HRH MAG VOLUME XVI - TVIMANUDUR
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DEE SNIDER PAGE 42
06 Ward XVI 10 Greta Van Fleet 12 Ruts DC 14 Deadfilmstar 16 Lizzy Borden 18 Billy F Gibbons 20 Nightblade 22 Black Roze 24 Benji Webbe 26 Brian Setzer 28 Viki’s Fresh Hell 34 Dead Reynolds 36 The Mercury Riots 40 Fear Factory 42 Dee Snider 46 Robin Zander 48 Editor’s Picks of 2001 50 Carl Palmer 51 Rituals 52 Killed a Fox 54 Steve Hackett 56 Rockdocs on Netflix 58 Helloween 60 Stevie R Pearce 62 Redtanks Guide to Crossover 66 Troy Redfern 68 Review Zone 90 Derek Trucks 92 Gypsy Pistoleros 94 Atom Heart Mutha 96 Light The Torch 98 The Dark Circle Interview page 3
Welcome to volume
The fact that you may well be reading this magazine at HRH Sleaze IV, HRH Prog X, HRH Goth, or HRH Punk II is in itself an incredible milestone for everyone connected with the HRH family. Bands, venues, staff, press, and most importantly YOU THE FANS are BACK – back to festivals, back to gigs, back to experiencing rock music the way it was meant to be enjoyed – live, up close and personal. It really does feel great to be back, and while there is a little trepidation perhaps, and we all have to be sensible – any misgivings are overwhelmed by a sense of relief that the music scene is getting back on its feet and – dare I say it – some form of normality. It’s been the most challenging 18 months ever for the sector, with trials and tribulations that have tested us all. But HRH is back – live gigs are back – festivals are back. Long may it last. In this issue we have the living legend that is Dee Snider who
Welcome to the team Charlotte Hooper
Our grunge girl Charlotte Hooper has recently joined the HRH Team and loves discovering new music! A geeky graduate who loves getting stuck into a good album, and explores the history of each band or artist she discovers. Her vinyl collecting verges on the insane level of dedication - she’s been known to camp out all night to get just the release she wants on Record Store Day.
A legend on the gigging and festival circuit - never far from the front with a camera in hand and a notebook in her pocket. Once described lovingly as a gig gypsy she travels more miles than any sane person would to catch her favourite bands, but her reviews are legendary so it’s all worth it.
The man with more hats than Imelda Marcos (oh hang on, wasn’t that shoes?) Raz is one of the most dedicated members of the rock fraternity - perhaps best known for Call of The Wild Festival which is going from strength to strength. We are honoured to have Raz writing reviews for us in the little time he has left! As always, a huge thank you to ALL the hardworking bands, photographers and writers that have contributed to this issue. It’s very much appreciated by us all.
reiterates that rock music is very much alive and kicking, the whirlwind that is Greta Van Fleet, we chat to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Benji Webbe of Skindred, metal legends Fear Factory, the prog legends Steve Hackett and Carl Palmer, blues icon Derek Trucks, rising theatrical metallers Ward XVI and many many more. There really is something for everyone. I can’t finish this editorial though without paying tribute to one of my heroes, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top who sadly passed not long after we interviewed his compadre Billy Gibbons. Eliminator was one of the first albums I ever bought and remains a personal favourite. We send our condolences to his remaining bandmates, family and friends. But let’s get back to the here and now – this issue of HRH Mag marks the return of HRH, on stage and off – a community of like-minded people like no other. So what are we waiting for – let’s get started as it’s been far too long! Toby, Editor August 2021
Managing Editor and Design - Toby Winch, firstname.lastname@example.org Sub-Editor - Adam Kennedy Contributing Writers: John Ellis, Simon Redtank, Russell Peake, Viki Ridley, Adam Kennedy Charlotte Hooper, Jo Crosby, Jezebel Steele, Diane Webb, Diane Davies Michelle Evans, Simon ‘Spindles’ Potthast, Raz White, Robbie Johns David Swain, Toby Winch Contributing Photographers: Adam Kennedy, Simon Dunkerley, Tanya Dahl, Ed Fielding, Stephanie Cabral Roger Kisby, Lili Darocha, Steve Christie, Andrew Merritt, Toby Van Der Velde Carla Mundy, Sam J Lance, Matt Grayson, Holden Leeds, Ashleigh Macrae Tina Korhonen, Jason Miller, Diane Webb Advertising email@example.com - 020 7097 8698 Subscriptions Visit hrhmag.com/subscribe or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Chairman / Founder - Jonni Davis Chief Operating Officer - Fleur Elliott Media and Label Director – John Ellis - firstname.lastname@example.org Head of HRH Press & Media Sales - Toby Winch - email@example.com HRH Official Photographer - Simon Dunkerley - firstname.lastname@example.org All contents ©HRH Mag are published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored, transmitted or used in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. HRH Mag is a trading name for Dark Watch BVI Ltd registered in British Virgin Islands (BVI). All information contained in this publication is for information only and, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Dark Watch BVI Ltd cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price and other details of products or services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control and we are not responsible for their contents or any changes or updates to them. If you submit unsolicited materials to us you automatically grant Dark Watch BVI Ltd a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine - including any physical or digital format of said magazine throughout the world. Any material sent is at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Dark Watch BVI Ltd nor any of their employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage.
“Black shades, white gloves, lookin’ sharp, lookin’ for love”
From the casebook of Professor Jezebel Steele comes the mysterious case of...
XVI page 6
It’s been several months since I last set foot in Whittingham Asylum, but during that time there have been some changes and I was anxious to catch up with the inmates of Ward XVI. The main change was immediately visible as I entered; from only three inmates last July (Dr Von Stottenstein, PsychoBerrie and Wolfy Dodgeson) we now have two more inmates (Bam Bam Bentham and Mart Attack) joining the ward. It’s been six months since our last group therapy session, what have you all been up to - I can see for myself that your numbers have increased – who and why? DVS: Making sure that when the doors open, we’re ready for it. Yes, we’ve had a couple of transfers from another asylum… PB: Bam Bam on the drums, we brought him in simply because we needed a drummer, and Mart Attack on keyboards. MA: With all the orchestration that’s on the albums, I’d like to think you need me for that; to take over the backing track! I was in Ward XVI for a while some years ago, but moved on (to a different band) for a while, and then came back… it seems there’s no escaping the pull of Ward XVI!
PB: We needed someone new to pick on as well, Wolfy is an elder now so we needed someone new. And you, Bam Bam, where have you come from? BBB: Apart from the depths of hell? I’d not played for a while, and I was asked if I wanted to come along and give it a go.. so I did. DVS: He was good actually, most times that we’ve brought people into the band, it’s been like a baptism of fire, but this was different. We originally contacted Bam in December 2019, and he was on board with it, but we had to hold off the recruitment process so we could focus on the drums of someone else. So he was waiting around for us for around a year from the first time of speaking to us to actually coming in for a trial. From that perspective, we knew that he was committed to what we wanted to do, a lot of people would have gone elsewhere. One of the things about this band is that there’s a lot to be said about musicianship, and being good technically, but to do what we do consistently and the way that we do it, you need a bit more than being a good musician. We’ve had some great musicians, but they’ve not necessarily had the same vision or passion to do what we do. We’re not just a jeans and t shirts band, it’s quite task heavy thing to be in a theatrical band. He’s not just
come along to play drums - there’s equal focus on passion, enthusiasm and whether we gel with everybody as much as musicality, we’re not the greatest musicians or technicians, and are better as a whole than as individuals; with the exception of Kerrie, she’s on a level of her own. So the fact that these guys hung around for so long while we were doing the album, and then having to shield for a year, so really from a chronological point of view when we next gig (later on this year) it will be two years from us initially speaking to Chris, to his first gig that’s a long time to be committed to a project, but actually not be active – so things like that give us good vibes, he’s a good fella. Compared to what we’ve had in the past; we’ve had some quite passive members in the past, whereas we think these two will bring a lot more energy and contribution to the live performance and the organisation of it than we’ve had before. BBB: I’ve been saving my energy up for the past twelve months (in a jar), so what I’m going to do at our first gig, is get the jar and pour it over my head. With all the acclaim, and the plaudits that the album has achieved since its launch, how can you still say (with a straight face) that you’re just an “OK guitarist”? DVS: Because I am, I’m the perfect guitarist for Ward XVI, and I think I’m the perfect guitarist to work with PsychoBerrie. But If you put me into another environment… when I think of how I play and how I write stuff, it needs to have the right type of ingredients, like a primordial soup, to make it work. I’m not one of these people who are technically gifted enough to just walk into any band and just create. It’s a part of a formula, I’m not a virtuoso, I’m just happy to be part of the group. Continued...
WARD XVI PB: I disagree, when we first started to look for a new guitarist, it was a struggle. These “virtuoso” players are all excellent in one style, but to get a guitarist who can jump around, style-wise is something we found extremely difficult to find, and I don’t think he gives himself enough credit in that respect. DVS: I’m not coming from a point where I’m self-deprecating, because I know that this album contains some of the best stuff I’ve ever played… I know I’m perfect for this band, but I wouldn’t necessarily be perfect for any other. The good thing about this band is that the quality is the sum of all the parts, rather than one person being the showpiece and everything else blending into the background. I think each of us have a strength and a weakness, and the other band members complement what each of us lack. In the lineup we have now, it feels more like a band than it has done since I’ve been in it. It’s the first time it feels like a band, whereas in the past it felt as though there were five or six individuals and the output was more out of luck than design. I think this lineup can actually pick up the vision and take the concept where it needs to be. MA: Together we make a solid team, and we just can’t wait to bring it live.
WD: One thing I’ve always thought, that to be in Ward XVI you have to not just be a musician, you have to see the vision of the story and the whole background of it and put 50% into the music and the other 50% into craziness and be willing to do something you might not have done before. Anything goes, and you have to be prepared for that MA: The music is part of it, the rest is the theatrics; it’s how you look and how you sound all gelled together. DVS: We’re not prepared for what’s to come, and we potentially underestimated how well the album would be received and where it would take us. Due to the lockdown, we’ve not been able to go outside, to buy and build the sets, to create videos and the light shows, so we’re not yet match fit. As soon as the lockdown ends, there’s a phenomenal amount of work to be done, which will be fun. At the moment everything feels virtual, and it’s nice to have virtual success, but now the hard part is taking it and taking it to the next level. WD: I think when we all start leaving our homes again, it will just be a lot of graft. DVS: It will be graft more than anything else; graft, stress, shouting and falling out, but I think as much as we’ll be stressed there’s the realisation that we all want this so that when we get on stage we’re all confident that we can justify the plaudits that we’re receiving. PB: We need a lot of new technology which is quite stressful it’s pretty much all on my head to make it work at the moment it’s mapping things out I think once we get in the room we’re going to be a lot more confident with it. DVS: It’s a bit like we are teetering on the edge of a cliff at the moment well that’s how it feels to me. The two things really there’s excitement of wanting to get out but there’s also the anxiety because so much could go wrong and destroy what has gone before.. but then we’ve always stepped up and progressed, I think one of the things I’m proud of is that we’ve done things in an honest way and getting not just where we thought we were going to be but higher than where we thought we would ever be is quite satisfying, be honest.
When is your first gig I know the album launch is now December is that your first gig? PB: it’s not a first there are a few secret but we can’t discuss them here DVS: The first one that we can talk about is that we have a Halloween show that were playing in Cardiff and I think that’s going to be quite a small show but it would be good because it’s one of the first that we will do. We’re also playing Hard Rock Hell 14 in November this year, there’s DementiaFest in Birmingham, and then the album launch in December which is going to be a bit mad because we’ve been sort of screen playing, script writing how the shows going to work. This one we’re going to play the entire album in full. It’s a long time coming, theoretically it’s the biggest headline show we’ll have ever played. We’ve played bigger like Bloodstock, HRH, Hammerfest but this is a show our own right and it’s the biggest, not only in terms of size but also risk. It costs a lot of money to rent out the Academy so we need the guarantees of being able to pull crowds in order to not afford not only our show but also the rent and paying for the bands. So there’s a lot of risk to it, but we’ve sold quite a lot up to now and we’ve still got a few months to go so we’re more than optimistic that when lockdown is over the tickets will start flying. That’s my biggest worry, it’s our first big show so you hope that you’re not just playing to 10 people, but we’re looking at set design and other stuff which makes it impractical to play small venues. PB: Because we’re playing such a variety of venues, and we’re not like other bigger bands that are always guaranteed a stage, we need a set that we can mould to size. DVS: We need it make sure it’s scalable so we can scale it up or down without losing the integrity of the album. Whether it’s a “small venue” people have still paid their money and turned up to see a theatrical show and they won’t accept the excuse that “well it’s a smaller venue”, they want to see it. We’re the same, we don’t want to turn up and play just the music.. Just the music is not what the band is about. What the band are the music is about is the whole 4-dimensional delivery of the song, so to just turn up and play and compromise how we do it is not something we can get away with anymore. The three of you know the album inside out because you were there from start to finish, how do the new guys you guys feel about it, have you learnt what you need to learn? It’s one heck of an album to have to
to learn? BBB: We’ve had the benefit of all this time at home to listen to it to play through it and although we can’t be together as a band we can certainly practice at home. He’s been really lucky really so for me personally I’m just getting that point where I know the album inside out MA: For me mainly learning the songs was the easy part; notes, chords all that. The hard part for me was getting the instrumentation and the voices identical to what is played on the album. Obviously I don’t have the workstations that were used so I’ve had to manually programme from what I’ve got and edit to get as close to identical as I can. I feel confident that I’ve got there are and we have the elements of the backing tracks which may help just to stay in what I play. DVS: What we have to remember though is that the album comprises about 30 different tracks per song, in different layers, they are probably 13 maybe 14 different guitar layers, a couple of bass and the vocals. Some of the tones we’ll never ever be able to achieve again, so we have to look at it as a group and asking ourselves what is the most practical way of getting the core of the album without driving each other crazy. It’s been said that I’m a good guitarist but I’m not good enough to play 15 guitar tracks at the same time. People go to see live performances not to see complete accuracy. MA: I’ve got it as close as I possibly can, the biggest fear for me is that people hear Imago, for example, and there’s a whole chunk of song that they’ve been listening to on the album and live is different, so they leave thinking “well that didn’t sound like the album”. Is that balance that I’ve been trying to find but I know better when we all get together. That’s when I’ll know, what can stay and what needs to go. So there is still some work to be done, but as things stand at the moment I’m confident with what I’ve got. BBB: Whatever happens, it’s going to be glorious! The full and utterly disturbing transcript of the professors session can be discovered online at www.hrhmag.com.
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Greta van Fleet
GRETA VAN FLEET Since the release of “Highway Tune” back in 2017, Greta Van Fleet’s ascent has been somewhat stratospheric. The in-demand outfit has been selling out shows across the globe whilst rapidly amassing an ever-growing fan base.
songs to accompany the album that we already had,” explains Sam. “The pandemic gave us time enough to get in there and record two more tracks. And actually, those are the two newest tracks that were written - Caravel and The Barbarians.” The logistical challenges introduced by the pandemic made the quartet re-evaluate their plans for the second album. “We pushed the album release almost a full year. We were very careful about not releasing it at the wrong time, and the original date did feel like the wrong time. So, we kept pushing it until we felt that it was the right time,” confirms Sam.
This rapid rise to fame would be overwhelming for anyone, let alone four artists at the start of their career. “Sometimes it is overwhelming when you look at the calendar, and you go, oh holy sh*t. What’s going on,” declares bass player Sam Kiszka. But as a family unit of three brothers and their good friend Danny Wagner, the group have a strong support system around them. “I guess that’s why it works so well with each other. Having a band being as comfortable as we possibly can and comforting each other, or giving each other sh*t,” said Sam. “So yeah, I mean sometimes, it is overwhelming, but it’s so fun.”
Overall, Greta Van Fleet have been bowled over by the response to their sophomore album thus far. “As far as mainstream culture goes and as far as the consumer fan base goes, I mean, it couldn’t be any better. Especially as a rock and roll band in the 21st century. I think the best part is seeing how it touches people in very certain ways,” declares Kiszka. “I think the most important thing to us is knowing that it’s out in the world, and it’s working, and it’s making people feel a certain way. It makes them feel inspired in some way or another.”
Amid the lockdown, the Frankenmuth, Michigan foursome was putting the finishing touches to their sophomore album ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’. “In the guts of the pandemic, we were in Los Angeles. We recorded two extra
Greta Van Fleet had a distinct vision of where they wanted to take ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’. The four-piece planned to make an album that is “cinematic,” perhaps “a score to a movie that hasn’t been created yet,”
GretaethyrFIeld van Fleet
declares Sam. “It felt like a coming of age for Greta Van Fleet to be able to make this album that we’ve always wanted to make.”
kind of sense of light and shade which is a mastery that I think you don’t really hear anymore,” he said.
However, Greta Van Fleet didn’t want to make the mistake of reinventing the wheel, and so evolution was very much part of the plan this time around. “Nowadays, I have an issue with a lot of bands or artists that would put out their debut album, be very successful and wait three years and put out the same album,” proclaims Kiszka. “I think it’s important to evolve as an artist. I think a lot of people kind of play it too safe. You are sacrificing yourself for comfort, I suppose. There’s no musical exploration there.” The beauty of Greta Van Fleet is what they bring collectively. “There’s just an endless realm of creativity when the four of us are together with our instruments. It takes us back to the garage days when we write music,” declares Sam.
Although the group’s roots are in the Christmas town of Frankenmuth Michigan, the band have set up shop in Nashville Tennessee - otherwise known as Music City. “I think a lot of people still kind of think of it as the country music scene. And yes, the country music scene is here, but everything’s here. I mean, there are so many rock and roll groups here,” explains Sam. “We all wanted to come to East Nashville because it is such a strong artistic community of young, inspired people. Whether they be in the film world, or the visual arts world, or probably they are in music. And yeah, it feels really good. We’ve made a lot of friends, and all our friends were already here so it felt very natural. It’s just great to be part of this artistic community. It’s very, very inspiring.”
The band’s shared creativity doesn’t stop in the studio. If you’ve had the pleasure of witnessing Greta Van Fleet live, you may have noticed how the group’s songs have evolved through jamming. “That’s just kind of how we were raised musically - to jam and to explore these possibilities,” said Kiszka. “Once again, we’re explorers. That’s kind of our job to travel through these wormholes and see what’s at the other end. So, I think it’s a really intense experience for us. And I think that translates to the audience.” Sam explains what it is that he enjoys most about these improvised moments on stage. “When it gets really quiet, and then it trickles down and then it starts building again. And then you get shot out of the cannon again - it’s just so satisfying. It’s like this beautiful dynamic of music. And I think that is something that we probably learned from Zeppelin, is this very dynamic
With the world still in somewhat of a strange place due to the global pandemic, where do Greta Van Fleet go from here? “Well, I would say in 2022, we are probably going to go full steam again. We’re about to delve into working on another album. We have a lot of ideas, and we know which direction we’re going with it. But I think it’s about getting those songs together and see where it takes us. So, it’s kind of like the beginning of a whole new journey while everybody hopefully is still enjoying ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’. Yeah, 2022 - we’re back,” c oncludes Kiszka. ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate’ by Greta Van Fleet is out now via EMI Records. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY
“You’re in a rut, You gotta get out of it” was the famous battle cry of punk rock legends The Ruts back in 1979. In light of the current lockdown we’ve endured over the last year and a half, perhaps you will agree, we’ve all been stuck in a bit of a rut in recent times. Over forty years on, the music of The Ruts lives on under the guise of Ruts DC, although drummer David Ruffy and bass player John “Segs” Jennings will never forget their sadly missed counterparts Paul Fox and Malcolm Owen page 12
RUTS DC RUTS DC recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of their seminal album The Crack by performing the release in full on an extensive UK tour. However, during the lockdown period, the band have switched things up a little by releasing the eagerly awaited first studio recordings of their now highly regarded Ruts DC acoustic show. HRH Mag caught up with Ruts DC bass player Segs to get the lowdown on the band's life during the pandemic, their latest electro-acoustic album, and what they might have in store for their appearance at HRH Punk. How have you been keeping in the strange times? I went out last night to see a band in a local pub, and that's the first time really for a long time. So, a few pints of Guinness were sunk. I'm with Ruffy, the drummer - because we're rehearsing and kicking some stuff about to get a bit loose because we haven't played bass and drums for over a year. But in the meantime, we've been writing at home and sending parts to each other. We did an Electro-Acoustic album, and we managed to do two gigs in the whole year. The third one was cancelled. And we've got our own little label, so we've been surviving. And me and Ruffy play in Dead Men Walking with Kirk Brandon and Jake Burns. So, we've made an album with them as well - with Jake being in Chicago. So, we haven't been idle. It's been very, very strange. I've been writing lots basically. I'm looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality, I suppose with gigs at some point. Your new album ElectrAcoustic Volume One, came out back in March. When you think about punk rock, maybe acoustic isn't necessarily the obvious format people think about. They think of that raw high energy sort of stuff. How challenging was it to rework some of the classic songs in that format? Yes, I agree - acoustic punk. Oh, I don't know. I've watched TV Smith, and he does his set on acoustic guitar. And he has still got the anger, and he has still got the songs. I play acoustic guitar, and I always have. It was very early days, like ten years ago, and we were working out backing vocals. We just picked up the acoustic guitars, and I think we were working at backing vocals on Staring at The Rude Boys. We realised that the songs, you wouldn't have thought so, but the way they are constructed transfers well if you're doing it with aplomb. So, it kind of went on from there.
energetic, just the old right hand for the bass player. Our original guitarist Foxy was in my ear. It was ghostly as well because there was one bit where I was singing, especially Out of Order, and I thought that's a good harmony, and no one was doing it. And it was like Malcolm and Paul were in the room sometimes. It was kind of raising the ghosts, but it was good. I don't think I want to do it again. We're writing some new stuff, and I want to move on. We'll always do the classics, of course, but I don't think I want to do The Crack from start to finish anymore or any other albums for that matter. As far as the songs standing up, they are quite relevant. So, I'm proud of our legacy. When you are singing Jah War or Babylon's Burning, all those songs, you don't feel it's dated because it's sort of still going on now. I mean, it's very, very important for us to keep moving since we can do some songs from Music Must Destroy. If we were going out and just doing any old set, which some people want, we don't want to do that. So, we try and make the new songs stand out, which some of them do. What can we expect from your show at HRH Punk? Well, we'll do our show. There'll be some classics. Of course, we will do Babylon's Burning. We’ve got a good set, and I'm not quite sure how long our slot is. If it's an hour set, it's a hard-hitting set. We're not a band that goes this one's a new one. You've got to remember; I suppose we're doing new songs, but they're six years or seven years old now. So, we will do Music Must Destroy, and we'll play Psychic Attack - it will be a great set. Hopefully, a couple of new songs if they cut it, and they were in the right frame for that festival. We don't do the set until we get there and feel it out. We've got a rough idea. It really is as simple as this. Sometimes people come up and say, are you going to do this tonight? And we go oh blimey, we better put that it in the set, just because one guy asked for it. We're fairly flexible. Ruts DC will be performing at HRH Punk at the O2 Academy Sheffield over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd October 2021. WORDS AND LIVE PHOTO: ADAM KENNEDY
Then we got asked to do an acoustic gig at 12 Bar. We did it, and I didn't quite know what I was going to do. It is amazing which songs work and which don't. If they don't work, we don't do them. It's quite difficult to play Jah War because it's got a sort of a reggae bassline. A lot of them transport quite quickly. You realise that you can write songs on an acoustic guitar and still make them punk - and then transfer them to the band. So, we've gone both ways, which is quite interesting. Recently I came across an acoustic bass as well, because I play acoustic guitar in the acoustic band. But now I've started doing the second set playing bass…and Ruffy's got this little kit - stripped down, no cymbals, and no real kick drum. It is a return to Woody Guthrie and the bluesmen before that. But it's really good, and it's very intimate. I kind of miss the power of the plugged-in bass and drum kit and big electric guitars. That's what we missed. That's what we're missing now. The last time we saw you out on the road was in 2019 when you were performing The Crack in full. How did it feel to be still performing those songs after 40 years? It felt great once we had gotten done, but it was a hell of a lot of work. We always said, look, let's just play the songs we like playing. Like Rude Boys is great to play; I know that's not on The Crack, but we did it. And, we always have to do Babylon. Some of the others - Savage Circle, we hadn't played for 40 years. When we did Dope for Guns, which we don't really do, we had to keep running it. We rehearsed quite a lot for it, just to keep the stamina up. It’s quite
DEADFILMSTAR Good afternoon guys, how do we find Deadfilmstar today? Good thanks! Raring to go!
Tell us a little about the band’s history – you go quite far back I believe? Long story short, we grew up in the back pages of ‘Kerrang!’ magazine on a very over-saturated metal scene, saw the world of goth and all things industrial had left its back door wide open and in we crept! Out of tune guitar thrangs didn’t go down too well for many years but, eventually, we found out what a tuner was for, toured the UK a few times and supported Ministry! Your last release, “Hello Cruel World”, was back in 2018. Do you have any releases planned for the near future? Yeah, I had a bad case of writers block after that. Ironically, lockdown sorted it all out. So yes, early September we have a new single out; ‘Does It End This Way?’ to be followed by two more -’Goodbye To The World & The Whole Damn Thing’ and ‘Too Far Gone To Come Back Again’. I gather you’re huge fans of Fields of the Nephilim – tell us more about that and what it means to you guys to be on the same bill as them at HRH Goth in a few weeks time? Firstly, thank you so much for squeezing us onto the bill and albeit nearly two years ago, it was, at the time, very late in the day when we approached you. We’ve wanted to support Fields Of The Nephilim for a long while now but unfortunately, until HRH Goth the chance had never arisen. To have been accepted to play is amazing! It’s great Jayce Lewis also appears on the same days as us. We’ve
supported those guys a good few times in the past. Fantastic band!
You’ve played big stages such as Bloodstock and Whitby Gothic Weekend – what’s been your favourite live performance so far? Hands down, supporting Ministry. That, and Revolting Cocks. Those two bands are who inspired us right from the start. So, to share the same stage with them was a dream come true. Touring with Lord Of The Lost was damn good fun as well. You guys are supporting Front 242 in London this coming February – it’s sold out – I bet you’re looking forward to that one? Yep, another band that was a big influence on us. Looks like we’re slowly working our way through ‘Wax Trax! Records’! Lockdown had a really negative effect on bands and artists, how do you keep the message out there? To be honest, social media got somewhat discarded during lockdown as we threw ourselves into the new recordings. Obviously, in this day and age no engagement isn’t an ideal situation but, I think we get forgiven as long as we have something to show for it. Are there any bands you guys particularly admire on the scene right now, big or small? Too many to list. There are so many great bands out there. Thanks for catching up with me, today … any final words? Thank you very much for having us! WORDS: TOBY WINCH PHOTO: ED FIELDING
With a career spanning over three decades, Lizzy Borden has cemented his iconic footprint across the power metal scene. Ahead of his re-releases of 1984’s Give Em The Axe and 1987’s Visual Lies through Metal Blade Records, we caught up with this legend to reflect on his history, what advice he has for those embarking on the band lifestyle and what’s next for Lizzy Borden. We started with the early days, and the transformation of rock music in LA during the late ’70s to early ’80s, with Lizzy being fresh in the mix of all things rock ’n’ roll! Joining forces with Joey Scott, his long-serving drummer extraordinaire and friend, they immersed themselves deep within this iconic scene to find their niche sound that we know and love today, and emerged as a gory and unique theatrical delight. An original vision, original sound, and original idea. Delving into his powerful back catalogue, Lizzy expressed how Master of Disguise holds a special spot in his professional career, which has him heading into the writing and composition process with a different mindset. Borden wanted to create something that held no boundaries, and he “didn’t care if anyone liked it!”. With Joey hitting up drums on his demos, he then found confidence in producer Elliot Soloman, who Lizzy described as “my Bob Ezren” - someone who understood the concept that Lizzy was wanting to achieve and helped it blossom into the classic masterpiece release. If Lizzy Borden is recognised and identified as anything, it is that his live performances are ones to remember! Lizzy explained step-by-step how he builds on ideas to create stage performances as more than just a performance, but as an experience. His vision has been fed with key influences from David Bowie, Fee Waybill of The Tubes, Alice Cooper and Kiss to name a few, and it is no secret that his creative juices bubbled into works of art on stage, unlike any traditional music concert. Although he has such incredible icons, it quickly came to light that the reason their characters worked for each artist is because it is THEIR character. Lizzy expressed how he once mimicked a Bowie performance technique by not talking to or interacting with the audience, but he quickly discovered that this “wasn’t for me” and wasn’t his style, so continued to map out his own way of exposing his music to an audience. “When I write the lyrics, I’m creating characters - for me, there’s just a thing about my personal woes in life or my anger or whatever, [which] would be so boring I would already be out of my mind! So, each song in my mind is sung by a different character, and that’s how I’ve always done it, and so that makes it easier for me to get into the character, to be able to sing these songs the way they should be sung, and if it’s a rebellious anger - it’s the character spilling it out, not me.” Once the character is recognised as a persona and how they should be perceived and understood from the audience perspective, this is then taken to the next level working towards costume design and image of the character.
Although Lizzy Borden has now established his sound and persona, becoming recognized worldwide, things weren’t always that way. One question we would all love to ask our musical heroes is that of their onthe-road days. When asked about one of his wildest stories from being on the road, Lizzy started to explain an airport misunderstanding that almost put him behind bars – as Lizzy explained “We were doing a one-off at the Bang-Your-Head Festival in Germany, and the promoter really wanted us to go back to the first album where we did a lot of bloody theatrics but at that time, we weren’t doing that. We were doing theatrics but not bloody. This was a one-off show so I just went into our little warehouse and I grabbed everything I could find that this promoter would happen to like, and it was arms, legs, torsos - and I just stuffed them in a bag - it flew with us underneath as baggage on the way there. “So I played the show and it was a pretty bloody show, and blood got everywhere, and after the show we just stuffed it in the bags. But when we went to the airport, we’d partied all night - had fun - so we didn’t sleep all night and we get to the airport to check-in, and they wouldn’t let me check the bag because we had too much luggage. So I had to bring my bag full of bloody parts on the plane, but I didn’t even think about it, we’d been partying all night so it hadn’t dawned on me. They put it through the x-ray machine and it was then that it dawned on me! There was a woman and she shook her head at me before opening the bag and before I could say anything she sticks her hand in, and when she pulls her hand out it was all bloody! She screamed and blew whistles and within about 30 seconds I was surrounded by cops with guns! “They grabbed me, lifted me off my feet and just ran down the hallway with me and took me into an interrogation room, and they pulled the axe out of the bag, and it was all bloody and they just placed it on the desk in front of me. Then the cop comes in and he just says ‘what have you done?’ I was just like ‘uhh I didn’t do anything!’ - and I explained myself over and over again but he just kept saying ‘what have you done?’. Finally they made a call to the venue and cleared it all up, then right when the plane was ready to leave he let me go and said ‘we’re going to let you go if you promise to never come back to Germany’ and I ran and got on the plane and got the hell out of there!”…however, Borden fans weren’t too disappointed as he broke his promise and returned the following year!
As the conversation evolved, Lizzy’s experience within the music industry was unravelling and we discussed what advice he would give to bands that are just embarking on their music map, his advice was “Make sure you have the goods on the first album. Our first album we didn’t know what we were doing, we didn’t have a producer, it was just pure arrogance that made us get through that. We were like ‘I think that’s how you do this’ but really, your first album is so important. “You can’t just say this is one of twelve that I’m going to do, it’s like no. Especially now everyone has a short attention span so it’s not only the first album it’s all about sequencing, it’s about the first song, it’s about the first 25 seconds of the first song. That’s how you get people, otherwise, they’re just going to switch. Don’t come out and make it all happen until you have the goods.” He continued “keep working and pushing until you’ve got something you’re happy with”. The next discussion was one of a mutual love we both share - vinyl. Any collector will already be aware of the encompassing images that represent each album hand-in-hand, meaning that each album hosts its own identity and nature. August 2021 sees the re-release of killer albums Visual Lies and Give Em The Axe both of which will be released on extremely sexy coloured vinyl! A format that holds a personal touch from Lizzy, with how he first experienced music and as a reflection on the history of his albums being firstly released on vinyl before anything else. Prior to our goodbyes, we had one last topic to discuss which of course was new music. Lizzy pointed out that he was speaking from his home studio where he had just been putting some demos together. Rest assured, we can look forward to some new music from Lizzy Borden in 2022 and if we are lucky enough, you may just catch one of his show-stopping performances here in the UK amongst other countries - if he’s allowed in! WORDS: CHARLOTTE HOOPER PHOTO: STEPHANIE CABRAL
BILLY GIBBONS DAVID ellefson
Artists like ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons have spent their lives on the road. Being cooped up during this lockdown era is not what our beloved rock and roll legends are all about. “We are so anxious for travel. I stand in line with the many; everybody has explored every region of the four corners in every room,” jokes Gibbons.
WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTOS: ROGER KISBY
But what is life in the Gibbons household like during these strange times? “Gilligan [Stillwater Billy’s wife] got very excited. She came in this morning, and I said, Gee, you seem rather excited. And she goes, yes, I get to walk to the edge of the sidewalk today and pick up the mail - I get to leave the house. I said, okay, great. And she goes, Yeah, but I’m stuck. And I said, What’s that? Because I haven’t decided what to wear.” Perhaps we can all relate to this sentiment. Artists and music fans alike await the semblance of some form of normality and the return of live music.
Performing within the parameters and restrictions of the pandemic era required a lot of getting used to. “Now we’re having to play to empty rooms. Instead of looking at your friends, you’re looking at this camera lens. It’s very antiseptic. It’s almost cold, and without feeling, that is a certain reality,” said Gibbons. “But just remember what brought you to the party. If you can reach down and reacquaint the moment with the feeling, you just close your eyes. You could be anywhere. And I think it’s at that moment when you can actually forget about this cavernous emptiness and get back to why you do it in the first place.”
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However, even the pandemic didn’t stop Billy Gibbons from being productive. Thanks to his good friends Matt Sorum and Austin Hanks, the trio emerge from the lockdown with Billy’s new solo album ‘Hardware’. This being an album that was recorded out in the desert near Joshua Tree. Gibbons’ latest offering may be a little different from what ZZ Top fans have come to know from the legendary figure. The album fuses psychedelic elements, along with surf guitar to great effect. A perfect example of which being the lead single from the album “West Coast Junkie”. This song is reminiscent of one of the artist’s earliest musical incarnations pre-dating ZZ Top - The Moving Sidewalks. “When we speak of the word psychedelic, the term was coined and brought back to the surface by The 13th Floor Elevators. I was an immediate fan of Roky, Tommy Hall, John Ike Walton on drums, Benny Thurmon on bass, Stacy Sutherland on guitar.” Gibbons said whilst reminiscing about those early days of his career with The Moving Sidewalks. “With each passing day, it seems that there’s always some element that brings me back to those interesting excursions into the origins of those things, with The Elevators running the forefront.” To this day, Gibbons is still fascinated with those bygone sounds. “Just
yesterday, someone said to go on YouTube, you can hear a version of “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” not by the 13th Floor Elevators, it’s by the preceding group called The Spades. I said I’ve heard of it, but I’ve not heard it yet. Sure enough, so I typed in, “You’re Gonna Miss Me by The Spades, and there it is,” explains Gibbons. If you cast your mind back to the 80s and 90s, you will remember the glory days of ZZ Top lighting up music television with their groundbreaking videos for hit songs such as “Legs”, “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” and “Sharp Dressed Man”. Whilst Gibbons is still releasing music videos today for his latest project, including singles “West Coast Junkie” and “She’s on Fire,” the landscape for music television has changed massively since those stratospheric days of the ‘Eliminator’ era. But what was it that was so special about MTV as a platform for the Texan trio? “MTV was the only one. [Now] I’m struggling to get down to 25. That’s out of hundreds. It’s quite different. As you know, you’ve got anything and everything”, said Gibbons. It’s quite the predicament to find yourself in as an artist in 2021.
BILLY F GIBBONS DAVID ellefson
** STOP PRESS ** On the 28th of July, 2021 - the news broke via social media that the group’s beloved bass player had sadly and unexpectedly passed away. In a posting on Facebook the group went on to say: “We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX. We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’ You will be missed greatly, amigo. Frank & Billy” With the tragic news of the passing of the band’s longstanding bass player, who knows how far the trio got with their news songs or if they will ever see the light of day. But if they are released at any point in the future, perhaps they would be a fitting homage and a lasting memory of the band’s dearly missed bass player. ‘Hardware’, the new album from Billy F Gibbons, is out now via Concord Music Group. Editor’s Note: This interview with Billy F Gibbons took place in May 2021 prior to the sad passing of ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill.
But of course, there are pros and cons. “On one hand, I think everybody’s appreciative of having the opportunity to have this kind of reference within reach - both what you hear and now what you see,” Billy explains. However, on the flip side, the amount of musical content
online is overwhelming for all concerned. Sometimes when a musician is working on a new album, the artist gets more than they bargained for. And what originally started as material for Billy’s latest solo album may well develop into a new ZZ Top album. It is understood that some of the material from BFG’s new solo album “didn’t seem to fit within the confines of this ‘Hardware’ project,” declares Gibbons. It is believed that these starter pieces were then sent to both Frank Beard and Dusty Hill.
NIGHTBLADE Nightblade are a four piece from the Kidderminster area of England consisting of 4 experienced musicians who formed the band back in 2010.
was lovely writing again and that was aided with a slightly different musical direction. For me, writing is one of the most exciting parts - when a melody or hook is created it gives me a real buzz. I love locking myself in the attic room for a few hours with pen and paper and emptying my head of thoughts.
They have a new album out later this year entitled ‘Unknown Territories’ a follow up to the incredible ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ from 2020. We caught up with the guys recently find out a bit more about the band and what they have lined up for the near future.
Were you surprised with the large amount of media attention for Ignorance Is Bliss? Given the problems of last year, it was great that everyone got behind it to the extent that they did. To be honest, I was a bit surprised, I do think there is a real demand and gap for the sort of sound that we are producing - the metal genre seems somewhat overloaded and saturated to me.
Nightblade were formed in 2010 and now after a break, you are back has the time off given you renewed energy? I guess everyone needs a break now and again and it certainly helps you take stock and review things. We now have a renewed energy and creative force, we can’t just stop writing, and I am particularly pleased with our present lineup at the moment – we are gelling so well together. Your first album ’Servant To Your Lair’ was released in 2011, do you still play tracks live from that debut? Yes, we do but it’s occasional. It depends on the venue that we play but there is always the odd surprise here and there from that record. We are usually more partial to playing two to three songs from ‘Closer To The Threshold’ and ‘Crisis Has No Prejudice’. When we did Servant, we were aiming at more metal sound as opposed to our current alternative-rock sound. How did you find writing the last album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, as it’s been a few years since the “Crisis Has No Prejudice” EP? We had a lot of built-up material whilst putting a new lineup together. It
You have just released the single ‘Wake Up’ from your new album ’Unknown Territories’, what made you choose that particular one? We always aim to put a couple of quick riff tunes on our albums, and they can make great singles too. ‘Wake Up’ was written quite early on in the album process and we earmarked it as a definite single from the word go. We were looking for a real punchy track to open the album and to catch people’s attention. Do you all contribute to the writing side of things? I write the lyrics and the music is a joint collaboration, we have a great creative and musical hub - as my mother used to say “I always have too much to say!” So, I put it all on paper to give my mouth a rest! I am often influenced by different people in life. I run a gym, and I meet many different characters that constantly fuel me with inspiration for writing, it’s a pretty unique and diverse place.
“We have a broad spectrum of influences which moulded together help create a fresh interesting sound...” Are you going to tour when possible? Yes, we will be gigging soon when venues free up and the backlog has cleared. We are going to be spoilt for choice with what to play as we have two albums worth of tracks to pick from. We are so looking forward to playing the tracks from both albums. They were born to be played live and to get the adrenaline going. You all have different musical influences, do you think this is why Nightblade have such an original sound? We do have a broad spectrum of influences which moulded together help create a fresh interesting sound which we are trying to carve out. We are not trying to sound like any one thing to be honest, to a degree it sounds how it sounds when it’s created, and if that adds another flavour to our album, then so be it. This all helps create a diverse album, I’m not really scared of putting something different on our albums. Which are your favourite songs on your setlist, which ones do you love playing most on stage? We are itching to play all of our new stuff; we have some songs which will be really great to play live. My favourites of old were ‘Closer To The Threshold’, ‘Your Soul Right Of Way’ and ‘Crisis Has No Prejudice’. I remember seeing you support Snakecharmer at Kidderminster Town Hall a few years back, would you say that was one of the highlights for Nightblade so far? Yes, I was a big Whitesnake fan, so it was fantastic meeting Mick Moody and Neil Murray. I think we have played with the guys three times now. Playing with Blaze Bailey was also very nostalgic and an absolute blast. We did a gig
with an iconic psychedelic rock band called Iron Butterfly, and backstage we were talking to one of the guys from Seattle - he had some interesting stories about Chris Cornell and Pearl Jam. These guys gigged with Cream, Zeppelin and Floyd etc, real icons. You are mainly in the Kidderminster area, what do you think of the local venues? We aren’t exactly inundated with good venues around here, but the town hall has hosted many good rock acts over the years. I still like the River Rooms in Stourbridge and I’m glad KK Downing set up his venue in Wolverhampton. We could do with more venues in the area, and I have always been tempted to do one myself to help liven things up. I live in the area too and miss ‘The Market Tavern’ and even the ‘Riverboat’, those places were legendary! Yep, people still refer to those places very fondly. So what’s next for Nightblade? Well, we already have plenty of ammunition for our next album and will be putting a live set together too. We are really excited about completing and recording three albums in three years, it was just a little target of mine. Now, that’s in sight, I’m not sure if to go for four albums in four years now...we are really going for it, so watch this space! Finally, is there anything you would like to say to HRH Mag readers? We hope you like the new album and stay tuned because there is more where that came from. Thanks for reading and see you at a show very soon! WORDS: DIANE DAVIES
BLACK ROZE HRH Sleaze favourites Black Roze will have a few new tracks in their repertoire when they hit the stage at the O2 Academy Sheffield this time around. The band has been hard at work during lockdown writing material for their follow-up to their 2019 release “Spiritual Hell”. The first teaser to be unveiled from the band’s forthcoming offering is the anthemic “Not Your Whore (Anymore)”. Speaking about the inspiration behind the band’s current single, lead vocalist Viixen said: “I think everybody has had an experience where they have been cheated on. It’s basically about love, loss and finding out you’ve been cheated on. And then revenge...” But the sinister motive doesn’t stop there. “Well, what’s the worst kind of revenge you can do if you’ve been cheated on?” jokes Viixen. “We’re going through all the normal cliches, and then we thought now what if she actually kills him? So that’s kind of what it’s about.” The song title itself carries a powerful message. “It’s a strong statement for a woman to say. What you might have thought I was, I’m not like that,” explains Viixen. “It’s quite an upbeat song with a dark twist.”
“Not Your Whore (Anymore)” is the first single from the band’s new chapter, but there is plenty more to come. “I think we’ve got the whole album written,” declares Viixen. “Most bands they go in, they record everything and then release a single. But because it’s been so long, we wanted to get a single out there as quickly as possible.” Indeed, when you have a single as good as the band’s latest release, why not strike whilst the iron is hot. Lead guitarist Baz Roze elaborates on the band’s release plans by stating that “We’re going to have a single now, then we’re going to do an EP. And then we will finish off with the album, which will be over a year - beginning of 2023. So as Viix says, we want to keep things ticking over.” Lead vocalist Viixen’s recent bout of illness has also inspired the band’s songwriting for their forthcoming album. “I’ve got one about when I was really poorly,” explains Viixen. “I had like an out of body experience. I’ve written a song called Let Me Live about that. A little bit like Soul on Fire from the first album, it’s quite emotional.” The personal nature of the band’s new material has fed into the current working title for their sophomore release. “We’re calling the album Penny For Your Sins. So, it’s almost like a confessional with all your deepest darkest thoughts and stuff that you’ve experienced. So, yeah, it’s going to be interesting,” declares Viixen. Whilst lockdown may have stopped Black Roze from hitting the road - it didn’t stop the band from performing. The group undertook several live streams and won over a whole new batch of fans in the process. “We probably got out to more people on those gigs than maybe the tour that we were going to do because it was more accessible. And so, it was nice to have a new crowd,” said Viixen. As a result of the success of Black Roze’s live streaming shows, they even got recognised in their local supermarket. “We really enjoyed it because it was that personal touch and seeing everybody’s comments. What we loved is that people were interacting with each other and having their own party. They were saying, oh look, I’m just going to get more beer. Because obviously, we drank our own body weight in Rose Wine as we were performing,” jokes Viixen. “When we finished, and played it back and looked at all of the comments, it was brilliant,” says Baz Roze. “It was like 150 people to 200 people have been having a party with us.” One thing is for sure - Black Roze always bring the party, as you will find out when the band returns to their home away from home at HRH Sleaze on the weekend of the 28th/29th August 2021 at the O2 Academy Sheffield. The band’s latest single, “Not Your Whore (Anymore)”, is out now via all digital platforms.
WORDS AND PHOTOS: ADAM KENNEDY
QUEEN LEGEND ROGER TAYLOR LIVE AND UPFRONT IN CONCERT. QUEEN CLASSICS AND BEST OF SOLO TRACKS. ACADEMY EVENTS & FRIENDS IN ASSOCIATION WITH PHIL McINTYRE LIVE & NEIL O'BRIEN ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS
ROGER TAYLOR OUTSIDER TOUR 2021
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iSkindred’s Benji Webbe
Earlier this year HRH favourites Skindred decided to go right back to the early days of their career and re-release their seminal album Roots Rock Riot However, the reason for this notion wasn’t an obvious one. “I said to the boys, let’s get it on vinyl. I want to have it because I’ve started collecting vinyl again,” said frontman Benji Webbe. “It was only a joke, and then next thing you know, we’re going through all the footage and looking at all the old stuff. And here it is - Roots Rock Riot has been released. I’ve got my copy, and it sounds absolutely fantastic.” Skindred’s sophomore album symbolises an important point in the band’s history, with a change in personnel from the original line-up featured on their debut release. “When Mikey and Arya joined the band, and we started doing Roots Rock Riot, for me, it was like, oh my God, I’ve got to see if these boys have got it now. Because I know the other guys who were in the band before that, they had what it took,” recalls Benji. “So, when we started writing it and all these files are floating around in the rehearsal space, for me, I felt very confident in what we were doing.” Now when you think of Skindred, you don’t often associate the band with acoustic music. However, on the re-issue of this release, the band have added an unreleased acoustic number titled “Struggle”. This track, in particular, showcases a rarely seen side of the Skindred repertoire. “It gives people a chance to hear what the guy who’s doing the screaming reggae sh*t can do with his voice. So, I think it’s done me a favour, and I’m proud,” said Webbe. Speaking of the background behind the song, Benji said: “Without getting too deep. I was going through a horrible, weird divorce at that time. I was torn between two lovers, as they say, and I really was. I found it a struggle at the time when I was writing that song and going through what I was going through. Being away from my hometown and recording in Florida was quite difficult. So that song reflects how I was feeling, being torn apart inside.” “Struggle” is not Benji’s only acoustic output. Besides Skindred, the powerhouse frontman has a side project which has kept him busy during the lockdown, Diamond Spider. “I describe it as Voodoo Blues with a cinematic twist. Me and a friend of mine, we’ve done a whole album during the lockdown,” explains Benji. Even though Skindred may have turned back the clock to work on the re-release of Roots Rock Riot, they are already thinking about what might come next. “We’ve just signed our eighth record deal. Every time we release an album, we end up leaving a label,” jokes Webbe. But now that the band have signed with Earache Records, they are raring to go. “We’ve got a sh*t load of songs that we’ve written during this pandemic, and they’re sounding really cool. This is some of the heaviest sh*t that we’ve ever done. And there is some real-life sh*t on there too,” declares Benji. “Our guns are loaded. We’re ready for this job.” This being the news that fans of Skindred have been waiting for. Of course, Skindred are widely renowned for their explosive and somewhat energetic live shows. The band may have had a long absence from the stage because of the pandemic, but they have lost none of their enthusiasm. “The way I feel right now, I’d play in a club with six people, a blind man and his dog and love it. I’m pretty hyped to get on stage and do it,” says Benji rather excitedly. We would expect nothing less from the charismatic frontman. It will soon be time to break out the Newport Helicopter as Skindred hit the road across the UK for an eagerly anticipated headline run in September. But that’s not all. Benji and company will also be returning to the HRH stage as part of the annual HRH Roadtrip to Ibiza during May 2022. For further details including tickets and booking details, please visit www.hrhroadtrip.com.
WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY
Skindred’s Benji Webbe
BRIAN SeTZeR Few artists could say that they rejuvenated and revitalised not one but two genres of music. But then again, not everyone has the talents and creative vision of legendary American singer, songwriter, and guitarist Brian Setzer. This year, the Stray Cats frontman has had a couple of projects on his agenda. The first of which is the re-release of his seminal album ‘Rockabilly Riot! Volume One: A Tribute to Sun Records’. Speaking about the music that came out of that world-famous studio, Setzer said: “That’s the music that makes my world go round. For some people, it’s blues; for some people, it’s jazz. The rockabilly music to me, he’s the dark cousin, he’s the bad boy. And it’s just something about the music that still lights me up.” For Brian Setzer, even though the aforementioned album was originally released sixteen years ago, there is a possibility the project may be revisited. “That Sun Records tribute that I did, it made more of an impact than I realised. And people still talk about that record. For me, it was just uncovering some gems that I wanted people to hear. And I guess I’ve got to do a Volume Two because a lot of people keep asking me about it.” But it doesn’t stop there. In August, the versatile artist will release his first solo album in seven years, titled ‘Gotta Have the Rumble’. The album is described as American music amped-up to ten, but for Brian Setzer, the starting point is always a riff. “I always start off collecting guitar riffs. I’m a guitar riff collector,” he explains. “My writing partner, Mike Himelstein, will send me a set of lyrics, and it will wind me up. And I’ll plug in that guitar riff, and I let the music take me where it wants to. That’s just how it works.” If you look at the album sleeve for Brian Setzer’s latest offering, you will see the artist straddled on the back of an impressive-looking Triumph motorcycle. The Stray Cats frontman’s love of bikes and Hot Rods fed into the inspiration for several tracks on the album. But what is it that he loves so much about these adrenaline-fuelled modes of transport? “I like the individuality of creating a Hot Rod. It’s really something unique, and each person has their own vision of what they want that to look like,” explains Setzer. “I’ve got to admit it’s also the adrenaline; there’s nothing like it. If anything’s bothering me, if I hop on my bike on the long country road, I always feel better coming off it. So that’s part of the attraction for me.” However, there is also a more personal message behind the title which relates to an ailment that has afflicted many people over the years, that being Tinnitus. But how is Brian Setzer going to contend with performing with such an affliction? “Well, that’s going to be a new one because I haven’t really performed with these ailments,” he said. “I think I’ll be able to get around it. It’s a challenge because, for those people that don’t know, it’s different for everyone. But for me, it’s basically a tea kettle in your ear.” But for the legendary artist, there is one thing that is going to be different. “I miss standing in front of my amp. Yes, that’s the thing I miss the most,” explains Brian. “Whenever I get in front of another amplifier, it just wasn’t the same. I had to get that volume moving the air out of the speakers.” Turn back the clocks to before the pandemic, and the Stray Cats returned to celebrate their landmark 40th anniversary with their first new studio album in 26 years. Speaking about the reunion, Brian describes it as being: “Like riding a bicycle. All the fun and the easiness of playing with your brothers comes back.” Subsequently, the Stray Cats changed their approach when recording their latest studio album, ‘40’. “What we did differently that really made it a pleasure was that we all recorded in the same room without dividers,” explains Brian. “We were all together. So, it was easy. It was fun.”
But with the legendary trio’s landmark anniversary now in their rear-view mirror, what does the future hold for the Stray Cats? “I definitely want to play again. We spark each other. We just catch fire,” proclaims Setzer. “I was surprised at the audience turnout. I had no idea we would get 20,000 people in Paris. I had no idea that people remembered. And not only that, but young people were turning out in their droves. This music kind of keeps recycling itself. So yeah, I definitely want to play with the Stray Cats again - it’s just a lot of fun.” Aside from his solo works and the Stray Cats, the versatile US-based artist also rejuvenated swing music and brought it back to the forefront via the Brian Setzer Orchestra. The latter may have been on the back burner whilst Brian pursues his other creative outlets, but he has plans in the pipeline for his adventurous musical ensemble. “I’ve got about 20 songs, maybe not quite that many, of things we haven’t recorded. I would like to record those. That’s really the next plan I have for that. You know, it’s very expensive, it’s an expensive undertaking. So, I want to make sure I have all my ducks in a row before I start that out,” explains Setzer. Having achieved so much in his career, is there anything left on the Stray Cats frontman’s musical bucket list? “At this point of my life, I really want to get this music above the radar again. Like a guy who plays the blues or jazz, I’d really like to get this music up again. I’d like to do some kind of record where I get a compilation together of all the great players who love this music. That would be a fun project for me, I think,” he says. “I know Jeff Beck. He loves rockabilly; I can get Jeff on a song. And then I can get Robert Plant on to sing. And then some lesser-known guys, who I think are young and starting out who deserve a shot. I think that’d be a fun project that would really get this music heard.” An ambitious and exciting project to say the least. With his new album in the bag, Brian Setzer ponders the second half of 2021. “The rest of this year I’m just going to enjoy, and then think about next year. Whether that will be a Stray Cat year, or I’ll just play some local fun shows with a couple of guys. But I’m going to enjoy and relax and take the rest of this year with my family,” concludes Brian. ‘Gotta Have The Rumble’ by Brian Setzer will be released via Surfdog Records on 27th August 2021. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY
Brian Setzer The Top Cat
s ’ i k Vi
FrEsh HEll Jack J Hutchinson WILD THORN KePLeR TEN Blind River haggard cat
Viki’s Fresh Hell
Jack J HUTCHINSON
Who are you? Jack J Hutchinson Band Roll Call? Jack J Hutchinson on vocals and guitar, Lazarus Michealides on bass and Felipe Amorim on drums. Hailing from? Burnley, Bedford…and Brazil! Journey so far? Born in Leicester, I spent my formative years in Burnley in the north-west before moving to London to be an artist and musician. After art school, I spent a few years as a session guitarist before getting sick of playing pop and returned to my hard rock and blues roots. I set up my own band featuring Laz and Felipe, and have since toured internationally, including shows in Brazil, Spain, Russia, France, Germany. We’ve played various highprofile festivals, including BluesFest at the O2 and Ramblin’ Man Fair, where we shared the bill with ZZ Top, Rival Sons and Blackberry Smoke. Support slots have included Monster Truck and Kris Barras Band. In 2020 we featured on the Earache Records album ‘New Wave Of Rock N Roll’, which hit the Official UK Vinyl Chart Top 10. Influences/sound? I see myself as a guitarist above anything else, and Jimmy Page has always been number 1 for me. But also, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Joe Duplantier, Rich Robinson, plus some of the old blues guys like Charlie Patton, Peter Green and BB King. I’m also heavily into horror movie soundtracks, so there’s a bit of Hammer Horror and John Carpenter in there too. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? Headlining a festival in Brazil in front of 8000 people. That was nuts! What does the future hold for Jack J Hutchinson Band? We’ve got a new album out later this year called ‘The Hammer Falls’. It’s full of killer melodies and heavy riffs. And then touring the hell out of it!
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTOS: LILI DAROCHA
Viki’s Fresh Hell
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTO: STEVE CHRISTIE Who are you? We are Wild Thorn from Newcastle Upon Tyne Roll Call? Ash Robertson – Lead Vocals Ell Robertson – Drums and backing vocals Owen Storey – Bass Guitar and backing vocals Sean Jay – Lead and Rhythm Guitar Journey so far? We formed in 2014 as a 5 piece releasing our first EP Full Throttle in 2015. When the band started we went with quite a heavy sound drawing from bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon mostly due to the presence of two lead guitarists. We played extensively over the UK playing at venues such as Bannermans in Edinburgh, The Old Sal in Nottingham, The Snooty Fox Wakefield, Club Rock up at Carlisle, Trillians in Newcastle and Nambucca in London. After a short break we returned in 2018 and decided to turn the band into a 4 piece after one of our guitarists left for university. We decided to follow our passion which was more rock n roll / hard rock and released our second EP Rockin N Rollin. We launched the EP playing our own headline show at the 02 Academy Newcastle. Since the bands formation we have played all over the UK including shows supporting bands such as Reckless Love, Deathstars and Blaze Bayley. In 2019 we played several shows with the American rock band Vigil Of War. Influences/sound? Our biggest influences include Van Halen, Motley Crue, Queen, Foo Fighters, Motorhead, Guns N Roses and AC/DC to name a few. Ash: I remember I used to listen to a lot of bands from the ‘80s growing up and I used to love the 2 word band names like Skid Row, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Van Halen. My first band for some reason ended up being called Behind Your Smile. I remember thinking at the time it seemed more like a cool song title than a band name. When I came round to starting Wild Thorn I wanted to come up with a band name that I could imagine would look cool on the billboard next to those old ‘80s rock 2 word band names so after a bunch of brain storming I decided on Wild Thorn and to this day the name has stuck! Maybe it has something to do with the fact I have it tattooed on my arm ha-ha. Stage presence is something that I really look for in bands probably before the actual music itself. I used to go see a lot of bands growing up and I used to think well their songs are good but they’re just standing there! I really love to see a band engage with their audience and that is why when I started Wild Thorn I made sure I ran about, interacted with the crowd, stood up on barriers and really tried to bridge the gap between the audience and the band. Favourite singers I take inspiration
from would be David Lee Roth when he fronted Van Halen, Vince Neil in his prime, Blackie Lawless, Axl Rose and Bon Scott to name a few. Ell: We all try and give things 110% percent but make sure we have a blast at the same time. There are no ego’s, no agenda. We do it for the fun and the love of the music. It’s great fun playing in a band with my brother Ash as we’ve always been close over the years and although we don’t share exactly the same music tastes we meet in the middle with many things. The sound we have developed in Wild Thorn draws from a mixture of rock n roll, metal and hard rock. Ash: I do have a small confession in that one of my favourite bands to this day is KISS who always have remained an influence on my performance and the way I try to brand and market my band. I think even though they have divided opinion over the years they still but on a hell of a show. I think it’s important to try and give people a show! Give people what they paid for as KISS would say. That’s something I try to keep in mind whenever I get on stage with Wild Thorn. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? Headlining our own show at the 02 Academy Newcastle for the release of our Rockin N Rollin CD. We are of course however extremely excited to be appearing at Hard Rock Hell Spring Break as it’s a festival many of us have been to over the years. We are really excited to be on the bill with a band like Reckless Love who we actually supported at The Cluny a number of years back. We can’t wait to get to Great Yarmouth and get up on that stage. It’s going to be a blast! Other proud moments include releasing our video Too Hot For Hollywood which was partly shot on location in Los Angeles and then in a studio back in Newcastle Upon Tyne UK. Ash: I remember when I was in LA I thought “wouldn’t it be cool to sing under the Hollywood sign?” Not realising it was quite a hike up the mountain. I got about half way and started seeing signs that said “Danger Snakes” so I decided to find a cool spot and shoot the video there as the last thing I wanted to be doing was to wrestle for my life with a rattle snake! What does the future hold for Wild Thorn? We have recently signed up with PPD Management run by Andy Turner, who also manages Syteria which features the guitarist Jax from Girlschool. We are looking forward to working with him and are currently planning a new CD to be released through Andy and Cargo Records. We are also welcoming a new guitarist into the band Sean Jay from Avenger / Maiden UK. Sean is bringing not only his guitar playing skills into the mix but also his mixing skills. Our plan is for Sean to produce our next CD and we can’t wait to get started. We are excited to work with him and to see what the future has in store for us!
Viki’s Fresh Hell
Roll Call? James Durand - Bass playing lead singer. Also plays keys and stomps on bass pedals. All very hectic. Enigmatic man of mystery when not on stage. Honestly, he’ll go “dark” and not return my messages for days! Alistair Bell - Our wee guitar botherer from north of the wall. Masterful technician and flying fretboard finger um, dude (ran out of alliterations). Sings backing vocals and is always cheerful, always incredible and always returns my messages :)
but how and when we were recording it kept changing. You know those potholes I was talking about?! Two delays to my drum tracking due to a chest injury and 6 months later a herniated disc in my back. Man that was painful. Then with things going quiet we lost touch with Mike and we decided to part ways, leaving James and I as a duo once again. White Star stuck with us though and we got on with a new search for a guitarist.
Enter Mr Bell. An advert brought Alistair to us. WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY Steve Hales - That’s me. A simple advert. Then PHOTO: ANDREW MERRITT I hit various things with boom. We saw him sticks and tinkle the once for a rehearsal ivories occasionally. Oh and some backing vocals. I also write the lyrics. and we were playing a festival show together. Amazing. Then we’re recording, he’s writing new guitar parts and we’re back cooking on gas. We Hailing from? finish the album and turn our attention to gigs...then, Covid. James and I are from central/south Hampshire/Wiltshire whilst Alistair is making his way steadily south from Scotland and is now somewhere over We managed to make the videos for Falling Down and Weaver in gaps in Norwich… lockdowns in 2020 and they were the single releases from A New Kind of Sideways which came out in Nov 2020. We’re all very proud of this album Journey so far? which received some crazy reviews and although we’ve had to wait to play It has been a long and winding road with probably more potholes than I’d the songs live we know that it will all be worth it when we come safely out care to mention. Back in 2014/15 ish and I was working in a band with Richie of this pandemic nightmare and can get back on with life again, properly. Cahill (original K10 guitarist). We were on the lookout for a bass-playing singer and knew about James through the local muso crowd. We met up, Influences/sound? it all clicked and we started working together. We’d decided to try a side We have a real mixed bag of influences across the three of us. Clearly old project tributing Rush, as we were big fans and it was a great test for us as prog like Rush, Yes, perhaps some Dream Theater, maybe Muse, some musicians. We called it R2 (as we clearly have a numbers thing going on Queen, but there is also a lot of weird and wonderful sprinkles here and with band names...) and we strived to play everything as authentically as there too. Alistair injects the odd bit of fusion, some almost jazzy licks one possible. No relying on backing tracks or extra band members. It took some moment and fast heavy technical picking the next. James will be popping time and patience, but eventually, we came to terms with all of the extra his thumb one minute and then be playing a smooth double bass. I like instrumentation and technology involved and had played some successful heavy stuff so my kick drums might get a workout but then a bit of classical shows. It was then that we looked at each other and said, “why aren’t we piano fits in nicely too. Ultimately the song is what matters. We just throw using all these tools to write our own songs?”. That’s where Kepler Ten colour at it and keep what sticks. It’s all a load of Jackson Pollocks really :). began. Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? We wrote and recorded our first album Delta-v in James’ studio and set There are so many cool moments. Playing with VHB was awesome. They are about looking for a way to market. James had seen that John Mitchell so damn good and really nice guys. We got to play with them at our home (Frost/Arena/It Bites etc.) and Chris Hillman had started up a new record venue in Southampton too and it was the first time my kids had seen us, label and were looking for bands. I put a pack together, sent it to Chris and so personally, that was a big one for me. Being nominated for an award in John and before long we were all sitting in a pub together having a pint and Prog Magazine was amazing. Seeing both of our albums selected on album discussing terms. It was fantastic. John Mitchell mixed and mastered the of the year top ten lists from respected reviewers around the world. For album, the incredible Paul Tippett created our artwork and we released on me personally though my proudest moment was releasing A New Kind of White Star Records in 2017. The reviews were excellent and we were blown Sideways. The work that everyone put into it was incredible, from Alistair away by the response Delta-v was getting. tracking guitars in the week he got married, to James and John mixing, to Paul’s amazing artwork and Chris working away on it behind the scenes. Unfortunately, the first bump in the road came soon after. Richie’s job We rode the potholes to get there and I’m really so proud of this album and changed and his personal life needed more of his time than he could give can’t wait to play it live. to the band, so unfortunately we had to part ways. It was an odd time, as around then Prog Magazine nominated us in the Limelight Award section What does the future hold for Kepler Ten? of the Prog Awards 2017. Life is like that sometimes. We were all made up We wrote 2021 off as far as gigs were concerned, but we do have about the nomination though. Wokingham Festival at the end of August. We played there a couple of years ago and were asked to return with a Rush set and some Kepler Ten. Then we Gigging/touring was clearly affected and it took us a little while to get look to next spring when hopefully life is a little more normal. We have HRH someone in to fulfil what remained of our dates. Mike Tillotson joined the Prog XII which we are very excited about and have something special lined band and we played some great shows supporting Von Hertzen Brothers, up for the end of that Saturday night on Stage 2. We are headlining Rushfest Lonely Robot and HRH Prog VI. We also put on our own double-header Scotland in Glasgow in May and are looking at a string of dates throughout evenings, supporting ourselves with a set of R2 followed by a full Kepler Ten that spring/early summer period as we finally get to tour Sideways. show, which proved very popular. Meanwhile, in the studio, we have been very busy working on brand new material which is shaping up rather nicely so hopefully there won’t be such The next couple of years were rather bumpy. We had the new album written a long wait for our next release.
