ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE TOON AGAIN -Alikivi blog makes the news.

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On the blog in June this year, Roksnaps featured photo’s of bands playing live over 30 years ago. The rare pic’s were taken by music fan Paul White. Photo’s which capture the atmosphere and excitement at Newcastle City Hall. 

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Music fan Paul White

On Wednesday September 12th journalist David Morton wrote an article and featured the photo’s in The Chronicle newspaper and on it’s website.

Newcastle was becoming a rock music powerhouse. Black Sabbath, Scorpions, Whitesnake, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, UFO among others all trod the boards of Newcastle City Hall’. 

 

The blog is coming up to 40,000 views, plus this is the 175th post, so a great way to mark that milestone is with a double page in the local newspaper.

Gary Alikivi September 2018

 

Recommended:

Roksnaps #1 18th February 2018.

Roksnaps #2 22nd February 2018.

Roksnaps #3 27th February 2018.

Roksnaps #4  4th April 2018.

Roksnaps #5  20th June 2018.

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

Rockin’ All Over the Toon  22nd May 2018.

Don’t forget to check the ALIKIVI You Tube channel.

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.

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.

 

HOWARDS WAY- interview with North East musician Howard Baker

‘In Warbeck we were playing Germany for seven weeks doing 4 x 45 minute sets a night, and 5 on a weekend, that’s how we learnt our trade. In ’85 we got a record deal with EMI. But that went tits up. More of that later’.

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Howard has spent most of his life in the music business from performing to owning a studio. From early influences, gigs, experiences in recording studio’s, high’s and lows, to the present day – this interview uncovers most of the stories in his career – but some of the riskier one’s might never make print you’ll have to go and see him he might tell you. ‘I still do a lot of gigs a year and continue to work over in Tenerife and France. Currently we are working on pulling together a show with songs from the 1960’s, not a tribute as such more of putting our own stamp on the tracks. So really looking forward to taking that out to the theatres’.

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 Who were your influences ? ‘When we were young everybody liked Elvis Presley but I was more of a rebel, I liked Little Richard. I just loved his antics, I loved Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino a bit bluesy you know. But my voice was always geared up to the likes of Coverdale and Rodgers, more rocky, that style you know, my tones were that way. When I was in Warbeck we toured with Free and Argent. Our friends Beckett and Brass Alley were the same, you’d also have John Miles Set on the bill at the Locarno or The Mayfair. I remember playing the Mayfair and supporting Back Street Crawler. I loved that time. I remember recording at Impulse Studio with Warbeck and after the session Keith Satchfield leaving his black beauty Les Paul guitar outside, it was there all night. Luckiest guy in the world because it was still there next day !’

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What venues did Warbeck play? ‘We worked through Mel Unsworth Agency then, it was not uncommon for us to do ten shows a week, clubs like Annabels, Zhivagos, Dontino’s in Hexham. You were doing workingmens clubs, three half hours and finishing half past ten. Then on stage in Hexham for 12.30 or Julies up in Sunderland.
For the support work the agent was Ivan Burchill he had all the contracts for Mayfairs and City Hall’s. I remember supporting The Pink Fairies, a strange rock punky sort of band. (Nerd Alert: While still a member of the Pink Fairies, in May 1975 Larry Wallis joined a new band, Motörhead with Lemmy and Lucas Fox. In September 1975 Fox left the band and Motörhead recruited a new drummer, Phil Taylor. Wallis recorded an album with the band, ‘On Parole’. It remained unreleased until 1979 when Motörhead had established some reputation for themselves. In February 1976 Wallis was joined by Fast Eddie Clarke on guitar. Later in the same month Wallis left Motörhead.)

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‘The best laugh was doing the City Hall with Alvin Stardust and it was the craziest line up ever. We were a full on rock band supporting the pop star. His single out at the time was My Coo Ca Choo. Anyway we were in the dressing room while 2,000 kids were screaming outside wanting Alvin. We were worried but he came up to us and said just do your show lads, and don’t worry the fan’s are screaming so loud they can’t hear what you’re playing anyway haha. Afterwards he came back to us and said that was brilliant lad’s. Then I watched him and the way he controlled the whole show was completely different from us, we were head’s down rock you know. I must admit he was really good, a great showman’.

