Richard Taylor – British Lion

Written by Paul Monkhouse

 

Richard Taylor of British Lion

There is a huge buzz around my home town as, for the second time in just over a year, Steve Harris brought his ‘other’ band British Lion to a small venue in East Anglia. I have seen Iron Maiden play many times in Norwich, firstly at the University (my very first rock gig in 1981) and then again under various pseudonyms at The Oval, a now sadly defunct rock pub on the outskirts of the city centre. Having been offered the chance to interview British Lion singer Richard Taylor and knowing what a powerhouse band they are, this was an opportunity not to be missed.

When I first stroll into The Waterfront venue with my thirteen year old son I find Richard relaxing on a sofa pre-sound check as he pours through the latest edition of Classic Rock magazine. Very charismatic, but seemingly utterly ego-free the quietly and thoughtfully spoken Richard proves to be a genuine pleasure to talk to and very easy, good company. With a friendship that stretches back many years, being the frontman in a band whose bass player is a genuine rock legend doesn’t seem to faze him at all but that shows that British Lion are truly a collaborative band and not just a vanity side project. When Steve strolls over later on you can sense a very real camaraderie between the two that speaks volumes.

Prior to the interview proper we discussed Live Aid, the pleasures of living in East Anglia, mutual friends who were in the superb The Catherine Wheel, which rock magazines are best, cycling, and our joint love of Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ album. As with the rest of the band, here was a man very happy in what he’s doing and enjoying touring immensely. With the sound of drums being sound checked in the background I hit the ‘record’ button…

What does rock music mean to you?
Music in general, any genre, from a youngster, it was my life, it was all I ever cared about. I had kind of an unusual upbringing and music just got me through anything that was troubling my life. So yeah, in a kind of way and not to get too deep, it saved my life as a youngster.

Was there a band or an artist who first made an impression on you?
Yeah, T.Rex, Marc Bolan

Any particular reason for that?
I would have been nine, ten years old and it was melody. That was the first thing, and from that there was so much in the 70s that came along, unbelievable songs and I just latched onto all of that. As a child seeing him on television, it was just “wow!” and I used to have a tennis racquet that I ‘used’ as a guitar as I’m sure a lot of us did. [Laughs]

Is there a particular song or album that still means a lot to you?
BBruce Springsteen Born to Run album coverorn to Run by Springsteen definitely. Again, that was another part of my life, that album, hearing that made me want to become a musician. That entire album, and the album after that as well, both mean so much to me. As he’s American a lot of my friends don’t get it, but even if you take the Americanism of the lyrics away, I find you can still relate to it. And also, although it sounds a complicated album with respect to production, the songs are three chords or four chords on guitar which I can play back to back, all of them, and that was also attractive to me. After listening to bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple that were so complicated, as an acoustic guitarist you can play great songs like ‘Born to Run’, ‘Thunder Road’ or ‘Jungleland’ on the acoustic, whereas playing ‘Smoke on the Water’ on an acoustic is not so easy.

We were talking earlier about various musicians, so what do you say to a (quote/unquote) ‘rock star’ when you meet them?
I haven’t met too many rock stars but I would most probably just say “I admire your work” if it was somebody… actually, I have met a few but I’m not too overwhelmed by that stardom thing.

What’s been your best experience meeting an artist as a music fan yourself?
I don’t know, you don’t really get to know the person if you get to meet them other than saying “Hi” and “I admire your music”. I met Brian May actually and just said to him “Hi Brian, nice to meet you”. I guess it must be the same for them, they must get bored to tears by people coming up and saying “You’ve changed my life …”

And what’s been the best response to you from fans?
Well, it’s kind of been overwhelming really, the last three tours that British Lion have done, two European tours and this British tour. When we released the debut album it was kind of controversial because a lot of people weren’t expecting it to be like that with Steve involved and that was quite hard to take. I think a lot of people didn’t ‘get’ it or quite understand what it was all about, and I think that’s still the case. But when you see it live, from the word go, especially after three tours now, it speaks for itself. It’s powerful and we mean what we’re doing and every night we give it everything we’ve got and the reaction everywhere we’ve played has been absolutely fantastic. Some places the audiences have been a little reluctant to go with it initially but by the end of the evening that has totally changed. That’s been brilliant for me and the rest of the guys as well.

So, what makes a gig special to you?
It’s two things really. Well, more than that! Firstly, I like to feel it. There’s a lot of lyrical content in these songs, especially some of the new material, and I don’t just want to stand there and go through the motions and clichés. I like to be spontaneous and just let that happen, and if that can happen then, of course, you get the audience with you as well, getting elements of the two. The last four or five dates we’ve played have been unbelievable, the crowds have been almost louder than the band and we’re still a new, young band so not too many people know of us yet. Obviously they’re coming to see Steve, we know that and are under no illusion, but like last night, when they leave they speak to you and compliment British Lion, which is what we’re trying to do.

Has there been a notable gig you’ve done that you’ll always hold high and cherish the memory of?

Richard Taylor and Steve Harris - British Lion

Richard, Steve and Paul’s son Sam looking forward to show time

There’s been a few to be honest. I always like to play quite locally if I can because I’ve got family and friends who have supported me for years and have known these songs. ‘Eyes of the Young’ particularly is twenty four, twenty five years old and when they come and see that it’s special to me, getting to sing it to them. There have been a few but I can’t really say one in particular. We have been quite overwhelmed wherever we go by the response to British Lion.

Has there been a gig you’ve attended as an audience member that really blew you away at the time and you still hold in high regard?
Bruce Springsteen’s The Rising tour at Wembley Arena. That album was written after 9/11 and I’d seen him quite a few times before but this time it wasn’t that type of show where he talks to the audience telling them stories and having fun, it was a really serious show, keeping his head down, hard rocking, and he really meant it. You got the shivers all over watching that and for what he was standing for that night. That one in particular, but I have seen lots, I’ve seen many bands. I saw Dylan but that wasn’t when he was touring an album, he just decided he wanted to go to play a few clubs and we saw him at Brixton Academy. He had the most amazing band and played every classic song you could ever imagine and that was quite overwhelming to be honest.

So, sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll: a jaded stereotype or the meaning of life?
[Laughing …] Big question! So, you want me to answer that? Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, I’m not into any of that … never have been. You’ve only got to look at me; I’m not that type of person.

I know we were talking about your love of cycling earlier on and I know that Steve really takes his health seriously too …
Oh yeah, he’s a great football player and he’s very conscientious about health. I do a lot of cycling and live on the coast and do a lot of running. I do a lot of walking, which is where I get a lot of my ideas from quite often, and those Suffolk skies and along by Walberswick and Southwold … in the summer some of those sunsets are quite outrageous.

