NWOBHM's Blitzkrieg began life in 1980 in Leicester, England. The lads had chosen the moniker subsequent to the composition of a song about invading Martians! The name caused some trouble for the band in later tours in mainland Europe however. The initial line-up was Jim Sirotto, bassist Steve English, drummer Steve Abbey and a female singer called Sarah Aldwinckle. As Split Image, the band was in fact influenced by New Wave! The band's debut demo and the Neat Records 7" Buried Alive are considered classics. The 7" was reportedly limited to 2,500 copies although a second version with a different back cover was also pressed. In late 1981 the songs Too Wild To Tame, Hell To Pay and Vikings were recorded for a Blitzkrieg single that never happened and Avenger Subsequently re-recorded Too Wild To Tame. The band's debut was already a reunion after Ross had left Satan and the band began finally recording songs, which were composed four to five years earlier. The band eventually turned into a Brian Ross project with numerous line-up changes. At one point Ross left to try his luck with Satan only later to reform the band – after a bout of first managing and then singing for Lone Wolf. Apparently, the ‘reformation’ was meant to be a one-off exorcism of sorts which ended up being a new era for the band instead. The band again split in the late-80's only to be reformed a year later. Moore was invited to fill in again in 1991 on bass.
Ten was the old EP plus new tracks. 1996 meant a new tour of Europe for the band. This EP featured former Avenger drummer Gary Young who was a member of the band from 1990 to 1995.
A new line-up would not only release an album in 2002, but also perform at festivals in the USA and Germany. In August of 2001 Blitzkrieg is reformed With Brian Ross, guitarists Tony J. Liddle and Paul Nesbitt, drummer Phil Brews and bassist Andy Galloway. This line-up recorded the Absolute Power album which was released in 2002. In the autumn of that year Tony J. Liddle is replaced by Ken Johnson and the line-up made the Absolutely Live album of 2004. Then in January, 2004 Galloway was replaced by Paul Brews on bass.
Blitzkrieg is known to some because of Metallica's cover version of the song Blitzkrieg. Avenger bassist Mick Moore contacted Metallian to relate how this song originally came about. According to the man, Ian Jones and he, who were both in Axe Victim, had rehearsed a faster version of the song Hocus Pocus by the Dutch progressive rock band Focus. According to Moore, Jones misplayed the riff, which resulted in the song Blitzkrieg - Moore-penned changes and all - which was originally named Bitch. A month or so later Jones departed from Axe Victim to Blitzkrieg and introduced the riff and the song to the latter band. The song is completed with lyrics by singer Ross and a part by Jim Sirotto. This song is made into a limited edition of 1,000 copies which is sold at gigs. As fate would have it a few months later Mick Moore would join Blitzkrieg and think nothing of asking for credit for a song he little knows will go places!
Gary Young would go on to jam with Stevie Agnew the son of Pete Agnew from Nazareth. 1991's 10 Years Of Blitzkrieg is a MLP.
In 2005, the band would issue Sins And Greed on July 4th through Metal Nation Records. The new album featured bass player Paul Brewis. Theatre Of The Damned was released on August 10th, 2007 through Armageddon Music. The CD was recorded at Absurd Studio in Hamburg with producer Schrödey and co-producer Biff Byford of Saxon fame. Drummer Phil Brewis joined Chaos Asylum, which featured Blitzkrieg guitarist Guy Laverick. Original Blitzkrieg guitairst Ian Jones passed away on the 10th of August of 2009 after a long illness. Brian Ross had a new band called Metalizer in 2010. The band wanted to cover old NWOBHM cuts and featured Glenn S. Howes (Blitzkrieg and Tygers Of Pan Tang) on guitar and Alan Ross on second guitar and Huw Holding (also Avenger) on bass. A drummer was being sought.
