- Hello, Andy! Let's start with the early days of the band. Tell us, how and where did you meet each other? How old were you when you did the first steps with Bolt Thrower?
- It was 1986,when I met Gav and Baz.Jimmy Whitley, who was bass player with Napalm and Ripcord, came round my flat one day, and said he knew some people who were starting a new band. After a couple of phone calls I went over to Leamington Spa, had a quick practice and Baz and Gav asked me if I wanted to join, that was it! I was just coming up to my 21st birthday
- By that moment, what kind of drumming background did you have? When did you start learning blast beats, double bass and other metal techniques? Did you have any other drummers around to hang out with?
- I started to play the drums when I was 15 years old. Up to the point I joined Bolt Thrower I’d always played in Punk/Hardcore bands, which is still my favourite kind of music. I only started to play double bass drums when I joined Bolt thrower. I just learnt as we rehearsed. At that time there was a great scene in Birmingham at a pub called the Mermaid. All the bands used to hang around at gigs. It was a very creative time, all the bands were playing stuff that had never really been heard before! It was great to be apart of it!
- After several demos, you've been invited to play at John Peel sessions. How did it happen? What did it mean to you? Do you remember your feelings and thoughts about this event?
- Well, I sent a copy of the demo to Tommy Vance (rock show), who replied saying it wasn’t their thing. And at the same time I sent a copy to John Peel. A little time later I got a call from John Walters, who was John Peel's producer, and we were offered a session. It was great for Bolt Thrower, and the day after the show we were offered a record deal, and the interest in the band was amazing. Hundreds of letters each week. Doing the session was great fun, our only release with Alan the original vocalist. Funnily enough, Karl drove us there as he was a good friend at the time. Karl in turn did the vocals on 2 other sessions for John Peel. John helped us and other bands immensely. It was a sad day for alternative music when he passed away!!!
- That one was still recorded with your previous singer, Alan West. So, why did he leave the band and how did Karl join you? What do you remember about your first rehearsals together with him?
- Alan just got in touch and said he didn’t want to carry on with the band, that was it. Karl was an old friend, he had driven us to shows and the 1st Peel session. He just fancied giving it ago and it worked, he didn’t have a lot of time as we had IN BATTLE to record.
- In 1988 you released your debut album, "In Battle There is No Law!". Tell us about the recording sessions, how did it go? How long did it take you to record everything? How did you like working at Loco Studio?
- We had a week to record the 1st album. But it was remixed by Vinyl Solution, which we didn’t know about until it was too late. Loco was a good studio. Out of the way, so we could just concentrate on the album. I have never been happy with the sound of IN BATTLE, I think the production of the Peel sessions/demos was better. Vinyl Solution used 2nd hand tapes to record the album so a lot of the clarity was lost, then the original mix which we liked was scrapped, which we thought was better!!!
- The fact that there was a woman in the band, did it still surprise people at your concerts? What was general reaction on Jo at that time?
- Gav wanted to switch to playing Guitar, we tried a few bassists who didn’t work, and that’s when Jo joined the band. As I've said before, it just worked well. Jo is a great Bassist, we already knew her, and she is totally into the music. Back then, there weren’t a lot of females playing in Grind bands. Most people thought it was a good thing. We did have a few shows were idiots shouted some rubbish though
- In 1989 you released the second full-length, "Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness". That was the beginning of your long cooperation with Earache Records. So, how did it happen? How and when did they approach you with the deal?
- Games Workshop got in touch with an idea just before Earache did, so we thought why not get both companies involved, and it worked out quite well. We went up to the old Games Workshop offices they had some great artists working for them. Karl was into the Games Workshop stuff, but the main thing for Bolt Thrower was the Artwork, which suited our music really well. They also designed the Logo which is now an iconic symbol for the band.
- Straight after that you went to the Grindcrusher Tour, together with Napalm Death, Morbid Angel and Carcass. What do you remember about that trip? How was it to play together with those guys? Have you discussed with Pete Sandoval any drum techniques?
