Τετάρτη, 29 Αυγούστου 2012

ADRAMELCH interview with Vittorio Ballerio


History of Oblivion...
There are bands with names that echo with full respect among music fans. One of them is ADRAMELCH, one of the most legendary Italian bands. Earlier this year they released their third album "Lights from Oblivion" and singer Vittorio Ballerio joins Crystal Logic and speaks about everything concerning this album, plus many other interesting things from the history of ADRAMELCH.


How do you feel about the new album and which are the first reactions from the fans and press?

We are in a very positive moment Andreas: we know we dared a lot, but we have been rewarded! We worked really hard on this new album (7 years have passed...) but the outcome, from my personal point of view, is stunning. You know, everytime I hear myself or my band on CD I think that we could do something better (as far as execution or arrangements or sound or whatever is concerned...) and this time is no exception... but after all I should say with no modesty (sorry!) that I'm really proud of the final outcome!
And the first reactions are indeed positive! Very good reviews, even better than expected! I mean that since we know how "challenging" is Lights from Oblivion compared with Irae Melanox and Broken History, we knew that some of the "true metallers” was not going to be satisfied with it... But that's life. We only want to make clear that we did only what we wanted, only what we felt!

Once more, it took you many years (7 to be precise) since the last album. What were you doing all this time?

Indeed a too long time, you are right. As already said, we've been working really hard on these songs, rearranging them so many times in order to raise them to their real best possible: An extremely accurate 24tracks pre-production was recorded in our rehearsal... and also the search for the label was such a long walk! Moreover, during these 7 years, we took care of the reissue of Irae Melanox in deluxe special edition. It sounds strange, I see, but the "making of" this re-issue has been an incredibly complex and tough adventure! In the end the result is perfect: 2cds containing Irae Melanox remastered & the 1987 demo also remastered & 2 previously unreleased songs, written in the late 80s but recorded in 2010... it all wrapped in a very accurate graphic, and for the first time ever with the true cover, with its original colours, just like Gianluca, who painted it expressly for this album on 1987, had realized it.


Do your lyrics affect the music approaching of Gianluca?

No, the exact opposite way. Music comes first. You know, I don't want to be misunderstood, words are quite important, but we make MUSIC, we produce cds and what is more important (first of all for ourselves) is the musical side. Lyrics are affected by the music!

From the time of crusades you moved to oblivion. What is the lyrical content and the allegories of Lights from Oblivion?

Lights from Oblivion's lyrics are 90% by Gianluca (I only wrote Truth Lies words). I would say that there is no link at all among the 2 contexts. I had conceived the Broken History lyrics as a political critic to the power and the strategical use of the religious mask... Meanwhile in Lights from Oblivion lyrics are tied in some kind of concept because of their common tone... It tells of the obscure environment we are plunged in. This is a really dark age and of course financial and political issues are the most evident problems but probably its the lack of a cultural mix / ferment that scares more. The Lights are the sparkling flames that sometimes, somewhere seem to be noted... the hope is not dead.

Every album is different than the previous one, but now Lights from Oblivion, sound even more different that Broken History. Which are these differences for you?

Notwithstanding the 17 years in between, and the important changes in the line up, the differencies between Broken History and Irae Melanox are defently less than the ones between BH and Lights from Oblivion (“only” 7 years and same line up). How does it come? As you may know the BH stuff comes straight from the late 80s / early 90s: actually these were songs composed in those far times, ready to be the rest of Irae Melanox but the band disbanded and such songs remained... in stand-by. In 2003 Gianluca told me: “if you write the lyrics we can save these songs from oblivion”... And this was the only reason to re-built the band.
So, during that spring / summer I worked on such concept! (lyrics are affected by the music!)
Lights from Oblivion is totally another story. After the issue of BH we should close the story but one day Gianluca came at the rehearsal and presented to us some very interesting songs, in their very rough status... we were enthusiast! Probably that was the real birth of this Adramelch. That’s why Lights from Oblivion should be considered as our “debut album”: beacuse its music is CONCEPITA, arranged and played by this band... composed by Gianluca but arranged by this band...
Musically speaking the first point probably is that Lights from Oblivion is less heavy than its 2 predecessors and this is because some 25 years are between the old stuff and this album. And hopefully time doesn’t pass in vain.
We think that the common passion for Prog Rock claimed and obtained the room deserved. Since we are fully INTO this album, I like learning from the others how this album sounds like!
So: probably, one of the best definition of this music was given by a reviewer: a metal version of prog rock. But this is also a tricky matter, since another reviwer noted that since songs are on average shorter and some catchy chorus is present well, probably this CD is less prog than our prevuious production! So, where’s the truth? The only truth, perhaps is that “labels” in talking about music are necessary but they are often inadequate to explain, since music is music and so... Let the music do the talking! 



