Interview with Pete Wadeson -TRÖJAN/TALIÖN
First of all welcome to Metalzone. Pete, before we start, please introduce yourself a little bit and tell us how you got into music in general and what was the point that you thought "ok, I want to play the guitar"?
PETE: Woah, I’ve never been asked how I got into music or ‘why the guitar’ in an interview before, so here goes. Basically, I hated school. I just didn’t get the whole ‘get an education" thing. Especially rules, you know. But school is wasted on a lot of people – in my opinion when you have to go to school, you’re way too young to learn. (laughs). Anyway back to the guitar, I was about 12-13yrs old and a friend I had way back then who was older than me had a cheap electric, and I just thought it was the coolest thing. He could only play a few chords, but I just got it, the sound, the whole thing grabbed me immediately.I was already into rock, so I continually pestered my parents for a guitar. They (god bless them) eventually got me one and it started right there. It was something I just took to, I just kept on practising and by the time I was 16 I had no doubt I was going to make a go of it – it’d be my career choice. It sounds corny but I really did just know I was going to form or be in a band.
When was TRÖJAN formed and how did you come all together, who came up with the idea for the band's name and who decided to use the Umlaut Ö as Motörhead and Mötley Crue used it?
PETE: Well as I said about the guitar. As soon as I could play good enough – well when I thought it sounded good enough to me - I got together with friends who were into rock that had other instruments. In a few cases, it was ‘well I play guitar so if you get a bass, we can get a band together.’ After a few years like that - hey presto – the first line-up of Trojan took shape. Now, the umlaut was because it looked cool, especially it was the way it looked over Motorhead’s name. It was my idea, and I never knew what it was called it just looked good. In a way, I suppose I saw it as something that immediately identified a band’s name with rock and metal.
Were you attracted to the upcoming English metal scene? I am sure you noticed the upcoming wave of bands like Judas Priest, Motörhead, Maiden or Saxon?
PETE: Oh sure massively. All the bands you mentioned were the bands I grew up listening to. But it was definitely more a movement than an upcoming wave. It was what we all wanted to be like but as a band, we seemed to develop our own sound quite quickly. Obviously, though it was heavily influenced by the bigger bands we listened to at the time.
I think the first line-up was you and Andy Halliwell on guitar, Brian Bentham on bass, Mick Taylor on drums and Dave Kenyon on vocals and this line-up lasted for many years, so I guess you all had the same vision if it goes for the sound of the band?
PETE: Yeah, you’re right. But looking back we never had a specific band we wanted to sound like. It was more a case of as we grew together as a band the riffs and songs just came about and we were all happy with what we were creating. When we played gigs, people liked it, so we just carried on doing what we did. I suppose we were influenced in some part by the NWOBHM, but we came to the fore you could say at the latter end of that scene. More so I think we had the base sound of the NWOBHM with a punk attitude. Basically, that was to
just write what we felt sounded good, and we went out gigging as much as we possibly could to get noticed.
After several demo tape releases, you had the chance to be part of Darryl Johnston's label ‘Ebony Records’, which did a huge load of compilations in the early eighties. You have been featured with ‘Premonition’ on the 1982 release ‘Metal Maniaxe’ and most bands on this release were of course more into the NWOBHM. ‘Premonition’ was more into a raw and speedy style and I think it showed already that you wanted to be different to the upcoming NWOBHM scene. Was this the plan or were there any bands at that time that you preferred more for their sound? For example, I am sure you noticed VENOM and their huge success for their style.
PETE: It was after he heard our first and now quite well known ‘Official 5-Track Cassette EP’ demo actually. But I’m glad you noticed that about our sound because you’re spot on – although we didn’t specifically try to be different from the rest we just were. When you look back there were so many bands that quite frankly were starting to sound the same. Bands that stood out from the rest though at that time were Jaguar, Savage, Grim Reaper – they had more of a harder metal edge sound which is what we were all about back then. I suppose, in that respect, it’s not surprising we came to the attention of Ebony. Now, as for Venom. They were the UK’s pioneers in that style of metal and as everybody knows soon became a leading and big influence on the Black Metal scene in general. I respected what they were doing, especially as they had their own identity – I think all bands need to do that to stand out from the pack, get their own identity, I think we achieved that with our sound.
How did you come together with Ebony Records? Did you send any demo tapes to find a record label as well at that time?
PETE: Darryl was actually advertising for bands to appear on his compilation at the time. I think the ad was in Kerrang! He heard us and we got invited to contribute a track to one of his compilation. But yeah, we sent demos to everybody, labels, magazines fanzines, radio stations – you name it.
Another point is that most of Darryl's releases had a ‘strange’ sound. As far as I know, most bands recorded the songs in his ‘Ebony’ studio in Hull, so I guess you recorded your song there too? Any memories about these recordings and did you have the chance to meet any other bands in his studio?