- Grind Crusher was a great tour. There were two tour buses, with Napalm Death and Morbid Angel on one, and Bolt Thrower and Carcass on the other. We got to play some big venues in the UK, which at the time was unheard of. It was great fun, drum techniques were not talked about, just a lot of drinking and trouble making was had!!!
- Your 3rd full-length, "War Master", was released in 1991. Tell us about the preparations of this material. Did you have any specific goal to achieve with this album?
- No the usual!!! A lot of practice making up some killer songs, as always, just wanted to make a better album than the last. We couldn’t use Games Workshop as they were too expensive, so we used one of their old artists. Maybe not my favourite album, looking back on it. But the songs were still great. Album, which took us the next step to the real sound of Bolt Thrower - "The IVth Crusade"!!!!
- "War Master" was recorded at Slaughterhouse Studios, which was destroyed in a fire in about 2 weeks after you left it. Tell us a bit about the recording sessions, how different were those from your previous experience? What did you mainly focused on?
- Slaughter house was an amazing studio, mainly because of Colin Richardson, it was at the back of a pub which didn’t get anyone in!!!!!! My opinion was that the owner did an insurance job on the place!!! But for us it was the next step in finding the real Bolt thrower sound! As in mid paced and heavy as fuck!
- In 1992 your next full-length saw the light of the day. "The IVth Crusade" was kinda revolutionary one. You slowed down, tuned lower your strings, thereby becoming even heavier. Was it your natural evolution or something eventually influenced your play-style?
- In a way this album was us going back to the beginning. In battle was more mid paced and heavy riffs.
Fourth crusade is my favourite album. It is just a great album. It would stand up to any death metal album today.
- So, " ...for Victory" became the last one for you. Why did you leave the band after its release? Actually, Karl left too. Was it your mutual agreement? What kind of memories do you have associated with this album?
- This was a hard album for me. We didn’t have a lot of time to rehearse the songs, I remember it took me a week to record the drums. After the first day my legs were in agony, and I had to push through the pain barrier to get the tracks done. I was glad though that album's production was amazing. I'd have to say it was the time for me where we stopped being a band, and became 5 people who played in a band together. I think we all loved playing in Bolt Thrower, but had different ideas of what we wanted to do. It was a hard time for us.
- And now, after so many years, you and Karl are working together again. Tell us about your newest band, Memoriam. How did you come up with that idea? And how did you manage to gather such a great line-up?
- Yes, well, after Martin sadly passing away, which hit everyone in the band very hard, myself and Karl went out for a beer and basically thought life’s to short, lets do something and just have some fun like we used to. Frank and Scott were on the South American Benediction tour, but when they got back we asked if they were interested. And that was that really.
It is amazing, rehearsing is fun, its productive. We agree and disagree on a lot of things. But all have the same attitude: “LETS JUST HAVE SOME FUN, AND SEE WHAT WE CAN DO WITH MEMORIAM”.
Six months in, we have a 7” coming out, festival dates through to the end of the year, and most of all some great songs.
- There is an upcoming first release, "The HellFire Demos". What can you say about this one? What songs did you include?
-Well, it's a Demo that sounds heavy As fuck! For 2 days in a studio it's really great! The songs are "War Rages On" and "Resistance". Anyone can pick up a copy from here. It's a limited edition, and it's pretty much sold out before it gets released!!!
- And what is the current state of the band? Are you working on the full-length? When can we expect its release? And very soon there will be some of your first live appearances. So, what kind of shows have you already planned for this year?
- The state of the band at the moment is FOCUSED and POSITIVE! Yes, there will be an album, we have signed to a major label (details to be announced soon). We have studio time booked late summer, so we hope early 2017 for the Full Album. We have festival appearances up to the end of this year, and more being organized as we speak! We are going to see where we can take MEMORIAM. So expect to see the band in as many places as we can get to!!
- Thank you for this interview, Andy. Would you like to add anything in the end?
- MEMORIAM would like to thank everyone for their support!!!