BLACK STEEL are from Australia, the land of Down Under, kangaroos, koalas and our Metal brothers PEGAZUS! With their previous warlike deed “Destructor”, they are slowly gaining the attention of the Metal fans all over the world. The band plays a tradional form of Heavy Metal and have got a lot to offer. Headbangers, who are longing for the unpolished sound of the true metal bands from the 80’s, such as IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST, have definately come to the right place.
Headache magazine interrogated this band, because these days there are only a few true Metal bands left. Bands, that we love to death! Past, present and the (near) future have been investigated thorougly and this is the perfect opportunity to introduce this band to the European audience. Our ‘partner-in-crime’ is the bassplayer of the band, Dave Harrison. Read carefully, what he had to say....
When did BLACK STEEL get together as a band?
DAVE HARRISON: "BLACK STEEL was formed in early 2000. I met up with Matt (Williams) & Jamie (Page) and was looking at putting a traditional / power style metal band for fun, 'coz I have always loved that style. Basically, it was a band jamming on some classic style metal for fun because we all love that style of music. After solidifying the line up we went into the studio and recorded four tracks, which became our "Battle Call" EP. This EP gained us some interest and great reviews both in our home country and overseas. In 2001 we released our debut full length CD; Destructor' which has been extremely well received by fans of classic & power metal across the world. We have played many shows here including supports for JUDAS PRIEST & DEEP PURPLE. Earlier this year the band underwent a line-up change with Jamie leaving to be replaced by Emanuel Rudnicki."
Despite the fact, that you don’t exist for a very long time yet, I hear influences of many metal bands from the 70’s and 80’s like JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN and DEEP PURPLE. How come that I don’t hear any influences of the newer bands, and maybe you can also tell us which bands really influenced you?
"Well, this is the music I understand and know best. I have a strong passion for it & there is a difference I think between playing what you think people want to hear to be commercially successful and being true to yourself, disregarding the trends and playing what is in your heart. This is what BLACK STEEL is all about being the real deal. It's hundred percent pure classic Heavy Metal!"
Most of you played in other bands before BLACK STEEL. Can you tell us a bit more about them (names, style of music)?
"I had previously been in a band called ALLEGIANCE, which was more of a bay area thrash influenced kind of sound released three cds and were quite popular out here touring with many big name acts. Matt was in a hard rock /metal style act called PROJECT X, who released one cd; Damien (Petrilli) also plays in an instrumental progressive metal outfit called SYZYGY and Emanuel, our new guitarist, comes from a band called VOYAGER."
“Battle Call” is the name of your four track EP, released in 2000. How many copies were sold and how was the reaction from the media?
" "Battle Call" is raw and kind of primitive sounding, but in retrospect I think it is pretty cool for what it is which was a quick dash to the studio to document where the band was at, at the time we also had very little resources to work with in terms of any kind of budget so the result is not too bad. I suppose has a kind of demo quality about it. There are a lot of people who write to us and tell us they really dig "Battle Call" and it is also quite sought after by hardcore collectors especially overseas. We get orders for it all the time, so we are extremely great full for that we have gone through a few pressings for it so we have sold somewhere in the vicinity of a couple of thousand copies."
One year later, you supported DEEP PURPLE and JUDAS PRIEST during their Australian tour. How was that experience, and did you also manage to get in touch with the members of PRIEST and PURPLE?
"It was a great honour to play with legendary bands the calibre of DEEP PURPLE and JUDAS PRIEST and it is always nice to actually get to meet some of your idols which we did and they were very nice & treated us cool."
In that same year, you released your debut album called “Destructor”. Many people compared your sound with bands like IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST. I heard back some IAN GILLAN in Matt’s vocals, next to the PRIEST like guitar lines. How would you describe the music of BLACK STEEL, and did the fact that you toured with both bands cause any changes in the sound of BLACK STEEL maybe?
"I don’t think playing with these bands had any influence because most our album were recorded before we did those shows. Basically, we wanted to play honest Heavy Metal music with all the classic elements.. That's truckloads of melody, big choruses, double kick drumming, twin guitar attack and high clean vocals & good musicianship. Music that is fun and has an uplifting vibe and makes you want to forget about the world and its problems. What I would most want people to get out of our music is to bring people together feel uplifted and inspired maybe about feeling good about themselves and their lives in general."
Let’s take a closer look at the live shows of BLACK STEEL. What can people expect when they come to a BLACK STEEL show?? Do you use any show elements during your gigs, and do you play any covers perhaps?
"Covers can be great fun! We have performed covers on occasion. Recently, we had an IRON MAIDEN night for a bit of fun and did some classics like "Aces High", "Hallowed Be Thy Name", "Wrathchild", "Fear Of The Dark" and we also did a bit of a OZZY OSBOURNE / BLACK SABBATH night for fun once, but usually it is all our own material. We have slipped in the odd BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST, MANOWAR tunes on occasion for a blast. We have a lot of our own cool tunes to play these days.. Our life shows consist of lots of crowd participation, singing along, fists punching the air, headbanging, smoke, lights and great sound is what we endeavour to put across."
Maybe you can tell us some nice stories from the life on the road of BLACK STEEL?
"Lots of crazy gigs!"
You also toured with another well talented Australian metal band, called RAVENS’HEAD. How did this tour go?
"No tour. We just did some local shows and festivals. They are great people! I am glad you have heard of them!!"