PETE: I think that’s true to say the recordings all did have a similar sound. You use the word strange? Let’s say unique or a ‘very dirty gritty sound. (laughs). Basically, he’d converted the front downstairs room of a big, terraced house in a street in Hull into a recording studio. Everything was basically recorded straight into the desk and there was a distortion pedal that he had which he must have liked because I think he virtually made all the guitarists who recorded there use it. (laughs) But yeah, it was quite a strange set-up but one that worked I suppose as he put out quite a few albums from various bands at the time. And no we never met any other bands while there. The deal with Ebony was you got two days in his studio to do one track and that was it…
Do you think this compilation helped the band to be more known for listeners/fans outside of England? Did you get any feedback from people around the planet?
PETE: No not really, in fact not at all. Quite frankly there’s not many outside the hardcore underground who know of Ebony releases (especially his compilations at the time) let alone own them. Our persistence with sending out and punting what became known as our ‘Official 5-Track Cassette EP’ to all and sundry plus playing up and down the UK at rock pubs and clubs was what got us recognition. For any band to get noticed still is and was very difficult – in our case, it was hard worked for.
Your first album ‘Chasing The Storm’ came out in 1985 on Roadrunner Records and suddenly there was a completely new line-up, what happened back then?
PETE: Now this is a whole story in itself. The original Trojan lineup completely dissolved. Some members decided to get proper jobs (laughs), they had different viewpoints – future hopes outside of music. Anyway, I was left on my own, but I was determined to carry on even though I had to start afresh which I did. So I re-formed Trojan again from the ground up. I first found a new bassist, that was Eddy Martin who introduced me to the vocalist Graeme who as you’ll know stuck around with me into Talion and Graeme introduced me to the drummer Sam Hall. That was the line-up that went on to record our debut album ‘Chasing The Storm.’
But yeah, the original lineup had got the interest from several small independent labels but when that new line-up recorded demos, we got serious attention from Roadrunner who at the time were the label every metal band wanted to be on. The rest is well documented. We recorded ‘Chasing The Storm’ with Guy Bidmead, which was a total blast, and fortunately, it was very well received by the press and fans especially in mainland Europe and Japan.
The album was an excellent blend of British speed Metal and as far as I remember, as you say you got very good reviews for this release. First of all, were you satisfied with the result and what happened after the release? Did you have the chance to go on a tour of ‘Chasing The Storm’?
PETE: Thanks for the kind words on the album Christine – they’re appreciated. Yeah, recording with Guy was great, and it was done at a well-known studio in London that we were fortunate to be able to use. But in hindsight and it’s been commented that - let’s say the production could have been better. That was down to the allotted studio time we had as it did get rushed towards the end. Having said that I’m – as well as the other lads – very proud of the album and the fact that the songs have stood the test of time.
In answer to the second part of the question, we did tour the album in the UK and played in Europe several times. The most memorable gig was being at the World-famous Dynamo club in Eindhoven in Holland. Fans will be pleased to know that a remastered recording of that gig is going to be part of the re-issue as a bonus CD.
In 1987 you decided to change the band name into LETHAL, was it the same line-up like you recorded "Chasing The Storm" and why did you change the name? There are also rumours that you have recorded an album called ‘Twilight Sound’ in 1988 with LETHAL? Just a rumour or is this true?
PETE: Oh man we’ve heard that so many times that we did an album as Lethal. This has come about due to certain ‘internet sources’ getting their information totally wrong. What happened is this. The band (Trojan) at the time were in flux, we’d left Roadrunner and went into Twilight Sound Studios in Manchester to record a two-track demo – obviously to try to get a label and management interest. Now, at the time of recording, we hadn’t thought of the name Talion. On a whim, we considered using the name Lethal. So for the recording of just those two tracks, which incidentally were ‘Killing The World’ and ‘Living On The Edge’ it went down as Lethal but very soon after – a matter of a few weeks in fact - we firmly decided on the name Talion. We did that due to the similarity with the previous band name (Trojan) because we were most known and as musicians associated with that band. Anyway, as Talion we went on to record another three tracks, put them with the two tracks previously recorded and began to distribute a 5-Track demo in the hope of securing a deal and hopefully still appealing to the fan base we’d fought long and hard to build up. The music is rightly seen more as power/thrash metal with melody rather than the more speed metal-based music of the previous band. This was very much due to the addition of Johnny Lee Jackson due to his incredible double bass drum work which punches hard and drives the riffs to hit harder than ever before. If it hadn’t been for Johnny a lot of the riffs, especially ‘Killing The World’ and ‘Laws of Retaliation’ just wouldn’t have come about and certainly not have the impact they do.
In 1987 you also recorded a demo on your own, it was called ‘Play With Fire’ and it was more into shredding and instrumental music. Was this the time you just wanted to express yourself with different music or was there a plan to go on with music like that?
PETE: Yeah, in a way I first just thought I’d try my hand in that genre. It’s not that easy, rock instrumentals aren’t all about mega-technique and speed. Anyway, I recorded a few instrumental demos between the years 1987 – 1990. At the time I was hoping I’d score a deal - all the American soloists at the time were. But they had all been through guitar schools – mostly Berkley. I’m sure there must have been a guy who stood outside signing all the ones who got the best grades. (laughs).