So, rock music: music for all or is it quite tribal?
I think it’s a shame. I think rock music should be for everybody but I think unfortunately some people pigeonhole music in categories and if you say it has to be rock or metal it has to be a certain type of rock and I think that’s really sad. But, I think that’s maybe a younger approach and as you grow and get older … Like, I play in a rock band with Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, a band who I love and they’re incredible and I like lots of bands like that who are metal bands, but I love other stuff as well. I love classical music, I love folk music and I think it’s a shame that music does get pigeonholed. I also think that in the UK, maybe more so than any other country, we’re so fashion orientated. If you like one genre of music it has to be fashionable as well. Take Oasis, that was the fashion in the 90s and you wouldn’t let anything else in. It’s the same with certain types or rock and metal and that affects what people listen to. But again, I think it’s an age thing and if you really love music, even if you won’t admit to it … I’ve seen some Maiden fans really loving the quieter side of our music,and that’s great! Certainly the Maiden fans that I’ve met JUST love music and they like all types and that’s brilliant.

I think you’re absolutely right, not only with British Lion but with Maiden too the key thing is the song writing. Not only is there fantastic performances but you’ve got to have the songs haven’t you?
British Lion album coverDefinitely, and I think that’s what British Lion stands for more than anything. When the album was first released I got a lot of comments saying that I can’t sing – “the singer’s rubbish” – but it’s not just the fact that I was singing for British Lion, but I was also a key part of the song writing and to be honest that element is more important to me than being a vocalist. It’s most probably taken some of those comments for me to realise that by the time we record again it will be the first time I stand up and say “hold on, I have to focus a bit more on how I sing,” because some of those vocals had no more than one or two takes. With British Lion, it’s fundamentally about song writing and it’s how Steve and I first got together: we both love great songs and we write really well together, kind of differently to how he’s written before and how he’s written with collaborators before and that’s a really attractive thing. It’s taken it somewhere differently.

How do you think your music is labelled?
I think at the moment it’s just labelled classic rock but by the time we get to our second album I don’t know if it can be titled as that. With the first album you have tracks like ‘The Eyes of the Young’ and ‘The Chosen Ones’ and yeah, that is classic rock, but those songs were written twenty-five years ago. David Hawkins is a big part of the song writing and he’s much younger than me. He listens to bands like Muse and Linkin Park and he’s an absolute whizz in the studio. With Dave and Steve and myself, we all come from different angles. I hate titles…why does something have to be called something specific? I guess it just makes life easier.

I can absolutely see what you mean and as the three of you are coming in with your own influences you give the band very much its own identity rather than a cookie cutter impression of something already in existence. It makes it fresh and interesting, not only for you guys but also for the people who listen to the tracks and come along to the gigs. There IS that variety.
Yes, the people who didn’t get it the first time will hopefully get it by the time we do the second album. Certainly live people are beginning to understand it. You take other bands who have melodic singers and they put on a show but if you see what we do live we’re pretty on the edge and we really get out there and work our arses off. We’re not a safe band, we’re pretty spontaneous and people will get a shock. The album is what it is but live it goes to another level. I’m pleased about that and I think people who’ve seen us have grasped and latched onto that.

Is there a particular piece of music you’ve been involved in, thus far, that you’d like to be remembered for?
Certainly some of the new stuff is pretty special, but on the first album ‘This is My God’, that’s a pretty special song: the lyrical content, the riff. Again, that’s an old song but we’re playing a new song in the set that’s only come out this year called ‘Bible Black’ and that’s quite a special song that means a lot to me.

I recently read a live review of this tour and they picked out that song for a particular mention, which is confirmation of just that …
That’s great! [Smiling widely and nodding]

What would you say to the people who say the rock era is dead?
I think you just need to go and watch bands. Those people don’t know what they’re talking about. Just go and watch Iron Maiden next year and you can certainly see it’s not dead. They’ll sell out arenas all around the world and that’s just one band. It’s not dead, it’s more alive than ever!

What’s next for you?
We’re going to go back and listen to a lot of the live recordings from the last three tours and may at some point put something live out. We’ll also go back and carry on with material for the second album – we’ve  actually got plenty, enough for three or four albums. We never stop writing. I personally write all the time … And back to running on the beach!

Later that evening British Lion proved once more what a superb band they are, taking the packed Norwich venue by storm. With a massive Iron Maiden world tour looming, quite how long it’ll be before the next album is released is unclear. But judging by the magnificent new material played tonight, it’ll be well worth the wait.

CHEERS, GUYS!

Related posts: Relics 3: Finding My Marbles and Drawn by Quest for ’Arry

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Tim Bowness – No-Man/Solo

Tim Bowness

Perhaps best known for his work with No-Man, a longstanding 28-year, six album collaboration with Steven Wilson, Tim Bowness has recently resurrected his solo career, with 2014’s well received Abandoned Dancehall Dreams and an astonishingly speedy follow up Stupid Things That Mean The World.

In fact, Stupid Things That Mean The World is a cracker that’s sure to feature well in ‘Album of the Year’ lists. It’s wistful, reflective, and very moving with Bowness’s voice, as I wrote in my review of the album “bringing every track within touching distance of common hopes and fears, past and present.” It’s a prime example of what words and music can do, working in tandom on an album that comes on like a reacquainted friend. I jumped at the chance, therefore, to speak with Tim about Stupid Things That Mean The World, his lyrical themes, his influences, playing live, and the death of rock. It’s an honour to be able to add his thoughts to the Words and Music Interview Series.

So Tim, what would you like to tell people about the new album?
Always difficult! Obviously, I hope that each album is a progression in some way from the last and that it shows some level of personal development. I think all performers like to feel that their career has a forward momentum and Stupid Things That Mean The World did feel as if it was taking aspects of Abandoned Dancehall Dreams further. Like a lot of my work, a lot of thought went into things like track listing and arrangement, though in some ways I would describe the final product as being a combination of accident and intention. Quite often it’s the accidental beginnings that you don’t control that provide the material you shape into the finished album.

In what sense ‘accidental’? Can you elaborate?
Well, in the sense I think everything is for me. When I write I don’t go in with a particular intention, although I did have an overall intention of perhaps developing ideas in Abandoned Dancehall Dreams further. I wouldn’t necessarily say: “Right, I’m going to sit down now and write a piece that is this, or a piece that is that.” ‘Press Reset’, for example, was something that surprised me as it went along. I certainly didn’t realise what the outcome would be when I started writing. It was similar with ‘Know That You Were Loved’, which was written on guitar in a very different way. In some ways the material is created in quite an instinctive and spontaneous way and then once an outcome emerges you shape it as best you can. So I meant accidental in the sense that there would never be a deliberate intention to write in a particular style or write a particular type of song.

