July 30, 2010
By far one of the lesser known NWOBHM bands that spawned during the golden age of new british hard rock heavy metal music. Everyone is familar with Diamond Head, Budgie and of course Def Leppard, Saxon, Sweet Savage and tons more we will explore later. Stormqueen are one of THE most underrated of all the lot of metals most elite force that was birthed at that time. This is the truth.
Thanks again for giving me the time of day, you guys were gods. How did the band come up?
Dave: The band sprung up around myself and the other guitarist Neil Baker. We knew each other from school growing up in Barry, a smallish town in Wales. We had heard through other musicians that we both knew that we were both looking to form a band with the right people. Neil and I met up eventually at my house, he brought his guitar and some records he wanted me to hear. We jammed together and played each other records, showed each other ideas, and before we knew it we'd agreed we must start a band together.
After that it was a matter of finding people we felt were of the same mind set and had the abilities we were after. It didn't take long to find Boofy our drummer. he was and still is notorious as an absolutely brilliant rock drummer. So for us he was the first person we asked. Then we started jamming together and writing songs before looking for a singer and bassist.
Bryn Merryck seemed the obvious choice as bassist, again a brilliant natural talent (as was proven when he was later asked to join The Damned). Chris Glyn-Jones, the first vocalist came a little while later. That line up played around Wales for a while before Bryn left to join the Damned, and we felt Chris wasn't really what we wanted in a singer.
The classic line up evolved around late 1981, when we placed an advert for singer and bassist, and a guy called Mac answered it for singer. We went to meet with him but he wasn't right for us. however he had some mates in a band called Dead Reckoning, namely Paul Burnett on vocals and Nick MacCormac on bass. We checked them out and asked them straight away as Paul was exactly what we wanted. They joined not long after and the classic StormQueen was born.
Paul: There was a very close knit music scene in Barry South Wales, Dave, Neil and Boofy being friends as well as musicians, formed a band together. That band eventually became “StormQueen”.
When the demo tape was released?
Dave: Well that depends on which demo you mean. The first demo, which I guess is the one most people refer to as "The Battle of Britain" was recorded in 1980. That was with the first line up and it was recorded in a BBC studio in Cardiff, Wales. It was never released as such. Though I know many many copies are floating around and are traded on the net a lot.
It's strange that it should be the demo that has been focused on most as it wasn't by any means the best. We recorded three more demos after that one, and they are all better. The second demo recording was the one that was released as the single. Well two tracks of it anyway. I guess this one isn't as well known other than being the single.
Paul: I can’t speak for the “Battle of Britain” demo as I wasn’t around for that first recording. But I recall there was always great interest in all the following StormQueen demo’s.
Did many buy it?
Dave: We didn't really sell the demos to be honest, it wasn't really done so much back then like it is now. You have to bare in mind it would have all been on cassette tape then, that or vinyl as there were no other mediums everyone had access to. So it was more a case of giving tapes away at shows, sending them to radio stations and people would often record stuff off the radio. But the only music we ever sold as such was the "Come Silent the World" 7 inch single.
Paul: Well, not being involved with the band at that point I would have no idea. Dave is the person to ask really.
Did it have any cover?
Dave: Our demo tapes did have basic covers. Black and white photocopied artwork that I did myself. They changed as I got new photos etc. The 7 inch single did not have a cover. It was just a plain white sleeve. We had to keep costs down so......
Paul: I don’t think there was a cover on StormQueen’s very first demo, at least I don’t remember it as so. I could be wrong…but Dave would know best as he did all the artwork etc for all StormQueen publicity and releases.
What did the people think about it?
Dave: Well the response we got from people was just great. Our rehearsal room was pretty large and very central in town, so as word got round about the band and the place LOTS of people would come and hang out there. Watch us rehearse and write songs etc, they were special times. Feedback from our shows was always excellent. We always put on a hell of a live performance, I mean we're talking fireworks, flashbombs, explosions, huge back drop with the logo. We always hired in our usual P.A. guy and his 5k P.A. rig, and we always had a big light show too. So the a gig was always very definitely an event, and people lapped it up. Interestingly a couple of guys who always came to our shows and everything later formed their own band, TIGERTAILZ. They told me we were a big influence on them to start playing etc, which is great to hear.
Paul: I’m sorry, but again, as I was not part of the band at that point I really have no idea.But Dave can fillyou in for sure.
Why did you decide to call it Battle of Britain?
