KERRANG! ISSUE 284, APRIL 1990
KERRANG! ISSUE 284, APRIL 1990
KILLER DOGS – Hippodrome, London
BEING ONE of the, how shall I put it. ‘less glamorous’ bands around – two of them are overweight and two have the stage presence of a couple of lengths of four-by-two planking — the Killer Dogs are obviously going to have to rely on something else in order to create an interest. Songs, perhaps. Or maybe even a touch of outstanding musicianship with which to draw your ear’s attention.
They certainly didn’t hit the mark with their songs, the quality of which varied from average to very average. Not a memorable chorus in sight, not an ounce of originality in evidence. A case of fragmented ‘rock by numbers’ if there ever was one. They didn’t stun with musicianship either, although apart from the plodding, remarkably uninventive sameness of the drumming, there was at least a feeling that the others were trying – for what that’s worth.
But there have been good bands -really good bands – who didn’t have a single song above what you would call shit, and who couldn’t play to save their lives. It’s amazing what you can get away with if you’ve got the charisma and sufficient self-belief – or bare-faced cheek – to carry it off.
Unfortunately, this latter opinion isn’t open to the Killer Dogs either. With no energy, no drive and a transparent lack of commitment, ‘going through the motions’ would be an accurate description of the forcefulness of this particular performance – and it showed.
Music played badly but with feel and sincerity will always get my vote over cold musical genius. The Killer Dogs fell into neither category.
If evidence is needed to back-up what will doubtless be seen by some (and certainly by the band) as harsh, the wasteland of disinterest that was the immediate front-of-stage area says far more – and with more weight – about the Killer Dogs’ performance than any words that I would care to write.
METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989
Out of all the female fronted rock bands populating this Earth, and there’s ahealthy plethora of ‘em, Britain hasn’t really managed to make much of a mark. Following the aggressive and totally unjustified vilification of once proud acts such as GIRLSCHOOL and ROCK GODDESS (and don’t forget both of these bands reached their peak by headlining Hammersmith Odeon) Britain has been totally unable to respond to a market thoroughly ignored. Seems to be that if your band just so happens to be led by a member of the fairer sex then kiss goodbye to success, the obvious preoccupation press-wise for the singer becoming doubly exaggerated and thus doubly lethal for the band in question. The rock press has never truly taken female fronted acts seriously.
NO EXCUSE are a London based band with a female singer – one Sue Hunt. The remainder comprising of drummer Andy Lloyd, bassist Alex Poray and lead guitarist Richard Scott.
NO EXCUSE came my way via an impressively packaged demo, far superior to the run of the mill shoddy efforts I generally receive from British acts. No sellotape encrusted second hand brown envelope, no photocopy or Polaroid out of focus snap either. Truth be told, it made a pleasant change to obtain something that had had a bit of thought and care put into it.
For a band with only a handful of club dates to their credit NO EXCUSE have achieved a great deal. They feature on two New Renaissance compilation albums, namely “Guitar Mania” and “Ladykillers 2”.
The band’s sound is difficult to define, there are marked VAN HALEN leanings which I pointed out in the demo review, but this doesn’t distract in any way from the remarkable power and maturity of their material. Guitarist Richard Scott is an extremely accomplished and adept player who utilizes Jazz chops and even a dash of Hendrix, anything to make that NO EXCUSE sound ‘different’.
It wasn’t too long ago that NO EXCUSE nearly lost their guitarist when SABBAT ‘borrowed’ Richard for their UK tour, and were subsequently so impressed they tried to half-inch the man. I asked Sue how that situation developed.
“SABBAT’s producer Roy Roland had worked with Richard for quite some time,” she told me. “And when SABBAT decided they needed another guitarist for live work to reproduce the album properly onstage, Roy immediately suggested Richard to them. NO EXCUSE weren’t really doing much at that particular time, so we had a band meeting and decided It would be OK. Richard had a great time on tour and SABBAT made it obvious they were very impressed with his playing. In fact, they were so impressed that at the end of the tour they asked him to join on a full time basis.”
Were the band worried about losing Richard at that juncture? “Not really,” Sue admits with confidence. “Richard felt he had to decline the offer immediately opting to stick with NO EXCUSE. Joining SABBAT would obviously have been a big boost to Richard’s career in the short term, but we’re all convinced NO EXCUSE will make it, so in the long run it’s better to stick with this band. We’re all totally committed to NO EXCUSE. Everyone has put so much hard work into this band it would be just silly to waste it. Also, when the SABBAT offer came, NO EXCUSE were starting to generate some interest Obviously it was very flattering for Richard, but he said ‘No thanks’ straight away.”