‘Press Reset’ is my favourite track on the album, by the way.
‘Press Reset’ and ‘Know That You Were Loved’ were my two favourites actually because, as I say, they turned out to be nothing like I was expecting and it surprised me where they ended up.

‘Press Reset’ emerged from a computer studio experiment. I just followed it through to its conclusion and then heightened aspects of what the experiment suggested. At the end of the process, I felt I ended up with a song quite unlike any other I’d written and a lyric and lyrical subject I really wasn’t expecting. It’s a subject that’s always quite fascinated me, the idea of people who seemingly have happy family and work lives and then completely escape them, you know, due to various internal pressures and so on. And I realised that it had actually happened in my own family as my step-brother had done exactly the same thing, even though it wasn’t something that had particularly influenced me while I was writing it. It’s a subject, to be fair, that a lot of English people will know via the Reggie Perrin route. And it was quite interesting to me that in a sense it almost became semi-autobiographical, in that it dealt with someone I’d known.

I still feel a novice when it comes to being a musician, as opposed to being a singer, so it’s always a thrill to finish a song. In the case of ‘Know That You were Loved’, it was compositionally quite detailed, so I was pleased with my writing, which was something different for me.

You mentioned forward momentum just now, but your lyrics are, well, I would describe them as wistful and reflective, and they seem to have quite a lot to do with the past. Can you tell us more about some of the lyrical themes?
I think that melancholy and nostalgia are two themes that I’ve always visited in my lyrics. Even when I started writing lyrics in my late teens, and was in my first band, I think the themes were in many ways similar. The actual stories and the style of writing may be completely different but there’s always been this sort of impulse, if you like, to dwell on that halcyon time that is no more. And often it’s difficult to explain away those things because you’re naturally drawn to them. I can only think that there might be something in my history or in my family life that always means that in terms of my interest in literature and film and perhaps in the songs that I write, there’s a strong aspect of almost trying to reclaim innocence or reclaim happiness. Also, I think with lyrics sometimes, that whatever one does, one’s worst fears tend to be articulated in one’s work, almost as a form of exorcism. And perhaps there’s always a fear, certainly as an artist, that your best work is behind you, that your best times are behind you. However much you’re enjoying the creative process, however much it feels vital to you, I think that most musicians, artists, filmmakers have a gnawing sense of doubt. In some ways I think that’s good because it’s what propels people to do better or to change and it certainly provides some creative momentum.

What about the title of the new album Stupid Things That Mean The World?
The new album’s title concerns the small and seemingly trivial things that make us who we are, or help us through our lives. It could be an old toy, art/music, shared intimate language, a belief system, an annual holiday, the image or idea of someone you loved in your youth and so on.

Tim Bowness - Stupid Things That Mean The World album coverSo, yes, it concerns the myriad tiny things that in some ways make up personalities. I was also thinking of something like the significance of the seemingly insignificant Rosebud in Orson Welles’s film Citizen Kane where one incident with a toy in this huge media baron’s childhood seems to have been the key to his personality.

That said, the lyrical content in the individual songs is quite separate. For example, while it completely ties in with the idea of stupid things that mean the world – in this case, the person’s attachment to the idea of a holiday – a song like ‘At The End Of The Holiday’ is also very much a separate story about a person very separate from me. As with ‘Press Reset’, it’s almost a short story set to song.

In terms of influences, and things from your musical past, who are the artists who’ve made an impression on you?
There are far too many to mention! I still actively buy, listen to and enjoy music, so I’ve heard a great deal of music through the years. Probably the first artist is not one people would expect. It was John Barry the film composer. When I was around five or six, my dad used to take me to the cinema to see James Bond films, partly because my mum hated them, and I fell in love with the music. I thought it was incredibly haunting and expansive. Then, probably like a lot of kids even in the mid-70s, the Beatles and their offshoots, like Wings, had some level of importance, as did some of the bands influenced by them like 10cc. So I liked an odd combination of film music, experimental pop music and even some classical music from my parents’ collection. As I got older, and into my teens, that’s when rock, experimental rock, art rock – anything from Bowie to Floyd to Zeppelin to Genesis to Kate Bush – became extremely important.

Peter Hammill OverAnd obviously a couple of people who are on the new album are people whose music I absolutely adored when I was a teenager – Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music is one. Roxy Music were a major influence when I was younger. And Peter Hammill is another, because several of his albums, in particular his confessional album ‘Over’, meant a great deal to me. ‘Over’ was very intense, very raw, and in some ways showed me a completely different way of making music. It was something that wasn’t airbrushed or artificial in any way and dealt with subjects that most pop music didn’t – children leaving parents, the death of a relationship, the death of a friend, and so it was a series of meditations on things being ‘over’. It really resonated with me when I was in my mid-teens and I still think it’s a fantastic album.

Over the last couple of decades I’ve liked music by Mark Eitzel, Flaming Lips, Elbow, Keaton Henson, Bjork, Midlake, Troyka – a new-ish experimental UK Jazz band – and more I can’t remember. In terms of all-time favourites, Joni Mitchell’s Hissing Of Summer Lawns, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, David Bowie’s Low, Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon would all be in there somewhere.

Your music often seems to be labelled ‘progressive rock’ or maybe ‘art rock’. Are you happy with those tags?
To a degree. I certainly don’t go in to make what’s considered to be art rock or progressive rock but my music has a tangential link to that, partly due to some influence from art rock and progressive rock, and partly due to the musicians I work with. In some ways what I do is more a combination of art rock, art pop, prog, experimental and, of course, singer-songwriter elements as well. There’s quite a strong singer-songwriter influence, perhaps, and, again, when I was growing up people like Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, John Martyn, were huge influences. But I have great respect for musicians who work in progressive rock and art rock territory, and in some ways it’s extremely nice to be held alongside those musicians, even if, musically, I’m not entirely sure whether what I do sits with that.

