We can’t get enough of festivals here in the UK. Summer festivals, Winter festivals, and – right now at least – Spring festivals. Earlier this month, Hard Rock Hell hosted the very first Hard Rock Hell AOR and Hard Rock Hell Prog, and we were naturally on hand to photograph the whole shebang.
May 26th, 2009
18 May 2009
by Ryan Williams
Kicking off with the sound of someone else’s motorcycle starting and a noodling riff stolen from the ‘80s leading into Sebastian Bach’s long-disowned son shouting some crap about screaming like a demon and crawling on the ceiling, Atlanta, Georgia’s Steadlür set the tone for their album perfectly.
May 18th, 2009
We can count on one hand the number of times Roadrunner Records has got it wrong when it comes to signing bands. That’s why we caught up with Philip Steadlür, lead singer and guitarist of American newcomers Steadlür for a chat
From: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Sounds like: Skid Row, Motley Crue, Madina Lake
Thrash Hits verdict: We reckon that with their big choruses, classic guitar licks and clear ambition these boys are going to pick up a few fans on this trip to the UK and they’re going to do their damnedest to keep hold of every one of them. And it helps they’re dead sexy. It helps us, anyway. Errr…
July 30th, 2008
It’s never easy getting old and seeing all the things you love getting old or, even worse, disappearing. Tony Hampton bemoans another music shop lost forever on the day the Sister Ray goes into administration.
When my granddad says it, it’s usually to make a point about walking to school in the snow with no shoes but, “Kids these days don’t know they’re born”.
In the ‘80s and even creeping in the early ‘90s you had to work really hard to enjoy your metal. There were no rolling 24 hour music TV channels, no internet (imagine that!), no ironic acceptance by the mainstream media’s fashion pages and no way a parent would buy you ticket to a gig – let alone a band t-shirt.
Ok, I’m sounding really old now, but it really was a completely different landscape.
Rock videos occasionally got aired at 2am or on The Chart Show on a Saturday lunchtime – where once a month you’d get the Rock Chart – a five-minute run down where you’d press record on your video and get 30 seconds of a Black Crowes video or Metallica‘s ‘One’.
You always hoped the “Play” icon would come up on something decent, and you’d get the full video. Invariably it wouldn’t.
Watch the Rock Chart from the ITV Chart Show from May 1989
We did have the Hard and Heavy videos though: a monthly video-zine with interviews and footage – like a clunky £12.99 VHS version of YouTube. These introduced me to Testament who are, 20 years later, still incredible and the early (and completely dismissed these days) work of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Or, of course, the moment we all remember like it was yesterday, BBC’s In Bed With Chris Needham. Nowadays, skin tight jeans, high-top trainers, Ray Bans, long hair and a leather jacket means you’re probably a Ting Tings fan. Back then, you were given a wide berth by people. You were scum.
When we went out to buy music there were two options – the limited selection of tapes on offer at HMV or Virgin, or the one rock-specific place, the now fabled Shades.
Located in a basement in Soho it was a glorious one-stop-shop for albums, posters, patches, magazines and all metal paraphernalia. It was like entering a secret world.
Discovering stuff like Vio-Lence, Demmel and Flynn’s very brutal, pre-Machine Head, Bay Area band and The Decline of Western Civilisation Part II: The Metal Years on video here were real turning points in my life. Plus all the bands who came to play London would do in-store signings or just hang out.
Watch ‘Mega’ Dave Mustaine on The Decline of Western Civilisation
Interview with Shades owner, Mike Shannon
To be honest, I’m not sure how people feel about Shades nowadays. At the time, from the early ‘80s onwards, it was certainly influential in the development of the music scene. Along with Kerrang! Magazine, it was the major source of product and information. With the coming together of characters such as Dave Constable, Bernard Doe, Kelv Hellraizer and Dave Reynolds, it gave rise to the fanxine, Metal Forces. For an all too brief moment in time, I feel we made our mark.
It’s actually quite mind-boggling when you start listing the bands that turned out for ‘signings’ at Shades. To name but a few: Anthrax, Badlands, Bang Tango, Bon Jovi, Danger Danger, Doro Pesch, Exciter, Metallica, Lee Aaron, Poison, Pretty Maids, Shadow King, Skid Row, Warrior Soul, Wasp. Most of what happened at that time is better left unsaid, although the vision of Sebastian Bach shimmying up Kelv Hellraizer’s drainpipe at 2am still brings on a smile.
I started Shades in 1978 on a wing and a prayer. The idea was simply to create a rock specialist shop in London. The original premises were the size of a shoe-box with a leaky roof but £50 per month in the West End of London was irresistible. As its popularity exploded we moved into the larger premises in ’83 until 1990. I grew up with bands like The Stones, The Who, Cream, Hendrix, Free and Zep. I have always been a rock fan and remain so to this day.
We closed in 1990. A combination of Maggie Thatcher, the IRA, British Rail, HM Customs & Excise and a greedy landlord made it simply unworkable. In addition to the economic climate, the music scene had moved on and the market had become so fragmented, I felt our time had passed.
Watch Gaz Top and Kelv Hellraizer in conversation at Shades.
There were a couple of other outlets to get your fix of course. Carnaby Street also, far from being the slick Muji-obsessed tourist trap it is now did have a couple of hippie shops where you could hope to buy a Misfits t-shirt, a bullet belt and a Slayer badge.
