Desolation Angels were one of the forefathers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal era. Now, nearly forty years later, they are still rocking and I, recently, had the chance to interview them.
Hi, I’m Dawn from Ever Metal. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all ok?
Hi Dawn, yes we are all ok thanks.
Ok, so for those who have been hiding in a remote cave somewhere for the past thirty odd years, can you give us a quick background of the band?
Desolation Angels was formed in early 1981 by childhood friends Robin Brancher and Keith Sharp based in the East End of London. The band started writing and rehearsing and soon built up a reputation playing live.
The band’s first single, ‘Valhalla’, was recorded at a studio in Cheltenham in 1982 and, by this time, the band was touring extensively the UK. In 1984, their debut self titled album ‘Desolation Angels’ was recorded at Thameside Studios, London
After spending eight years in the USA playing live shows and recording, the band returned to the UK.
* After various personnel changes since the reformation of Desolation Angels in 2012, the band members are: Robin Brancher (guitar), Keith Sharp (guitar), Clive Pearson (bass), Chris Takka (drums) Paul Taylor (vocals).
Answered Clive Pearson
So, your latest album “King” (great name by the way!) was released on February 23rd of this year (2018), how is it being received? I see you have had some great reviews.
The name seems to have been a good choice, well done to Rob on that one….. it needs to be mentioned first that we were so fortunate to have Chris Tsangeridies listen to the demos and see the potential in the songs to agree to give us his time to make this album so special in so many ways. It so tragic that this was to be his final gift to the music world as he certainly took this on to ensure he handed over a fantastic album. He brought out the best in DA AND we will be ever thankful to his dedication to produce and engineer these songs which the ‘reviews tell it all. The enjoyment of working with Chris and hearing all his tales of his past were very entertaining when recording can be such a stressful experience. He put the fun and enjoyment into those weeks of hard work…. the album is selling very well and so it should as it is one of those albums that gets better each time you listen to it. That is down to the song writing and the great man CT…. thanks Chris may you RIP in Valhalla with your great friend Gary Moore.
Answered by Clive Pearson.
And how was it working with the late, great Chris Tsangeridis?
I may have answered that in previous question.
He was a true musician who loved working in the industry and to help those musicians around him. His history speaks for itself and no air of greatness within his personality which could really have been the case. He’d work with anyone who had desire and commitment to their music… see his autobiography as it would take the whole Metal Nation edition to cover his character and albums.
Answered by Clive Pearson.
The official launch party for the album was on March 23rd at The Devonshire Arms in Camden. I was gutted I couldn’t get there. How did it go? Lots of drunkenness and shenanigans?
The Dev is a perfect venue for this event as it is a true metal pub in Camden which is one of the most diverse towns in London. Great atmosphere and punters. I think my other half should cover the drunken shenanigans as she won that one hands down. I give you her number and the Premier Inn in London where she was carried to after the gig and made a grand entrance…….. I am sure they can fill you in on that one… lots of punters were up for a big night and it did not disappoint.
Answered by Clive Pearson.
So, you are happy with the line up now?
It’s not just a line up it’s a big family with all the wives and girlfriends part of the group.
Answered by Paul Chatfield
Ichecked out your latest tour dates on your website and I see you are doing a lot of double headers with another great band Sacrilege (and some with support from Satan’s Empire). What’s is like working with those guys? They are all a great bunch.
They are all a great bunch. We have got a few under our belts already and the one that stands out was at the Underworld in Camden … I seem to get on well in Camden……… Sacrilege are a real good time rock and roll party animals that enjoy themselves on and off stage. We are also pretty much the same age so got a lot of those old days to catch up on and reminisce about. Satan’s Empire have a new album out and sure deliver live. I know Paul Lewis from when he was in Belladonna so cool to be gigging with them now.. Look forward to the next ones coming up…
Answered by Clive Pearson.
And you have the NWOBHM GDR #3 in Nuneaton in November. Are you looking forward to that? It’s a shame it’s not in London again though.
We played the first one in London and good to see it gathering pace a few years now. Great to have Tokyo Blade, Tysondog on the bill plus The Deep & Airforce. We all gigging regularly over the years so will be a big party.
Tokyo Blade will be the 2nd time we shared the stage who are good friends with Rob and Keith so good times will be had…
You play in Europe a lot. Do you think your music is better received there and do you prefer playing there or on home soil?
We really enjoy playing in Europe, the fans seem more dedicated, they know the material and really appreciate the fact you come over. I suppose we were a bit spoilt for choice in the UK. There is, and has always been loads of great bands evolved here through the years so fans have a massive choice. Don’t get me wrong it’s fantastic to play to a great crowd in the UK but the European crowds seem to let their hair down a bit more and really rock out.
Answered by Paul Taylor
I am the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of NWOBHM (yet here I am interviewing one of the original bands from the era!) and I must say I prefer the last album to the earlier stuff. What have you done that has changed your sound so that even a NWOBHM-disliker like me loved your album?
The NWOBHM label is just that, a label! It was just a way to remarket what had always been there, good old-fashioned rock bands. All the radio stations just played either disco music or punk. Purple, Sabbath, UFO, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, Budgie, Lizzy and Priest were still all there and they inspired us, younger bands. So it could be that you like the King album because we’re now better at producing great rock albums than we were 30 years ago . The original values of the music are the same as they’ve always been, strong powerful guitar riffs with a solid rhythm section and melodic vocal tunes with interesting lyrics. We chose Chris T to produce the album because of his fantastic track record and his love of great rock music. He loved the album and did a brilliant job. It would seem that we’ve done what we intended to do, make an album traditional NWOBHM fans would like but also cross the boundaries in to the established hard rock fan base who would normally dismiss NWOBHM bands because of the label.
Answered by Paul Taylor
Ok, so I am friends with most, if not all of you, on social media of some sort, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and I have seen you “in the flesh” so to speak. You are all a great bunch of guys and I would love to interview you face to face after a gig at some point! Would this be ok with you guys?
For sure we always happy to give interviews and answer question for readers on Skype or phone. Or come backstage after gig and we can have few beers and chat..
So, what’s next for Desolation Angels?
Keep on gigging for as long as we can and record the next album.
Answered by Paul Chatfield
Well, thank you so much for your time. I look forward to seeing you on the road and maybe we can get that interview squeezed in. Is there anything you would like to add?
Thanks for asking us to do this interview spread the word www.desolationangels.co.uk
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Callus Video Interview Wrexfest, Wrexham 28/07/2018 Interview by Beth Jones Intro by Rick Tilley
Ever Metal is very proud to present its first ever video interview…yes, this is so much easier than transcribing everything, and what better way to kick off than Beth’s interview with the awesome Callus when they visited our home town of Wrexham last week to play Wrexfest!
I was there but was desperately trying to keep a straight face as there had been quite a bit of silliness leading up to the recording, anyway, enjoy (we know we have to make a couple of adjustments with the microphone for next time) and listen out for the title announcement of the debut Callus album which is slipped in about half way through. You heard it here first!!
Huge thanks to Louis, Ben and Ryan for the interview!
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Beth Jones, Richard Tilley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Kaine are a four piece heavy metal band, hailing from East Anglia in England, and have helped to keep the spirit of NWOBHM alive. I recently had the pleasure of being able to do an email interview with founder and vocalist Rage Sadler.
Hi, I’m Dawn from Ever Metal. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. I hope you are well?
I have had just 5 hours sleep between shifts, got home a few hours ago and now I am back doing band stuff, a little tired but this beats the hell out of warehouse work that’s for sure!
Ok, for those who haven’t heard of Kaine, could you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
We started out in 2009, so nearly 10 years ago. Essentially, we formed in a scene of Metalcore with the ambition to try and rebuild the old school Metal scene and do music in the vein of bands from the golden era of Metal back in the 1980’s. We did very well, considering how little support we had when we started, and we’ve gone onto some huge things for an unknown band from East Anglia!
Your third album, A Crisis of Faith, was released on 1st February 2018. How is it being received?
There was a lot of hype and coverage, both positively and negatively, for the previous album, The Waystone, for example and a significant amount of sales, whereas with ACOF there hasn’t been the same hype but in terms of those who have followed and bought it, it’s been overwhelmingly positively received this time around.
I see how hard you, and the band as a whole, work to promote yourself and the album. Does it frustrate you when you don’t get the recognition I, for one, think you deserve?
Not as much as you would think really. I am a fairly realistic type of bloke and that’s why people often write me off as negative. The truth is I don’t expect a career out of my music either way. Some bands make it, and some do not, it’s a bit like a lottery in some respects. Yeah connections, hard work, image, quality sounds and songs will work in your favour but only a small percentage of bands will ever draw a living from music and it’s no shame in not being one of those who cannot because that’s the majority. The point I tried to make recently, and one I think that was misunderstood and wasn’t necessarily even solely relevant to my band was this, if you love any band’s music and want them to push on, buy a CD, T-Shirt and attend a couple of gigs. If the band’s sales go up and their gigs are attended then the industry will take notice because in their eyes that band is a draw and will make them money. It’s that easy!
How about when you do live gigs? I’ve seen you post that you have played to very few people at times. Does this not dishearten you?
Again, I highlight where things go badly to help better educate the wider audience about the struggle all bands go through, not just my band and it relates back to that earlier point. How can any band hope to make it when so many people will turn their noses up at a free entry gig to sit at home instead? Kaine is in a weird situation, sometimes we can play some bad gigs, usually due to lack of promotion and play to smaller crowds, but we can go on decent runs of shows averaging 50-100 people and earlier this year we played to around 3000. It’s bizarre, so while it sucks to play to so few sometimes after all the work and travel we are rewarded with the good ones too.
But you recently played HRH Metal at Birmingham. How was that for you?
Definitely a career highlight. I am not someone who gets nervous or worried about shows. If its 5 or 5000 I will usually deliver the same performance because it’s what I love to do more than anything else. We really did deliver that show well, it was incredibly well received. To be a main stage act and effectively support Grave Digger was huge for us. It may never happen again either, once in a lifetime.
Obviously, one of the biggest pieces of news coming out of the Kaine camp recently was Chris announcing he was leaving the band. How did this affect the rest of you?
It was a huge blow, certainly emotionally. Chris has played with me for 6 years, he was a 17-year-old kid when he first started in the band and we’ve literally been through hell together. It was a huge surprise given everything and how close it was to the album release. He just couldn’t afford to do it any longer without a huge band income coming in, and as I stated if bands can’t sell CD’s, shirts and people won’t show up to gigs then you’re going to struggle to keep members. Again, that’s not just us, many bands lose members every week because of this very reason and often to a very sad reception online, but if those people bought the albums it would never happen. We have enough Facebook likes that if people bought the record it would chart! The 2016-2018 Kaine line-up was a special one because we fought through the ashes of the old band to become something stronger and produce a world class album, we stood together and worked extremely hard to deliver that record and that to me is the tragedy of it ending so soon. It could have easily killed the band.
You found a replacement in Liam Etheridge. What made him stand out for you?
Liam is a drummer I have known for about 5 years now. He was originally in a band called Asylum which gigged with us a few times as support back in the day. I already knew him well enough to know he wasn’t a total dickhead and I knew that in terms of his ability on drums he would be able to learn and adapt to our style with a huge potential to do even more. He turned up in one session and pretty much could play an entire set. In fact, he’s only having one more rehearsal this week before his debut on Friday, so he’s proving his dedication early on to the band. I prefer to find good people with huge potential to work with for the band rather than use established people from the scene. Liam is already a great drummer, but I can see him growing and becoming one of the best on the scene. It really is an opportunity for him.
I know you are not backward in coming forward about your views, so what do you think is the future of metal?
