WEAPON - SET THE STAGE ALIGHT - ZOOM CLUB
Was this album worth a twenty-year (two whole decades!) wait? Hell, yes! Heard thus far only either via the band's ultra-rare single or the odd compilation LP, Weapon had become one of NWOBHM's biggest insider tips, as well as the ideal candidate for an episode, nay season, of 'Whatever Happened To... ?'
Now, and after lying in singer Hynes' cupboard for over twenty years alongside Satan knows what else, the full-length album has been unsheathed, given the digital treatment and been released by Zoom Club for metal fans everywhere. What a treat it is too.
The album kicks off with the title track taking the bull by the horn and proclaiming its caliber right away. The distinct NWOBHM vibe of the song, inclusive of the deranged vocalizing, discharged guitars, electrified bass and the pounding and a rolling drums, establishes the track as one of NWOBHM's best - and that is saying a lot. The song best exemplifies Weapon's brash naivete that was and remains part of the band's appeal. Set The Stage Alight will make one "run like Satan in a rage." Just ask the band!
Liar is next up and, say what you want about the trait, is a barnstormer with great backing vocals and an outstanding break halfway through the song.
Take That Bottle Away is next and is more commercial in intent. The harmonies and the sheer abandon of the song make for lighter fare. Is that David Lee Roth at the song's end?
One Night Stand establishes the band's love affair with Deep Purple. The guitar racket of Jeff Summers is like the clamour of Ritchie Blackmore's younger brother for attention. Then again, this song would not only proudly stand its ground on any Purple album, but is also elevated by Hynes' distinctive larynx. One Night Stand(s) rock.
One comparison that absolutely has to be made is the main rhythm of Mad Mad World which is identical to Anvil's Metal On Metal! One would love to know if these bands ever crossed paths. Either way, imagine Weapon's wasted qualities by recalling how Metal On Metal is considered a metal classic and regarded as Anvil's defining moment. Lest the punters are reading into the comment, this song overpowers anything Anvil has ever done and was recorded two years before Metal On Metal. The riffs are identical though. Another thing that needs a mention is the song's odd and uncomfortable vocal phrasing.
Midnight Satisfaction is poppy and is part of the band's expressed desire to remain diverse and avoid being classified. The song has some great bass work all over it and despite the commercialism ends in a triumphant manner.
Bad Love is up next and is even poppier. Aside from a soulful guitar work-out this little ditty should and could have been on Top Of The Pops. Ouch!
The album proper ends with Olivia a mushy ballad with a fantasy behind it. Hint: it's not Newton John.
The band has unearthed four demo songs, not originally destined for the album, and tagged them onto the end of the disc giving the fans a total of twelve tracks. Good thing too, Remote control is a terrific metal tune with a heartfelt performance. It is also the only track completely penned by bassist Barry Downes. One has to suffer the A&R man who heard this and still did not sign the boys. The Iron Lady must have cut back ear exams at the time. The guitars scream early Iron Maiden, the rhythm sticks in your mind long after the CD's over and Hynes' pitch sends shockwaves to the brain. The song does end very much like the title track. Next up is the pounding Light Of The World. It stands proudly next to anything that came out of Sheffield between 1979 to 1981. This track is completed by cool backing vocals and skillful guitars. The chorus would have given the London boys an undeniable commercial edge in 1980 had anyone actually bothered to listen. Killer Instinct is an AOR tune with shredding guitars and a confident rhythm section. The CD comes to an end with Things You Do which is another commercial song, albeit with a bluesy edge. Then it is back to track one and time to play the CD all over again.
