You may remember that last time at BTTF it was 1983, and my journey into sound was just beginning. 1983 was a great year for heavy metal – one of the best, in my opinion, a year when seemingly every ten minutes spawned another classic album. I spent most of the year as an absolute slave to Dio’s Holy Diver, but really, that was just the tip of a huge, metallic iceberg, if such a thing exists.
At the same time as Ronnie James Dio was riding the Gypsy, Thin Lizzy were farewelling the world in the form of the supremely heavy Thunder and Lightning, Iron Maiden took their next step towards world domination with Piece of Mind, and Grim Reaper offered to See You In Hell. Okay, maybe that last elpee didn’t move too many mountains, but you get my drift – 1983 was shot through with metal. I remember interrupting the family holiday in Devon so that I could make a detour to Plymouth’s Virgin Megastore in order to buy Queensryche’s debut EP, on the day of its release, after being blown away by Queen of the Reich on the Friday Rock Show the night before on the radio; and buying my first copy of Kerrang! Magazine (#32, with Wolf Hoffman of Accept on the cover), also during another sunshine break, this time in Dorset. Yep, life was just one long holiday when I was sixteen, and the soundtrack was pretty damn good...
But enough of my misty-eyed reminiscing. Last month I promised you a quick chat with Lord Tim of Lord fame, and here he is. Of course, I wanted to talk a little about the band’s splendid latest album, Set in Stone, an album that, whilst very modern in style wears its classic metal influences proudly on its sleeve. So, my Lord, who are your influences when it comes to singing, bands and guitaring?
“It's funny that people are calling the album power metal with trad metal traits because I'd say the opposite. If you counted up all of the actual power metal songs on there, I'd say maybe two or three at the most? A lot of stuff that people are calling "power metal" these days would have easily fitted under the "heavy metal" banner back in the day. Could anyone imagine calling Dio or Maiden power metal? Any new band that comes out these days that does that kind of stuff automatically gets a power metal label, which I think is a little odd. But yes, to get to the question (sorry, HAHA), I'd say band-wise my biggest influences when it comes to Lord would be the usual Queensryche, Maiden, Megadeth, Dokken sort of stuff you'd expect, but throwing into that a good dose of 80s pop/rock, AOR, classical scores... you name it. I think what we do would get pretty damn boring quickly if all we listened to or were influenced by was metal. Guitarist-wise, I'd say George Lynch, Paul Gilbert, Gary Moore, Tony MacAlpine... scary players with a killer sense of melody and great singing vibrato. Vocally, definitely Geoff Tate, Ronnie Dio, Bruce Dickinson, Don Dokken, but also people like John Farnham and even guys like Scott Carne from Kids In The Kitchen (anyone here remember them?", he laughed.
I had said that that would be the end of the misty-eyed reminiscing. But I’m intrigued to find out how Tim found out about music before the days of the interwebs. How did a boy in the middle of nowhere in Australia get his kicks? I’m betting you didn’t see much Venom on Countdown?
“It was worse for me because I grew up in the desert, at least 600 kilometres away from the nearest big city, in a small town, with two dodgy TV channels and only two AM radio stations until the 80s. I remember hearing about this Black Sabbath band that a friend's older brother listened to and it all seemed terribly scary! I was really into film scores and pop stuff like Duran Duran at the time (still am) so I never really paid much attention. Then one night, I was watching a music program on the ABC and it was showing some heavy metal version of We Are The World called Stars. I remember thinking "Oh dear, this is gonna be rubbish - people screaming out of tune over screechy guitars". I sat there watching with my mouth hanging open as Dio, Tate, Dokken, Halford, etc. just smashed the vocals, and then there were the solos... Oh. My. God. It was amazing. I started chatting to my friend's brother after that, and the next thing you know, I'm the proud owner of Queensryche's Rage For Order and Sabbath's Live Evil. That was the start of 25+ years of enjoying metal for me.”
See what I mean about us all coming from the same seed? Having established the fact that Tim liked the same sort of stuff as me, I thought I’d canvass his opinion on the resurgence in ‘true’ metal that seems to be happening at the moment, with young bands like Cauldron, Metal Slave, Wolf, Ravage and White Wizzard to name but a few all recently bringing out records that sound like, well... Grim Reaper actually. Is this a good thing?
“There's a resurgence of trad metal? I guess I didn't get that memo!" he laughed. "I spend so much time locked in the studio here in my own little world that I really have no idea of what's going on with musical trends. I've honestly never heard of any of those bands! I wouldn't call it a bad thing that there's a resurgence, but like every trend, it goes in cycles. There was a big thrash kick a while back, and I have no doubt that eventually you'll be seeing limp-wristed flower metal get big again and then fade away into obscurity before the next thing gets resurrected to take its place. It's a great thing, though. It's cliched to say, but metal will never die. It'll always exist in one form or another and have various levels of mainstream acceptance, and it'll always be there for the die-hard fans to enjoy no matter what.”
Wise words. And now to the real nub of the matter. I love lists, and over the coming months I’m going to ask everyone that crosses BTTF’s threshold the following question: You’ve been given the money-no-object, time travelling allowed curatorship of your own festival – which five acts are you going to book? As time goes by we’ll keep everyone up to date with the lineup of Back to the Future’s marvellous virtual rock festival... Tim – your entries?
“Hmmm... well, I'd choose Queensryche from the late 80s, Dokken from around '87, Megadeth from today (seriously - this is the best they've ever been, I think), Maiden from the late 80s, and a toss-up between Priest or Metallica from around 1990. In my opinion, those bands were at their peak that that time, and the reason I'd pick them is an easy one: I'm a fan. Not a particularly deep answer, but honest!”
Thanking you. And, to extend the theme, possibly to breaking point, can you give me your five favourite metal albums?
“Hmm again! I would pick Queesryche - Rage For Order, Iron Maiden - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, Soilwork - Natural Born Chaos, Leatherwolf - Street Ready and Blind Guardian - Somewhere Far Beyond.”
So there we have it. Thanks to Tim for his time, and some interesting thoughts. Next month we’ll be grilling Armored Saint/Anthrax frontman John Bush on exactly the same topics!
* * * * * *
In vaguely related news, I also spoke to Deep Purple’s Steve Morse and Clint Boge of the Butterfly Effect, both of whom were keen to submit their festival lineups, which were...
Lynyrd Skynyrd/ Allman Brothers as co-headliners
Crosby Stills and Nash
That’s all for now. I know I promised you some blurb on Rock Candy records, but I’ve been busy and I only want to bring you the good stuff as far as that particularly gorgeous label is concerned, so, as William Bailey might have it, the key is patience...