Metal will always be there in some guise or another. You have acts like Ghost who are essentially blazing a trail for that old school sound in the mainstream even though it may not to be everyone taste, I think that’s an incredibly good thing for Metal. Big riffs, epic chorus’s, evil aesthetic alongside those clean vocals. On the heavier old school front, you have Savage Messiah who are now really pushing on, for the old school scene Seven Sisters and Toledo Steel are making amazing progress of late, so while it may seems a little low at the moment there’s tons of bands out there who could potentially be the next big thing. We need rebirth and renewal in Metal music really. We have had the same acts for 30 years more or less holding onto those top spots and while there’s always a place for legends, we also need to have some renewal and regrowth for Metal to push through again, much like it did in 2000-01.
A lot of people don’t like a spade being called a spade. Do you think your outspokenness (if that is even a word!) affects your popularity?
I really don’t worry about it. There’s a lot of people who do not like me for whatever reason, but I can’t let that be my focus. Frankly they don’t always firmly understand my comments and make assumptions on what I’m trying to say based on their own predetermined prejudices about me. The most common thing I get when meeting people is “I was told you were a total c**t but your actually a really nice guy!”. I don’t need to be popular, Axel Rose isn’t well liked and he’s a millionaire!
I read the note you posted saying what the lyrics to the tracks on A Crisis of Faith meant. Was this a kind of therapeutic process for you as you state that they are a reflection of many issues you have dealt with?
I decided to write this album from the heart and deliver an emotional experience alongside the musical one. I have had an absolutely shocking few years in my life both inside and outside of music, and I am not sure it was therapy so much as trying to keep it real. The words are actual feelings, actual experiences, not just there to add music value to the song. If you sense sadness, hope, frustration, loneliness, anger, despair, and the like while listening than that’s a great part of the experience.
You are on the bill for the next Mearfest. Are you all looking forward to that?
We’re always happy to play Mearfest. Brian and Clare have been incredible to us these past few years and have done a lot for good causes by turning loss into legacy. I am immensely proud to have played a part in that process, especially given the background. When people work hard and focus on good they can do a lot of positive in the world.
And as festival season approaches, what festival would you most like to play and why?
We sadly haven’t been approached by any of them! If I was going to pick any, I’d love to do something like Wacken over in Europe and it would be cool to do a Download or something at home, but I don’t see it happening. It’s not something I really focus on. People have requested us at them all, but it falls at deaf ears, so I always say, come see us on the road, it’s far cheaper and much more personal!
So, what’s next for Kaine?
We’re going to blood Liam into the band, look to the future and record a fourth album. That’s it really, we’ll keep on going until there’s nothing left.
Well, thank you very much for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add before we finish?
Go and buy an unsigned bands CD this week! Any one will do! It will go a long way to helping that band push on, go to a gig this month that isn’t an established artist, get a t-shirt. Support the new generation! If people are yet to own our new record, it’s just £3 on digital or £10 on a CD. Vinyl is coming, so if you fancy helping an unknown band out, drop by our band camp and support our music!
Please note: Since this interview took place, guitarist Saxon Davids and bassist, Stephen Ellis, have also announced they are to leave the band. Please see the band’s website and Facebook page for announcements and press releases regarding this. We wish them all the very best of luck in the future.
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
INTERVIEW WITH FALLEN ARISE HAMMERFEST X 17/03/2018
Back in March, we had the pleasure of interviewing Gus, Giacomo and Fiona, of Fallen Arise, just after their set at Hammerfest X. They are an incredibly interesting band and it was really great talking to them about who they are and what they do.
For the people who have never seen you before, just give us a quick history of the band, who you are and where you come from.
Gus: Well, we are Fallen Arise. We are from three different countries; Greece, Italy and the UK. We were formed in 2009, the summer of 2009, and, of course, we had some other members those years. Now, we are Giacamo on guitars, Fiona on main vocals, Vlassis on main vocals, me on the keyboards. Marios K on the drums and Paul on the bass.
So, this band has two things that I love. I’m a keyboard player, so instantly I was like ‘Yay keyboards!’ I love bands with keyboard players!! And I’m a woman and I love women in metal. So, Fiona, how did you come to join the band first of all? Were you there from the beginning or have you been picked up recently?
Fiona: No, 2016, August. I received some communications from the management of Fallen Arise and we had some conversations and felt a good vibe and I enjoyed the music very much. Listening to the melodies and the orchestrations really grabbed me and I’d never actually played in a band with a keyboardist before, so I thought yes!
It makes a difference, doesn’t it? Adds a different level.
Fiona: Yeah, I played in a band with sequenced backing tracks but it didn’t have that live feel, so that was something that I really wanted to do, and also because there was a male vocalist too, again a new thing for me, I thought, yes absolutely. I signed up and we began a few tours.
So, how do you get around the whole rehearsal schedule thing?
Fiona: We don’t really rehearse (laughing)
Do you like do it over Skype? (laughing)
Giacomo: Usually we don’t (laughing)
So, you just learn all your bits separately and then just come together for a gig?
Fiona: Basically! We did get two rehearsals in Manchester as we all flew in last week, but we also had to prepare our acoustic show and we had never done anything like that before.
I guess it’s a very difficult thing to do acoustically.
Fiona: Yeah, and unfortunately for us as we were setting up, the keyboards failed so we had to very quickly rethink things the two of us and it was a little bit hairy. But, we got through it. We had fun.
Yeah, if you can get through it, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
Fiona: It was good, I think people were enjoying it.
Giacamo: I was playing, thinking about the disparities, singing in my head…!
Fiona: We changed some things. We dropped a song, had to cut short things.
Giacamo: In a very short time we had to decide – ‘we are going to do this, this and this, ok’?
Fiona: But it was good. So, we rehearsed, we did our lovely acoustic rehearsals in Manchester which no one ever got to hear! But sometimes if we can all go to Athens to do a couple of days rehearsals before we go to somewhere like Romania or somewhere like that, we try to do this, but it’s not always easy.
So, when it comes to playing gigs then, I’m assuming the rest of the guys get gigs in other parts of Europe, so you’re going all over the place to do gigs?
Fiona: Yeah, we are. (Agreement from the rest of the band)
So, what’s it like for you then? Is it amazing to get to these different places that you perhaps wouldn’t have gone to if you had not been in a band like this?
Fiona: Yes, it’s amazing, absolutely amazing. Fantastic. The biggest one I think for me last year, for all of us, was Russia, when we supported Paradise Lost! We got to some beautiful places, played to some fantastic audiences, they were absolutely wonderful to play to, really the passion and the energy is fantastic! So that was an amazing thing for us as a band and each, personally, as well. But earlier in the year, last year 2017, we did some tours through Germany, and The Netherlands, which was fantastic. Romania and Bulgaria too, and we played Greece last year as well! It’s been really nice to see all the fans.
The fans in Greece are magnificent. The metal scene in Greece is just fantastic. The fans out there are crazy.
Gus: The metal scene in Greece?
I think it’s crazy. You don’t think so?
Really? You know, I’ve spoken to bands before and seen DVD’s of bands playing out in Greece. The crowds they get are just phenomenal.
Gus: Actually, the situation with Greece is that we have many, many talented musicians, many, many talented artists, but we have a bad ideology. It must be the music first, and it’s not. That’s the truth. Most people you will hear them say that my local scene is wonderful but it’s not.
So, do you prefer going to the rest of Europe and coming here?
Gus: Fallen Arise is more acceptable in other countries than Greece. It’s the truth. And that’s the reason we feel like home not in our real home but here in Wales, in Romania, in Russia, everywhere except our countries. I’m very sorry to say that but maybe in the Greek road I will be like an idiot but that’s the truth and I don’t care!! (Laughing)
It’s interesting, because we see obviously the media coverage and YouTube and things, so it’s interesting to hear it from your side because you’ve been there, you’ve come through that, the Greek side of things.
Gus: It’s the same for every country. If you are from the country, it’s harder to have an audience in your country because there is a sort of rivalry between musicians and this is absolutely something bad. I usually think about other musicians like brothers and I try to support them, but I heard also from people from abroad saying the same thing about their countries.
So, here in the UK, we are always going ‘oh the metal scene in Europe is so much better than it is here!’
Giacomo: I think everyone says the same thing!
So, Fiona, are you working towards some new material, a new album?
Fiona: Yeah, we are. The musical side, the composition side, has been finalised, and I actually fly to Athens in about a week to start in the studio for a few weeks doing final vocals, and we will finish up after that at Iron Queens Festival in Romania. So, it’s this one, lots of recording and then that! We are going to have a fantastic time! I believe, and I’ll have to double-check this, but I’m sure I read somewhere that the Iron Queens Festival in Romania is their first ever female fronted metal festival which I think is a really good thing.
I’m seeing more women in metal bands popping up all over the place and I think it’s fantastic, whether it’s singers, drummers, keyboardists, bass players, guitarists, you know, it’s really good. I’ve also been a massive fan of women in metal but you do get the people that go “hmmpft” Also, and I hate to say it but back in the 80’s, and I’m sure it still goes on a bit, females were in metal bands because they had been put there to look at, not to actually listen to the talent, and so it’s really nice now to see so many good female musicians come through and get respect. Has it opened doors for you, the fact that ladies in metal is much more accepted?
Fiona: I think so, and I think that some of the female fronted platforms across Europe added quite a powerful influence to that over the last decade but it’s becoming less and less needed. I think that’s why Female Voices in Metal decided to take a break, because they felt that the platforms weren’t perhaps necessary, whereas ten years ago it absolutely was! But, I think still there is a huge gap, there is a huge gender imbalance when you look at some of the bigger festivals. In time, I hope to see that change and I think it will.
So, what’s coming up for you guys now then? Obviously, you are going into the studio to record the album and you’ve got that festival. Have you got any other big dates planned for this year?
Fiona: We’ve got Iron Queens. We have another one in May.
Gus: We have another one in Romania on 9th June in Constanza, then we go to Sweden for new video. We are also playing in Italy. It’s not something we have confirmed but we are planning to do some dates in Italy.
Fiona: We concentrated on just a few festivals this year, because we have such a heavy job to do with our album, and our video, and our artwork, working with the label to get the album out by the end of the year so that take a lot of time and energy.
So, that’s what you are hoping for? A release date by the end of the year?
Fiona: We’re hoping so yeah, we’re confident it will be towards the end of the year.
Have you got any album title you can go by yet?
Fiona: Not presently no!
Is there going to be a theme about the album? You know is it going to be a concept, overall story, or are the songs going to be separate?
Fiona: In terms of lyrical themes, there’s a lot to do with passion, power, being reborn, feeling like there’s a shift into something better, so it’s a really positive album and it’s really reflective of coming out of harder times and going into something better. It’s that kind of thing. It’s that just get up and do something new, let’s be out there, let’s be passionate and powerful about what we believe in. That’s a lot of the lyrical themes so far. That’s about it.
Giacomo: Yeah it is separate songs, not a concept, but we also use symmetry with art, for example, we are using, for the first time in A Fallen Arise album, a seven-string guitar. We were trying to mix more thing together, seeing that we are from different worlds musically, so we try to combine to do something new.
You mention you are all from different musical worlds, what are your influences?
Giacomo: I come from thrash metal and progressive metal so when I joined the band it was hard for me, because I’ve never been a big fan of symphonic! But I found some characteristics which really were joyful for me. I think I have learnt very much from this band. Before I was thinking about songs like ‘alright, solos as fast as I can, I have to do this difficult riff, then I’ll change this!’ but now I have to serve the song and it’s something very, very, very beautiful. That happened to me, it completely changed my style!