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‘Around 1975 a guy called Roberto Donova came up North from London to see us play. He was interested in signing us. We were playing the Barmston Club in Washington and he turned up in his Rolls Royce and parked it outside. He wandered in, heard us play five songs, bought us a round of drinks and said see ya in my studio in a couple of weeks’.

‘We had a big monitor system, four huge bins we bought off Jethro Tull. First club we played it in was so loud we blew the polystyrene tiles of the ceiling. It took a few gigs to get used to it haha.
We had some pyro to put on a bit of a show. We used to put the bombs in two small waste paper bins, but one gig we forgot them so went outside in the backlane and got a big rubbish bin. We put both bombs in there and set it up behind Craigy (Alan Craig) the drummer. End of the first set the roadies set it off and a big boom ! But they never cleaned the bin out first so there was rubbish, banana skins all sorts all over the stage, haha’.

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‘Another pyro story was we were playing Usworth Social Club and we forgot to bring smoke flares. We liked a bit of smoke around the stage. So we went out and bought some flares nearby. These were for boats, like distress flares. Again they were set up behind the drums and were set off at the end of the set just as we played Smoke on the Water. Well at first they didn’t look much but the smoke coming out of them just kept on coming until it filled the concert room. Our eyes were streaming, the concert chairman was up in arms but the worst thing was the smoke was orange. There was so much smoke we couldn’t see a thing, they rang the fire brigade who eventually found the bin and hoyed it outside. The concert room was covered in orange stains, all over the chairs, everywhere. Ended up we never got paid just a massive cleaning bill’.

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‘Around ’78 Warbeck travelled down to London in our own transit van to support AC/DC at the Marquee. Bon Scott was thin as a rake then and Angus was just a tiny fella but you could just tell they had something about them. A great sound with a solid rhythm section for Angus to play with. They had a real presence. We also supported Whitesnake up at Ashington. I remember it was a November, absolutely freezing and the place was chocka block. Our dressing room was tiny with a little radiator and Coverdale’s room was all soft chairs, heaters with lobster thermadore. I knew him from when he was in a band called Government and he said hello. I thought I need to be at that level. We got close but through bad circumstances, didn’t quite get there. There was a lot of talent up here in the North East. Some of them should have made it bigger you know. Really good writers and great players I worked with, some wonderful performers up here’.

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‘All the Northern rock bands have worked bloody hard but a lot got ripped off. Some had a self destruct button though, it’s part of the make up. When we were signed suddenly we thought we were rock stars, but we had no money. The record company drove us from the house to the recording studio in Roll’s Royce’s. It was called RG Jones’ studio in Wimbledon. A guy I mentioned earlier Roberto Danova, he was composer, arranger, the producer there. In the studio next door was the Average White Band recording, across the hall was Queen. But we were missing recording sessions, the producers saying what’s going on here you know. The studio was £1,000 per day. But it was a case of self destruct from one of the band, drinking was involved. There was a tour with Whitesnake lined up. That should have happened. I had worked to get that far but I left in the end and opened a studio’.

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‘I had a record deal with Warner Bros in France with my band Nightwalker that was around 1990. A friend of mine called Guierc, he was a big shot in a private hospital, manager I think, but he was a rock star at night haha. He was in a music shop in Paris and there were two guys talking one of them was Dominic Ruiz who amongst others, wrote songs for rock band Krokus. He was saying he could do with an English singer and my friend Gieric butted in and said I know just the guy who can help you. Within two days I had plane tickets to fly to France. When I got there I met Dominic Ruize, he said I like your voice do you want to do some writing. All this through an interpreter because he only knew a few English words, and two of them were McEwans Scotch and Brown Ale haha’.

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‘We came back to my studio Baker Street in Jarrow and wrote together for five weeks, we done about about fifteen songs. He went back to France and set up some recording sessions with some really top players. It was brilliant, a great experience. It was all going well. I thought hey all the North East bands Warbeck, Brass Alley, Lucas Tyson all them bands who worked their socks off and thought we knew our stuff, but I learned a whole lot more when I went to their studio. I worked with Vanessa Paradis, she said Howard never start a song with a letter P, because it pop’s on the mic and using an S in lyrics. Just little things like that, they were a big help’.