It would seem quite natural to me to relate to your music one-to-one, listening quietly on my own, though I also like being part of an audience. Do you enjoy playing live? And how do you think your music translates well to the live context?
I think it can translate well. Certainly when No-Man played live on the last two tours there was a real energy and a real sense that the band, as a live unit, developed an identity above and beyond the studio work. It really energised what we did. And I suppose if one were to apply terms to it now, we developed a vocabulary that was part art rock and part almost minimalist classical – we were working with a classical violinist called Steve Bingham who had very much come from a background of listening to Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, Arvo Pӓrt, composers that Steven [Wilson] and I like as well. That, combined with a slightly more aggressive rock attack that No-Man had, worked really well and was incredibly enjoyable to play, and, I felt, almost pointed at a potential new direction for the band.

So, I think that the louder rock aspect works quite well, as does the more experimental, extremely intimate ambient-tinged singer-songwriter work that I do with Peter Chilvers. It’s perhaps the work in between that doesn’t fare quite as well, and what’s interesting is that when you do play live the venue and audience to an extent dictate the success of the material.

It’s an interesting process and I enjoy the two extremes. I enjoy the potential noise and havoc that No-Man at their loudest can inflict, and I certainly enjoy the near silence of some of the ambient singer-songwriter gigs that I’ve done with Peter Chilvers, partly because every word and every single sound can be heard. Usually the venues we choose are appropriate for that.

Generally speaking, I love the musical aspect of playing live because sometimes songs can come alive in a different context, they can develop in different ways, though sometimes the actual act of performing is quite an alien thing. I think for any adult human being to be playing in front of an audience is something that can render most self-conscious.

Tim Bowness

Is there a particular piece of music, or album, or performance to date for which you’d most like to be remembered?
I’ve honestly no idea. That’s always for other people to say. There are pieces of mine that I’m particularly pleased with – from ‘Press Reset’ and ‘Know That You Were Loved’ from the new album to ‘Smiler at 50’ from Abandoned Dancehall Dreams to numerous No-Man songs like ‘Things I Want To Tell You’ or ‘Days In The Trees’ or ‘Things Change’. There are a number of pieces that I’m extremely pleased I was a part of, and, obviously, if people are touched by work I’ve made there’s definite validation for making it that feels really pleasing.

There’s been a lot of talk recently the death of rock or the death of the rock era. Do you think the people who are proclaiming the death of rock are right?
I think it’s changed. I don’t necessarily think that rock or popular music is dead and nor do I think that creatively it’s dead. If people look around there are still some very interesting albums being made and there are still some statements that are quite fresh. I think there is life in it, but maybe the rate of progression, if you like, has slowed down. Not only that but I think that music that perhaps isn’t at the forefront of the mainstream struggles more than it did to be heard. It’s an ironic time in a way. We have the internet, that provides instant access to everything, and we’ve also had the advent , over the last ten years, of 24 hour music TV and 24 hour digital radio. And yet, less genres of music and less bands seem to get covered.

I think it’s interesting, when you look at something like VH1. When VH1 emerged it was an adult music channel, and initially you might find anything from documentaries on King Crimson to interviews on XTC to what might have been the chart of 1999. But probably within about three or four years, this became the constant streaming of the same videos by the same small group of artists. That aspect is disappointing. One episode of The Old Grey Whistle Test or The Tube may have dealt with ten more genres and more varied artists than the 24 hour digital channels will do now. So on some level it’s bizarre that we live in an age of information and yet we’re exposed to considerably less styles of music and therefore considerably fewer possibilities. It does seem as if the algorithm has won out over the art.

That’s certainly the case if you look at local radio. I was brought up in the North West where the major cities, Liverpool and Manchester, were very active in breeding new talent. Each city only had one local radio station at the time – Piccadilly in Manchester and Radio City in Liverpool – and yet the BBC stations and these local stations would always have three to four hours of new music every evening. When I did my original demos in the mid-1980s – and this is inconceivable now – I’d get played on a show by Mark Radcliffe. He’d play the new Kate Bush single, a track from the latest New Order album, then my demo, then someone else’s demo. It was bizarrely open and eclectic. These days, Piccadilly may have four or five radio stations, but it’s Piccadilly Gold recycling the top hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s, and Piccadilly itself has become more of a commercial station. Equally the local BBC station that was around when I was first making music has become more of a talk channel.

It seems bizarre that despite having more stations, fewer things are being covered, and, generally, there has to be a very strong commercial reason for something to be covered. No-Man were managed by the Talk Talk manager, and Talk Talk were a million selling band. But I remember hearing that Talk Talk were considered “too small” to be played on VH1! So a million selling band were considered not important enough, and I think that since the 90s, that level of corporate control has perhaps got stronger. Obviously, if you’re prepared to search via the internet there are many worlds of possibility, so all is not lost in some respects.

I think you’re right, though for music that you could broadly term ‘progressive rock’, there does seem to have been some sort of resurgence of interest in the last 5 years or so?
There probably has been over the last 10 years. I mean certainly with Burning Shed [Tim also runs the online label and specialist music store Burning Shed – Ed.], when we started out progressive rock was obviously one of the genres we dealt with, and definitely since we started in 2001 the interest has got stronger. My personal belief is that there’s more interest now because of what I said – that in some ways things are very diffuse, very ephemeral, perhaps more corporate, and that people are actually searching for more depth. In a way it explains the resurgence of vinyl as well. It’s the vinyl against the download. In some ways the music is everything, but a download as a commercial property has very little to it, is very easy to produce and so on, and perhaps people are going back to vinyl because there is a craft in the album cover, there’s an expense in it being done, a real sense of effort and depth in, or implied by, the format. I think that ties in with progressive rock, in that in an era that seems, perhaps, more superficial, there are people outside the mainstream hunting for something that actually means something to them.

 

Tim Bowness

CHEERS TIM!

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John Dexter Jones (JUMP)

 

John Dexter Jones - Summers End Photo by Martin Reijman

John Dexter Jones – Photo by Martin Reijman

JUMP! A band, not an order. Ever heard of them? You should have. I caught them at HRH Prog 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed their performance. I thought I spotted an early Marillion influence, but singer John Dexter Jones was quick to point out the folk and blues elements in their music. Turns out they have a rich and productive history, a wide range of influences, don’t sound much like early Marillion and might not even be ‘prog’! (I blame it on the beer!) Thought I’d better let JDJ set the record straight. Are you sitting comfortably?

Hi John! You sing for a well-established band called JUMP. What can you tell us about the band?
JUMP has been around for 24 and a half years, so next year is a big one for us! Four of the original six members are still in the line-up – that’s me, Steve Hayes on guitar, Mo on keys and Andy Barker on drums. The other original guitarist, Pete Davies, was replaced by current member Ronnie Rundle over ten years ago and original bassist Hugh Gascoyne has had a couple of successors, with Mark Pittam joining us in 2013. JUMP has released 13 studio albums and two live albums and to date we reckon we’re close to having done 1500 gigs.