The band’s biography claims Sue only recently discovered she could sing. Listening to the tape makes that rather hard to believe, as Sue is in possession of a rich and magnificently powerful voice which belies the biogs assertion that it is only a newly found talent. Is it true? “Well, I have had a few vocal training lessons,” Sue admits a bit sheepishly before adding that, “they were only because people had pointed out that I wasn’t using my voice properly. I thought about it and realised it would be stupid to ruin my voice even before I’d started sol got a few lessons in which were invaluable. I’d advise elf budding vocalists to sort some lessons or some kind of training out, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain later on! It’s really basic stuff like breathing control and posture, but it’s so important”
When did Sue find out she could sing? “When I lived up North I would go along to see a local band rehearse and they asked me to have a go at singing for them. I’d never really sang before, but after one song I really got into it. ft didn’t take too long for me to decide that I’d like to make a profession out of it.”
How would Sue describe NO EXCUSE’s music? “Well, we didn’t have thoughts about how it would turn out, although it was obvious that with Richard’s style of playing it wouldn’t be regular rock music, I can see what you mean about the VAN HALEN comparison. It’s more in that mould of experimental rock. We just try to write good songs with a good catchy chorus. Having said that though we’ve no intentions of sounding American in anyway. I’m glad that we’ve got a musical identity, everyone who’s heard us says that we’re not a regular rock band.”
What about the age old maxim that a female fronted rock band just isn’t
going to make it big time? “Well, this is a band first and foremost” Sue states resolutely. “NO EXCUSE is not ‘The Sue Hunt Band’. I think there have been a few bands recently who have used a girl singer to get them some press, but it always backfired. Having said that there have been some good bands like NIKKI BROOKS and WILD! That’s one of the reasons I asked you to use a band shot as opposed to a single shot of me for this interview. NO EXCUSE is a band with equal members.”
How’s it going on the gig scene? “We’re getting our hands on as many gigs as we can in London and we hope to branch out further into the country as soon as we can. The London club scene is pretty tight to get into unfortunately. We’ve been booked alongside pop hands and all sorts, but as long as we get the opportunity to play in front of people it doesn’t matter. We’re starting to pick up interest from record companies and we’ve had a few people down to our gigs – including KeIv Hellrazer!”
METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989
FIFTEEN MINUTES are a new L.A. based band featuring David Walker (lead vocals/guitars), Darby (drums), Joe Ferrario (bass) and Mark O’Connell (lead guitar). The band took their name from an Andy Warhol statement and have their roots deeply embedded in the post-punk era. Basically, FIFTEEN MINUTES play straightforward rock with a psychedelic tint.
“Hurry Up Man” is my favourite cut, being both bluesy and commercial, whilst “Closet Man” is a weird kinda psychedelic sounding number, one minute DOORS sounding and the next getting real heavy.
“Impossible To Talk To You” is blues of the highest order and David Walker’s bizarre vocals make it totally original sounding. There is no doubt in my mind that FIFTEEN MINUTES will get signed and they’ve already picked up a publishing/artist development deal with Chrysalis, so big news is surely just round the corner.
METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989
I predicted big things for TOMORROW’S CHILD Iast time l reviewed them, but l guess they didn’t take off as fast as I expected. The line-up remains unchanged: Adam (vocals), Rik Shaffer (guitar), Steve Resnick (bass) and Grey Dollinger (drums) and they have just landed a demo deal with Capitol. I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the result, as the production, as with the first demo, is poor. But what it lacks in production it definitely makes up for in the material.
“Walk In The Woods” blasts open the demo in fine style. This track is featured on the upcoming “Street Survivors” compilation. A barnstormer of a cut with ever so meaningful lyrics.
“All I Wanted” and “In The Silence” are both in the same league as “…Woods”. I can’t really stress enough how hot a live act TOMORROWS CHILD are, now it just needs the vinyl side to be taken care of.
TOMORROW’S CHILD are the bastard sons of U2, but with a whole lot more attitude and street credibility. Possibly my favourite L.A. band right now. Enough said.