What was the writing and production process for the Lights from Oblivion?

Actually it was a long path. We had to improve a new way of working (starting from the rough structure brought by Gianluca, realizing a teamworking arrangement) in a someway different style… less heavy more progrock (?!)
After having wrote music and words and having arranged and rearranged (I can’t say how many times we passed thru that...) we spent a long time recording our pre-production that was mainly intended to be ready for the real recording sessions: we wanted to fine–tune as much as possible...
It was an accurate job that has been partially published: 4 songs out of 12 are the D side of the Vinyl edition of Lights from Oblivion.
Later on we started the search for the right studio: the winner was the Elfo Studio in Tavernago. A wonderful studio, absolutely perfect for the sound we were looking for (and located in the country, in a wonderful place...) And also we recorded with a different approach since we wanted to let this album sound as fresh and direct as possible…So we recorded the pure rhythm session (drums, bass and rhythm guitar) all together, and solos and vocals were tried many times to use electronic tools as less as possible…
For the Mastering the Mika Jussila’s Finnvox was choosen because of its great experience in both acoustic and more metal stuff (from the incredible Alamailmaan Vasarat to the scandinavian metal....): it was a perfect guarantee.
And the search for the label reached its goal in its birth, I should say! Since Pure Steel was probably the first label who declared its “total” interest in us and in our new CD, and after a long walk checking the possible alternatives, we understood that Pure Steel was the best choice for us: an indie label completely dedicated with great passion to their mission. Pure Prog came later on: it’s their brand new arm, committed to prog! We are their CD nr 1! Could we ask for more?!

I saw you in Keep It True festival buying a Pain Of Salvation CD, so what kind of music are you listening?

Huh! True! And thanks for this nice question, although the answer might sound a bit bewildering!
I might say that the only constant during the last 30 years of listening music is Prog Rock. On my very first jacket (when I was maybe 17) I had RUSH! And I still love them so much! Together with old and new names of progressive like Porcupine Tree / Steven Wilson, Flower Kings, Agents of Mercy or Pain of Salvation, (before the Road Salt...) Beside progressive today I listen to a bunch of different musics... from Jazz to some Ethnic, to Rock and Jazz Rock... and also a bit of baroque!

How do you see Irae Melanox after all these years? What do you remember from the early years of the band?

The very early years of the band, the band had no name and played metal covers from the godz of metal (Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Queensryche...). Then came the time of Adramelch, of our own music, a totally different story... it was 1987, actually we are celebrating our 25th anniversary!
Irae Melanox was a great album which today surely shows some sign of his so long life but, seen in its original context I should say it was so ahead compared to the music of those years... in Italy, of course, but not only in Italy... The fame it gained thru the years still wonders me indeed, but I should say that it’s the fame it deserved: Gianluca had composed an incredible mixture of ancient and extremely new that actually had no comparison.

What does the name ADRAMELCH stands for?

It’s the name of of a Bible’s demon. But also of a Phoenician King...  But its roots are plunged in the ancient aramaic: Ad = Lord, Ra = Evil, Melch (or Melech) = King. So the possible transations may give : Lord is the King of Evil or also the King is an Evil Lord... Or?!...

Why did you split after Ira Melanox and what made you reform again?

Well about the reform, as said before, it was the will to save such songs (the Broken History stuff) from Oblivion - About the split... I was the first to abandon the band because of relational problems with Gianluca... Isn’t it curious that Gianluca and myself are the only survivors? I think that the only possible interpretation of this fact is that we were and we are the ones who, for different reasons, are more devoted to Adramelch!

How do you see the Italian Metal scene. For me there are some high class bands, like you, Doomsword, Domine, Dark Quarterer and couple more, but something is missing…

In Italy there are very good bands but there is no room for good music. It’s not just a music business issue, but, unfortunately also a lack of curiosity in the audience... it’s a cultural issue (which of course is deadly worse). There are many new and old progressive bands, playing terrifically (Gran Turismo Veloce and Maxophone just to mention a couple of new and old)… but outside progressive there are so many good bands… our friends Holy Martyr, the incredible Fury and Grace, or the very young but still defently impressive Destrage… And then the Italian Jazz front is defently one of my favourite… but I don’t want to bore you!

