July 25, 2010
Cult act AngelWitch were a top quality act destined for the big time back in the days of NWOBHM. However, like a lot of bands that signed to Bronze Records (inc Motorhead and Girlschool) their blossoming success was brought abruptly to a halt. However, in 2000 I got word that they were reforming and playing a secret warm up gig in London. People came from as far as Greece to fill the small club and hear classics such as Angel of Death, Baphomet and White Witch - all belted out at deafening volumes by a new 4 piece AngelWitch but still containing founder member Kevin Heybourne.
Kevin: I formed Angelwitch in 1977 because there was a lack of music going around at the time. The punk thing was going but really there was a stagnant period in rock. There was Deep Purple, ZZ Top and Sabbath, of whom I was a big big fan, but nothing new. It was really timing with the NWOBHM thing you mention. Samson happened to be there, English Rogues were there. Maiden were already on the circuit but had reformed with Dennis Stratton. The actual term 'NWOBHM' came from this one night at (the legendary) Neal Kay's Heavy Metal Bandwagon when Angelwitch and Samson played and some journalist wrote in Sounds that 'it was a new wave of British HM' hence NWOBHM.
I only remember it from the 1980 3 piece with yourself , 'Skids' Riddles and Dayvog (in joke).
Kevin: Its Dave Hogg, D-a-v-e H-o-g-g. ha ha......who was a DJ at the time. Kevin worked at a music shop where I used to go to. I liked his bass playing so he ended up in the band as well..
Who else has been in the band?
Kevin: Christ (laughing), do you really want me to name every single person thats been in Angelwitch?!! Well, the better known ones were Tom Hunting (Exodus), John Torres (Laaz Rockit)..
ok, if its easier why don't you run us thru the history of 'Witch?
Kevin: I wrote the song Angelwitch in 1976. At the time the band was called Lucifer but there was a namesake in Holland so I changed the name to Angelwitch, which was better cos it was a contradiction between angel and witch. The lyrics were more or less blasted out to fit the songs (laughing) and as for the keyboards you've mentioned, I went to take a piss and came back to find keyboards on the track. And I did my nut! (laughing). It works when you listen to it but at the time I thought it sounded like fuckin Uriah Heep!!! As for the image, it came from a Dennis Wheatley's The Devil and All His Works and so did the cover. I was into all that Hammer (60s/70s British Horror movie producers) stuff although I'm not a Satanist. The logo was the same and I think it was used in a Hammer film The Devil Rides Out.
Anyway, after doing the club circuit, we signed to Bronze and were actually one of the last NWOBHM bands to get signed, although we were one of the first on the scene. We played the Reading Festival in '81 and the (infamous) Heavy Metal Barndance at Bingley Hall in Stafford with Motorhead and Girlschool which was amazing cos Lemmy was so nervous that when I saw him it made me feel better (laughing)! After the first album, Bronze wanted a commercial single so I wrote Loser - in a couple hours. Then I split the band up (laughing)! 3 pieces are always a little funny cos theres always someone stuck in the middle and when it came to royalties time I'd been writing fuckin songs for years but the rest of the band wanted their cut and thats why you've got Suffer and Dr Phibes which are highly commercial. It wasn't so much a bust up but everyone was pissed off with what was going on so we played 2 gigs at the Marquee and that was it. I was also fed up with singing and I wanted to do my thing as a guitarist in a band, so I had a break....until '82, when I reformed 'Witch (laughter) with a couple of guys from Deep Machine, which lasted a year. Then I hooked up with Lou Taylor (ex- Satan vocalist) in 1983 and formed Blind Fury which was a soft rock band which I had wanted to do but even that wasn't satisfying enough for me. In '84 I refomed 'Witch yet again with a previous bassist, Pete, and got in touch with Dave Hogg, who had cleaned himself up by then, and we got a vocalist cos I started to lose my voice. We released 2 albums under Kilowatt, one of which was Screaming and Bleeding and then that line up fell apart as well. Its been hard finding the right sort of people - thats why there's been so many line ups, as you've noticed!! By 1985, things were getting a lot softer here and people, be it the press or labels, weren't listening to this kind of stuff so again the band got disbanded until 1989 which was when I moved to America and got John Torres and Tom Hunting, did a demo...and got deported (laughter) because I was supposed to marry this girl, who pulled out at the last minute, and I ended up overstaying. I phoned up my manager, who I didn't want to work with anymore, and he said "well, that's your reality" and that was my reality: deportation. Back here I just bummed around for a while, doing demos until now really. I worked as a tree surgeon for a while (laughter)...I phoned Scott (Higham - drummer) who had been drumming for Samson and he knew Keith (on guitars) and we jammed around cos we still had John Torres. He went back to the States recently and Scott and Keith both knew Richard so he was in and here we are. I've gotta say this is probably the tightest line up I've had as everbody's so keen and talented - Keith and Rich can both sing as well so potentially 'Witch has 3 vocalists!
Rich: Its been amazing cos the three of us (pointing to Scott and Rich) all have massive record collections and we are aware of 'Witch's history and to be able to fit this all into our lifestyles...
So what are your lifestyles?
Rich: well, tree surgeon, prositute (laughter), ex-banker for Deutschbank (more laughter) - and Scott designs ladies hosery ha ha!