‘We done a video and the single was ready for release. Our producer, John Ducusse who worked out of Harrison Studio, was with Warner Bros who had just been taken over by Sony. He had an album out, it was doing really well in Europe and he asked for another 25,000 copies of his album, they said no. He had been with the company for years. After a big row they said John, you’re sacked and you can take your bands with you. Well we were one of his bands. So they called us on December 23rd to say they had dropped us. I thought the call was going to be about the release of the single because they had already sent the acetates to radio stations. It’s a horrible feeling because I’d worked for years to get to that point. I was gutted’.

‘Around that time we put together a track and entered it into the Eurovision song contest. Sadly not succesful but reached the final 20. We recorded a few sessions with notable North East musicians, Ted Hunter and Shaun Taylor. I played in a band with guitarist Steve Dawson for about three years, that was Riff Raff. I was also in Ramm with Arthur Ramm from Beckett. Then the JPM Band with a guy called Mark Taylor who went on to play with Simple Minds.
When I had the studio a few people came in and recorded bits and pieces, former Hellanbach members Kev Charlton and Davey Patton came in for a session. The band Pariah came through here, Russ Tippins and Shaun Taylor he ended up in Nightwalker with me. Also guitarist Dale Carson who is now playing with Borderland. All really good players.
Some did go on to bigger things like Steve Robson he’s wrote stuff for Take That, One Direction, Christina Aguilera, a long list of them, now he’s head producer at Northern Sky Studio’s in London’.

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Bringing your story up to date what are you doing now ? ’I released a blues album in Summer 2015 The Paris Files recorded in a studio in Montmagny, north of the French capital.   Now I record a lot in Richmond Studio in Durham then send it to producer MrHardearly in Paris who gets in good musicians. This new album is more laid back and bluesy compared to my rock voice. That went really well. I’m still very busy doing nearly 200 gig’s a year, we’re currently putting a new sixties show together to tour. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of the musician’s, producers, promoters that I’ve worked with through my career. The likes of Eric Moutard, Kevin Twedddle at Richmond Studio, Shirly Teasdale who was with me in Riff Raff for 17 years. You know, music, I would do it all again. It’s given me a house, a lovely lifestyle, yes I would do it all again’.

Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2017.

Recommended:

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.

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

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

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

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

 

 

CAT SCRATCH FEVER – with Tygers of Pan Tang guitarist Micky McCrystal

One Friday night in September 1982 I was at the Newcastle Mayfair to watch Tygers of Pan Tang. 6 years later Micky McCrystal was born in Durham, UK, by 2013 he landed the gig of lead guitarist with the Tygers… how time flies…I asked him how do the older songs work with the new songs in the set today?

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‘Some of the songs were recorded 30 years ago but they still sound fresh and relevant alongside the new songs, I feel that it’s a very strong set that fans of the band past and present will love. I look at the gig as playing as a fan of the band and what would I like to hear if I was in the audience, we always try to give the fans what they want. The songs from Wildcat, Spellbound, Crazy Nights and The Cage albums have been classics for years so fans know how they should sound. It’s amazed me the amount of new fans who are just discovering the band and like the new songs and then go back and look at the history of the Tygers’.

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‘It’s about respecting the song, doing it justice and sticking to those key Sykes solo’s and licks that people are waiting for, otherwise I feel like people aren’t getting what they’ve come to see plus there’s plenty of opportunity for me to put my own stamp on the songs’. (John Sykes former guitarist 1981-82 albums Spellbound and Crazy Nights)

17321330_10154939271550731_56588470_n‘We’ll play songs like Paris By Air from The Cage album and I’ll do my best to add in the keyboard lines and synth parts like the original track but on guitar which it gives it a more modern edge that works great in amongst the new songs as well as the heavier tracks. It’s great to see the crowd enjoy the song and sing a long to the chorus as much as they would Hellhound or Love Potion No.9 especially the hardcore heavy metal guys or bikers who we wouldn’t normally expect to like this AOR song but yeah they sing every word, it’s great haha!’