LIVE REVIEW JANUARY 1983
OZZY OSBOURNE, Birmingham NEC
This being virtually a home gig for the Ozz, a fact brought home dramatically by the sudden appearance of Tony lommi, there’s a high degree of tension in and around the dressing room as support band Budgie quit the stage.
Brandishing an evil-looking elbow-spike and silly ‘torpedo’ hat, finally and wisely given over to his young son, the chainmailed one paces away relentlessly while Pete ‘Angel Of Death’ Way, having to play two new basses and short on rehearsal time, finds himself similarly on edge. There’s a point to be proved tonight; namely that behind the stunts and the sensationalism there lurks a genuine rock ‘n’ roll outfit capable of delivering without the trimmings but, on this occasion, poor sound, scold venue (there’s a blizzard raging outside too) and a somewhat jaded Ozz leave the band initially unconvincing.
‘Over The Mountain’, ‘Mr Crowley’, ‘Crazy Train’, ‘Revelation Mother Earth’, all come and go devoid of the usual clenched passion and it isn’t until ‘Goodbye To Romance’, delivered sadly without ‘Ronnie’s’ pendulous support, that Ozzy strikes up an arm-swaying rapport with the 6,000-plus assembled.
From here on in it’s emotional event, climaxing with the traditional lapse into Sabbath oldies, Ozzy by this time beaming ear-to-ear, ‘Sweet Leaf’, a new addition to the set, having already been dispensed, the end spot is reserved as per usual for ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Children Of The Grave’, the latter coming across even better than on ‘Talk…’ with Tommy Aldridge, quite possibly the world’s best hard rock drummer, locked into double-bass drive and the fast-burgeoning Brad Gillis still managing to hold his guitar on the brink of feedback and roll two riffs into one, a feat that must have left the on-looking lommi considerably perplexed.
Pete Way, though not really on a par with the Americans, follows his pre-gig brief (“GO MENTAL!”) to the letter and provides some welcome onstage camaraderie for the Ozz. The ex-UFO-er is now a fully fledged, fully initiated Blizzard member, though how long Gillis and Aldridge will remain in the band is uncertain-the former has commitments to Night Ranger the latter to Hughes/Thrall.
If they do go then Ozzy will certainly have a tough time finding replacements of equal stature but this pensive note shouldn’t really cloud the fact that the show, complete with giant metallic hand cradling the On high above the stage before the encore ‘Paranoid’, was a success-in the end, at least.
KERRANG ISSUE 33 JANUARY 1983 Feature by Malcolm Dome
Well, in contrast to the frugal humility of most Dutch people, this quintet (thank heaven) proved to be a right rare bundle of loveable loonies.
For a kick-off, during an intense two hour photo session, they managed to anger a director of Phonogram by harking about on his push-bike, consume about 70 crates of bottled Heineken, smoke their way through 100 packets of Marlboro and pour tomato ketchup all over the floor in a real blood-letting exercise.
All of which meant that by the time vocalist Shmoulik Avigal, guitarists Jan Bechtum and Chriz van Jaarsfeld, bassist Rinus Vreugdenhil and drummer Laurens ‘Bakky’ Bakker, were corralled into an ‘interview situation’ none of them was in a fit state to talk seriously about the band.
Still, at least their command of English was fair, so some semblance of sense did eventually vomit forth from certain of these Netherlands nutters. What follows, then, is a combination of their more printable quotes plus info gleaned from other sources about their past.
The story really began in the Autumn of 1979, when the rhythm section of Vreugdenhil and Bakker decided to form a hard rocking’ band because, in the immortal words of the latter, “normally we had to pay for our drinks. But when we are in a band, we knew we could get a contract that stated we were entitled to FREE DRINKS!”
So, the gormless duo teamed up with original vocalist Ronald van Prooien plus the aforementioned Bechtum in search of alcohol. “It was really terrible in the beginning,” quipped the half-drunk, totally-crazed Bakker. “Jan was a good guy, but couldn’t play guitar at all. Within a couple of months, though, we made him into a very good musician. Now, he’s better than Blackmore”
Are you keeping up with this nonsense? Anyway, after a very short time, Picture were discovered by Henk van Antwerpen, a man whose managerial pedigree included work with semi-successful Dutch new wavers the Nits (never really up to scratch on the international circuit, one might say!)
“Henk was one of the biggest problems in Holland,” asserted Bakker. “Since we’re a bunch of trouble-makers and he is one also, it was a perfect match. He’s not really up to much as a manager. But since he is smoking…we are smoking..and we like the brand he buys, Henk does have his uses. Look at the money he saves us on fags – we always nick his!”
