Armed And Ready – Kerrang! 1981
VENOM is a popular name. To our knowledge there are currently three bands rejoicing under this miasmic moniker – these Mancunians, Satan’s lot from Newcastle and even an Oi band from Swansea.
This particular toxic troupe comprises Mark Anthony (Vocals), Ian ‘Red Hot Red’ Burke (guitar), Paul ‘Hoppy’ Hopwood (guitar) and Gary Maunsell (bass). At the time of writing the group are without a drummer – one Tony Fitzgerald having quit to form, of all things, a jazz-rock band – and are searching for another.
Unlike Silverwing, Venom have yet to release a record. But their four-track demo tape holds powerful wall-of-sound promise for vinyl excursions yet to come. ‘Are You Ready’, ‘Loser’, ‘City Streets’ and ‘Get Out’ hit harder than Bruce Banner in a bar-room brawl and are spearheaded by Anthony’s banshee-scream vocals, which have been known to mangle even a Memorex tape.
Venom are committed to their chosen cause. All the money they earn from their day jobs is ploughed straight back into the band, to satisfy their obsessively ostentatious ideals. ‘Hoppy’ Hopwood explains:
Much as we’d like to record our own single, we understand that you can’t do it for less than £350. And it’s difficult to lay your hands on that kind of money. It costs us so much to lay a gig. For example, we were paid £35 for a recent appearance at the Lancashire Vaults at Oldham. We spent nearly £20 staging the show and the rest was swallowed up by debts.
Luckily, Venom know a fair few people who’re adept with a needle and thread, so their outrageous stage costumes can be made for as little as £10 or £15.
“We’ve quite a selection,” says Hopwood, “and if we’d bought them all in clothes shops we’d probably be in hock for the rest of our career!”
Despite the lack of readies, the band are single-mindedly aiming for success. Concludes Hopwood, “Although sometimes we get down in the dumps we’re convinced that we’re going to make it.”
ROX – Armed And Ready February 1982 HOWARD JOHNSON
ALONG WITH Silverwing, Rox are members of Manchester’s own Glam Clan, and can be seen at many a gig in the city, standing out like a beacon in the dark, clad as they always are in their satin ‘n’ spandex, amidst a sea of denim ‘n’ leather.
Having witnessed the Rox of old (named at the time Venom) play one of the worst gigs I’ve ever had the misfortune to attend (classless and corny). I swore that 1’d never listen to them again! But hark; I chomp on my own words as I eat them, for the band have emerged with a new line-up, a new name and a new set of songs that knocked me into the middle of next week with their catchiness and energy!
The Rox line-up is Bernie Emerald (drums), A. P. Hopwood (rhythm guitar and backing vocals). Kevin ‘Kick Ass’ Kozak (lead and backing vocals), Gary Maunsell (bass Guitar) and Red-Hot-Red (lead guitar and backing vocals) – each one his real name (honest!)
As you might have guessed, the six track Rox demo is heavily US/Glam influenced, with maestros Kiss the most prevalent influence within that sphere; yet the overall impression left is one of class, and no mere spoof. ‘Hot Love In The City’ and ‘Sweet Sixteen’, to name but two of the tracks featured, immerse themselves in tacky bubblegum sex fantasies, coupled with simple riffs and hooks which always remain melodic and interesting.
Indeed, this is pretty much par for the course, and there is really no letdown track which I could cite as worthy of criticism, for ‘I’ve Had Enough Of You,’ Daylight Robbery’. ‘Shock Rockin’ ‘ (with a riff reminiscent of UFO’s ‘Lettin’ Go’) and not forgetting the infamous intro tape (!) are all ‘worth pressing into platter’ status.
If all this hasn’t convinced you, then let me inform you that the demo comes in a bright red presentation box, is printed by Kick-A-Kozak Industries Inc., with all songs published by Macho Man Music Inc, and Hunky Adorable Music Inc. Must be worth checking out.
Rox hope to release ‘Hot Love . . .’ as a single as soon as possible. Kevin Kozak informs me, and the sooner the better, says I
‘Rox – Rock ‘n’ Roll Forever’ the demo box says.
ROX: ‘Krazy Kuts’ (Music For Nations) Steve Joule 1983
Three songs from these lovable glam mop tops – ‘Sweet Sixteen’, ‘Sidewalk Strutter’, and ‘Shock Rockin’, all sounding like a Status Quo / Sweet soundcheck heard from outside the hall. Really this record has a lot of potential but it’s certainly not helped by the amateurish production. Still if you like Quo / Sweet I’m pretty sure you’ll get some sort of pleasure from this record.
ROX/SILVERWING Marquee. London XAVIER RUSSELL
Rox, meanwhile, are in a different league. They’ve still got a long way to go before they can enter the Motley Crue premier division, but they’re definitely the best English Glam band I’ve come across.