Just add one word-sentence in each of the following names:

 
Gianluca Corona – a Great author. A full artist... that I’ve had the great luck to meet
Black Sabbath – unequaled
Judas Priest – first love
Manowar – sometime time passes in vain
Warlord –  one of the most understimated bands ever
Queensryche – some of the best metal albums ever...
Porcupine Tree – my today’s great passion

So, next year we will see you in Up The Hammers. How did you see Keep It True this year? Did you enjoy the festival? And what should we expect next year, in Greece?

Playing in Germany for us is always a great experience. There, like in Greece, we have great die-hard fans who loves our music! Last time at the KIT, we had some technical problem but it was a minor issue, compared with the feedback we got!
On the 8th of September we will play as co headliners at the Swordbrothers festival, together with the great Steve Grimmet’s Grim Reaper!
The 2007 UTH show in Athens was unbelievable I can’t wait to be there again! The audience was so hot... my remembrance of those days are wonderful and I hope that we will find the same warmth… we know that these are the toughest times for Greece!

Thank you for your time, see you in Up The Hammers, close the interview as you wish.

Thank you very much Andreas for your interest in Adramelch, for the room that you offer us and for your patience!!!
Hey Greek readers see you next March in your wonderful town, I can’t wait to sing for you, once again!



WARLORD on fire over Europe


Finally, European dates for the WARLORD live shows are announced: 

Keep It True XVI – Königshofen, Germany
April 20th, 2013

Mylos Club – Thessaloniki, Hellas
April 24th, 2013  

Gagarin 205 – Athens, Hellas
April 27th, 2013

Prepare for the EXPERIENCE of a LIFETIME                                                                                             

As it is officially announced from Keep It True Festival:

Finally we are able to announce our big Saturday headliner. We tried the band since KIT 1 and now it becomes reality: Legendary WARLORD with William J Tsamis and Mark Zonder will headline the KEEP IT TRUE Saturday. This will be the first show of WARLORD since the two shows in 2002 in Wacken and Itzehoe. There will also be a brand new album released in 2013. So be prepared for the mighty return of WARLORD. Here are also some words from William J Tsamis himself:

"Warlord is very happy to be coming to the Keep It True festival this April 2013.  As you may know, there was a lot of tension whether Warlord should play Keep It True or Headbangers Open Air.  I have great respect for the promoters of HOA and I have great respect for Oliver Weinsheimer, the promoter of Keep It True.  In the end, however, our decision was based on one simple factor - and that was "the fans."  Apart from researching the venues and corroborating with our peers from other respected metal bands, it all came down to what the fans were saying. Our intelligence sources followed numerous discussions on the internet, and it was clear that the fans at Keep It True seemed to want Warlord more than the fans of Headbangers Open Air.  Thus, "Warlord is coming like a thunderstorm to deliver "epic power metal" in a way that you cannot even imagine… and we are doing it for "the fans" because we love "the fans."  In fact, to us, it's all about "the fans".  So when the fans tell us by a 10 to 1 margin that we should play Keep It True, we listen to the fans because our radar is up and running and our satellites are watching the situation.  We hope the energy and affection at Keep it True will be able to match the passion, power and shock that Warlord will bring, because what we have in store for you is something that you cannot even imagine!"
Until then, all the best,
William J Tsamis"


There is also a huge thrill and emotion among the Greek fans for the two shows in Hellas, and the addition of a third date is something that is not impossible...



By the end of 2012, William J Tsamis’ “Sea of Tranquility” will be officially released, in a special remastered CD edition from No Remorse Records, including the heart and musical creativity of William J Tsamis through songs written and recorded during 1993-94.


Τετάρτη, 22 Αυγούστου 2012

RAVENSIRE interview - Portuguese Steel & the Iron Will of Underground Metal


RAVENSIRE is a new band from Portugal, and some of the (not so young!) members might be familiar to the true underground die-hard supporters. CRYSTAL LOGIC spoke with guitarist Nuno Mordred and he introduce us the band, their first upcoming release and some other important things concerning the underground metal scene.

Introduce us the band and tell us when did RAVENSIRE were formed and what's your goal? 

