This is an interview that was due to appear in Iron Pages Magazine 47 around Christmas 98. The Interviewer is Matthias Mader. Iron Pages can be purchased from Iron Pages, Matthias Mader, Rosegger Strabe 8, 12043 Berlin Tel. + Fax 030/687 39 48. The Magazine is in German (I think) but English versions of books are being worked on.
You played place like the Ruskin Arms in the East End (where Maiden made a name for themselves), how was it?
Nick – There was a circuit of venues that bands tried to play, you found out which gigs other bands did and places that had a good crowd. The Ruskin Arms seemed like one of these, it’s name was associated with Maiden right from the start. That said, bands had to “prove” themselves by starting on a Monday night, working on to a Thursday and so on. As usual, you were often expected to take a crowd with you and, for us, it was hard enough getting the band there on time, let alone dragging our mates right across London!
Lee – We played it a few times and lost money each time! There was about four people at the first gig there, the band outnumbered the audience!
Nick – We lost money on MOST gigs! Nothing new there….
Neal Kay’s Bandwagon JIM Soundhouse was a meeting place for the entire NWOBHM movement in the early ’80’s, what was the spirit like back then? You formed Lyadrive at one of his nights, right?
Lee – There were other places around London and probably up and down the country, but it seemed like The Bandwagon was the focal point. It was a great time for us, as fans, having a place like this you could go to and it really felt new and exciting. The atmosphere was incredible, pretty wild some nights and yet never any trouble…people just going to hear the music they loved. Maybe it was slightly down to the ever-present odour of spliff but I think that was only a part of it. It certainly had a great vibe.
Nick – There was a real feeling that Metal was “happening” at a new level, although it had never been away. There was a tremendous buzz about the new bands, Maiden, Praying Mantis, Riot and Leppard…I can remember hearing Neal Kay playing the first Riot demo, “Warrior” I think, fantastic!
Lee – It would be dead romantic to say we formed at the Bandwagon Soundhouse itself but, although Nick and I had spent many nights down there, we didn’t meet up till the band formed at a pub in Uxbridge.
You recorded “Another Time, Another Place” for a compilation album on Bridge Records, what was the name of the album and when was it released (who else was on there)?
Lee – Yeah, “Another Time Another Place” was recorded for an album called ‘The Bridge Album’ which was released in June 1982. It wasn’t ever released commercially, the bands just sold copies at gigs. We were called Tempest Ride then and it featured bands who rehearsed at Bridge Studios in Cowley, near Uxbridge. It was a real mixed bag of styles, only us and Heretic and North Star being heavy acts. It did lead to some good gigs for us with North Star at Brunel University as well…and we also played with Liaison there too, and other heavy bands like Sunset Blaze and Urban Clearway.
How many copies of the single did you press? what were the press reactions like?
Nick – I think only 500 of the “Anytime/White Dress” single were ever pressed, which is probably why it’s pretty rare now. The press reaction was OK, the NME (New Musical Express) DIDN’T actually slate it which they normally did for metal bands, and Kerrang were OK too, considering, with hindsight, “Anytime” was too lightweight really to be representative of our style. It just seemed the most commercial song we did! We should have spent more money and insisted on a picture sleeve which would have helped too…
Lee – The NME actually called us a “pub rock Blue Oyster Cult” which we took as a great compliment, whether they meant it or not!
Nick – We got a lot of good press from local radio and papers for the single, which helped get gigs….
How close have you been to signing to CBS?
Nick – “Close” is perhaps over-stating things a little! We got a single to Muff Windwood, who was Head of A+R at CBS then, the “backdoor” way, a friend knowing a friend knowing a friend etc. He sent us quite a positive letter, he liked the single but wanted to see us live. We set a showcase up, but lost a bass- player just before it and had to cancel….
Lee – …..that blew the fuse and you only really get one chance like that don’t you?
