Sunday, 31 May 2015

James Stevenson Holy Holy Interview

James Stevenson isn't a man who likes to sit still so as he prepares to embark on tour with the highly successful Bowie themed Holy Holy I caught up with him to find out what makes the whole project tick!

 For those that still haven't had the chance to pick up James' fantastic debut album "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" it has recently had a physical release via Plastic Head ,which means it will be easier for you to get hold off via Amazon and the like (see links at the bottom of this interview).

With the live Holy Holy Album "The Man Who Sold The World - Live In London" due to be released tomorrow and their tour ready to kick off on the 12th it's time for James and I to talk all things Holy Holy!

Holy Holy started as a one off celebration of the classic early 70s Bowie period, how did it evolve into a much more ambitious touring project?

Well really because we all enjoyed doing it so much. The Latitude Festival in 2013 where I got Clem in was great but then Woody Woodmansey himself got in touch and said he'd be interested in getting involved - and then Tony Visconti - it just snowballed.

Why was "The Man Who Sold The World" chosen to play in full when the more obvious albums would surely have been "Ziggy" or "Aladdin Sane"?

Well because of Tony Visconti's involvement. He produced and played bass on TMWSTW. After that album he moved on to T.Rex etc...

The venues on last years tour ranged from pub to club to much bigger venues like the Shepherds Bush Empire; was it liberating to have that different connection with the audience?

Well as I've said many times my favourite thing to do is to walk on stage and play my guitar - whether it's to 100 people or 1000. Every dynamic is different. Liberating probably isn't the word. I usually enjoy any gig I do no matter how large or how small.

Surely that is something you experience when touring with Chelsea or The Alarm and then playing festivals like Coachella with The Cult?

Well yeah. But Chelsea just did this gig at a pub in Gateshead called The Three Tuns and it was electrifying, Coachella was so full of young rich kids it was a drag. It sells out every year before they announce the line-up of bands- that says it all IMO about how much the music matters!

Do you approach them differently?

No. It feels a bit different but you approach them the same. You walk on and do what you do. I remember feeling a bit intimidated at Milton Keynes when GLJ supported Bowie in front of 60,000. But you always give it your best shot whether you're playing to 100 or 100,000 people.

Did you have any input into what tracks made it into the second set?

With Holy Holy? Yes, of course. For me it's a dream come true to play with legends like Woody and Tony. I spent my entire adolescence listening to their records. So now to walk on stage and play with them is an absolute honour. I was really keen to get "Suffragette City" and "Rock And Roll Suicide" in there - which were debated at first by the band.

The band throughout the tour was fairly stable with the addition of the odd surprise guest like Marc Almond at Shepherds Bush but then changed for the Xmas shows presumably due to availability. Did this give the shows a different feel or is it one of the strengths of a project like Holy Holy?

Very different. The thing is we like to get out and do the show but quite often Tony, Glenn or Steve Norman isn't available. The we have to go out with a different line up - like a second version of the group - and play smaller venues because we haven't got all the big names in tow.

What differences are there to the band for the new tour?

Well Steve Norman has taken off again with Spandau. I'm so pleased for him - no-one deserves it more. I was just in Australia visiting my brother and took him to their show in Melbourne. They were absolutely fuckin brilliant! So we've got Terry Edwards doing Steve's gig. But he's very different to Steve. They're both incredible musicians but Terry brings his own stuff to the party. It's all good.

The tour kicks off with the Isle of Wight Festival, what have you got planned for the festival crowd?

Well Suzanne Vega is getting up for The Man Who Sold The World - so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

How will the rest of the tour differ from last year? Will it be a similar set giving those who missed it last year a chance to experience the show?

Kind of. Marc Almond is doing a lot of the gigs. He was electrifying at Shepherd's Bush last year - so that's fantastic. There will be The Man Who Sold The World in it's entirety of course - but the second set will have a few surprises.

This year you also get to break out from the UK and head over to Tokyo, will there be more international dates to come?

I hope so. I love playing in this band so as far as I'm concerned the more we do the better.

June 1st sees the release of the double live "Live at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire" CD, were multiple shows recorded or was this always intended to be the one that would be released?

It was always just going to be that gig. My friend Richard Den Berg shot it - six cameras. We didn't have that anywhere else.

You played your first solo set at The Gathering this year with the "From The Alarm" set  showcasing the solo work of Craig, Smiley and yourself which was amazing. Did you enjoy it?