The beginning of RAVENSIRE can be traced to a few years ago, when I (Nuno Mordred - guitars) and Rick Thor (bass) started jamming out to some riffs I had created. But since we couldn't find like-minded individuals, we decided to take our time and just let things roll. It wasn't until F decided to start playing drums that things really came together. He found a rehearsal space in mid-2011 and we started to take our jams more seriously. After a couple of months, Zé RockHard (guitar) and Zé Gomes (vocals) showed up on our sessions, and since they were great friends of ours, had similar points of view and had been involved in music, it was a no-brainer to ask them to come aboard! And so, in November 2011, RAVENSIRE was officially born. Our goal is simply to play Heavy Metal the way we've always enjoyed listening and have fun doing it!

Which are your influences and how would you describe your music?

Our influences come from a variety of sources. We could name-drop a lot of ultra-obscure releases (we're ALL passionate about demo and underground stuff from the 70's onward) like everyone else is doing these days, but instead, I'll just say that IRON MAIDEN, early MANOWAR, OMEN, MANILLA ROAD, SLOUGH FEG and a few others would cover our basics very well! No need to show off hahaha! The best way to describe our music is: RAW and PASSIONATE.

Soon you will unleash to the metal world your first official release. Give us all the available information.

Our first mini-CD is going to be called "Iron Will" and A Forja Records (or The Forge Records), owned by the metal maniac Francisco Serrano, will release it somewhere in September. If all goes well, a vinyl release is also planned. It will have 5 tracks: 4 originals and 1 cover. In this CD we wanted to do a tribute to the 80's Portuguese Metal scene, so we ended up choosing Zé Gomes' old band from those days: WILD SHADOW! It is a relatively unknown band that released a few demos in the 80's, but hopefully we'll generate some recognition on their behalf.  Curiously, I saw them playing live in the 80's and would never imagine that 25 years later I'd be doing a band together with their first vocalist!

Are there any live shows in your plans?

For sure! Having a Heavy Metal band and not playing live music is like eating a pork souvlaki without pork meat (I guess Rick would enjoy that, though)! We're going to do live shows starting in September. We already have one date confirmed and a few others being worked out. We're actually quite excited and eager to play live!

Both our countries (Greece and Portugal) are victims of the economical crisis. Both our countries have also strong Heavy Metal bonds. How easy or difficult is for a true Heavy Metal band/musician to survive and play what his heart wants?

Well, playing what our hearts want is very easy! We just need to follow our will and not expect anything in return other than a genuine pleasure in doing what we love... That's how I've always viewed Heavy Metal in my life! That's why I travelled as a fan to a lot of places (Athens included...Twice!) to see the bands I love. I'm doing exactly the same now with RAVENSIRE, only on the other side of the "stage", so to speak! Of course, having this huge financial crisis doesn't help, because right now things are terrible and we need to be very careful on how we spend our money... 

There are many reunions (even from obscure mediocre bands), many new bands coming on surface (almost every metalhead tries to play metal...) and at the same time, the huge "brand names"/bands (Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, etc) are about to retire because they will not be able to perform/compose decent music. So, how do you see Heave Metal in our days and what the future holds?

I've been saying this for quite some time now: 99% of the reunions SUCK! What's the point of getting together people who have been far away from Heavy Metal for the past 20 (or more!) years?? Most of them don't even like the genre anymore! Also, what's the point of reuniting bands that released a demo-tape with 4 tracks in 1982? I have the utmost respect for bands like BROCAS HELM who've been more or less active non-stop for the last 30 years... Or for Bill Tsamis who after WARLORD spent the 90's doing music with LORDIAN GUARD... or Tom Gattis who has been playing and composing in bands since the 70's, and other guys/bands like these examples! But those are NOT reunions... As far as reunions go, I'd say there are a few bands that did it for the right reasons, but lately the onslaught of reunited bands is just too much! And in the meantime, for each reunited useless band, you get a contemporary band that DOESN'T have the opportunity to be featured on live shows! Everybody nowadays praises the 80's and the "spirit"... But I can tell you: back then, we weren't looking or supporting extinct bands from the 70's or the 60's! We were supporting all the bands that were ACTIVE and making music we enjoyed! This nostalgia trip is one of the things that’s destroying the scene nowadays, in my opinion! As for the future... Well, I always say that the 90's were the most pure era regarding Heavy Metal. Although there weren't many bands and fans back then, the ones present were genuine and supported each other! There were no high expectations, no big labels wanting to cash in, no big festivals to try and win a free holyday trip! Nothing! Just pure love for the music. And that's how I see the future: when all these trends, and reunion frenzy, and labels milking the scene will move on to other places, the few left will be pure again and will count on each other for support.

And at that point, how do you see all the related metal labels and metal music industry in general?