It’s not all about heavy and fast, it’s about feeling the music.
Giacomo: Yeah, you have to serve the musicians and the audiences. This doesn’t sound so hard, but trust me it’s harder than playing many lines together, changing time etc.
Gus: I come from a classical background. Of course, I very much like metal music, all different bands, but not only metal music. As a musician, I have my ears open for every style. I like jazz, I like blues, I like everything. My main influences are the composers of classical music like Ravel, Stravinsky, Samberg, who were fascinating for me. Because of this, I chose to make this symphonic metal band. The idea of the frustration of the composer; taking a short theme and making it quite big, for a band, for an orchestra, for many, many, many people. It is fascinating. But, actually, generally I would say that I’m a fan and passionate about good music, wherever it comes from.
Fiona: For me, I grew up through the UK scene of classic metal and rock. Some of my influences stretch right back to the seventies, from things my parent where listening to, and I just picked up on. Things like Marillion and all sorts of stuff. A lot of that was quite influential to me, but as I sort of moved through the eighties, I got a lot of the classic rock influences as well. I was also a big fan of Iron Maiden; Bruce Dickinson especially is quite an interesting one for me. And you didn’t really get a lot of female vocalists to be honest. You know, Janis Joplin was pretty cool, I used to love her but, you know, unless it was pop – I think Madonna was one I used to dance around to when I was a kid! And Billy Joel apparently, I don’t really remember too much about that!! That’s the sort of stuff that’s come through for me. But, I’m also half Irish – lot of my family were born in Ireland, so we have a lot of that influence too. I think in the last ten, fifteen years, I think the female vocalists that have stepped out for me, I think were probably Christina Scabbia – I think she’s a pretty good performer as well as an exceptional vocalist; I do like the earlier Tarja stuff, I think she is a very, very talented vocalist. A bit of Nightwish, but I think Floor Jansen had a lot more variety for me and I think she’s got that power. I do like powerful singers, I really do. I listen to her a lot more now because I like her voice. But also, I think there are some really fantastic singers out there and it’s really hard sometimes to pick one that influenced you. I also like a lot of James LaBrie, Geoff Tate, people like that. It’s that kind of voice I think that grabs me.
Fantastic! Well that was our last question for this time – is there anything else you would like to add – anything you want everyone to know about?
Fiona: Yeah, the album. Iron Queens in Romania coming up in April, and obviously our new album coming out this year, that’s fantastic. So, do look out for that. But, also, you know, a huge thank you to everyone who’s given us time and support and interest. That’s everything for us.
Giacomo: And great hospitality!
Fiona: Hammerfest has been an amazing place to come to. Thank you so much.
And that was where we left it. It was incredibly interesting to chat to this quite remarkable band, and discover how the logistics of a multi – nation band works, and also how they see the metal world differently to us. It was fascinating and enthralling and I really hope we get chance to speak to the guys again at some point in the future. A massive thanks to them for taking the time out of their schedule to do this for us. Don’t forget to check them out, and keep an eye out for the new album – we are certainly excited for that!
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
Interview with Dead Label – Hammerfest X 17.03.2018
One band that Rick and I were looking forward to talking to at Hammerfest were Dead Label, a riff laden Metalcore band from Celbridge, Ireland. Many things interest us about this band, including the fact that they are only a three piece, the fact that they have a female drummer, and the fact that they did a spectacular video last year for their single release. We were intrigued to find out their views on gigging, writing, and that video, so we sat down with Claire (Drums), Danny (Guitar) and Dan (Bass / Vocals) for a chat.
So, who are Dead Label? How did you get together? Where did you start from, and when did it all come together?
Danny: Well me and Claire have been playing together forever – since we were about 14, but we chopped and changed a lot of members. The first time we were actually a proper metal band, we were a band called VX. We had five members, then we split, and we couldn’t really find anybody else with the same kind of commitment, so it was just me, Dan, and Claire and we said, ‘fuck it, we’ll try it as a three piece and see how we go!’ That was about 10 years ago!
Claire: When we were in band previously, we were looking for a bass player and Dan applied. When we went to pick him up for his try outs, he was outside waiting with all his bass gear ready to go and it was like, ‘ok, that’s the guy!’, and he’s been here ever since! And then we found out he could do vocals to and that was it!
Do you like playing as a three piece then?
Dan: Yeah – we have a very, very…… strange relationship, where the three of us know what is going on the whole time! It’s a rare thing to get in a band. We all know exactly what’s going on and how each other’s doing without a single word being spoken. I think if we were to add another person into that mix, they wouldn’t get it. We did try out a second guitarist a couple of years ago and it just didn’t work. The void in the room was just off. Yeah ok the sound was bigger, but it just wasn’t the same, so we just stuck with the three of us, and we’re all fully committed, so that’s the way it is.
Is that how you approach writing songs as well then?
Danny: Yeah, well I think we are kind of old school by today’s standards, but we just get in a room and jam. We don’t really do this sending each other riffs, or work over laptops or anything. We just plug in and jam.
Dan: We kind of judge it off the reaction, you know, we jam a riff and your like ‘yeah that works’. We practice two or three times a week, either just running through the set, or writing, and it comes together.
Claire: Yeah if there is a week where one of us is away or something it’s just bad – we are texting all the time like ‘eeeek’.
Dan: Yeah sometimes it is not so much that we want to, it’s that we need to do it three times a week to keep it tight.
I suppose as well when there is only three of you, there is nowhere to hide really.
Dan: Yeah exactly, and we are old school in that sense too. We don’t like to use backing tracks or stems or anything like that – it is literally just the three of us kind of turning up to play at the venue with nothing but our guitars… and drums! We Just play, we don’t need a laptop. We’re not relying on anyone.
Danny: That actually happened to us before. We were playing at Made In Metal, and we were supposed to be borrowing our friends’ gear, but they got held up in traffic or something, so we literally only had our guitars and stage backline, and we were just like ‘Right I’ll plug in to that Marshall amp, you plug in to that one’ and we had a great fucking show!!
Dan: So yeah, we are very traditional in that sense, you know, we play together as a band, we write songs as a band and that’s the way that we do it!
Is it your first time playing Hammerfest, and your first time playing in Wales?
Claire: First time playing in Hammerfest – err, have we played in Wales before… No, I don’t think we have – we spend a lot of time driving through Wales!! But I think this is our very first time playing in Wales.
Dan: No, we did a music video here!
Claire: Yes, thank you, yes, we did the video for Salvation In Sacrifice here – in Cardiff.
Cool! So, what is in the pipeline at the moment – are you working on an album or anything?
Dan: We’re writing at the moment, and we are quite deep into that. We currently have about eight songs that we are very, very happy with. Right now, it is just about manipulating them a bit and putting the finishing touches on them.
Danny: Yeah, the salt and pepper!
Dan: So, once we get home after this we are going to bury our heads in the sand and get back to it and we are hoping to have the album out by probably the end of this year, maybe early next year.
Are you having a break from gigs while you are doing that?
Claire: Kind of. If the right gig comes up then obviously we would say yes, but we’re not actively chasing gigs, because we want to get it finished. With gigs like Hammerfest, you have to be prepared, and you can’t really get lost in writing a song, then practice a set, because it’s two different things. So, if an opportunity comes up like this, we’ll take it, but we’re concentrating more on the writing. We are playing Bloodstock though! And Amplified as well.
Yeah, we are going to be at Amplified so we will get to see you properly then! So, Bloodstock – great festival – how excited are you about playing there? Is it your first time there?
Claire: It’s actually our second time! We played there in 2015, and we are dying to get back! They do a kind of rotation, which is fair, but we’ve got really lucky because we are playing the same day as Gojira, which is one of our favourite bands, so we are going to play hopefully an awesome set and then watch Gojira! You don’t really get much better than that!
That leads us on nicely to the next question – who are your main influences and what inspired you to start making music?
Dan: I think for me and Danny, the routes of it all is Thin Lizzy. That’s were my love of music really started – you know the Renegade album, the Jailbreak album and it was like ‘this is awesome – oh Jesus they’re Irish!’ Then someone gave me the Black album and it was just a slippery slope from there! You know in a few years’ time you find yourself listening to Behemoth!
Danny: Thin Lizzy to Behemoth you know! Yeah, I think in the early days, for me, and Dead Label, the band that really tied it together was Machine Head. I was just fascinated with the heaviness and it’s really what we have been after since – to try and get that heavy sound, without it sounding chaotic. So, Machine Head was at the core of it, but then yeah, Behemoth, Gojira, all sorts – we like everything! I think those big, fat, heavy riffs are the core.
Rick: Yeah, I think your music is really groove laden – you’ve got the harsh vocal, but there’s some real power behind those riffs and I like that – when you can move to the riffs behind the vocals, and I think that’s what you’ve got.
Claire: Yeah that’s it. Machine Head are a humongous influence on me – Dave McClain is just the best drummer in the whole world. But my first drumming influence, way back, besides Animal, was Travis Barker. He was so cool, and I was just fascinated by drums because of him, then I actually got in to heavy metal!
How old where you when you started playing?
Claire: Thirteen or Fourteen I think. I got drums and got into a band two or three days later, but I couldn’t really play! I’ve been in a band ever since!
Dan: Yeah that really makes you up your game, because before I met these guys, I was playing in indie rock bands, you know I was there, into heavy metal with tattoos and stuff, but the only bands I could find were Indie bands and I had to play with them, so your playing little bass licks here and there, but when you get into a metal band, you really have to up your game! And these guys pushed me to be a better musician.
One thing I wanted to ask you is what is the metal scene like in Ireland? Is it difficult to get gigs? We interviewed Baleful Creed recently and they said it was really tough – people go to the bigger bands, but people don’t want to come out for the small gigs. Do you find this?
Dan: Yeah that is true to a certain point, but you can get lucky as well – you know when the stars align, and people want rock bands – when we first started, on a Friday and Saturday night in Belfast, you always played to two or three hundred people and they were there for the music. It kind of fell by the wayside a bit when everybody lost their jobs, but it is starting to come back now. You do find maybe local bands, the room is half full, but bands like Architects will come and they’ll play in the bigger venues and they’ll sell it out. It’s a little disheartening but it’s kind of just the way it is.
Claire: Yeah, you kind of just have to fight through it. There are bands playing gigs, and there are good bands playing gigs and its getting more and more people starting bands and taking it seriously. I think it will get better, it’s just people don’t have the money to go to gigs all the time.
Dan: In fairness to the promoters in Dublin who are bringing all these bigger bands in, unless it is a package tour, they will always make a spot for a local band, which is great. And once you get in there, if you do a good job, you’ll get another one, so it’s kind of up to the band at that point. And that leads to other things – you know you could be playing one place, and someone will come up to you and say, ‘Oh yeah! I saw you playing with Architects last week’, so it does have that effect as well.
Danny: Yeah – the quality of bands is really, really good. There’s no shortage of talent. There are those odd nights where a bar might only be half full, but it’s not all the time. Overall, it’s pretty good.
Rick: So, I wanted to bring up this video you did, with the Jonestown connection. I was ten when that actually happened and there is a lot of similarities to the actual events in the video, and I wondered who came up with the concept and everything?
Dan: It was the directors of the video. We wrote the song and originally it was just meant to be a demo, and we were listening to it one day and we were like ‘with a little bit more work this could be a fucking good single’, just because it had been a while since people had had any new music. And that then escalated and we decided that if we were going to do it, we may as well do it properly and do a music video for it! We found the guys at Crooked Gentlemen and we gave them the song and they came up with the idea for the video to the music – so it was kind of like art inspiring art in a way.
What did you think when they came up with it?
Dan: We kind of just like rolled with it!