Bottom-line: Set The Stage Alight is that rare buried gem, now exhumed for hard rockers, heavy metallers and NWOBHM aficionados to enjoy. The CD proves that a twenty-year old weapon can be as powerful and potent as the day it was forged. - Ali "The Metallian"
PADDY GOES TO HOLYHEAD - DELILAH
This little ditty is a three-song CD released by the Paddy Goes To Holyhead boys - incidentally no less than Danny Hynes, Andy Scott, Mal McNulty, Jeff Brown, Bruce Bisland and Phil Lanzon here - in order to represent their travelling club repertoire. The songs are the little-known Delilah, J Curly Putman's The Green Green Grass Of Home and a tune called (Telling Me) All Those Lies. In very rough terms, the CD features a pop song, a country track and the band's own rocker. In case anyone is wondering, Hynes stretches his vocals to the limit here. This disc is a little novelty item with quite a pedigree. - Ali "The Metallian"
PADDY GOES TO HOLYHEAD - GREATEST HITS (AND OTHER FAIRY TALES)
Here is another fun disc full of covers released by Hynes and company to have fun and sell at miscellaneous gigs. The Weapon, Sweet, etc. alumni have fun covering happy tunes like Does your Mother Know, Take Me Home Country Roads and These Boots Are Made For Walking. As with the band's MCD a self-penned tune also finds room to appear. The song is called Dressed to Kill and is pure classy melodic rock with a nod to a house at dawn. - Ali "The Metallian"
Use a weapon on stage and you may get the whole setup burning faster than the career of the latest fad rap rocker. Speaking all about positives then, discussion here is of Weapon; the classic NWOBHM group with the device used a long-lost album called Set The Stage Alight. It has now been given a release through a label called Zoom Club after a short wait of, oh, twenty-two years and ready to pierce the rivetheads faster than a bullet to the heart. Read the interview if you have to, peruse the review if you must, but make sure you log on to Zoom Club's site and order the album immediately after that. Otherwise, it's back to the same song and dance and who wants that when stuff like this is still out there, as opposed to in your record collection?
To celebrate the release of Set The Stage Alight, Ali "The Metallian" graciously arranged for vocalist Danny Hynes and guitarist Jeff Summers to be picked up from London and flown to Metallian Towers for a chat and a visit. Once settled in and defatigued from the journey, the three got together at the Yas Hall to eat, drink and go over the story of a Weapon. - 20.09.2003
METALLIAN: Let us begin the story with Fast Relief which, essentially, was Weapon. Did the band's name change because Virgin Music requested it or because the rhythm section was replaced?
DANNY: The latter. It was a shite name actually.
JEFF: It was a case of a new band, new name. The record company asked us to get rid of the bass player and the drummer. They said that they weren't up to the job. We replaced them and it created a completely unique sound, so we thought that on that basis we would change the name (as well). We thought that it's a different-sounding band and we'd give it a new name.
DANNY: The name Weapon came from Bob Sawyer, known as Bob Angelo, who was in Praying Mantis and Iron Maiden. He used the expression that somebody who was good was a 'weapon.' That is how I got it.
JEFF: Danny used to say it as well. In fact, I have told you this once before. It came from Bob. Anything that was good, was a 'weapon.'
METALLIAN: Was the record company's assessment of the previous rhythm section correct?
JEFF: Yes. You see, Fast Relief was really my school band. Those two went to school with me. It is the typically incestuous bands we talked about once before. The bass player and the drummer were in a band with my older brother. Pete Armitage was on bass and Lindsey Broadbridge was on drums. They were both really really good. When I was at school, they were better than I was. I was sixteen and they were nineteen, so they had played longer and they were better, but I caught up with them as it were.
We were auditioning new singers and put an advertisement in Melody Maker and many singers turned up for the job. Danny obviously got the job. He was by far the best. We played some gigs and made some demos. Virgin picked up the demos and said 'we want to sign the band, but you need a stronger rhythm section.' I had the unenviable job of telling the guys that they were out.
DANNY: It was horrible.
JEFF: It wasn't very nice. Fortunately Bruce Bisland was a friend of mine - he had also played with my brother in a band called Lipservice - and Baz was a friend of Danny's...
DANNY: Baz and I had played in a band called Snatch. Baz came from Birmingham and we had played together there in another band called Sister Dora. I had lived in Birmingham for five years. Baz and I came together down to London to check it out, because nothing was happening in Birmingham, and had joined this band called Snatch. Snatch featured Bob Angelo on guitar and had George Jackson on drums, knobhead (laughs)!
JEFF: So the band was the coming together of two groups, Fast Relief and Snatch.
DANNY: Snatch had played around a lot and couldn't get a record deal. We played rock music.
JEFF: Fast Relief was a NWOBHM band, but had just gone through the punk era. We had grown up with the classic rock bands, you know the Led Zeppelins, Deep Purples and the Frees, and then picked up on the energy of Sex Pistols. That was it.
METALLIAN: So when the rhythm section had changed, you had changed the band's name.
DANNY: Actually, we had done one gig as Weapon before the rhythm section had changed. I didn't like the old name and it was a new band anyway. When I auditioned, I knew immediately that the only one I wanted to be in a band with was Jeff. I liked the other guys, but I didn't see them as members of the band. To me, they were settled in their lifestyles and weren't going to change.
METALLIAN: Did those guys go on to any other bands?
JEFF: The bass player plays in a band called Three State Blues. They are 60's/70's Cream-styled blues band. They are very good. Lindsay Broadbridge went back to work. We don't know what happened to him.