With van Antwerpen on the case, the band were rapidly snapped up by WEA Records in Holland. However this union was never consummated vinyl-wise and the band soon split with the label. “They wanted us to sound like Kiss and become really commercial, even do a modern version of ‘Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheap, Cheap’, you know,” explained Bechtum.
Undaunted by such an experience, Picture were soon back in the frame with Back Door Records (a subsidiary of Phonogram in Holland). This deal led to the band, still in their original quartet format recording two LPs in 1981, viz ’Picture I’ and ‘Heavy Metal Ears’.
Now, neither album can really be classed as outstanding. Indeed, both have as much appeal as, say. Krokus in their pre- ‘Metal Rendezvous’ days. In other words, perfect bargain-bin fodder. However, the lads did manage to garner a surprisingly large following not only in Holland (where they’ve supported the likes of Saxon, Ted Nugent, April Wine and AC/DC on major tours) but also in Italy, Germany, and Mexico.
“In Mexico, particularly, they go mad for us,” revealed Bechtum in all seriousness. “Kiss are the most popular band there, followed by Black Sabbath – and then comes Picture.”
On top of that, the band were last year voted the top domestic act in two of the leading rock magazines in Holland – a positive pointer that at last true heavy rock is beginning to make a home-produced impact on the docile Dutch.
“We are the first really heavy band to come from Holland,” boasted Bakker with good reason. “Golden Earring and their like are very good people, but they’ve never been HM, more just pop/rock. We have been fortunate enough to get the support of the rock press in Holland and to have built up a good number of fans. But, there’s a long way for us to go yet. Neither the radio stations nor the television people want to know about heavy music at the moment.”
“To some extent, we’re in the same position now as the Scorpions were originally in Germany,” continued Avigal “It was only after they made it in England that they were accepted at home. I think to make it BIG in Holland. Picture is first of all gonna have to build an international reputation.”
All the signs are currently pointing towards Picture being able to do just that. And, as I’ve already said, much of this is due to the undoubted dynamism of ‘Diamond Dreamer’.
With Avigal being railed in for the departed van Prooien (a vital change as the former is a top-class Dio-like hard rock singer, in a different league to his predecessor), ‘DD’ could (in the potentially prophetic words of Bechtum) prove to be “as important for us as ‘In Rock’ was for Deep Purple.”
Already the LP has established Picture as the premier heavy band in Holland, ahead of pretenders such as Vandenberg, and provided them with the possibility of true global clout. Certainly the drafting in of Peter Hinton to co-produce the ‘Diamond….‘ sessions with local lad Ton van der Bremen (who was responsible for the sound on the first brace of Picture LP5) has drawn forth richly melodic and fruitfully powerhouse performances scarcely hinted at before.
“We got on swell with Pete, he’s such a colourful character,” laughed Avigal. ‘We only had 10 days to work on the songs in the studio, and considering all of that, it came out very well. Hopefully, the next album will be even better.
“But, whether or not we’ll still be with Phonogram in Holland by then is doubtful. As far as hard rock bands go, they’ve done very well in promoting us. But we’re an ambitious group, and we don’t think the company can really help us to make it in the wider context.”
Yet, if their Dutch label situation is a little murky, one thing is for certain – ’Diamond Dreamer’ will get a long-overdue UK release next month on Carrere, and the band hope to follow this up with a support slot on the upcoming Motorhead UK tour.
“We’re looking forward to playing England,” admitted Avigal with obvious relish. “Our music is basically English. Our influences are the heroes we grew up with Hendrix. Purple and Zeppelin. So the best place for us to go is England.”
MUSIC FOR NATIONS MAGAZINE 1984
Despite the apparent connotations of the name, Hellion are not just another band carrying a demonic message, look it up and you’ll find that it actually means ‘a troublesome or mischievous child’, the band drawing the name from an insult thrown at them by an evidently literate neighbour. At the time any misunderstanding over their chosen name could be understood, since they were living in a locally notorious haunted house, which became known as the Annieville Horror House after vocalist Ann Boleyn and her cohorts moved in.