Viki’s Fresh Hell
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY
Who are you? We are Blind River
those varied tastes and influences mix and hopefully produce something somewhat original.
Roll call? Harry Armstrong on vocals Chris Charles on guitar Dan Edwards on guitar Andrew Esson on drums Will Hughes on bass guitar
Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? I know we’re very proud of just completing a socially distanced coheadline tour with King Creature. This was arranged by Ben Ward of Orange Goblin through Route One Booking. We played 11 shows in 14 days and this started for us on Saturday 23rd May. The lockdown was lifted (to the extent that we could play socially distanced indoor gigs) on Monday May 17th. So, to be able to start and finish a UK tour so close to that lifting was unbelievable and a real adventure. We had an absolute blast - the guys in King Creature are great and we got on like a house on fire. It was so great to see that many people make the effort to come out and support live music.
Hailing from? Kent, Hampshire and Surrey Journey so far? We all became friends while travelling across the UK and Europe as members of previous touring bands. We’d hang out and have a good time together and we were also aware of what each of us brought to the table musically. So at some point we had the thought of maybe starting our own band together. It felt like we could skip the awkward “getting to know you” phase (both musically and personality wise) and get straight down to writing riffs and playing shows. Which we did! Creating music and playing live has always been at the forefront of this band. It’s what we all live to do. So we immediately jumped in a van and started playing as many shows as we could up and down the country. In our first year of existence we played 26 gigs and ended up on some cool bills like Hard Rock Hell, Bloodstock, Desertfest and opening for Grand Magus, Warrior Soul and Voodoo Six. Not much has changed, we still love playing live because we enjoy doing it and we have a good time ourselves. Hopefully that translates to the people we’re playing in front of and they dig it too. Influences/sound? First and foremost, we’re a rock band. Nothing more, nothing less. Heavy, foot stompin’ riffs, and some rhythms that you can shake your booty to. Classic rock, stoner rock, heavy rock, southern rock, we’ve been called them all. Deep down I think we inherently sound like us. We’re a mixture of our individual tastes and influences. When you put the five of us together,
Most of the shows were packed and even the crowd being seated couldn’t stop the energy being exchanged. I think it was a reflection of how much we all need live music. Both to play it and to watch and enjoy it. Just hanging out and chatting to people after the shows was really refreshing and I think it really hit home how much we had missed the experience of playing gigs. What does the future hold for Blind River? We have club shows and some more festival shows lined up for the rest of 2021 and in 2022 we have another 9 date tour booked. This time we’re taking in a run of Irish shows too. Again, we have more festivals lined up for next year (starting with HRH’s NWOCR Festival in January) and we’ll probably record album number 3 at some point in the Spring. We’re currently writing songs for that now. We had lots of time during lockdown to write riffs, but we decided that the best way for us to actually write a song is for all five of us to be in one room together with the amps cranked up and the drums being hit real hard. We need to feel the music together at volume to really know whether it’s working or not. I guess we’re probably quite old fashioned like that!
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTO: TOBY VAN DER VELDE
Viki’s Fresh Hell
Who are you? We’re Haggard Cat, which might feel a little unpleasant to repeat but think yourself lucky! We were originally branded by the much more unwieldy moniker of ‘Haggard Cat Bothday Present’, so thank god common sense prevailed. The name came from a ragged old street cat that once wandered into our old house/squat on my birthday and then refused to leave. We named him Stanley and fed him tuna. He was very lovable but extremely rough around the edges, a lot like us really which was kind of unplanned... the name became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Roll Call? Matt (me) - I play guitar and sing like a sailor. Tom – Drums, and offers up the occasional planned microphone grunt Chris - A Wooden Stool (seriously) Hailing from? Nottingham, UK Journey so far? We actually started out very casually, absolutely ages ago, back when both me and Tom (not Chris) were in Baby Godzilla (later known as Heck). That band was starting to really pick up steam so we formed HC as a way to be able to still play shows in the downtime when BG needed to be more exclusive. The quiet non-gigging life really wasn’t for us and so the Cat was born... except we had no songs and had already booked gigs, so we quite literally had to just go on stage and make it up as we went along (inspiration helped along by a bottle of bourbon placed on Chris that was determinately finished by the end of each set) - although it can’t have been too bad because people kept booking us. Eventually those impromptu songs became our first demo/album ‘Charger’ which is still poking about on Bandcamp. Fast forward a couple years to 2017 and Baby Godzilla (now Heck) was calling things a day. Now was our time to shine, as Haggard Cat stepped into the spotlight for real. We started to write real songs and write actual set-lists and curb the whiskey drinking (a bit) and in the process managed to lock-in a couple of tasty support tours with some heroes of ours (including the inimitable Jamie Lenman). We recorded our second album ‘Challenger’, which felt like the big brother to our first effort. We were just about to self-release once again through our Bandcamp page when Earache Records crept out of the woodwork and signed us to release the thing world-wide. From here we played innumerable gigs, tours, festivals. Between 2018-2019 we were nonstop like we’d always wanted! Alongside this, we were already working on a follow-up album, our most accomplished record to date, ‘Common Sense Holiday’ (2020). We felt we had done all we could with our balls-out “cowboy riffs and shouting” approach of the previous records, so we set out to create something much more thoughtful and progressive. The record was an opportunity for us to live out some musical fantasies. Politically things were starting to escalate in the world around us and things were very unsettled which bled into the tracks of CSH, and also into our lives around the album; everything felt very uneasy. In the lead up to release we
sealed ourselves in a concrete box for 24 hours as a visual metaphor for the stifling effect Brexit was about to have on touring bands, a sentiment that mirrored the album track ‘European Hardware’. Things seemingly continued to escalate, it felt like we were building to some awful crescendo. Then literally days before the album came out, the worst happened as the whole world went into lockdown and we were unable to move or do anything else around the release. Alongside this, our label fell silent, following many other issues we’d been having with them prior to this. By now we felt suffocated and like we’d come as far as we needed to go down this path so we decided to take matters back into our own hands and to do things our own way - once again becoming a completely DIY band. We felt more free than ever, able to carve out our own exciting path again. At this point we were approached by double-GrammyAward-winning producer Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse) who had heard CSH and loved it. We started working on the next step together and that brings us to now... Influences/sound? We’re a big old melting pot, which starts out at the more obvious classic rock and prog rock pioneers like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and the Mahavishnu Orchestra and fuses it with the more abrasive punk sounds of bands like Fugazi, Metz and Nirvana. Throw in a pinch of high energy posthardcore via At the Drive-In and Refused and a sprinkling of sexiness from Death From Above 1979 and Chromeo. Top it all off with big riffing metal bands like Baroness and Mastodon and you might arrive somewhere near what we do. Sound exhausting? Good! Biggest gig/proudest moment to date? There have been tonnes in the relatively short time we’ve been doing this band for real (just over three years really). We know we’re very lucky for all the opportunities we’ve had - but we like to think we’ve worked insanely hard through it all too. I think particular highlights for me have been playing the mainstage of my favourite festival, 2000 Trees, to an absolutely enormous crowd, opening for Band of Skulls at the legendary Metropolis Studios and of course, most recently, working with Adrian which was a total “pinch me” moment. What does the future hold for Haggard Cat? The songs we’ve recorded with Adrian feel like yet another HUGE step forwards for us in terms of our sound. They’re the most direct and impacting tracks we’ve ever created and it very much feels like we’ve focussed all our song-writing chops into what is truly our best work. These tracks will feature on our EP “Cheer Up” which will be released independently on September 3rd and followed immediately with a huge UK tour (the same tour that has now been 18 months/4 reschedules in the making). After that? Try to take over the world of course!
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTO: CARLA MUNDY
DEAD REYNOLDS Dead Reynolds release their debut album this September - HRH Mag got the lowdown on the band including how they used their time in lockdown to set up an exciting album launch gig...
a really strange place to be, but we felt it was the only way we could keep people engaged and up to speed with what we are doing. It’s not been easy recording songs and videos as there have been so many controls, restrictions, and red tape to go through, but we found a way and managed to bring people along with us!
Good afternoon guys, How do we find Dead Reynolds today? We are all good and thanks for asking!! It’s hot and we are sizzling at the moment but really looking forward to getting out there again. We play our first festival for 2 years this weekend at Penn Fest opening the Main Stage with Razorlight, Craig David & Ella Eyre as headliners, so we are well pleased. More shows to come! We are all safe and keeping well.
You carried on writing but did the situation spur on greater creativity in terms of how you write together as a band? It did! All of the new songs are a product of the situation and a reflection of what we have all been going through. You can hear in the lyrics about what we all had to endure and where we are all hoping to go. We wanted to put something together that was uplifting and would give people hope. Also, something that would be a substitute for the live experience until we can all share a stage again.
I really like the new single “Bring It Down”, can you tell us a little about the track? Really pleased you are liking it; we are stoked by the response to Bring it Down and the amount of media and radio coverage it has had! Bring it Down was written in January by Dom and Jack Murphy our producer when the country was in the depths of lockdown when it was cold and miserable - so we felt that a summer sounding anthem was in order to try and lift people’s spirits and really reflect what was going on. The song is about solidarity, coming together after, unity and being part of something, with the lockdown and all that it brings being a huge influence and outlet! After the last 15 months, we needed a song that would lift people, that feeling of live anticipation when the lights go out and when the hairs stand up just waiting for the band and the first bar kicks in – well that’s Bring it Down! Big melodies, making you feel like part of a movement. The track explores mental health issues, feelings of isolation, self-belief and how we deal with situations and just how important people are to people! This is encompassed in the video shot by Sam J Lance – longtime collaborator and friend of the band with the scenes focused around one individual who is isolated and lonely but through the power of music and like-minded people he becomes accepted. The band have taken great pride in shooting the video made up of fans who have become like family! You have an album launch in September, what can we expect from the release? We are doing an album launch show in an iconic hotel in Norfolk, we wanted to do something different, so we are using their Victorian ballroom and turning it into a glitz and glamour night, and we are going to play the album in its entirety. We have invited along 2 acts that we are very close to, both exceptionally talented, well known on the local scene and great friends. Kingdom Keys will open the show and Tom Lumley and The Brave Liaison play main support and we are thrilled to have Alex Baker of Kerrang! Radio hosting the night and then doing a rock disco. We want to blow the roof off the ballroom and showcase the talent in East Anglia. It’s nearly sold out too so we can’t wait! Lockdown had a really negative effect on bands and artists, how do you keep the message out there? Social media has been the only way and embracing technology like digital meetings. We have had a far bigger presence on all of the social media platforms and noticed the engagement going up, purely because there haven’t been any live shows or festivals. It’s been a weird time! We actually released more singles and videos in 2020 than we played shows which is
In terms of the future, what can we expect – do you have a wishlist of things to push for? Tour the world, play Download and Reading/Leeds, support the biggest bands out there?! No seriously, like every band we want to take it as far as it can go and not miss any opportunity! In terms of the immediate future, we have a UK tour coming up taking in some local venues and major cities but even that’s been a mission to organise and get the green light for due to the restrictions. We want the album to live and breathe and for people to digest it and hopefully really enjoy it so we can use it as a platform for bigger shows. We have a rockumentary coffee table book coming out courtesy of Nick Elliott the world-renowned rock art photographer, sounds cool right!?? Nick is a friend of the band and lives close to use and is a long-time supporter of what we do so when he approached us about doing a glossy book about Dead Reynolds, it was a no brainer!!! Nick has photographed all of the rock greats Robert Plant, Slash, Jon Bon Jovi, Lemmy, Ozzy and the list goes on. What he does is capture the spirit of the band or artist in images and turns them into amazing coffee table books. Due to the lockdowns and restrictions, it’s been a slow start, but we are up and running now so watch this space! Tell us about you guys, how’s the rock scene where you are in East Anglia What bands should we be looking out for? The rock scene is awash with talent from our area and we are lucky to have either played with them or be friends with them! We have mentioned Kingdom Keys and Tom Lumley as they are on our launch show but there’s also Standing Like Statues, Hollowstar, False Hearts and Dear Monday from Cambridge, Youth Killed it from Norwich, Call to the Faithful and Novastatus from Peterborough and of course Lonely the Brave and Deaf Havana who are well known from our area! Singer-songwriters are also there, and our good friend Christian Smith is doing really well so check him out! The venues are coming back too so we want people to go and support their local music scene as it’s been a lonely road for bands, singers, and venues over the past 15 months! Thanks for catching up with me, today ..any final words? Look after each other, you will always have a friend in music, even when there feels like there’s nothing else, put on your favourite song and let it take you away to memories or the future! If you happen to have a Dead Reynolds tune on, play it loud and let us know what you think, we would love to hear from you! Thanks for the chat and don’t forget to “Breathe with Strangers!”
WORDS: JOHN ELLIS PHOTO: SAM J LANCE
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THe MERCURY RIOTS The Mercury Riots are the rock‘n’roll love child of 3 guys with a CV that makes them legends on the LA scene. With former members of Warner Drive, The Brave Ones and Bullets and Octane, and with hit releases already under their belt, the guys are set to light up the UK as soon as they get the green light. Hi Zach, Jonny and Felipe. The Mercury Riots, when and how did the band come together? J: We started the band right before the pandemic broke out. Felipe and Zach had a handful of songs they had demo’ed out and when they showed me the songs it was a no-brainer. “Light It Up” and our next single “Make It” we’re amongst the songs they first showed me. What were the drivers behind the rock’n’roll sound of The Mercury Riots rather than the high octane punk rock that we are used to hearing you guys deliver? F: Coming from a punk background, it’s always a lot of fun to play fast, aggressive music and to feel that energy every night, but it won’t be much different than what you’ll see with The Mercury Riots. It’s still Jonny playing drums, Zach playing bass and singing and me on the guitar. Expect a hell of a rock’n’roll show at The Mercury Riots traveling circus!
what we do, and are grateful to be in the position we are, to travel the world, visit a different city every day, and play music for people that appreciate what we do. After 2 hit album releases and a hugely successful run of dates spanning 3 years in the UK and Europe, Bullets and Octane are currently on hiatus. Are there any plans in the works to make another album? J: We’ve had some great times touring around the UK and Europe with Bullets and we’ve met some amazing people along the way (Hi Viki!!) As far as an album goes, we won’t be working on any new BAO material. How do you find audiences differ across the globe and how do you cope with life on the road? Living in an RV with 4 other guys has got to present some challenges!? Z: As many differences as there are from country to country, city to city, what I love the most is what every city has in common. Those that come out to a live rock’n’roll
You have a long history together, you have toured the world with great success - I’m getting a sense that you actually really like each other! What is the dynamic between you guys that makes it work so well? F: We do! The three of us get along really well. I think we all respect each other a lot, not only as friends but as musicians. We enjoy
THE MERCURY RIOTS page 36
THe THE MERCURY RIOTS show just want to go out and have a good time with their friends, have some whisky, and listen to some good music. So when we get up there, we better not disappoint! F: Living on the road takes a huge toll on all of us. As fun and as rewarding as it is, it’s mentally and physically draining. It’s a constant hustle, from the second we get to LAX and check our bags, till we’re all finally back in our own beds. By the time we get back home, it’s understood, we’re not talking to each other for a while. We all know each other pretty well - the quirks, the pet peeves, the food we like, the food we dislike, and most importantly we know how to wake up Jonny. It’s a very delicate process, but hey, I’m not one to talk. Zach keeps it together for the both of us in the mornings. Jonny and I don’t function very well before noon. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true, there’s a bond that forms after going through the struggles, the highs, the lows and everything that comes with being a rock’n’roll band on the road.
Tell the HRH Mag readers about how Covid-19 has impacted upon you as a band and as individuals? What was it like living through lockdown in a city that is so very much all about the arts? F: We’ve all been able to stay relatively healthy throughout the pandemic, and we’ve managed to stay surprisingly productive considering the circumstances. We started The Mercury Riots, wrote and recorded a whole album’s worth of music. When there’s so much downtime, there’s not much else that will keep us as entertained as playing guitar and writing songs - and we’ve had our fair share of downtime these last couple years, so there’s a ton of material for us to work on. How did you keep up the momentum of writing songs and recording new material when all performing was on hold? Z: It was extremely difficult when the city was quarantined and under complete lockdown. At that point, we were just writing individually at home, and then we’d send voice memos and stuff like that and then when we’d finally meet up, we’d go over the message thread and pick whichever one stood out at the moment. How does it feel, the thought of getting back on stage with a new project and in what feels like a different world? F: It’s all very exciting, not only because it’s a new band and new songs, but we haven’t played a show together since this all began. There’s been some performances here and there but no proper rock shows. It’s reminiscent of the excitement and the nerves you felt when you were a kid. It’s kinda refreshing! Staying on that topic, do you have a release date for the album as yet? J: We do not have a released date set in stone but as of now we’re looking at a 2022 release. The three of us grew up listening to records, and love the album listening experience so it’s important for us to carry on with that tradition. But In the meantime, we will be releasing singles until the fulllength album comes out. Until we see you next guys, what will be keeping you all out of mischief? F: I find myself usually going to the studio to work on The Mercury Riots songs or recording with my other band The Alright Alrights. In my free time, you can catch me grilling on my patio, dancing to “Huey Lewis and The News” and nostalgically looking out my window! Z: I’m always busy with my other projects as well as producing for other artists and bands. I was also a recent guest on Jonny’s podcast where we talked about some tour stories and craziness! But I’m excited to get back out in the world playing the music we’ve been working on all this time. J: During the pandemic, Ryan from Warner Drive and I started a new podcast called “The Whatever Buddy Podcast“. It’s been really exciting for me and has been a good thing for my neurotic brain to let loose for the whole world to hear!! Haha! So go check it out! Along with that my business partner Martin Nilsson and I run a management / tour company called To All Of You. So with all that I’m pretty busy! WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY PHOTO: MATT GRAYSON
“We enjoy what we do, and are grateful to be in the position we are - to travel the world, visit a different city every day, and play music for people that appreciate what we do”
FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM
FEAR FACTORY - DINO CAZARES
FEAR FACTORY In 2021, Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares has no fear. The last few years has seen him publicly battle bankruptcy and lawsuits that almost deemed the end for Fear Factory. But with a trademark win in place, the sole original member of the band is looking forward with optimism, a passion for music, and the gift of brand new and aptly titled album ‘Aggressive Continuum’. I sat down with him to banter about the important things in life: live music, 7-string guitars, Terminators’ T-1000’s, Metallica onesies, and thincrust pizzas at the Rainbow Bar & Grill... I must say that I’m quite surprised that you’re only the third female that I’ve spoken to in about 100 interviews. Wow. I’m surprised considering how many female fans I see at concerts. I’m also seeing a lot of the younger generation wearing Fear Factory t-shirts nowadays. How do you feel being part of a band that has inspired a whole new generation? It’s cool that a younger audience have gotten into our music. Somebody’s parents could have been into Fear Factory 25 years ago, and their kid could be 15 years old now into the music as well. I’ve seen it with a million bands, especially like Metallica and Pantera where people buy a t-shirt for their kids, or onesies for their babies. I think it’s cool that that happens. Yes, I find it inspiring. And what inspires you, Dino Cazares? The passion for the music and the passion to make people happy, you know what I mean? I think that’s one of the great things about the band’s success; is that we were able to create a unique sound that people love and became attached to. The minute I pick up a guitar and the pick hits the string, that really drives me, and it really excites me to this day. You know, we have a vast array of different influences; our social surroundings, and our environment really plays a big role in our music and it becomes a part of our day to day lives. All those things combined. And, just being nine years old and falling in love with AC/DC and seeing Angus Young play, it just turned me on from there. I could never shake it off. And, you know, here I am at 50 plus years old and still doing what I’m doing.
And loving it. I can see your passion for music! Not everyone has that... I’ve met some people who are not really that big music fans and I don’t understand it. I cannot relate. Ha! I know what you mean. If you meet someone at a party and they say, ‘I don’t really listen to music’, where does your conversation go from there? Well, it’s not that they don’t listen to music, but maybe they don’t take the time to get to know it, you know? But as far as getting into it, that’s another thing, you know, and it’s so weird, like, what’s your favourite band? I don’t know. Now, what’s what song do you like? I don’t know. The last song I heard on the radio, you know, I just can’t really relate to those people. The music world has been turned on its head over the last 18 months. How have you spent this time? Trying to survive. You know, we went through a very tumultuous legal battle over Fear Factory, and it was something that really engulfed my life unfortunately; financially, physically, emotionally, everything above. And I think you hear that on the new record. You know, you hear the struggle and the strife that we went through to just to get it out. You’ve been very public about the trials and tribulations with making the album. Did you ever think it wasn’t going to get released? Oh, one hundred percent at one point. Well, I always thought that it was going to get released, I just didn’t know if it was going to get released as a Fear Factory record. We might have had to change the name to something else just to get it out because the trademark name was held up in court. Luckily, it turned out great and the legal battle turned out in my favour, so we were able to complete this record and get it out to you. Does the album have the same meaning to you now is what it did back when it was initially recorded? No, it’s a completely new record. That’s just how I feel. I felt like I put new passion into it. Back then, it was just a different vibe, different era. Half of my mind was somewhere else. Fast forward to 2020, that’s when I really started to focus on what I could do to improve this record and make it even better. We
FEAR FACTORY - DINO CAZARES You also contributed to the soundtrack for the TV Show Ozark, how awesome was that? Yeah, it was a very proud moment. Very exciting. We’ve had our music in a lot of TV shows, a lot of movies, and a lot of video games. But seeing your music in one of your favourite shows is on another level. Ozark is such an amazing show, amazingly written, filmed, everything. They ended up using our music to torture somebody in a prison cell. That was great. It’s a talking point at a dinner party, right? Definitely. I don’t even know how many emails and text messages I received. I got so many. It was really cool. You know, I often write music from something that might have inspired me, like those old classic movies I still love watching. Oh yeah? Like what? Well, I have a handful. There’s Dune, there’s obviously the Terminators. And of course, all those Prometheus and Aliens movies that came out. Can you believe it’s been 30 years since Terminator 2 was released? Yeah, it’s been it’s been a long time. Our first record title, ‘Soul of a New Machine’ came from a review of Terminator 2, it’s what they referred to as the T-1000. And our second album ‘Fear is the Mind Killer’ came from Dune.
“I am the last man standing and if I remain, I will not fear what’s coming next.” added live drums and some more keyboards on it. You know, all those played a big role and making this record what it is today. Fear Factory have always been a band that likes to tweak around and experiment. How do you feel being an integral part of the process? Well, for me, music is all about experimentation. It’s about discovery and challenges. You know, in some ways it should be dangerous or radical. You can’t fear to try new things because those fears could keep you from discovering something new or adding new elements into your music The same can be said about life, right? Exactly. You were the kid who bought a one-way Greyhound bus ticket to L.A. to live your dream, and the rest is history. You took a leap of leap of faith. Does that mentality stay with you throughout all your pivotal moments in life? It does when it comes to music, I always feel like I have to prove myself. I still feel like that kid who just got off the Greyhound bus trying to make it in the music industry. I never lost that drive; that hunger to keep creating the music that I do, you know. Yeah, music can be hard work, no matter how bad or how good your songs are. And I just never strayed from the reason why I’m here and doing what I love to do. I chose music as my life. I’m what they call a lifer! And you choose movies too, right? I know these influence your music... Of course, movies like Terminator, Blade Runner, all those futuristic movies have inspired me over the years. They provoke a feeling. You know, I’ve seen some movie directors so focused that they can almost seem like assholes. I mean, because they’re trying to get the actor involved to see their vision. And I think that’s where I’m at sometimes. I mean, it’s hard to get somebody to understand what’s in your head. (Making this record) my mind was free; I was able to easily explain my vision to the people who were working with me and luckily that everything all connected. It came out great.
So, each album literally tells a story? Yeah! There’s a story of the album and the story of the band members. And it’s just sometimes they intertwine. What’s the story for you nowadays? What’s the story of Aggression Continuum? The title ‘Aggression Continuum’ means that it’s an ongoing thing, Fear Factory will continue. Unfortunately, I am the last man standing. And if I remain, I will not fear what’s coming next. I’m also telling the story of not to fear change because change is inevitable, right? There’s going to be some new chapters written for Fear Factory. You know, we’re going to be continuing with a new singer, and we’ll evolve from what we started thirty years ago. Is this a new chapter with new band members moving forward? Or could you see yourself collaborating again with some of your old band members in the future? I do not see that in the future at all whatsoever. And I’m not planning on that. If it happens, it happens. But it’s not something that I’m planning on. I’m very excited to move forward because there does need to be some sort of new elements into our music. I mean, when we have a new singer, they’re going to be different, and sound different. You’ve got to give them some of their own identity. So, Fear Factory are moving forward, not back? Yeah. You have to have the passion, the patience, and the drive to make it happen. No excuses, only you can make it happen. And gender does not play a role in my decision on who going to be the frontman, or just in general in the band. So, I could have a chance then? Though, I can’t sing... Well, if you could play bass or whatever? Maybe a cowbell? Or a triangle? I’d give it a go! Although, I may feel a little inferior next to you playing your 7-string guitar. What made you go there? Well, I don’t feel like I have mastered the instruments, because you never stop learning. Why I transitioned from six to seven string is because of the tunings. We were tuning low at the time and the strings were a little floppy on a six string. So, I went to a baritone seven string, which made the tension proper and a lot easier. I also went to a company called Ormsby Guitars, which is based out of Perth, Australia, because they have mastered the multi-scale guitar. It’s like a fan-fret which means the lower strings are a little further than the higher strings, and that is for better tension on the guitar. Ah! That explains it. In other news I confess, I did a little Insta-stalk and saw you were at the Rainbow Bar & Grill in L.A recently? What a music institution! Love that place. Great pizzas... YES! Me too. The pizzas are great, they do thin crusts ones now. We’ve been into those recently. Jealous! What does the Rainbow Bar & Grill mean to you? History. I was 17 years old the first time I went. I fell in love with the place, all the musicians went there. Now, you meet younger people there, and when I ask them how they knew about the place, they say it’s because of their parents. Does that make you feel old? I don’t feel old at all! Not yet. Not yet.
WORDS: DIANE EVANS
It was only a couple of years ago that Dee Snider was sure that walking off stage may well have been for the last time, after a long and explosive career both as the frontman with metal legends Twisted Sister, and as one of the most respected solo artists in his own right. When I began speaking with him about his new album “Leave a Scar”, the legendary frontman was very clear that life, the world, and the man himself went through some very significant changes and in his own words he found that he was “pretty bad at retiring” - if anything he found himself creatively ready to start writing and look at performing again. Hi Dee, it’s great to meet you today, congratulations on the new LP, I’m really looking forward to hearing it, can I start by asking you about the new record and working with Hatebreed’s Jamie Jasta again? Hey John, good to meet you too yeah! Well let’s say Jamie and I are very much on the same page attitude-wise, and he really studied me, channelled me, created words on the last album so that I couldn’t work with anyone else. But this time out so much was happening in the world, I had so much that I wanted to communicate and make statements about. I said I know it’s time for me to step in here and be part of this process. So it was me, Jamie and Charlie Belmore and a little bit of Nicki Belmore doing the writing. Great to see George Fisher with you on the album as well, he’s not someone I would’ve necessarily connected to you, how did that happen? Yeah, man, that was my idea. You know, I waved the flag. From day one I’m a metalhead you know, like I got the first Sabbath album, the first Led Zeppelin when it came out, I got Blue Cheer when it came out, it was called hard rock then. And it was a choice, it was like people choosing - “well, I’m on this side or I’m on that side. I’m not a hippie, I’m a hard rocker” and hard rockers became heavy metallers and headbangers. So I am just a true fan of metal and continue by the grace of my kids who continue to keep me exposed over the years, a fan of metal and a champion of all metal. One of the things that angers me more than anything is the way we fight amongst ourselves over what is metal. (Back then) people got people, we have a small slice of the pie. Do we really need to chop it up? Even finer? You know, you don’t have to love it all, you know what I mean? But you still accept them and say, yeah, yeah, there’s a family connection. I love it all. I just started to hear Corpsegrinder’s voice, like just sort of echoing the statements I was making. And I remember when I was recording, I said “Amen!” as one of those things you say out loud and you don’t really think it’ll happen. I don’t know why, but I said, oh, would it be cool if like Grinder co-ops on here? Like sing it with me. And Jamie goes, well, he’s on my podcast. I’ll ask him, you know? And I’m like, really? And then he told me that Corpsegrinder was practically emotional. You know he was like “Dee Snider wants me to be on a song?!” and people are freaking out over this track because no heritage, artist or classic metal artist has ever really reached across the other side and said, “Hey, let’s do something together.” You know what I mean? So they were just over the moon - just the idea that someone from my generation is doing something with someone from the other side, that other darker side of metal that certain metalheads, you know, that’s the line to cross. There’s no melody, you know, but I get, I get it. It has its place. I totally get that, that voice, that type of singing, no melody metal singing has its place. Yeah. You’ve got to be trained to do that as well. Your vocals are never going to last, unless you train yourself… We were talking about who’s going to do this live. So far we have two people simultaneously to try to emulate the neck, you know, well, maybe both of us sing at the same time. It’ll kind of sound like George, you know! Do you think that’s something you might do going forward? Look at more diverse or contemporary sort of artists to see if you can take yourself in new directions? I would love to, and you know, it’s funny - I think it’s a respect thing more than
anything. It’s not fear, but they don’t think to ask, “Hey, maybe these guys would do a vocal on this, you know, be cool.” We get, you know, Dee Snider. I mean, I occasionally get it, but, you know, I don’t think they think to ask, and I try to open those doors. Somebody said to me on social media, would you ever do something with Baby Metal? And I said, yeah. I’m people say, oh wow, really? He would do something. So I’m hoping they get the idea that I am a champion of all styles of metal. My daughter, she’s so hardcore too. She likes the most brutal stuff - Jamie looked at her playlist and he was like, “Jesus Christ, she’s more brutal than me!” And on the first album everything had to be run past Shy. It was like, what does Shy think? You know? It’s gotta be harder. I remember seeing so many bands. There was a band called Attack Attack - I was taking Shy to the Van Warp Tour to see a whole bunch of bands and Attack Attack was on there. And it’s a couple of days before she goes, “You’re singing with Attack Attack!” And I was like, what? She says, “Yes, I contacted the band - and there’s a part in one of their songs, this bridge part, which is really melodic. And you could do a really good job! I told them that!” So like, I don’t even think they thought she was for real what she said, “My father’s Dee Snider!” I show up - I just went up there and I belted out my part, you know, and, uh, shocked faces in the crowd. What’s that old guy doing up there singing! I was really fascinated by why you called the album Leave A Scar. I thought it might be more about your heritage and legacy, and because you considered retirement and you made your mark and left your scars. You‘re making sure you’re remembered. But now when you talk about working with more modern bands and artists, you’re leaving new scars there as well going forward… Well, I’m glad, I’m glad the phrase seems to resonate with people. It’s from a song on the album called Stand, and the last line of the chorus is “Don’t leave your mark, leave a scar.” You know this is it, you only got one time here, and the song is just about that there’s just too much sidelines sitting, hoping it’ll work out - in every aspect of life, you know. You just gotta figure out what you’re about and just leave a scar. You make your people remember you. So yeah that’s how it became the title of the album, and you’re spot on - I don’t just want to leave a memory, I want to leave an indelible memory that somehow just carries it on for years to come. Yeah I get it, I’m a lifelong rock fan too - and I was really young, probably 10 when I saw you on The Tube (UK TV show) - and you left a scar there. I saw that performance and saw the passion and the anger, the raw energy as well. It stayed with me, and it would have stayed with millions and millions of other rock fans and metalheads as well. I remember the first time I heard “Wake Up The Sleeping Giant” on the Tommy Vance Radio Show, and it was a call to arms and I could connect the two things. It’s something that you’ve always done. You’ve always led. You’ve always been at the front, this is what we do. And you’re doing it with us, whether you like it or not! You gave me a chill because you just gotta get through the haze, you know? As I said on that show, that was spontaneous. Yeah. I mean, I have thought that this was gonna be a tough crowd. I had a thought that we were going to need to do something really dramatic. The only person I told was my roadie. I said, get a towel and take this make-up remover. He didn’t even know why, and I just had a feeling I needed to do something dramatic at that time - you know, to get through, to wake people up. I said, you people here in the back, if you remember, I said if you’re just not engaged, what about the other people sitting in a comfy chair at home, what are they doing? Zoning out? How do I get through to them? And as you know, years later, I went to up to The Tube again, the entire wall of the green room - and it was a wall, easily 25, 30 feet, long, 12 feet high - was a blown-up picture of that moment of rock and roll. “But I Like It”, with the band - Lemmy, Robbo and the pyro going off. I said, “Holysh*t!”, and they said, “That is the greatest moment on this show ever. That is the greatest moment we ever had.” I was like, again, leaving a scar you know, there it was! It was a fantastic thing - I can understand where that was coming from, the frustrations about trying to break America. I guess it’s fair to say that you were picked up pretty quickly in Britain, we took to Twisted Sister very, very quickly - you’ve always had a good relationship with us here! Well, yeah. I mean, even though we had this incredibly passionate, regional following, who kept us cheered on for years and kept us going, it’s still there was just this feeling like we were at our wit’s end. We didn’t know what to do to get to that next level in the States you know. I remember doing the “have it your way kid” with pictures with makeup, or without makeup that we were going to send out and say, look, if you want to sign us, and if it’s the makeup, that’s the thing. Cause remember this is like ‘80, ‘81. So it’s not like the glam thing hadn’t come back in vogue. So we were like, all right, you know, we’ll go either way. At this point, we just need to get a deal. And then we came to the
Dee Snider UK and, you know, we’re welcomed with open arms as these crazy yanks, you know? And that was amazing! Let’s talk about the recording process - how did you find that, during a global pandemic and lockdown? Did it present problems using technology, how did you overcome that sort of stumbling block when you can’t be in a room with people? You know, fortunately for the world, technology was at a place that could handle COVID, you know what I mean? Imagine if it was 20 or 30 years ago, schools would have just been shut, kids just without education, businesses would have been completely closed. There would have been no Zoom calls. This wouldn’t be going on. You know what I mean? So recording was not really hampered because most people have the technology within their reach to, you know, make, create and record great-sounding music. So I honestly don’t even know what everybody else was doing on their end. Nikki Belmore has his own studio and Jamie lives near there, and I’m pretty sure Jamie was going to the studio and Nicky and Jamie were kind of just making that their bubble, you know. I’ve been living a way out of the New York area for a long time. So I recorded everything in a local studio by me with COVID restrictions, things like that. But once you get in that booth and turn on those mics, the technology is such that Jamie and Nicki are listening in real-time, they’re hearing the actual vocal as it sounds going to - it’s not tape anymore - but as it’s being recorded even though we’re not in the room together. Which was the way we recorded a lot of the last record too. I only got to go in the studio a couple of times, but then the rest of the time I was on the West Coast. So it wasn’t that much different for us and the results, you know, I think we really benefited from it, even though the first record was incredibly cohesive. But the fact that we’d done two years playing shows together as a unit, I think it really built in trust. Building that relationship, you know, the understanding of how it all fits together. So that part was pretty easy. It’s the anniversary of MTV. It’s 40 years old and Twisted Sister were at the forefront with music videos and the promotion that came with that. How have you found social media for getting the message across and talking about recording and telling people there is music coming out? One interesting aside this Sunday is the MTV Television and Movie Awards and the scene from Cobra Kai where I sing “I Wanna Rock” and Johnny’s there with Miguel, is actually nominated for an award…and I feel pretty good about our chances! So the old man’s back on MTV - they turned their back on me for the last 30 years (laughs), and you know, with social media, I’m stumped. I’ll put it this way - when I write about politics, or I write about food, pizza or when I write about other things in the world, you know, it blows up - thousands and thousands share and it’s deemed controversial. But if I write about music and it’s like a quarter of the people responding, whenever it’s about music, social media is not interested. I guess they expect you to talk about music, so if you do, they don’t react. So I don’t know, at the end of the day, what is the value, as big as I think it is. I know who does think the value is huge - corporate America. They immediately check out how many followers does he have? How big, how many hits is he getting? And they’re judging you by it. So I have to keep up my social media presence because that is what they’re judging things on. And they put a lot of weight into it – I really don’t know if that’s making all that much difference in careers, so I don’t know what it’s really doing for us artistically or career-wise, but it’s sort of a necessary evil for some reason, right? Yeah that’s the impression I get – I mean it’s easier now to get in faces and ears for the people that want to follow you or want to know what’s going on, but you have to sift through the people that are there to pick a fight. It just becomes tedious after a while that you’ve got to constantly go through the drama of that, just to tell the faithful what’s coming next! I’m just the wrong guy to mess with, even with the written word, I just love it, you know what I mean? When the trolls come at me, I just like finding the words - 140 characters - and just bury them in the dirt. I do that with a lot of my peers as well online, but Jamie says “Dude, when they start with you online it’s like open season. It’s like hunting. You just destroyed them. We have to write a song!” So we have a song called Open Season, which is about that - it’s the first line. It’s always, “Hey, are you kidding me? You’re coming after me? You come here to me?” And then I just pick, tear them to shreds Jamie says it’s hysterical to watch. I think a lot of my people follow me just to watch me dismantle people online. We were talking before about Hard Rock Hell itself being 15 this year, but obviously because of COVID and everything else, the 15th anniversary will be next year. We’re already talking about bands and artists we want see come back, and it’s no surprise that your name has come up more than once!