Danny: Yeah, we saw the other stuff they were doing, and it was class, so we just said go for it, and just went all in.
Claire: we didn’t even realise how much detail they were going to go in to! All we were told was there was going to be a performance day – a day where we needed to get some family into a room, so we just said, ‘come for a few hours and sit in this room’. Then we get there, and they had this unbelievable actor, and we were there for the whole day and they had them doing exorcisms and all this mad stuff, but everyone enjoyed it!
Dan: There were parts of it when they were doing stuff and we were standing back, like the bit where they drink the poison, and we were like ‘What the Fuck?!!!’ We had no idea that was happening! It was awesome!!!
Rick: Yeah it is an awesome video!
Claire: The guys that did it, they are actually becoming so big now – like in a couple of months’ time I don’t think you will be able to get them cos they are in such high demand. So, they deserve all the credit really, we just wrote the song.
Rick: Yeah but if they hadn’t had the song, they wouldn’t have come up with the idea!
Danny: Yeah in fairness they were really stoked when they heard the song and they put all their effort into it.
And that was were we had to leave it, as the band had to be whisked away to do another interview. It was great chatting with them and hearing their ideas on things. We could quite happily have carried on for ages. We would really like to thank Claire, Dan and Danny for taking time out of their schedule, on a very cold day, to sit and chat with us for so long. Make sure you check them out and have a watch if you are at Amplified Festival in July, or Bloodstock in August. We will, as ever, keep you posted when they announce the release of their new album, which we will be very much looking forward to. In the meantime, for more info, or to watch the awesome video for their single, ‘Pure Chaos’, check out the links below:
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
Interview with Louis Clarke from Callus 01/04/2018
This weekend, on Easter Sunday to be precise, we here at Ever Metal HQ had the great pleasure of catching up, via Skype, with Louis Clarke, lead singer / guitarist with up and coming Northern Metallers, Callus. We were really excited to speak to him about all things Callus, after being totally blown away by them at Hammerfest X in March. We all settled down with a brew (Louis had a particularly metal mug!!!) and probed Louis on life, the universe and everything (to do with the band that is!) …
So, for people who haven’t heard of Callus, give us a brief history of the band – where did you all meet, and what brought you together?
Well it started in high school. I was in high school and I was a loser, so in my break, I would go and sit in the IT room. I was hanging in there with a few friends, and this kid comes in, he’s called Ben Wormwell, and he sits down at the computer next to me and I say, ‘hey Ben, look at this internet game I am on – it’s called Boobah Zone! So, I showed him that and we were playing that together and he said ‘hey, I like System Of A Down’, and I said ‘yeah I like Metallica’, and we started sharing music and stuff. Then there were many misadventures between then and now!!! We started jamming outside of school, and we enjoyed the same kind of music, so we started writing riffs. A few drummers came and went, but I knew that I wanted to join a serious band. I had been in a band prior – it was like a hard rock band, but it wasn’t serious at all, and I knew I wanted to push it further. So, me and Ben had been jamming for a while, and we named ourselves Callus, and got a gig. That first gig was in Preston in November 2013, and we have been working on it since then. That gig was an absolute disaster!! It was SOO bad!! Like I say, we have had numerous drummers come and go over the years, but Ryan joined us about half a year ago now and we have picked up the material again and it is solid now. Obviously, we have the three people, and there are three separate lives to take into account, you know, everyone has got different things going on, but we have settled with Ryan, and he’s very happy and that makes us very happy.
He is a great drummer.
Thank you – yeah honestly, he floored us when we started jamming – we were like ‘he actually wants to join our band?!’ We couldn’t believe it!! He is very professional, and it doesn’t even stop with his drumming – obviously we are working on the album and he’s got a home studio set up and he is just as good behind the desk as he is behind the drums! He’s just a crazy talented dedicated guy, and he has got a place in Callus now and it is very good!
So where did the name ‘Callus’ come from?
I had a few big sheets of band names, or song name ideas, and a few lyrics, and we were just jamming one time in our bedrooms, and we thought, ‘lets have a look at the names’, and it was Ben who picked it – it was on the sheet of many ideas, and he went down the list and saw it and went ‘We’re calling it Callus! It’s called Callus!’ and I was like ‘Sick! Sounds good!’! We knew that we wanted a one-word name. I think some of the best band names are just one word, you know, it’s clear – Pantera, Metallica, Megadeth – it’s just straight to the point, and I think that is what our music represents. It’s fairly straight to the point – it’s pretty simple stuff really! It’s not majorly complex, so we’re not going to have seven or eight words in our band name.
How about song writing – who takes charge there, or is it more of a whole group thing?
Well, the primary bulk of the material has been from stuff that I have written. Most of the lyrics have been from myself, because I do most of the vocals, but Ben has been doing lyrics on a bunch of songs that are his and writing the songs as well. He comes to me sometimes with an idea and we jam it on acoustics and then it morphs into a live element, you know with amps and electric! He’s coming up with stuff that I don’t even think of! So, it’s me and Ben primarily, but the great thing with Ryan coming in now is he’s actually been writing as well, which is really good. He’s got a quite a different taste of music – obviously he is in to his metal – but he likes a lot of bands that me an Ben aren’t necessarily big fans of, and it is great because he is bringing in another element, and there are going to be a few highlights of that on the album, because the songs are a mix of the songs that we have already got that aren’t committed to studio and some new ones as well!
Do you tend to write the lyrics first then add the music, or does the music come first and you put lyrics to it?
For us it always starts with a riff. We have a catalogue of hundreds of riffs that aren’t committed to songs – just little bits that sound good. Then, we sit down and kind of start linking the riffs together, and we build a song that way, musically, first. Then lyrics always come last in our process. A lot of it is working of syllables – how the riff and the rhythm feel, because we’re not the most complex song writers – it’s like Sabbath – a lot of the vocals follow the riff, and that’s a dynamic that we really like. They are one of our favourite bands. So yeah – lyrics come last. I do write a lot of the lyrics – Ben’s done a few, and I have written a few for Ben to perform – like the last song we did at Hammerfest was called ‘The Root Of All Evil’, and I wrote the lyrics to that but Ben’s got such a rough gnarly voice, I was just like ‘Ben, you’ve got to sing it!’ It suits his voice!
Where do you get your inspiration for lyrics?
I do a lot of reading. I like a lot of Stephen King, but I love old literature – H G Wells and stuff – anything really imaginative. So, it is a combination of stuff like that, just for that mentality and way of thinking, quite outside the box stuff. But then it is primarily life experience and all from deep within my mind!! From some deep dark recess under the hat!! Yeah so, a combination of life experiences – stuff that maybe Ben has told me that has upset him or made him happy – but it is quite open to interpretation though. One thing we want to do is get the lyrics printed for the album and we want people to read the lyrics and interpret it themselves. I would never go to someone and say, ‘this Callus song is about this!’ – We don’t want to be like that at all I have my own interpretation, but we want people to apply their own life experience to it. I think it is open to interpretation in that way. We are doing it from the heart and hopefully that resonates with people who listen to it, and it makes a connection with them and they get something out of it too.
So, the first time you popped onto our radar was, indeed, at Hammerfest X earlier this month. Was this your breakthrough gig?
I think so yes. As I said, we have been plugging away at it for a good few years now, but Hammerfest was next level! I definitely think that was our big shot. It’s just a case now of sticking at it and hoping to get more slots like that and play in different places, and the same place (!) and just keep trucking on.
We, I think, echoed everyone else in the room in thinking ‘wow, these guys are great’. How did you find the reception there?
We were astounded! We felt good about it anyway. Naturally there were some nerves because it was a big gig. But I think the likes of yourselves being there, and the general reception we got; we were blown away by it! And we are still in awe of it because everyone was so great about it and everyone seemed to enjoy it – we haven’t heard anything bad about it. We had people coming up to us around the festival saying, ‘argh we really enjoyed it’ and that was fantastic, just to see people so happy – it made our weekend! It made our career!! So far!
When we watched you perform at Hammerfest, one thing that we noticed was how tight you were together and, considering there are only three of you in the band, how much stage presence you had – you seemed to fill the stage. Has it been difficult, with the number of drummers going through, to get that tightness?
Yeah with drummers coming and going over the years, that’s been very detrimental to the progress of the band. In the past it has been like one step forward, two steps back, which has been really unfortunate. But, me and Ben are resolute in the knowledge that we are going to be doing this for years, and luckily we have found a third guy now who has the same vision as us, so now it is three guys going forwards, and I think that is why it has come up to the next level, because finally we have reached that point where we’re all on the same page, we all want the same thing, and we’re all going for it together. It comes in to what we said before about Ryan – he is a very skilled player and he just boosted us. It has been inspiring to play with him.
Have you ever toyed with the idea of adding any more members, or are you just happy with three?
We are happy with three at the moment, but all I would say is that we are never going to be set in our ways, you know, we’re open to any ideas. If ever the three of us thought, ‘Yes, we want to bring an extra element in to the band’, then we would do that, because its our band! And I think we are free to do that! There won’t be any didgeridoo players or bagpipes or anything like that though!!
Now, you have a couple of big gigs coming up in the next week – the ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ semi-final and ‘Mammothfest: The Best Band’ before that – are you nervous about those and what they could lead to? (CHECK OUT THE EVENT LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE INTERVIEW)
We naturally get nervous when there a fair few people turn up, like anyone else – it can be like ‘woah there’s a fair crowd here tonight!!’, but we enjoy what we do so much and we are just excited for them – any opportunity, whether it be in the big festivals like Hammerfest, or Metal 2 The Masses in Carlisle – cos that’s at ‘Club Rock’ and we’ve never played there before so it is a new adventure, and we know the majority of the bands that are already on it, so it’s a good night in itself and that is always the aim for us. We want each individual night to be the best it can be all the time. Obviously Metal 2 The Masses and the Mammothfest one gives us the potential of playing these big festivals, which would be amazing, but for us we focus on the gig at hand, and then we move on to the next gig and see what comes our way and push for what we can. So, yeah, a little bit of nerves because it is the semi final for Metal 2 The Masses, but we are looking forward to it – we are going to get in there and do our thing, as we always do!
So, you have mentioned the album a couple of times – when’s it coming out?!
Well, we’ve done all the guide tracks! So, we’ve got all the material recorded in demo format, so it is just a case now of getting in and doing all the final instruments and stuff, which is going to take a while, because we are busy people outside of band, but we are hoping for a release towards the end of this year. We have had one or two labels who have potentially been interested, so it might be January. But, it will be ready when it’s ready. We want to take our time so that it is ready – we’re not going to rush anything. We want it to be proper so that we can stand by it, because it is our debut full length release and we want to be able to stand by it until the end of time and that is the goal! But we have got a name for it and the art work for it! So, we’re getting there! Progress is happening!!
Excellent! Can’t wait to hear it! Looking forward, what is your ‘next step’ career goal with the band – where do you want to take it to now?
Well we have talked about touring for a while now. I think we are trying to get something together for the end of the year. Sort of like a bit of a mini tour – try and get up and down the country a bit – that would be nice. I think that the next step for us is really getting out on the road and doing that, because we do gigs everywhere we can – we kind of have them dotted around and stuff, so we would like to push it a bit more. There is that and obviously the album. Once that is released, if we do a tour, we want to be really pushing that. We want to support that as much as we can and get it out there. So yeah – more things, bigger and better things, and just more gigs in general I think, and more releases!
The ultimate goal I supposed is to make this your career rather than anything else your career isn’t it!
Yeah of course!
To wrap up our chat today, we would like to ask you a question, that whilst unrelated to metal, is a question that we always like to ask, and is very important – Jaffa Cake – cake or biscuit?!