Mick Moore personifies the NWOBHM musician. He spent time in several pivotal bands in the heyday of the movement. The bassist moved between cities seeking his fortune and ultimately achieved his biggest coup with none other than Blitzkrieg. Ali "The Metallian" invited Mick Moore into the anterior halls of Metallian Towers just in time for the release of a Blitzkrieg compilation and the two discussed Avenger, Axe Victim, Blitzkrieg and others all the while being feted by the wait staff. Follow-up discussions were held in England and the resulting conversations patched together to result in a look at the man's career, said bands and the NWOBHM movement in general. - 15.09.2003
METALLIAN: Mick, welcome to Metallian Towers. Will you begin the conversation by talking about how you got into hard rock and heavy metal in the first place? What was the attraction?
MICK: Thank you for inviting me. I have been looking forward to our conversation. The accommodations are kingly. I got into hard rock growing up in the era of UK glam rock. I listened to bands like The Sweet, Slade, and Mott the Hoople. Then I discovered Led Zep, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. UFO and Bad Company, they were my early influences.
METALLIAN: Tell the readers more about your musical history. Will you talk about your earliest bands?
MICK: My earliest bands were just local Leicester bands, Leicester being my home city I tried to jam with as many people as I could in order to gain experience. Before joining Blitzkrieg I briefly moved to London to look for a professional band, but it was at the height of the Punk scene and I didn't find anything I was interested in. At that time I was really into stuff like Montrose, Scorpions, etc. and not punk. I did briefly jam with a band called Mckitty while in London. It was a guy called Donovan McKitty who was a total Hendrix clone both in looks and style and a great drummer called Nico Mcbrain who later joined Iron Maiden. After starving in London for six months I moved back to Leicester and met a guitarist called Ian Jones. We put together a band called Axe Victim, although I don't remember us ever doing a gig.
Ian was a friend of Jim Sirotto from Blitzkrieg who were looking for a second guitarist. So when Jim offered Ian the job, Ian jumped at the chance and that was the end of Axe Victim.
METALLIAN: Before moving on, can you expand on your personal background?
MICK: I am saving that for my autobiography (laughs). I was born in Leicester which is in the midlands, east to be precise. It is about thirty kilometres from Nottingham, Robin Hood and all that
My mom was very supportive, but my dad wanted me to pass my exams and get a good job. He had been a pro drummer in the big band era, but World War II had put paid to his career and he ended up with menial jobs. He didn't want that for me, but I wouldn't listen and quit school basically at age fifteen and a half and stayed home and played eight hours a day every day. My school was called Westcotes and was what is known as a secondary modern school. It looked like Colditz Castle. I hated school. I only attended two days in the last six months in order to take my English and maths exams. It is still there, but not as a school anymore. It is now an adult education centre.
METALLIAN: You mentioned several of your early influences as Sweet, Slade, Bad Company et al. One is curious, how did you get into these and how did you come about their music? That is, they probably were not played on your local radio station.
MICK: Yes they were! They were on all the national radio stations here. They were also on TV here.
For me, it was a calling I suppose. I had a talent and I wanted more than anything to play. I wanted more than a nine-to-five job even at an early age. I knew that there has to be more than working all year for just two weeks in the sun. I wanted to leave something for people to remember.
METALLIAN: You mentioned that you were 'jamming' in several bands. Can you tell the readers more?
MICK: One was called Strappedo which is a Spanish torture instrument (laughs recalling). There was also Anthem. We did one demo which was produced by Thundersticks who was the drummer in Samson at the time. I just jammed with the others. I wouldn't say that I played with any others.
METALLIAN: At which point did you depart to London? How old were you?
MICK: I was seventeen, but as I told you it was at the height of punk and I was into bands like Montrose, Scorpions and Priest so apart from jamming with people like Mckitty London, at that time, was pretty bad for rock.
I lived in a one room bedsit with bars on the windows in Barnes. It was around the corner from Olympic studios. Marc Bolan was killed just around the corner from where I lived.
METALLIAN: Were you in McKitty with Nico McBrain?
MICK: No, I just spent a night jamming with them. Mckitty was a spitting image of Hendrix - even played left-handed! I remember we jammed (Scorpions' song) Virgin Killer for hours. Have you seen that album's original cover?
