I remember years later when I was playing with my senior school band our bassist said ‘It would be great if we could be professional musicians’. I always remembered this statement and 2 years later at the age of 17 I became a professional musician. When I was a teenager I was listening to Grand Funk Railroad Live album, then came Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and recent stuff from Creed’.

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When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘At 17 I played in an American club band, we played the clubs of the American army barracks in Germany, doing up to 29 shows a month. I did that for 3 years, that was my school of music, my education. Afterwards I played in a band called Wolfhound then for 3 years in the back up band for Ike and Tina Turner that took me through the 70’s. I also worked with the band Juicy Lucy, then played 3 years with UK band The Sweet, followed by a tour with the German rockstar and composer Udo Lindenberg’.

Have you recorded any TV appearences or filmed any music videos ? ’Yes I was in many TV shows with full playback and also played live. I done MTV, a live German TV show called Ohne Filter, even played in a movie called Cold Fever. Of course we filmed many videos with the McAuley Schenker Group and recorded a live video with The Sweet. There was also videos with Eloy, and now of course with Pendulum of Fortune’.

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What were your experiences of recording ? ‘I’ve played on over 300 albums and well over a thousand jingles and commercials. I played for artists like Chris Thompson, Eric Burdon, Hazel O’Connor, Gotthardt, Michael Schenker, Eloy, The Sweet and many others. I’ve recorded in the Record Plant and One on One studios both in L.A. The Puk studio in Denmark, Musicland of Munich and so many others. In the early days it was great to work in the studios, with all the musicians, producers and engineers, sadly today this is no longer the case. The studio cost’s were then very high, up to $2000 a day. Today I record drums in my own studio which is on the island of Sardinia. I work on my own and record the drums for artist’s around the whole world, it all goes through the internet. If you need drums check out my website http://www.sardegnaproductionmusic.com’.

Where do the ideas come for your songs ? ’If I knew this, I would know where the creator lives. Somebody sends me these ideas in my head. Mostly when I sit down with my guitar and record I have the whole song already in my mind. Other times I create a song when I sit down and just play’.

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Have you any funny stories from being in a band/playing gigs ? ‘Oh yes, there would be hundreds of stories but one story I have to tell, because I love the British humor. We were with MSG on tour with Def Leppard. The drummer Rick Allen, who had only one arm left after his car accident, asked me if I would go out with him to have a beer. So we went to a pub and drank more than one beer. Rick stared constantly at my jacket, on it I had a drummer made from foam material with a safety pin attaching it to the jacket. It was a gift from a fan. Rick said ‘Bodo there is something wrong with your jacket’ . I looked at my jacket and asked what is wrong. Rick said ‘Can I have a closer look at the little drummer on your jacket ? I replied yes why not. So he tore the drummer’s arm off and said with a grin… ‘Now it’s right’.

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Are there any other musicians/bands who you admire ? ’I admire every musician who stays healthy as they get older. Also to live and create music that can inspire listeners’.

What has music given you ? ‘Joy, love and understanding’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi October 2017.

METAL HEALTH with North East UK musician Glenn S.Howes

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Can you remember your first band ? ‘I was 16 years old, I was gorgeous, and had hair! Ha. My first band was called Axizz and we played metal. We were all friends of the same age and were from a little town called South Shields, North East UK. The line-up changed a few times, we knew we were young and inexperienced but that didn’t stop us from trying. There were other bands I knocked about with over the years and some were short lived but these were bands that I loved being in and they were great lads. It was a great learning curve for us all. South Shields in those days in regards to employment was very grim, but for some reason the music scene was excellent. There were a lot of bands and musicians around. So it was an exciting place to be musically. Strangely my parents thought the band thing was a reasonable idea, which shocked me because I wanted them to hate it. I’m trying my best not to name drop but there is the obvious connection to a name band that made it big (ish) in the 90’s and we all knew each other. This was the very early 80’s at the same time as NWOBHM and as fans of that genre know, North East bands were a leading light in that movement’.