I gather you’re a North Wales boy? How did you end up in a High Wycombe-based rock band?
Yes, I’m a Bangor lad through and through. I’d already spent ten years gigging out of North Wales when I decided to make the move to the south of England. I’d learned a lot by then, done loads of gigs and realised that whilst I was gigging a lot, I wasn’t really moving forward. I had some fantastic times but I needed to go. I knew a few people in the Wycombe area and saw a really interesting ad within a week of moving, that wanted a front man for a  rock band, no beginners. They gave me a tape (!) of a couple of pieces and asked me to write parts for them. Both ended up on the first album and both knocked me out on first listen.

I saw you on the prog stage at this year’s HRH Prog event. Do you think the ‘prog’ label suits your style of music?
To be honest I have absolutely no idea whatsoever. I know that people like labels – perhaps it helps them sift things by genre – but I couldn’t tell you what we are. If progressive rock is about fusing different music forms and shaping them into a sound then yes, that’s definitely us; we draw on a wide variety of six people’s musical tastes and that becomes JUMP music. If progressive rock is sounding as close as you can to early Genesis then … er … no, that’s not us. We play electric and acoustic music that turns out the way it turns out. Our last album was predominantly acoustic; the next will be full-blown electric.

Progressive rock is often associated with demons and wizards, fantasy and fiction. Can it, and should it, have social relevance?
All music can have social relevance. Does it have to? No, I think it can be whatever you want. It’s an art form and its limitations are only defined by the player and the listener. Personally my own style is rooted in the narrative. I like stories and I like the idea that we can learn from stories; we can see our lives and our principles held up and think about things. So JUMP tends to be a vehicle for a loose social commentary illustrated by examples (the songs). On the other hand, if I want to write wizardy fiction, I won’t feel constrained not to. If a band writes a wizardy concept album full of golden threads and four headed cats then good luck to them and their fans – if they go to gigs, love the band and enjoy themselves, there’s nothing better.

John Dexter Jones Photo by Martin Reijman

Photo by Martin Reijman

What would you say to someone who thinks that progressive rock was killed by punk?
I’d say they needed to get out more. Punk was great, it was dynamic and inclusive and rebellious and the best of its music was as sonically appealing as anything before and since. But it didn’t kill anything. It’s a popular myth to suggest that it had this profound effect on ‘bloated’ and ‘self-aggrandising’ establishment music. Well, it had no negative effect whatsoever on my musical tastes, just added to them, and Dire Straits played Wembley Stadium, so work that one out. The spectrum of music gets bigger … things come and go … but killed … nah!

Is it possible to say what music means to you?
It means a lifetime of enjoyment … listening, writing and playing. It means meeting people over a 35 year career and exchanging views and thoughts, drinking beer and valuing their company. It means magic and excitement, special moments, travelling thousands of miles. So that’s pretty good, eh?!

Who was the first artist to make an impression on you?
Gary Glitter. Is it ok to say that?! As a kid in the early 1970s, the glam rock bands switched us all on to pop music. Gary Glitter is, of course, not an individual whose company any of us would crave now, but it was ‘Leader of the Gang’, ‘Hello, I’m Back Again’ and ‘Rock and Roll’ and those records that engaged me and made a first musical impression. Very quickly, by about the age of 12 or 13, bands like Zeppelin and Sabbath overtook the pop, but it was ‘Leader’ and the Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’ that lit the fire. I hope that doesn’t offend your readers but it’s the truth.

An album, song or lyric that means a lot to you?
Too many to list. Different music for different moods. Let’s go with the Led Zeppelin catalogue. If everything else was lost, I could get by with that.

An artist who has stayed with you over time?
Robert Plant. Don’t know if there’s anything he’s done that I haven’t liked.

Dylan or Morrison?
Morrison. Dylan doesn’t appeal to me. I acknowledge his contribution etc., etc., but not anyone I’d go and see. I’d have gone to see a Doors gig though!

Gabriel or Collins?
In the context of Genesis, don’t care … I’m not a fan. Beyond that, Gabriel … I prefer his music.

Jump - Summers End 2013 - Photo by Bo Hansen

Photo by Bo Hansen

Your best encounter with an artist as a fan?
In 1984 I travelled as a guest on The Firm’s European tour and spent an hour chatting at the bar of the Intercontinental Hotel in Frankfurt with Jimmy Page. We met in the lift on the way downstairs, we had mutual friends, and he was an absolute gentleman. We talked about life in general, the state of the nation and North Wales. Obviously, having done many tour supports I’ve met many notable artists of whom I’ve been a fan, but the encounter with Jimmy Page would probably count as the one to dine out on!

Your strangest encounter with a fan as an artist?
In 24 years of JUMP there have been many, many, many … though I think the one that sticks out the most, without telling the whole story, was when a young man who, having lost his girlfriend to suicide over a year before, told me he had felt able to go out to a gig for the first time since it happened. Apparently she loved JUMP and he said he thought she’d think it was ok if he came to our gig. I’m not normally lost for words but for a moment I was floored. It was a lesson in humility – just how important music can be to people, how it can help heal as well. If not ‘strange’ it was certainly the most profound.

What makes a gig special?
I couldn’t tell you. Every gig is unique, every set of circumstances different, every sequence of events that got the band and audience there has never been before and won’t be again. It sounds a bit ‘worthy’ but I honestly love every live performance we do. If I stopped enjoying it I’d pack it in. I suppose sometimes all those circumstances come together and it’s ‘special’ but if we could put our fingers on the secret we’d have taken over the world by now!

What’s the most notable gig you’ve played as an artist?
I couldn’t give just one. Gigs are notable for any number of reasons. My first one was in the Angel Hotel in Aberystwyth – that was pretty notable. If you’re looking for ‘status’, well, The Forum and Shepherd’s Bush Empire take some beating … but then we’ve played the NEC – long story – and even Abbey Road Studio 2 … so I’ve no idea, really. My first gig in London was The Mean Fiddler in Harlesden and the venue I’ve played the most was the legendary Nags Head Blues Loft in High Wycombe.

Your most memorable gig as a fan?
Ginger Baker and friends supported by Bangor heroes Fay Ray. My first proper ‘big’ gig at the Student Union in Bangor. It lit a fire. I figured if I worked at it I could be up there one day.

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – jaded stereotype or the meaning of life?
Certainly a brilliant phrase. For me, one is my private business, one is my public business and the other is for mugs … by way of a neat little rhyme. Nuff said!