METALLIAN: The name was changed and a manager came into the picture.
JEFF: Well, not immediately.
DANNY: We changed the name in March, 1980. What happened was that my then-girlfriend worked for Virgin Records. Sophie Sadowska worked at Virgin. All of the record companies at that time were looking for metal bands because of Def Leppard. The then-boss, Laurie Dunn, who ran the international section of Virgin really liked us and put us into a Studio Barge to do some demos there. They turned out well and then he put us into Manor Studios in Oxfordshire and Townhouse Studio to do different tracks. He then went on to the publishing side of Virgin and signed us. Unfortunately, after a year he went on to form his own company. We were caught in a catch-22 situation. The record companies couldn't take us because it would cost a lot of money to buy us out of the Virgin deal. Before all that happened, we got offered to do the Gillan tour. That fell through. Then we were offered a tour with Samson which we quit our jobs for. We drove to Wolverhampton to do the first day of this major tour and there were four other bands there that were promised the same tour! So we had curry in Wolverhampton...
JEFF: We spent all the tour money on the curry! It was a very funny time. You can imagine, we had turned up for the tour. I gave my job up because I thought, 'that's it! rock n' roll you know!' I threw the car keys at my boss and got a car to go to Wolverhampton with a fistful of Dollars. Then we spent the entire night arguing with the other bands about who should play the tour and we obviously lost. The other bands paid more than we did. It was a financial thing at the end.
METALLIAN: Who was organizing these gigs? They were major tours for the time.
DANNY: Gillan was signed to Virgin. Samson was through an agent called John Giddings who was involved with several acts on Virgin. Laurie Dunn was also involved. I remember them all, the bastards (jokingly).
METALLIAN: Let us take a step back. What had Virgin heard to get serious about you? The demos came later.
DANNY: They had come to see us live. They had come to our first gig.
JEFF: It was at Thomas The Beckett, wasn't it?
DANNY: No, it was at Nero's Palace at Wandsworth with the original rhythm section. He signed us on pretty much that night.
METALLIAN: Which songs were in the repertoire at that point?
JEFF: I think it was all originals. We played Set The Stage Alight, which at the time was called Fast Relief. It was a punkier version. We had a song called No Peace For The Wicked which we never recorded, did we?
DANNY: We have it on demo. We have it live.
JEFF: There actually is a live tape of Weapon which we might do something with. We are considering doing something with that. It's off the desk at Hammersmith Odeon.
DANNY: We might bootleg the bootleggers. It's actually good quality.
METALLIAN: Is the band considering another release?
JEFF: We are considering doing something with the live stuff.
DANNY: it depends how this album does.
JEFF: From our perspective, we want to see how Zoom Club promotes it. It has been a labour of love for us and we don't want it to just sit there. We like to see it treated properly.
DANNY: If they just put it out and don't do anything to back it up, then what is the point? We are prepared to do our part and they should do theirs.
JEFF: We have got the live tapes and if we don't think Zoom Club does well enough with it we will do it ourselves. We can also talk to another record company. We also have great live photographs from the era, which would make for a great cover. We have information about the gigs too. The recording has to be tweaked though.
METALLIAN: A live release should be interesting. In the meanwhile, it is still 1980 and you have signed a deal.
DANNY: We never signed a recording deal. We just had a publishing deal. They sent us into the studio to record a demo and on the back of that they would decide whether to sign us. The first demo was done on the barge with the original rhythm section. We entered Manor and Townhouse Studio with the new lineup. It was one month after the new guys had joined and we were recording for what we hoped would become our album. All three recordings were in 1980.
METALLIAN: The story with Virgin was that they would hold the publishing, but would not sign Weapon...
DANNY: Publishing was the main thing, but we thought we would get a record deal as well. It was two different departments. It didn't work out with the recording side. It is very hard to get a record deal when you already have a publishing deal. It is also very hard to get management when you have a publishing deal. The new guys won't get a cut of the publishing money. It is a catch-22.
We signed up with this company called Smart Management who also worked with Virgin. They managed Nash The Slash. It was a Canadian band. Nobody ever knew what he looked like. He used to do covers and was weird.
JEFF: He did them in a dance and synth style. He did a cover version of Smoke On The Water and called it Dopes On The Water. He had it orchestrated. He was disrespectful, but we thought he was quite good at the time.
DANNY: He was actually doing OK at the time and we signed to his management because they had a bigger act. One of the guys at Smart Management also worked at Virgin. His name was Steve Lewis and the other guy was Dominique Miles. We signed with them which probably was the biggest mistake. They were loyal to Virgin and that was their priority.