METALLIAN: Yes, that is the one with the twinkle in the young girl's central sexual area.
MICK: That would be the one. Never get away with that now!
METALLIAN: Sadly, rock music has become ever so safe. You move back home and joined a band called Axe victim. How did you get to meet Ian Jones?
MICK: I met him through a guy I was working with. He was a hippy type whose name I can't remember. He was a nice guy.
METALLIAN: Who came up with the name Axe Victim? It suits the day's vibe perfectly.
MICK: It must have been Ian Jones I just remembered, the guy's name was Hammy!
Anyway, it was great then. All the bars played metal, the clubs were great and the girls all had big hair and short skirts. As for what we were thinking we just wanted to get out and gig as much as we could.
METALLIAN: Yet, the band does not last.
MICK: Ian left to join Blitzkrieg. As a result, Axe Victim was only together for about two months.
METALLIAN: Yet, as we now know, you had composed music.
MICK: Yes, we had about five or six original songs back then. The only one I remember was Bitch which later became Blitzkrieg oh and another song called Axe Victim as well. Those other songs are now lost.
METALLIAN: How long after Ian joined Blitzkrieg were you also invited into the ranks?
MICK: It was about three months after. The manager Jez Gilman asked me to join. He was also Ian Jones' flatmate.
METALLIAN: Was he not also a sound engineer? What happened to him?
MICK: No, he was not a sound engineer, just an enthusiastic helping hand. After the bands split he moved out of the area and that was the last I heard!
METALLIAN: More specifically, can you talk more about how you became a member of Blitzkrieg? What were your aspirations when joining?
MICK: Not long after Ian joined Blitzkrieg, bassist Steve English decided to quit and move to London so my name was put forward as I already knew most of the guys. At this time they had already released a self-financed single that was getting a lot of attention, so I was really in a positive frame of mind that the band was going somewhere. We also gigged constantly up and down the UK, something I hadn't done that much of before. My first gig was at the Newcastle Mayfair supporting the French Band Trust. They had a big hit song with Antisocial at the time so the place was packed. Funnily enough, I also met up with Nico McBrain again who by this time was their drummer.
METALLIAN: At this point, Blitzkrieg had already released their seminal single.
MICK: Yes, the single was recorded and released within a couple weeks of Ian joining the band. Only the Blitzed Alive release was recorded with me at that time, although we also recorded Too Wild To Tame which would have been the follow-up single.
METALLIAN: Why did the band later split up when Neat had offered it a deal?
MICK: Neat hadn't offered us a deal. The single was self-financed. Neat's involvement was that it was simply recorded there and Neat put it out as well as Inferno and Lead Weight. The recording was paid for by the band.
METALLIAN: Was there a sense of a scene? Did it occur to you guys that this might be something big?
MICK: Well yes, everywhere you looked there was long hair and leather jackets and the charts were dominated by rock bands.
METALLIAN: As the years progressed, Blitzkrieg became more and more associated with singer Brian Ross. How much of impact did you have on the band's music?
MICK: I think I was probably a more aggressive player than Steve English so maybe put a bit more drive into the songs. That is not to take anything away from Steve's ability though. I also liked to contribute my own bass riffs to existing songs. The only song I actually wrote for Blitzkrieg was Too Wild To Tame which was going to be the follow up to Buried Alive, but as the band broke up shortly after we recorded it, the song actually became the first Avenger single. I did co-write the music to the song Blitzkrieg, but I never got credit for that.
METALLIAN: Going back to the earlier point, was Brian Ross the band's leader? It seems that Blitzkrieg had become a Brian Ross solo venture at times.
MICK: I guess Jim was what you would call the band's leader in the sense that he had firm ideas on the musical direction he wanted to take and he had written ninety-nine percent of the music. Having said that he was no dictator and everyone contributed in some way or another. Since the original Blitzkrieg broke up in 1981 Brian has certainly carried on the name and good luck to him.
Due to the numerous line up changes in recent years I guess it does seem like a Brian Ross solo project.