John Dexter Jones - photo by Bo Hansen

Photo by Bo Hansen

How do you view what you do as an artist?
Mostly through rose-tinted spectacles! When we were kids in the band in Bangor we used to finish rehearsals and go to the pub and, to coin a phrase, “drink each other under the table and tell each other how good we were”. Trust me, I’m 50 now and I still do it. Any artist, somewhere deep down, must think that what they do is worthwhile and want to share it. Other people have to judge its real worth … we just sit in that pub and hope!

Is there a particular album, track or performance of which you’re most proud?
No. Live in the moment and keep on doing it! I’m proud of what we’ve done, of course, but no one musical thing defines me or the band.

What would you say to people who say that rock or the rock era is dead?
The same thing as I’d say to anyone who asserted that punk killed anything. Get out more!

Do you see a future for progressive rock?
I can see a future for all types of music … music just is … it evolves and as it does musicians of all kinds hoover up influences new and old. It’s all there, waiting for another bunch of kids, or even grey old fools like me, to sort it out and give it some legs. Progressive rock? Well, like I said earlier, what is it anyway? Yes, there’s a future for all of it, whatever it is. Give a kid an electric guitar. That’s all you have to do.

What next for JUMP? Where can people get your albums and catch you live?
We have our extensive catalogue available through Bandcamp, via www.jumprock.co.uk and, of course, we’re on Facebook. Anyone who wants to know more can always search for me on Facebook – there aren’t too many John Dexter Joneses out there! All our live stuff is there too. What’s next? As I said, next year marks 25 years of JUMP. There will be more gigs, a new album, beer, road miles, laughs, bleary eyes and 100% every time we hit the stage. What else is there?!

John Dexter Jones - Jump!  Photo by Bo Hansen

Might as well Jump! Photo by Bo Hansen

CHEERS JOHN!

Visit the official Jump site at: www.jumprock.co.uk

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Steve: ‘Every Record Tells a Story’

Every Record Tells a Story logo

When I embarked on what I now like to refer to as ‘the Words and Music project’, I did so with the dual conviction that: i) a lot of human experience in relation to rock music, and fan experience in particular, is neglected and under-described; and ii) such experience is both valuable and entertaining and ought to be captured.

It’s always a joy, therefore, to come across writers and other fans who’ve been inspired and motivated by broadly similar thoughts.

One particular joy is Every Record Tells a Story, a website/blogsite that is maintained and populated with considerable dedication and aplomb by a gentleman we may refer to as ‘Steve’.

Steve’s frequent, informative and humorous articles have not just provided succour to his regular music-loving readership, they have also caught the eye of national newspapers, rock magazines and television documentary makers. He also recently put rock music on trial! Want to know more? Then please read on, and check out the first Words and Music interview of 2014 …

Hi Steve! “Every Record Tells a Story”– excellent name, and very true, what can you tell us about it?
Chuck Klosterman - Fargo Rock City book coverI started writing Every Record Tells A Story a couple of years ago, but the genesis of the whole thing came in 2001, when I stumbled across the newly released book Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman. Here was a guy who grew up in the middle of nowhere, listened to a derided genre of music – heavy rock – and could still talk about it with enthusiasm and with his critical faculties intact. It was brilliant. Wouldn’t it be good, I thought, if I could do something like that, but talking about life in the UK? There were similarities: Klosterman lived in a part of the world that I pictured as a wilderness, whilst in the UK I grew up in a cultural wilderness, musically speaking, thanks to the national radio stations that played non-stop Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

Of course I did nothing about actually writing a book, but the idea remained. I can’t review new records as well as Pitchfork or Drowned In Sound and I can’t approach an artist and say: “I’m from Rolling Stone and can I have an interview?” But not many people write about heavy rock, and those that do tend to (rightly) take it quite seriously, and tend not to write about other genres. So I had something different, because all I want to do is make stupid jokes and write about Jack White as well as Whitesnake. The Blogs-With-Stupid-Jokes-About-Heavy-Rock-And-Indie-Bands-niche is not a large or particularly strongly contested niche in the blogosphere, so I think I have a free run at it. I am trying to make a virtue of a lack of focus.

I like to think that blogging is to writing what punk was to music – a DIY ethic – that whole “here are three chords, now go form a band”, only with words. It isn’t of course – it’s basically me, typing into a computer, which is about as far removed from punk as you can imagine. However, my blog is the culmination of years of  just being a fan of music, reading countless music biographies, storing up all these ideas and events – things that happened at gigs for example, and then gobbing them, carefully, onto the page.

I still have doubts about the name, but you have to call it something – and you should have seen the other ideas – they were far worse.

I’ve been following your blog now for about 18 months, and you’re pretty prolific – it must be quite a commitment?
I post something new every three days. It’s always fun, but the family and day job come first (I have a wife and a couple of young kids). I work in London and work long hours, but I write it all whilst I am travelling on the train.

Motivation is rarely an issue – it’s fun to do. Music is full of quirky things – from the idea of playing Dark Side of the Moon alongside The Wizard of Oz, to the daft song titles in Blue Oyster Cult records, so there’s never a lack of inspiration. It’s even better when people leave comments – it’s great to hear what people think. My favourite page on Every Record Tells A Story is something I wrote about the much missed heavy metal record store Shades, in Soho. Not so much because of what I wrote – the article is okay and The Guardian published a shortened version online on Record Store Day 2012 – but more the comments that people have left – including guys who worked there, former owners, people like me who visited to buy records and a former Kerrang! magazine scribe. It must be approaching fifty comments and has become a mini-shrine to a much missed record store.

Kerrang! WASP cover 1985You pointed out to me that we seem to have “ploughed similar furrows, musically speaking”. Tell us more about your own route into rock fandom.
The blog started with my looking back at early musical memories, which made it one of the few Status Quo-heavy blogs out there. Quo were my gateway drug to heavy rock. I also remember seeing Wham! and Queen on Top of the Pops once and telling a friend at school how great Queen were, whilst Wham! just left me cold. Buying my first copy of Kerrang! magazine in 1985 was what confirmed my interest in all things rock. It was all downhill from there …

So, is it possible to say what music means to you?
I’m part of a club of people who seem to be into music more than “normal” people. I have found a few of us. Music can be a pick-me-up or a calm-me-down, a thirst-quencher or a hangover-cure, an ice-breaker or a solo-pursuit, a mood-setter or merely background noise.