Obviously, that didn’t happen for me as that genre of metal was also on the wane and it had become a saturated market. My approach was as I was the first UK guitarist who had tried that type of music – so why not go for it - and I did. I got some attention from the magazines back then, but it didn’t fully happen. I did supply a few tracks that went out on compilation albums. Those were ‘Schizo Phreniac’ that was on Ballbuster II, a compilation by Sinbad Productions in the US, and I supplied the track ‘Thrill Of The Chase’ to Neil Kay’s ‘Metal For Muthas 92’ album on the Pony Canyon label. That was a Japanese only release. But now, thanks to the support of Sonic Age I’ve now been able to put a selection of tracks from those demos into album format, and hopefully true metalheads will feel it worth the wait.
In 1989 you came back with TALIÖN. A band that also had Graeme Wyatt on vocals but two new members on bass and drums. How did you find Phil and Johnny Lee Jackson and why did you change the band's name?
PETE: It’s not widely known but Johnny was actually a member of Trojan towards the very end of the band. He replaced Sam on the drum stool for the Whiplash Festival held in Brussels, Belgium – that was in 1986 if my memory serves. In fact Eddy Martin was still with us when we recorded the 2-track demo. Sadly, it wasn’t going in the direction he envisaged so we found Gav (Phil Gavin) who took over bass duties and hey presto Talion were born!
The album ‘Killing The World’ was released at a time when Thrash Metal was very popular, and I think you also changed your style with TALIÖN more into Power/Speed and Thrash Metal! Were you aware that ‘Killing The World’ got so many good reviews in magazines and fanzines? I guess you were happy with the final result.
PETE: Yeah, it was very well received by everyone. It got the album of the month in Metal Hammer magazine which was a huge honour for us. We were happy with the album, but we wish we’d had more time to work on the songs, and maybe have put a few more tracks on there. But considering the minuscule recording budget, we had from Peaceville/Major Records it was and is a superb album. Again it’s stood the test of time and I think many will agree the cover artwork is also superb. In fact, I must mention that Sonic Age with YOD media has just done us proud with a lyric video for the title track. It can be found on YouTube so I hope people go up there check it out, hit the thumbs up button, comment, and share. It’s a powerful song with a very powerful message.
What were the band's activities after the release? Did you have the chance to tour or open for bigger bands that played there?
PETE: We played some awesome gigs! we went into Eastern Europe playing a huge festival at the Vitkovice Arena, Ostrava in Czechoslovakia – a country which at the time was just starting to get out of the grip of communist control and two visits to tour Bulgaria. A very memorable one was at the Plovdiv Amphitheatre in the capitol Sofia as it went out live on the country’s state radio. Some of the gigs mentioned can be seen on YouTube and or the audio will be released by Sonic Age as part of the re-issue packages.
Why did TALIÖN split, especially after you’d created such a superb debut album?
PETE: This isn’t as cut and dried as the demise of Trojan. In hindsight I’d say it was frustration, Also certain band members rightly noticed a lack of funds coming our way. You could say a case of ‘where did the money go!’ We were also getting disillusioned and burnt out in more ways than one. I think you get the picture.
Finally, we will have a re-release from TALIÖN and TRÖJAN in a few weeks through CULT METAL CLASSICS! How did you come together with Manos and Kostas and what can we expect from these re-releases? As far as I know, it will feature unreleased bonus tracks too?
PETE: I’d been putting some solo instrumental tracks up on my You Tube channel ‘Metallic Savage’ and it’d started to create a groundswell of interest in my work, so I started to get more active on that platform.
While I was doing this out of the blue and in a very roundabout way, I got an E-mail from Manos which he sent to someone here in the UK in the hope they might know me as he wanted to re-issue the Trojan & Talion albums as well as my solo work. We corresponded, discovered we were both on the same page and unbelievably this is where we are already. It’s been superb because Manos, the people he works with and all his people have been great and hugely supportive. In fact, this wouldn’t be happening at this level if it weren’t for their help. Big respect to them – all the band can’t thank them enough!
As for the re-issues. In conjunction with Sonic and Cult Metal Classics, we’re aiming to put together the most comprehensive value for money packages that we can. It’s not too big a statement to say that they’re really going to be something special for fans of old, new, diehard metalheads and metal fans in general.
You are also booked for the next years KEEP IT TRUE festival! I guess you know about this festival and the status this festival has for the metal community, so I am sure you are excited to be there and perform with your band. How do you feel about that?
PETE: It’s incredible – to say we’re excited is an understatement. Again we can’t thank everybody involved in that (Hi Oliver) enough. It’s a superb festival that does what it says on the tin – It’s one of the real true metal events out there and definitely one we are so honoured to be part of.
Thank you for your time. The last words are yours
PETE: A big thanks to you Christine for taking the interest in us and giving us interview time. We’re soon to have an official Facebook site but for anyone wanting to contact the band in relation to the re-issues you can by contacting Sonic Age through their website or for anything else such as merchandise and latest band news you can get in touch with us via the Metallic Savage YouTube channel – post your comments or E-mail us direct which is: [email protected] Here’s to everybody staying safe so we can all get together soon in metal.