Why was the 12″ EP on Loose Music/Brickyard Records never released? Have you ever listened to the Xero 7″/12″ with Bruce Dickinson? There were rumours that Xero recorded a full-length album for Brickyard as well, this never saw the light of day…
Lee – The “Young Lover” 12″-single was recorded and was to be our first release for Brickyard Records when the label ran out of money and went into receivership. We were contracted for an album and three singles in the first year so it was a bitter disappointment, hard to take at the time.
Nick – I can remember the owner of Brickyard, Andy Titcombe, giving me a copy of the Xero 7″ some time then.. didn’t it have a picture cover of the Japanese Zero fighter on it? We didn’t know what they had recorded for Brickyard by then and we never met them. I DID meet the Cocteau Twins there though for some reason!!
Why did you decide to pack it in?
Nick – Oh, the usual 27 reasons….!!
Lee – A whole bunch of things really…losing the deal was the big one, but loads of things all happened at once which knocked the stuffing out of us. We had set up a nation-wide tour to support the single release, which of course never came out. Some of the dates on the tour were cancelled and yet another bass-player upped and left. It seemed to be always be too much damn effort you know?
Nick – Gigging was weird too…we’d play a good support at Dingwalls one night, then at a pub the next night to five blokes and the jukebox. It cost bands a lot to play, hiring PA’s and lights, petrol etc and, coming from the suburbs, we always had to travel a lot to play decent gigs. After all the excitement of the deal, the record, it was suddenly like it was all back to square-one again.
Lee – We were all pretty disillusioned by the way things were conspiring against us by then!
In 1996 you decided to make a comeback! Who was the driving force behind this?
Nick – Everyone else was making a comeback! What the heck, we’re not THAT old yet!
Lee – We discovered we were on some Bootlegs and also Tony at Vinyl Tap in Leeds called us up to track down any existing copies of the “Anytime” single and it just grew from there. We also sold some singles over to the USA and, I guess because the stuff had become collectable, we made quite a bit of money.
Nick – I know it sounds arrogant, but we felt we had kind of “deserved” to get an album out. We sort of felt we had been robbed of our deal before and, with some money in our pockets, we could re-arrange and record the old songs with a new line-up and hopefully get a deal on it.
Lee – Either as “the end of the chapter” or a “new beginning”, either way ……
How did get the deal with your new label?
Nick – I was putting together a budget compilation of NWOBHM bands called “Noise Level Critical” which had Samson, Tigertailz and Rock Goddess on among others for release on Carlton and we tied in with Vinyl Tap and semi-agreed a release for the Lyadrive album. Anyway, when push came to shove, HTD picked it up for their Minority One label (which Tigertailz are also on) but we are getting some great support export-wise from Vinyl Tap as well.
Are you satisfied with the way the CD “Another Time, another Place” turned out? I think it’s brilliant Brit-Metal!
Lee – Thanks….yeah, we are really pleased with the way it turned out. The way Guy (bass) and Rhino (guitar) got their heads around the songs was terrific. Our original guitarist Steve Jones, now lives in Alaska so, with the best will in the world, he wasn’t gonna make rehearsals! We got in Guy and Rhino prior to the recording but they only needed 5 or 6 rehearsals before we went into the studio. I think that was good in many ways, it kept things fresh and not too “over-rehearsed”…..
Nick – ……we all worked hard together on new arrangements and, in some cases, new lyrics. I found singing lyrics I’d written when I was about 19 was sometimes a sobering business! Some I’ve left alone but others really did need working on.
Lee – Keith came in for the second sessions we did, though he did some overdubs on the first batch of songs later as well.
Nick – My mother passed away during the recording so, for me, it was also a very sad time and difficult to focus. I re-wrote the lyrics to the title track to describe my feelings at this point and we dedicated the album to her memory as well. I miss her very much.
Lee – All the sound FX and stuff were adding during the mixing. It’s all “tongue-in-cheek” stuff but we kind of like the way sound- effects can illustrate a song….the girl’s voice on the re- vamped version of “Anytime” came from a crossed-line phone-call and we never knew who she was!
How many copies have you sold so far?