It is 100% a cake definitely! The clue is in the name! No basically I think a biscuit is hard, or it has to have a certain amount of crunch to it, but a Jaffa Cake is soft, it’s squidgy, you know – like a cake! So that is what I would say!!
It was our absolute pleasure to chat to Louis today, and we are very grateful that he took time out of his schedule to answer our questions. These guys are three really genuinely great guys with a superb passion and drive that will take them a long way. We are going to be eagerly awaiting the album and highly recommend that you all check them out too. To make that a little easier, all the links you need are below – happy listening folks!
MAMMOTHFEST: THE BEST BAND HEAT 4, APRIL 5th LIVE ROOMS, CHESTER
METAL 2 THE MASSES SEMI-FINAL2, APRIL 7th CLUB ROCK, CARLISLE
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
I have been a fan of Riot ever since I first heard Flight of the Warrior a few years ago and getting the chance to interview them was a dream come true for me. The band have had some ups and downs over years but have come through it fighting. Here I talk to them about some of those tumultuous years.
Hi, I’m Dawn King from Ever Metal. I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all well?
Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview. We are doing well. We have been busy writing and recording our new album, so we have not played out live as much this year as we did the last couple of years. 2018 should be a great year for us and keep us busy!
Ok, being the huge Riot fan that I am this is a bit of a dream for me, but, for those who have been hiding in a remote cave for the past forty years, can you give us a quick background of the band?
Bursting out of New York City with three ground-breaking albums in quick succession ‘ROCK CITY’ (Capitol), ‘NARITA’ (Capitol) and ‘FIRE DOWN UNDER’ (Elektra), RIOT quickly became one of the biggest metal bands in the world. Stunning performances in the UK at Castle Donington and Wacken Festivals and support slots with Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Rush, Kiss to name and few cemented their reputation as the hottest ticket to see.
With the Eighties developing into a metal-fest, a new-look new-sound RIOT bounced back transforming from an edgy hard rock band into a power metal assault and released the widely-acclaimed release ‘THUNDERSTEEL’ (Sony) and RIOT was reborn! ‘THUNDERSTEEL was followed by with the jaw-dropping conceptual album ‘THE PRIVILEGE OF POWER’ (Sony) featuring an elite list of guest performers (Rainbow’s Joe Lynn Turner, Tower of Power horns and Saturday Night Live band leader G.E Smith).
RIOT’s classic ‘Thundersteel’ line-up reformed for a limited reunion in 2009 and delivered another ground breaking disc ‘IMMORTAL SOUL’. Released by major metal heavy weights Spv/ Steamhammer & Avalon/ Marquee, and a successful Tour with performances on the prestigious Royal Caribbean 70,000 Tons of Metal oceanliner concert and appearances at Sweden Rock and Metalway festivals solidified RIOT’s long sought after return a success, but success doesnt come without tragedy. RIOT‘s journey has never been easy, with personal changes and the untimely deaths of frontmen Guy Speranza, Rhett Forrester as well as the passing of long time guitarist Mark Reale who finally lost his life long battle with Crohns disease in 2012.
Through the storm of life’s obsticles the guys successfully continue to raise the flag in honor of the RIOT legacy of music, fallen band mates and the fans who have been demanding RIOT for years. This new onslaught released the highly acclaimed comeback record “Unleash the Fire” which entered the Hard Rock 100 Billboard charts at 75 and Rolling Stone Magazine gives it a 4 out of 5 and most media including Burrn! Rock Hard and Aardshock calling it album of the year! This new line up Riot V consisting of original long time members Donnie Van Stavern and Mike Flyntz joined by amazing newcomers Todd Michael Hall, Frank Gilchriest and Nick Lee headlined sold out shows in Germany, Greece, Spain and Italy and rocked the prestigious festivals Sweden Rock Festival (Sweden), Rock Fest Barcelona (Spain), Loud Park (Japan), Keep It True, Metal Assault, Headbangers Open Air (Germany), Fall of Summer (Paris), Metal Apocalypse, Bang Your Head with Twisted Sister/ Anthrax, Metal Days with Megadeth/ Volbeat, two appearances onboard 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruiseship Festival and top it off with appearences with with Judas Priest, Motley Crue and Def Leppard, Journey to name a few!
With reissues on Sony, EMI & Metal Blade, RIOT are consistantly on radio and metal charts worldwide, as well as being a part of New York Citys Top 20 Most Influencial Metal Bands, 100 Best Metal Albums of All Time, 100 Best Metal Bands of All Time and numerous mentions on VH1’s That Metal Show with Eddie Trunk and staff sighting RIOT as one of the inovaters of Metal music in America and beyond! Whew!
I have heard you being described as one of the unluckiest bands in heavy metal! How would you react to this?
It depends on your perspective. There are many bands that make no mark at all and Riot has been fortunate enough to influence other musicians and reach many people around the world throughout a very long career. Although, I understand the question, because even though Riot has had successful albums, the band never really broke big enough to turn their success into a lot of money for Mark Reale or the others involved. There have also been unfortunate events that made things more difficult, like original lead singer Guy Speranza leaving the band after their 3rd successful album or management difficulties, etc.
There have been numerous changes in personnel over the years including the untimely deaths of vocalists Guy Speranza and Rhett Forrester, and also that of founding member guitarist Mark Reale. How have you had to adapt as a band as a result of these changes?
Throughout his time with the band, founding guitar player Mark Reale, dealt with a lot of line up changes. He maintained a collaborative environment, so the bands sound evolved over time depending on the members involved. That is a big reason why there was a shift in the bands sound from a more hard rock sounding heavy metal to a power metal sound on Thundersteel (1988) when bassist Donnie Van Stavern start contributing his song writing talents.
Mark’s passing in 2012 was a big blow to the band, but Donnie worked with Mark as early as 1984 and current guitarist, Mike Flyntz, has been in the band since 1989, so each brings something new to the band, but also have long enough history with the band to be true to the original music.
Obviously the passing of Mark must have been very hard for you, on a personal and professional level. How did you find the strength to regroup and make the comeback you did?
(Donnie) It took me awhile to decide to come back. Before Mark’s untimely passing he stayed with me and we would write music and discuss the future of the band. There was also talk of carrying on as he new he was sick. Mike actually played most the guitar on Immortal Soul, because Mark was to sick to play. Through a lot of soul searching, chats with his father Tony, and Tony’s comment of “Don’t let the music die with my son” we decided to forge ahead. I started managing the band at that time and contacted the labels and agents and everyone was supportive and still onboard. It helped us heal and kept the spirit alive for him and the fans
I read it was at the request of Mark’s family that you laid the name “RIOT” to rest. How has this affected your popularity and reputation as a band? And have there been any legal issues with this name change?
Tony Reale, Mark’s father, wanted his son’s music to live on, so he is very supportive of the band continuing. He didn’t want the name retired so much as he just wanted something to signify the change. Donnie and Mike wanted to do something as well, as a sign of respect for Mark. The Roman numeral V was added to signify this as the firth era of Riot, since Todd is the fifth singer. There are no legal issues because Tony owns the name and passed it along to us, so we actually own it now.
The album “Unleash The Fire” which you released in 2014 was the first without Mark. How did that make you feel individually and as a band?
(Donnie) We knew we had to make an incredible record after Mark’s passing, so my mindset was to create an album with Fire Down Under and Thundersteel style combined. Mark taught me a lot about Riot style of writing, so basically I just followed his advice and created what I think he would call a great Riot album and be proud of.
Your sound has changed over the years. Are you happy with the direction the band is going in now?
(Donnie) Riot incorporated a lot of different styles. Guy era was edgier metal/ rock, Rhett era was kind of southern hard rock, Tony was metal and DiMeo was a more Rainbow-like bluesy style. When I decided to continue, I went with my era and style – riffy Power metal with an upper register singer and continued to write in that vein. Todd Michael Hall fit right in and saw the vision.
So 2017 saw the re-release of Inishmore/Shine On and Sons of Society. Why did you decide to re-release these particular albums?
(Donnie) Metal Blade records approached us about the reissues as they do quite a few, so we thought it would be a good idea to release these for the oldsters and maybe some that haven’t heard these. These titles were contractually free and clear and the money goes to Mark’s estate, so it helps his father Tony out as well
Are there plans for any new material to be released?
We are currently writing and recording our new album and hope to have it released shortly after the start of 2018. We recently switched labels so the release got pushed back a bit.
What about a tour? I have seen you have some festival appearances this year, is there any chance you will be coming to british soil? Bloodstock next year maybe??
We are definitely looking to book more shows to support the new album, so we hope to play shows in the UK during 2018. We have Belgium and Spain and a small tour towards the end of 2017. We have talked to Bloodstock and others. We are confirmed for Loud Park, Rock Fest Barcelona, Sweden Rock, Headbangers Open Air (Headline), and yes we will finally return to the UK!
Speaking of festivals, which is your favourite festival to play and why?
It is difficult to pick a favorite, because they are all special for different reasons. The Keep It True Festival in Germany is one that sticks out, because they limit the size and it is always packed. Rockfest Barcelona was great time too and Loud Park in Japan has been a great show for us as well. There are too many to name.
There has been talk of heavy metal dying. What are your views on this? Do you think it will ever die out completely?
There was a time when heavy metal was very huge in the USA and I think the fickle nature of popular culture will prevent that from happening again or at least not for a long time. However, there are still a lot of heavy metal fans around the world, despite the fact that the music world now consists of so many different little niches. I am quite sure some version of heavy metal will always be around.
The rock and roll lifestyle and heavy metal kind of go hand in hand but what I would like to know is…..what’s it gonna take to make you guys riot?
A great 2018, electricity, a flight to your location, a bottle of tequila and thousands of screaming fans Rioting!!
Well, thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?
(Donnie) Just announced, RIOT will be inducted into the prestigious Heavy Metal History Hall of Fame 2018! Past inductee’s include Scorpions, Randy Rhoads, Lemmy, Slayer and others!
Soooo THANK YOU and all the amazing fans that have supported us and stuck with us throughout the long years because we wouldn’t be here without you! We will see you soon!
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
Those of you who have read my previous reviews will have guessed that I quite like Mason Hill!! So, it was my immense pleasure to be able to do an interview with them recently, and although finding time to do a face to face proved pretty much impossible, the guys were more than happy to answer my questions via the medium of email, with Matthew Ward, their Bass player and face puller extraordinaire, being the group spokesman – and here are the results.
Your performance at Rockwich absolutely blew me away in a way that no band has in a long time! I was instantly a fan. For the people that haven’t yet heard about you, tell us all about who you are and what you do?
Thanks a lot! We really enjoyed that show. For anyone that hasn’t heard of us we are a hard rock band based in Glasgow. We have been touring/gigging in our current line-up since February of 2016, but some of the songs have been played live for a few years before that. James and Scott started writing together when they were still in high school, but I would say once the line-up was completed and the EP was released is when we really hit the ground running and started to aim bigger! The best way to hear us (or any band for that matter) is on the live stage; we work really hard to bring the most exciting show we can to any crowd we play for.
You have a very classic American Rock sound – Who are your main influences? Who inspired you most to get up and say, ‘That is what I want to do!’?
The main influences are different for every member. That “Mason Hill sound” starts with the riff master, James, who seems to listen to everything. Obviously a lot of classic rock shapes the sound, but we try and bring a modern sound to all of the tracks as well. We are all big fans of Alter Bridge and Black Stone Cherry etc, but our average travel playlist ranges anywhere between Metallica and Bruno Mars (maybe shouldn’t admit that one!) depending who is controlling the songs. As for who inspired me to want to get up on stage, it would have to be watching Flea from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. After watching him play at 12 years old, I knew I wanted to pick up the bass and play in a band.