Has your taste changed much over time?
It has widened. In his book 31 Songs, Nick Hornby wrote that Led Zeppelin and loud music generally is something you grow out of. I disagree. I now find something to enjoy in most genres, but there’s still nothing quite like the sound of a Gibson Les Paul plugged into a Marshall Stack.

Three bands, three albums and three (music) books you rate highly?
Difficult to narrow it down … of bands around now, I really like Queens of the Stone Age – I think Josh Homme has built up an amazing body of work, including Kyuss and Them Crooked Vultures. Of bands from the last twenty years I think The White Stripes were outstanding. Jack White and Josh Homme together saved rock ’n’ roll in the last couple of decades, if it ever needed saving. And from the Sixties, it’s hard to look beyond The Beatles.

Masters of Reality - Blue Garden album coverAlbums-wise, my all-time favourite record is Blue Garden by Masters of Reality, although the follow-up Sunrise in the Sufferbus had Ginger Baker on drums and was quite brilliant. My favourite album of 2012 was Crown and Treaty by Sweet Billy Pilgrim – it’s a great record and deserved more attention. This year, I have chosen Drenge by Drenge – they’re a two piece from Derbyshire and make a great noise.

Ian Hunter - Diary of a Rock 'n' Roll StarBooks-wise, I have a list of fifty great rock biographies on the site but three of my favourites include: Ian Hunter’s Diary of a Rock ’n ’Roll Star, which is a journal of a slightly bewildered Englishman Abroad on a tour of the USA. It paints a great picture of the US in the early Seventies; STP: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones by Robert Greenfield which is superb throughout and just pips Keith Richards’ bio for the best book on The Stones; and Billion Dollar Babies by Bob Greene – about a young Alice Cooper – which is  similarly close to its subject although is out of print and hard to find. On my “to read” list is Bob Stanley’s Yeah Yeah Yeah, which was released this year and is a history of the UK charts.

What, for you, makes a rock gig special?
Getting down the front, in as small a venue as possible. The best gigs are the ones where you are closest to the band, and you get the feeling of a communal spirit, everybody’s jumping up and down and singing along.

Your most memorable gigs?
There are many. Kings X played The Marquee a couple of times and absolutely blew the roof off the place on both occasions. In the second show the boys from Anthrax were in the audience, stage-diving into the crowd. Badlands at The Astoria was incredible because they were amazing, but had already split up acrimoniously before going onstage. Jimmy Page’s solo show at Hammersmith Odeon in ’89 stands out also when he played ‘Stairway …’ with just a spotlight focused on an empty microphone stand, and the crowd just sang along. Then there was Robert Plant playing a warm-up show at a tiny basement at Colchester University and I missed my last train home, sleeping overnight at the station on a cold January night covered only by jeans, denim jacket and a t-shirt.

They say never meet your idols. What are the best and worst encounters you’ve had with an artist?
I have had very few encounters to speak of. I think I have only ever met three or four musicians. I interviewed Will Rees from Mystery Jets last year. It was a cold day, I was the last of a dozen people he had met, and he was freezing cold – literally shivering. I had a quick chat – he was very nice – and let him get back into the warmth.

You put heavy rock on trial recently, tell us more about that.
I had been building up to those articles for a while. Heavy rock is an odd genre, and splits opinion like no other. I wanted to deconstruct rock’s appeal and work out why people like or dislike it. Why did I like it so much when I was growing up? Why do I look back at some of it with fondness and at other bits with embarrassment? I loved heavy rock when I was a teenager. Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi – all those guys. But for many it’s just noise, or stupid, or sexist.

Maiden's Maiden

Maiden’s Maiden. What’s wrong with being sexy?

I wanted to work out why the genre splits opinion, and came up with ten reasons why people dislike heavy rock. These included the way bands dress, the way they sing, the propensity of guitarists to show off, the sexism, the possible lack of innovation. I mean, look at the way Manowar present themselves. It’s ridiculous. But I had a couple of their albums, and I overlooked their farcical dress sense. Other questions asked include: Are you more likely to suffer a nose bleed listening to Mariah Carey or Geddy Lee? Were Kingdom Come influenced by more than just the sum of Led Zeppelin’s quiet songs, plus Led Zeppelin’s louder songs? And does David Coverdale really have to be such a dirty old man? Using the pretext of a “trial” allows me to present the arguments for and against in an engaging way, and lets readers be judge and jury by voting.

So, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – jaded stereotype or the meaning of life?
Somewhere in between. There has been some great music inspired by the first two – Appetite For Destruction is a good example – but also some pretty dire stuff too.

How do you view the role of the rock writer, and the ‘blogger’ in particular?
If I have a role, it is to entertain people with the writing, make people laugh and hopefully get them to dig out a new or old record. That’s all. Every Record Tells A Story will appeal to gig goers, vinyl lovers, and fans of indie, rock and metal. It’s like a poor man’s Mojo Magazine, only not as well written, but with (hopefully) better jokes.

There are many very good music blogs out there, much better than mine, a lot of which tell you about new music and new bands, and they play a great role in promoting new bands. Well, that’s not the kind of blog I write. Who wants to only listen to new stuff when you haven’t heard all the old stuff? It gets exhausting to keep up with. I start to doubt someone when they recommend their eightieth new band of the year as being something special. So I’ll write about say, six new bands a year, and I’ll really like them all.

Of everything you’ve presented on the site, is there anything of which you’re particularly proud?
I once took on a bet that I could buy all the Beatles albums on vinyl in a limited time and budget – that was a good series and was as much fun to do as it was to write. I had to do a fair bit of research, which I enjoyed. It ended up being part record collecting, part Beatles history and part comedy caper. Well, I thought it was funny anyway. I enjoyed it so much I did a follow-up with Bowie’s records six months later. As a consequence, I now own a lot of Beatles and Bowie vinyl. Which is no bad thing.

Has the Every Record Tells a Story site led to any other opportunities?
One of the first pieces I wrote for the blog was a jokey thing about my memories of taping the charts off the radio. Somehow a BBC researcher found it and invited me to take part in a BBC documentary called Pop Charts Britannia: 60 Years of the Top Forty. They found a boom box and got me to tape a recording of the top forty countdown from the early Eighties. It was a lot of fun.

More recently the editor of Classic Rock magazine got in touch to ask if they could publish one of the ‘Rock on Trial’ articles about sexism in rock. I pulled together a few Pie Charts to illustrate the point, so it had a quirky visual element to it. There are very few Pie Charts in music criticism, I find. It was very flattering to rub shoulders with “proper” writers. It was encouraging. Maybe, I thought, I should carry on doing this blogging thing just a little bit longer …

I had no expectations or ambition that blogging would lead to anything else, so these things are nice to do when they come up.