Well thanks for saying you enjoyed it. For me it was FANTASTIC. I'd love to do more but I have the seven piece band to do my record justice - and that's kinda cost prohibitive. My mate Martin Kelly who used to own Heavenly Records said if I made my album, even in the mid 90s, I'd have had every label chasing me with their cheque books out! LOL. Times have changed. I'd love to make a second album but I'm not sure if I can afford to do it. The whole industry is so fucked up.

That evening you expressed that you definitely wanted to play more solo live dates, is that any closer to being realised?

Hmmmm - well that depends... I wish there weren't economic considerations....but sadly there are.

The new Chelsea album "Saturday Night Sunday Morning" seems to be getting a buzz about it already, what are your thoughts on it?

Well I love the record. Nic Austin replaced me when I left in 1980 so it was great to work with him. He's a fantastic songwriter. He wrote "Fuck All" and Something Wrong In Yer Head" surely future punk classics. It's a great record - if I say so myself.

How much of the Chelsea tour will you make before you have to switch over to Holy Holy?

After the 100 Club 5th June I have to bail. Sad but true.

The Cult are working on a new album currently, will you be involved in the live dates again or is that a conversation that hasn't happened yet?

They're taking a keyboard player out for the new shows in June and to promote their new album in the autumn - their call of course - I love playing in the band but I have so much going on, one less to juggle is a relief in some ways. I'm actually in L.A. right now and went riding (motorbike not horse! LOL) with Billy today. I think something fresh might be good for The Cult - but who knows what the future holds?

Finally, we've been promised a new Alarm album for next there anything you can tell us about it yet?

No idea! Sorry, ask Mike! But I think the actual band will tour the UK in Spring 2016!

James Stevenson, as always, thank you!

To Order "Saturday Night Sunday Morning" by Chelsea click HERE!

To Order "The Man Who Sold The World - Live In London" by Holy Holy click HERE!

To Order "Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over" by James Stevenson click HERE!

Monday, 18 May 2015

SoD for Whitby!

The Whitby Goth Weekend that takes place across the weekend of 30th October - 1st November have just confirmed Spear Of Destiny will be appearing on Saturday 31st!

Early bird tickets are available HERE!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Spear Diary Dates!

Some early dates have been released after this weekends Westworld weekend so Spear and TOH fans may want to get these in their diaries now!

Spear Of Destiny Tour 8th - 31st October 2015
Theatre Of Hate Tour 1st - 6th December 2015
Westworld Weekend XIV 6th & 7th May 2016

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

"Easy Piracy" released

"Easy Piracy" the second album by Dead Men Walking has been released in the US coinciding with the short run of live dates on Americas west coast. There is good news and bad news for UK fans as the album won't see an official release here till later in the year, presumably to coincide with the much rumoured UK dates, but is available now on Amazon. The digital release is currently priced at £8.19 but due to the CD being an import it is clocking in at over £16!

Check out up to date prices and availability HERE!

The album features the following track listing:

01.Rock And Roll Kills
02.Damned Damned Damned
03.Weather Song
04.Deadman Blues
05.Whatever Turns You On (Will Turn You On)
06.Song For Eddie
07.Easy Piracy
08.Doctor Henry
09.When The Boats Come In
10.The Devil's Music
12.Forgotten Saints
13.What If...
14.Out On The Edge
15.Love Of My Life

Friday, 1 May 2015

Steve Grantley Interview

With the imminent release of the brand new live RT-Zed album "Crunch"  and upcoming appearance at the Westworld Weekend it seems a great time to catch up with Steve Grantley to find out what's new!

What made you decide to release a live RT-Zed album?

Well, it was initially recorded for reference - just to see what the fuck we sounded like, (laughs) no big deal. We could only record on 8 tracks and weren't even sure if the bloody recording desk would work. It did work, thankfully - and when I got round to listening to the result I was surprised by the quality. I decided to give it a proper focused mix and I went into Blue Moon studios to get the job done.

"Crunch" is actually a recording of the bands live debut. What was it that drew you to release this show above others?

Simple- it's the only show we recorded! (laughs) Actually I thought it was cool to release the debut - you know; the first ever gig? Fuck it: why not?

There was a different line up for the live shows so who appears on the album?

It's Jonesy, who played bass and guitar on "ZED HED" - he's on guitar hero duty, Simon Turner on bass and Beny Reid on drums; I sing and play Neanderthal guitar! (laughs)

How different are the live versions of the songs?

They are as close to the "ZED HED" versions as possible just more raucous. I arranged the songs on "ZED HED" to be played by a traditional 4 piece rock n roll band. The well trodden path of bass, guitar and drums, so it would work in a 'live' setting. As opposed to the first album "Return To Zero" which was much more about electronica.

Was the set list mainly taken from songs that appeared on "ZED HED" or did you include a mix of older tracks too?