Who were your influences in music ? ‘To be honest I have a lot of different influences but if I was pushed to name some I would say my main influences over the years have been Rainbow, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Gary Moore, Fist, Saracen, Beatles, Roy Orbinson, Queen, UFO, Van Halen, Scorpions, Motorhead and NWOBHM. I do have a lot of other favourites and got into some of the heavier stuff like Annihilator and Testament from the late 80’s onwards’.

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Ritchie Blackmore

How did you get involved in playing music ? ‘Growing up in the UK through the early 70’s I used to get excited every time I heard a guitar song on the radio or tv. I didn’t understand what it was at the time but knew I was feeling it somewhere deep inside. Then watching Top of the Pops I knew the name of the bands. It was Sweet, Slade and Marc Bolan, the distorted guitar was doing it for me but I was still too young to understand that it was an electric guitar with a distorted amp or fuzz pedal. The big revelation came when I heard my first proper heavy rock song. You guessed it. Smoke on the Water. I was still wet behind the ears at the time so still didn’t take it all in. I was a listener at this point and had no desire to become a musician but I did fantasise of being Ritchie Blackmore or Angus Young on stage. As you do.
The love for music especially Rock and Metal grew as I entered my teens getting to the point where I became obsessed, which I still am. My parents bought me a flying V copy from a shop on the Haymarket, Newcastle when I was 15. It was black but I really wanted to look like KK Downing or Michael Schenker, even though I wasn’t blonde. So I had it sprayed white. Ironically because I was just starting to learn I was pretty crap and my friends were away ahead of me, so I got roped into singing. So I was originally a singer not a guitar player’.

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Saracen

Was there a defining moment when you said ‘I want to do that’ was it watching a band or hearing a particular song ? ‘What really did it for me was that we used to go and watch Saracen rehearse at this prefab in West Park, South Shields. There were also other bands rehearsing there like Hollow Ground we used to watch. I remember the first time I saw Saracen rehearse they blew me away. They were older than us and much more experienced. The singer was Louie Taylor, the guitar player was Steve Dawson, bass Les Wilson and drummer Dave Johnson. They had all the top gear. Louie sang like Ian Gillan and Steve played and even looked like Blackmore a bit. These guys were pro’.
(Interviews on this blog with Lou Taylor, Rock the Knight February 2017 and Steve Dawson, Long Live Rock n Roll April 2017). ‘I remember thinking to myself, it can be done and it is possible you can achieve something by playing rock music. What they taught me apart from professionalism was that anything is possible and you could create a truly great rock band which I considered Saracen to be. I still consider the Saracen lads Louie and Steve in particular to be mentors’.

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Satan at St Hilda’s Youth Club 1982.

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘There were a few venues knocking about in my home town however my favourite and most visited was The British Legion. I used to go and watch bands there all the time. I don’t know how I got in as I was clearly under age. Not only bands that my peers where in but I suppose what you would call name bands as well. I have some great memories of seeing Saracen, Polaris, Zig-Zag, Phasslayne, Fist, Mandora, Cups, Avenger and many others’.

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Glenn 2nd from left in the early days of Chase.

‘Another place I used to frequent was St Hildas Youth Club. This is where Axizz played their first ever gig supporting the mighty Fist. 1981 if I remember correctly. It’s weird that many years later I ended up being the frontman for Fist. I also remember Juggling Monkeys, Hellenbach, Emerson and Satan at St Hildas. Those were the days. I used to roadie a lot as well. Did some gigs for Fist and Satan as well as Saracen. Other regular haunts were the Sunderland and Newcastle Mayfair’s. Saw many a big name band there and got to play the Newcastle Mayfair once with a band I was in called Chase’.

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Glenn taking a break lying down in Chase.

‘Post 1987 I moved on to playing the international circuit with Blitzkrieg, Avenger, Tygers of Pan Tang, Fist and other named bands. Playing at festival shows such as Wacken Gemany, Metal Melt Down USA, Headbangers Open Air Germany, Heavy Metal Night 9 Italy, Keep It True Germany, all over Europe. Also tours supporting the likes of Y&T. I remember playing with Blitzkrieg around 1990 we played the Newcastle University and instead of receiving payment in money we got 11 crates of Brown Ale. Our drummer Gary Young was so happy!