METALLIAN: You have an interesting story about one famous song - the best-known one that is - of Blitzkrieg. Won't you tell the readers about it please?
MICK: Yes, you're on about the song Blitzkrieg (laughs). Well, at one Axe Victim rehearsal Ian Jones started to play a riff, but got it wrong! He was trying to play Hocus Pocus by Focus. Well, we jammed it out into a new song which was originally called Bitch. After Ian joined Blitzkrieg it was renamed Blitzkrieg and the lyrics changed. It still had that bloody Hocus Pocus riff though and I never did get credit for my part of the music.
METALLIAN: How would you describe the music of Blitzkrieg to a potential new fan? Would it be fair to say it incorporated Black Sabbath into the typical NWOBHM vibe?
MICK: I suppose I would describe it as traditional British heavy metal. We didn't set out to sound like anyone else. Jim was influenced by Ritchie Blackmore and I think that comes across in some of his solos. Perhaps the riffs did have a 'Sabbath' feel to them in places. We were part of the NWOBHM scene, so we obviously will have that sound. We were actually on the cover of Kerrang number two, so that shows our age (laughs).
METALLIAN: Fast forward, the band broke up as you mentioned.
MICK: The band broke up in 1981 when Jim decided to concentrate on his career as a science teacher so it wasn't exactly a decision to leave the band that ended my association. Jim was the main songwriter and the rest of the band felt that the band wouldn't be the same without his input although Brian and I have often regretted this decision since!
METALLIAN: Ian Jones was already out. Did Jones go on to any other bands or did he just quit cold turkey?
MICK: Ian was asked to leave. I know he tried his hand at producing afterwards, but I can't honestly say I kept on good terms with him. It was a unanimous band decision for he to leave because he was just too hard to work with. We could do a really good show and for no apparent reason he would lash out at somebody saying they had messed up. It was an ongoing thing with him. I suppose because I had recently joined, he blamed me for being somehow responsible. After Ian was asked to leave, he was replaced by John Antcliff who was the guitar roadie.
METALLIAN: Elsewhere, in the band's classic photo pose, you are wearing a 'gotcha rocks off' shirt.
MICK: Yes, that picture was on the cover of Kerrang number two. It was the title of Def Leppard's first single. It was a bloody awful picture (laughs again).
METALLIAN: Here is a question to answer some lingering controversy. With a name like Blitzkrieg and songs concerning Vikings, the band was later seen in a controversial light. Care to set the record straight?
MICK: That is news to me. I never knew it was. Blitzkrieg had no Germanic overtones if that's what you mean. It was all gloom and armageddon. Kind of a warning on what could happen.
METALLIAN: What did you do after your departure? We know that you managed bands.
MICK: After the 'Krieg broke up I moved up to Newcastle in the Northeast of England. Back then Newcastle was called Metal City. It was where Brian Ross originally came from and we formed the band Avenger, but that's a whole different and a very long story. After Avenger broke up I ran a music club for a few years, got married and had two children. After a very messy divorce I decided a fresh start was in order so moved to the USA. I later spent eighteen months in Toronto.
METALLIAN: I am curious to know how you ended up in Canada.
MICK: I actually planned on staying in the USA. I stayed in DC for a while with Greg, the guitarist from Avenger. I then met a girl from Canada and lived up there for eighteen months.
METALLIAN: OK, I have been trying to get an answer about this on several occasions, but I think I have finally pegged you down this time. You went on to manage several bands. Which and why is this trivia never mentioned?
MICK: I am not sure where you got this information from. I ran a music club and studios. I briefly managed one band called Masque.
METALLIAN: So it is true. I knew it and it only took three different times asking!
MICK: (now laughing) OK!
METALLIAN: Something else which you meticulously avoid bringing up is Unter Den Linden. Let the confessions flow...
MICK: OK!! For the record after Blitzkrieg split up, I moved back to London. Brian returned to Newcastle. Brian joined a band called Unter Den Linden. He got in touch with me in London and asked me if I would be interested in coming up and joining the band. That's how I met Gary Young. Me and Gary hit it off and became good friends, but we wanted a heavier overall sound.
