Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine.
Pete, please tell us a few things about yourself & when did you start playing guitar? Were you involved in any Rock-Heavy Metal bands before TROJAN?
“As long as I can remember knowing there was something called music I’ve always been into rock – I liked punk, but I was too young to really get into it. Anyway I quickly got into the heavier bands like Motorhead and Priest. I never thought when I was a kid, I’d play a guitar because I didn’t come from a musical family. In fact it wasn’t a great up-bringing really as when I was a kid we lived in a poor part of this area. Picking up the guitar I suppose was pure chance, I hated school, so I was heading nowhere with no real objectives or prospects but when I was about 12-13yrs old a friend I had way back then who was older than me had a Stratocaster copy, and I just thought it was the coolest thing. He could only play a few chords, but I just got it, the sound, the whole thing grabbed me immediately. I continually pestered my parents for a guitar, but thought they’d think it not worth getting me one. They (god bless them) eventually did, and it started right there. My first guitar was a Telecaster copy – real cheap ‘n’ cheerful but to me awesome! The playing was something I just took to, I just kept on practising and by the time I was 15-16 I had no doubt I was going to make a go of it – it’d be my career choice. It sounds corny but I really did just know I was going to form or be in a band.” I played with a couple of mates jamming and that but the first real band from the very start was the first version of Trojan believe it or not…”
Which were your memories from the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement back in the days (1979-1982) & did you support the scene with buying records, tapes, fanzines.
“When the original 5-piece Trojan began to get gigs we soon noticed there was a bunch of bands that had already become established on the gigging scene. We didn’t know at the time but as more bands emerged it was given the NWOBHM moniker – if I remember correctly, it was named that by Geoff Barton a well-known music journalist at the time with Sounds and one-time Editor of Kerrang! In the UK it began slowly with a few choice bands. Obviously Iron Maiden paved the way and at first a lot of press interest was centred on the scene at the time that was happening in London. It was a place called The Soundhouse run by the legendary DJ and promoter Neal Kay who very much had a lot to do with helping the new bands. Then it seemed to explode because all of a sudden there were bands springing up all around the country. You had Diamond Head, Raven, Saxon, Angel Witch, and the music was quite diverse – not just real heavy. Then you had the bands such as us that were definitely at the heavier end of the spectrum. Most now call it speed or power metal. But it was just heavy riff driven metal that to us sounded good at the time. But yeah, they were great days. Most of the bands were signing to small independent labels like Neat Records or Heavy Metal Records. And yeah, we bought most of the stuff that was being released. Although we’d done the demo as the original 5-Piece band, we’d still really only emerged and started to get noticed at the tail end of the scene, we were in part influenced by it but not fully part of it if you get my meaning.”
And going to live gigs?
Oh, yeah definitely. There always seemed to be a band playing close by and it was the place to be if you were into metal. Every pub had a rock night, even though we were too young to go in at the time we’d always get to the gigs.
The history of TROJAN started back in 1982. Pete, which are your memories from these days, and which were your main influences back then?
FUN and lots of it! (laughs). But band wise it was hard work. You had to gig, pester venues to give you a chance to play, put up flyers, scrape the money together to do demos, send them to everybody you could think of and those you only had even been told of. Also, when we began gigging the original NWOBHM bands had already broken through – some I mentioned earlier but there are too many to mention. Our influences were very eclectic, early Metallica and Megadeth, but of course they weren’t as well-known as they are now. Also of course Judas Priest, Motorhead – there really are too many to list. Those were times when rock was part of the mainstream and before the MTV generation of big hair bands took over. (laughs)
Your first demo tape ''Official - 5 Track Cassette E.P.'' released in 1982. Did you sell it, or did you have it only for promotional purposes (Radio Stations, Magazines, Record Labels etc.)?
“Well, I’m sure you’ll know that was recorded by the original 5-Piece line up of Trojan. That was me on guitar Andy Halliwell on guitar, Brian Bentham on bass (RIP), Mick Taylor on drums and Dave Kenyon on vocals. That line-up lasted for a good few years. We never had a specific band we wanted to sound like. It was more a case of as we grew together as a band the riffs and songs just came about and we were all happy with what we were creating. It didn’t seem to take too long before we had enough tracks to do that first demo. We sent it to all the labels we could think of, then used it to get gigs, magazine interviews – it went down really well. And yes, we sold it by mail order and at gigs. Basically we just covered the cost of the tape itself to get promotion and it worked because at the time an independent company in London heard it who had been set up to help new struggling bands. They actually run off 3,000 copies of it for us for free – I’ll always look back on that and remember how much they helped us. And yes, those demos quickly disappeared – we could just give them away, so word really did begin to spread about us. In fact, I’d say it was our persistence with sending out and punting what became known as our ‘Official 5-Track Cassette EP’ to all and sundry plus playing up and down the UK at any and all rock pubs and clubs was what got us recognition. For any band to get noticed still is and was very difficult – in our case it was plain hard work that eventually made people want to listen.”