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‘We also used to rehearse and record in Baker Street, Jarrow just up the road from South Shields. We went in there a lot towards the end of the 80’s. I remember one day arriving for a Blitzkrieg rehearsal and we had Venom in one room and Satan in the other. It was loud! Venom were rehearsing their live show for a USA tour I think. That was kind of normal in those days’.

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‘The biggest gig I did was with the Tygers of Pan Tang at the famous Wacken Festival in Germany ’99. I remember we started the gig after the intro so ran on stage to start rocking in front of approximately 15 to 20,000 metal fans when we noticed that we had no lights. Guitarist Robb Weir looked at the side of the stage to see the lighting guy fast asleep. He must have been really excited to be doing the lights. A swift kick to the shins and he soon woke up. Actually that show was recorded and Live at Wacken ‘99 was the last album I did at Neat records’.

What were your experiences of recording ? ‘I did a few demos in those early years after Axizz with bands such as Chase, Ladykillers, Kickout and a more metal version of punk band The Fiend. We used Desert Sounds in Felling quite a lot. Nothing ever came of those demos but it was fun anyway. I recorded with Blitzkrieg (twice) and Tygers of Pan Tang at the famous Impulse Studios in Wallsend, home of Neat Records. I have some great memories of doing those albums and the times spent in the studio’.

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‘Things had changed for me by late summer ’87, I had joined Blitzkrieg as guitarist. Initially there were a few line ups shuffles then we signed to Neat records. Recording Ten years of Blitzkrieg was a blast and always interesting. The drummer Gary Young from Avenger /Repulsive Vision fame was in the band at the time and was always a hoot. We had Keith Nichol doing the engineering who did a great job. I also remember Tribe of Toffs coming into the studio to do an interview with a local radio station guy. They were famous at the time for doing a novelty hit record John Kettley is a Weatherman. God knows who had the bright idea to let them in the studio where we were recording. They came in and told us to be quiet! You can imagine our response.
Ten years of Blitzkrieg took only about 3 weeks to record although it was a mini album anyway. It’s now considered an underground classic and highly sort after by NWOBHM enthusiasts and collectors. I don’t think there were a lot pressed initially maybe a thousand or so if that. Ten years of Blitzkrieg was licensed out from Neat records to the Roadrunner label for Europe 1991 – and we didn’t receive a penny’.

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Blitzkrieg’s album Mists of Avalon was a different affair. It was hard work and we were committed to making a great album so it was more serious and I suppose more professional. The great thing about that time was although it was much harder due to the volume of material we were recording, it was also much smoother. Mainly due to the drummer Mark Hancock getting his drum tracks down in in one to two takes each time. What a star. I had a lot of the stuff written even before I re-joined Blitzkrieg in 1997. In fact I had so much material that we could of ended up with a double album, which actually we nearly did. Myself and vocalist Brian Ross had and still have a good relationship. We bounced vocal ideas off each other. I think we came up with some pretty interesting stuff. The album did take a while. I remember working 6 weeks straight every day apart from Sunday’s as I was pretty much overseeing the whole project and was doing some pre-production. After 6 weeks I was burned out so I had to take a break. I think we got back together after a couple of weeks after that and finished the album. Not as long as a Def Leppard album I suppose’.

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‘Unfortunately in the background there was some political stuff going on which made that album suffer in the long term. Keith Nichol who was the long standing Neat engineer, started the album with us but he had a dispute with the label. He left their employment shortly after. I have nothing against Keith personally I respect him however being honest the recording that he had done with us was not good. I can only assume by this point he just didn’t care much. He indulged himself in recording techniques that weren’t suited to our material. This caused us some problems later when mixing as it couldn’t be undone unless we re-recorded and we simply didn’t have the time or funds. At least that is what we were told. If you listen to the album you can hear the mix getting a bit better later on when it was kind of salvaged to a certain degree by the new engineer Pete Carr. He came on board to help us out. Then the mastering didn’t help the situation either. It sounded lifeless and it also ended up with a truly terrible album cover. Possibly one of the worst album/cd covers ever. We did some covers as well as the original material. They have never been released or re-mixed. There is a cover of Enter Sandman, an Alice Cooper song and there is a cover of Ace of Spades with myself on lead vocals. They sounded great. It’s a shame nothing was done with those extra tracks. I really wish I could have the master tapes and re-mix and re-record stuff on that album’.