METALLIAN: Weapon released two EPs.
JEFF: The 7" EP and the 12" EP came out together...
DANNY: On November 13th, 1980.
METALLIAN: Why were the songs Set The Stage Alight and Mad Mad World picked?
JEFF: When Lauri came to see us, first at Nero's Palace and then at Thomas The Beckett... Thomas The Beckett was the first gig with the new guys. He said he loved the band, wanted to sign us, but we needed a single. We told him that we will write one. We had an idea up our sleeves as it were and it was called It's A Mad Mad World. We put the nucleus of that song together at that gig, Lauri heard it and said, 'that's the one, that's the hit.'
DANNY: It had all the things at the time... the guitar riffs, the big chorus, the whole package. We loved Set The Stage Alight, so we wanted a double-A side.
METALLIAN: When Dunn mentioned that he needs a single, was he implying one that would precede the album or a separate and unrelated single release?
JEFF: I think to sell the band. At the time, rock bands were having hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic. He needed what he felt was a hit single. We already felt that the others songs were potential singles, but he wanted something more obviously a hit single. He needed something the Americans would love as well with a catchy riff, a real punchy hook line and I must admit, even now, that Mad Mad World has a very catchy riff - even if it's a powerful rock song.
The idea was that those two songs would also appear on the album and be part of the original release as a promotion.
METALLIAN: To begin with what did the band have in mind as regard its music. Was there a conscious direction?
DANNY: We were actually talking about this earlier. We didn't go into the rehearsal and say this is what we are going to do. It just happened. Jeff, being the main writer, would have these ideas and we would just add to it. It wasn't a case of 'we have to go this way and that way.' It just happened. It just clicked.
To me it was hard rock with that American flavour i.e. harmonies. Many of the British bands had a vocalist who was just screaming at the top of his voice. I never liked that sort of stuff and still don't. I like melodies and Jeff is great at writing melodies and harmonies. That is why we clicked in my opinion.
JEFF: I think Danny's right. We also had a high energy effort. There was no conscious effort to sound like anything. It was a combination of our influences coming together and that we all had different influences. Sometimes they don't fit, but in this occasion they did. Some people said Set The Stage Alight was the founding thrash metal song. Lars Ulrich said that. He said it was the song that inspired Metallica when they were in the garage putting the whole thing together. It's fast, it is extremely fast. It is skillfully played. Particularly, the drum playing on that is still considered to be ground-breaking.
On top of all that power, passion, speed and youth we laid a big melody. So when the chorus came in, it ended up being an eight-part harmony chorus. That eight-part harmony chorus came from the fact that we had all grown up with Queen as well.
DANNY: There is Free in there too. Baz and I are older than Jeff and Bruce and one of my favourite bands is Free. I liked bands that had a little soul in them and lots of harmony.
METALLIAN: You were not fans of NWOBHM.
JEFF: To be honest with you, it came to us afterwards. It came after us. there were many facets and many sides to what was the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Def Leppard came from there and many people would argue that they are not a heavy metal band. The typical band that came out of that era was Iron Maiden and they were the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but we weren't influenced by them and they weren't influenced by us. We created a sound that was very different to theirs and theirs was a sound that was different to ours and Praying Mantis' and others. There was a progressive side to it as well, but they were all lumped into one sweet little place. I would suggest that at that time we were more of a commercial viability than those bands were. We unfortunately didn't get the break that was required and Iron Maiden did.
At the time there was a thing called the Soundhouse. This was going on in North London. It was a regular thing and bands from all over the country would go to play there. Prior to Danny joining, Fast Relief also played there. We didn't have the right singer at the time. The DJ Neil Kay loved the band, but loved Iron Maiden a little more and therefore pushed them a little more. If, at that time, the Fast Relief lineup was the Weapon lineup, I think it could have been the other way around. It was literally three or four months prior to that. If Weapon had played with Danny on vocals, Baz on bass, Bruce on drums and I on guitar we may have been what happened to Iron Maiden. At the time, we were considered to have a unique sound.
METALLIAN: You also had a connection to Iron Maiden, didn't you?