You came down to Welsh Wales in December, to Porthcawl, and to the awesome Tivoli venue, Buckley, which we were at – was this your first trip to Wales?
We will be down in Wales a few times in the coming months. It won’t be our first time; we played last year at Hard Rock Hell after winning the Highway to Hell competition. We opened up the main stage on Friday to a near full room. That show was one of the highlights of last year’s shows so we are really excited to get back to Wales and party with the crazy Welsh fans again.
Your gig in Porthcawl was at Planet Rockstock – how much were you looking forward to sharing the stage with the likes of Bernie Marsden, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Thunder?!
The line-up to this year’s festival was amazing, it’s always a pleasure to share a bill with artists you’ve grown up admiring and being influenced by. The great thing about these festivals is the fact they are letting the new kids on the block like ourselves on the bill and show people, the fans, what we have to offer.
You had a series of gigs in the lead up to Christmas – was this a build up to the release of your first album? Do you have a release date yet for that?
The tour was just an end of year run in celebration of the release of the first video, and to end the year on a high with some great shows. The album is on its way! We promise! Everyone’s demoing their respective parts. There are lots of really cool things happening in the background on the lead up that will make the wait for the debut worth it. We should have it out in either the second or third quarter of next year we hope.
I think you will be huge – Where would you like to see yourselves in five years?
In 5 years’ time we all really hope to be doing this on a full time and international scale. The growth of the band over the past year has been great, so we are all working towards the same goal of bringing the best quality music we can to our fans and really stretching further afield.
The ever-growing festival circuit is already shaping up to be great next year – are you on the bill for any yet?
The answer, there is… there is no answer. We have lots planned for next year, the album is the main priority, but we will certainly take some time out for shows and festivals. Nothing we can announce at the moment. But keep your eyes peeled. (NB Since we did this interview, Mason Hill have been announced for the main stage at Amplified festival in July – a fact about which I am majorly stoked! Beth)
You all have an awesome stage presence, and that for me is what makes you stand out from the crowd, but who is in charge?! Who is the ‘dad’ of the group – the one who makes sure everyone has their stuff, and tells everyone where to stand, etc!?
Me!! I am the boss of everyone…(not true) The live show is quite a spontaneous thing. There’s no one telling us where to move etc, we just have a great on stage chemistry. Off stage the most organised person has to be James! Unless he has had a few to many shandies!!!
You are signed to Frontiers – an amazing label to be with for such a young band – how did that come about?
Our management ‘Shock City’ proposed the idea to us initially. Our plans were for a second EP. But our management were confident we had the tracks to shop us to Frontiers. It worked, so I guess they were right! They are a great label with great bands on the roster, so it’s a privilege to work with them.
If you could be main support for any band in the world right now, who would that be?
I think in terms of an ideal pairing of bands , it would be the likes of Black Stone Cherry or Shinedown. In terms of dream band to support, for me it would be a band like Iron Maiden or Kiss, just so I could watch Eddie fighting the band from backstage every night.
What has been your favourite, or most memorable gig to date?
To date it has to the headline show in August at the Glasgow Garage. We have played some amazing shows this year like the Boardie Takeover at Download, but there is always something special about playing a venue in your hometown and getting that kind of response.
Do you have a wish list of venues you would love to play?
One of my Bucket list venues is actually on this tour. We play Glasgow Barrowlands, which I have wanted to play since I saw my first show there when I was 13. That will be a special night for sure. Having said that, I would not turn down a show in Madison Square Garden or Wembley Stadium either!
Is music now your full-time job, or are you all still gainfully employed in other professions?
I wouldn’t use the word gainfully to describe my employment, but yes music is the main priority but other work pays the bills. We aim to remedy that over the next couple of years however.
What’s worse – Fangirls or Facebook trolls?!
I’ll let you know when I have some fan girls!! Applications are open!!
And finally, completely unrelated to music, but none the less a valid and well debated argument – The Jaffa Cake – cake or biscuit?!
A question that has haunted Britain for some time. But it’s a cake. It’s in the name. Biscuits crunch Jaffa cakes do not. End of argument.
Once again, I would like to say a huge thanks to Matt, and all the Mason Hill boys, for taking the time to provide me with the answers to my questions, although you are wrong on the Jaffa cake front, but I will let that go, seeing as I would also like to apply for the position of Mason Hill Fan girl #1 – I feel I have all the correct qualities for the position in equal measures!
I for one really can’t wait to see more of these guys as often as possible. Check them out anywhere you can. Here are some useful links for you to get you started:
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
About a month ago (I’m slow, I know – hey I’ve been busy!) I had the great pleasure of interviewing John and Fin, the guitarist and front man and founding members of Northern Ireland heavy rockers Baleful Creed. We had a very jolly 40 minutes on Skype, covering everything from Buckfast to Jaffa Cakes. So here it is:
Ever Metal: For those who haven’t heard of you, can you give us a brief history of the band. Where you came from, what you do and where you are now?
John Allen: Well it started back in 2009. Previously Fin and me had just been dabbling about with a covers band, nothing too serious, it was just a way to get out of the house, crank up the volume on the amps and the guitars and just sort of have a night out! We only did a few gigs as the cover band – probably because we weren’t very good!!
Fin Finlay: No, I think it was probably because we picked songs that we enjoyed playing, not what the public wanted!
John: Yeah, we didn’t do songs like ‘Summer Of 69’ or anything like that!
Fin: We didn’t do the stuff that people wanted to hear – so the covers band was like playing an original set – people going ‘we’ve never heard of any of this!’
John: Yeah, then just at some point, Fin came to me with this disc of four or five demo songs that he had put together. I was fairly reticent of actually listening to it because I didn’t want to! When did he write a song? You know! But he totally surprised me and that ‘first material’ morphed into what became the debut EP. That hooked straight away on his style of writing. I think I had the guitar tone he wanted so we put that together. Plus, I had the band name as well!
Fin: Yeah you had that from a long time ago!
John: He had to get me on board I think! From that, that pushed me into starting to write stuff so it then developed into what we are and who we are now.
Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Fin: I can answer his – Black Sabbath!! I have a really wide range of music I like – from heavy metal to… When I was about 8 or 9 my cousin gave me some LPs – Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Judas Priest – stuff like that, and ever since then I’ve just always liked rock. It wasn’t like ‘Oh I was in to rock last summer and I’m into hip hop this summer’, once you go into rock, it’s in your blood. It’s not a phase. It’s a love.
John: Queen was the first band that got me in to listening to rock. I was watching Top Of The Pops going ‘this is absolute rubbish this stuff’, I had no interest in music at all, but I always sort of knew about Queen, and then when I got my first pay packet, I was thinking about buying an album and it was Queen and it started me down that road.
Fin: Yeah, it was the 80s – people always go on about the 80s and 80s music, and it was horrible! And the style was terrible as well!! I was just jeans, leather jacket and cut offs. I didn’t mind that look, but I didn’t like that whole new romantic thing.
John: Yeah that style of music is probably best just left in the past!!
You have recently released your second album “Seismic Shifter” how is that being received so far?
John: Yeah it went down really well – it’s been a real pleasant surprise for us! We were so shocked to get a first album out! Then to carry on and move in to a second album – at the end of the day this was all started as just a hobby and a bit of fun – but it’s just escalated – like a small snowball rolling down a hill and growing in size and volume as the years go on. So, it was great to get another album out – it was something we probably both thought we would never do again. It was great that we weren’t the one album only and that was it done. It’s great that we have achieved another batch of songs that we could go out and record. And the reception for it has been phenomenal. It’s been out since June and the reviews have all been pretty incredible so we’re exceedingly chuffed with that. It’s been good putting it all together for the last three years or so.
Fin: We had to do that with the new guys coming on board – the two Daves – we had to give them time – they wanted to get out and gig, so they had to learn the first album, then they wanted to gig it, so it took a while before we could actually get writing again. John had a lot of riffs from ages ago anyway, so when we did decide to write another album it was good because the Daves’ influences helped as well.
John: Absolutely, and a lot of people have said there is a definite change – it’s still the Baleful Creed core sound to it, but definitely the grooves have changed and that’s got to be down to the new engine room that’s in place! People are noticing that live and certainly on the record that there’s a wee different set of influences in there, that have just changed the way the final product is and luckily, it’s all been really positive and favourable, so we’re exceedingly chuffed with that.
We have actually commented on that – it definitely does sound different – your live sound appears heavier to your album sound – do you prefer the measured experience of studio recording for an album, or do you prefer the rough and ready of live performance – the heavier, the chunkier, the ‘we can whack it up as much as we want here’?
Fin: Yeah, playing live is really good. That’s what we want to do all the time, but you do have to do new material for the fans and the people listening. You go into the studio and it’s all excitement you know, but it does get a bit tedious after a while! You’re just sitting there waiting and either John or Dave’s laying down bass lines or riffs or something, and its only more fun when you’re doing it yourself!
John: Ey, the studio’s a strange place to be in! For me it’s exceedingly nerve wracking – when you’re playing and everybody’s looking at you and you’re on ‘take 55 of this wee bit’!! Like OCD to get that solo right. Whereas live, you’ve got to get out there, you play it, there’s no room for error. You make wee blips here and there and whatnot, but its raw – you’re feeding off what’s happening in the audience, you’re feeding off the other players in the band, you’re basically feeding off the volume cos you can get out there and get that amp cranked up.
Fin: I would actually love to be out in the crowd to hear that sound because on the stage you don’t hear that sound – you get the monitors, and you hear a bit of volume from your amps, but you don’t hear the overall sound. Some people say, ‘WOW that was really, really loud, I loved it!!’ I’d love to be out there just to hear it!
John: Yeah you can still hear a bit of what is actually going on. Obviously, the studio captures that, but the studio is always going to be quite restrained in a way, where every note needs to be just caught and put down on tape. You’re working to click tracks or whatever, so it’s all quite precise and polished. Going out live, you get that……. You know we’re just a live band at the end of the day, so it does flip over a bit. Certainly nothing changes tuning wise, it’s maybe just the volume that we operate at!
John: Mr Jeffers is a loud drummer so yes, our amps go to eleven in good old Spinal Tap world!
What is the rock and metal scene like in Ireland?
Fin: It’s ok…….!! It’s very good actually. There’s so much talent over here. The only thing is, it’s a small country so everyone’s fighting for a place. We do want to break over and get on to the mainland more because, if you just want to stay in the one wee country, you just do nothing! You can’t get out to a wider audience.
John: It’s very easy to over saturate yourself here. You’re playing to a limited audience. There is a very good hardcore of folk who will come out and support the local music and the local scene here. When you go to a big gig – and our biggest would be the SSE Odyssey which holds 8-10,000, those mainstream rock bands, metal bands crowds don’t filter down into the local scene really, and there are a lot of really good bands and really good albums that are just floating about here in Northern Ireland, because people just don’t seem to want to go out and see what’s on their doorstep. I was like that in my early twenties – all I went to see was cover bands and the big bands that came through – my night out was going out to see what band was playing AC/DC and things like that. Then I discovered a couple of local bands I sort of went ‘Hang on – there is stuff happening on my doorstep that is really good’! I think you just need to be introduced to that, then you actually just start delving in. A lot of people – us included only ever went to big gigs, and then Darren heard Citizens. I think they were supporting Blaze Bayley or someone like that and they just totally blew him away and he was like ‘What the hell’s going on here – they’re from here!!’ And he then started delving in. He set up a local festival, because his son had been really ill in childhood and it was a way of saying thank you to the hospital that had treated him. He put on all the best local talent. It was probably the most successful festival round here and that was from him just seeing one local band and thinking ‘Bloody hell there’s something good going on here on my doorstep!’