Most of the bands in the Australian metal scene, like AMETHYST, RAVENS’HEAD, PEGAZUS, SUPREMACY and BLACK STEEL, sound very promising and a lot rawer than the average European or American band. Can you think of any explanation why they sound much rawer than their European/American colleagues?
"Well, the Australian scene has primarily been known for producing a lot of extreme metal acts perhaps maybe the production has rubbed of on the more melodic metal acts down here!! Plus a lot of the metal acts in this country work on extremely limited budgets as far a recording goes. Hopefully, more Aussie acts will get support from some of the big labels & producers."
What’s the metal scene like in Perth? Are there many clubs where you can play?
"Yes, there are a few clubs that we can play here, but Perth is the geographically the most isolated city in the world. The population out here is not that large, but mostly the crowds are pretty cool to us!"
Are there any more very talented Australian metal bands, worth checking out in your opinion?
"Yes, there are quite a few great bands in this country unfortunate not many of them break out and it is pretty hard to get known outside our country for a lot of bands as far as being known outside Australia there is DUNGEON, PEGAZUS, VANISHING POINT and a ton of extreme stuff like DESTROYER 666, DEVOLVED, etc.. Australia has lots of metal acts ignored by mainstream radio and media over here, but the scene is getting better all the time. However, making the leap from national to international can be hard with any luck BLACK STEEL can open a few doors."
In May of 2002, your guitar player Jamie Page left the band, and he was being replaced by Emanuel Rudnicki. Why did Jamie leave the band, and how did you get in contact with Emanuel?
"Well, Jamie’s departure was very amicable he just has a lot of other things in his life to do. Emanuel I knew of from his band Voyager and I knew he would fit the whole BLACK STEEL vibe great!"
Now your star is rising in the rest of the world too, have you made any plans to tour in Europe or don’t you have any plans for this yet?
"Well our first plans was getting our Cd’s released over the which they now will be!! We would love to get over there to play that is the next step. Hopefully soon!"
Have you recorded any new songs already and when can we expect a new album of BLACK STEEL?
"We are in the writing process right now and there are quite a few songs written ready to go but not recorded yet. Early in 2003 is when we want to be back in the studio."
What are your future plans?
"To finish our next album. Make some more clips and play some shows across Australia and overseas."
What makes BLACK STEEL different from the other hundreds of new metal bands that invade the metal scene of today? What makes your band so special?
"We have a great appreciation, understanding and respect for this style of music and are embracing the classic elements of traditional style metal - everything from the early 70's beginnings like BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, JUDAS PRIEST thru to the N.W.O.B.H. explosion which spawned IRON MAIDEN, DEF LEPPARD, SAXON, RAVEN, ANGELWITCH, DIAMOND HEAD & that whole do it yourself movement of underground bands with all the great obscure underground stuff like PREYING MANTIS, SAMSON, BITCHES SIN, STORMTROOPER, PARALEX, SLEDGEHAMMER, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, LEGEND, etc etc. Of course 80's metal is where our biggest influence lies coz we all grew up in the 80's and were little kids then listening to stuff like American 80's metal DIO, FIFTH ANGEL, JAG PANZER, RIOT, etc and German metal like THE SCORPIONS, ACCEPT, HELLOWEEN, STORMWITCHS, Pretty Maids and a zillion others up to the present day with the whole modern power metal revolution but I think what sets us apart a bit is that we have been playing and into this stuff long before it became popular again and are not jumping on any band wagon. The real deal. We like to emphasize the classic angle rather than being just another speedy power melodic band."
Jamie, you once recorded something with Cozy Powell. How was it to work with this legendary drummer?
"Yes, he recorded an album with the late Cozy and one of their songs appeared on the QUEEN guitarist Brian May’s solo album. From what I gather Jamie’s experience with Cozy was nothing but positive. Time marches on is a tribute to him."
You also worked together with Dennis Wilcock (one of the very first IRON MAIDEN vocalists!), and with members of ANGELWITCH. I am very interested in what you did exactly with these people?!
"That was another Jamie thing I think he played some shows & was in bands with these guys when he was living in the UK."
What do you think of the metal scene of today, and to which music do you listen to nowadays?
"I think the scene today is awesome and also very diverse. My listening tastes are very wide from metal to Mozart to Jazz I try not to have any limitations. I really appreciate the melodic & musicality aspect of a lot of the European metal coming out at the moment everything from NIGHTWISH, RHAPSODY, PRIMAL FEAR, NOCTURNAL RITES, KAMELOT - it's all great stuff. I really enjoy listening to metal mainly melodic stuff & some prog and I really like melodic death and black metal - anything that is well played. Apart from metal, I enjoy early classical stuff and some jazz as well. I listen to music all the time."
Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview. Maybe there’s something we forgot to mention here, and which is essential for the story of BLACK STEEL?
"Yes, we now have some worldwide licensing / distribution deals for our "Destructor" album. So the "Destructor" CD has been repackaged for the international market and features new artwork / photos and bonus video track and released through the Adrenaline subsidiary Steelheart Records."
Do you have any messages for our readers?
"Yes, we really appreciate your support for our music because it means a great deal to us. We can’t believe how lucky we are to be a band from Australia getting recognised in your country we thank you all very much."
The last words are for you.....
"Yes, thank you very much for taking the time to read this. You can find out more about BLACK STEEL: music, news, and merchandise by logging on to our website www.blacksteel.com.au. If you want to check out some of our music, then try www.mp3.com/black_steel."
Interview by: Toine van Poorten
(translated and in press for HEADACHE magazine, Netherlands 2003!!!!)