You know, mentally, I am planning on doing shows. Am I planning on just hitting the road? No, but there’s plenty of shows, like Hard Rock Hell, Bloodstock, or rock festivals in Barcelona. These metal shows where, you know, I’ve been doing it for years You can’t stop rock. I’m always rocking. I once said that I’m pretty sure none of the nineties, the two thousands bands used the word rock, I used them all up in the eighties! I want to be part of that return, part of that defiance, you can’t tell us we can’t do this. You could stop us for a minute, you can push us away, you can push us back, but we will come back to this. And that’s part of this Leave a Scar album, you know, is just making that statement, making that statement - here we are. And when I get out onto that stage, I think I’ll probably open with “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll” just for the hell of it, so there won’t be a dry eye in the house. It’ll be, here’s a joy, and I’ll be right there with them going “Yes! Yes!” You know, it’s a statement that I want to make at least one more time, especially after what we’ve been going through. So I’d love to! Do you listen to a lot of music at home? I talked about this on social media and people were like freaked out. I said, very little - to me, it’s my life. I said, what you do for a living - when you come home - do you do that? I mean, no matter how much you love your job, when you come home, do you do your job for the few hours you’re at home? Or do you take a break from it? I don’t own a stereo, you know? So when I’m working out, I listen to music, you know, but as far as like, purely for pleasure, very rarely - but when I find a band that gives me that feeling that I had as a kid, very rare, but Foxy Shazam did it. I don’t know if you know Monster Truck out of Canada. I love those guys. They light me up - and Volbeat. Yeah. But you know, every now and then I’ll hear a band that gives me that feeling like that kid feeling again. And then I’ll be listening to them all the time because I miss that more than anything, I find that when it’s your job, it’s tough not to be analytical, not listen to it with a producer’s ear, or a writer’s ear, you know, to just step back and enjoy. It’s the one thing we lose, the great special effects, we go into the business for the magic, and the first thing we do is find out how they make the sausage. We pull back the curtain and this is how it shows, and it’s still great, but it’s not a magic trick anymore. We know exactly what it takes to get it up on the stage, and the issues of what’s going on in the production, you know, and it’s just a different animal now. It no longer has that sparkle that we’d had when you were a kid. And so every now and then I find a band that triggers that to me. And I’m so grateful. And the best part is I can usually get their phone number and call them up cold. “Hey, John, Dee Snider from Twisted Sister. I love your band! I got two t-shirts!” and he’s like, so wait a minute - you’re Dee Snider!!! It’s a great thing. I get to actually connect with these artists and just tell him, dude, you’re awesome. It’s just a shame so many of them don’t get the exposure that they should be getting. The last thing I’ll say, and it relates to this “rock is dead” thing that keeps floating around - and idiots who make that statement from time to time. And it’s so untrue. You just have to get out of your house, go to the small venues, go to festivals, and you see the passion, the love, you see all the dedication with no hope of ever making money, but an audience that knows every word and it’s there. It’s still there. It hasn’t gone away. You just got to get your head out of your … and open your mind and say, I’m gonna, you know, I’m going to be open to the idea. That’s not what I grew up on, but it’s still there. Passion, it’s so passionate. And it breaks my heart though. It breaks my heart when I see how much passion they have. And I know that the most they’re hoping for is that this is making enough money to go from town to town, pulling a trailer behind their bus. If they’re lucky to have a bus, more of a van…and getting up there and playing their asses off, cause they love it. And they got no choice. It’s what they got to do. Just the hope of actually being able to make a living and having a house on the beach, you know! Well, we see it all the time. We have headliners and we have established acts on at Hard Rock Hell, but as you know, we have new and upcoming artists. And that’s where you see the thunder, the passion and - I guess the fear - and that combination can make a great performance. Cause these guys want it. They’re fighting against that old attitude... I compare it to when they always say that college football is better than professional. And that’s because for the college guys it’s either the end or if they have any hope of making it into the leagues, they got to prove themselves. They ain’t got no contracts. They got no big money. They got no sponsorships. It’s all or nothing at that point, you know? And that’s what you see with these young bands. I always say the most dangerous people in the room are the ones with nothing to lose. What are you going to do? Pay me. I’m not being paid now. Not going to buy my records? Nobody buys my records. They’re downloading mine! So they have nothing to lose and they just bring it to every show. And I love it. WORDS: JOHN ELLIS PHOTOS: TANYA DAHL & HOLDEN LEEDS
“This ‘rock is dead’ thing that keeps floating around - idiots make that statement from time to time - it’s so untrue” Dee Snider page 45
Cheap Trick - Robin Zander
Robin Zander Rock legends Cheap Trick have had a long and successful career in the music business – indeed the band’s latest offering, In Another World, marks the 20th album in their discography. But when asked what his favourite album was in the group’s expansive collection, frontman Robin Zander joked: “I’d have to say our next one!”
But did the group ever think that they would reach their landmark 20th studio release? “Hell no, we started out playing in every sh*t hole bar in the Midwest. We would even drive to Texas and play - in a crappy old van,” insists Zander. “All we wanted to do was work.”
WORDS & PHOTOS: ADAM KENNEDY
Cheap Trick - Robin Zander
“There were taxi cabs following our car all the way to the hotel!” But it hasn’t always been easy for Cheap Trick. In the beginning, the band didn’t quite get the recognition they deserved. “The only place in the world that we were selling records and that we were popular was in Japan. So, we went to Japan and recorded a live album at Budokan,” said Zander. “Our managers said, don’t worry, nobody else is going to see this. It’s just for the Japanese; it’s a gift to them. And we spent our last 10,000 bucks making the record.” “I Want You to Want Me”, when released from the band’s sophomore album ‘In Color’, didn’t get the commercial success it deserved either. However, the track was given a new lease of life when released from the band’s live album ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’. “That was a roller coaster of a song because we thought that song was great. And we did a sort of a Yardbirds kind of version of it at first, and sent that in for the first album, and it got declined,” said Zander. “By the time we did the second record, which we were doing that same year, [the producer] liked the song, but he wanted to change it into sort of a 40s feel or something. I don’t know what it was. The only thing missing was a clarinet - but we didn’t like that. Our producer did us a bad favour,” explains Robin. But it was third time lucky for Cheap Trick. “It wasn’t until Budokan that we did it the right way, and maybe that’s a feather in my cap, I guess,” he says. Around that time, the band witnessed Beatles-like success in Japan. “It seemed like regular gigs to us except the audience was just so loud. The screaming and stuff you could barely hear yourself think,” says Robin. Eager fans would attempt to get near to their heroes at every opportunity. “It was scary at first because when we arrived at the airport, there were 1,000 kids with signs on top of the roof. So, when we pulled up on the aeroplane, we looked out the windows and there they all were. We were thinking to ourselves, there must be some famous politicians coming here on the plane with us,” explains Zander. “When we got off the plane, we realised it was for us. It was like, wow, this is unbelievable.” This level of fame wasn’t always easy to deal with. “There were taxi cabs following our car all the way to the hotel. Not being able to go out of the hotel room. Fans were clamouring to get up the stairs - that’s crazy stuff. And we couldn’t go anywhere without tons of security, and fans would be following us. Hundreds of them would follow us to the radio stations and stuff like that. So that was interesting and kind of frightening at the same time,” said Robin. Turn forward the clocks to the present day and the excitement of life on the road has been put on hold due to the global pandemic. Speaking of life during these strange times, Robin jokes that it: “Feels like a death in the family - it feels terrible. It’s like a double-edged sword though, because I finally got to meet my wife after 27 years of marriage - that was nice”. In the meantime, the legendary frontman has been: “Sitting on the couch watching TV and trying to take in all the movies that I missed.” The pandemic not only hit the band’s touring plans, but also the release
schedule for their latest album ‘In Another World’. “It put it back a whole year. We were supposed to have this out last year at this time, and that got pushed back a whole year,” said Robin. “The record company decided not to release it because we weren’t going to be out touring to support the album.” The title of the album ‘In Another World’ feels quite pertinent in these strange times. “The title reflects probably the state of politics in our country in the US more than anything else. And that’s when this record was written, it was before COVID,” said Zander. “Another world is sort of like, it’s hopeful. We can change things. We can overcome these things. And we wanted to do something positive that would put a smile on people’s faces, and I think we accomplished that with this record.” One of the tracks from the album – a cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” closely follows this sentiment. “It set the precedent for the whole album really because Cheap Trick has never really been a politically minded group that would come blatantly out and talk about politics. But given the last four years in our country, we thought maybe we should because of the division that is going on. And that song means more now today to the US than it did back when Lennon wrote it,” explains Zander. The song also ties in with the band’s love of The Beatles. They even took the opportunity on a recent UK tour to perform at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool. Speaking of that night, Zander said: “That was fantastic. It’s The Beatles - yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, we are big Beatles fans. We are fans of the early ‘60s - that British Invasion hit the US pretty hard. And I was only 11 or 12 years old, and I just fell for it big time. I started my own band. I bought a dWrum set. I got a guitar, and I was going all in. I started my first band called The Destinations. We did all those songs by The Animals, The Kinks, The Beatles, The Stones and The Dave Clark Five. We just fell in love with it.” To tie in with Cheap Trick’s latest album release, the band will be returning to the UK for a full tour early next year. But after all these years, how does the band keep their shows fresh and interesting for themselves? “We change our set around. We don’t ever do the same set in a row. We always change it around a little bit. But we make sure that we do the big ones that people want to hear,” explains Robin. “But we try to put deep cuts from all records in there. And we’ve cut that many records you have a lot to choose from, but it’s hard to choose. But yeah, we mix it up, and it keeps it fresh for us, and we try to include whatever album is out something often new album.” Speaking of their imminent return to the UK, the Cheap Trick frontman said: “We’ve always loved the music of the UK, and we’ve made lots of friends over the years there. It feels like a second home to us.” I think we can agree that feeling is mutual. ‘In Another World’ by Cheap Trick is out now via BMG. The band will be returning to our shores for a full UK tour commencing at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle on 1st February 2022.
THE EDITOR’S DOZEN
19 Tool - Lateralus The third full length release from LA pioneers Tool cemented their place as a megalith of progressive rock and metal. Undertow and Aenima had broken the band within the metal community with their long, intricate yet accessible arrangements and stunning videos that accompanied the singles from each album. Lateralus hit the number one spot on the US Billboard Album Chart, and featured the singles Schism and Parabola – the latter sporting a tenminute long video that continued in the same vein as their previous visual releases with some gorgeous animation. We had the standard (for Tool) wait of five years for the next album 10,000 Days, before Keenan and co would test even their most faithful fans by keeping us waiting a whole thirteen years before Fear Inoculum would finally surface.
System of a Down – Toxicity From one of the most interesting bands to emerge around the turn of the millennium, Toxicity was a huge breakthrough and saw SOAD cross into the mainstream with a much more accessible full-length than their self-titled and much heavier debut. However, the Armenian Americans through no fault of their own found themselves courting controversy due to the unfortunate timing of the lead single Chop Suey – the track was on heavy rotation when the horrific events in New York unfolded on TV screens around the world. The lyric “I don’t think you trust in my self-righteous suicide” was deemed by some to be a little close too close to home – but common sense prevailed as the single went on to become a huge hit. Like Tool, the band are still officially active although fans are still waiting for a follow-up to double release Mezmerize / Hypnotize some 16 years on.
Aerosmith - Just Push Play It is hard to believe that Aerosmith have been plying their trade for over fifty years, but sure enough, they formed when I was one year old in 1970! This collection of tracks came along in their 31st as a band and sees the Bostonians further evolve their sound, albeit as always never losing the essential qualities of what it is to be one of the most recognisable purveyors of classic rock. The title track is a cool groover, and even references how one should walk – again! Jaded, the first single to come from their 13th album certainly wasn’t unlucky and hit the Top 10 in various rock-loving parts of the world including their homeland. Despite its success, Joe Perry would later go on to claim that it was his least favourite Aerosmith album of recent years. Sounds okay to me though Joe, and with the album reaching number 2 in its first week I wouldn’t worry too much.
Puddle of Mudd– Come Clean Quite possibly my favourite album to be released in 2001, Come Clean has vocal hook after vocal hook and is one of my goto albums if I want a good loud singalong while driving home from a gig, festival or HRH HQ. However great their debut album is, the band have though been followed by controversy ever since, mostly surrounding frontman Wes Scantlin’s alleged use of vocal tracks when playing live and his somewhat interesting relationship with fans. It may have only been rare occurrences, but this stuff sticks. Indeed, at Download Festival a few years back, I witnessed a notso-stellar performance by the band, but that could be put down to festival acoustics – if we give them the benefit of the doubt! None of this detracts though from a superb album with track after track of post-grunge goodness. The follow-up, Life on Display, is another great piece of work, and I’d heartily recommend their latest effort from 2019, Welcome to Galvania.
Tenacious D - Tenacious D Another album from 2001 that is perfect for a good singalong (down the long and lonesome road...) is the debut album from the comedy duo known as Tenacious D. This now classic album sports the biggest rock track of 2001 - Tribute - and that’s quite something when the likes of Nickelback, System of a Down and Creed had huge songs that also crossed into the mainstream. Nobody will ever forget the incredible video for the track, which featured none other than Dave Grohl as the demon (in the middle of the road) and the iconic ending with the old lady grinning maniacally with the CD in her hand. Other highlights are Wonderboy and F**k Her Gently, but there’s no shortage of superb tracks together with silly links from Kyle and Jack. Brilliant stuff. If you get a chance to see Kyle Gass live, go for it – he is still a superb live performer and as funny as ever.
Sum 41 - All Killer, No Filler One of the most popular of the pop-punk bands of the era, Sum 41’s legacy lasts to this day. Although the album title may be a little stretched – with only hardcore fans likely to fully agree with the statement - there are plenty of feel-good hits that take you back to 2001 instantly. The huge tracks everyone will remember are Fat Lip and In Too Deep with their iconic videos and super-catchy hooks. Not shabby bearing in mind this was the band’s first album – following on from their debut EP just a year earlier.
The follow-up album, Does This Look Infected, made it three releases in just three years and was a heavier collection which very much stands the test of time. Still very much active, the Canadians released their 7th album, Order in Decline, in 2019.
PICKS OF 2001
96 Incubus – Morning View The Californians had already made their commercial breakthrough with third album Make Yourself, which honed their sound by paring back the rap and funk elements, allowing frontman Brandon Boyd to find his real voice. With even better song-writing, their fourth release Morning View outdid its predecessor helped by the success of singles Wish You Were Here and Nice to Know You. What really makes this album stand out for me are the deeper cuts such as Are You In and the mesmerising Aqueous Transmission – which I used for years as my mobile ringtone when that was still a thing we bothered with! Incubus are still making new music, releasing an EP, Trust Fall (Side B) as recently as last year.
Hoobastank - Hoobastank Although Hoobastank’s selftitled debut album wasn’t strictly their first – having released a full-length under the name Hoobustank 3 years earlier – it is considered the start of the band’s career and immediately launched them to the top-tier of the post-grunge ladder. With stunning singles such as Crawling in the Dark and Running Away, the album achieved Platinum status in the US and paved the way for their number 2 hit The Reason taken from the follow-up album 3 years later. Peers of Incubus in their early years, Hoobastank ploughed the same gig circuit and both bands honed in on a similar sound, although Incubus would arguably go on the be the bigger draw over the following 20 years.
Boy Hits Car – Boy Hits Car Another band in this selection hailing from Los Angeles, California are Boy Hits Car This self-titled release was their second album since their formation in 1993. Their mission statement was to make “passionately heavy music infused with a world beat/middle eastern flavour” and this album certainly achieves that goal – I remember having Boy Hits Car, Incubus and Hoobastank on rotation in the car CD player for months, all 3 albums were that good! It’s been commented that Boy Hits Car are a one album band – and I have to agree that everything they’ve put out since has been an attempt to repeat the formula, without ever quite hitting the mark. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a superb album that’s well worth checking out.
Nickelback - Silver Side Up One of the biggest bands to emerge on the rock scene in 2001 were Canadians Nickelback. Some might say they are the very definition of a “Marmite” band – but I love Marmite, so there you go! Admittedly, their breakout single “How you Remind Me” is far from my favourite track from Silver Side Up, but the rest of their 3rd album is a masterclass in hard-hitting post-grunge stadium rock as the band had finally settled on their signature sound. Chad Kroeger may now be a king of internet memes – “Photograph” anyone? – but he probably doesn’t care when his band were ranked by Billboard as the most successful rock act of the 2000s. Nickelback are one of those bands where you have to park your preconception bus at the venue gates and give them a genuine crack of the whip – it’s worth it, and anyone who hasn’t will be surprised at how heavy the band can actually get.
Saliva - Every Six Seconds The final choice for this Editors Dozen really was tricky – it could easily have been Alien Ant Farm, P.O.D., The White Stripes, Staind or even Izzy Stradlin – but I’ve gone for the album with my favourite ‘banger’ tune from them all with the big-hitter Click Click Boom. To this day the single is a sure-fire rock-club hit, and it certainly overshadowed perhaps the better track from the album – Your Disease - which is an absolute stunner. Every Six Seconds was the band’s second album, but unlike some choices on this issue’s list, it was a bit of a slow-burner – eventually reaching platinum status 7 years later in 2008. Only two band members from 2001 are still active with Saliva, although they are very much still active having released their eleventh studio album in 2018.
Creed - Weathered Alongside Nickelback as one of the “Marmite” bands on this list for sure, Creed had already had big success with their debut My Prison and especially the follow-up Human Clay, which showcased stunning singles Higher and With Arms Wide Open. Weathered had a lot to live up to – it not only did that but took Creed to an even higher level with singles One Last Breath and My Sacrifice propelling the album to top spot on the US Billboard Album Chart, staying there for a record 8 weeks. However, the seeds had already been sown for the band’s demise, with bassist Brian Marshall leaving before the record was made – with guitarist Mark Tremonti taking on the bass parts. Creed broke up 3 years later without recording any more music – with Tremonti, drummer Scott Phillips and ex-member Marshall joining rising star Myles Kennedy to form the now hugely popularAlter Bridge.
For prog rock legend Carl Palmer the last couple of years each represent milestones in the history of two of the artist’s musical projects - ELP celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2020 and ASIA marking the 40th anniversary of their formation in 2021. Subsequently, there has been a lot to rejoice for the fans of these titans of progressive rock with the release of audio, visual and artistic outputs that look back on each group’s history. This includes the eagerly anticipated release of an official Emerson, Lake and Palmer book, a remastered ELP 1973 On Tour Movie, an ELP 50th Anniversary art project, as well as a new ASIA box set, “The Reunion Albums 2007-2012”, to name but a few. Each of these releases has given the legendary sticks man plenty to work on during the pandemic. Speaking of his output during this time, Palmer said: “There’s been a lot of loose ends, whether it be ELP box sets, or ASIA box sets, or vinyls, or books, or artwork or whatever - it’s been a good time. But it’s coming to an end now. I’d very much like to go out at the end of this year if it’s at all possible.” ASIA witnessed great commercial success during the ‘80s, with the likes of “Heat of the Moment” and “Wildest Dreams” being hits for the band. Following the break-up of ASIA after the release of “Astra” in 1985, it took until 2006 before the original line-up would join forces again. The release of the new ASIA boxset centres around the reunion of the original line-up featuring Carl Palmer, Steve Howe, John Wetton, and Geoff Downes. The five-CD boxset starts with the regrouped band’s “Fantasia: Live in Tokyo” double CD set before moving forward through their subsequent reunion studio releases - the first of which is the “Phoenix” album, the title being a metaphor for the band’s rise from the ashes. Speaking of the band’s reunion period, Palmer said: “I enjoyed that whole period of coming back together; it was very natural, it wasn’t forced. And don’t forget, we had known each other from all our previous bands. I’ve known Steve from Yes, and John from King Crimson. I wasn’t that familiar with The Buggles at the very beginning, but we’d all done an awful lot together before. We’d had a lot of success with ASIA, and this was another chance really to try and make it - and I really enjoyed it.”
During the quartet’s formative years, each of the members came from bands within their respective peer groups. But was there ever any rivalry between the likes of YES, ELP and King Crimson, or were these prog-rock heavyweights good friends from the off? Palmer insists that it was “super friendly” and that ELP even gave their colleagues a helping hand. “Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s first album went straight into the charts in America, which we were just dumbfounded by because side B had three organ solos, and no drums, no singing, no bass, no guitar, no nothing. So, we thought, wow, why is that? Anyway, after going to America with that album, Yes wanted to go into America, and we knew them well. Chris Squire and Greg Lake were quite good friends,” recollects Palmer. “We actually took Yes into America with us for their first five concerts. So, there was never any rivalry there.” Whilst Steve Howe has returned to Yes, the door is always open for him with ASIA. “Steve really enjoys playing with Yes. So, if we can make Yes and ASIA work on the same bill, the music is radically different, but there’s a bit of a thread going through it all - then we’re going to look at seeing if we can do it that way. There might be a time when ASIA will go out on its own and do stuff. I don’t know if Steve would be there; I see no reason for him not to be. I’m quite sure Geoff would be there. I would be there, and obviously Ron [Bumblefoot]. So, who knows? There’s never really been a problem with Steve; he’s just always said he enjoys playing in Yes because that was his first baby.” But what does the future hold for ASIA? “To be honest with you, there’s no intention of recording a new album at all. I think, because of the lost time and the fact we just got started with Ron, who has settled in. We need to create a global demand for Asia and actually get out there,” insists Palmer. ASIA has always been regarded as a supergroup. And whilst most bands of this type are often short-lived, despite some personnel changes along the way, the group is still active to this day. But what is the secret to their longevity? “We enjoy working with each other; there is no doubt about that. We always have done,” said Palmer. ASIA, the multi-platinum selling English supergroup formed in London in 1981, are celebrating their 40th anniversary by releasing a 5CD boxset The Reunion Albums: 2007 - 2012 through BMG Records on 11th June 2021. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY
With Rituals taking inspiration from the likes of While She Sleeps, Architects and Bury Tomorrow you can make a fair stab of what you can expect from these northern heavyweights who were gaining a reputation as an incendiary live act before the world got turned upside down. HRH Mag caught up with the lads to find out all about their new release, and how they plan to continue where they left off… Good afternoon guys, how do we find Rituals today? We are doing great, busy rehearsing for upcoming shows and working on new material. I fell in love with your latest single “AWAKE” which has been out a couple of months now - can you tell us a little about the track? Glad to hear you dig it! “AWAKE” was written back in August 2020, and it was one of those tracks that came together relatively quickly. We wanted to take out any preconceived notions of how we should sound and just write what felt right. Musically we wanted it to be intense and high energy, and it’s since become a great way to open our shows. Lyrically the song hints at personal development over a period of time – the realisation that the root of an issue may be a negative person in your life. The title refers to self-awareness, determination and strength. The EP of the same name comes out in September - what can we expect from the release? We feel with this EP we have developed our sound, we wanted to make sure that when a song enters a heavy section that we make sure it is as heavy as possible, whether that is vocally or musically. We feel it marks the beginning of what is to come. You’ve got a very full and modern sound, personally, I like the mix of scream and clean vocals on “AWAKE”, as well as the cleaner style on previous tracks such as “Only This” and “P.O.V” – which style is going to feature more going forward? It isn’t something we think about. We just write and whatever feels right vocally we put down. Otherwise, we feel like we would be forcing ourselves to write certain things and ultimately that would end up in watered-down material which is the last thing we want.
Lockdown had a negative effect on bands and artists, how do you keep the message out there? Lockdown has been our most productive period as a band. During this time we realised how much the band meant to us which led us to put in the amount of work we have done during the past 18 months. Don’t get us wrong, it has been difficult to keep motivated when you can’t play shows and can’t see each other, but we have found ways to work around it. You’re a relatively young band, forming in 2018. How did the band come to be? Lewis and Ewan met through college, and they both could not find a band that fitted the sound in their head and started Rituals as just the 2 of them. In 2020 Dom, our bass player, joined as Lewis wanted to just be a frontman, which has been super beneficial to our live shows. Then in early 2021, Matt joined on drums, he was someone who met the drive and determination of the rest of the band and was the perfect fit. Are there any bands you guys particularly admire on the scene right now, big or small? Black Orchid Empire are a band we are all massive fans of, they are a 3 piece but their sound is just huge! Another would be Black Coast, a UK based metal band, and their music is just filled with big riffs. In terms of the future, what can we expect – any gigs or festivals lined up? We have a few gigs lined up as well as an EP release show in Newcastle on the 3rd of September. We are hoping for some festival appearances in 2022, and some new music to go with them! And perhaps an album at some point too? If the demand is there we would love to, but our current focus is to consistently put out new music and reach new audiences! Thanks for catching up with me, today..any final words? Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! We want to say a big thank you to everyone who has checked out “AWAKE” and pre-ordered a copy of it! If you haven’t already, check out and follow our socials - we have some cool exclusive merch bundles out right now! WORDS: TOBY WINCH PHOTO: ASHLEIGH MACRAE
Killed a Fox
KILLED A FOX Hailing from Croatia, 4-piece Killed a Fox have been going strong since 2006 starting with demo releases, then performing live and growing with a slightly different line-up. We spoke with Chris Ian (vocals) and Sho (guitar) ahead of their UK tour later this year.
in our career where we got a bit more confident as songwriters and I would say that this is the album we’re most proud of. We are still trying to find our ‘’sound’’. I don’t think we are there yet. That’s one of the reasons why all 3 records sound quite different and we think that so far, it’s a good thing. Sho: It felt real and true right from the start. No masks, so to say. Open minds and open hearts, I guess. Looking back, our sound on the first record was never really our sound, but this band was always a trip, not a destination.
Can you bring us up to speed with how you formed, how you built your sound and how you’ve developed to where you are today? Chris: I don’t know if I could tell the whole story of how we as a band got together without feeling like I was doing a school assignment but I’ll try. I was busking on the street in Zagreb when a guy came up to me and said that a friend of his has got some cool demos and is looking for a singer. At the time, that would have been around mid-2005 I think, I’d already been in and out of a couple of bands with only one actually doing some work so I felt like I had time for a new thing for sure. We exchanged phone numbers and the guy said that his friend’s name was Marin and that he will be in touch. I remember getting a CD in my mailbox a couple of weeks later, I think I still have the envelope somewhere. It had around 5 tracks on it. It was really a basic demo with just riffs played over some EZ drummer beats but a few stuck out and got my attention.
The grunge movement has a prominent character in your sound, and you’ve been lucky enough to join line-ups with the likes of grunge gods Alice in Chains! What is it about this genre that you admire and that influences you the most? Also, describe the experience of performing with these icons! Chris: It’s just music that resonated with me the most, I guess. To me, it has the perfect combination of all genres. You want a punky attitude with metal riffs or The Beatles-like vocal harmonies over some prog-rock drums or just loud as f**k drone tones making you dizzy while a guy sings a bird-like falsetto over them. It’s all there. The thing about this genre is that it has no particular genre. That’s what I find so cool and addictive about it. Sho: I always liked bands from the ‘90s. It doesn’t have to be grunge...music from that era speaks to me in a way that no other does. Playing with AIC and meeting those guys meant a lot to me personally. Alice is my all-time favourite band, and always will be. To have those guys show up at our soundcheck and say they really like our music, and then stay at our gig is something else! People say ‘never meet your idols’. I was lucky enough to meet some of mine, and I certainly don’t regret it.