Fin: Yeah, his festival would be one of the biggest gigs over here – everyone wants to be part of it – it’s always a really good, big crowd and it’s very successful.
JA: Yeah – apart from that though, nothing like Rockwich, that you were both at, happens over here and for me it’s a big gap in the market. You get your evening gig where there’ll be three or four rock and metal bands on, but we really only have Sunflower Fest here.
FF: But that’s more main stream isn’t it.
John: It’s a bit more eclectic – its indie, its world music and stuff like that – you only get a wee bit of rock and metal coming through. So, there’s a market here for a one dayer, maybe two – day Rock and Metal festival. There’s a wealth of bands here. And there a quite a few Northern Ireland bands punching through onto the mainland, so I think for a wee small country we’re doing alright!
Is it difficult attracting exposure in England, Scotland and Wales? How easy is it for you getting over here to the mainland to play?
John: Well we have been over about three or four times, but it was all Scotland based gigs before. Our first English gig was Rockwich a few months ago. This fella here (Fin) doesn’t fly, so it’s big money heading over with him cos we’ve got to take a ferry and a car!! But we’ve reached the point now where we know we need to get over now and we’ll invest that money just to get over and get reaching the audience. Online you can do so much as well now, you know, you can reach out to people and let them hear the band.
Fin: Yeah years ago it used to be flyers – you used to have to put flyers up or pass them around and just hope that they got to the people who wanted to come and see you! But there wasn’t a big original band scene here in the early nineties – there was a lot of cover bands and stuff.
John: Maybe then it was just we hadn’t discovered that there was all these original bands ourselves – we might have been off radar!! Whereas now we’re more clued in to what’s happening. Certainly, our focus is to listen to our contemporary bands round here.
Who is the song writer, or do you all have a hand in it?
John: It’s a mixture of all of us really.
Fin: We like to write music that we want to listen too.
John: Mostly the second album came about because of somebody bringing riffs into the room – whether that was stuff that Fin had, or myself, you sort of jam it out in the room a bit, then the Daves bring in their influence – they sort of pull and push it whatever way it needs to go, then the vocals will come in on top. This time round everybody was putting their eggs into the mix, whereas before it would have mostly been Fin. We’re all quite open. He will get an idea and tweak it to his own sort of style cos he knows how many syllables he needs to sing in a particular line, so where we might have written a novel, he’ll tone it down to a singable level but keep the gist of what the song is about. So it just goes into a big mixing pot really and gets shoved around until we get an end product that we are all pretty happy with.
What’s next for Baleful Creed? Are you writing still or are you just concentrating on the live stuff?
John: Well, we are heading into a quiet period gig wise, so this will open up the chance for us to get back in writing again. We do only get to meet once a week anyway on an evening because of work commitments and family commitments, so we do only get a couple of hours a week to get into the room and start mixing stuff up. But a goal has been set to try and get a third album out within a couple of years.
Fin: But hopefully make it a wee bit different again.
Thinking forward to that album, and the future; If you could work with one producer in the future, who would that be, or would you self-produce?
Fin: We like producing it ourselves!
John: We’re fairly fortunate that Neil up at Manor Park (Neil Calderwood – Manor Park Studios) knows our sound, and knows the sound that we like, and captures it really well for us. I think that comes through in the reviews that we have got off the album. For me it would be Martin Birch, if he’s still alive, because he is Rainbow, he is Heaven and Hell, he’s all those classic Iron Maiden albums. I’d like to work with Martin Birch.
Fin: I’ll go with what he says!!
John: You can’t do that – you’re more Bob Rock!(Laughing)
If you could do a world tour, what countries would you like to gig in?
John: Errrrr….. All the countries that are connected by land so he doesn’t have to fly!!! I don’t think there are any restrictions really. I would really love to play America – we’ve a lot of good friends and supporters over there – it would be great to just get over and do a gig for them at some point.
Fin: It’s just about financing ourselves, that’s all.
John: Yeah, we run this as an independent thing ourselves, so everything we make is just churned back into the band funds again.
Fin: Yeah nothing goes into our own pockets – it all goes back in for recording, merchandise, it’s like a big wheel that just goes round and round.
John: Yeah and it’s been good fun, and everything we do we can look back on and go, ‘that’s our own achievements’. We’ve never tried to be signed in any way shape or form.
Fin: In this day and age, I don’t think that’s even necessary – I’ve read articles where bands are actually encouraged to market themselves, to do those things themselves and cut out the middle man so to speak. We don’t want to be signed though.
John: Yeah, we have had a couple of approaches in the past and you look at it and think ‘What’s in it for us?’. There’s not a lot of money generated in this industry now, so what we are doing, we want to keep on doing. You invest back into the band and that maybe funds a trip over to the UK or hopefully further afield, hopefully from this new album and getting the merch items out there, but there’s nobody looking over our shoulders going ‘you need to get a record out by such and such a date’, so we can do everything at our own pace with no pressure. At the end of the day this started out as a hobby and it’s maybe not just a hobby any more, but there’s no pressure on us. We’re not going to get into financial difficulties, we’re not going to owe our label money or anything, so we can just do this under our own steam.
Fin: Unless we get a million pound record deal!! That would make us do a record quickly!!
What is your favourite song to play live, and why?
Fin: I Love ‘God’s Fear’, I just love that..
John: Yeah I was just about to say that. ‘Devil’s Side’ for me has a really good feel to it. That, ‘The Wolf’ and ‘Levy’ were the last three to get put together for that new album.
Fin: Yeah and that was nearly dropped!! It’s a wee bluesy feeling, ‘it’s just too simple, it’s maybe not our sort of thing, but we just put it out and it’s become one of people’s favourites…. But for me it would be ‘God’s Fear’.
John: And for me it would be ‘Devil’s Side’ I think.
Fin: I still get a kick out of playing ‘Autumn Leaves’ though. It is the reaction that you get back from the audience – everyone loves it. It’s dark – and I like that.
Give us your best rock’n’roll story – what’s the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you on stage etc?
Fin: For me it would probably be getting completely wasted playing Dublin and making an absolute arse of myself!!
John: Yeah and then you went and re-enacted it again the next time we were in Dublin. You didn’t learn your lesson!!
Fin: Yeah you could get away with that sort of stuff back in the 70s, but not now. I didn’t really think it through.
John: Yeah, the first gig in Dublin wasn’t a good start. I brought my own amp head down, but one of the guys in the other band said, ‘to save yourself bother, just use my rig’, and I blew it in the second song! All the sound just went ffftt. They were playing on, blissfully unaware that I was there, sweat rolling down my face, going ‘WHAT’S GONE ON’!! Trying to find out what the hell had happened! So that was my sheer moment of panic and terror, which I hope to never experience again. Meanwhile, these guys are all stoned and pished out of their heads, because they had taken a road trip to Dublin and I think they had forgotten that they had to play at the end of it! It was a steep learning curve!!
(Note: The band did elaborate further on this, but it may have been incriminating to print it, so we have edited it a little!! Needless to say, after consuming much Buckfast and other concoctions, they were a little worse for wear!)
John:I think that is probably why we have only played Dublin three times and never been invited back!!
Fin: Yeah, I don’t do the whole drinking before a gig thing any more. It’s not enjoyable……. For everyone else there. Maybe for me it is – I thought we were brilliant!!!
John: But it’s a different mindset now. In those early days we were just doing it for fun, but now you know you have got to get up on stage and perform.
Fin: Yeah people want to hear you playing it like the album, they don’t want you to just make stuff up as you’re going along – like Aerosmith – Houston ‘77 – which was woeful!! But the fans didn’t care because they were probably all off their heads as well!!
What would your best advice be for young kids wanting to start a band?
John: Don’t drink before you go on stage!!!!!! Er.. Just enjoy it. Try and get a bit of good equipment because I think that is half the battle – having a good sound before you get up on stage.
Fin: And if you are writing stuff, write stuff that you want to write, not what you think the crowd wants.
John: And don’t mind taking a few hits along the way – you’re not going to please everybody. Some people are going to think you are crap. Don’t take it personally, just get up and try and write another song and see what happens. Just enjoy it for what it is – at the end of the day, you are getting up and you’re playing and if you’re enjoying it, it’s a fantastic hobby / profession to have.
Fin: I would love nothing more than to get up every morning and all I have to do is come up with riffs and lyrics, that would be great. Unfortunately, we have to work!
And finally…Jaffa cake – cake or biscuit?!
Fin: It’s a biscuit.
John: It’s a cake. It’s sponge with chocolate on the top!
Fin: Yeah, but if you go into the supermarket, they are in the biscuit isle!!
John: Yeah, but do you know what the really big clue is? It’s on the box – it says Jaffa CAKE – it doesn’t say Jaffa biscuit!
Fin: What do you guys think?
Beth: Well I’m on the biscuit side!!
Rick: I’m on the cake side!!
Beth: Yeah, we argue about it quite a lot, so we thought we would ask everyone we interview and then collate it!!
Fin: Nah I’m with Beth, it’s a biscuit all the way. Definitely a biscuit.
And that was that. The band did also tell us that they are working on a website, as not everyone uses social media, and that they are looking to book some gigs here on the mainland very soon. Thank you once again chaps for taking time out of packing merch to talk to us here at Ever Metal! We had great fun. If anyone wants to book the guys, which I would highly recommend, or if you just want to check them out, here are all the links you will need!
BALEFUL CREED ARE –
Fin Finlay – Vocals & Guitar
John Allen – Guitar
Davy Greer – Bass & Vocals
Dave Jeffers – Drums
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Soft rock supremo Robin Beck knows a thing or two about music and the business in general, having just released her eleventh studio album, “Love Is Coming”. As a prolific recording artist with a career that has spanned over four decades, she took time out of her busy schedule to share some thoughts on life.
Ever Metal: So, Robin, thank you for taking the time to talk to Ever Metal! Congratulations on studio album number eleven, “Love Is Coming”. Tell us more about it …
Robin Beck: Well, it’s the newest album, it’s on Frontiers Records and we’ve changed the dynamic around a little bit. Normally I write most of the material … my husband James Christian [from House of Lords] co-produced it with Clif Magness, completely did all the tracks and we embellished them. James played on it and Tommy [Denander] played on it. I co-wrote a couple of songs, “Crave The Touch” and “Girl Like Me” and we put our own feel on it. We did this album as three brains, in three different places coming together as one and it was brilliant.
You obviously enjoyed the whole process?
It was the easiest for me as I only had to interpret it, because the songs really mirrored who I am and meant as much to me as my own songs that I’ve been writing over the past couple of years. It was really easy for me, probably harder for them.
Will you be touring to promote the album?
I am planning a tour, if you gave me something to do right now I wold be jumping out of my skin but you know, with the way the world is shaped right now, it’s a little bit tilted, so we really have to organise ourselves very well so as not to get ourselves jammed up in a situation that we can’t pull out of. Europe is very unpredictable these days and I do most of my touring over there. When I do tour over here, lately the weather and the way the world is going, the US is also a bit dodgy. We’re pushing for spring, we were going to do October, but forces were not with us so we are rearranging.
Well, we are living in uncertain times. May I take things back to where you first started – you wrote your first song at around ten years of age, so what drew you into music? It seems like music is all you ever wanted to do?