In the same year a compilation under the title ''Metal Maniaxe'' was released via the mighty EBONY Records. How did this participation occur?
“Darryl the owner/producer of Ebony was actually advertising for bands to appear on a compilation at the time. I think the advertisement was in Kerrang! He heard us and we got invited to contribute a track to one of his compilations. But yeah, like I said before – we’d been sending demos to everybody, labels, magazines fanzines, radio stations – you name it.”
Did you have any proposal for a record deal with Ebony Records after the compilation was released? Which are your memories from ''Metal Maniaxe'' various back then?
“No not at all. The label were coming to an end in a way. Quite frankly there’s not many outside the hardcore underground know of Ebony releases (especially the compilations he released at the time) let alone own them. My memories of the recording was it was a strange set up – by that I mean his studio. Basically he’d converted the front downstairs room of a big, terraced house in a street in Hull into a 24-track recording studio. But, even so, everything was basically recorded straight into the desk and there was a distortion pedal that he had which he must have liked because I think he virtually made all the guitarists who recorded there use it. (laughs) But yeah, it was quite a strange set up but one that worked I suppose as he put out quite a few albums from various bands at the time. The deal you got with Ebony was you got two days (which the band had to pay for) in his studio to do one track and that was it… So, in some ways I’d say it was a bit of a rip off as we never got any major promotion or interest from it,”.
Between 1983 and 1985 you released 4 demo tapes. Did you have any feedback outside the U.K.? Did you receive any letters (back then when we did not have the internet) Also did you get many interviews in the press back then?
“Again, as I mentioned, our persistence with sending out and promoting what became known as our ‘Official 5-Track Cassette EP’ to all and sundry was what got us our first proper recognition. After that, like many other bands we did more demos, but it was the latter demos when the band line-up totally changed with only myself remaining from the original line-up when we really pushed on as I knew the new line-up was exactly right. For instance, when I met Trojan/Talion vocalist Graeme Wyatt, the song writing became much more cohesive, and we definitely found our sound. That’s when the interest towards us seriously began. I’m glad you asked how it was before the internet – DIFFICULT! (laughs) No seriously man, new bands now wouldn’t believe how difficult it was before the internet. You had to get a jiff bag, print a biography off, write an individual cover letter and personally post tapes to everybody you could think of to get noticed. Hundreds and hundreds – rejection letter after rejection letter it was tough to keep going through those times believe me. But it was the demos that we did as the ‘new’ four-piece Trojan that strengthened peoples believe in us which of course finally resulted in us scoring a major worldwide record deal. As for interviews, before we signed with Roadrunner through sheer persistence and hard work – and of course the magazines liked us did result in us getting interviews and small features in the music press from all over the world.”
In 1985 you released your 1st Full-length Album ''Chasing the Storm''. How did your cooperation with Roadrunner Records occur?
“Well that nicely follows on from the last question and answer, But it was still a rough time when it should have been plain sailing. As I mentioned, the original Trojan line up completely dissolved. Some members decided to get proper jobs (laughs), they had different viewpoints – future hopes outside of music. Anyway, I was left on my own, but I was determined to carry on even though I had to start afresh which I did. So I re-formed Trojan again from the ground up. I first found a new bassist, that was Eddy Martin who introduced me to the vocalist Graeme who as you’ll know stuck around with me into Talion and Graeme introduced me to the drummer Sam Hall. That was (as I presume you are aware) the line-up that went on to record our debut album ‘Chasing The Storm.’ But the original line up had got interest from several small independent labels including a few larger labels – Roadrunner being one of them. But when that new line-up began recorded demos, we got serious attention from Roadrunner who at the time were the label every metal band wanted to be on. The rest is well documented. We recorded ‘Chasing The Storm’ with Guy Bidmead, which was a total blast, and fortunately it was very well received by the press and fans especially in mainland Europe and Japan.”