As I hinted in the previous answer: the bigger labels don't care shit for Heavy Metal. They only care for the money Heavy Metal is bringing them! Most of them, a few years ago, were actively making fun of Heavy Metal, and now they sign lots of Heavy Metal bands?!? Well, they are signing because a) the Heavy Metal bands accept their contracts and b) the fans end up buying the stuff! I'll never give money to those labels... I prefer spending money on underground releases by some hard-working bands and labels that support the scene no matter what...

You are in the beginning and I hope you will play the music you love for many years. What should we expect from RAVENSIRE in the future?

Well, although as a band we're on the beginning, we're all veteran metalheads and we've been on the scene for quite some time! I started in Heavy Metal in 1984 or so, Zé Gomes started even before that (1979-1980) and organized the first Portuguese Heavy Metal festival in 1984 (curiously in my hometown, with SEPULCRO, MAC ZAC, XEQUE-MATE, STS PARANOID, VALIUM and JAROJUPE - how's that for a line-up!?), Rick Thor comes from the mid-80's too, F is a bit younger but has been into the scene since the early 90's... Zé RockHard is the junior and has been into Metal for "only" 10 years! So, we really know what we want and this band is not something born out of some juvenile hard-on! We are now composing new tracks, will start to play live very soon, and hopefully next year we'll also start working on our first full album that'll be RAW and PASSIONATE!

Last words.

Thanks a lot for this opportunity to promote RAVENSIRE, Andreas! If any reader was curious enough by my ramblings, I urge you to go to www.facebook.com/Ravensire or www.myspace.com/ravensire.epic and listen to the tracks. Also, a big HAIL to the Greek Metal scene!



Δευτέρα, 6 Αυγούστου 2012

SPARTAN WARRIOR interview with Dave & Neil Wilkinson


The NWOBHM Files

Being one of the greatest British Heavy Metal bands formed in the 80s, during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, brothers Dave Wilkinson (vocals) and Neil Wilkinson (guitar), speak to Crystal Logic about everything around Spartan Warrior, in the most complete interview taken so far for this great band.


How did you come up with the name?

Dave: Originally the band was called Deceiver. At that stage, the band members were Gordon Webster (drums), Tom Spencer (bass) Dave Wilkinson (vocals)  Pat Thompson (guitar) and Gordon Craig (guitar). It was at the stage that Neil Wilkinson and John Stormont joined the band each on guitar that we decided to have a fresh start and a change of name. Gordon Webster was very much interested in Greek History and it was he who suggested the name "Spartan Warrior". For myself, I only knew a little about the Spartan culture at the time but what I did know was that their society had honesty and integrity at its heart... and a real hard edge too. That I think suited us... it still does and we try very hard to live up to that.

I want to know from you guys, how did you spend your free time at late 70s – early 80s in England, before you start your band. Which are your memories from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement? Bands, rock clubs, gigs, etc…

Dave: I left school in 1978. Neil is two years younger than me so he was still at school when we formed our first band together who were called Easy Prey. We actually wrote a version of “Mercenary” whilst in that band... I think the lyrics remained unchanged when we used them in the song of the same title in Spartan Warrior. Most of my spare time at that point (1978- 1980) I spent hanging out with friends, drinking and watching bands. I used to watch the likes of Saxon, White Spirit (Janick Gers) and Raven most weekends then at one club or another. I also listened to a lot of music in my spare time... just about anything that I could get my hands on. I built up quite a large collection of vinyls which I still have. My favourite bands at that time were Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, Rush and Judas Priest. Of the NWOBHM bands of the time that surfaced around 1979/1980 I was only really a big fan of Diamond Head, Samson and Iron Maiden. I saw a lot of gigs some large and some small... some in clubs and bars but mostly at a venue called Newcastle City Hall. Amongst the club and bar gigs of note were AC/DC, UFO, Marseille, Saxon and Iron Maiden all between 1978 and 1980. At the City Hall I saw just about every band you can imagine, Rainbow, Rush, Van Halen, Judas Priest, MSG, Scorpions, Motörhead, Diamond Head and Thin Lizzy... There was a time when I virtually lived in that place.