That’s the answer right there in the question. All I ever wanted to do and all I really knew how to do was what came natural to me and I feel very fortunate that it worked out for me on so many different levels. All of my life I just kept stepping into situations that were real, as opposed to scams; a lot of kids get scammed these days by producers and by ads in magazines, then there is all the rigmarole with YouTube and a lot of – pardon me for saying – very untalented people competing with some very worthy and talented people, so it’s a big, fired-up mess. I feel really comfortable in saying that, from the era that I draw my inspiration from, with the Beatles, the Supremes, Joe Cocker and Janice Joplin, I had so much to draw from and such a colourful start that it was so much built on fantasy and thinking, I can do this. Nobody ever tried to stop me and I honestly never had any bad experiences. It just kept rolling and I kept pursuing and things were just, maybe rightfully or maybe magically, falling in my lap.
It’s a bit of a fairy tale, isn’t it? You knew what you wanted, you went for it and you got it?
Yeah, it took me thirty two years to make the goal, but … (laughs) I was always in the music business, either in a band or in a studio singing backgrounds, or trying to make a record or performing live, getting into commercials … I was always in the arts in one aspect or another, so I never felt the weight, if you know what I mean. I always felt like with every little experience, I was getting a break.
Do you feel that these days it’s a bit of a different ethos? There are a lot of hard workers out there, but there are those that just sit back and think it will happen for them?
Well, I didn’t know how not to put one foot in front of the other to do what I loved doing, it just came very natural. I don’t know if there’s a lot of people sitting out there waiting for it to come, I don’t know that that’s really the case. The way YouTube is and Facebook and all of the social media, I think it’s just a great big sensation that there are people that are deserving who don’t get their due and there are people that are really not deserving but somehow or another because of their social media skills, they get a lot more attention and go viral. I’m not 100% sure that people are sitting there waiting, unless we’re talking about the ‘entitled’ generation, but you know what, every generation goes through their judgement period. Now we have a world of social media and a lot of technology; this is the generation that maybe feels that they don’t have to beat the pavement the way that we did in the seventies, eighties and the nineties and even just recently, when you’ve come from my roots, we don’t know how to do anything other than put the hammer to the nail. We may know technology completely and be very versed at it, but it’s not in our blood to fabricate it through social media and to hype it that way as much as it is to create it and provide it and watch it spin out of control and straight onto the charts, if it’s possible.
Do you think that the proliferation of talent and reality shows fuels the fire, when people think it’s going to happen for them just like that?
Oh, there’s a lot of broken hearts. I’ve seen those crowds and I’ve seen the kids from my daughter, when she was in grade school and high school and all of her friends, they all went to art school and out for those sort of things. I’ve been to one or two where I’ve watched with friends and even with my own kid and said we’re not sitting through this and we’re not going through this with tens of thousands of people. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, come on, I mean look what happened for Kelly Clarkson and for Carrie Underwood. You know, what they say is the cream always rises to the top so no matter what vehicle that you have to take to get there, you have to own it, so if X Factor and American Idol are going to be out there and they’re gonna go through from the clowns to the crowns, then so be it. If the parents can handle it and the kids really want it – that may be their only way to get from Oklahoma to the stage, it’s not so easy. It’s a good thing, talent shows are always good – we’ve had them since the beginning of time.
Do you ever feel jaded by the music business – that you might want to hang up the microphone and not do this anymore?
(Laughs) Of course! When I had my daughter I was ready to hang up my tap shoes; I only wanted to be her Mom and I had made my greatest achievement; I created another life. My goal in life is always happiness and health over money and I was never trying to be famous, ever, maybe that’s why I’m not as well-known as I should be worldwide. It was never my goal, it’s not who I am and I never did it for that reason; I did it because I loved doing it. Occasionally it does wear your soul down, but the good news is that when inspiration comes knocking, you have someone like Clif Magness who comes [back] into your life after two decades and says, hey do you want to write a song with me or hey, I’ve got songs for you. It regenerates and the spark is ignited. If it’s in your blood and it’s real, it would be pretty hard to stop, unless your health stopped you.
If I may mention THE song (“First Time”, which was used in a Coca Cola advert in 1988) – that was massive for you and you stayed at number one for ages. How did you feel about the song at the time, because it kind of launched your mainstream career?
It’s absolutely true that it was my breakthrough as a recording artist because I couldn’t have gone as far as I did, I mean as far as I know, because that’s the way it happened, I can’t say it might have happened another way because it didn’t. Let’s face it, it started out as a commercial and the requests coming into the BBC and Radio 1 were astronomical. When the request came to me to come and sing it, I came in and I sang it as a job, if you will. It was like, I did the commercial, I’m thrilled to pieces that it’s doing so well, I’m thrilled that I have an audience because at the time I didn’t know if I would ever get any closer to being an artist than having people appreciate what I did for television commercials and actually recognising me by name was phenomenal enough as it was. Going in and singing the song and knowing that I could put my own spin on it, I could use my own voice, I could sing it will all of my heart and not be told how to sing it, that right there made it a pleasure to do. Wondering whether or not it was going to be a hit was the very furthest thing from my mind because I knew better than to put all my eggs in one basket. Four months later, [I got] a telephone call from John Watson from the label and it all began there – come to the UK and do Top of the Pops, I could not believe it was a real phone call.
TOTP was quite the thing over here.
Oh my God, I was on that show with The Bangles, I loved The Bangles! I think a couple of The Beegees were in the audience, I was like what the …? Are you kidding me? I was very shy, too; I’m much more outgoing now because I have a lot more confidence, but I was very scared and it was new territory for me. It was everything I ever dreamed of, happening literally overnight. After so many years of trying, you forget about what that goal is and you just love your music, you do it with all of your heart. There’s just so many times that you can send demos around saying here’s me as an artist and compete with the names that were out there at that point – don’t forget grunge was coming out so that was going to turn everything on its ear anyway. It cracked that door open for me and I have never looked back since.
You’ve worked with a legendary who’s who of musicians and songwriters. If you had to pick out the highlights, who would be the favourite people that you’ve worked with?
Oh boy, let’s hope no-one ever reads this! In many ways, it’s not so much about the actual artists that I was working with as much as it is the whole environment. The most fun that I ever had and what I appreciated the most was working with Arif Mardin; Arif had produced everyone from Aretha Franklin to Chaka Khan and every other artist in between. David Bowie, Chaka Khan and Leo Sayer … being in that environment, being even able to stand in the same room as someone like George Benson! In the old days, you went to the studio, sometimes there would be a full orchestra there and there’s the full band, the rhythm section, the background singers, the producers, the engineers … the party never ends and it’s intense. Aside from doing my own sessions and working with the singers and producers that I work with, it would be most difficult to say I enjoyed doing that project the most, because they are all equal in terms of the vibe that you get and then you separate that from the really bad ones you do, where they are really awful and you want to forget them and I’ve done hundreds of those.
Is there anyone that you haven’t collaborated with that you would really like to work with?
I think the list is really long! I always wanted to do something with Steven Tyler and wished I could do something with Bryan Adams and Steve Perry. I did get to do Rock Meets Classic and I got to share the stage with Ian Gillan and Jimi Jamison, who is one of my favourites. I feel lucky that I did. I did a duet with Clif Magness and he’s one of my favourite singer/songwriters and producers so that’s pretty cool. I’ve sung backgrounds for Michael Bolton and back in the day he was just too much. I do wish I could do a duet with him, I think we might have too much of a past history as friends to go there. I also dreamed about doing a duet with Julian Lennon; he’s also a dear friend of mine, but I don’t think that that is in the cards. I sure wouldn’t mind doing a duet with Ann Wilson but I think her sister would kick my ass!
Having listened to the new album, your voice is still sounding really good; how do you look after it and keep it healthy?
Just using it – it’s a muscle. If I’m over-singing, then of course I rest my voice, but in terms of doing scales and all that stuff, I was never into it and I’m far too lazy. If you don’t use it, it gets a bit rusty, you have to get back in there and exercise that muscle, so I would say the more I sing, the more in shape my vocal cords remain. Drink a lot of water!
If you had to introduce a new fan to your music, which album would you pick and why?
I think everybody should listen to the “Trouble Or Nothing” album, because everything that goes around, comes around; we’ve been in that phase with the resurgence of eighties rock music for a while now and it’s still going pretty strong. Some of my other albums are very sentimental and on the softer side. I’m going to have to say “Love Is Coming” is easily the best album I’ve ever done, from top to bottom, where there wasn’t a moment or a second of regret doing one single song. I don’t listen to it over and over and over again, but when I do listen to it, I go “I really do like it!” I think “Human Instinct” is also a really good album, although a bit dated sounding at this point. It would be really hard to differentiate them in terms of their quality.
What do you listen to when you’re chilling out? Do you have any recommendations for new music?
I’m always listening to mix tapes on my iPod. I listen to Aerosmith and Bonnie Raitt and I listen to people that I don’t sound like. I love jazz and I love all kinds of pop, but what I don’t love is rap [music]. I have to say it loud and proud, I am not a big fan of rap music, so you will never find that on my iPod. My recommendations are still old school, go back and listen to some old Joe Cocker records, go back and listen to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Go back and listen to Billie Holliday, you know? That’s where I always found my inspiration and the colours, the soulfulness and just the moods that were set. A lot of times with the music that we have now, there’s no real mood. I love some of the more modern pop singers of today, but I don’t spin them.
Your daughter, Olivia, has followed you into the business. Do you encourage her?
Olivia’s passions are with musical theatre, but she can sing anything from opera to metal and anything in between. Between me and her Dad [James], she just has it in her genes. She’s a very talented actress and she’s signed to two major agencies, she does commercials, she’s doing some film, she’s singing on record. At the age of 20, I was still going to Seven Eleven for dinner and she’s going to five star restaurants. I’m really happy for her that she’s working and beating the path. I encourage it, but if she didn’t love it, I wouldn’t say a word. I’m extremely proud of her.
The music business has always been and is still relatively male dominated. Do you feel it’s been hard going as a female artist?
I think being a woman is always an advantage. I’ve never felt threatened by men or by men running any business, so long as they don’t paint me into a corner and do something to me personally, it’s business. As far as singing is concerned, I take all my cues from guys who are the greatest singers ever, they’re who I follow, so it only made my life easier to listen to people like Steve Perry and Steven Tyler. It’s never been a problem for me, but it really isn’t a ‘man’s world’, that is such nonsense.
What advice would you give to any new singers or bands that are just starting out?
First of all, I would ask them to please not be full of themselves. Secondly, I’d tell them not to kid themselves. Thirdly, I would tell them that there’s a lot of bad elements in this business and it is not a walk in the park; you really do have to dig your heels in and you’re gonna have to fail a lot before you succeed, but don’t give up. If it’s your passion, just stick with it; if ever a day comes where it doesn’t make you happy and doesn’t bring happiness to the people around you, take on something else, but never give up your passion. Never. Okay, so get a day job and move along with it, but keep it going. Everybody that’s worth their salt that I’m friends with and that’s helped me throughout their career, they’re not making money out of it. The most beautiful thing about that is that they’re such terrific people. I’m a great collaborator and that’s also a piece of advice – collaborating is loads of fun and that’s the way you learn. A lot of inspiration will come from what you do with other people.
What’s next for Robin Beck?
I don’t think about it very much. If I thought about it, I might think I was missing out on something, I mean so many of my friends are going on cruises and they’re travelling the world, basically with their feet up. When I try to do those sort of things, I do love it, but for very short spurts. I get bored quickly and I really do think that for myself and also for James, we’re happiest and healthiest when we’re creating and I think we’re nicest when we’re happy with what we’re doing. Thinking forward, do I want to stop [doing this]? I haven’t given it any real thought and the music business may stop me before I stop it, but I have no plans to stop. I don’t know if I could do anything else, to be honest, and I certainly cannot sit and do nothing. I want to be on stage – that floats my boat.
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Vikkie Richmond and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.