At this point I was writing the majority of the music. Gary, Brian and myself wanted to add a second guitarist. Malcolm, the guitarist, would not budge on this and so Brian, Gary and myself left and formed Avenger.
METALLIAN: Where did the name Unter Den Linden come from?
MICK: It means 'under the limetrees.' It is a famous avenue in Berlin and, yes, Malcolm had Nazi sympathies, another reason we left.
METALLIAN: Is there a reason this band has never been mentioned?
MICK: This band never got out of the rehearsal rooms and I did not think it warranted a mention. Malcolm, Bill and a few of their friends turned up at the first Avenger gig and we ended up coming to blows. Bill was Malcolm's brother and so-called manager. We came to blows because Malcolm was drunk and called me an "evil omen from the stars."
METALLIAN: That would have been a good album title.
MICK: He didn't like the fact that he could not attract any replacement musicians whilst the rest of us had formed Avenger and were starting to do pretty well. Raven and Avenger shared the same rehearsal rooms.
METALLIAN: OK, in 1991 you rejoined Blitzkrieg. How did this come about and why did you leave again within a year?
MICK: Brian was just short of a bass player and drummer back then so I just filled in and helped him out. I didn't actually rejoin. It was like in 1985.
METALLIAN: Are you referring to A Time Of Changes album era?
MICK: Yes, Blitzkrieg didn't reform then. The album was just a one-off project. I was playing in Avenger in 1985 which was my band. One day I had a conversation with Dave woods who owned Neat Records and we talked about all the Blitzkrieg material that never got released. So that is where the idea for Time Of Changes came from. It was a one-off project and at that time we thought that would be it for Blitzkrieg.
I never rejoined in 1985 or 1991. I simply recorded the album and did a few gigs.
METALLIAN: Even more fast forwarding and to the present day, who have you remained friends with and who have you remained in touch with?
MICK: I have always stayed in touch with Brian and upon returning to the UK met up with Jim Sirotto as well. I also met up with drummer Gary Young again for the first time in fifteen years after you at Metallian passed on his email address to me.
METALLIAN: What are you up to these days?
MICK: I am now back in the UK and work as a web site administrator for a new music company although I'm also getting remarried to my girlfriend Kelly who is from San Francisco. We intend to move to the US in the near future.
Musically following the re-release world wide of the Avenger albums there are on-going discussions regarding Avenger taking part in a NWOBHM 25-year anniversary tour.
METALLIAN: You are relocating again to the USA.
MICK: Yes, early next year. I am getting remarried in December. Kelly and I are moving to Alameda just outside San Francisco.
METALLIAN: Staying in the present day, but reverting back to the Blitzkrieg topic, there are two new releases by the band out. Will you talk about these?
MICK: I am not in a position to talk about the new Blitzkrieg album Absolute Power, but the one that Sanctuary Music has released is a collection of previously unreleased demos and a live tape we recorded at the 'Trust' gig I earlier mentioned. It has a great version of the Deep Purple classic Highway star. It is a double-CD called A Time Of Changes Phase I and also has the original album on it as well. It is a complete collection of all the early songs. I think it's a great collection for anyone who enjoyed the NWOBHM scene.
METALLIAN: Is there anything you can add regarding the proposed tour?
MICK: Well, after the Avenger albums got re-released we talked with the record company in South America about taking part in a twenty-five years of NWOBMH tour. It would be several gigs and not a comeback. The tour might be Brazil and North America and feature several NWOBHM bands.
Regardless, the Avenger re-release is quite nice. Killer Elite is nice with the videos as extras. Bloodsports is still my favourite of the two though. The re-releases are on Frontline Rock in South America and Sanctuary for the rest of the world, but Sanctuary's is not the remixed version with the video.
Many thanks goes to Mick Moore for his account of Axe Victim, Blitzkrieg, Unter Den Linden and Avenger. As mentioned, the Blitzkrieg sampler and the Avenger re-issues are out now. Fans of NWOBHM and vintage heavy metal need to look into these influential albums.