Battleaxe – Interview –


Hello, What’s up?  Welcome to  Acier Doux  , Can you introduce the band to the readers ? 

HI, and thanks’ so much for the Interview. Our first in Tunisia i believe… I’m Dave King Lead Vocalist in Battleaxe, our Bass player is Brian Smith. We are the two original members of the band which began in 1981. Our Guitarist  Mick Percy has been with us since 1985. We currently have no drummer as Paul AT Kinson  who was with us for a number of years decided to call it a day just after the release of Heavy Metal Sanctuary to start his own band Axed Asylum.  We now use   Steve Rix from MORE Band and Garry Young from AVENGER. who stand in for us while we search for a  drummer to join us. They are both excellent drummers and great  easy going guys to get a long with, and we’re so grateful to them for helping us out at this time.

Can you first tell us about you, your background as a musician…your actual involvement in BattleAxe! Do I want to know everything about your career ?

Sure…. I picked up playing acoustic guitar, blues harmonica,  piano, and key board when i was about 15 years old. My Farther had a big influence on me he loved music and was always singing and playing the blues harmonica. Once I learned  basic guitar chords  and  where to suck and blow on the blues harmonica it wasn’t long before i started writing my own basic simple song’s which are a lot different  from what I write with Battleaxe, although  now and then  a song  of mine comes along  which I think could suit the band so  I let Mick and Bri here it and we try to  develop the song into a heavy metal track, that’s how Thunder Angel,  Fortune Lady , and Kingdom come came about.  One particular song i have at the moment  which i wrote on accoustic guitar  a long time ago is called (TRYING TO TELL ME)    May be one day we’ll get around to  make that song work for Battleaxe.   I first met Brian Smith in 1977  when i started datings his sister Christine.  Brian and i became good friends and still are to this day… Back then Brian was in a band called Warrior,  not  to be confused with NWOBHM  Warrior. I became the driver and roady using my old black London Taxi to transport the band and gear around to gigs and practices  etc… ..After one particular gig  at some rock pub in Spenny moore Co Durham, the Guys had a massive argument and the lead singer ended up leaving the band….. On the way home the rest of the guys were talking about  finding a new singer quickly as  the band were booked to play other gigs, so, me being a singer song writer and a new fan of Heavy Rock music asked if i could have an audition, for which i received a few smirky smiles.  Do you know any heavy rock song’s like Dave?, Steve Hardy the guitarist back then asked me. for which i replied, only song i know that i could audition for you  guys fast  is  House of the Rising Sun by the Animals… That brought on a big laugh in the cab.  I can rember that  like it happened  yesterday…. Ok then Dave , we’ll meet you in the practice room tomorrow and listen to you sing… So, after i won them over with my vocals, I became the singer and part of the band. We then change the name and  Battleaxe was formed in 1981. The bands practice room  ended up being in a large empty  room where i lived  with my family in an old  closed down Pub in  Shotton Colliery County Durham  called the Albert Inn, which became the new base for the band,  and we practiced there once a week. With in months we were recording our first album BURN  this Town.   I have been the front man of the band ever since and  only once during 1989 and 2010 when the band had broke apart  did i diversify into another genre of music when i was asked to do a tribute show to Sir, Tom Jones.  I performed all his greatest hits at clubs all over the UK, and  some clubs mainly in Scotland  treated me as  if i were Tom Jones him self  which was a fantastic  experience but at the same time  surreal.  I worked with this show for some time and to be honest  I became a  much better, stronger and more confident singer because emulating Tom Jones with his powerful voice and singing techniques was no easy task. I also made a lot of musician friends and have a huge collection of female underwear with telephone numbers written on which was thrown at me while on stage, crazy or what.   In 2010 Battleaxe reformed and we performed our very first show in Germany at Head Bangers Open Air festival. Now here we are in 2017  back on the Metal scene signed to SONY  BMG SPV Records and playing  festivals in Europe and the USwhich is amazing. I sure hope it won’t be too long before we get to play in Tunisia. We’ve  heard there’s  a great Metal scene there.

The band’s lyrics focus pure Metal, Rebellion, Love themes . Is that something that you have an interest in ? Is it difficult to find subjects not already taken ?