Sho and I had met a couple of years earlier and jammed a lot but never had a band together so I asked him to check out the demos. Turns out Sho and Marin knew each other from their high school days so it felt just kinda natural that the three of us start a band. The first record, ‘’Fluorescence’’ was severely influenced by Marin’s vision and playstyle which is why there’s such a big difference when you compare it to our other releases. Marin had to leave the band for personal reasons soon after the first record came out, so ‘’Spring of Sloth & Haze’’ was entirely the interaction between Sho and I and that collaboration was turning into our regular M.O. ‘’Crown Shyness’’ was a time
Who are some other big influences as a band and individually that you would love to perform alongside? Chris: Oh man! That’s a tough one because there are so many. Deftones and Mastodon are definitely up there for me. Sho: Soundgarden, Tool, Down... We shared the stage with bands like Orange
Killed a Fox
Goblin, Karma to Burn, Eyehategod...I love those bands, but we could all find some more. The list is pretty long! Your 2019 release Crown Shyness received a monstrous response. What was the recording process like for this release? Chris: Like the others before it, a bit too long for its own good! I’m kind of joking and not joking here because what annoys me the most is the sheer amount of time that gets wasted in between recording sessions. Here in Croatia, independent bands like us are not bound to any kind of contract so automatically there are no particular deadlines besides the ones we as a band give ourselves. Sure, it sounds great that you can have as much time as you want to finish something but a lot of times it’s a trap and things get dragged out too much to the point that it’s not healthy for the record or the band. Balancing that freedom and the responsibility you feel towards the work you are doing can be quite challenging at times. If we take ‘’Crown Shyness’’ as an example, actual studio time, the time we actually spent recording is probably less than a month but it got stretched out to a period of over a year. Sho: Sometimes you find yourself aiming for perfection even though you know you can’t really win that battle. we took our time, but in the end, we’re really happy with the final result - pride and joy. How was this different to your debut album Fluorescence (2009), in terms of construction, recording and release? Chris: The biggest difference, for me at least, would be how we approached the songwriting this time around. There is almost a decade between the two releases so a lot changes for you when it comes to how you feel about yourself, your bandmates and music in general. Things you would have found interesting and exciting before aren’t as appealing anymore while other stuff just starts popping up and new doors open. For example, something I considered melodic in terms of vocals ten years ago doesn’t even seem verse worthy now let alone chorus worthy. Do we really need a heavy riff after this section whereas before we would put it in there for sure. Stuff like that.
Sho: A lot has changed since our debut album. Chris and I didn’t write as many original song ideas on the first album as we did on our other records. Back then we basically reacted to Marin’s ideas. we all love ‘Fluorescence’, but we feel like ‘Crown Shyness’ has so much more to offer. Obviously, the last 18 months have been a challenge for everyone, but the live music scene in particular has been hit with a tremendous struggle. What did Killed a Fox do with this time during lockdown and has this changed your view or approach to anything in particular? Chris: Mostly we tried to finish some stuff we didn’t get around to before everything started. We always have leftover tracks from previous recordings and some of them just get buried in our Cubase folders for good, never to be seen again, because the new stuff just takes over. Right now we have at least 10 tracks that I didn’t even start to do vocals to so there’s plenty of humming along and lyrical pondering to be done. Sho: We’re always writing songs, so in a way nothing really changed... You have a UK tour planned for the autumn of 2021, what can we look forward to seeing at a Killed a Fox live performance? Chris: We are very excited to tour the UK because there’s such a huge musical legacy coming from all the cities we are about to visit and it’s the first time we will ever play so far from home. You can expect 4 dudes being really pumped and super happy to do what they are doing: playing music for you guys! Sho: A lot of energy, and a lot of emotions. A sheer ‘sweat no matter what’ attitude...and a bit of talent, I hope...! Thanks again for your time! Anything else to add before our goodbyes? Sho: One of my heroes once said: ‘when you expect anything from music, you expect too much’...that’s it.. oh, and keep an open mind! WORDS: CHARLOTTE HOOPER
Many artists have put to good use the unplanned downtime brought about by the pandemic, and none more so than guitar virtuoso Steve Hackett. For the first time in his career, the former Genesis guitarist released two new studio albums in the same year.
specialisation, I realised gradually that they were right. And so, I put aside all my prejudice towards these other instruments,” proclaims Hackett.
“On one hand, the pandemic has been a tragedy. On the other hand, I think all adversity can be turned into triumph, given the right frame of mind. And for me, it’s just been a chance to redouble my efforts and give myself licence to come up with ideas without doing the usual kind of internal invalidated working overtime kind of approach,” said Hackett.
The gifted guitarist’s passion for world music burns brightly in his latest album. “Luckily, I’ve managed to, in the past few albums, indulge this fantasy of working with people all around the world. Particularly as I find politically countries battening down the hatches, becoming less interested in what’s overseas, across borders. Whereas Music and Musicians, I think, tend to welcome all the differences and divergence, etc. And it makes for a richer and more varied picture I think,” concludes Hackett.
The prog-rock legend’s latest studio album, “Surrender of Silence”, covers a vast musical spectrum. There are songs like “Natalia”, which has a distinctly Russian influence, “Wingbeats”, which has an African direction to it and “Shanghai to Samarkand”, which has an Eastern feel. However, when Steve Hackett is starting on a new recording project such as this, does he have a clear vision of how it will develop from the off, or does it happen organically?
Steve Hackett’s inspiration when composing music is vast. His advice to others would be to: “Listen to other instruments, listen to singers, listen to classical music. Listen to Hendrix, by all means, but then also listen to Andrés Segovia. Brilliant flamenco players - Paco Peña and many, many others. And you start to realise that your own instrument is capable of sounding like so many other instruments.”
“There’s a point when a doodle becomes a drawing. All music is a shot in the dark. It starts with practice,” explains Hackett. “I’d heard at one point an interview that Rachmaninoff’s daughter gave - a great man and wonderful compositions. He always started with scales in the morning. So, it’s practising scales, then you always repeat yourself. You’re limbering up with scales and your favourite bits and what have you; up and down, up and down. And then at some point, you think, hold on a minute, I can make a slight change, and all music comes from a slight change, or so it seems to me.”
Earlier this year, Steve Hackett released his first acoustic solo album since “Tribute” in 2008. The record, titled “Under a Mediterranean Sky”, was inspired by the artist’s travels in that region of the world. The idea for the project started via a conversation he was having with his wife Jo at the breakfast table. “As organic as the breakfast cereal, the idea started to build,” said Steve. “It wasn’t lost on us the idea that people can’t travel. But if the music that you’re doing is able to - even vaguely - represent those places, you might be onto something.”
The artist’s love of world music has been with him for many years. “Ever since the 1970s, I started working with Kalimba - African thumb piano. Even back in the Genesis days, I was including things like that. But I didn’t want to be credited, because I didn’t want to make it look like - oh he’s got all these credits after his name, whereas the other guys just had guitar, drums etc. But the love of world music started then,” explains Steve.
With an extensive UK tour planned for later in the year, Steve Hackett is looking forward to getting back on the road. “I spoke to just about every member of my band yesterday on the phone, and they’re all the same. They’re all just absolutely gagging for it to get out there and play. Whether it’s the Albert Hall or the Dog and Duck,” Hackett says excitedly. As music fans, we are sure that our readers will all relate.
Although Hackett’s first love will always be the guitar, over time he has experimented with other forms of instrumentation. “When I was a kid, I fell in love with the sound of the guitar, and I listened to nothing but the guitar. Then people would say to me, oh, this one’s got a good beat, hasn’t it? Family members might say something like that. And uninformed as they were compared to me who is heading towards
Steve Hackett will release his new studio album “Surrender of Silence” on 10th September. To dovetail the album’s release, the artist will be touring the UK extensively with his Genesis Revisited show throughout September/ October 2021. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY PHOTO: TINA KORHONEN
Taking time out from steering his band Electus to great things, frontman Russell Peake takes a flick through Netflix to pick out four of the best rock documentaries to be found – featuring legends Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead, ZZ Top, Johnny Cash, and Rush. The Other One - “The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir” (The Grateful Dead) This little epic chronicles one Robert Hall Weir. A historical look back on Bob’s life and career from youth to meeting up with the late Jerry Garcia, then co-founding the Grateful Dead, while speaking in-depth about being on the road and the ups and downs which compliment the lifestyle. The film explains the cordial moments of meeting his future wife, the emotions of being able to meet his biological parents for the first time, and his success as a member of one of the world’s most influential bands. There are, as you may expect, some touching moments as he explains in detail what was going through his mind as he copes with his loss of Jerry who was like a father and brother figure to him. There is plenty of talk about the music which inspired millions of fans around the world including what may be arguably their most well-known hit “Touch of Grey”, which surprised many far and wide at the time as it became a hit late in their career. Indeed the entertaining video was on heavy rotation on MTV at the time which also helps!
ROCK DOCS ZZ Top - “That Little Old Band From Texas” This “rock-doc” takes a look behind the blues-rock trio and explores how the band created their iconic look and sound from the beginning right up to the Eliminator album - from each band member’s perspective starting with Frank Beard’s view joining the band, then leaving the band, getting married and never looking back, including conversations about his struggle with the lifestyle and pressure which ensued of being in the band. The documentary also touches on the ups and downs in the early days, including the breaks they received supporting the likes of Jimi Hendrix amongst others. They also comment on each album - the songs and production techniques that gave the band their legendary sound. They all talk of the times of rest, taking on “regular” jobs, and explaining how they needed the time to recharge and put their lives back into some kind of order. Of course, how could they leave out the story behind the image, and why Mr Beard ended up with no beard! Not forgetting the creative thinking behind the successful videos thanks in part to MTV, with added commentary from the director of “Gimme All Your Lovin”, “Legs”, and “Sharp Dressed Man”, taken for the Eliminator album, to finish off. All is revealed here, as well as a fine set of tunes played in the studio for the occasion.
Johnny Cash - “Tricky Dicky and The Man in Black” This documentary chronicles Johnny Cash’s 1970 visit to the White House, where Cash’s political views clashed with then US president Richard Nixon’s policies. While both characters may be considered controversial, it’s fair to say this documentary doesn’t focus so much on his music but more about the man himself, where he came from, and how he related to the downtrodden or the underdog, plus the tremendous influence he had on the “Southern” vote and the wider vote in general. Family members detail the life story, and explain the great loss of his brother and the horrific circumstances around his brother’s death. Of course, this contributed to the roots of Cash’s outlook, going forward as a young man, then in ‘68 the infamous visit to Folsom Prison where he performed live to the inmates – followed by the release of the #1 album “Folsom Prison Blues” which galvanized his status as the champion of the underdog in America. The success of Cash in the late ‘60s coincided with the success of Nixon to his presidency. Vietnam was also high on the minds of the US people which became a divisive subject which still lingers to this day. At that time, Cash hosted his own TV show which was essential family entertainment introducing the likes of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. Cash was considered a true patriot in the context of loving his country, this appealed to Nixon so the invite was sent in the hope he could win over a wider electorate - “Come visit the White House”. Johnny accepted, however just before the visit to the White House, Cash toured for the troops, including a show in Vietnam. The outcome was very different from what the President expected. What comes across is a reminder that if you have a voice, should you say something? The answer is yes! Isn’t that a part of what the essence of rock’n’roll in its purest form is?
on NETFLIX Rush - “Beyond the Lighted Stage” Celebrating a 40-year career of Canadian rockers Rush, the film details the band’s formation and evolution, telling the story right from the start of the relationship between Geddy and Alex during their schooldays, and how they struck a friendship forming the foundation of what would become one the biggest rock bands in the world. It’s clear to see right at the beginning watching the rare footage of the band with former drummer John Rutsey who recorded their first album what lay before them. Playing live was their passion. We are transported back to 1974 discussing the emotions of having to change drummer Rutsey who had to leave the band due to health reasons, and finding a replacement in Neil Peart. The band then discusses each album and the mindset behind the songwriting for each album as well as discovering Neil’s contribution as a lyricist. There is a fair amount of rare footage throughout which would keep most fans old and new glued to the documentary. As Rush achieved more success and critical acclaim over the decades, what stands out is how much they enjoyed writing and releasing music. In 1997 Neil had to deal with some personal tragedy. As one might imagine, the soul searching Neil endured during that time was quite intense and he explains how he felt best to deal with the situation. The trio then returned in 2001 releasing new material, and returning to the stage. There are plenty of funny moments too, with some musician / fan interviews from the likes of Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan and Jack Black. This documentary hits all the notes even if your not a fan of these prog-rock kings, it’s essential rock history being told.
HeLLOWeeN For Helloween fans, the release of the band’s eponymous new album is perhaps more treat than trick. Helloween are once again in classic form.
Everything was successful, and we got along very well,” explains Gerstner. “It just became a bigger family, and that’s how it feels now. And so that made us record an album because we figured that this could work, and so the rest is history.”
The German metal legend’s latest offering marks a new era for the band bringing together a turbo-charged line-up featuring not one but three lead vocalists. However, these are no new faces to the group; but rather nostalgic additions from previous line-ups of the band. This includes Helloween alumni Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen.
Having a now three-pronged vocal attack offers Helloween many benefits. Not to mention that the band’s early material can now be performed with a degree of authenticity. “I remember the first time when we had the very first rehearsal with the singers together and Michael Kiske,” Sascha reminisces. “He started to sing ‘Eagle Fly Free’. I literally had goosebumps because that’s the voice you know from that song. He did a great job over the years, but now you have all the decades of Helloween line-ups and records. And now everything falls into place.”
Helloween’s regrouped line-up sprang into action during 2016 when they took to the road under the banner of the Pumpkins United World Tour. A successful global jaunt catalysed the release of a single featuring shared lead vocals by the trio of singers. However, the group’s fans weren’t satisfied with a mere single. The dream was that there would be an album also. The fans asked, and they got it, and subsequently, the group’s self-titled new album was born, marking a new era for the legendary outfit. Touring collectively with the regrouped line-up under the Pumpkins United banner did introduce a certain degree of confusion. Gerstner said that: “It developed to be this kind of a brand, and we saw that coming.” Subsequently, this explains why the band dropped the banner. Their new album is simply titled Helloween. “That’s how it feels like; that’s the new era of Helloween. And so, one thing came to another and then we ended up recording this album because it just felt right.”
Presently, the group can perform any track from their repertoire with the actual vocalist who originally recorded it. “I remember the first tour I did with Helloween in 2004,” says Gerstner. “We played songs like ‘Starlight’ and ‘Murderer’. Now when you play songs from that era and Kai singing, it totally makes sense. I think for the fan, it’s the perfect line-up now because they have all of the voices on demand.”
Whilst the pandemic may have introduced challenges for Helloween in terms of touring, it gave the group the opportunity and the time to complete their new album. “We’ve been pretty lucky in a sense that we could make the record and release it,” said guitarist Sasha Gerstner. “But the touring is a part of a musician’s life that’s being missed the most.” The re-introduction of Kai Hansen to the Helloween fold seemed like a natural transition for the group. “With Kai, it came up naturally because we’ve been doing the Hellish Rock tours one and two, together with Gamma Ray,” proclaims Gerstner. “So, it was developing into that direction because there were talks, of course, and everything was developing and so being with Kai on tour was nothing new.” Likewise, Sascha feels like there was instant chemistry upon the re-introduction of Michael Kiske to the fold. “When we had the first meeting of all of the band members together, it just went great,” said Gerstner. “I had an instant connection because we ended up sitting next to each other from the beginning of this meeting, and then we ended up talking for maybe more than two hours.” Helloween didn’t anticipate the stir that the band’s rejuvenated line-up would create. “We never expected it to be such a great tour.
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HelloWeen The beauty of having three lead vocalists is that they each bring something different to the proceedings. “If we had three singers sounding the same, that would actually suck. It’s great that they’re all different,” confirms Gerstner. “Andi is a beast, he can literally sing anything he wants because he can sing raspy, but at the same time, if he wants, he can sing a bit clean. He has a unique voice. And Michael, he just shines when he’s singing with his clean voice, it’s so recognisable. Some tempos or melodies work better with one over the other. Helloween’s new seven-piece line-up includes three lead vocalists. But, how did the band approach songwriting on their latest album? “Everybody can write at home and finish songs at home, and everybody has a studio. So that’s what we would do initially to present our ideas to each other,” clarifies Gerstner. “We would be all together in the studio and in the control room, listening to the songs back and forth, and of course, everybody would add something to each other’s songs. But yeah, mainly it came down to having
the respect for each other as a songwriter.” The guitarist adds that: “With a lot of people in a band, you have a lot of discussions, but I have to say, I’m impressed myself about how nice it worked.” Although Helloween has had many line-ups over the years, the benefit that they collectively have to make the current incarnation of the band work is experience. “The way to success is being together for as long as you can be and having respect for each other and creating something unique together,” proclaims Gerstner. One of the tracks that Sascha co-wrote on the album is called ‘Best Time’. The euphoric number has been described as the party track of the album. “I was instantly thinking of someone driving the car in the summer, turning on the radio and listening to a song. I wouldn’t call it a party track, but it’s uplifting,” explains Sascha. “It’s about leaving the past behind. Not caring too much about the future, just living in the now.” One of the standout tracks of the album is a twelve-minute epic named ‘Skyfall’. “Well, that was kind of Kai’s masterpiece,” declares Gerstner. “I would say that he was literally working on that track during the whole of the production. There were always parts coming in and being added. He was always into that song the whole time to make it the epic way it is.” The legendary group’s eponymous latest offering was officially released in June 2021. But where does the group go now, and is there a tour on the cards? “Yeah, man, as soon as we can,” excitedly proclaims Sascha. “There’s a plan for the upcoming year, but if you watch the news, I really don’t know it’s devastating. But of course, as soon as we can hit the road, we’re going to take the songs out on the road.” Based upon this forecast, perhaps it will be a Happy Helloween after all? The eponymous new studio album from Helloween is out now via Nuclear Blast. WORDS: ADAM KENNEDY
STEVIE R PEARCE & THE HOOLIGANS “I’m not very good at making up stuff that isn’t real. Apart from alibis…”
STEVIE R PeARCe ghosts of men Hey Stevie, good to speak with you, where do we find you today? Between the earth and sky, minding my own business. And that’s all right… For the uninitiated, tell us a little about yourself, you look awfully familiar... Yeah I’ve heard that before - one of those faces people seem to know but not totally sure where from! Well, I guess originally going back some years, I had a band called Young Lust - we opened for a bunch of people including Enuff Z Nuff (my favourite band!) who took us on our first large UK tour…which kind of made my face a bit more familiar. It opened up a lot of venues and all that. I went on from that to the Black Bullets - which opened us up to the dirty, semiunderground punk, rock’n’roll movement in this country, toured with the Hip Priests (also my favourite band!) and learned a lot about “hard work and not giving any fu**s”. After that minor meltdown I actually intended to take some time out - but having toured with Falling Red in Europe prior to that, Dave Sanders asked me to join the band for a tour of Scandinavia and Europe - which I did. Upon my return Dave joined what would be the beginning of the Hooligans - he drummed on the first Hooligans record and did an astounding job. He recorded all the tracks with no guide track…at all.. we went and did 3 dates up north and the night I played Bannermans I ended up sharing the band flat with Kory Clarke…which was as hardcore and as much fun as you would expect! I guess he liked what he saw - 3 days later I joined Warrior Soul, which was a band I grew up listening to. For the next 3 years he took me all over Europe, to the States, just about anywhere that would have us. Meanwhile I completed my first solo album, and not long after I’d left Warrior Soul, I got a call from Christian Kimmett telling me Jizzy apparently needed a guitar player...and it’s been nuts with him ever since, huge tours and a lot of travel! I feel lucky and honoured to play for him - again another band I grew up listening to and reading about. My first solo album came out in 2018 - I think it took some people by surprise… but I’m telling you it ain’t a patch on Major League Son Of a Bitch! So that kinda brings us up to date.. and why I’m maybe semifamiliar - or it could just be because of my cat…who knows or cares! I can honestly say that 80% of what I do is down to something way beyond me...Jizzy calls them the “rock gods”…who knows! Tell us about the new album, Major League Son of a Bitch, a little about the writing and recording process and where does the title come from? Major League is my best work so far. The first album was kind of patched together with songs I’d had for years, but never got round to recording them…it was a way of drawing a line under all the old stuff I’d done. The recording process was disjointed, some of it was done from home, in various studios but fortunately, I had a connection to Dave Draper (The Wildhearts / Professionals) who mixed and mastered it. Major League is the result of my new material, by working solely with Carl Donoghue on drums the way I’ve always worked best: I have ideas and we thrash them out and pretty much everything turns into something - he’s got an ace structuring mind. It’s how I’ve always operated in the early days through the Bullets etc. This time though I recorded the whole thing with Dave Draper, and he produced it - it was kind of a wild time for me personally, I perhaps wasn’t in the greatest of states, haha…but he got the best out of me and the songs. I was lucky enough to get Jizzy to sing the title track - and worked with CoCoa Cvrino on “Flesh Wound”. He’s been a friend for a long time - a spoken-word poet he has an interesting view on the world - so to
incorporate that kind of art was amazing. It takes the album off on a right different tangent. I also worked with a beautiful piano player on “If I Were Blind” called Dan Leese, again something very different and unexpected. My influences are so eclectic and varied, it’s what I love hearing on an album so hopefully, I’ve created something similar. It’s not ‘rock by numbers’ where every song sounds the same, that’s for sure. Everything I write about is what I’ve seen happen or has happened to me…I’m not very good at making up stuff that isn’t real. Apart from alibis… The album title comes from a scene in “Toast of London” - the Matt Berry Comedy – it’s one of my favourites and unbelievably funny. “Don’t treat me like I’m a major league son of a bitch”… Tell us a little more about The Hooligans? It’s a different line-up from the first album? We’ve all been friends a long time, Carl has been in pretty much everything I’ve done musically…when he and Lance left the Bullets it was a no-brainer.. we live close and we have a great work ethic. Lance Skybaby is just a full-blown musician, he and Carl have another project called the Small Town Saviours, which is his baby and they have a new album coming. He’s either doing that or he’s with me, or with his woman. I guess he’s the CJ to Ginger: and really added some great rhythm guitar tracks to the album - he plays so much different to me - like, properly! And there’s Richard Jones on bass - my aide de kampf, confidant if you will. Solid. You’re very visible on social media, what are the “Idiots Guides”? In a world of high definition, and everything being pretty and fun, I like to sometimes show how it really is - I never realised that when I got older how ‘Spinal Tap’ real-life becomes. We don’t have big budgets, or management or anything and don’t belong to a movement. Nothing’s a mystery anymore and I’m not into deceiving people into thinking that we are doing a lot better than we actually are haha! The album gets a release on August 28th at HRH Sleaze IV, what can we expect from the set? Pretty fu**ing rad place to release an album don’t ya think? I think we have an hour, there’s 2 or 3 songs off the first album…but the rest will all be new. It’s powerful…I don’t think we hold many similarities with many, if any of the bands on the lineup…it’ll be pretty relentless. If people leave saying “what the fu** was that?”, I’ll have done my job. There’s a tour in support of the release too, can you tell us about who you’re taking on the road? For our dates at Bradford Nightrain, Newcastle Trillians and Edinburgh Bannermans we had a great suggestion of Circus 66 who I think come from Maidenhead – a lot of their stuff and riffs reminded me of that early Slash’s Snakepit stuff, pretty full tilt in places, with a gritty female vocal – I just thought it rocked, and they are working hard and have a new album out called “Follow The Black Crow” which is really really good so they have a good purpose to be out. We also have Porcelain Hill from L.A. and Dig Lazarus joining us in Blackpool, Loz Campbell in Bradford, Richy Neil and The Reinforcements in Edinburgh, Red Head in Reading. Black Tree Vultures and Cancel The Transmission join us in Wales at The Patriot. Pretty psyched about all those bands. I always like to ask if there are any new up and coming bands we should keep an eye out for? Silk Road just changed their name to “Grit For The Pretty” and recruited a new female vocalist - so I can’t wait to hear how that sounds. Dig Lazarus blew me away a while ago - real different sound!! Circus 66 obviously and any of the aforementioned supports of course. Any final words? Enjoy every sandwich! WORDS: JOHN ELLIS PHOTO: JASON MILLER
r e v o s s ro
Hi guys, I hope you are all staying safe and keeping well. Hopefully, as this issue comes out, we have been able to enjoy some live music (it’s been far too long since I saw a live band!) - I have my fingers crossed that many of you picked up this issue at HRH Sleaze! Welcome to the fourth instalment of ‘Redtank’s Guide To’ I have a couple of things I’d like to say before we get on to this guide, firstly I would like to give a massive thank you to our awesome editor for allowing me to write these features and his continued faith in me for continuing to include my guides in this incredible magazine, you rock sir! Secondly, I have a huge passion for music ever since I first heard Iron Maiden back in 1985 - I also have a bit of OCD which causes me to retain lots of information on anything I get passionate about. I hope that none of you thinks that I am an insufferable know it all! This is an outlet of information that has been stored in my head for the last 30 odd years - anything relating to music or World War II tanks stays in there, yet I can’t seem to retain things that the longsuffering Mrs Redtank asks me to do! Right, let’s get back on track. This time it’s my guide to crossover also known as crossover thrash. Along with old school death metal, crossover is my favourite musical genre, it’s the unnatural love child of hardcore punk and thrash metal that burst into being in the mid-1980s. Crossover is widely stated as evolving from metal bands beginning to use elements of hardcore punk music - which in some respects was the case, you also had hardcore bands influenced by early thrash metal bands like Metallica, Slayer, Exodus and Overkill who in 1983 were exploding in the US and they were making music that was just as intense as Minor Threat and Dead Kennedys. Hardcore bands like Suicidal Tendencies, Crumbsuckers and Corrosion of Conformity were playing gigs alongside these breaking thrash bands. Thrash metal is highly influenced by punk and in my opinion, also influenced some hardcore punk bands. The New York skinhead bands of the early to mid-1980s like Agnostic Front,
“Crossover is my favourite musical genre, it’s the unnatural love child of hardcore punk and thrash metal”
Cro-Mags and Murphy’s Law also had a thrashy sound that definitely influenced the crossover genre. As I get uncomfortably close to 50, I look back at the unpopular and lonely 13-year-old kid who was played Iron Maiden’s ‘Live After Death’ - instantly falling in love with heavy metal then discovering thrash, death metal, grindcore, hardcore, doom and so many other types of music over the next few years. Discovering music gave me an identity, I am sure most fans of rock and metal feel that way and that is why we are so passionate about the music we adore so much. I love writing these guides as it takes me back to a great time in my life and as I listen to each album as I write each recommendation, I realise I still feel the same way about them now as I did the first time I heard them. I do realise that I haven’t done a guide to thrash metal yet, it’s coming up and will be a guide that will be in a couple of parts and will start in the next issue. As always these are my album recommendations and are my personal favourites of the genre, I am in no way saying these are the best albums of the genre. So here they are my six recommended crossover albums, I hope you give them a listen and you never know crossover could be your new favourite type of music! D.R.I. – Crossover (Metal Blade) 1987 Back in 1988, I was just a 16-year-old boy who had discovered music through Iron Maiden a few years earlier and had recently discovered Metallica, Slayer, Celtic Frost and Death (to name a few!) and the world of thrash and death metal was a whole new world for me. I had a really good mate Graham Wiley who was a couple of years older than me, and I was at his place looking through his record collection and I asked him if I could borrow the fastest album that he had… he gave me Crossover by D.R.I. and it exceeded all of my expectations, I thought I would be getting a grindcore or death metal album instead I got something completely unexpected. Crossover would have a massive effect on my music taste and onward journey of extreme musical discovery. D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten
redtank’s guide to crossover Imbeciles) were formed in Houston, Texas in 1982 by vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy and for their early years they were a brilliant hardcore punk band. Their first release was a 22 track, 18-minute long 7” EP with a limited 1000 copy pressing (if you are lucky enough to have a copy of this then I would have a check on the current value as you are possibly sitting on a goldmine!) the EP was so popular that it was released as a 12” LP in 1983 aptly titled ‘Dirty Rotten EP’. The band relocated to San Francisco later that year and were on the line-up of the legendary ‘Rock Against Reagan’ tour with Dead Kennedys. Their second album released in 1985 called ‘Dealing With It’ is in my opinion one of the best hardcore albums ever but it is often overlooked. I struggled with not including ‘Dealing With It’ in last issue’s Guide to Hardcore but decided ‘Crossover’ had so much impact on the crossover genre it had to be in this guide. Do yourself a favour and give ‘Dealing With It’ a listen (if you already know it… give it another spin!) you can thank me later!!
The band’s third album released in 1987 literally coined the name of the genre. The album has the hardcore feel of the first two albums but with a very thrashy guitar sound and relentless almost inhuman drum speed. Spike Cassidy produces a guitar sound that any thrash band would be proud of, his vocal style is generally unchanged from previous recordings. It’s a rant rather than a melody, but subtle changes in delivery really define this as a new style. Rather than being a metal album influenced by hardcore this is a hardcore album influenced by, and incorporating, thrash metal. With short songs like ‘A Coffin’ and ‘I.D.K.Y.’ that are definitely more hardcore, to the more thrash and metal style longer tracks, this album perfectly catches a bands evolution and adaption of influences around them. While longer tracks seem a bit too long and can feel somewhat dragged out they are still great tracks and ‘Decisions’ is a prime example of this. The highlight of the album is the opening track ‘The Five Year Plan’ which starts with a bit of feedback out of which emerges a simply sublime riff that is joined by the tick of a cymbal – before the lyrics ‘I lose, you win’, ‘I lose again’ are repeatedly chanted until Kurt asks ‘do you like my five-year plan’ then all hell breaks loose. Incredible speed and ferocity are displayed throughout the track yet it’s controlled and precise, the vocal delivery is at an even pace throughout the changes in tempo which is a defining characteristic in crossover, things return to the opening pace at the end of the track as Kurt chants ‘you lose, I win’. While the album is not perfect, it was made at the perfect time and defines the genre. Stormtroopers of Death (S.O.D.) – Speak English or Die (Megaforce) 1985 I am going to make a disclaimer here before I talk about this album. The lyrical content was written to get a reaction and piss people off, band members Scott Ian and Danny Liker state that it’s meant to be taken as a joke addressing (this is as stated on Wikipedia) homosexuality, women and foreign cultures. I do not share any of the views that are depicted in some of the songs lyrical content. As you see on some older movie descriptions on television ‘contains outdated attitudes, language and cultural depictions which may cause offence’. I have included this album because musically it is simply incredible, I have absolutely adored this album ever since I first heard it. While writing this guide, I have pretty much been constantly listening to it and I am still blown away by how groundbreaking this album is, and here are the reasons why. It was one of the very first to combine hardcore and thrash, released in 1985 which was two years before Napalm Death’s ‘Scum’ and contains incredibly short songs (four songs under 10 seconds) it also contains the first use of the blast beat (listen to ‘Milk’). S.O.D. were Scott Ian on guitar and Charlie Benante on drums, who were both from Anthrax. ‘Speak English or Die’ was recorded in a week in the time left over from Anthrax recording ‘Spreading the Disease’ which was Anthrax’s first actual thrash album (I would not class their debut ‘Fistful of Metal’ as thrash) Danny Liker was on bass, he had been a founding member of Anthrax and played rhythm guitar on their debut album but he would not go on to release his debut album with Nuclear Assault until the following year. On vocals was Anthrax
redtanks guide to crossover roadie and vocalist with New York hardcore punk band The Psychos (who also launched the career of Agnostic Front’s Roger Miret) Scott Ian describes the songs on the album as ‘ridiculous’ and as being ‘a big inside joke’ also saying ‘some people thought we were racist, and those people are stupid’ - the highly offensive nature of the lyrical content in the title track is followed by the polar opposite ‘United Forces’ preaching unity and inclusion of all with the lyrics ‘it doesn’t matter how you wear your hair, it’s what’s inside your head. United forces stand for all good and fair, black, white, yellow and red’. If I had never heard this album and someone gave it to me to listen to today, based on the title and lyrics I might not… but musically it is quite simply one of the most ground-breaking albums of all time. Iron Reagan – The Tyranny of Will (Relapse Records 2014) I always find these articles very difficult to write, I start with a list of about ten albums to recommend and must whittle it down to around six. This one has been particularly hard… I can’t write a guide to crossover without the mighty Municipal Waste, can I? Well, Municipal Waste are one of my favourite bands and I have to advise you to listen to their ‘The Art of Partying’ and ‘Massive Aggressive’ albums, as they are without doubt crossover thrash masterpieces. However, for this article, I really wanted to go for an album by supergroup Iron Reagan, who are fronted by Municipal Waste singer Tony Forrester and other Municipal Waste and Cannibal Corpse members. I cannot stress enough how much I love Iron Reagan’s 2014 album ‘The Tyranny of Will’ and I am not going to say much about the musical style and direction of this album, save for the fact that it is so punchy and powerful it literally beggars belief. I am going to say this though... of all my guides, if you do one thing for me then please give this album a listen. It’s one of the very few go-to albums that I have, and it will instantly improve my mood and make me want to jump up and down like a 49 year old lunatic!! I’m going to leave this recommendation here, very short and hopefully leaving you intrigued… Excel – The Jokes on You (Caroline Records) 1989 Now this one is my little known gem of an album! I can’t remember how I discovered Excel but this is, without doubt, one of my all-time favourite albums. Also formed in Venice, California (along with Suicidal Tendencies) in 1983 Excel were influenced by ‘70s punk bands like Germs, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys along with metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Slayer. The band were also very active on the street art scene and were known for painting graffiti around the cities that they toured. ‘The Joke’s on You’ was the band’s second album and named after a track on their debut release ‘Split Image’ which came out in 1987. The album contains one of my favourite covers - their version of The Police’s ‘Message in a Bottle’. This is a very thrashy album and like Suicidal’s ‘Join the Army’ also has lashings of groove, In my opinion, this album highly influences later bands like Faith No More due to the thrashy and groove melodies throughout the album. The groove influence can be heard on the outstanding ‘Tapping into the Emotional Void’ and brilliant ‘Shadow Winds’. The band certainly had a different feel with each of their releases, but ‘The Joke’s on You’ really captured the crossover movement in its prime, the band’s later album ‘Seeking Refuge’ released in 1995 had much more of a stoner like sound. While this album is a bit of a rare gem and not very recognised, it can still be picked up on CD fairly easily and also features on most of the music streaming platforms. Body Count – Manslaughter (Sumerian Records) 2014 Throwing in a bit of a curveball here, I think that Body Count fall into the crossover category but I’m sure some will disagree. Formed in Los Angeles in 1990 by rapper Ice T and guitarist Ernie C. Ice T has been responsible for writing most of the band’s lyrics while Ernie C has written the bands music. Body Count broke onto the scene with the release of their self-titled debut album mainly out of controversy for the track ‘Cop Killer’ - Ice T later removed the track from the album feeling that the controversy was eclipsing the music. I am recommending the bands fifth album 2014’s ‘Manslaughter’ and it’s an absolute cracker. One of the reasons I chose ‘Manslaughter’ is that it includes a fantastic cover of Suicidal Tendencies’ ‘Institutionalized’ and Instead of wanting a Pepsi, Ice T wants to play on his Xbox and recover his lost email password! It’s pure brilliance! Make sure that you check out the video too. Opening with the superb ‘Talk Sh*t, Get Shot’ and full of edgy and humorous tracks this is a great album and gets more enjoyable with every listen. The dark highlight of the album for me is the tale of torturous revenge that is ‘Pray for Death’ - full of excellent riffs and basically an all-out rage-filled track. Body Count have now released six studio albums and that is quite a feat considering the tragedy that has haunted the band with three of the original members passing away. Music for me is at its most interesting when there is a combination and
redtank’s guide to crossover collaboration of musical styles and genres, this is definitely one of the best examples of this. Suicidal Tendencies – Join the Army (Caroline Records) 1987 Suicidal Tendencies are one of the bands that broke through into the mainstream, and are one of those bands that are liked by nearly everyone that you talk to. Formed in Venice, California in 1980 by vocalist (and only remaining original band member) Mike Muir as a hardcore punk band but later credited as being ‘the fathers of crossover thrash’. The band really broke into the crossover sound with their fantastic 1987 album ‘Join the Army’ which was also the album that introduced me to the band. The band’s second album was released to a mixed reaction from fans due to its metal-oriented sound which was brought in with new guitarist Rocky George. New drummer Amery Smith also played a lot of double kick throughout the album and this was another major contribution to the metal sound that the record has. While there is a lot more thrash style sound on ‘Join the Army’, it is much more of a metal influence album than D.R.I.’s ‘Crossover’. I discovered Suicidal Tendencies via the skateboard scene as someone had been playing the epic ‘Possessed to Skate’. This is a pretty straight forward no-frills type of album, it does what it needs to do, but guitar riffs and solos seem to be placed with some kind of divine intervention and when paired with the underproduced drum sound and Muir’s chanting and at times ‘Lemmy’ like singing, make an incredibly passionate piece of work. Album highlights for me are the utterly brilliant chant and grind of the title track, the all-out powerful assault that is ‘War Inside My Head’ and my personal favourite ‘You Want, I Got’. Most of you will know Suicidal Tendencies music, but after reading this article do me a favour and put this masterpiece on and give it another listen or give it a first listen…. Suicidal Rock….Join the Army!!! I am going to continue what I started in the last guide and suggest ten tracks that I think would make a great introduction to the world of crossover or be possible further listening to those familiar with it. I present…Redtank’s Recommended Introduction to Crossover Playlist:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
D.R.I. – The Five Year Plan (Crossover) Stormtroopers of Death – Milk (Speak English or Die) Excel – Tapping Into the Emotional Void (The Jokes on You) Suicidal Tendencies – War Inside My Head (Join the Army) Body Count – Pray for Death (Manslaughter) Iron Reagan – Close to Toast (The Tyranny of Will) Municipal Waste – The Art of Partying (The Art of Partying) Cryptic Slaughter – See Through You (Stream of Consciousness) M.O.D. – Man of Your Dreams (U.S.A. For M.O.D.) Cro-Mags – Eyes of Tomorrow (Alpha Omega)
Stay safe and well guys, hopefully see you at an HRH event in the very near future…Redtank OUT!