Dave: Well, that was down to me really. On the first demo I did virtually all of the initial song writing. Neil also contributed, in fact some of the songs we wrote the music 50/50 between us. Others I wrote on my own. I wrote all of the lyrics for the songs. I honestly have no idea where I came up with the concept of a song called "The Battle of Britain". I guess I was at an age where these things caught my imagination, and of course it is a very big thing in British history. We were always taught a lot about it at school and there is remembrance day each year in the UK, where we are asked to think of those who died at war, and the Battle of Britain always features strongly in that. I guess it has good overtones for a metal song too heh heh. Also I had this BBC sound effects album with war sounds on it, including the siren we used at the beginning and the plane sounds in the middle 8. I think that was a big factor, I really wanted to use my sound effects album heh heh, so wrote the song to allow me to do that. Partly anyway.
However, *we* didn't call it "The Battle of Britain demo". It was always referred to by each song title individually, or as our first demo. It's other people, fans, collectors and enthusiasts that have come to call it by that name. It still sounds strange to me to hear people call it that. We might have referred to it as "the BBC demo" too.
Paul: Oh dear, same scenario I’m afraid. I believe Dave wrote all the lyrics for the first demo, and practically all of the music too. So he’s the man to ask.
How many copies of the single were made?
Dave: Ahh well now there is a twist in the tale to this one (see next question). There was initially to be 500 copies in the official release. More ended up being produced due to errors and problems with the first pressing. But 500 *official* copies were pressed, plus a few test pressings for quality check. So, yes it was a small release.
Paul: There were 500 singles pressed, and I think about 100 or so mispressed singles. We were led to believe they were all destroyed, obviously they weren’t.
What I've heard the single also got misspressed. What went wrong?
Dave: Well, when we got the first test copies (10 or so) and an initial production run (which was about 150 - 200 copies I guess), there were flaws. Firstly the labels, which were red with black writing, had bubbled up very strangely and were sort of peeling off the discs. Also they had mis-printed the title of the A-side, it read "Come Silent the Night" instead of "Come Silent the World" as it should have done. I also recall that there were some audible clicks on the pressings on one or both sides, which we couldn't allow of course. And so these were all supposedly sent back to the factory to be destroyed. Apart that is from a few copies that we had given out when we went to do a radio interview (as we really wanted them to play it). After this it was then re-mastered and re-pressed. As far as I am aware, there were only the 500 silver on black copies, and the few red copies that slipped out. I actually prefer the silver on black myself.
Did you ever play live outside United Kingdom?
Dave: Sadly no, or should I say not yet. After all new StormQueen activity is imminent so that possibility is still a reality for us. But in those early days we never got the chance sadly.
Paul: It was a difficult time to be a band from Wales back then. The stigma attached to being form Wales really held you back. Thankfully that parochial attitude has disappeared... well leastways within music it would appear. And rightfully so.
What other songs did you play live? Except for the demo songs and the single.
Dave: Wow, this is a tough one. I mean it depends on which period you refer to. You have to remember the band was together in all for close to 5 years, so we had a *lot* of material during that period and of course it always changed depending on our choices of songs for the set. But we would play tracks that we never did record, some I can remember are:
StormQueen (Ironic given the title but we never did record that. We plan to record it very soon for inclusion o the OPM album release as a bonus 7inch)
Seasons in the breeze
The Longest Night
Paul: StormQueen were always busy songwriters, so there was always a large set of material to choose from. Many of which I forget now. We never performed covers… it wasn’t part of our agenda at all.
Was the record company interested in releasing more of Stormqueen?
Dave: There was actually. We had interest from Music For Nations, Neat, Bronze, Castle to name a few. Our problem to be honest was being a Welsh band. Back then (and I know Persian Risk, Tokio Rose and other Welsh NWOBHM bands will testify to the same problem) bands in Wales weren't taken too seriously by labels. Well by most anyway. It was something of a stigma. It's very different now of course. But back then, and even subsequently with my later band Warlords/Lord you weren't taken seriously if you were from Wales. With Lord for instance which was even later still I had to tell gig venues and labels etc that we were from California to get gigs. Luckily we had toured over there and had loads of great press to back it up. But for StormQueen, the huge stumbling block was getting out of Wales.
Paul: StormQueen’s single was a self release. RealFire Recirds was our own label and distribution company combined if you like. Had we had the finances back then we would have released an album on the RealFire label for sure.
When and why did Stormqueen call it a day?
Dave: Why indeed... well the primary problem was that myself and Neil, the other guitarist found our musical interests moving in different directions. Neil wanted to diversify, bring in more jazz elements, basically get more experimental. But although I was up for experimenting, I felt there was too heavy a jazz/improvisational element to where Neil was going, and he felt the music was constraining him too much. So as time progressed it came to a head, and Neil quit the band. He was very difficult to replace, in fact impossible in terms of the chemistry we had when it worked. We struggled on, and eventually with a different guitarist and bassist (same guitar, vocal and drums) went on and morphed into Vancouver. But I guess that's another story. Paul eventually got itchy feet and had been made an offer from a band in London with management so, quite rightly he left as well. And that was that really.