I mean, have you ever seen a drum -riser that takes up the whole stage? Skin-beater Bernie Emerald had to use a stepladder to get to his kit, and once there was forced to play in a crouched position to avoid demolishing the lighting rig.
The Rox live show starts off with an Angel-type intro tape, only this version is a clever rearrangement of the Lord’s prayer. And with lines like ‘give us our daily mayhem’, you just knew what followed had to be good: it was.
Kicking off with ‘Dressed To Kill’ the lads could do no wrong. It was powerhouse rock American-style that still showed a refreshing originality; ‘Sidewalk Struttin’, ‘Sweet Sixteen’, all whizzed by and were so impressive it surprises me that Rox haven’t already been snapped up by a major label. If you’re into Starz, Legs Diamond, Angel, Motley Crue and Kiss, do yourself a favour by checking out Rox next time they play in your neck of the woods. You won’t be disappointed.
November 1983 – Review by Howard Johnson
ROX ‘Violent Breed’ (Music For Nations MFN11)
HAVING FINALLY reached the goal they’ve long aimed for, Rox have to prove themselves all over again and convince an audience unfairly sceptical of UK Glam rock bands that they are a force to be reckoned with. That they are indeed just that I have no doubt, but whether they have done full justice to themselves on this their debut LP is open to debate.
While the overall production (courtesy of Martin Hooker) is certainly better than that on the band’s own, self-financed EP effort, I can’t help but feel that the point behind Rox’s existence has been missed. Glam rock is all about fun, about keeping the music light and having a good time. Rox have already shown that they are this country’s finest pop/rock songwriters, producing power pop with the most instant riffs and poppy choruses around, yet ‘Violent Breed’ seems too content to allow the relentless hammering to overpower the Glam elements, leaving the album tipped unfairly towards the Metal field and away from the pop flavour.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still a good record with plenty of marvelous moments and the hand can be justifiably proud of their achievements, but it’s moments you remember rather than whole songs. The keyboard intro to ‘Love Ya Like A Diamond’, the brilliantly melodic riff used sporadically during ‘I Wanna Be A Hero’ (flush the song apart from that), the chorus of ‘Say Goodbye To Love’ the chanting part of ‘Violation’, the list goes one!
The glorious exception to this sporadic brilliance is ‘Hot On Your Trax’, one of the greatest glom Metal numbers ever penned, coming complete with some hilariously wonderful backing vocals and a whole hatful of guitar tricks from Red Hot Red. This is what Rox are capable of achieving and, you can take my word for it, positively stunning possibilities spring to mind for the future.
“We want to be seen as more Heavy Metal,” ROX tell Howard Johnston, February 1984
KEVIN, KEVIN, where art thou Kevin? Many thought it impossible, many rubbed glazed eyeballs in confused astonishment when the news was broken; others with a passion for the hyped-up-hot-shot world of Glam Metal are still more than a little comatose, and all because the Mancunian maestro of self publicity, the bard with the biro and lipgloss in his satin jacket pocket, the notorious ‘Kick Ass” Kevin Kozak is no longer free to pout his little lips beneath that distinctive Rox logo! It wasn’t so much that Kev’s lunatic antics were too much for the Rox rockers, but rather that a change was utterly necessary and inevitable.
Y’see while we would all scan the music papers gossip columns for a smidgen of wisdom from Kev’s lips, ready to laugh our socks off at his brash and blatant OTT sloganeering, it was still not easy to ignore one crucial factor, namely that Kev couldn’t quite kick enough ass in the vocal department
While the band was coming up with some of the most energetic commercial music that this country has produced in a while – and making a damn fine job of it, Kev was struggling out front, playing the rock star with an almighty amount of heart (not to mention mouth!), but sounding like a demented hyena! We all loved his antics, but the truth of the matter is that he was holding back a very promising act to a large degree. Indeed, it came as something of a surprise to me, that Music For Nations picked the band up before the situation had been rectified, though it was apparent that things had to change – not least to the bad themselves.
All we can say is that we got away with our “Crazy Cuts” EP – just! It was a ridiciulus situation because Kev couldn’t lay down a vocal for a song straight off. He had to do it line by line, which is no way to work! Can you imagine it? We’d still be doing the album now!
Guitarist Paul Diamond nods in disappointed agreement..
“Kev actually came in to start work on the album but couldn’t get anything together for the first three days, so we took a weeks break and I went over to his place every day to help him get things together – to get the songs in tune! We went back in again and it was..well.. horrible!
As accurate a descrioption as any. Kev really left Rox with no choice but to perform the evil deed!
“We were all there when we told him,” says Red, before bassist Billy Beaman looks up from his beer to contradict in a broad Mancunian brogue..”Nah, yer wrong. I was at ‘ome watchin’ ‘The Love Boat,’ a claim which causes hysterics throughout the Rox ranks.