KERRANG! ISSUE 33 JANUARY 1983
They’ve had a few set backs but Chevy still hope to turn the corner to stardom. Interview by Malcolm Dome.
IT WAS early in 1981. The venue was the Paris Theatre in London’s Piccadilly hotbed. The occasion was the recording of a Radio One ‘In Concert’ show. Headlining the program were the then much-vaunted Tygers of Pan Tang, complete with a slick, expensive line in stage clothing and a veritable fortress of amps and equipment.
Almost as an afterthought came support act Chevy, A quintet from Leamington Spa, the band, signed to little known Avatar Records, shuffled on to open proceedings dressed in real street clobber and boasting the sort of amp set-up that looked like an fairy scale miniature compared to the Tygers.
But …the incredible happened. Through barely 30 minutes of high-grade, revelry’n’rock, Chevy blow the Geordies clean away. Indeed, the Pan Tang road crew had to scrape their boys’ remains off the walls after the gig. And so red-hot were these unpretentious Midlanders that the scorch marks they left on the stage remain to this day –
a fitting testimony to a band whose ebullient brand of Americanised (but never sanitised) hard rock should by now have made them household names. Yet, it did not. Two years on and Chevy seem to have faded into history, their remarkable talents destined to be remembered by just a handful of die-hard cultists, whilst other outfits, scarcely fit to appear on the same stage, have made considerable impact.
However, the band have most definitely NOT given up the fight. But, before we discuss their grim-jawed determination to carry on regardless, let’s just backtrack a little and find out why they aren’t now a mega-act and what’s been happening to them these many past months.
For starters, the line-up has changed. Gone are drummer Andy Chaplin plus guitarist Steve Walwyn, to be replaced by Ted Duggan and Barry Eardley, respectively. But, the hard-core trio of vocalist Martin Cure, second guitarist Paul Shanahan, end bassist Bob Poole are still very much on the case.
“Steve and Andy left in September 1981” explains Cure. “Basically, they just got fed up with all the hassles our record company were giving us. So they jacked it in”
The label in question was, of course, the aforementioned Avatar. Far be it for me to lambaste the company, but when three responsible. Intelligent bands such as Dark Star, Limelight and Chevy all tell the same sorry story, and then one is forced to conclude that things were not exactly hunky-dory at Avatar. Indeed, it was this Central London-based operation who were, according to Chevy, wholly guilty of holding them back. Let Bob Poole take up the cudgel.
“In August 1981, Avatar had actually booked us into a studio for a couple of weeks to do our second album, the follow-up to `The Taker’. They were talking about getting in John Eden or Nick Tauber to produce it, and quite frankly anyone would have sounded good to us after working with John Stronach who messed up on that debut LP.
“But it soon become clear that doing another album with Avatar was a waste of time and effort. They didn’t want to spend a penny on it – everything was to be done on the cheap. And as for promoting the record when it finally did surface, that was probably out of the question, as was any chance of the band making any money from it. Avatar hardly paid us, in fact, during our whole time on their roster. So, we decided that rather then continue under such conditions, it was best for Chevy to leave the label, something that became official only last June.
“So although lots of people there were really into the band, like Pete Chalcraft in A&R to whom we’re very grateful, they had no power as such. And the people who could have helped us at Avatar had no interest in us. Let me stress- WE LEFT THEM. They’ve since been putting the word around that Chevy were dropped but that’s untrue.”
Since leaving Avatar rowing, Chevy have found life tough.
“There are management companies, for instance Manticore, who like our music. They say they’d sign us up right away, but only If we can get a record deal first,” reveals Shanahan.” And then the record companies say come back when you’ve a management deal. No one seems willing to take a chance these days.
So, the band have been reduced to doing selected gigs and touting their wares around a barely responsive industry.
“We’ve an American type sound,” stresses Duggan. “If we could get over to the States, we’d go down a bomb. But over here, A&R guys don’t believe our classy sort of hard rock can sell. The trouble is they can’t see beyond next week. Chevy is a long-term thing -we have the potential to sell vast quantities of records over a period of years. But, at present, we can’t get that message across. Sooner or later, though, someone must surely see how good this band is. All we ask is that record companies give our tapes a fair hearing and then come and check us out live. Once they catch our show, there’s no way anyone could fail to be blown over!”
However, getting this message across to the people who matter isn’t easy. Indeed, in an effort to get some product out for the countless fans who still pack out what gigs Chevy do play, the fivesome are at present negotiating a production deal with Leicester-based Q-Studios. Hopefully, this will lead to the release of the ironically entitled Taking A Chance’ on their own label in the very near future. ‘
Such a move is symptomatic of the band’s current frustration and desperation. Frustration, because in this recession-haunted climate they’re faced with a whole plethora of music biz personages who’ve expressed an interest in ’em yet want someone else to make the first move. And, desperation because without proper financial backing how long can they continue?
“We nearly signed with the Samaritans recently,” quips Eardley, with a touch of bitterness. “We have to pick and choose what gigs we do, because of the expense involved,” concludes Poole. And that means, we’re forced to restrict ourselves to a small area outside of the Midlands. To get real interest from companies, you’ve got to play in London but we can’t afford it. On top of that, we were offered the support gig with Gary Moore before Stampede got it. But, again how could we get up the money for the buy-on? What this band needs is someone to believe m us as much as Charlie Ayre at MCA believes in Diamond Head. With that sort of backing, we’ll come through.”
For the sake of good quality rock ‘n’ roll, I hope Chevy turn the corner soon. This is the outfit who put the sparkle into Leamington Spa-rkle and, given a mere half chance, they’ve the charisma / musicianship songs/ confidence to give the likes of Foreigner a right run for their money.