WORDS: SIMON REDTANK
TROY REDFERN recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales early last year. “That was February 2020, literally, just before the pandemic,” explains Troy. “So, we did all the rhythm tracks there, and the bass guitars, drums, a few overdubs. And then the pandemic hit.” Subsequently, the project was put on hold. “You could see what was going on with a pandemic, that it was going to be a long-term thing. And I thought, right, I can’t put this out until at least there’s a chance of doing some gigs with it,” concludes Redfern. “In the end, I think it’s worked out well having that break.” Rockfield Studios is synonymous with legendary albums by Queen such as ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and ‘Night At The Opera’, to name but a few. When you record in the studio’s hallowed halls, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game. “Everyone wanted to do the best they could because of the history of the place. You take a lot of that in with you. You take all that history in your head. You’re in that space. So yeah, everyone upped their game,” said Troy. “Because I was focused on getting the takes, I probably didn’t appreciate it while I was there as much as I should have done. I was focused on just trying to get everything done. But yeah, it was an amazing experience.” Troy’s recent single “Ghosts” has been garnering a lot of interest, as well as airplay, and deservedly so. “That was recorded on the old National Triolian. I put that into a particular tuning, and it sounded Appalachian. That tuning led to that melody. I couldn’t help but kind of go there,” Troy clarifies. “Production wise, it definitely bloomed, but I’m really pleased by the way it came out.” The next single from the album is titled “Sanctify”. Redfern describes the song as being “Like rockabilly on steroids via John Lee Hooker.” An explosive combination, I’m sure you will agree.
Rather than resting on his laurels during the pandemic, British blues/rocker Troy Redfern capitalized on the unplanned downtime with not one but three new releases during this time, culminating with his stunning new album ‘The Fire Cosmic’. “As soon as we went into lockdown, I figured instead of wasting time, or worrying about things, just to get on and create something,” explains Redfern. “I’m grateful for the time, to be honest. As much as you want to get out to play live, I would never have been able to release that much stuff and focus on being creative.” Each of the artist’s three releases showcases Redfern’s versatility and the different sides of his repertoire. Troy’s first release came via ‘Island’ at the start of the lockdown period. “I wanted to put something that was less kind of rock-orientated, just a bit more acoustic. So that’s what the deal was with that one,” proclaims Troy. Subsequently, ‘Thunder Moon’ followed, which was more of an instrumental album. “I wouldn’t have put that out if it wasn’t for the pandemic,” confirms Redfern. “But weirdly, that one sold more than any of them.” However, the release which has been garnering the most attention is Redfern’s new studio album, ‘The Fire Cosmic’. This being an album that was
But it doesn’t stop there. Redfern recruited former Guns N Roses, Sons of Apollo, and ASIA axeman Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal to play on the track “On Fire”. The pair had struck up a rapport at a festival in Poland. “We kind of hung out and had a great time, and I played with him a little bit,” explains Troy. “On the way back, I just figured I’d message him. This is kind of prepandemic at the end of 2019. So, people weren’t really doing collaborations. Now everyone’s collaborating. And I wasn’t sure if he would be up for doing it. But he said, yeah, man, send me the tracks.” Maybe Thal’s playing isn’t as well known in the blues-rock world, but Bumblefoot’s solo is incredibly effective on the song. “You wouldn’t think maybe his style would work on it. But you know, he’s a really creative guy. And he’s really interesting,” declares Redfern. “I think it works really well, and I was really grateful for his time.” Moving forward, Troy Redfern will be out on the road with US-based blues/ rockers Robert Jon and The Wreck during September. Following that, Redfern explains that: “There’s going to be a break until February next year. And that’s when I head back out with Wille and the Bandits.” Plenty to look forward to from Troy Redfern over the coming months, that’s for sure. Troy Redfern’s new album “The Fire Cosmic” will be released via RED7 Records on Friday, August 6th. The artist will also be taking to the road as a special guest to Robert Jon and the Wreck starting at The Globe in Cardiff on Thursday, 16th September. WORDS & PHOTO: ADAM KENNEDY
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reviews - HeLLOWeen with a good old fashioned metal guitar melody. A crowd anthem with elements of classic LA glam rock! In terms of the spooky side of tracks, to compliment the band and their brand, Angels is certainly a beaming light; hosting a mix of delicate organ melodies and minor key drops. With lyrics such as “When angels cause you nightmares” this one will be sure to give you goosebumps.
HELLOWEEN - HELLOWEEN (Nuclear Blast) Pumpkin stompers and German Metalheads Helloween have unveiled their newly released self-titled, sixteenth album through Nuclear Blast, mastered by long term producer Charlie Bauerfeind and co-produced by Dennis Ward. With a career span of over 35 years, Helloween have returned and unleashed a monstrous demon that is full of tricks and treats! The artwork of the album comes from rising visual designer and highly sought-after artist Eliran Kantor, who complied a stunning piece that fits perfectly with the overall image and vibe for this monumental release. The opening track Out For The Glory welcomes us to the magical land of Helloween in all their glory (literally!). A gentle introduction with a mighty build that oozes all things we know and love about these tricksters. This then transitions into Fear Of The Fallen a fast-paced, energetic gem that reflects the strength in the trio-treat of vocals from Deris, Kiske and Hansen. A positive and courageous beginning, setting the tone for this hour-long musical journey. A stand out track for me would be Mass Pollution, a bold track that opens with the sound of guitar feedback - a noise loved by many, erupting with a dirty bass sequence and drum build before dropping
Cyanide definitely takes the crown for the party anthem of the album, with thrashing guitar shreds, double pedal pumps and a contagious chorus. Orbit takes you on an audio experience of growth and evolvement as we transition from Down in The Dumps into Skyfall. The interesting part about this album is the trio of vocals, giving an even more solid sound to accompany and compliment the instruments and techniques used. This is something they have never done on any album previously released and adds another level of sound to each track in its own right, sharing the vocal duties. Skyfall reflects this perfectly, plummeting with plenty of solos be-it instrumental or vocal, and will certainly hold a special spot in a live set. The grand finale does not disappoint as we are whisked away with Save My Hide, after being serenaded by another power ballad of heavy metal characteristics. The creepy yet innocent sound of a music box is soon demolished with a piercing vocal burst accompanied by the clamouring sound from the band in pure unison. Considering this album was nervously anticipated by fans and held a lot of hazards ahead of its release, this is however a great album for all metal lovers and power metal screamers alike; great instrumental runs and breakdowns, immense vocals, and catchy melodic interludes that will have you singing along in no time. A magnificent beast seeping with all things Helloween for all pumpkin-heads around the globe hell yeah!
reviews - BILLY F GIBBONS / STONER Along with his musical counterparts Matt Sorum and Austin Hanks, the trio headed off into the desert to record Gibbons’ latest solo album Hardware. The project may have been a spur of the moment endeavour for the three-piece, catalysed by a quick visit to check out a new recording studio in Palm Springs, but it lacks nothing in terms of quality. Arriving with little more than the clothes on their backs, the album was recorded using instruments and equipment that the three amigos found in the studio. The beauty of this approach is that it inspired and channelled the distinctive sound on the album. Surf rock recorded in the middle of the desert – a place where there is no water - may sound a tad odd, but it works to great effect. Subsequently, the dramatic landscape in which Gibbons and company recorded in certainly fed into the music, particularly on tracks such as the rather poetic “Desert High” - a song that pays homage to the likes of Jim Morrison and Gram Parsons, amongst others. On the other hand, lead single “West Coast Junkie” channels more of a psychedelic sound, similar to Gibbons’ formative years during the sixties with the Moving Sidewalks.
BILLY GIBBONS - HARDWARE (Concord Records) As the old saying goes, it’s tough at the top. And even more so for veteran rockers ZZ Top, who like the rest of the music world, have been sidelined due to the global pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped frontman Billy Gibbons from being creative with his latest solo project during these strange times.
Tracks such as “My Lucky Card” with its heavy groove and the ferocious “She’s On Fire” certainly pack a punch. Whilst “Stackin’ Bones” featuring the beautiful vocal harmonies of the Lovell Sisters of blues/rock duo Larkin Poe is one of the many stand out songs on the album. The album is predominantly original material - however there is room for one cover, “Hey Baby, Que Paso” by the Texas Tornados. This song, in particular, adds a nice Tex-Mex flavour to the proceedings. There are twelve tracks on the album, and there is not one weak link amongst them. You will struggle to find a better release this year. To sum up, the best way to describe Hardware by Billy Gibbons is “Top Notch”, if you will excuse the pun. Adam Kennedy All was revealed back in March 2021 with the online streamed debut performance, filmed live in the Mojave desert and the following live album release. Things have progressed quickly and now we have ‘Stoners Rule’ - the debut studio album from the desert trio. The songs are the same as the live show but presented in a differing order suggesting this is how the mix is dictated for what is essentially a vinyl release. Brant Bjork has spoken about how he was toying with taking a break from relentless touring and instead spending some time with his family while Oliveri had just completed a European tour with Mondo just as the pandemic was closing in before their last show. Now with time on their hands and living in close proximity to each other back in the desert they hung out and jammed together and rediscovered the simplicity of what brought them together as teenage friends, playing music in its purest form just for fun. As for the songs, when was the last time you used the word “rad”? On the opening track it’s now back in my phrasebook due to ‘Rad Stays Rad’, there’s the reflection of ‘The Older Kids’ which sums up where they came from as bros on the streets. ‘Own Yer Blues’, the first single from the album is a slow desert blues jam with Oliveri adding his distinctive voice in the call and response chorus of the song’s title.
STONER - STONERS RULE (Heavy Psych Sounds) Stöner is the latest musical collaboration between ex-Kyuss band members Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri along with Brant’s long-time drummer Ryan Güt. The band was announced as part of the Live in The Mojave Desert series of five bands recorded live against the backdrop of the desert landscape. What would they sound like? Bjork’s long solo career had its infectious blues-based groove and laid back rhythms, whilst Oliveri post-Queens of The Stone Age had stuck with his original solo project in Mondo Generator and its hardcore punk and rock approach, offset with his Death Acoustic one-man shows.
If you are familiar with Oliveri and his style of songwriting and vocals then side two opener ‘Evel Never Dies’ will leave you smiling as he literally rides out on his ode to childhood stunt hero the legend that was Evel Knievel. Album highlight is ‘Stand Down’ which is pure stoner groove with its catchy tagline and killer wah guitar rocking back and forth - it’s had me hooked all summer. The album ends on ‘Tribe/Fly Girl’, an extended jam which is pretty much what the band is about, reconnecting and finding their groove again under globally exceptional circumstances - Brant singing “Welcome to the age to get down…. we found our tribe. We found our sound.” and that’s exactly it - Stoner have found their sound and it’s what they’ve always had - it just took a lockdown to bring it back together. Stoners rule, long live Stöner! David Swain
reviews - THE QUIReBOYS reflected in the quality of this recording. The songs still stand the test of time but they reflect a little better where the band are now. Only frontman Spike remains from the original lineup, although it seems guitarists Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin and keyboard player Kieth Weir have been around him forever. 2021 Quireboys are more slick, better musicians and have a more laid-back, country vibe to them. This comes across in the new recordings and the band manage to capture both the passion of their youth and the maturity of their current selves nicely.
THE QUIREBOYS A BIT OF WHAT YOU FANCY 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Off Yer Rocka)
There are very few certainties in life. There’s death, taxes and there’s also The Quireboys because when you want low down dirty rock and roll there isn’t a better band to go to. Last year marked 30 years since the release of their first album “A Bit Of What You Fancy” and to celebrate they’ve done something different. Many bands mark the anniversary of a seminal album by going out on tour and playing the album from start to finish but oh no not The Quireboys, that would be too easy. Instead, they’ve decided to completely re-record it and bring some current Quireboys magic to those songs we know so well – albeit due to a certain worldwide situation it’s only seen the light of day this year. The tracklisting is the same as the original unless you get the CD version, in which case you get two bonus live tracks. So what’s it all about then? What made this album so good back then and is it still as good now? Well it certainly hit the spot back in the day, with the original release reaching number two in the UK charts in absolutely no time at all and spawning a handful of hit singles and also several songs that are still in the setlist to this day. In 1990 the Quireboys were young fresh and hungry. In 2021 they are more mature, more polished and that’s
The album starts with party favourite 7 O’Clock because after all, it’s always 7 O’Clock and time for a party somewhere! It continues with the same tracks in the same order as the original, but somehow it’s not the same. The differences between new and old versions are subtle rather than in-your-face. There’s a different bridge or solo, a slight change in pitch in Spike’s vocals, enough to bring a fresh new feel but not enough to change things out of all recognition. The songs seem somehow brighter and fresher, possibly due to the use of new technology and production techniques, but at the same time they are still The Quireboys. They still have that Quireboys sound, that Quireboys attitude, that Quireboys swagger. The songs were good time rock and roll back then and they’re still time good time rock and roll right now. They’ve brought the album right up to date and made an absolute masterpiece out of what was already a well-loved classic. They have taken the exuberance of youth and updated it to reflect the maturity of middle age and it’s just different enough to make it worth adding to any discerning fan’s collection. The CD version includes a live cut of another classic song “Mayfair”, which wasn’t on the original album, and yet again puts across just how much this band love a party. So yeah, those certainties of life. Death, taxes and The Quireboys releasing another album of dirty, sleazy, countrified rock. I reckon that just about covers it! Jo Crosby
reviews - GYPSY PISTOLeROS / LIGHT THE TORCH / eNTER SHIKARI / TROY ReDFeRN
LIGHT THE TORCH YOU WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME (Nuclear Blast)
ENTER SHIKARI MORATORIUM (Silver Screen Records)
TROY REDFERN THE FIRE COSMIC (RED7 Records)
Although strictly their second studio album, if you have followed the band since their earlier days as Devil You Know, you might argue that this is their fourth album which would technically be correct as a band, but the second album under their current band name.
Troy Redfern showcases a slightly heavier side of his repertoire with his new album The Fire Cosmic. For the British blues/rockers latest offering Redfern headed to the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales, where he laid down ten turbocharged numbers.
The band dug deep to give listeners an authentic and consistently heavy album.
Enter Shikari have amazed fans yet again with a delicate release titled Moratorium (Broadcasts From The Interruption). This treat explores glorious accompaniments from the Sofia Session Orchestra to some of their previous anthems including The Dreamer’s Hotel, Stop The Clocks and Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here, alongside a beautiful rendition of David Bowie’s iconic Heroes that holds an extraordinary rawness like no other. The St Albans troupe got extremely creative during lockdown, releasing a variety of home studio sessions from Nothing Is True & Everything is Possible, alongside two solo performances by much-loved lead-man Rou Reynolds; this encouraging the theme, style and release of this album. This surprise marks the one year anniversary of Nothing Is True & Everything is Possible, their 2020 spectacular, the album that hadn’t been performed live prior to their Download Pilot headline slot in June, the album that had fans singing along in perfect synchronisation, and certainly the album that everyone is needing in their collection.
Howard Jones fills the album with tracks that pull in his personal experiences set to music which is well known as his writing style but solidifies the band as one unit while defining their writing and performance style. The lyrics are hard-hitting and relatable to listeners own experiences. The music is filled with energetic riffs, chugging guitars, lots of distortion, melodies, and melancholy. There’s also a surprise track, a cover of Terence Trent D’Arby’s ‘87 classic hit “Sign Your Name” done as a much heavier remake.
The first single, Waiting For Your Love, left the listener with no confusion that this album was going to rock, whilst recent single “Ghosts” has been garnering considerable airplay and deservedly so. There is even a guest appearance from Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal on the scorching number “On Fire”. The latter could also be a metaphor for Redfern’s combustible slide guitar playing on this album. With the Fire Cosmic, Troy Redfern proves that there are many sides to his playing. Redfern can rock with the best of them. Adam Kennedy
Pistoleros explore an amalgamation of sleaze and good ol’ classic rock ’n’ roll, whilst dissecting the characteristics of traditional Mexican influences. A truly unique combination that gels perfectly - fiery flamenco, rumba passion with a pure punk ’n’ roll crossover.Gypsy Pistoleros are known for their fierce and raw stage presence and have even been named “The Greatest Flamenco Sleaze Glam Band Ever!”. Now, with a renewed line-up, these guys are back with a bigger, bolder and ballsier sound that will have you sipping tequila and dancing around in no time! We hear a mix of influences through various stages of this album; the delicate guitar plucking used throughout Viva La Revolution, Viva Zapata and The Forsaken hones in on the core reflection of Ranchera heritage, with brass backing and high-pitched vihuela.
GYPSY PISTOLEROS - THE MESCALITO VAMPIRES (Off Yer Rocka) Aye Yai Yai! Who’s ready for a fiesta fusion?! The Mescalito Vampires - an album we didn’t know we needed, but now can’t live without. Gypsy
Whilst Cicso Kid and The Mescalito Hotel - Welcome to The Hotel De La Muerta unleash that punk ’n’ roll burst that unfolds another level and reflection on their original style. The title track mimics The Eagles classic anthem, Hotel California - but with a twist! If the melody wasn’t an earworm enough, the turnup of tempo and lyrical spin exposes its own identity. One of the interesting stories about this album lies within the track Gonna Die With A Gun In My Hand, the song inspired by iconic Assassin Rubi Malone from WET, the Playstation/Xbox Grindhouse shoot em up game, that featured this Pistoleros song. This was also due to be the theme tune for the PS/Xbox Grindhouse/Shoot em up game sequel WET 2, but this was sadly never released. The vinyl release of this album once again devotes a level of homage towards the Day of The Dead heritage, printed on a double 10” LP reflecting the moon cycle of Dusk till Dawn. We’re treated to a mariachi showpiece with Roses, Gallows & Wild Preachers Daughter, which hosts a change in pace and unravels the mastery of these swashbuckling renegade flamenco, rock-rumba pioneers. This entire release holds a rip-roaring romp that shouts mariachi punk vibes. A true, one of a kind - Viva La Revolution, amigos! Charlotte Hooper
reviews - NIGHT THIEVES / FEAR FACTORY 3-tracks and a play-through time coming in just under 10 minutes, the band had to work hard to make each track count and connect with listeners. Like their first release, the vocals have a heavy pop style like Gwen Stefani’s in No Doubt as well as her solo work. Once the power arrives in each track instrumentally, the vocals pick up feeling like heavy alt-rock. What is different on this album is the instant heavier feel in the music. Spiral has a distinct and heavier down-tuned sound than the previous release did not have. The album feels a bit darker with more angst as well. There are moments of explosive riffs throughout the 3-tracks matched with noticeable hooks and heavy drum fills that enhance the listening experience. The vocals get some lightly added distortion and reverb thrown into their mix adding some edge to the final mix of the EP. The ‘Spiral’ tracklist contains “Atoned”, “Off The Wire”, and “Figure It Out”. “Atoned” opens with instant heavy riffs to grab your ears and make you want to listen, then keeps punching the listener with powerful riffs, angst-filled vocals, and a push and pull of tempos through the entire song. “Off The Wire” takes a step back with a much slower tempo that gives the track room to fill with emotion and break open with heavy riffs that at times feel like they are screaming at the listener. Finally, “Figure It Out” brings in the deep and heavy bass and at the front, not giving way to vocals, guitars, or drums. It stays heavily present and on this track the drums lend heavy, blasting fills with tons of cymbals to add to the power of the track.
NIGHT THIEVES - SPIRAL (Self Release) Spiral is the follow-up to their 2020 EP, Battle Cry, that will allow listeners to take a second look at this band with another dose of music. With just
My final thoughts on this new release from Night Thieves? I think this band has made progress with their overall sound and that listeners will get a different musical experience with this new release. The vocals have more aggression that feels like a better match to the instrumentals. The overall sound of the EP is more in sync with more depth than the previous release. This band is evolving with its unique sound and delivers a pleasant listening experience. Diane Webb
is a reinvigorated exploration of worthy riffs, passion, and an engulfing adventure for Fear Factory’s loyal fanbase to explore. The new album opens with a monologue fit for a tech-fueled David Cameron film, recruiting the fandom into the next chapter of the hype-machine that is Fear Factory - as they battle cry ‘we will fight for our future’ and encourage our unearthed desire to succeed as they proclaim ‘you are the resistance’. Unity prevails! Like all Fear Factory albums, the storytelling here is at the heart of their dispersed energy. Relatable lyrics of hardship and prosperity feed the energetic mechanical riffs of Cazares and the drumming of Heller. Keyboards by Igor Khorshev (ex-Yes) adds yet another dimension. Thus, each song acts as a chapter of a story that feeds into the next, with the arrangement of tracks purposely placed to maximize your journey and feed the power within. Album opener Decoder plays like a cinematic score, as Bell’s distinctive vocal attack reminds us of what we have missed since their last album, Genexus. Songs Disrupter and Purity continue to highlight the balance between his trademark screams and clean vocal emissions.
FEAR FACTORY - AGGRESSION CONTINUUM (Nuclear Blast) Fear Factory celebrate their 30th anniversary with their 10th studio album aptly titled Aggression Continuum - an album that has certainly earned its title in more ways than one as recent times have seen the band journey through lawsuit battles and face the departure of singer Burton Bell. This album is his final release with the band. Initially recorded in 2017, today the story of this album has a completely different meaning to Dino Cazares, sole original member of Fear Factory. To Dino, it tells the story ‘not to fear change, because change is inevitable’. Aggression Continuum is designed to celebrate the band’s past, present, & future. Having gone through several ideations, in 2020 Cazares collaborated with A-list rock and metal producer Damien Rainaud to add additional mixes and elevate the energy with a live drum replacement. The result
Fuel Injected Suicide Machine has a multitude of layers that is sure to be a festival pleaser and anthem for the masses, thus becoming my own personal motivational soundtrack. In contrast, the title track Aggression Continuum is more thrash-like and complex which almost spirals into a state of welcomed confusion. End of the Line is the final track which compliments opener Decoder with another theatrical manipulation of the senses. The song, concludes with a final John Connor-esque narration, ‘When the fear is gone, only I remain.’ A final statement from Cazares, perhaps? Aggression Continuum in its entirety is both dynamic and empowering for both the band and the listener. Fans of Fear Factory may mourn this band’s incarnation entombed within the final chapter of this steelindentured anthology, but the album itself still harnesses the pure excellence and quality from the stronghold and influence that is Fear Factory. We eagerly await what comes next! Michelle Evans
reviews -STEVIE R PEARCE / TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND easy. This is an absolute corker of an album. You get your money’s worth from these boys for sure. With 13 on-fire tracks that cross all kinds of genre boundaries, there’s something for everyone here. You want some in-your face rock? Sure thing, check out the opening track “Rip It Out” or the album title track “Major League Son Of A Bitch”. The penultimate track “Trouble” is also a sneering cacophony of hard rock goodness that will get your dancing feet twitching and your fingers tapping. How about a dark, brooding ballad with all the right power chords in all the right places? “If I Were Blind” will leave you sobbing in the corner. Or perhaps you fancy listening to Stevie get his Lennon on? “Just A State Of Mind” is a floaty, dreamy song that is perfect for summer evenings. One of my personal favourites, it has a whiff of classic Cheap Trick or Enuff Z Nuff about it, and if this song doesn’t put a smile on your face then I feel you may be beyond all hope. In complete contrast there is also sharp, punchy, punky cock-rock in “Over The Top”, “How High” and “Lunatics By The Pool”. “Lunatics” is also the first video release from the album and is available now for your viewing pleasure on the usual platforms. This is a proper party song, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it live.
STEVIE R PEARCE & THE HOOLIGANS MAJOR LEAGUE SON OF A BITCH (Heavy Rocka) This has been a hard year for musicians, what with covid, lockdown, no gigs, and all the rest. So what is a band to do in these strangest of times? Well if you are Mr Pearce and his motley gang of Hooligans you naturally work around the restrictions and write, record and release your “Difficult Second Album”. Due for release roughly when we go to print, Stevie and his Hooligans have done the impossible and made that “difficult” thing seem
There’s upbeat good-time grooving going on in “I’m On Fire” whilst “Rush Of Blood To The Head” captures a more slow, bluesy kind of groove. The Hooligans skirt the boundaries of Scandi power metal during “Information Not Advice” with its dark theme, stonking riffage and background orchestrals. A true symphony of sound. In “Fleshwound” there’s yet another swerve in direction, it’s a ‘90s nu-metal stomper that nods to the likes of Linkin Park with its monotone spoken-not-sung lyrics and its tempo changes and abrupt ending. The album closes with anthem in-waiting “Hammered”, a sleazy slice of dirty rock n roll and another personal favourite, and I can’t help thinking that even in these covid times there is always going to be something somewhere to take your mind off reality and make life just a little bit better. For me, today, that glorious escape is in the grooves of this album.
Jo Crosby Whilst the group were unable to tour during the lockdown, they took the opportunity to delve into the depths of their vaults and unearth a spectacular live recording that took place during 2019 at the Lockn’ Festival in the US. Now, this isn’t just any live recording. Apologies for sounding like a Marks and Spencer’s advert here - but during this live album, the talented and versatile ensemble cover the legendary album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” by Derek and the Dominos from start to finish. This being an album that influenced and inspired many artists including both Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, each of which has a special association with the record. Trucks was named after the band, whilst Tedeschi was born on the day the album was released. Accompanying the group throughout the performance is musical counterparts and close friends, including Trey Anastasio from Phish and Doyle Bramhall II. The latter plays with Eric Clapton himself as part of his band, which adds a nice touch to the proceedings. The beauty about this performance was like most Tedeschi Trucks shows the audience had no idea what the band were about to play that night, and as the show progresses the crowd start to get an idea of the spectacle which is unfolding.
TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND - LAYLA REVISTED LIVE AT LOCKN’) (Fantasy Records) When it comes to the jam band scene, the Tedeschi Trucks Band are in a league of their own. Their studio albums are incredible, but where this band really comes to life is on stage. To coin a phrase, they are tighter than a coiled spring.
Of course, the original Dominos album featured classics such as “Bell Bottom Blues”, “Little Wing”, and not to mention the anthemic “Layla”, to name but a few. But what is great about this album is that The Tedeschi Trucks band add their distinctive touch to the tracks without wandering too far from the originals. Derek Trucks slide guitar play is in a league of its own. And likewise, Susan Tedeschi’s breathtaking vocals are enough for you to want to revisit this album over and over again. Until the opportunity arises for the Tedeschi Trucks Band to return to our UK shores, Layla Revisited is the next best thing, as well as being a perfect representation of a very special performance in the annals of the band’s history. Adam Kennedy
Reviews - Nightblade / The Picturebooks / Matt Long / Toto
THE PICTUREBOOKS THE MAJOR MINOR COLLECTIVE (Century Media)
MATT LONG AND THE REVENANT ONES - THE OTHER SIDE (Self Release)
TOTO - WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS (Mascot / The Players Club)
This latest release from the popular Germans is a collection of collaborations with musicians such as Dennis Lyxzen (Refused), Neil Fallon (Clutch), Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), Chris Robertson (Black Stone Cherry) and many more.
South England Trio Matt Long and The Revenant Ones have released their stunning debut album The Other Side ahead of various live performances to follow later this year. This nine track, killer debut explores the root characteristics of pure rock goodness with influences from Black Stone Cherry, Rival Sons and Alter Bridge. The gritty vocals, melodic riffs and tight rhythmic transitions, combined with the overall classic rock sound, are all reflected in their current releases Feel Like a Saint, Have My Say and Take It All.
Toto’s latest offering captures a special moment in time. Recorded amid the pandemic and streamed around the world, this live show represents the first time the 15th incarnation of the legendary group had performed together. The title represents the coming together of longstanding members such as Lukather, Williams and Paich with their new friends in the band. The tracklisting captures favourites and deep cuts from the Toto repertoire, including the unmistakable “Hold The Line”, “Rosanna”, and “Home Of The Brave”, which each sound as fresh as they did upon their original release. Of course, a cover of The Beatles track from which the album takes its name concludes the album.