Neil: How did I spend my time? Well you have to remember that in the late 70s I was still at school. I was quite into skateboarding but I would say it was around then that I became really serious about playing music and that’s when me and Dave formed our 1st band with some school mates. I think I was about 14 then so it will have been around 1978, maybe 79. I did spend a lot of time practicing guitar and when I joined Spartan Warrior I put all my time into that. Apart from that it was just all the usual stuff you hanging about with friends and going out to gigs. The places I would go to see bands were The Old 29 pub in Sunderland and also Sunderland Mayfair that always had name bands on. At first I used to have to sneak in being under-aged and that… he he. I saw some great bands locally. In terms of NWOBHM I went to a gig to see Mythra and Hellenbach and The Tygers were always on. There was loads of NWOBHM going on where we lived and a lot of them are still going now with us included!

So, when did you start and what made you play music?

Neil: I was always keen on music even when I was 4/5 years old. I don’t know what it was I just loved it. I had loads of different instruments as presents for birthdays and that but obviously I settled on guitar, gutted really because I wanted to be a drummer! Still once I got into guitar at about 5 years old I didn’t really think about playing anything else. Later on as I got into heavy music I just found the whole thing very exciting and I just knew that I had to play in a band. I think the thing that really made me want to get seriously into it was going to see my 1st live gig, I just had to do it!

How did you get in touch with Guardian Records for your first album “Steel ‘n’ Chains” and what do you remember from the writing and production procedure?

Neil: Well I heard about Guardian through a friend of mine who said that she’d seen an ad looking for bands. Her sister’s boyfriend also had a copy of a compilation album from Guardian called Roksnax or Roxcallibur – something like that (editor’s info: it was “Roksnax”, a split LP with Saracen, Samurai and Hollow Ground). Anyway by this time I was playing with Spartan Warrior and I told the lads about it and we all agreed that we should contact the studio to see if they would be interested in putting 1 or 2 songs on the next compilation album. So we recorded a rehearsal on cassette and went to Guardian so that terry could listen to them and that’s when he chose “Steel n Chains” and “Easy Prey” for the “Pure Overkill” album (editor’s info: “Easy Prey” was also listed under the title “Comes As No Surprise”). As far as writing goes, we would just come up with stuff at practices so it was fairly straight forward although I would also write songs on my own as did the others, so it was a bit of a mixture. Again production was very straight forward and “Steel n Chains” was actually an album of demos and was done as and when we could afford it, so we would usually do 2 songs a session and mixed it the same day.

At the time of its release (1983) New Wave of British Heavy Metal was starting to fade and few bands continued (and fewer became really big). How things were in England at that time and how was your first album accepted by fans and press?

Dave: The first album “Steel n Chains” was a real pleasure to record. By that time John Stormont had left and had a spell with Jess Cox (Tygers of Pan Tang) and Battleaxe. We had recruited Paul Swaddle to play guitar alongside Neil and Paul was a real nice guy and a stunning guitar player. The album was recorded two songs a day and pretty much live. Although it’s a bit raw I still love it today... Good memories. As I recall we had a great response locally and I know we featured on local radio quite a bit on the stations Rock Show which went out on Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning. From what I saw in the music press (Kerrang) we had quite a positive response too but I have to confess personally I wasn't really paying attention to what was going on around us and I was quite content just doing what we always did. I remember being told to play things down, that big things were going to happen for us and the more we kept away from the music press the more interest their seemed to be... I suppose it was a bit of management style hype... a bit cloak and dagger and it really didn't interest me. It was a huge wake up call when I was asked to quit my job and go professional with Spartan Warrior when we signed to Roadrunner. I had just got married and had a huge financial commitment so that was never going to be easy. After we had done the second album for Roadrunner things looked as if they might just take off and that scared the hell out of me... so I got the hell out of it. Part of me wishes that I hadn't ... who is to say whether we would have been a major success or an outright failure ... I just couldn’t run that risk.

Neil: I think the band was very well received and we would have done well if we had stayed together and also the fact that NWOBHM was coming to an end didn’t do us any favors either.

Guardian Records released also a split compilation called “Pure Overkill” with you, and had in its roster some other great bands also, like Satan, Incubus and Mythra. Tell us a few words about them.

Dave: I really didn't know anything at all about the other bands on “Pure Overkill”, that came out before “Steel n Chains” album. I remember meeting Incubus in the studio... they were really nice guys and I loved their contribution to “Pure Overkill” too. I also really loved Risk… they put down a class track on that album.

Neil: Its difficult to say really because the only one of those bands I ever met was Incubus. They seemed ok lads but that’s about all I can tell you about them.

How was a Spartan Warrior live show back then?