Shades was the place. Now it is a mythical place of metal folklore – and a very, very fond memory.
July 28th, 2008
Sebastian Bach is never knowingly understated. Sian Wynne talks to the former Skid Row frontman about forming a super-supergroup with Slash and the joys of chicks whipping their tits out whilst on tour.
There aren’t many musicians with the wherewithal to open an interview with a screamed “YEAH!”, but Thrash Hits .com was not surprised to discover that Sebastian Bach is one of them. And we like to think he had his fist in the air when he said it.
Down a crackly hotel phone line two weeks into a US tour with Poison, the former Skid Row frontman could not sound more enthusiastic.
“I’m having the time of my life. It’s 2008, I have a new CD, I’m selling out arenas and it’s fun,” he laughs. “I’m having a great time!”
The silky-haired Axl Rose sympathiser and serial reality TV star has finally got it together for a UK release of his latest solo effort Angel Down this week. It’s no middle-aged ballad fest. At times more Judas Priest than Skid Row, it was bashed out in a measly two weeks in the studio between legs supporting Guns N’ Roses.
Watch the video to ’18 And Life’ by Skid Row
“The first Skid Row album we recorded at the Playboy resort in Wisconsin,” he tells. “We went jet skiing by day and recorded by night, and played a hell of a lot of tennis.”
“But for this album it was a pressurised situation, we had to get it done. There was no messing around. And it has that feel of a live band kickin’ ass. Not playing tennis…”
With Rose on board for three memorable duets – a cover of Aerosmith‘s ‘Back in the Saddle’ included – it would appear the high profile friendship is still on track.
“I read so much misinformation about Axl,” he says. “It makes me angry because I know the dude and what he is really like. He’s not motivated by money or fame – he’s got more than enough of both.”
Having unsuccessfully auditioned for Velvet Revolver (“But I’d rather hear Skid Roses than Stone Temple Roses”), rumours continue to circulate that another Slash/Bach project is on the cards.
“Here’s the deal: I was contacted by one of the biggest musicians in rock and roll – bigger that Skid Row, bigger that Guns N’ Roses – some other mystery guy,” says Bach. “He was putting together a supergroup with Slash on guitar and he wanted me to sing.”
Watch the video to ‘Monkey Business’ by Skid Row
“It looked like it was going to happen, but it is not happening now. It may happen in the future, but it is not happening now. I want to make that clear.”
So let’s not rule it out all together.
He may have a guest role in The Gilmore Girls but it’s not all comfy armchairs and lemonade for Bach just yet.
“Last night we sold out an arena in Pikeville, Kentucky – 12,000 people,” he says. “And I’ve never heard of Pikeville, Kentucky. I didn’t know there was a Pikeville in Kentucky.”
“It’s just fucking hilarious. It’s like every chick feels compelled to whip her tits out. What a great life this is,” he laughs. “We are talking the finest women in the world. Someone actually said this to me once – Poison and Sebastian Bach on the same bill? Even chicks are getting hard-ons. Wow. For the first time in history. That’s a pretty cool thing.”
June 24th, 2008
Sign have just performed on the Main Stage at Download Festival. Danny Montana talks to Zolberg from the Icelandic five-piece about their new album and his new lifestyle.
If you’ve been to any rock festivals the last couple of years, you may have spotted a bunch of black-clad teens (yes, I know, there are a few knocking around there) with the Sign insignia emblazoned across their tshirts. That is The Sign Army.
“We have a really strong fanbase now,” smiles Zolberg, Sign’s 21 year old frontman and founder (picture, below). Indeed, that fanbase was seen filling the front rows at Download Festival 2008, singing the words back to every single song.
Over the past couple of years, Sign – completed by AD (guitar), Eagle (drums), Heimir (bass) and recent addition Aggi (guitar and keyboards) – have supported the likes of Wednesday 13 and The Wildhearts as well as hard rock heroes such as Whitesnake, Alice Cooper and Skid Row in their Icelandic homeland, as well as releasing two albums.
Their first English-language album, 2005’s Thank God For Silence was their third full-length and the band wrote and recorded it all themselves. “We decided that we wanted to bring the ‘80s and glam parties back into the metal world. We were so young and it was really hard,” Zolberg explains. “That was when we learnt how to do it.”
They took the same insular approach to recording this year’s opus, The Hope but the results were much different. “This time around there were no rules and we knew our way around the studio,” Zolberg smiles.
The Hope is a much heavier affair and this direction is much to do with Zolberg’s new-found sobriety. “I’m the kind of person that just can’t drink,” Zolberg says matter-of-factly. “I’ve woken up regretting things and with twisted ankles. When I’m really drunk, I can’t even look into a mirror because the person looking back scares me.”
He claims it is a permanent move and that he sees a brighter future without alcohol in his life both personally and for the band. “When I’m sober and focused, I feel like I am the show,” Zolberg says intensely. “I have no fear about going onstage; I find it easier and have more control over my thoughts and my voice now. I suppose it’s like theatre in some ways.”
“Thank God… was about getting drunk and partying. Singing those songs isn’t that easy any more because I can’t connect to them the way I used to,” he rues. “This album is about rising above all your naivety and gaining your purpose in life.”
“The Hope definitely is a heavier album,” Zolberg says, nodding. “The Hope is about rebirth and that’s much heavier than partying.”
The Hope by Sign is out now on R&R Records
Photo of Zolberg by Abbi London