If you enjoyed 2019’s team-up with Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders), then you are in for a treat. The album is probably the most varied work from the duo to date, but is still full of The Picturebooks repertoire of dirty blues rock, with the added twist given by the guests - who are either friends of the duo or inspired them, and possibly both. A stand out for me has to be “Rebel” with Lzzy, whose vocal on the track is stunningly good. This is definitely an album that any Picturebooks fans will want, and with several singles successfully released from it already this will further enhance the band’s reputation. Robbie Johns
As live performances are starting to emerge once again, this is an essential listen that is perfect for those sunny road trips or to get you pumped for the greatly missed festival season! The Other Side was originally due to be released last year, but sadly like many other bands, this was delayed due to the pandemic. A melodic masterpiece sets the tone for a very exciting road ahead! Charlotte Hooper
Whilst touring has been impossible lately, it’s recordings such as that will preserve a historical record of the strange times that we’ve witnessed over the last 18 months. Until Toto can return to the road, the band’s new live album is as close as you can get to the real thing. Adam Kennedy
with their debut ’Servant To Your Lair’ and in 2013 ‘Closer To The Threshold’ also gained them wide acclaim. In the past they have supported the likes of Snakecharmer, Wolfsbane and Diamond Head, which proves these guys are quite popular. Of course, due to Covid restrictions they were unable to tour and promote their last album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, but that hasn’t stopped them writing during lockdown and getting the follow-up, ’Unknown Territories’ in the bag. The 11 tracks kick off with the single ‘Wake Up’, a lively and punchy number with the distinct growl of vocalist Mark Crosby giving it stacks of attitude. Guitar from Sam Morse adds edgy sharpness and it runs perfectly into the title song ‘Unknown Territories’ which has stable drumming by Rich Lawley, that lies really well under the building melody. As it gathers momentum, it develops so forcefully that you’re surrounded and in the midst of the song before you know it. ‘Apparition’ is more alternative sounding, while ‘Feeding The Reel’ is a proper stomp. When we reach ‘What’s Your Name’ the band give us something quite spectacular. Kick out any reservations and get down and sample a bit of this, off the wire, low and messy, the bass of Tim Cutcliffe and Sam’s guitar are bashed against the wall, while Mark destroys you with his grit spitting lyrics. The band party in true rock’n’roll style on ‘No Part Of It’ a bit of slap boogie that gets your feet moving and I love the complete change of direction. We delve into melancholy during ‘I See The Best In Everyone’ a song full of poignancy. ‘One Last Chance’ is a more rapid track to end on, it has a charm about it and evens out the album with its less attacking nature.
NIGHTBLADE - UNKNOWN TERRITORIES (Self Release) Founded in 2010, this four piece from Worcestershire soon rose to glory
A brilliant piece of work. Diane Davies
REVIEWS - Lord of The Lost chorus will have you raising your hands to the heavens as Lord of the Lost flood into your very soul. “For They Know Not What They Do” will happily satisfy any fan of Ghost. “Father forgive them” echoes throughout as the machine gun rhythmic drums raise the intensity. “Your Star Has Led You Astray” opens with a much stronger industrial vibe, and by this point you will gladly see Judas through to the very end.
LORD OF THE LOST - JUDAS (Napalm) Lord of the Lost are no strangers to creating epic conceptual albums and with Judas, their 7th album, stretching to an epic 104 minutes - this is a serious slab of choral filled magnificence. And make no mistake, the enormity of Judas is of biblical proportions (excuse the pun). With its massive sweeping waves of gothic darkness dancing freely throughout the storytelling of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus, the album creates a visual presence in ones mind’s eye of epic cinematic proportions. Judas benefits greatly when you switch off all outside distractions and allow yourself to become completely absorbed by its genius storytelling. The album is incredibly well crafted with some outstanding artistry right from the start with the haunting eastern vocal leading into Chris Harms commanding voice.
All 104 minutes successfully combine the essence of bands such as Deathstars, Rammstein & The Mission. Equally though I feel that “In The Field of Blood” would sit comfortably on any Creeper album, such is the diversity here within Judas. “Death is just a kiss away” is exemplary gothic romanticism, with Chris Harms hypnotic deep silky voice caressing and enticing the listener all the way through to the organ filled choral ending. Things quickly snap back into action with the powerful “The Heart is a Traitor”, while “The Death of All Colours” leads perfectly into the second half of Judas. The multi-layered production of Judas is breathtaking and is one of those albums that with each fresh listen you hear something different buried in the mix. It never puts a note out of place and the cohesion is immaculate. Lord of the Lost fans will gladly bury themselves deep into the sheer grandeur of this work. Its theatrical contrast from Damnation to Salvation is an incredibly powerful composition that begins with the villainy of a traitor. Those new to the band may struggle with the depth of content, but if you stick with it and allow Judas to consume you in ways that only it can, the repayment is being entranced in a gothic masterpiece.
“Priest” sets the scene perfectly as it lures you innocently into the Du Hast like chant, “Priest! Priest!” The song continues to build like a wave in the distance but as it surges towards you, you have no idea what is about to wash over. The titanic Raz White
reviews - STeeL RHINO / Paradise Lost / Dikajee / dead Reynolds
PARADISE LOST AT THE MILL (Nuclear Blast)
DIKAJEE FORGET ME NOTS (Self Release)
DEAD REYNOLDS BREATHE WITH STRANGERS (Fort Records)
Over the past 33 years, British metal legends Paradise Lost have built an empire from their phenomenal sound and tight bond with their audience. Last autumn, fans were thrilled with their stunning livestream At The Mill which has now been confirmed as a live album release. Recorded at Yorkshire based venue The Mill, the production and direction of this recording honed in on an intimate concert atmosphere we are all craving, and echoed their excitement to be back on a stage - albeit under different circumstances! A personal favourite of mine is Darker Thoughts taken from their 2020 album Obsidian, which demonstrates a soft approach from Nick’s vocals alongside an intricate guitar melody, immediately grasping your curiosity. This then revolves to a roar of the combined sound from the entire gothic doom quintet, where we hear the monstrous sound erupt. Their performance explores some fan favourites from their extensive back-catalogue, with tracks from Icon, Medusa and Obsidian. This will definitely be a glowing piece in your collection Charlotte Hooper
Now and again, you hear something quite special that stands out from the rest and Forget Me Nots by Russian artist Dikajee is certainly that.
Dead Reynolds are set to release their debut album ‘Breathe With Strangers’ this autumn. The surprise is that this is a debut album at all. It could easily have been a third or fourth album by how well it all comes together.
Recent single and opening track “Forest”, with its atmospheric and infectious melody, intricate acoustic guitar/string arrangements and gorgeous ethereal vocals draws you in like a siren luring a sailor to the rocks. Similarly, with “Lily of the Valley”, beautiful, dreamy vocals are interwoven with piano to create a somewhat heavenly musical soundscape, whilst the up-tempo electro sounds of “Scriptwriter” showcases the depth of musicality within the album. Hailing from St Petersburg, Dikajee has been heralded by Prog Magazine as being the fifth best new/unsigned act in last year’s reader’s poll - and when you hear the versatile artist’s latest offering, you will understand why. Forget Me Nots is nothing short of breathtaking. Adam Kennedy
‘Breathe With Strangers’ is filled with attitude, meaty bass tracks, it’s punchy, has tons of energy, big bursts of musical explosions, and an anthemic feel. Some tracks feel edgier, where others feel like early 2000s pop/alt-rock inspired like the All American-Rejects. Lyrically, I was able to connect with the songs and get the underlying message of the tracks that added context to the music. Musically, there are great bass and drum tracks that encourage listeners to get up and move their bodies. Pulling the sound all together are fun guitar riffs with big hooks, at times a piano that feels melancholic and hollow as in “Bright Lights” and “I Tried” along with distortion in vocals and reverb to make the music feel larger than life. Diane Webb
on renowned German vocalist Herbie Langhans (Firewind, Avantasia and recent melodic newbies Sonic Haven), the pair have joined forces to create Steel Rhino. Guitarist Filip Vilhelmsson, also of Revolverlution, was recruited to provide guitar and bass. From the onset with ‘Rhino Attack’, there is a sense of thudding, classic anthem sounding rock. Stacks of hard-lined vocals from Herbie, all backed by some screaming guitar, it’s a decent opener. ‘Arrival’ has a swifter pace and again some ice-cool licks from Filip. ‘Lovin Easy’ knocks into a lower gear and pumps along with a roaring catch. But it’s when we encounter the eponymous number, that the juices start to ooze, oh yes, charging at us, that metal horn is in the room. ‘Bells Of Midnight’ is delectably sinister, having a misty graveyard atmosphere. More determined lyrics from Herbie and naturally Mikael is heard throughout with his passion and stability. The second single ‘Fire And Ice’ has crashing waves of rhythm that bring the band together really solidly. Mikael kicks in for the intro of ‘Ghost From The Past’ which, like the first couple of songs, heralds the classic rock vibe.
STEEL RHINO- STEEL RHINO (GMR Music) Drummer Mikael Rosengren is probably best known for his powerhouse sticks during his days with fellow Swedes Bai Bang and Dirty Passion. He currently rides with rockers Revolverlution but Mikael has had a notion, which grew from just a few drum and guitar tracks, to put together a solo project which would be heavier and feature more intense metal. So calling
‘Sands Of Time’ is the baby for me, if Mikael wanted a heavier noise then this is it. A riff without any mercy is intermittent between deeper vocals and backing ‘whoas’ that sound like war cries from the ancestors. The skin bashing is second to none – wow - bring this out as a single guys! ‘Life We Choose’ lifts us with higher tones, more melody and a singalong chorus. Then the first single ‘Boom, Boom’ lights a trail of menace and gathers dirt with Herbie’s gravel inflicted voice, while ’New Tomorrow’ draws the final curtain and stands proud as it delves into another round of pounding rock and the backing ‘whoas’ give the album that sense of achievement. With a high level of professional outpouring and eleven tunes that cover quite a range, Steel Rhino have dropped a belter here - it has all the character you’d expect with a few surprising twists. Diane Davies
reviews - SePULTURA/ hawklords / portrait / tuesday the sky since the “Blip” started is “What to do during these times?” Well, Andreas Kisser (guitars) had a damn good idea. How about some online networking, do some Q&A’s, podcasting, play some tunes and invite some more superstars like Scott Ian, David Ellefson, Danko Jones, David Townsend, Matt Heafy to name a few and have them guest on this new release. “Sepulquarta” is an absolute blast from start to finish, 15 songs spanning through the band’s catalogue. “Territory” kicks off the album to get your groove going followed by “Cut Throat”, then “Sepulnation” - you know you’re gonna blast these tracks all day long! “Inner Self” features Phil Rind of Sacred Reich fame, pure heaviness pure and simple. Followed by “Hatred Aside” which sounds as fresh as it did on its original release back in 1998. “Mask” is pure thrash metal as you would expect, followed by the sublime “Fear Pain, Chaos, Suffering” featuring Emmily Barreto which was an absolute delight to my ears. “Vandals Nest ‘’ is next on the turntable featuring Alex Skolnick from Testament which is a great match for this tune. “Slave New World” is joined by none other than Matt Heafy then comes my personal favourite track “Ratamahatta” - pure magic through the stereo, open the windows wherever you are and let the world hear this classic!
SEPULTURA - SEPULQUARTA (Nuclear Blast) Sepultura, who need no introduction, form part of what some call the “second wave” of the Thrash Metal scene back in the late ‘80s. Their latest offering is a fabulous look back at some much-loved riffs from the Brazillian quartet. One question many of us have asked of each other over the last year or so
“Apes of God” follows, as the band are joined by Rob Cavestany (Death Angel) which sounds awesome for fans of this genre. Up next is “Phantom Self” which just illustrates how the recent songwriting has never let the fans down, as you can instantly feel the groove from the first bar. “Slaves of Pain” takes us back to the Beneath the Remains album & comes across as tight and fresh as the first time I heard it back in ‘89. Then we come to the penultimate & last track by the band on the album “Kaiowas”, a mellow moment of genius on acoustic guitars. The album closes with a fine rendition of “Orgasmatron” featuring Phil Campbell. A classic, and a great way to close off the album. Applause all round for this release. Sepultura are due out on the road this November in the UK, so hopefully, we can hear most of these anthems performed live! Can’t wait! Russell Peake
HAWKLORDS - TIME (Self Release)
PORTRAIT - AT ONE WITH NONE (MetalBlade)
TUESDAY THE SKY THE BLURRED HORIZON (MetalBlade)
Following up their superb live set “Alive” in 2020, Hawklords have returned from the cosmos to take you on a brand new ride – and what a triumphant trip it is too! Beautiful psychedelic space prog designed to guide your ears and mind through time and space for 50 magical minutes. As you’d expect with a Hawklords release, there are plenty of space rock belters (Speed Of Sound, Take Off Your Mask, To The New Age) that promise to bring the house down when they’re taken to the road, but there are also magnificent blissed out joints that fully embrace the beauty of electro psychedelia “Lighthouse At The Edge Of The World” with its tripped out flute and “Kite” are two of the best examples I’ve heard all year. “Time” continues as an evolution of sound on the ongoing journey of Hawklords, contemporary flair and classic sounds fused together to make this another essential record by a band that never disappoints. John Ellis
This Swedish four-piece are over fifteen years into a career that has seen them release five albums to date (including their very first demo tape!) plus a split release with Ram and a number of EPs. 2021 brings us the awesome At One With None, their first release since 2017’s Burn The World. What I love about this album is the fantastic production and attention to detail – lots of atmospheric touches that embellish the classic metal sounds with a hint of space-rock and even goth (see the epic He Who Stands) which draws a casual listener in, ready to be beguiled by the red-hot classic metal inner core. There’s enough here for any rock or metal fan to get their teeth into, anyone new to the band will appreciate the influences of Maiden and Metallica, and I’m sure devotees of the genre will name many many more. This is a superb release, that will keep existing fans very happy and should draw in some new followers too – including yours truly. Great stuff. Toby Winch
Jim Matheos. What a legend! Not only has he got an immense back-catalogue with his iconic band Fates Warning but this release has blessed us with a gorgeous gift of total zen. The opening three minutes of the album, with first track Half Remembered focuses our attention purely on Matheos’ guitar talent, honing in on the calming riffs complementing one another to create a completely peaceful ambience. As the drums hit, this adds an extra layer of comfort, eventually fading out with the duo of melodies from the strings lifting us on a high note. Near Dark left me on a real cliff-hanger, the pause and echo of the final note actually made me sad thinking that was the end of the album, thankfully Half Forgotten, ironically, kicked in catching you with relief. We bookend with Everything Is Free, which appears to be the only vocal-based track on this album. But what mighty fine vocals they are. A mystical rainbow of gorgeous melodies fantastic album. Charlotte Hooper
reviews - RIVERS OF NIHIL / NIGHTWISH / rituals / danko jones giving them a broader listening audience. With this new release, there is so much happening that one must pay close attention not to miss what is unfolding before them. “The Work” play-through will awaken and confuse the senses with hollow, haunting, and at times infusions of jazz, progressive, and industrial elements. This eleven-track release is an emotionally charged experience that takes listeners on a gloomy, anxiety-driven musical ride. The diversity of musical stylings were deeply psychologically evoking. If this album were a painting, it could easily be Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” from the Expressionist era. Each track has its own story. Some of the tracks are as short as one-minute fifty-eight seconds, while the longest comes in at eleven minutes and thirty seconds. It is clear on this album that there are no limits to their musical expression or experimentation. This album is mixed with layers of swarming sound elements mixed with saxophone, rhythmic grooves, distorted chants, blast beats, deep, heavy riffs, elevating progressions, slow and agonizing vocals met with atmospheric tempos that give way to intensity and rage. The lyrics take every opportunity to lash out at the world around us and are quick to remind each of us that no two people have the same experience. This reminder is repeated with each track; none give the same experience.
RIVERS OF NIHIL - THE WORK (Metalblade) Rivers of Nihil are back with a new progressive release called “The Work”, the follow-up to their 2018 album “Where Owls Know My Name.” Like previous releases, the band continues with their limitless musical styling that tests boundaries while exploring new ideas and song structures. Their sound can still be considered multi-faceted without a definitive genre fit,
Take the tracks “Dreaming Black Clockwork” and “Wait.” The first is heavy, with raging vocals and triggered tempos that slowly give way to distorted swarms of nightmarish sounds. Then in the next track “Wait”, there is a lighter mood with keyboards, clean vocals, bright guitars and an atmospheric, mellow feel through most of the track. These two tracks could not be more different, yet they are both parts of this experience. You just do not know what to expect as one song ends and the next begins. Listeners will get this feeling throughout the album. If you want an album full of the current world mood where everything is in a state of constant change and confusion, this is it. Diane Webb
NIGHTWISH - ONCE (Nuclear Blast)
RITUALS - AWAKE EP (Self Release)
DANKO JONES - POWER TRIO (Mate In Germany)
A little over eighteen years ago, Finnish symphonic metal band, Nightwish, released their fifth studio album, Once, into the world. I remember listening to it maybe a year after its release while exploring the genre for the first time and being utterly blown away. If I recall correctly, the first track I heard was ‘I Wish I Had an Angel’. I remember being completely hooked by the opening harmonies over the synths and strings being cut to pieces by the guitars and drums as the song kicks in. The rest of the album is a masterful balance of symphonic arrangements, thumping beats and crunchy guitars all layered with multi-harmonic vocals.
Newcastle-based four piece Rituals are barely out of college but wow – you really wouldn’t know except for the fact that their sound is very young and fresh. You’d be forgiven for thinking these lads had been at it for years, such is the quality of this EP.
Canadian classic rockers Danko Jones have slapped us with a corker of an album! Their tenth album Power Trio celebrates the 25th anniversary of this uncompromising group, highlighting their heavy influences from bands such as Motorhead and AC/DC.
The band have taken a turn towards the heavier side with this release, with more scream vocals than previous work - although Turn Away From The Sun is a stunning blend of light and heavy with one of the best vocal melodies you’ll hear this year – it really is that good.
Their classic sound and slick style are immediately recognised by all fans, but this release explores a theme different to their previous albums. Reflecting on recent events, Danko Jones express their empathy with what’s been happening across the globe over the last 18 months. An example of this is Raise Some Hell which refers to the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests by the Black Lives Matter movement in North America.
Now remastered and reissued in various physical and digital formats, this release not only features the remastered originals, but instrumental versions of each of the tracks. This should appeal to music nerds such as myself as these versions allow you to pick up on some interesting little musical moments that sometimes get lost with the vocal tracks in place. Plus… You know…. Nightwish Karaoke Parties. Simon Potthast
The band have welcomed a line-up change this year, and have tightened their sound to be razor sharp. Every one of the four tracks here is strong and unique, well produced, well written and delivered with an urgency that befits an up and coming band with ambitions to hit the very top of the rock and metal scene. If you like modern metal with hints of Bring Me The Horizon, this is a great way to get your fix.
Although these important topics hold the spotlight, one track that specifically stands out to me is Ship of Lies - an anthem in the waiting! A feisty guitar backing that you can’t help but envision live; the gritty vocals shine through totally reflecting a pure rock fury vibe.
reviews - eNQUIRe WITHIN / BRIAN SeTZeR / DIG LAZARUS / THE COLD STAReS
BRIAN SETZER GOTTA HAVE THE RUMBLE (Surfdog)
DIG LAZARUS - DON’T THREATEN ME WITH A GOOD TIME (Self Release)
THE COLD STARES HEAVY SHOES (Mascot)
With the 40th anniversary of The Stray Cats now in his rear-view mirror, frontman Brian Setzer saddles up for his adrenaline-fuelled first solo album in seven years. Setzer lives in the fast lane via his love of hot rods and motorbikes, and that passion feeds into the themes of his latest offering. The likes of foot-stomping opening numbers “Checkered Flag” and “Smash Up on Highway One” being a testament to this. Brian Setzer famously led the Rockabilly revival with The Stray Cats throughout the ‘80s, and those distinctive sounds and musical stylings prevail throughout the album. Particularly during the swinging sounds of tracks such as “Stack My Money”, “The Cat With 9 Wives”, and “Off Your Rocker”. The album is a “Rockabilly Riot” in more ways than one. Brian Setzer should be proud of his achievements with ‘Gotta Have The Rumble’. Maybe you could say he is the ‘Cat who got the cream’…it may have taken seven years for the legendary American guitarist, singer, and songwriter to release a new solo album, but it was worth the wait. Adam Kennedy
This Midlands based three-piece had been on my radar even before I was fortunate to catch them live in Leicester in 2019 so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this release for quite some time now. Tell Me Why, the fourth track here has been out for about the same amount of time and has been a staple on rock radio stations including our very own Hard Rock Hell Radio. The track promised much, as it’s a fantastic example of modern classic rock with a hint of indy about it. So have the lads managed to deliver a record that is up to the standards of their incendiary live shows? By the time you get to Satisfied – you’ll find it’s the answer to the question, and yes I’m very satisfied indeed!
The Cold Stares seamlessly fuse hard rock, blues rock, and southern rock to great effect. Each of these musical stylings are effortlessly represented in their latest offering.The title track sets the scene with its raw, deep groove and thunderous rhythms. You would expect nothing less from this kind of two-piece setup, but then it gets interesting via “40 Dead Men” with its fast and furious fuzz-fuelled riffs. I can only describe the band as sounding like a two-piece Sabbath on this track. The infectious melody and tight beats underpinned by both “Hard times” and “Strange Light” certainly hold your attention. The band switches their focus to a genre near and dear to my heart with the deep and dirty ‘Prosecution Blues’. Subsequently, ‘Election Blues’ is maybe reminiscent of a truncated version of Rival Sons. With the two-piece band setup has been utilised many times before. US-based duo The Cold Stares will inevitably be tired of drawing comparisons to the likes of Royal Blood and The White Stripes but it’s time for those guys to make way as there is a new duo on the block. Adam Kennedy
So to answer the advice Jesse Hughes – of Eagles of Death Metal fame – gives in the spoken intro to the album “The one thing you do not want to threaten me with is a good time” – the lads haven’t threatened – they’ve promised and delivered. Toby Winch
should listen to it from start to finish (not on random) – see thought 3… Thought 3 – Must not leave “spoilers”... We start with Tainted, an eerily beautiful instrumental piece, which would sit perfectly as the soundtrack to a 60’s cold war film. What follows are “Remorse” and “Annihilation March”, and I can’t help but get the feeling that our protagonist is in a bit of pickle; and with lyrics like “take these horrors from my eyes and let me breathe again” and “Save me from myself” he’s going to need more than a cup of tea and a biscuit to fix what torments him! “Judgement” appears earlier than I thought it would, but having heard it so often I can’t help but feel there might be light at the end of this tunnel. Here is a protagonist who knows he needs help and having heard “Get Out” – knowing it comes later – I’m lulled into a false sense of security. The subject matter is not cheerful. The guitars coupled with the relentless throb of the drums batter home the fact that this is a man falling deeper into his personal hell. There’s a frenetic speed to the drums, hurrying along the descent into oblivion. Then the vocals, not quite screaming in the literal sense, but yes… screaming for help. By the time we reach the only ballad on the album (yes, I said ballad) I’m still hopeful there is redemption to be found, especially as the track that follows it is the initial single release “Get Out” which has always sounded like a song of hope. Those five words “I Am Now Your God” have always given me the sense of winning, of overcoming threats and fears. Perhaps I’m going to get my happy ending after all?!
ENQUIRE WITHIN - REBIRTH (Metal Rocka) Thought 1 – I’ve heard two tracks from the album so far, Get Out and Judgement, and often have Get Out stuck in my head (it’s my favourite track on the album). I already know I’m going to like it Thought 2 – Remember that Rebirth is a concept album, and that means you
As we progress through this personal nightmare, I can feel hope fading, until we come to the penultimate track “Cocoon”, another instrumental. Will the final (and title) track take us to a happier place? That would be far too easy! “Rebirth” is, in my opinion, a solid piece of work. There’s still a part of me that believes our man could have been saved… but what do I know? I’ll tell you what I do know - Chad and Buff did well, although they couldn’t have done it without the rest of the band, and blimey is that band a good one! Oh, and Burned is my new favourite track on the album. Jezebel Steele
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SCAReCROWZ Canadian hard-rockers Scarecrowz released their latest album earlier this year, and are looking to make sure 2021 propels them forward, especially this side of the pond.
Mac) as part of my learning experience on guitar and songwriting. I think sometimes you are a product of your environment and that was certainly mine. I dig some more recent acts though like Royal Tusk, Dead Daisies, One Bad Son, Monster Truck, for example.
Good afternoon guys, how do we find Scarecrowz today? Great thanks. We’ve been back in the studio since June and it feels good to be jamming again. We released our new album in March – “Dusk Of Another Dawn”. We’re on the hunt for a new drummer since ours switched to bass guitar. So the lineup of the band at present is Sebastien on bass, Reno on lead guitar and myself on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Since the lockdown, we’ve already written enough material for a new album. So, things are looking up!
Your first release was way back in 2001, tell us about how you’ve evolved as a band in the last 20 years? We’ve evolved from perseverance. This band almost folded 11 years ago when I became the lone original member. I would say I’ve been the constant since the beginning, by default, I’ve led the band, sound, etc. I was never interested in a band becoming “Someone and the Somebodies”. It’s a team effort, for better or for worse. And of course, the passion is still there. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t still be doing this. I mean it was never about the money.
Your latest album “Dusk of Another Dawn” came out earlier this year – how has it been received by existing and new fans? I would say its been pretty positive. We’ve been gaining new fans
Hindsight is 20/20 as they say and for me, it’s always been the art of it and proving to myself I could do this on my own terms. Even without a record deal.
through social media and Spotify since people I think have been more at home or had more time on their hands because of the pandemic. We worked really hard on the new record and I think it shows. Our singles, “Let’s Party Tonight”, “Skywalk” and “Bull By The Horns” have all been well received (N1M.com for example). Particularly, Skywalk which Reno and I co-wrote. We’re looking forward to promoting the album live. We’ve designed the setlist around the album and our 20th anniversary which we celebrated late last year.
It sounds more produced than previous releases – was this a conscious decision to tweak the sound of the band? You think so? I will pass that onto Sebastien since he engineered it. By recording the album ourselves, we kept our costs down a lot. I think we all had a hand in how we wanted it to sound, I mean we produced it, but It was mastered well by Jay Fee at Conduction Mastering. I think they both did a great job. Anytime (and every time) we’ve had new members, it’s changed the dynamic and sound of the band. The recordings here certainly got better. The quality is more available and affordable than it used to be. Because everyone has different influences, I think that always comes into play when we’re rehearsing old songs and writing new ones. In terms of sound, how would you describe yourselves and who are your biggest musical influences? Well, because the dynamic has changed over the years, so have the musical angles. I mean when we started, we were coming from a point of reference like Godsmack and Creed. We’ve got some metallic tunage, but in essence, we’ve always been a hard rock in a metal place kinda band. Which is to say, we’ve been playing in Drop C for a long time now and find ourselves as a modern hard rock act with a classic rock feel. My influences though vary. I grew up listening to bands like Kiss, Metallica, Motley Crue, etc., but I would cite musicians like Roger Hodgson (Supertramp), David Gates (Bread), Gerry Beckley (America), Tommy Shaw (Styx), Neil Diamond, Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood
Lockdown had a really negative effect on bands and artists, how do you keep the message out there? Social media. I made sure to still promote the band any way I could by posting content like videos, news, interviews, etc. We tried to jam as a band online during the first lockdown and it just wasn’t jiving so we didn’t do any online performances. As long as we kept moving forward, we were doing okay. We managed to record and complete our album in-between the lockdowns. We did a documentary while recording the album and released it in segments on YouTube. I mean what else could we have done? Not much…lol. Are there any bands you guys particularly admire on the Canadian rock scene right now, big or small? Oh sure. Plenty as mentioned Royal Tusk, One Bad Son, Monster Truck, etc. We also dig older Canadian bands that are still kickin’ it like Tea Party and Big Wreck. We’ve opened for Anvil and Killer Dwarves and they are fun bands to play with. Locally, we have some great bands like Wyntr, Darren Michael Boyd and Innerpiece. In terms of the future, what can we expect – any gigs or festivals lined up? Well, as soon as we solidify the lineup, we’ll make sure we are all wellrehearsed and book some shows. We’ll have our album release party first since we haven’t had it yet! Probably some other local shows for now since we don’t know how the fall is going to be with this pandemic. The idea though would be to do that and shows going into next year, but I would like to start recording the next album this coming winter. That’s the plan so far. Thanks for catching up with me, today...any final words? Just want to say hi to our fans all over the world. Thanks for your undying support. Hope to see you soon somewhere, somehow. Check out the new album if you haven’t already and thanks for this opportunity to talk today! WORDS: TOBY WINCH
When it comes to magical live groups it doesn’t get any better than The Tedeschi Trucks Band. What is so special about this versatile and talented ensemble is that no two shows are alike - the band rotates their whole setlist every show, making each concert a unique experience for their fans in attendance which in turn brings back the dedicated followers of the band show after show. The group’s unmistakable live magic has been captured in full for all to hear on the Tedeschi Truck Band’s forthcoming live album Layla Revisited (Live at Lockn’). The beauty about this album is that the band, along with special guest Trey Anastasio from Phish, give a rare performance of Derek and The Dominos timeless album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”. But why did the band decide to perform this album rather than delivering a set of their own material? “For me and Susan, it’s just one of the seminal records for us,” declares Derek Trucks, and who can argue with that sentiment. The album in question features key cuts such as Bell Bottom Blues, Layla and Little Wing, amongst other classic cuts. The supergroup featured the likes of Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and Bobby Whitlock, to name but a few. And even fifty years after the album was released, it still holds up.
To perform this timeless album in full was important for all involved. “When I mentioned the idea to Trey, when we were talking about doing a collaboration, he lit up at the idea. Obviously, Eric is a big influence on him,” said Trucks. “For most musicians that are in our realm, whatever it is that the bands that we play with over here do, I think the Dominos record is the seminal Eric record for a lot of people.” However, the connection to this record is much deeper for both Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. First of all, Derek Trucks was named by his parents after the group. And secondly, as if by fate, Susan Tedeschi was born on the date that the album was released back in 1970. “When we were doing the rehearsals for this in New York City. On the first day, we were meeting up with Trey to run through the material. I was looking up the lyrics to I Am yours and trying to figure out where they came from,” said Trucks. “I noticed that the release date was the day Susan was born, which was an added layer - this is pretty cool. I hadn’t realised that until this very day, and I don’t think she had either. So, I had to look it up on a few different sources. I thought it might be a typo.” Serendipitous circumstances for sure. Once the decision was made and the band got together to practice, there was no doubt that something special was in the making. “I remember when
we finally got everyone together to do the rehearsals, that it was immediately obvious that it was going to be pretty good to great,” said Trucks. But the secrecy surrounding the band’s adventurous plans were kept tightly under wraps right up until the get-go. “There was a lot of anticipation that night. No one knew what we were going to play. There was a lot of chatter. I remember my dad being really excited because he did know, and he was there side stage. So, there was a lot of anticipation,” said Trucks. “When we hit the stage, from the first song, you could feel a little bit of the nerves within the band, but you could also feel like this sounds really good. And this feels good. And this is going to be a fun night.” As the show unfolded, the audience began to figure out the special event which they were witnessing. “There was just a sense of when the crowd started putting together what was happening. Maybe during the second or third song in, you could tell there was this wave of, oh wait, I think I know what song is coming next. The anticipation kept building until maybe around Little Wing, where everyone was like, oh yeah, this is full-on happening. So, it was a really unique night in that way,” explains Trucks. Tedeschi Trucks Band is well renowned for switching up their show each night, but even this was a new experience for the band. “We don’t ever do full albums
THE TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND
like this. It’s not something we’ve ever really done,” said Trucks. “Just the energy on stage was incredible. And almost all of the musicians that were playing the festival were also side of stage, taking it in and watching it, and you can feel that energy. But the energy between the band and the crowd was pretty unique from anything I’ve experienced, and by the time you get to Layla, there’s so much crowd anticipation of what’s coming. It just adds to the whole energy of the thing.”