Dave: Spartan Warrior live back then was great fun: we all got on really well: we loved playing and I think that we were very laid back in our approach... I don't recall anything regimented about our approach and we weren't self critical or analytical back then either. I think that we are much more self aware now and far more driven in our approach... Neil makes sure of that and there is never anything that is second best… never !
 
Neil: Pretty much the same as it is now! We always do our best when we play and I don’t think that will ever change. Someone who had seen us at Headbangers Open in 2011 left a comment on a YouTube clip saying “Stormer the opening song at HOA it nearly ripped my head off!” Well we view that as job done and I think we play the same now as we did back then if you know what I mean…

Which were the best live shows you attend in England?

Dave: The best live shows that I saw back then I think would have been Iron Maiden on the Powerslave Tour, Ozzy Osbourne with Blizzard of Oz, Queensryche and Dio.

Neil: Tricky! There were so many. I’ve got to say seeing Randy Rhoads with Ozzy was a treat and also the UFO gigs and MSG gigs just because Michael Schenker is my favourite guitarist. Seeing Saxon playing bars when they were called Son Of A Bitch was good and locally Raven used to get on The Mayfair and The Old 29 a lot.

In 1984 you joined Roadrunner Records for your second album, “Spartan Warrior”. How did you get in touch with a US record label?

Neil: Well, the Roadrunner deal came on the back of “Steel n Chains”. Terry was in touch with them and when they asked if he had any interesting bands he put us forward. Mind that Roadrunner wasn’t a US label, they were operating from Holland. It was good for us to do and it was definitely a step up for us and we still benefit from being a Roadrunner band to this day. I don’t think that was any other band from our area that signed directly to Roadrunner, although I think they lisenced some other band from other companies. Not many people know but we actually did a compilation with Roadrunner called “The Metal Machine” with bands like Lee Aaron, VoiVod, Slayer and Cirith Ungol being on there too! Wish I could get a copy of that!

And what about the music and the recording procedure for that one?

Neil: The production on the 2nd album was more involved .We though a lot more about the song structure and harmony guitar parts were played as overdubs. As far as the music goes it’s a bit strange in as much as some of the songs on the 2nd album were older than the songs on “Steel n Chains”. The reason for this was that we got the Roadrunner deal just as we had finished recording “Steel n Chains” so we had to pick songs that we had decided not to use on the first album, but there were also newer songs that we had written while we were recording “Steel N Chains”. “Mercenary”, “Black Widow”, “French Girls” and “Broken Promises” were all older songs.

Most of the times, the band titled album is the first one, but you made it different! How did that came up?

Dave: The second album was supposed to be called “Assassin”. I don't know what happened about that... We recorded the album, set up the concept and made our wishes known and then the album appeared in the shops, untitled and with artwork that we had never seen before.

After a while you disbanded. Why did this happen?

Dave: I left the band after the second album came out. I had just got married and I simply couldn't commit to the band anymore. The other guys carried on and recruited another singer but I think that they started to move in a different direction and Paul Swaddle also left after a while. I know that Neil, Tom and Gordon carried on writing and recording demos and I even went back and recorded four tracks with all four of the original boys on a demo tape (a copy of which I still have) . I think that eventually things drifted and fell apart and that was that. I have to accept the blame for that... If I had stayed, I don't think that the band would have split and there would probably have been a tour and a third album at that point.

Neil: There were a few reasons. I think life and responsibility got in the way for some band members and there was some friction though not between the band or Roadrunner and it was that which caused Dave to quit. After that it wasn’t really the same and then Roadrunner said that they wanted us to play “Devil Music” so that was that! We tried to keep going for a while after but then Paul went. After that it sort of just faded away.

What have you done all these years until your reunion in the mid 00s? Did you follow the Heavy Metal music evolution worldwide?

Dave: I dropped out of the music business completely. I pursued a career outside music... and I am still married and I have two children that I adore.
I never lost touch with music... I remained a fan and at some time around 2005 I started singing in a band again… nothing serious… just good fun. It didn't take long though for Neil to reform Spartan Warrior and he and I started writing and recording demos before we approached Tom and then Gordon: the result was the release of “Behind Closed Eyes” in 2010 with shows at Hard Rock Hell in Wales and Headbangers Open Air in Germany.

Neil: Well I kept playing! Mostly did covers with friends but I kept writing music and made rough demos for no reason other than I liked doing it. Just before I reformed Spartan Warrior I played in Waysted and wrote songs for their last album “The Harsh Reality” but when that ended I knew I wanted to do Spartan again. As far as following the metal scene I always have.