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Who were your influences and how did you get involved in playing music ? ‘When I first started playing I listened to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix, I used to sit and jam along to those albums for hours and hours and try and figure out their licks. Then I went back and started listening to the classic blues players like BB, Albert and Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf. The influence that seems to surprise most people is that I got heavily into country music especially players like Brent Mason and Brad Paisley. I try and keep an open mind so I love listening to John Scofield as much as I do Richie Kotzen or Yngwie there’s always something to pick up and learn’.

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‘My Dad was a drummer and always had vinyl in the house and he had a lot of guitar albums Hendrix, Larry Carlton but the one that stuck in my mind is ‘Friday Night in San Fransisco’ by Al Di Meola, Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin. I found it incredible that they had that level of technique but were so musical at the same time, it’s without a doubt one of my favourite albums ever. My parents always encouraged my interest in music from day one, they bought me my first guitar from a guitar shop in Newcastle, a Blue Aria Les Paul copy, I still have it today and it’s got a lot of sentimental value’

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What led you to joining the Tygers ? ‘Tygers bassist Gav Gray messaged me asking if i’d be interested in auditioning for Tygers of Pan Tang and of course I said yes. It turns out Satan guitarist Russ Tippins had recommended me for the gig. In the audition we played Keeping Me Alive, Hellhound and I think Raised on Rock. I received a message that night to say I was in and I learnt the rest of the set and began rehearsing for my debut show with the band’.

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Last year you played a tour around South America how did that go ? ‘It was my first time in South America and it was amazing, I loved it. The fans are incredible, they know the songs so well, they sing every word as well as the guitar melodies, some of the fans had actually had Tygers tattoos done specifically because we were playing. They live and breathe it, it’s amazing. Also the night we played Sao Paolo was my birthday and Jack got the band and the crowd to sing Happy Birthday to me which was really special. The centrefold sleeve of the latest album has a photograph of that gig so yeah that has special memories for me, I’d love to play there again’.

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How did the recording go for the new album ? ‘It was great, I had in my head that it would be a good idea to try and mix the flavours of the first four Tygers albums with a slightly more modern feel. We recorded in a great studio in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Blast Studios. We practically lived there for three weeks haha. The process was very organic, things changed right up to the 11th hour. I had written the solo for Never Give In and Craig walked in and sang four notes as I was about to do the take which ended up becoming the first four notes of the solo. The verse drum part for Devil You Know changed the day before recording it to a tom part. We trusted each others judgement and were open to constructive feedback, at the end of the day we were all there attempting to reach the same goal of making a great album’.

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‘We worked with a great tracking engineer, Mark Broughton who often works with Andy Taylor of Duran Duran. Soren Andersen mixed the album, he works with Glenn Hughes and Mike Tramp. I was very familiar with his work and was excited when I heard he was on board. For mastering Soren recommended Harry Hess of Harem Scarem. It was a great team and we’re all happy with how the album has turned out’.

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‘We released Only the Brave as a promo single for the album along with a music video that has now had over 100,000 hits on YouTube. We’re just about to release the second music video for the song Glad Rags. The storyline is fun and a bit more lighthearted (In no time at all Mickey whipped out his phone and showed me a clip from the video ‘Glad Rags’. The track has a radio friendly feelgood bounce with a very catchy sing a long chorus, the video is not bad either with dancing girls, smoke and mirrors) ‘I’ve got to mention the company Flashlight Films who have done a great job on both videos, they were great to work with and we hope we get this new video well over 100 thousand hits too’.

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Where would the Tygers like to go next ? ‘We’d love to go and play for the South American fans again. It would be great to get to Canada, North America, Asia. Anywhere there’s fans hungry to see the band we would love to play. We’re looking forward to an Italian tour in a few weeks time followed by a two week European run and then some shows on the European festival circuit. We’re super proud of the new album, so we’re excited to play the new album for people as well as the classics’.

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New album Tygers of Pan Tang available from the Official Site tygersofpantang.com also European tour dates for 2017.

Interview by Gary Alikivi 9th March 2017.

Recommended:

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

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

Robb Weir, Doctor Rock, 5th November 2017.