Are you involved with music in any other ways?
I play guitar at a rudimentary level – I can manage the Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ on a good day. But I’m no Jimmy Page. Or even Patti Page for that matter.

What would you say to people who say that rock or the rock era is dead?
Dick Rowe of Decca Records said that guitar bands were a passing fad back in 1962, just after he passed on signing the Beatles …

Manowar Into Glory Ride

Manowar: “farcical dress sense”, and records, one suspects, that have many stories to tell!

CHEERS, STEVE!

Please check out the excellent Every Record Tells a Story blog and Facebook page

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Scott Ian (Anthrax)

Scott Ian - Anthrax (courtesy of Ish Fauxtography)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Anthrax. ‘Armed and Dangerous’, ‘Metal Thrashing Mad’, ‘A.I.R’, the manic laughter of ‘Madhouse’, and the whole of the Among The Living album – ground-breaking stuff that, as an eager young metal head, I lapped up. I always found them funny and down to earth. I liked the ‘Injun’ thing, I liked the humour, I liked that Scott was called Scott ‘Not’ Ian,  I liked that they played with passion, I liked that they weren’t afraid to experiment and, most of all, I liked that they wrote good songs.

As it happens, I gave my vinyl copy of Among the Living to an Australian kid called Will. He was my landlord’s nephew, and was a bit of a wild one. So his dad sent him to spend a bit of time in Wales to get schooled proper, like, and to help him grow up a bit. He didn’t last too long. He threatened another pupil with a knife, swore at a teacher, and got expelled. As a parting gift I gave him the Anthrax album. He couldn’t quite believe it. Metal gave us something in common, and I had good fun listening to music with him.

So, yeah, I’ve always had a soft spot for Anthrax. I have good memories of the landmark Master of Puppets/Damage Inc. tour, when they provided such capable support to Metallica, and of them joking around during Monsters of Rock appearance at Castle Donington (“Joey fucked up, Joey fucked up”!). It goes without saying that I was chuffed to bits when Scott agreed to take the Words and Music Q&A. It’s almost time for my medication now, so here goes …

Hi Scott, to get straight down to business, what does rock music mean to you?
It’s been a daily part of my life for so long it’s like eating or sleeping. Can’t live without it.

Who was the first artist to make an impression on you?
My earliest memories of listening to music come from what my parents played in the house: Neil Diamond, The Eagles, Woodstock Soundtrack, The Doobie Bros, Elvis, Bette Midler, Simon & Garfunkel. They had good taste. The first records I bought were Elton John 7″ singles.

Scott close-upAn album, song or lyric that means a lot to you?
Too many to list. Quadrophenia had a big impact as a kid.

An artist who has stayed with you over time?
Most of the stuff I mentioned already and then everything I got into on my own in the 70s. Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Ramones, Cheap Trick, AC/DC etc. etc.

My introduction to Anthrax live came when I saw you supporting Metallica on the UK leg of the Damage Inc./Master of Puppets tour.  Joel McIver says that these shows were the moment the thrash metal movement revealed its true strength in Britain. What do you remember most about that tour?
The crowds were amazing. Biggest shows we had played until that point. We felt like we’d “made it.” I also remember we didn’t have any money and we were living on really bad British pizza. That kept our heads in check.

I smuggled Lee Dorrian (Napalm Death/Cathedral) into the Cardiff, Wales gig. Lee and my mate Marv started the stage-diving! Not many people know that …
I don’t remember. I do remember the crowds back then like to spit on the bands if they liked you. That sucked.

There was a lot of damage to the venue (St. David’s Hall) that night. A local newspaper ran a piece on it next day and quoted the manager of the venue saying: “American groups tend to incite this sort of behaviour; the English bands, like Motörhead and Iron Maiden tend to be more civilised.”  That’s always amused me. Did you ever see that review?
No, never saw that. Funny though.

So, what would you say makes a rock gig special?
You can’t replace or mimic the energy that you get from a live show. It doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Scott Ian-close upYour most notable gig as an artist?
Yankee Stadium Sept 14 2011.

Your most memorable gig as a fan?
Recently… Roger Waters doing The Wall.

You played the Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington in 1987. I write about this event in my book. Is there anything you remember most about that day?
It didn’t rain on us. Mother Nature likes thrash metal. And it was the biggest crowd we’d ever seen and they were amazing for us.

I always liked the sense of fun and quirkiness around Anthrax, the comic book stuff, the dress sense. For me it set you apart, and made you seem more approachable, a ‘band of the people’. Did you think much about image at the time and the way you wanted people to see the band?
No. It’s what we wore all day long. What you see is what you get.

What did you make of some of the devilish or anti-Christian imagery that some of the other thrash and extreme metal bands adopted?
I never thought about it. I was too busy with my own band.

Soon after thrash established itself all sorts of genres, sub-genres and labels emerged – black metal, death metal, speed metal, doom metal and so on. Do you think labelling music in this way is helpful or limiting?
Same answer … I never thought about it. Too busy with my own band.

Rock music – music for all or a tribal affair?
All.

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – jaded stereotype or the meaning of life?
Neither. It’s a choice, meaning, it chooses you and you can decide what you want out of it.

What do you say to a ‘rock star’ after you say hello?
Tell them you used to listen to them. That will really get the conversation going. Or mistake their identity.

Your best encounter with an artist as a fan?
Getting dissed by Sam Kinison. He told me to wait while he drove some girl to his house to fuck her and that he’d be back to take a picture with me after that. Awesome!

Your strangest encounter with a fan as an artist?
Getting mobbed in Italy and the crowd trying to turn the taxi we were in upside-down. Not sure what they thought that was going to accomplish.

Is there a particular piece of music, or album or performance for which you would most like to be remembered?
My career. 31 years and counting. Not many bands can say that.

What would you say to people who say that rock or the rock era is dead?
I wouldn’t respond. Why waste my time?

And finally, what are you up to at the moment?
Touring Australia on the Soundwave Festival.

Anthrax - live at the House of Blues, Las Vegas, 23 March 2013

Anthrax live at the House of Blues, Las Vegas, 23 March 2013

CHEERS SCOTT!

All photographs courtesy of April Edwards at Ish Fauxtography.

Please check out the Ish Fauxtography Facebook page: www.facebook.com/IshFauxto.

Scott Ian brings his Spoken Word show to the UK in May. For more information on these special gigs, please visit Scott’s website.

Visit Scott’s website: http://scott-ian.com/

Visit the Anthrax website: http://anthrax.com/

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