Were you satisfied with the promotional work? Do you know how many copies of the album have been sold?
“No Roadrunner gave us no support and we never saw a penny. But we do know now it sold well. That’s one thing we learned from the internet. (laughs) But seriously, the label were seriously paring back their roster at the time they signed us – go figure - and just wouldn’t give us the financial support we deserved or needed to tour properly. They basically forgot about us, and there was never any discussion about taking up a second album option. Also, we had bad management which all resulted in us deciding to start afresh under a new name.”
With which bands did you play live concerts between 1982 and 1986? How was the situation between the bands in the Heavy Metal scene in the U.K. back then.?
“We played with a lot of bands; I remember one of our first as Trojan was supporting Angel Witch. But mainly we gigged on our own as in the early part of those years we were chasing a deal and working very hard to get recognised and build a fan base. By asking the question ‘what was the situation like between bands…’ I’d say friendly but very competitive!”
In 1987 you released an instrumental demo tape ''Play With Fire'' under your name Pete Wadeson. The songs were powerful melodic heavy metal. Who were your favourite guitar players back then & did you send this tape to any record companies?
“On that instrumental demo, I just thought I’d try my hand in that genre. It’s not that easy, rock instrumentals aren’t all about mega-technique and speed. At the time I was hoping I’d score a deal - all the American soloists at the time were. But they had all been through guitar schools – mostly Berkley. I’m sure there must have been a guy who stood outside signing all the ones who got best grades. (laughs). I must admit I thought Roadrunner would be interested as they were signing a lot of solo guitarists at the time but obviously, that didn’t happen for me as that genre of metal was starting to lose momentum and it had also become a very saturated market. My approach was as I was the first UK guitarist who had tried to do it – why not go for it - and I did. I got some attention from the magazines back then, but it didn’t fully happen. As for favourite guitarists, my all-time favourite is Gary Moore. Incredible. Forget all this guitar school robot - learn scales, sweep picking, read music. Somebody should tell them all that ‘scales are for fish.’ (laughs), But seriously, they all sound the same I’m not saying they’re not incredible, but they just sat there and learned what they were told. Guitar players like Gary Moore played from the heart and soul. Me – I play with fire…”
Fire years later a compilation ''Metal For Muthas '92'' released only in Japan via Pony Canyon International, featuring unsigned British hard rock/heavy metal acts. It was an idea of the well-known NWOBHM DJ Neal Kay who produced this compilation. Did this project help you to arrange a record deal in Japan?
“What happened there was Neil Kay – there he is again; the legendary metal guru (Laughs) heard the ‘Play with Fire’ demo, and I was actually starting to put a new band together but had no vocalist. So he looked at my previous work and said ‘hey, give me an instrumental.’ So that’s how that came about. I reworked ‘Thrill Of The Chase’ that originally appeared on the Play With Fire demo and he loved it. I was already known in Japan because of the Chasing The Storm album, but no solo record deal ever came of it. But being on his compilation was good for me at the time though as it kept my name out there. The track went on the album credited to The Pete Wadeson Band which at the time featured a superb drummer named Dave Edwards and a great bassist Tony Schofield.”
According to Metal Archives (lots of mistakes you can find there...) in 1988 TROJAN changed their name to LETHAL. What was the reason to do that & Is it true that you recorded an album or demo titled ''Twilight Sound'' in 1988?
“Oh man we’ve heard that so many times that we did an album as Lethal. This has come about due to certain ‘internet sources’ getting their information totally wrong. What happened is this. The band (Trojan) at the time were in flux, we’d left Roadrunner and went into Twilight Sound Studios in Manchester to record a two-track demo – obviously to try to get label and management interest. Now, at the time of recording we hadn’t thought of the name Talion. On a whim we considered using the name Lethal. So for the recording of just those two tracks, which incidentally were ‘Killing The World’ and ‘Living On The Edge’ it went down as Lethal but very soon after – a matter of a few weeks in fact - we firmly decided on the name Talion. We did that due to the similarity with the previous band name (Trojan) because we were most known and as musicians associated with that band. Anyway, as Talion we went on to record another three tracks, put them with the two tracks previously recorded and began to distribute a 5-Track demo in the hope of securing a deal and hopefully still appealing to the fan base we’d fought long and hard to build up. The music is rightly seen more as power/thrash metal with melody rather than the more speed metal-based music of the previous band.