The band originally came together as a fun affair to entertain the huge crowds the band began to draw to their parties in the grounds of their haunted home, with Ray Schenk taking lead guitar duties, Sean Kelly drumming and Peyton Tuthill on bass. Ann Boleyn was a keyboard’s player versed in the Jon Lord school of organ thrashing, and had never sung in her life, but the band soon found that she was the only one amongst them able to handle the material they were playing. So it was that she began her vocal career at full throttle with covers from the likes of AC/DC, The Scorpions, Rush, Krokus, UFO, Rainbow and Uriah Heep, developing a snarling rock power that owes nothing to any female vocalist before her.
As the parties grew larger and larger the complaints from neighbours grew louder and louder. Finally the police arrived to break up one of their party/ gigs, meeting with no little resistance from the irate revellers, and it was doubtless no coincidence that a demolition order on the house was promptly brought to bear.
At that point the band faced the alternatives of either giving up or getting serious, and chose the latter course, with the cover numbers being replaced by a series of originals in a similarly crushing vein. ‘The West Coast Stumble’ ensued, a six week tour up the Pacific coast of America from Los Angeles to Seattle, an endurance test that more than earned its name. The band went down a storm though, despite being booked into a number of clubs that expected the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Heart thanks to the presence of a female vocalist in the line-up.
Upon their return the band set to work on the LA club circuit, with no small degree of success. They currently hold the house record for the highest number of paying customers at the city’s top rock club, The Troubador, and won a return booking at the thousand seat Country Club after their first gig their recently
Recent changes in the line-up have served to consolidate the strength of the band, with eighteen year old Bill Sweet taking the bass slot, and Alan Barlam coming in as second lead guitarist to add that extra bite.
Their first demo, recorded at Fiddlers in Hollywood, is ample evidence of the band’s collective firepower and Ann Boleyn’s threatening vocal talent from the raucous ‘Looking For A Good Time’ to the anthemic ‘Don’t Take No’. Alter selling countless cassette copies of the demo the group began pressing their own records. In january ‘84 Music For Nations released the demo as a mini LP which subsequently climbed to No.6 in the H.M. Charts and remained in the Top 40 for twenty-two weeks. Due to this success Hellion made a promo trip to the UK where they also performed to a packed Marquee Club.
Hellion are managed by Wendy Dio and Curt Lorraine of Niji Productions, Niji also manages Warner Bros. recording artists Ronnie James Dio and Rough Cuff.
An album and single are currently being recorded by the band and produced by Ronnie Dio.
Music For Nations Magazine 1984
The year 1984 has been a great one for the resurrection of sadly overlooked bands from the ‘70’s. The newest name added to that list is T.K.O. This is a different T.K.O. from the band that released the LP ‘Let lt Roll’ back in 1979. But is it really? The one thing that stood out in my mind about that LP were the powerful vocals of Brad Sinsel. And now6 years later it is that same Brad Sinsel who is the driving force behind this version of TKO.
This edition includes ex-Culprit members Kjartan Kristofferson and Scott Earl on guitars and bass respectively and Ken Mary on drums. Ken Mary is the newest member of T.K.O. as Brad Sinsel recently picked him out of the Randy Hansen group to replace Michael Alersich. According to Sinsel “It’s just another change of the many changes we’ve had since 1979. We’ve had 8 guitarists, 6 drummers and at least S bass players. I’m thing of building a rest home for ex-T.K.O. members!’
It’s good to see Brad can keep a sense of humour about the whole thing because it’s been an uphill fight for Brad Sinsel since the band was created. In 1979, T.K.O. released their debut LP ‘Let It Roll’ on Infinity Records. Says Brad, “You remember Infinity don’t you? They’re the same folks who signed The Pope up to do an LP for 1 million dollars. I think it’s now getting round to being released. Anyway, that’s when the parent company MCA said enough is too much’: Needless to say T.K.0. never did have the chance to do another LP on Infinity. After that came problems with Sins el’s previous management which tied the band up for a considerable period of time.
The band have recently signed for Music for Nations for the U.K. and Europe and Combat Records for America. The first release is an album entitled ‘In Your Face’ released November 16th.
So, five years later T.K.O.’s second LP has finally been released. ‘In Your Face’ contains 10 of the best Heavy Metal/Hard Rock songs ever written in the ‘80’s. Instant classics like ‘I Wanna Fight ‘Danger City’ and my personal favourite ‘Run Out Of Town’ with the brilliant line “it’s either somebody’s daughter or somebody’s wife.” Great stuff!
It may have taken 5 years but any T.K.O. fan would tell you this LP is worth it.
Mike Vergane – Metal Forces