JEFF: There was a connection with Iron Maiden. The guy that sang with my later band Paul Mario Day was the original singer with Iron Maiden. Martin Bushel who played guitar also with Wildfire was also one of the original guitar players for Iron Maiden. There was a lot of stuff. I played with them briefly as well! Iron Maiden, at the time, when they were forming in London played with any up and coming musician. You have to bear in mind that we had UFO, Free and all these British bands. Then we had Van Halen and Aerosmith from America, but the radio at this time was playing stuff like Bee Gees. Punk had dragged many youngsters to play guitar again and the older brothers of these youngsters were saying the younger brothers should listen to the original metal bands like Deep Purple's In Rock. That created NWOBHM because the influences came back and got mixed with the influences from the punk era. So Maiden revolved around the character of Steve Harris, but anyone who was into punk yet could play the great metal stuff - play a little like Hendrix, play a little like Blackmore - got to play with Steve Harris. It became a little bit of a cliquey thing where a musician passed into and dispersed.
METALLIAN: I want to pick up on what you just said. Were you in Iron Maiden?
JEFF: Yeah, yeah... I was playing with Steve Harris and it was late '78 or early '79. I know him from back then and Bruce Dickinson from Samson who also lived near where I lived in Isleworth. Obviously Paul Mario Day was the original singer in Iron Maiden and if he you listen to him, Bruce sounds just like him. Paul had a truly powerful voice.
METALLIAN: I believe I have heard him on a More LP I own.
JEFF: Yes, that is right.
METALLIAN: I want to pick up on something you said earlier. That is, how NWOBHM came later and after Weapon's sound was defined. Having said that, how aware of the developing scene was the band?
DANNY: We were aware of it, but we weren't trying to be part of it.
JEFF: Yeah, yes.
DANNY: We were just trying to get a deal.
JEFF: We became aware that there was a movement going on. It was only what one read in the papers. You didn't really put yourself... I mean, we, for instance, we never considered ourselves to be a heavy metal band. You have probably heard that many times before, but the terminology followed on with it. Led Zeppelin had said 'we were never a heavy metal band,' Deep Purple had said 'we were never a heavy metal band,' Free and all those guys. We always had thought ourselves to be -
DANNY: - Rock
JEFF: Yes, a free spirit, a hard rock band. We could have gone in any direction. Once we had made our album within that sphere of music, we could have gone anywhere from there. We felt that, to a certain extent, it was a progressive form of music.
DANNY: If you listen to the album and a song like Olivia which is a beautiful ballad; I still would love to rerecord it with a hundred-piece orchestra... that's not heavy metal!
JEFF: Metallica's Nothing Else Matters is in that vein. The song is from many many years prior to that. It is that sort of a very very moody power ballad. It's got atmosphere. It's not the 'I love you, you love me'-type. The melody is haunting.
When I was a kid, discovering my sexuality with Madame Palm and her five sisters (they both chime in laughingly), I saw Romeo And Juliet and the girl who played the part of...
DANNY: Romeo (laughs)
JEFF: No, the girl who played the part of Juliet was a British actress called Olivia Hussy. As a kid I just fell in love with her, in that part. On that basis I wrote the song. It's a real song as much as it's part of my past, part of adolescence and growing up. I developed the music around it as I grew up. The very nucleus of that song was written when I was fourteen. The whole song developed as I grew older.
METALLIAN: How many of the songs were earlier works and how many were written near to the album's release?
JEFF: Set The Stage Alight was written in 1978, and was originally called Fast Relief. It was supposed to be the theme tune to that band, as it was. Olivia was written earlier as I said. There were other songs that were written prior to that, but we didn't record them. The rest were written around the time of the album.
METALLIAN: Moving forward then, somehow Motorhead's Fast Eddie Clarke comes into the picture.
DANNY: The connection there was Virgin again. My then girlfriend and her friend Hillary, who also worked with her, were the connection. Virgin had a place in Victoria called The Venue. We were there to see a band one night and Hilarie was with Fast Eddie and introduced us and we got chatting. He came to see us at The Music Machine in Camden where Virgin had organized a gig for us and they brought along Motorhead and its management to see if we were good enough to support them. Lemmy was there. As we said, during that day there was many arguments within the band and we ended up with one-half in one pub and the other in another. I had left the band - being a diva - and I don't even remember what it was all about. It was stupid crap. We went on stage that night and we were pissed out of our brains - well I was - and being very aggressive. It heightened the electricity on stage to the point that the guys in front of the stage were beaten with a club. We finished off the set with Jeff and Baz running across the stage with their guitars, going full on, and smashing their guitars. It was mayhem. The story goes that Lemmy came later and said that anyone that has contempt for its audience like you guys deserves to be on tour with us. So they gave us the tour! The tour started in October of 1980. It was a tour of UK. One of the gigs featured more bands, among others Vardis. Girlschool were there too. They had the same management as Motorhead.