How did you decide to reunite and when did this exactly happen? Also, this is one of the few times when a (let’s say) small band - and not a huge mainstream name - is reunited with almost the original line-up, right?

Neil: Well it was after I had finished with Waysted, so I think it was around 2008. Like I said earlier having done stuff with Waysted, I knew I wanted to get Spartan going again. I had songs so I just contacted the lads to see who would want to do it. At first only Dave agreed but after hearing the ideas Tom and then Gordon came on board. Paul wasn’t able to do it although I think he would have liked to. It was important to me that we did the new album with as much of the original line up as possible so I decided to do all the guitars myself and then recruit a 2nd guitarist once we started to play live again, so to get 4 out of 5 members was quite an achievement!

In 2010 you returned in discography with your third album, “Behind Closed Eyes”. All the songs there are new ones or some of them are older? Do you have any leftovers from the 80s?

Neil: The songs on “Behind Closed Eyes” are a mix of ancient old and new. The oldest song on there is “Never Take Me Alive” which I wrote in 1983 and was originally recorded for “Steel n Chains” but Terry didn’t think that the song worked. “Tear Out Your Heart” is from about 1987 and “Last Man Standing” was written in 1996. The rest of the songs are much more recent from about 2007 onwards with some of the songs being written as we recorded them – “Flesh and Blood” being one of them. We’re busy working on the next album at the moment and I’m always listening to old ideas that we never used as well as working on new stuff  so nothing gets ruled out when it comes to song writing really.

How easy or difficult is for a traditional Heavy Metal band to survive in England, today?

Dave: It is very very difficult to survive as a band in the current climate. It costs money to run a band, to travel and to record and for some reason these days everyone wants music for nothing... The availability of free downloads can very easily be the death of a band who are not that commercially successful. It's something of a cliché to say that Spartan Warrior aren't in it for the money, but like many other bands like us that is true... It would be great to be able to make a living doing this but it simply doesn't pay. So we work our day jobs, we play when and where we can and we love each others company, the people that we play for and meet and just doing what we do.

Neil: Financially, extremely difficult. Bands cost money to run and what with free downloading it can make life for a band practically impossible, having said that I do this mostly because I like playing. In recent years in the UK I’ve seen support growing for our style of music with gigs and festivals being more and more well attended, so hopefully things are on the up and bands like us will be able to make ends meet. At least we are fortunate enough to have our previous albums that have kept people interested in us, but I have friends in other bands starting out and its very difficult for them, which is a shame.


Which are the best moments in the history of Spartan Warrior?

Dave: The best moments for Spartan Warrior... I loved playing Headbangers Open Air in Germany in 2010 and I loved reforming with Neil, Tom and Gordon recording and releasing “Behind Closed Eyes”. I have special moments every time I play with Spartan Warrior now.  We have James Chartlon on drums, Dan Rochester on Guitar and we have Tim Morton on bass and every show we play together, every rehearsal and every recording session are just the best times ever... I love being in this band with these guys and the best part is that it just gets better and better. I'm not going anywhere this time, I'm here until they nail down the lid on my coffin!

Neil: For me it was playing HOA in 2011. We were 1st band of the last day. On what was our first major gig since reforming I was amazed when we opened to a full field – unbelievable and ill never forget it.

So, what the future holds for you?

Dave: We have started writing for the fourth album. We have three new songs recorded as demos and another two completely written. Next step is to deal and record or just do it ourselves and put it out. There's no hurry with this one but it'll be worth the wait... It's going to be explosive, man!

Neil: More of the same! We’re working on more gigs more festivals and also on the next album. We’ve also had some line up changes since I reformed the band. First both Tom and Gordon went and we replaced them with James Charlton (drums) and Dan Rochester (bass). More recently though Dan has replaced Mark on guitar as Dan was originally a guitarist. So, to replace Dan we have only just recruited Tim Morton. Now we have a full line up again we will be getting to grips with getting the new album done so watch this space! I know that me and Dave feel that we have a very strong fresh line up so its full steam ahead!

Last wish / message for everyone…

Dave: My last words to you are these:
To my band mates Neil, Dan, Tim and James... I love you boys.
To metal fans everywhere, I hope that life is good to you all, stay hungry, stay loud and stay proud... See ya in 2013!

Neil: Since reforming Spartan Warrior I have been amazed at just how much support this band has from family friends promoters and fans. I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone for their support - it really does make it all worth while! Once again thank you my metal friends. I hope to see you all soon!!! Metal on! 





 Photo by Chris Jones