Nick – Difficult to say at the moment. It’s only been out a couple of months and figures aren’t in yet. Pinnacle are handling UK distribution which is good, but whether people remember us is another matter. I’m happy if we get good reviews and people want to buy it and treat us like we’re a new band.. that’s fine.
Lee – Vinyl Tap are helping with overseas markets like Japan and they have got stocks in with Hellion for anyone who wants it in Germany. We’re also running a mail-order through Music Masters, our management set-up.
Nick – I think we need more exposure to really get things moving….
Who got the idea to cover “One of these Days” by Trespass? Do you know the guys personally, they played in Germany on a festival as well but their comeback-CD was rather unsuccessful I fear!
Lee – We always figured it might be a good idea to do a NWOBHM track, but we wanted to be careful which one we picked. We used to do Riot’s “Warrior” live and also “Let Me Go” by Y+T but in the end we went for “One Of These Days”, which we knew and is a simple yet really effective song.
Nick – I had the single when it had come out…in ’79? Or 1980?
Lee – Tony at Vinyl Tap also thought it was a good idea. He was looking at the Japanese market and thought Trespass were enjoying something of a renaissance over there. Every little helps!
Nick – No, we never knew them personally, but it’s a great song!
Did you know that “Madame Guillotine” was also a song/album-title of the British band Tokyo Blade?
Lee – We didn’t know until we read your book Matthias! But our track was written in 1982 and was in our live-set from then on, so tell Andy Boulton we got there first!
Nick – You know the demonic cackle of laughter at the start of our version? That was the only time Rhino was let anywhere near a microphone during the whole recording!
An you really supporting MUFC, as mentioned in the booklet?
Lee – Nick supports United, I’m an Arsenal fan, Guy is Watford and Rhino is Chelsea. Healthy animosity. Keith is so uninterested in football that he booked a gig for us at the Axiom in Cheltenham on the World Cup semi-finals night! He didn’t realise that no English guy between 18-40 would be there! As it was, we didn’t make the semis anyway….
Any plans for live-dates or new recordings?
Nick – Yes. We are looking at some supports when we can line them up. Without sounding arrogant again, we don’t want to flog on endlessly on the pub circuits, we have done all that in the past and, years on, it is obviously harder now with us having families etc.
Lee – We hope to work again with Dave Pick down at FFG studios. It is a great studio, out in the heart of the Gloucestershire countryside, and really relaxing. Providing we can get enough beer in to keep Rhino watered we are looking at some sessions soon. Maybe a couple of new songs to see how the new line-up writes, but certainly a few more of the old NWOBHM numbers we couldn’t fit on the album this time. We have a great track called “Vigilantes” we need to bring out! Lots of dual guitar- work and widdly bits!!
Did you do any video-recordings back then?
Nick – Yes, we did some live video recordings from Brunel University gigs, one in 1983 and one a year later. They are not available commercially but we do sell domestic-quality copies to anyone who wants them…..
Lee – …..though we don’t charge much, because the quality is fairly rough and ready. The 1983 one is colour and we had 2 or 3 cameras going, the 1984 is only black and white and the sound is distorted which makes us sound REALLY heavy! You also get to see our guitarist getting blown up by a flashbomb which is well worth the money!
Nick – We also did a promo-video for “White Dress” in 1984, but NOBODY sees that, it’s farcical!!!!!!
If you know any other NWOBHM bands personally and have their current addresses/tel. number, please let me know! I am interested in talking to them as well!
Nick – I chat now and then with Paul Samson but I can’t give out his home number, but I’m sure you know him anyway. Lee knows Tino and Chris from Praying Mantis really well too, he used to roadie for them back in the good old days.
Lee – I know Tom Farner from Outside Edge who signed with 10 Records (Virgin) in the mid-80’s and supported Bryan Adams and also Manfred Mann in Germany round about 1985? Him and his brother used to be Blackfoot Sue…in fact I think they have reformed under that name again and have an album on the way.
Tigertailz you can get via HTD Records.