We did 32-dates in six weeks. It finished with four nights at Hammersmith Odeon. All four nights were sold out.
METALLIAN: Incidentally, one can look at the back of No Sleep Till Hammersmith for proof of Weapon's role on this tour. What was it like playing Hammersmith in London?
JEFF: We thought we were there. We thought we had made it. To a certain extent we had, but not to the point we thought we had. All the major rock press, NME, Melody Maker, Kerrang, Sounds and all the others, were writing about us.
DANNY: We even reached number two on the Sounds' Heavy Metal Charts with Set The Stage Alight. We thought this it. You know, coming out of the stage door and being mobbed and all that. We were surrounded by ugly chicks, because Motorhead fans are ugly chicks (laughs), but really it was great.
JEFF: When we arrived at the Odeon on the first day we came out on stage when it was still empty and just stood there. We had been there many times as kids to see our heroes and we couldn't quite believe that we were there. The Odeon was full of tiny little tunnels and it was like This Is Spinal Tap. Bruce got lost there one night. Bruce was always the last one out because he always spent a long time on his hair. Being a drummer he would sweat a lot and have his hair go flat, so he spent a great deal of time on his hair and he would come out in those shorts, leopard skin vest and his sticks. That was his gimmick. He was absolutely gorgeous (laughter again). He was a truly phenomenal player. Everywhere we played the other bands' drummers were watching him. Philthy from Motorhead sat there watching him every night trying to learn from him. Bruce was about twenty and Phil was about thirty. Bruce was that good and phenomenally fast.
METALLIAN: Do you have any stories from that period?
DANNY: We were at the Edinburgh Odeon and the doors hadn't opened yet. We were finishing our sound check. Jeff and Baz were on stage with Jeff tuning his guitars...
JEFF: Motorhead used to tune a semi-tune down for the concert because of Lemmy's voice. We used to have to use the same tuning, so I had to tune one up at the concert.
DANNY: So Jeff is tuning and three members of the band are walking off the stage and we heard a mighty crush. Motorhead's 'bomber' had fallen and sliced through the tuning equipment right next to Jeff.
JEFF: The 'bomber' was massive. It was made of steel and the wings were big and the thing was full of lights. I just happened to be standing within the skeleton of the outside of the wing. It cut right through my and Eddie Clarke's equipment. I had my headphones on and I was tuning. I heard the noise and noticed the whole thing had just crashed. They re-rigged and put it back up.
DANNY: Jeff was amongst the debris and still standing.
JEFF: The interesting thing was that I didn't quite take in what had happened. I was in shock. At that point, we had been pretty much the support band. We had been treated like a support band. From that point onwards the crew was really nice to us. We hadn't complained.
METALLIAN: Your own British tour followed. So what happened?
DANNY: Yes, we must have played around twenty shows and even headlined the old marquee at Wardour Street.
There were many things going on. There were several record companies at the Odeon, like Vertigo, Polygram and Atlantic. Later we heard that Atlantic Records was making a choice between us and More and they chose More! So many record companies wanted to grab a heavy metal band and it didn't matter what they sounded like. Our publishing was a stumbling block.
JEFF: Paul had a fabulous voice, but More sounded like many other bands.
DANNY: They looked like shite. To me, you have to have an image when you go on stage. You don't go on stage like a roadie. you dress up for the show.
JEFF: They didn't write great songs. We were a song-based band. We were riff-based, whereas More was, to me, and Paul would say the same thing because we have played together, churning out riffs very similar to what other bands were doing. We would write something and if it sounded like somebody else it would be scrapped. It had to be us! There is no point in rewriting the riff to Burn or Whole Lotta Love. It had to be good and it had to be us. Whereas More recycled an aged formula. We tried to create, what we thought, was a unique sound at the time.
DANNY: It just got to a point where it ground to a halt. Nothing happened. We weren't able to do anything. We went to do an interview with Mick Wall for Sounds at Virgin and we were really pissed off at our management that day. We went and sat down the corridor from one of the managers' office and we were slagging them off. That interview is actually in the album now. That was pretty much the end, wasn't it?We knew they wouldn't do anything. We couldn't get out of the publishing. We did get a contact with a company called Black & White Management. One of the guys used to manage Foreigner's Mick Jones. He was sort of interested. As soon as he knew the publishing is gone that was the end of it.
We went our separate ways. A year later, I tried to get a new lineup together, did a few gigs and obviously it wasn't the same. This was in 1983. I was the only original member and didn't try to get the other guys because they were in other bands. The new lineup did half a dozen gigs. I knew it wasn't working. It didn't sound the same.