It's mostly from "ZED HED", with a brand new song "No Conspiracy" and a few covers. The album wasn't even out when we did this gig so that's why we included covers - I didn't want people to stand through 45 mins of music that they didn't know, so we added the covers to give people something to latch onto.

You've been working on this release for what seems to be a pretty long time, was this just a matter of fitting it in around your heavy touring schedule with SLF or were you being a perfectionist?

'Perfectionist' sounds a bit wank don't it? (laughs) But yeah, I did want it to sound as good as possible and I spent a long time mixing and remixing - getting the best out of the recordings. But also 2013 was "ZED HED" - then 2014 was "No Going Back" plus a world tour and that promo is ongoing. This was the first chance I had to get anything done.

The album is priced at just £7.99. Why did you decide on a lower price?

There's only 10 ten tracks and it's live. I felt that price was reasonable, I see it almost as a 'sampler' record. I think people may not feel like paying 12 or 13 pounds for an album by an artist they don't know but may well give it a go at 8 quid! It's a limited edition so it's almost sold out now. I just felt this price was fair. 

You made available the 'found' copies of the "Return To Zero" CD last year and they sold out pretty much instantly, were you surprised at how high the demand was?

A few people had asked me if there were any other albums so I knew a few would sell but we shifted the fifty in a day - that was a shock. I just found a box of them at an office I used to work out of and put them up for sale - wish I had a few more! (laughs)

RT-Zed are at the Westworld Weekend this year, it must feel pretty good to be asked back again?

Yes it is indeed. Gonna be fun. I know all the guys in the band and their manager, I've toured with Spear and I was the original drummer in Kirks band Dead Men Walking. It's great to be returning to Westworld; it's a great weekend - I went last year and had a ball. We are looking forward to playing in front of people who will actually know some of the tunes this time round. (laughs)

The track "Room No 5" was released from "ZED HED" as a single in early 2014, how did it do?

It did well under the circumstances, kind of a 'turn-table-hit' (laughs) but with no record label or press agent it's difficult to get attention. The radio play was steady and stayed on their lists for weeks. I could see the response by the downloads & CD sales, unfortunately it wasn't enough to bother the charts but a healthy response for a band who had no help whatsofuckingever!

Have you started working on the next RT-Zed studio album yet?

I'm always writing - there's a few demos - after Westworld I'll get to it - focused. At the moment I'm concentrating on demoing, preparing for the upcoming gig and releasing "Crunch". I'll go into the studio to record something new early next year I reckon.

What are your plans for it?

World domination! (laughs) It'll be different to "ZED HED". I can't see the point in making the same album over and over so this'll be different again. It won't be a straight ahead 'rock n roll' record that's for sure. Occasionally we got compared to the Foo Fighters with "ZED HED" for some reason and that was not our intention. It's the drummer, front man bullshit - I don't want to sound like them! I wanna be like Kraftwerk meets the Pistols with a bit of Cypress Hill and Parliament thrown in! (laughs)

SLF took a big risk going the crowd funding route for "No Going Back" but it seems to have paid off in a big way with great sales and critical reception. Did it exceed your expectations?

Fuckin' 'ell Yeah! We were shocked at the response - it was WAY more successful than we ever expected. It was a completely new thing for us so we had no idea what to expect, didn't know what would happen. When we saw how quickly the Pledge items were going we were truly astounded and we can't thank people enough for their support.

The new Pledge campaign will start shortly for a live DVD to be filmed on St.Patricks Day next year in Glasgow on the 25th anniversary of SLF playing at the venue in a row. Do you know what sort of Pledge rewards we can expect or is it veiled in secrecy?

It's more than my life is worth to reveal such secrets! (laughs) All I can say is that there are some exciting pledge items that will give unique access to the band. I suggest you keep an eye on for further details.

The "No Going Back" tour has proved really popular and taken in many venues, festivals and countries...what's next?

Yeah - last year was incredibly successful for the band - worldwide.

96 gigs in twenty countries across 4 continents - mental! The "No Going Back" tour continues this year too. We are doing The Isle Of Wight Festival which we've never played before, back to the States in the summer to play places we didn't get to last year and we do Europe around October. No UK winter tour this year I'm afraid but - there may be a few one-offs. Things are still to be confirmed so I can say no more. (laughs)

How do you get time to do both bands?

SLF comes first and then I work RT-Zed around the Fingers schedule. It's two completely different things - schizophrenic. (laughs)

Where and when can we get "Crunch"?

It is available to order now from our website and shipping begins on May 11th although you will be able to purchase it at Westworld.