Yeah you right, Battleaxe do write a lot of songs based on rebelion, war, corruption etc. It’s all about fighting for the underdog as it were, and there’s a  little science fiction and sex drugs rock and roll thrown in as well. It’s difficult to get away from those subjects being in a Heavy Metal band but the state of the World today and all the grusome thing’s that’s happening  too, I think theres still plenty of subject matter there to keep us going  for one or two more albums yet. I definately think our latest album Heavy Metal Sanctuary has much more divesity on subject matter than the first and second albums, and that’s because we’re a lot older and more mature lol…There’s massive gap between our  two old albums recorded in 1982 and 1984 and our latest third album  Heavy Metal Sanctuary recorded in 2013 but luckily we managed to  continue on with the same  powerful sound of the band and if you listen to all three albums yes , you can clearly hear the progression of the band in it’s maturity but  you certainly wouldn’t think there was a twenty five  year gap between them. All three albums have achieved fantastic reviews from  Metal journalists  around the  World leading the way forward  towards our fourth album which we are working on right now…

With music based at the root of the NWOBHM genre, who are your biggest influences musically ?  

Well, as i mentioned earlier.  Because of my Dad’s influence on me I was into much lighter music than Heavy Rock and Metal, More down the lines of The Animals, Roy Orbison, Don McClain, Simon, and Garfunkle etc. However when I met Brian thing’s changed dramatically in my Music tastes when I went with the guys to watch AC/DC at the Newcastle Mayfair in 1980. Watching those guys perform their blistering set just blew me away and the way Bon Scott and Angus got the crowd going i just wanted to be a rock singer from then on…Then i saw Judest Priest and the same thing happened those guys Rocked the The Newcastle City Hall down and  Rob Halford’s brilliance really made me think twice as to just what the hell  i was getting myself into with Battleaxe, being such a novice  with no music or singing training. However after recording Chopper Attack, and Power from the Universe, for our second album  i  thought i’d done a good enough job  with the lyrics and the vocals to continue on as a Metal singer,  however, little did any of us know back then that it would be thirty years later before we would record any thing  again with Battleaxe.  I just can’r  get my head around that as It sounds fkkkknn crazee cause  here i am now in 2017  still singing and performing exactly the same as i did back then if not better, accept now i’m ready to draw down on my pension lol. Where’s all that time gone? I feel like i was abducted by aliens frozen in time and  brought back .  Apart from putting on wieght and losing my hair i’m still the same …  haaha lol.  It’s exactly the same for the rest of the guys as well.. None of us have zimmer frames just yet haaaa…Luckily  for us being in the Metal world  our brilliant fans old and new don’t care  about  age, they just love the  band and our song’s and really get into the show headbanging and moshing away exactly the way we like it which is absolutely fantastic.

Introduce us to your last Album “Heavy Metal Sanctuary ” that was released at 2014… Are you  satisfied with it ? How are the feedbacks for now ? And the sales are they gaining weight as a big baby in full growth ? 

I can’t begin to tell you just how hard that album was to put together.   For years we tried to finish our third album with three attempts but it just never happened. Then in 2010 when we decided to give it another shot, We spent two nights a week for about four months in a small rehearsal studio in Blaydon called Sound Ink working through the night hours to get a much cheaper rate, and weall worked our butts off laying the tracks down  using sound forge on  the computer.. Luckily once again as in the past technoligy  helped the band to plod on as we didn’t need to be in expensive studios while recording .. There was a debate in the band about us loosing the sound of  the analog desk and   the 2 inch stuuder tape machines etc but that soon went out the window once we heard the sound we we’re getting from digital stuff. Gone are the days of big expensive studios now days. All three albums have had great reviews from the metal world. The lowest review we had  ever was from with in our own country where Jeff Barton journalist from former Kerrang and Classic Rock magazine slagged us into the ground ..Typical. I’ve since heard both mags have gone into liquidation.

Who composes the most in the band ? Have you got a quite particular way of composing, or does everything occur during rehearsals and then exchanges through emails ? 

We do love to jam a lot in practice sessions and it’s great getting together once or twice a week with the guys , most of Battleaxe song’s especially on the first two albums were created  that way.  However right now with only a stand in drummer living 200 milesaway it’s difficult to do that. We now mainly sit around the mixing desk with guitars my sm58 and a quality drum machine and  computer and just knock stuff together in small doses…It’s certainly not the same as jamming and doesn’t have the feeling of been in a band but you can still get some great results. We normally start writing with a riff from either Mick or Brian and if we all like it we work at it from there… Once we have a few riffs and a few bars of music including a verse and chorus, i then put a melody line to it  singing any old words that come to mind and see if it sounds  good… From there we lay loads of tracks down, i then come up with a theme for the song or a title and write the words, and we then record it properly. Somtimes i have a riff in my head but i can only lay it down with piano as i can’t play electric guitar so it’s strange to write a heavy metal track using  piano and put it accross to the guys but as i mentiond before Thunder Angel, Fortune lady and Kingdom came about that way so it does work..  an
d yeah we do  send mp3 tracks to each other by e mail  we’d be lost with out the internet and music technoligy…..