But would the Tedeschi Trucks Band be open to the idea of performing this seminal album live in full again, or was it simply a one-off? “I try not to be too hard-headed about anything. But I do feel like it’s probably better to leave it alone. I mean, we’ll definitely play some of those songs,” said Trucks. “But I think doing the whole album and doing it in that manner is probably a one-off. I think it means more that way.” That means just one thing, the only way to hear this seminal blues/rock album majestically performed by the Tedeschi Trucks Band is to check out their new concert album. Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’) featuring Trey Anastasio, a complete live performance recording of the seminal masterwork, is out now via Fantasy Records. WORDS AND PHOTOS: ADAM KENNEDY
Labelled The World’s Greatest Flamenco Sleaze Glam Rock ’n’ Roll Band Ever, Gypsy Pistoleros
continue to take the crowd by storm with their unique combination of old school punk and rock ’n’ roll, entwined with flamenco rumba! Ahead of their upcoming album release with Off Yer Rocka Recordings, we caught up with frontman Lee to discuss what we can look forward to from this album, as well as some exclusives about these HRH Sleaze stars! Let’s take it right back to the beginning, for those who are just embarking on the Gypsy Pistoleros band-wagon, talk us through how you formed and found your inner Mariachi... Well I lived in Zaragoza in Spain from 1990 to 1993 as I was just pissed off as the Soho Glam scene was nearly over. As the band White Trash, we supported Lords of the New Church, Kill City Dragons and Dogs D’Amour in London, but the scene was just dying in 1990, so me & the guitarist moved to Zaragoza like everyone does! We became The Last Gang, a glam-punk type outfit. The bands in Zaragoza practice in these little huts, these breeze-block places in the middle of nowhere in the desert and we had one and we’d go down there and we’d meet everybody. All the bands were there, all the bands got drunk and just jammed music with each other. The first time it came about I was with this guy called Juan Valdivia, the guitarist in this band called Heroes Del Silencio, who were also from Zaragoza – they were one of the biggest rock bands in Spain. He used to be really into us as he thought we were real ‘rock and roll’ because we came from London and we’d supported Lords of the New Church! So we were the real deal, you know. God bless him! But we got in there and we used to jam – they all wanted us to play ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and this Flamenco group joined us, called Ketama who were one of the top Spanish Flamenco groups. And so they started jamming along to ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and it sounded really killing! I then discovered Los Chunguitos and Los Chichos who were like 1970’s Spanish rumba pop bands and I loved that stuff! So for the Ramones tour I was saying “I love that stuff can we do it” and the Spanish guys in the band were saying “You don’t play that you will die – you do not play Flamenco in Spain! The gypsies will rip you apart” So I thought, OK we’ll do it then! So we played two of the songs ‘Ay Que Dolor’ and ‘Loco Loquito’ and the
first time we played them was supporting the Ramones in ’93 on their Spanish Tour. First of all there was laughter, then there was complete hysteria and then there was like double-clapping from all the crowd – and they loved it! We went on to tour with U.F.O, Motorhead, Dio, Nazareth, Magnum, Alvin Lee, Sepultura and The Cramps - and in retrospect, I should have carried on with it but when I came back to the U.K. in late ‘93, I joined Mark who’s now in the band and we became this awful Rage Against the Machine-like metal band called White Trash U.K. again! Long story but we nearly signed to Noise Records but that all fell through at the last moment. And then I forgot about it up till about 2005 and I sort of put Gypsy Pistoleros together with Neil Phillips (The Yo Yo’s) – the line-up changed and half the band wanted to be Motley Crue? I kept saying “Look, even Motley Crue don’t want to be Motley Crue anymore! Give it up!”. So we did okay & signed a few record deals, put out a Joe Gibb (Catatonia, Jane’s Addiction, Leftfield) produced album, but it was never right. We had a reputation for being dangerous, wild drunks - though we played five Rocklahoma festivals 2007-11, in Oklahoma, USA, where we appeared alongside Motley Crue, Guns n Roses, Poison, ZZ Top, Twisted sister, Faster Pussycat, Vain, Papa Roach, Whitesnake, Skid Row, Black Label Society. Normally closing each night! We were pretty terrible! We signed a deal with the awful Heavy Metal Records in 2010 but I left my own band on the eve of them releasing ‘A Greatest Hits’ album - I’d had it! They owned the name via licensing for a few years & an (almost) tribute band went out under the name, a sad time! Now the licensing has come back to me, so I own my own name again! After a long break and reformed lineup, you’ve returned with an even BIGGER and bolder sound. How has the style and creative structure developed through the band? It is essentially a new band! The group I always wanted. It all came about due to lockdown when I got together with Mark Westwood who was in Clive Nolan’s band and a few prog rock-y things. But years ago he was with me in a band called White Trash back in ’96 when we supported Motorhead – we toured with them. Mark is brilliant – he’s a session guitarist and can play
GYPSY PISTOLEROS It also taught me that I dont need to be pissed to be onstage? So I’ve been sober now for nearly a year & am loving that. I’ve lost too many great memories from the past, due to being off my face. Obviously studying different aspects of stagecraft, characters, etc has impacted upon me. I mean people have always said we should have been the house band for Tarantino’s Dusk Till Dawn. So we have become just that! What is it about the Day of The Dead or Spanish heritage that inspires you most, and how do you reflect this? I love the ‘Day of the Dead’ Festival & vibe, it screams Gypsy Pistoleros! Our sound is unique, so I thought that the new look should mirror that. It suits us perfectly. It also looks way cooler than some middle-aged buggers trying to be Motley Crue! Your upcoming album The Mescalito Vampires is set for release on August 14th through Off Yer Rocka Recordings - what was your initial aim with this album and how did you feel you’ve conquered this? This album marks the culmination of a lifelong dream - with Mark, we made the album I’ve always wanted to make. No compromise, it’s all-out Flamenco Rumba Punk Rock n Roll! As Latin, heavy, tragic, rock n rolly and punky as fits each song. No restrictions, every song was recorded with just the song in mind. No, (we didn’t say) it’s not heavy enough, or it’s too poppy. We had no limitations, this is what Gypsy Pitoleros ‘The Greatest Flamenco Rumba Punk Rock n Roll’ was always meant to be. With no fear! everything. During lockdown I just said to him “Let’s do this album, I’ve got this deal with this Australian label” which I had at the time. Mark gets it, he somehow understands what I am trying to say & do? He makes musical sense of these weird ideas. So, because no one could do anything we got together some seriously fantastic musicians – the best – we got Jan Vincent on drums who’s the drummer in Pendragon, he was also the drummer in The Bruce Dickinson Band & Ghost, which is funny because I’ve been mentioning that in all the interviews and you’re not supposed to say who’s been in Ghost! So there’s an exclusive! He was in Ghost, but I didn’t say that obviously! We then got Gaz Le Bass on double-bass, he’s like a Rockabilly legend (The Wildcatz, The Delray Rockets)! We added a classical trumpet player Kris Jones who we had to tell to play Mariachi! We kept saying “Dude that sounds too good!” And together we got to an album I always wanted to make. And that for me was almost it, I didn’t give a shit about anything else, I just wanted to nail it on this one album. It’s what I always set out to do, way back in 2005. And since then it’s all really snowballed and everyone’s really got into the ‘Day of the Dead’ look/vibe we have going. It’s a cracking album though, I’m too old to bullsh*t! Someone said to me the other night it’s like the Latin Rock equivalent of Appetite for Destruction. And I thought yeah… now if we could only hit the Latin market on the same level that would be fantastic! Following your break Lee, you ventured into the world of acting, playing some incredibly intricate roles of psychotic and flamboyant characters. What encouraged you to venture into this and how have you incorporated this experience into your stage presence and approach to writing music? I had become disillusioned with music and had turned to acting by 2011, encouraged by my old mate Gary Shail (Spider-Quadrophenia, Metal Mickey, etc) appearing in horror films such as Pandemonium, SpiDarlings, Robert the Doll and Jurassic Predator. I’ve toured Europe in theatre shows & loved creating different personas. I got a Masters Degree in Touring Theatre at Uni and in 2019, I took to the stage in Edinburgh with my one man show ‘A Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide, Still Alive?’, described by one critic as ‘marmite with crack on it’. The show retraced my career journey against a montage of videos and scenes from my early life, tragedy, etc. while giving me a chance to belt out songs from my punk, glam and rock career, from the council estates of Kidderminster to Beverley Hills and back. It was a hit show, with 1 to 5 Star reviews across the board!!! Maybe a weird therapy too? Lol! The show was later redeveloped alongside international award-winning playwright/performer Chris Thorpe. I pulled no punches, recounting hilarious stories about myself & musicians such as Lemmy, Axl Rose, David Bowie, Blondie and Joan Jett. I also took a hard look at myself and my late diagnosis of ADHD, which has had a big impact on my life and ridiculously stupid choices sometimes. Where better to hide a condition such as ADHD than as a frontman in a band hey?
….and it’s being released on a very cool vinyl - tell us more! It’s being released on very special limited edition double 10” coloured dusk and dawn moon-inspired vinyls (to match the cover) in a gatefold sleeve! Cannot wait! Plus it has two extra tracks on the vinyl release - sod you Spotify! Off yer Rocka (Heavy Rocka) Records have been fantastic. I love John Ellis, he is straight, honest, supportive & real! As is the whole team, they have backed us totally & I love the HRH Family & Empire. The reaction from their Radio DJ’s/ Shows, audience, and family has been incredible. It’s the reason I jumped ship from Golden Robot Records to OYR. They champion new bands, they get it!!! It is a perfect fit for us. This album was compiled during lockdown - how was this process different to your normal approach on constructing an album? We worked together in Mark’s studio, Blacktree Studios in Tardebigge, Worcester. In the wilds of the country! We wrote all the new stuff together in our bubble during Covid, just the two of us. There were no distractions. Somehow he understands my mad vision and sorts out the riffs I hum, play badly etc. Vinnie recorded the drum parts to our demos in his London studio, then sent them back and Gaz came in and played double bass, Kris came in for a day & nailed the trumpet parts (that I whistled or hummed!) and then Mark worked out all the guitar parts. I laid down the main vocals & then we did backing vocals and polished and tweaked it all. Mark mixed and mixed and tweaked and mixed and then mastered it! The HRH team are extremely excited to have you at HRH Sleaze IV at the end of August, what can we look forward to from this live performance? I want the live shows to be a fiesta, a party, an event. So we’ll bring the pinatas, the tequila, the Day of the Dead costumes & vibe, prizes for cool ‘Dia de Los Muertos’ costumes in the crowd and try to make it a party. A crazy celebration! Theatre has made me realise that glam rock was characterised by its iconic sense of fashion just as much as its sound. With its eccentric, feminine sense of style, glam rock brought all the hard-hitting volume loved by rock fans and also a healthy dose of glitter and mayhem along for the ride. It’s the attitude. Glam rock musicians created larger than life characters that they played out in a theatrical way – think about Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, one of the pioneers, plus Alice Cooper. I want to bring a great fat cheese wedge of that to our shows! Plus it’s the band that recorded the album, god knows how it happened but all these incredible muso’s wanted to go out & play it live? So you are going to get the ultimate Gypsy Pistoleros. As it was dreamt, envisaged, meant to be! Any final words of wisdom for our readers? Just how amazingly important they are. The rock scene is the gig-goers, the people. I think all bands now (if they didn’t before) realise that they are nothing without the people that come out to watch you live, buy your music, DJ’s that play your music, everyone that supports you. There is nothing like that live buzz at a gig and we can’t wait to play live. So everyone can see what all the hype and fuss is about! DUENDE! WORDS: CHARLOTTE HOOPER
Atom heart mutha
ATOM HEART MUTHA The heavy underground is a vast and ever-expanding place and we live in an era where music is readily available and relatively easy to come across. Each week for ‘Atom Heart Mutha’ I listen to show submissions as well as look further afield to see what great music is out there. Here are my recommendations of albums I think are well worth seeking out and discovering, You can find these artists on Bandcamp and social media as well as hear them on my Atom Heart Mutha Radio Show, every Friday on Hard Rock Hell Radio
Dr. Colossus - I’m a Stupid Moron With an Ugly Face and A Big Butt and my Butt Smells and I Like to Kiss My Own Butt (Self release) Australia’s purveyors of high-quality doom, have returned to smash straight into your ears with an album perfect for those that like to indulge in a little Sleep/High On Fire worship. Simpsons obsessed would appear to be an understatement, the themes and references are there for the discovering should you wish to, but they certainly don’t detract from the music on this superb record. Instead, you’ll discover some of the best crushing riffs and some of the most beautifully crafted doom tracks you’ll hear this year. Among the many highlights here include the brilliant ‘Lard Lad’ and the lead single “Pickabar” which is my pick for one of the best tracks of the year. The epic 10 minute heavy psyched out trip of “Space Coyote”, recalls the tale of Homer’s experience of eating a chilli made with Guatemalan Insanity peppers and meeting his spirit guide, the space coyote. Despite what some may consider a novelty angle, take this record seriously because it’s without question one of the best albums of the year.
Atom heart mutha
1968 – Salvation, If You Need (No Profit Recordings)
Following on from their excellent debut album Ballads of The Godless, UK Stoners 1968 deliver something special with this release. In the absence of seeing 1968 play shows over the past 18 months, it’s been interesting to see how the band’s creative development has evolved. Guitarist Sam Orr’s love of blues-rock and funk certainly shines through. Just like Stoke’s brilliant Red Spektor, 1968’s second full length has taken shape in a way you may expect but also offers something far more rooted in a British tradition of heavy rock and blues that steers them on a different road to many of their peers, particularly on the albums astonishing closer, God Bless. You may not require salvation right now, but this album you definitely need!
Hippie Death Cult – Circle Of Days (Heavy Psych Sounds)
Back in May 2019, Portland’s Hippie Death Cult unleashed their debut album ‘111’ via the brilliant Cursed Tongue Records to a swarm of praise and anticipation was high on the strength of the 3 singles “Sanctimonious”, “Pigs” and “Black Snake“ - and the record certainly didn’t disappoint. Cut to 2021 and the arrival of its follow up Circle Of Days and a change of label to the highly respected Heavy Psych Sounds Records. If there was pressure on the band to follow up such a mammoth release, it certainly isn’t evident here as the band effortlessly show. Album opener and lead single “Red Meat Tricks” is a filthy doom rumble, unsettling and triumphant in equal parts. “Hornet Party” commences with clanging chiming doom before launching into some of the best stoner metal riffs and vocals you’re likely to hear this year. It’s album closer “Eye In The Sky” that shines brightest however, a sublime building epic that engulfs your ears in its final notes.
King BuFFalo - The burden of restlessness (Stickman records)
Earlier this year, the New York trio King Buffalo announced they would follow up 2020s excellent Dead Star with 3 new releases over the course of 2021. This June saw the arrival of the first and immediately makes this trilogy one of the most anticipated sets of 2021. Opening track “Burning” delivers an immediate hit by building urgently irresistible rhythms over a cool heavy psych groove. The underlying themes of feelings of frustration, entrapment and isolation during a worldwide catastrophe are apparent throughout but it still makes for a positive and uplifting experience. No clues have been given as to where the themes of the next 2 releases will go, but this record hints that there’s something special on the horizon.
Boss Keloid – Family The Smiling Thrush (Ripple)
Hailing from northern England, Boss Keloid are an interesting prospect, now signed to California Heavy Hitters Ripple Music and often considered to be a stoner band with doom credentials. The band appear much more at home when hitting the dark obscurer leanings of a modern heavy prog band, but trying to pin them down to a genre would be futile though as they remain as surprising as they do smart. Their critically acclaimed previous album “Melted On The Inch’ was an astonishing piece of work and showed the band taking giant leaps in terms of songwriting, backed up with the kind of memorable live shows that quite rightly showed them to be one of the finest underground UK acts. ‘Family The Smiling Thrush’ takes things to new heavier depths and the arrangements remain as complex and unpredictable as you need them to be. Highly recommended.
LIGHT THE TORCH American metalcore heavyweights Light The Torch have a new album out, ‘You’ll Be The Death Of Me’, that is hard-hitting and takes the band deeper into the transition of their sound. In the new album, fans will find more melodies blended with wrenching lyrics, heavy beats and angry vocals.
“take a break” sort of thing. It’s every day and it’s not like, oh, I’ve got to do that. No, it’s just I brush my teeth, I go outside, I get something to eat, I’m going outside. Just nature, and it’s very calming - because this lifestyle, and I’ve been doing it for a very long time, it’s chaos... it’s a way of centring it and keeping everything balanced, for me, I do it every day, so that’s how it seems to work.
HRH Mag sat down with frontman and former Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones for conversation to discuss the new music, musical history, finding balance in life, touring, and the possibility of new collaborations.
Did you find at any point in the process of writing the new album that you had a hard time translating what was in your head into the musical equivalent? Yeah, because every song is different and it will be written differently, and some of them come quickly, some of them are struggling, some of them just don’t come. A lot of time you’ve got an idea of where you want to go with it, and it just doesn’t go there, and that’s frustrating. There’s definitely a handful, at least four or five songs that I demoed for this album that are just... well, they sucked. The music was fine, so didn’t suck because of the music.
When you were working on the album and in your creative process, how did you find a balance between what you’re doing with writing and your normal day-to-day? It’s more like, what do I do that’s the same? For me, I keep things structured, so I’m up early, I like seeing the sunrise, I like whether it’s running, walking, hiking, something like that, I’m doing that every day, it just kind of centres me because I can get very obsessed and focused on music, and I will ignore stuff, so I’m not watching movies and I’m not listening to other music, and it’s just all that I’m thinking about so that to me it’s just how I have to balance it - before I dive into that, just get kind of centred, so that’s honestly what works for me. I don’t stop. That’s the problem, it’s like I never stop doing stuff and it’s annoying. I enjoy what I do, but it’s annoying because I have that obsessive quality. So, for me, it’s something I have to do every day because I’ll burn out.
On those particular songs, did you guys continue to finesse them and work them, or did you toss them in the bin? Oh no, you try and there’s one in particular, I think I probably demoed at five different times, and I think I hated it five different times, it is what it is. Every song is different, it’s kind of likening every song to a dog, and dogs are great, but they’re different training them, and they have different attitudes, and some of them are a little snippy and some of them are calm. Every song is a different dog so to speak. Which is a very different analogy!
How do you maintain that when you’re out on tour? How do you find that break-space? I will get out of the bus. I said it doesn’t matter where I am, I’m going to be outside. It doesn’t matter. It’s just something that I’ve adopted and it’s not a
A lot of fans think of this as your fourth album because of Devil You Know. The writing style is different between both bands. Did you find the production easier or harder with this album? Different, every album is different and definitely not Devil You Know, that’s
LIGHT THE TORCH dead. We had to kill it. And that’s also why Light The Torch sounds drastically different, it’s not as heavy and still heavy, but it’s a lot more melody, but still aggressive. Every project’s different and there’s a feel and vibe with everything. This one, individually and together, we went through a lot. There’s constantly things being thrown at us for some reason, even since we started, there have been obstacles. We wanted to express that with this album, we wanted to set a mood and a feel for this album. That’s what we do. What do you want fans to take away from the experience on this album? Listen to it and feel it. That’s what I want. What are the tour plans for Light The Torch in 2021 and 2022? There will be touring, we’ll be announcing our tour shortly. As of right now, just USA dates and I am sure things are being plotted out for other regions, we just haven’t gotten there yet.
“Every song is a different dog!” Howard Jones
A few years back, you jumped in and covered for Matt Heafy on tour when his wife was about to have a baby, would you be open to doing something with Trivium in the future or maybe even hip-hop to do something outside of the normal musical boundaries? I did a song with the guy, I sang the hook for it, and definitely open to doing anything with Matt, he’s a great guy, such a great talent. That’s one of the cool things about just having a career in this and being able to do this, I get to try stuff. I’m always down to give something a go if I can find the time for it and it interests me. I’ll give it a shot. Even if I screw it up, I tried, and it was fun. I love exploring, I love this stuff. People have to try things in life, and I think a lot of people let that fear of failure or fear of just not being the best at it, stop them. What is the worst that can happen? I know very well I’m not going to be the best at something because I’m not concerned, I’m not in competition with anybody. For me, it’s literally if I’m in competition it’s with me and okay, what can I do next or how can I make that better, or how can I stretch myself? What can I do that I haven’t done before? To me, there are too many guys that are awesome, so I’m not competing. As far as performers, two of my very good friends are Chris Jericho and Jamey Jasta, I’m not competing with these guys, that’s ridiculous. Yeah like, “Hey, Randy [Blythe], What’s going on?” Yeah, I’m not going to compete with a Randy, not interested. I’m just me, I’m just going to do my thing. Has there been anything so far in your career that you still haven’t done creatively that you want to do? Yeah, sure. I don’t know specifically off-hand, but yeah, it just ties in that I’m down to try stuff. As I said, if it makes sense to me and piques my curiosity, I’ll give it a whirl. It keeps things interesting because I don’t sit still very much, so I enjoy that. Have you had time to sit back and reflect personally on the final production of the album? How do you feel it came together? I am probably the wrong guy to reflect on that. Once, it’s done, I’m done. I have to move on. I enjoyed it. It was a great process, and I think the amount of time that we spent mixing and mastering it, took us to the place where we got it. It’s as good as we could get it, and so once I release it, it’s gone. I don’t look back. There’s no such thing as perfection of an album ever, at least not that I’ve experienced or anyone that I’ve worked with. You can always look
back and say, I could change that. For me, it’s just like, no, I can’t worry about that. It’s gone, so I’m going look to the next thing I’m doing, and that sounds obnoxious, but that’s honestly just me. I let it go. I don’t revisit a lot of the stuff I’ve done. I’m still enjoying what I’m doing. That’s a great way to look at it because knowing that you still enjoy it and knowing there’s a lot of people who get this far in their career, as you are, and they are tired of everything and it’s hard for them just to stay in it and they need to recharge to just get on with being in music. I see a lot of that. People just burn out. Yeah, I definitely had that. That’s why I do the things I do and I’m consistent with it. It’s because I burned out before and it’s not enjoyable, especially when you dedicate so much to this, so if that’s something that someone is experiencing is just find the solution and then hug that thing like a baby, just stick with the solution. What is the weirdest or most normal thing that you guys do as a band when you’re out on the road together? We grill a lot on days off. We camp and grill. We’re going to be somewhere outside and we’re going to be hiking, fishing, or something like that. That’s literally what we do as a group, and then at the end of the night, we’re grilling and hanging out around the campfire. That’s our days off. It just breaks you away from all of the noise and you start realizing, it’s like, oh, this is nice. It really does calm me down. And so instead of going to hotels and malls on days off, that’s what we started doing. It’s now become this thing that we look forward to it. We really do. When you’re planning your tour, is that something that you put in your rider that you want to have extra time to be able to stop and do this? We’ll get the schedule and then we’ll see, there’s a day off there, let’s see what’s around there. Then we start mapping it out and see where we can go on a day off. There’s a place that’s 150 miles from the next show. Alright, let’s go there. So, we just plot it out according to the schedule. It just works then we enjoy it. There are some photos and stuff, but there’s a log of us in different parts and different rivers and lakes, and hiking in places, and gives you different memories. It’s a lot of fun for us. Do you find that the travel you’ve done in your life, has it moulded you at all? Do you think maybe you’re more a citizen of the world now and see things differently? It definitely opens your eyes. Before I started touring, I really hadn’t seen a lot of the world. I had not seen the world, let’s just be honest. It definitely changes your view of things. I’m not going to be so arrogant to think of “my view”, but it changes the way you see people. Travelling the world can soften you. It’s kind of cool because you see how good you have it in comparison to other places. If you haven’t seen it or experienced it, you don’t know, you really don’t. Is there one thing you’ve seen in life that as human beings you think we should work to change within your lifetime? That’s not a question I’ve asked myself. I don’t know, you can’t really change anyone’s mind, it’s like they have to change themselves, so it’s not something that I’ve truly considered. I don’t know, but be kind. I love this, I love the music we have, and a lot of it can be very angry and everything, but I know a lot of kind people, and that’s a good thing, be kind. WORDS AND LIVE PHOTO: DIANE WEBB
E L C R I C K DAR
WORDS: VIKI RIDLEY LIVE PHOTO: SI DUNKERLEY
n e r a K e s u o h e t i Wh
”I could turn up, on my own, to any HRH event and know I will find friends and have an amazing time” Introduce yourself - what’s your name and where do you come from? A) Hiya, I’m Cinders, the smoggy from oop north, the T-T-Teessider...the PVC girl with the PVC hat, the crazy, cider drinking, football loving, glammy…I think that pretty much covers everything I am! When I started going to the local rock pubs and clubs, my denim jacket had a Cinderella patch on the back and people called me Miss Cinderella which I loved, so Cinders kinda stuck. Tell the HRH MAG readers about you…and please divulge your love of all things shiny and PVC related! I’ve always loved music, especially live music and I mean proper music, not someone just pressing a load of buttons on a stage, I blame my mam for that...but my other passion (apart from cider) is football, I’ve been a season ticket holder for the mighty Boro (AKA Smoggies!) since something like 1995...ish. They break your heart but also make you the happiest bunny alive and those away trips...OMG those away trips...There’s plenty of HRH bods who know where I’m coming from there. As for PVC, well I started listening to Motley Crue whilst still at school and that was it really, spandex and PVC kinda took over me, my wardrobe, everything really :-) When I used to go to Newcastle (dodgy Geordies :-P) I would always venture into the Phaze clothing shop and just wanted to buy everything in there, the look, the feel, the amazingness of all that PVC just made me happy. Wearing PVC at festivals is just amazing, especially at the likes of “Drownload”, it’s wipe clean, the rain comes down and you stay dry! But I just love it and the more “non-black” the better, I don’t mind wearing black but I get a bit bored with it and I’m a lively crazy gal so love to be colourful and stand out from the crowd. Who doesn’t love PVC <3 Where did the love of rock music begin for you? I blame my mam and one of my brothers. My mam would always listen to bands such as Queen and The Rolling Stones which got me into the band mentality from a very early age, then one of my brothers, I always remember, used to play D.A.D and Helloween and I used to sit outside his room listening to them (Sad I know :-D) and that was it...I started going to the Brunny in Stockton with Electric Gypsy (EG) and upstairs to their rock nightclub...ahem of course I was 18 at the time....honest I was!! I’ll never forget one time, the pub was having a “visit” so Clare and I were rushed into the toilets where we were locked in until the “visit” ended.....am I allowed to own up to that now?!?! So we went back again and again........and again until we were pretty much part of the furniture. We then hit Blaises in Boro
along with some amazing trips to the Mayfair in Newcastle, how that place isn’t still operating I have no idea, it was immense! I remember once I had cash going to Alan Fearnleys record store in Boro and just browsing around the “cheap” section and looking for anything that looked metal.....I bought so many 50p vinyls....this got me into some weird and wonderful bands and actually the reason why I also like punk music too, with one of my favourite bands being The Ramones. Gutted I’ll never be able to see them properly as a band, but EG and I got the next best thing when we saw Marky Ramone and Andrew WK playing in Glasgow, that was a gig and a half. I took my mam to see Tyketto when I was 18 or so and she fell in love with them and she pretty much demands we go see them every time they tour, who wouldn’t want to hear Danny’s amazing voice?? I know you spent your formative years rocking in The Mayfair in Newcastle Upon Tyne with your bestie, the lovely Ms Clare Hodgson! Tell us about those heady days of hairspray and Lycra?! Once we could get away from Teesside (a little older than our toilet visit! we decided to check out the Mayfair as we had friends who went and we’d heard so many amazing things about the place and it was all true. It was an epic rock venue, we saw many a live band there, had some spectacular birthdays there and it was, without doubt, the time to get the PVC out everything was accepted in there. The cowboy boots made amazing hiding places for vodka bottles (Full on the way in, empty on the way out oops!). There were times I’d hitchhike up there (yes in my PVC, not sure that’s the greatest idea I’ve ever had...) and either spend the night in the bus station or get chatting to people and end up partying in people’s houses and flats all night, it was definitely a no sleep kind of time, but just so friendly. I know you have many a funny story to tell from back then, please do elaborate! OMG I’m not sure some of the stories can be repeated... I blame the Duckhams, pink kangaroos and chocolate spiders, my goodness they knocked you for six. Definitely blame the Percy Arms and Fat Sams for supplying us with such liquid refreshments. I remember once, Clare and I were upstairs in the Mayfair and Motley Crue came on, so we charged to the stairs, only I was so drunk that I forgot the stairs even existed and went flying down them, literally didn’t touch a step, safe to say it wasn’t pretty, so I ended up in the RVI (the local hospital), but before we left I made sure the bouncers would let us back in :-) So at the RVI, I begged the doctors for a plaster on my nose, I meant a plaster of paris pot, but they just stuck a sticky plaster on and told me to go......the bouncers crazily let us back into
DARK circle - john hodgson
the Mayfair to continue the party. There should be warning signs on those stairs! The walk from the Percy to the Mayfair was always an interesting one too, trying to climb the railings to cross the road when there was obviously an opening right next to where we were stood, but the challenge was to climb the railings whilst aiming to throw things down Clare’s boots (and cleavage -... yes she is still my friend!) We are so classy we used to have “weeing” contests outside the Riverside in Newcastle before seeing a band, we would hide up the hill to go for a quick pee and then see who’s pee would get to the bottom first. Just not right in the head are we :-D . Rock nights out in Boro quite a few times resulted in drinking with the bands, one memorable time being Junkyard where we literally drank with them all night, we saw them a few years ago at a festival in Chicago where they admitted to us that we had broke them, so funny! Karen, I know you have an eclectic taste in rock and metal. What is your favourite genre of rock? What or who really blows you away on stage? My favourite is definitely glam, Motley Crue and Cinderella are just immense, not so much these days on stage but if they tour again I’ll be there, whenever this nonsense of no gigging stops. I’ve got tickets for the Crue/Leppard/ Poison/Jett tour in America, whenever it does happen. Big faves are also the likes of Hanoi Rocks / Michael Monroe, now there’s a band to see live, MM is just mental, what a performer, I am just in absolute awe of him and when I met him at one of the last HRH’s I was a mess and he shouted at me for grabbing him...I only went to give him a cuddle, but he was fine really, had pics taken and had a quick natter, he’s a legend. I also love punk as I mentioned earlier and I can listen to The Ramones all day long, they’re short bursts of songs means you never get chance to get sick of them and that gig at the Garage in Glasgow blew us away. A little softer but Green Day (whatever genre they fall in) are defo one of the best live bands I’ve seen. When was your first Hard Rock Hell Festival and what was it that made you attend? You really like testing my alcohol fried memory don’t you Miss Ridley!!! I think my first ever HRH was the Pirates of Prestatyn and I just fell in love with it. I blame Clare (not a bad thing to be blamed for mind), I’m sure she mentioned it to me and I was like, it’s in the back of beyond, but yeah let’s give it a go and that was it, HOOKED!! Tell the readers what it is about HRH that makes you want to keep coming back? We came back after experiencing the showers at Prestatyn, so there must be some HRH voodoo juju going on? It’s just the people, they are all bonkers (yes, I mean you too Ms Ridley) and I fit in so well and I was amazed how many Teessiders attend so I now have a lot of rock mates living around me that I met at the different HRH’s. You’ll all know MCR (Debs Tequila Stephenson), well I didn’t know her until I went to the toilets one HRH (I think it may have been the Pirates one), whilst looking at my phone for the Boro scores, I was in the loo and started singing a Boro song and the toilet sang back to me...little did I know Debs was in the next cubicle singing smoggy songs with me, that was it, a lifelong friendship now. She introduced me to her brother Howard, who I recognised from the
footy matches and now I know the whole clan....and yes that does include the infamous Billy Dobson, who we were out boozing with the other week, somehow absinthe ended up in my hand – haha - I’d never say no!! What is your craziest HRH memory to date? I know you have many! Hmmmmm, so many to choose from, lots of vague ones too, from kidnapping band members to party back in the caravan, draping them in Boro flags, to putting Ant n Dec books in the microwave and being screamed at by the crazy Rowena, to meeting Sir Bott for breakfast to watch Mike Tramp and then being “forced” to drink a bottle of Grey Goose vodka with your breakfast...not sure what songs Mr Tramp sang that day......to dancing on Quincy’s shoulders not realising my PVC shorts had split, like fully split :-O and only finding out when you are back at the chalet and Clare tells me! Then there’s all the crazy Ibiza days of dancing on bars with the bands, it really is just one big party and there’s so many good things about HRH, the bands come out and drink with you which is always a cracking idea, not sure how they then get on stage. To date, who has been your favourite artist to appear at HRH? Or your favourite event lineup? Hahaha as if I can remember a full lineup. I do remember one year when it was AOR and Hammerfest and although my love would be for AOR, I spent most of the time over the bridge at Hammerfest with the nutjob Rowena and that was probably one of my favourite HRH’s as it was pretty much all new bands to me, but I’ve probably got to say my fave would be Michael Monroe, he never fails to deliver. After over a year of no festivals, what are you looking forward to most in the forthcoming HRH calendar? How did you cope with the lack of live music during lockdown, what kept you going? Anything and anyone, I just want a festival PLEEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSE, I’m booked for a few of the postponed ones, but line ups have changed so much now, but tbh I just want to be there and catch up with all the crazy loons I love so much. It’s been tough with no live music and no football matches to be able to attend, it’s driven me insane! Just watch out when it all starts back up again, it’s going to be an insane party with a lot of mayhem and mischief afoot.There has been a lot of time spent in the garden in the hot tub and my recycling bin seems to be full a lot, but to be honest, the love of my life has kept me going during this crazy time, my 2-year-old daughter has kept me on my toes so much and is already starting to headbang in the back of the car when Motley Crue comes on, I just wish I could record it but this may cause a slight accident... Karen you’ve been in the HRH family forever. What does being part of the DC mean to you? It’s just one big family and you always feel very welcome, I could just turn up on my own to any HRH event and I know I will find friends and have an amazing time. We feel involved and we are encouraged to participate and vote for upcoming lineups. Whenever I drive to the holiday park venues, I’m always late, like always, so I always miss the beginning of the main DC meets, but when I do get there, it takes forever to get to the bar as everybody wants to catch up and hug and stuff, which is amazing...but guys, come on, bring me a drink to the door next time <3 Love you all really!