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