What are your top 5 favorite albums ?

My favorite albums go back a long way to my younger days and remind me of all  the good times i had back then and i have to say that although there’s some fantastic metal songs out there i haven’t heard any albums that exited me the way these albums did when i heard them for the first time. which are  High voltage AC/DC and Back in Black ..  Judest Priest screaming for vengence , and Painkiller.  Y and T  mean streak. ThIn Lizzy renagade…Guns and Roses welcome to the jungle not forgetting  Saxons hits, some Iron Maidon, Accept, Motor Head Ace of Spades, Van Hallen  and so many many more.

Do the musicians of BattleAxe  play in parallel projects ? If so, are the styles different or quite close ?  

No not really the guys in the band are pretty much commited to Battleaxe for  song writing live gigs and festivals when ever they come in etc…However  Mick does have and play in his own 1970s  tribute  show band  espeacially around holiday times. Regarding  myself, i ‘ve a few good song’s  lying around which i’ve written over the years really not suitable for Battleaxe having more of a soft rock Foreigner feel to them but may be one day I’ll put a solo album together.

Where do you normally play ? What have been some of your bigger tours/gigs and whom have they been with ? 

Any good stories that you would like to share along those lines? Any upcoming plans/events that we need to know about? Sure i think every band has some great stories to tell,,,  Being in a band wouldn’t be anything with out having some great stories to tell,  having great laughs and good times is a big part of it all. I believe that once the fun goes out of it  and you take thing’s too seriously you may as well pack in cause it  then becomes  a chore and  frustration  can cause  friction between you and other band members, it can even get back to your family and friends who often end up getting flack from your moody blues. That’s  what happened with our former drummer Paul. He became very frustrated with Battleaxe when thing’s didn’t go his way so he started his own band  Axed Asylum while still with Battleaxe which caused a few problems where loyalty and commitment to the band was concerned. One argument led to another and it wasn’t long before our friendship was on a knifes edge . It was a very difficult time for all of us, in the end we just, couldn’t work together so had to part company.  One story i will never forget is when we were playing at the London Hammer Smith Odeon  supporting SAXON on a UK tour who were promoting their CRUSADER Album.. We had invited Tony Wilson and Tommy Vance as our guest to the show and even Lemmy from Motorhead and the whole  of Man o War band were there too.  Tony Wilson had invited an A and R man from Atlantic records who was so impressed with us after the show he wanted to sign the band there and then but needed us to perform a show case gig which would lead us to a  definate  major deal with Atlantic. That same evening  at our after  show party when everything was going great for the band, our guitarist  Steve Hardy dropped a bombshell on all of us and decided to leave the band.. What more can you say.. That was it ,no guitarist no show case.  no signing to Atlantic.  By the time we managed to get a new guitarist  into the band which was Mick Percy, that opportunity had long gone…We still don’t know to this day why Steve decide to leave at that pinicle time in our carreer. Nothing stranger than folk my Dad said who was managing us at the time.  I  know that Battleaxe would have had at least ten albums out by now if that hadn’t of  happened, However ,not  dwelling on the past  Battleaxe are now picking up the peices from where it left off in  1996 and some how  thanks’ to the Metal Gods up there somewhere lol and our many dedicated  Metal fans from around the World  we’re  back in 2017 stronger than ever.  Our recent signing to SPV  SONY BMG RECORDS and the World wide release of all our albums have had fantastic reviews and has taken us to  a much higher level than ever  before and has lead the way forward to start work on a fourth album which is 75% complete….  

What are the future projects of the band ? Some merchandising, gigs or other things are planned ? I leave you a bit of living space to make the final promotion and conclude…

Well as i mentioned the band is working on a fourth album which will be a lot different from anything we have done so far being a concept album. As yet we have no title for it but the content is based on the trials and the struggles of mankind. The song titles so far are 1  Slaves to the Machine. 2  Cold Fusion. 3 Hammer of Thor. 4 Lethal Injection.  5 Immortalized. 6 Convert or Burn and a few more tracks still to be named. On the performance side of thing’s we’re heading off to Chicago in May to perform at the Legions of Metal festival which is the bands first gig in the US and we’re playing along side some fantastic bands  to name a few DIAMOND HEAD. ARMOURED SAINT. ROSS  the BOSS… and RAVEN another North  East UK nwobhm band.   May be one day soon we’ll get to play in  Tunisia and if we do we hope to see some of you  Metal Heads there.  I think if we ever get to Japan , Canadaand Australiain the next year or two we’ll have cracked it.. Thanks’  ACIER DOUX and all you Tunisian Metal Heads   Rock on ….Dave King BATTLEAXE.

Interviewer : Speedskullcrusher

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