Paul: The StormQueen split happened because of a number of reasons. I became frustrated that the band couldn’t seem to break through, but I was unaware that it wasn’t down to us, but this Welsh stigma. So I accepted an offer to join Tredegar. There was never anything personal in the break up of StormQueen, although Dave was very hurt and threatened to kill me. We believed in the music but sadly just didn’t get that vital lucky break. If we had been in London like bands such as Iron Maiden, we would almost certainly have seen better success. But hey, maybe it’s on it’s way 20 years later heh heh. There is not and never has been any animosity between us guys. We were always all great friends and remain so.
What did you do afterwards?
Dave: Well me personally, I went on to put together various bands over time. The band I am in presently is called DEFACE. I never stopped playing. I was always in a band doing original material. I've never been in a covers band or anything like that. Right after StormQueen there was a different version of the line up (Paul, Myself, Boofy, Nick MacCormac and a new guy Andy Carney on guitar) and we were called Vancouver. Though we did do a number of StormQueen songs too. So I guess it was a mutation of StormQueen in a way.
After that fell apart I teamed up with our former manager Joey Parratt and formed a band project called "No One". We did that for a while, did some TV appearances, videos etc. Then I hooked up with a band called More Than Passion. Who were Cardiff based. We got to play the Welsh Live Aid, which was amazing. Then I hooked up with the singer I still work with in DEFACE, Christian Sargent. We have been in many band line ups together. Warlords, Lord, DirtBox, Ikon, Mook, and now DEFACE. Warlords toured the USA in 1987, released an E.P. out there, and though the name then changed to Lord we released an album in 1991 also called "Lord". We toured extensively. It fizzled out though for various reasons, and in early 1992 I moved to Los Angeles.
Over there I formed a psychedelic rock band band called My Dragonfly (called Eve's Tattoo early on), where I was on vocals. I also did an electro/industrial project called Ubermensch which I am very proud of. Then Christian and I hooked up again and he came over to the states, moving up to San Francisco we did Dirtbox together. Before heading back to the U.K. to continue as Ikon. Then Mook with different people, and now DEFACE. So you see I have been very active outside of StormQueen.
Paul: I guess I just drifted really….I worked with Tredegar, Carerra, Ashmata Talan and then Ashmata again to record an album. But then I had a long respite from musical involvement, which was a bereft time. It feels great to have StormQueen back on path again. I can’t wait to do more new music.
Which Stormqueen song is your favorite?
Dave: Phew that's a tough one, it really is. I am very fond of "Come Silent The World", I think it is one of the more original songs we wrote. If you listen to it closely it doesn't sound like any other metal band at all. I also love "Cake/These Walls Have Eyes" and "Just For A Day" both from the third demo we recorded (soon to be available on the OPM release and hopefully on cd through specialist labels worldwide too). But I guess Come Silent The World holds a very special place as it was the single etc.
Pau: “Just for a day” from the third recording is very special to me. The lyric is very personal. It is a beautiful song.
Tell us about the current situation of Stormqueen.
Dave: Well it has been quite a roller coaster really since about the time Malc Macmillan published the new version of his book "The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Encyclopedia". He wrote about us there, and about the single etc, and it kick started a huge wave of interest in the band again, which is great. After that we got tons of people getting in contact, and we talked with OPM records, and from that we are releasing a very special collectors anthology on vinyl with them. It is to feature all of the previously unreleased songs on a vinyl 12", with a full colour gatefold sleeve and picture book/sleeve inserts. To go with that we are recording one song from the early StormQueen days that we never recorded called... funnily enough "StormQueen". Plus one brand new track just written called "Can You Hear ME Thinking" in fact we recording that right now.
After that is complete and the OPM release is out, we are hoping to do a similar thing on cd with a number of labels, in a number of different countries. We may also work on more new material is there is enough interest, and if that goes well who knows, we could see some more StormQueen live shows. It's very possible. Thanks to all the interest, especially from people like yourselves it has been great for us. Just great to have people appreciating what StormQueen was.... Thanks to everyone.
Paul: There is an imminent compilation anthology album out soon on OPM records, in vinyl only format, with a single attached to it. The single will feature the first ever recording of StormQueen (the song) and one brand new song which is fantastic as far as I’m concerned.
Bring it on I say…… I’m raring to go!!!! Cheers!!!