I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Dave the vocalist from Spartan Warrior, here’s what we discussed:
1.What’s behind the name of the band, and where do you draw your influences from?
I joined a band called Deceiver in 1979. We played some original songs, quite blues based rock with a hint of Black Sabbath as well as covers from bands like Saxon, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest.
My brother Neil joined Deceiver a year or so later and he brought with him John Stormont who later played with the Jess Cox Band and Battleaxe.
The bands musical direction had evolved hugely at that point and we decided to change the bands name to reflect that.
It was Spartan Warrior’s original drummer who put forward the name of Spartan Warrior. I think he was reading a lot of books on Ancient Greece and Greek Mythology and I believe he drew upon that associating the hard edge of the Spartan culture with what we were trying to do musically.
There were other suggestions for the bands name and as I recall they were all put into a beer glass so we could choose one randomly as none of us could agree. I suspect that there was more than one piece of paper with ‘Spartan Warrior’ written on it and that’s what was drawn out.
My personal influences at the time came from the 70’s Glam Rock bands such as Marc Bolan and T Rex, Sweet, Slade and Queen but around 1976 a friend of mine whose brother was a DJ in a club introduced me to Led Zeppelin and from that point my musical influences came from the classic rock acts such as Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and from around 1978 bands such as UFO, Van Halen, Iron Maiden and Saxon.
I think that all of the guys from Spartan Warrior, past and present members, share the same musical influences that I have mentioned but also have other quite diverse tastes across the entire rock and metal spectrum that influence them… too many to mention here.
- What was the process behind writing Hell To Pay the album?
The band reunited in 2009 and recorded our third album, Behind Closed Eyes. That album featured four of the original members of Spartan Warrior.
Neil had wanted to put the band back together but one of the objects of the exercise was to release an album that for us set the record straight. None of us had been happy with the second album that had been released in 1984 and we just wanted to take control and responsibility for our music and put out an album that really showed what we could do.
We were all very happy with Behind Closed Eyes.
In 2011 our original bass player left followed closely by the drummer but the interest in the band was really growing so Neil and I decided to continue.
The current line-up has been together approaching 7 years now and we originally set about re-establishing ourselves as a really good live band.
It was quite natural for us then to start writing new material and we started playing some of it as part of our live set… songs like Bad Attitude and Hell to Pay.
Doing another album really was something the five of us wanted to do so we continued to play live and write songs and we started recording I think back in 2013 with Neil again at the helm as Engineer and Producer.
Neil experienced some technical difficulties with the recording process and had to modify a few things which just didn’t work and so we scrapped the recordings and started again trying to record between shows, everyday life and family commitments.
They say when things go against you they really do and there were some quite serious health issues in the band at one point which slowed us down even further.
Pure Steel had expressed their interest in us very early and we were absolutely determined to get the job done and so we pressed on and worked exceptionally hard.
We finished recording and mixing in the summer of 2017 and signed with Pure Steel shortly after that.
The new album ‘Hell to Pay’ is scheduled for release on February 23rd 2018.
We tend to write all of our songs the same way .
Neil or Dan will have a riff and the band at rehearsal work together and build the structure of the song.
Once the song is structured I take the music and work alone to write the lyrics. After that it’s back to rehearsal to add the vocals and rehearse the song until it’s tight enough to play live and record.
I draw lyrics from things I’ve seen on TV, read or things that have happened or been said on the road. Sometimes it’s just a phrase that someone says and I take it as a lyrical line and work the rest of the lyrics around that. Sometimes it’s the simple throw away things that people say or do that are the most interesting.
- How have things changed for the band and the music industry since you started out?
Things have changed drastically.
On the positive side with the internet and all of the platforms that it provides it is much easier to raise a bands profile and make your music available.
On the negative side because of the ease with which people can access music online it’s very difficult for a band to sustain its financial viability… I think it affects even the most successful of bands but the impact at the lower end of the success spectrum is significant and lots of bands fold because they can’t afford to keep playing.
I’m very interested in and passionate about the vinyl revival.
I really hope that the industry and fans continue to embrace and grow that. I’ve never understood why anyone would click a button for a free download of music that they like… there’s nothing better than getting the cd or the vinyl with the artwork and liner notes and then sitting listening to the music and taking in everything that the package contains.
People really have to invest in the music to keep the industry and the music alive . If we don’t we’ll lose it all!
- What did/ do you make of the whole New Wave of British Heavy Metal Movement, and your place within it?
That’s difficult to answer.
I think most of the bands who are associated with the NWOBHM movement would say the same thing… I honestly don’t think any of us gave it a thought at the time.
Certainly as far as Spartan Warrior were concerned we were a rock band playing rock music. We still are.
I see a lot of debate about what qualifies a band to be a NWOBHM band and the general consensus appears to be the band has to have been active in the period 1978 up to 1985, be British and have had a “significant release” which I think means an actual commercial release as opposed to a demo.
On that basis I guess Spartan Warrior are a NWOBHM band and we’re quite happy to be part of the club.
There are some truly great NWOBHM bands many of whom are now personal friends of mine and the icing on the cake is that I’m a fan of those bands. Bands like Avenger, Holocaust, Tysondog and Raven. Many others too.
Being associated with such great bands is something that I’m very proud of.
If that means we’re all NWOBHM bands then that’s fine by me – it’s not the tag that matters, it’s whether or not the music is good.
I’ve read interviews with some very successful musicians who were tagged as part of the genre at the time and who have been quite disparaging of it and keen to distance themselves from it. I don’t know why they feel that way.
What I do know is that the people who come to festivals and shows really do embrace the bands, the music and the sense of togetherness in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else.
I also see a lot of younger bands, who have been influenced by the bands and music associated with the NWOBHM movement, making their own music and really being proud to say that they have been influenced by the genre.
There are some outstanding young bands of that type, Toledo Steel for instance.
- What plans have you got for the future?
The new album is set for release on 23rd February 2018 so our focus really is on working alongside our Pure Steel partners to raise the profile for that and drive it forward.
We headline Funeral Fest in Barrow In Furness, UK on 3rd March which is a very diverse metal festival and we are in rehearsals now preparing for that.
We’ve approached a number of promoters about playing a range of European festivals so we hope that further 2018 shows will materialise as the year progresses.
We also plan to put together some UK shows during the course of the year.
We will also be starting to look at writing further material for the next album… there are already a lot of things which have been recorded over the last few years which have been put onto the back burner and which we will likely return to and finish writing.
I think we will be pretty busy!
On behalf of all of the guys may I thank everyone for their support, particularly over the last six or seven years. It’s very much appreciated and taken to heart.
We hope that you all enjoy the “Hell to Pay” album… it’s been a long time coming but we hope you think it’s worth the wait.
David Wilkinson: Vocals: Spartan Warrior.