1989 is the starting year of TALION. You have released your album ''Killing the World'' via Major/Peaceville Records. What was the feedback from your audience as well as from the press? And how about gigs?
“Yeah, it was very well received by everyone. It got album of the month in Metal Hammer magazine which was a huge honour for us. We were happy with the album, but we wish we’d had more time to work on the songs, and maybe have put a few more tracks on there. But considering the miniscule recording budget we had from Peaceville/Major Records it was and is a superb album. Again it’s stood the test of time and I think many will agree the cover artwork is also superb. In fact, I must mention that Sonic Age with YOD media have just done us proud with a lyric video for the title track. It can be found on You Tube so I hope people go up there check it out, hit the thumbs up button, comment, like and share. It’s a powerful song with a very powerful message. As Taliön we played some awesome gigs; we went into Eastern Europe playing a huge festival at the Vitkovice Arena in Czechoslovakia – a country at the time which was just starting to get out of the grip of communist control - and two visits to Bulgaria. Some of the gigs mentioned can be seen on YouTube or will be released by Sonic Age.”
Then In 1995 you released your second instrumental demo ''Burnout'' as Pete Wadeson. Killer shredding songs with all the instruments played by you!!
You’ve done your homework on me Stavros you seem to know all I did. (laughs). And thanks for the kind words on the songs – the demo was intended to be that – a shred fest! So yeah, this was a different project. On the first instrumental demo I worked with live musicians. This time around it was a case of I really was on my own, so I got a small porta studio and drum machine and basically ‘shredded’ some fast metal instrumentals. They weren’t all super-fast but in the main yeah it was my way of saying I can do this – check me out – I’m not finished yet (laughs). The good thing that came from the Burnout demo was I attracted the attention of Dave La Duke of Sinbad productions in America who chose a track off the demo to go on one of his compilation albums. That was a track called ‘Schizo Phreniac’ – hope everybody checks that out on you tube. In fact, thanks to the support of Sonic Age I’ve now been able to put a selection of tracks from those demos into album format which is to be released at the same time as the Trojan & Talion album reissues - hopefully diehard metal heads will feel it worth the wait.”
Do you see any differences in today's Metal music business in comparison with the Music business back in the 80s & 90s?
“Oh man, yeah, a lot and I mean a lot. The bands now have much more control. Control over the money that comes in, their merchandising, videos – a whole lot. The ease of everything from promotion to building up a fan base is so much easier. Also even contacting people in the business. All this is of course due to social media – especially You Tube.”
Which attributes, do you think, that a new Heavy Metal Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?
“Just be themselves, don’t set out to copy anybody. In fact you said the words yourself. Gain your own identity and hopefully naturally be unique”.
Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal Scene?
“I’ve always known you had a strong death metal scene and years ago I was told the club scene was good for bands who wanted to play in Greece. If you know of any promoters – please put a word in for us. More recently, I can see the bands seem to be doing their own thing and you seem to have a strong scene. But it seems difficult for them to get more worldwide recognition. But maybe I’m wrong…”
What are your future plans?
“To come back to the metal scene with a bang. Enjoy playing and hopefully the new music I’m creating will be liked by the fans that stood by us and the new fans we seem to be gaining. We’re booked to play the Keep It True festival in Germany in April 2022 as Trojan/Talion so hopefully that will still happen and then we’ll get to play more festivals after that. I’ve got new material written which I’m sure will be of interest so let’s say I’m hopeful.”
Thank you very much for your time & Keep up the good work! The closure is yours.
“First and foremost I can’t thank you enough for the interview and interest in us Stavros. It’s great after all this time since our album releases, we’re experiencing such a resurgence of interest in our past efforts. That they’re being reissued by Sonic Age Records/Cult Metal Classics is an honour in itself. Incidentally, those reissues will include bonus discs with previously unreleased tracks and live performances. We’re soon to have an official Facebook site but for anyone wanting to contact the band in relation to the reissues and my solo album they can by contacting Sonic Age Records or Cult Metal Classics through their websites or for anything else such as merchandise and latest band news you can get in touch with us via the Metallic Savage You Tube channel – post your comments or E-mail us direct which is: email@example.com I hope everybody stays safe and when the World opens up fully, we’ll all see each other in metal once again…”
By Steve the Filthy Dog.
Photos courtesy of Pete Wadeson.