‘Finally Mists was released in 1998 on Neat Metal records which was an updated version of Neat, and ran by original Tygers of Pan Tang vocalist Jess Cox. Just as it was about to be released Jess lost his distribution in Japan which would of made up a large part of our sales at the time. It seemed like a disaster. It wasn’t well received at the time by the fans however strangely a lot of critics seemed to like it. On the positive side it did give off an old school vibe which had a charm about it. People have picked up on that and seem to enjoy the album. These days all I get is compliments about that album. It’s funny how time can change perspectives’.

‘I also had a side project called Earthrod which I formed with ex Blitzkrieg drummer Mark Hancock. I did all the vocals and guitars Mark did all the drums, keyboards and recording. We knocked out two albums in the noughties. Screaming in Digital and the second was called Acts of God. It was an experimental project and was recorded in Marks kitchen. To be honest it wasn’t actually meant to be done full time. We had some interest but we couldn’t manage to keep a line up mainly as the stuff was too hard to play. It was a great experience though’.

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Saracen in the fog.

Have you any stories from playing gigs ? ‘Working for Saracen at the Legion Club in South Shields in the early 80’s I was put on smoke machine duty. Saracen are on stage rocking away. I pushed the button to put a little smoke on stage however Les the bass player kept shouting more, more ! I was only a bairn at the time so I did as I was told. Before you knew it the whole concert room was full of stage smoke. You couldn’t see the band at all. We had to open all the doors and windows to get rid of it. I got a right royal telling off from the vocalist Louie Taylor. Les never told him it was his fault ha ha’.

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Saracen

‘It was around 1983 I was with some friends and my girlfriend and we were waiting at the bus stop to take us down town to see Saracen at Bolingbroke Hall, South Shields. I saw the bus and started going towards it somehow I managed to get a nail stuck in my little finger that was sticking out of a fence close by. It had gone right into my finger down to the bone. My friends called my dad who came and when he saw the situation he had no choice but to saw the fence. I eventually got free and went to hospital. The Nurses and Doctors were pissing themselves laughing when they saw me coming in holding a fence. After laughing his knackers off the doctor removed the nail and fence that came with it and bandaged me up. I still have the scar to prove it. We still got to Bolingbroke Hall to see Saracen and rushed up to the stage. Soon as I raised my right fist in the air complete with bandage, the bass player Les Wilson fell over and split his jeans. Tackle out and everything ha ha. You couldn’t make it up’.

Fist April

Fist

What are you doing now and are you still involved with music ? ‘My last gig with Fist was in April 2017 at the Unionist Club in my home town supporting the wonderful Bernie Torme. I’m happy to say it was a great gig and meeting Mr Torme was the icing on the cake. What a musician and what gent! I was with Fist for four years as their frontman. Being with Fist was great experience’.

screamers

‘I haven’t got involved with another original band since then but it is early days. There have been a few interesting offers however nothing that was suitable for me. I’m not ruling out doing more original material and have written some stuff which was originally meant for Fist however at this time I have three none original bands on the go which I’m busy with and really enjoying. Bone Idol which is a classic pub rock band, G Force which is a tribute to Gary Moore’s classic rock/metal years and a Judas Priest tribute band called Metal Gods UK. Bone Idol doubles up as G Force. I’m on vocals/guitars, Ian Rogers vocals/bass, Stu Johnson keyboards and my old mate Matty on drums. Metal Gods UK is myself lead vocals, Dan Rochester guitars, Andrew McCann guitars, Ian Rogers bass and James Charlton on drums. We are arranging live dates for these bands soon’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi September 2017.

Recommended:

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

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

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

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