I sat down with Andy D’Urso, the guitarist for Traitor’s Gate, to talk about the band, the music business and their EP Only The Strong:
Respondent – Andy D’Urso – Guitars
- What inspired the name of the band and what are your influences?
Well, to be honest, I don’t think anyone thought too hard about the name.
Traitors Gate in London is a famous landmark, and it just sounded very ‘Metal’ back in ’83!
As for influences, back in the early ‘80s you couldn’t help but be influenced by bands like Judas Priest, Saxon, Maiden, Motorhead. Those bands were everywhere, and being much younger men, we attended as many shows as we could.
35years later, I guess some of those bands still have an influence but it’s natural to pick up influences along the way. Bands like Queensryche, Dio, Accept, etc. My personal all-time favourite for straight ahead, no nonsense riffing will always be Priest, because that’s the era I came from.
- Where do you find influence for music and song writing?
Good question. This one is never easy to answer for me. If I keep my answer to the present day, I’d say I’m definitely influenced by a lot of bands and guitarists I grew up listening to because it’s just naturally a part of me, and it’s impossible to ignore.
For me, the riff is the most important part. It has to have ‘something’ that gives me a feeling of ‘f*ck, that’ll sound awesome live!’. It could be as simple as something I do when I’m tuning up that just triggers something, or working off a drum beat I’m feeling on the day, or even a story theme I have in my head. I think most writers will tell you there’s no one way to do it.
I will say though there is one big difference between how I wrote in the early days, and how I write today…
I literally try not to listen to any other bands when I’m writing.
It’s far too easy to unconsciously write a poor copy of something you heard somewhere else. The guys in the band are my sounding board for anything I start writing because they have a far more eclectic taste in metal than I do!
- What was the process like for writing the EP Only The Strong, and are there any songs that stand out?
Another good question. This is probably going to be a boring answer, but I can honestly tell you, I simply wrote down anything and everything that came into my head. Hours of just sitting in the studio playing around and trying to get something finished. You have to remember that we only reformed at the end of 2016, after nearly 30yrs apart. I hadn’t been called upon to write anything for years.
In the end, the music just happened, and I think I wrote around 17 tracks in about 4 weeks. Inevitably of course, some of those fell away as we worked in rehearsals, but it did kind of set out what our style would be for the comeback.
Now I think, with the addition of more tracks to form the upcoming album, I think we have definitely arrived at exactly where we want to be musically.
As for stand out tracks on the EP, I’m particularly proud of all of them but, if I had to choose, it would be Retribution, Edge of Destruction, and Fall from Grace.
- How has the music scene changed since you started out?
You know, as far as the metal genre is concerned, guys of a certain age understand the journey that took place from the NWOBHM era, through Hair Metal, through Thrash, and then onto every other metal genre (Speed, Death, Doom, etc), and even the resurgence of ‘Punk’.
I may not be a fan of it all, but I do think every incarnation of rock/metal from around 1979, right up to the present day, had an important part to play in forming the current metal scene. What we see and hear today, coming out of places like Germany, Scandinavia, South America, the US, the UK, etc, is strongly related to all of those influences. I’m so impressed by the people (bands, fans, promoters, etc) that are determined to, not only keep the movement alive, but are actually working hard every day to make it grow.
As for the business itself, well, I think we can all agree that the main difference between then and now is that the power lies with the artist, not the company. The advent of the internet opened up the world to every artist wanting to share their music, and that has to be a good thing.
- How has the band changed?
Hmm, the obvious change is the guys have all got older. Unlike me, they haven’t been able to hold on to those devastating good looks they once had, so that’s a real shame I guess (he he, that’s one beating I’ll be getting next rehearsal!).
Seriously though, as people we haven’t changed much at all. We still laugh at the same stupid things we did back in the day, and we still have the same enthusiasm for the music we listen to and play.
I would add that, as you would hope, we are all better players than we were back in the ‘80s, and with age comes more patience!
- What plans do you have for the future?
To be honest, making plans is good but staying in the present suits us also. We’ve only been back for 18mths so we are still learning how the new scene works, as far as getting shows, etc, and we still need to work harder to get onto the radars of those people that could benefit us the most going forward. The commitment is definitely there to take this as far as we can, so more shows in and outside the UK is a definite goal for us.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget our album ‘Fallen’, due to be released on the No Remorse label May 25th this year, which just so happens to coincide with our appearance at the Up The Hammers event in Athens!
I would like to say, on behalf of the band, that we are sincerely grateful to everyone that made the comeback possible, that continue to support the band, and continue to show their support for the band, live or otherwise.
And to guys like you Vivek, giving bands like us a voice.