It was Malcolm McNulty on guitar. He went on to join Sweet. Ron Rebel, who was the original Iron Maiden drummer, was on drums. There is another Iron Maiden connection. The bass player was a guy called Billy Kulk. He is now in a tribute band to Led Zeppelin called Let's Zep and he is singing because he looks like Robert Plant. There was also another guitar player called Ian Simmons who vanished off the face of the earth. I was doing all the old stuff, but obviously it wasn't sounding the same.
METALLIAN: Who was John Phillips?
DANNY: Bruce left the band first. He replaced Bruce. He was in Megaton and LoneStar and Lautrec. We also augmented the band to two guitarists with Bob Angelo. This was late 1981.
METALLIAN: Jeff, did you have any misgivings with Danny's new and later incarnation ?
JEFF: I didn't object to it. In fact, Danny invited me to the gig at the Greyhound and I got on the stage towards the end of the gig and played the last couple of songs with him. Bruce also played on a demo for this incarnation of Weapon.
METALLIAN: Are there any plans to release material not on the current album?
DANNY: The material from 1983 will not be released. It's not Weapon.
JEFF: The earlier stuff was Weapon. They were demos on eight-tracks and low quality demos. We do have a couple of powerful live versions of earlier songs. We have a whole set off the desk at the Hammersmith Odeon, for instance. I have kept that, but because it's off the desk it has a low audience mix. The band is very powerful. It is a little bit vocal and drum heavy. We are biased, but we think it's really good. It's a young band unfolding and creating their unique sound in front of an audience.
METALLIAN: Danny, what did you venture onto after Weapon?
DANNY: I formed Paddy Goes To Holyhead in 1984. We have toured before, but now it is mostly a weekend band. We play a couple of nights a week. It goes up and down. We play rock covers and older songs. We have released a couple of CDs.
JEFF: I was in Paddy... right at the beginning. The interesting thing is that we still hung together with a bunch of guys from Sweet, Thin Lizzy, Grand Slam and others.
DANNY: There was a party in December of 1984 with three drummers and so many guitarists and that was the beginning of it. The real beginning came in March, 1985. The idea at first was that any musician that wasn't working and was in town joined for the night. It was very loose and got more serious in recent years.
JEFF: Originally, Deep Purple were called Roundabout and formed by Chris Curtis and Blackmore and Lords in that nucleus. They had a roundabout and musicians would jump on that roundabout and jump back out again, and hence the name of that band. That is kind of a like Paddy... with the nucleus being Danny and maybe McNulty.
DANNY: The name was a take on Frankie Goes to Hollywood. At the first gig a Canadian girl Sandra Sartori named the band. Paddy is a nickname for an Irishman.
METALLIAN: OK, back to the future. Virgin had coughed up £20,000 and logically owned the album's masters. How did you get the right to release it now through Zoom?
JEFF: They do not own it. We were on a compilation called '79 Revisited which was put together by Lars Ulrich of Metallica. It was released in the late 80's. Virgin came to us and asked our permission to use the song. We went 50/50 on the publishing rights and wrote off the debt. That's what they did. They never paid us, but we got the rights back. We were going to get it back anyway. It reverted back to us, but they wrote off the recording's debt. Furthermore, Virgin sold its catalogue to EMI and it had gotten lost a little in time at that point.
METALLIAN: Do we have to mention the Lars Ulrich story?
JEFF: That is an interesting one. This goes to early 1983. Bruce and I were in Wildfire. Wildfire was based around Paul Mario Day who had a record deal with Mausoleum Records. We were playing The Bell in Islington in London which was very local to our management company, Angels Management Company. It was packed. People were heaving and hanging off the ceiling and everything. We got introduced to an American band that were doing well in the States. It was Metallica. I remember Lars, James and Cliff. They asked if they could play, but didn't have any equipment so wanted to use ours. We agreed. They seemed like nice guys. Lars asked Bruce which bands he had been in before. He said he was in Weapon prior to Wildfire and it became a 'we're not worthy session.' It was unbelievable. Lars told Bruce that Set The Stage Alight was the song that inspired him in particular, especially with double bass drums. He told us that they had played that song in the early days in the garage and it had been in their early sets. Bruce told him that 'that guy over there wrote it.' So they came over and chatted. They were genuinely were pleased.
Later when Statetrooper was formed we went to the Castle Donnington Festival, I think in 1985, and we spent the day with Lars and the others.
It was later that he contacted us through Virgin for the CD he was putting together.
METALLIAN: Weapon first came to light at Metallian Towers through a compilation called 12 Commandments In Metal. Jeff, you were not aware of this release.
DANNY: I didn't know anything about it!
METALLIAN: Does Zoom Club have similar rights to your music for the future?
JEFF: No, we have not signed the songs across. They just have the rights to this release and only have the rights for six months. All the songs are in the hands of MTPS now which is the British publishing corporation.
DANNY: We might do select shows.
JEFF: Bruce is busy with the Sweet. I am in the process of recording a new Statetrooper album and Baz is not doing very well with his eyes (touches wood). We might find time to do it. We might have a rehearsal once Baz is better and that will be the first time since 1981 that we have played as Weapon. Reformation is a possibility. We all would like to do it, but it comes down to how much time we have got.
DANNY: We can wait until next year. At the moment there is an interest in rock again. Maybe we could get together with two other bands.
METALLIAN: More recently you guys decided to finally give the album a release.
JEFF: We were approached by Zoom Club Records.There was a guy called Jeff Gillespie who used to work for them. He used to be a Sounds writer and later became an A&R man. He contacted Bruce to say he wants to remaster it and release it. It was later than a year ago. We all got together and put the material together. We handed it to Zoom Club and they did the rest. The package is good.
METALLIAN: What is your expectation now? Will they promote it?
JEFF: That is a good point! They will promote it and I think there is already a reasonable audience for it. It could do very well if they promote it properly. I have gathered a lot of interest through the Statetrooper website. You have helped and thanks to you, Ali. There is also a Japanese site and others. The awareness will go up now with the album.
As well it should. Fans of authentic hard rock from the NWOBHM era will appreciate Weapon. The album is available directly through Zoom Club for a limited time.
Baz, the bass player for Weapon, remembers one particular 1980 gig:
Fast Eddie Clarke of Motorhead had seen us play the Venue in London and asked us if we were interested in touring with Motorhead on their up-and-coming "Ace Up Your Sleeve" tour. This was a dream-come-true for us. All we had to do was set up a gig so that all of Motorhead, their promoter and management company could come and check us out.
A gig was arranged at the Music Machine in Camden. We had only just signed to Virgin and they had equipped us with new Marshall stacks and guitars. Mine was a Fender Precision Bass and Jeff's was a beautiful Fender Strat on which he had spent a fortune in customization with every modification you could imagine. The big day arrived. We duly sound-checked in the early afternoon. Everything was fine and then disaster struck! Danny, Jeff and Bruce decided they hated each other and a massive argument ensued. I got the crap job of refereeing and convinced Danny to go to a local pub and Jeff and Bruce to another nearby pub to cool down. Everyone is now doing some serious drinking and I am going back and forth between the two pubs trying to patch things up and having a drink myself at both pubs! A last minute truce is called.
We hit the stage and right from the opening chord of Set The Stage Alight we know that all the pent-up aggression and stress and booze of the day has to go somewhere! We are all playing like mad men possessed! By the time we reach the final number, we are all stripped to the waist and looking for blood. Danny is running around on all fours and howling into his mic. Then he finds a billiard queue. The Moshpit never stood a chance. Armed with his billiard queue, he beats the living daylights out of them. There's blood, snot and teeth flying everywhere. I look over to Jeff just in time to see him attack his stack with his Strat. Bruce, meanwhile, is no longer hitting his drums. He's kicking them all over the place. By this time I've had enough of being the peace-keeper, so I take a run at Jeff. At the last minute he smashes the neck of his Strat fret board on to my neck and we start to rub the fret board of our guitars up and down against each other! Frets are flying out all over the place, but it sounds awesome! There's nothing left to smash so we each take off our guitars and take a final swipe at the stacks. We walk back to the dressing room in silence there's nothing to say! We know we've blown it for the Motorhead tour! Our new friends from Virgin enter. They are not smiling. Then the Motorhead people enter. They say nothing. Then Pilthy Animal, Fast Eddie and Lemmy enter none of us can look them in the face! Then Lemmy breaks the silence and says 'I've never seen any band treat its audience with such contempt! You've got to tour with us!' In our numbed state we hear the suits and execs talking of how we reminded them of The Who and their live gigs! Pete Haynes, one of our roadies enters, carrying what's left of Jeff's guitar. I take one look at it and start to laugh! Mark, our other roadie, enters and says 'I don't know what you've got to laugh about' in one hand he's holding what's left of the beautiful maple neck if my Fender Bass! We haven't found the other half yet. It doesn't matter though; we've got the Motorhead tour and that's all that really matters!
-Baz (bass player for Weapon)