SAVAGE wrote a real masterpiece with "Loose 'N Lethal" back in 1982. METALLICA even refer to them as a big influence when they started to record their first songs. But all of a sudden, SAVAGE disbanded in '86 after releasing two albums and things got very quiet. It would last ten long years, 'till the band got back together again. Snakepit recently got in touch with founding member/guitarist Andy Dawson and digged into the rich history of the band. It's 1981 when four young British lads start this infamous metal band. Nineteen long years are compiled in this interview. It's the story of SAVAGE, told by Andy Dawson….
When did the first line up of SAVAGE get together and did the band members play in other bands before they entered the band?
"The first definitive line up for SAVAGE was in 1981, when we recorded the compilation album "Scene Of The Crime". This was Chris Bradley (bass & vocals), Wayne Renshaw (guitars), Dave Lindley (drums) and of course myself, Andy Dawson, on guitar. I believe that this was everybody's first proper band. We were all very young. Can you imagine, I'm almost 36 now!"
How did you get on the "Scenes of the Crime" and "Metal Fatigue" compilations?
"The "Scene Of The Crime" album was a local compilation of bands from this area (Nottingham and Sheffield). We found out about it from another band and realised nobody had asked us to do it! So we rang this guy, called John Fritchley, up and we were in, but all the bands had to pay 150 UK pounds. The "Metal Fatigue" album was from an advert in Kerrang! magazine. We just sent a tape and got a phone call. Both of these albums achieved quite a lot for the band."
How did you get in touch with Ebony Records on which you recorded your debut album "Loose 'N Lethal"?
"Metal Fatigue" was the first release on Ebony Records. We got played on Radio One and got the best reviews, so they asked we to do the "Loose 'N Lethal" album for Ebony's first band release."
Lars Ulrich of METALLICA has told the press many times that they owed their record deal to a demo tape on which they played "Let It Loose" and "Dirty Money". Are you proud of the fact that METALLICA covered two of your songs? What do you think about METALLICA nowadays?
"We are very proud of the fact that METALLICA covered our songs. It shows how good we were! I am just disappointed that they didn't record them on the "Garage Inc." album. We would have made some money. I have a bootleg copy of "Let It Loose" with METALLICA playing on it. It's pretty bad! I am sure they could do it justice now. As far as METALLICA are as they are now. I really like them. They have developed and moved forward as all bands should. Too many bands just release the same album over and over again. It's not the 1980's anymore. Move on…."
"Let It Loose" can be seen as one of the many NWOBHM hymns from the eighties. Can you name us your favourite NWOBHM tracks and why do you like these songs so much?
"I am happy that people remember the song. To be honest, there are not many NWOBHM tracks that I still like. I like the older stuff like THIN LIZZY and DEEP PURPLE. Plus I like newer bands such as THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, THE DEFTONES, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, SOUNDGARDEN, etc.etc."
Where did your musical influences come from when you started SAVAGE?
"SAVAGE's main influences were THIN LIZZY, UFO and believe it or not VAN HALEN."
The "Ain't No Fit Place" 7" c/w "The China Run" sounds slightly different than the LP version of the songs. Are we dealing with demo recordings or different unmixed versions here?
"The "Ain't No Fit Place" seven inch was recorded before the album with a different drummer. Dave Lindley on the seven inch and Mark Brown on the album. Personally, I prefer the seven inch versions because of the drumming."
Why did David Lindley leave the band to join DAWNTRADER, even before you released "Loose 'N Lethal"?
"Dave Lindley is a bit of a 'hot head'. He left SAVAGE about three times because of his temper. He rejoined for the 1996 album "Holy Wars" and played at the Heavy Oder Was? Festival in Germany but quit yet again on the way home. I still talk to him and he regrets leaving, because we are still recording and he isn't. We just came back from a festival in the States and he was a little jealous."
With whom (please name the bands) did you play back in the early days? I know that you opened for DIAMOND HEAD once.
"We played with DIAMOND HEAD, who were very arrogant. We also played with King Diamond's band MERCYFUL FATE. They were very friendly. In Holland we played with METALLICA, which was fun."
Why did you change Ebony Records for Zebra Records? I heard that the band didn't have too much good words about Ebony...
"We left Ebony because they were very secretive and greedy. They wouldn't tell us anything and wouldn't license the album to anyone because it meant less money per unit. However, Zebra Records were no better and didn't promote us. We should have spoken to more labels but we were so naïve because we were so young and stupid."
Why did "Hyperactive" sound so different from "Loose 'N Lethal", so less powerful?
"The reason "Hyperactive" sounded more polished was because we spend not much time on it. It was too clinical and we were influenced by the American production sound. With "Loose 'N Lethal", we just went in a room and played it live, which is better for us. "Hyperactive" cost loads more! Ironically, some of the songs were written before "Loose 'N Lethal"."
After "Hyperactive" you also released a twelve inch called "We Got The Edge" c/w "Running Scared" and "She Don't Need You". Could you please tell our readers about the time after "We've Got The Edge" and before "Holy Wars" (I read that some of the SAVAGE members are to be found back in bands like REBEL / XL / GLORY BOYS / CLOWN HOUSE / QUANGO and HUSK). Can you also state which of these bands were really interesting for the metal fans and please tell us more about them.
"Actually, the 12" single was released before "Hyperactive". When we split up, there were two bands formed. Chris formed XL and I formed REBEL. We were very much in competition. XL probably sounded more like SAVAGE and we used some XL tracks for the "Holy Wars" album. Even though there was competition, I played on some XL demos and a Radio One session, because their guitarplayer left (the later joined my band!). REBEL became RED, then became CLOWN HOUSE (inflicted by EXTREME!) and later QUANGO, who I feel was a really good band. None of these bands really achieved much success and me and Chris still kept friends. So when SAVAGE reformed, it was quite easy for us to do."
You also played at the Aardschok festival in 1984, together with HORIZON, TOKYO BLADE, METALLICA and VENOM. What do you remember from this day and was it your biggest gig ever? I can recall that there were about 7,000 people there!
"The Aardschok festival was a definite highlight for the band. It was the best gig of my life! We still talk about it. The strange thing was that METALLICA asked if it was OK to come into our dressing room. How things have changed! It was a great day. I remember our guitarist Wayne got completely wasted and had to be carried to the hotel and Mark the drummer was trying to get into a fight with TOKYO BLADE. I don't remember why. Just too much beer, I guess!"
And what happened to the video that was shot during the festival? Wasn't it possible to use this footage as a sort of home video?
"I didn't know that there was a video of the gig. I would love to see it! If anybody has a copy, then let me know."
Your comeback was in 1995 with "Holy Wars". David Lindley is back in the band. What happened to drummer Mark Brown in between?
"Mark Brown really didn't like metal very much, so he wasn't a natural choice. I prefered Daves playing. I'm still friends with Mark. He manages a centre called the 'Mick Jagger Centre' in London now."
Why didn't you release "Holy Wars" as "Crash", which was in fact supposed to be the original title of this comeback CD?
"Because the artwork idea for "Crash" was to use the CRASH TEST DUMMIES, but we coulnd't find the right images, so we chose "Holy Wars" instead."
Chris played in a THIN LIZZY cover band (called LIZZY BAND) next to SAVAGE. Can you tell us a bit more about this initiation and how come you like THIN LIZZY so much?
"Actually, we both played in the LIZZY BAND. We just did it for a charity Greenpeace gig and then carried on. We still do it occasionally. It's funny, because SAVAGE started out doing THIN LIZZY songs in 1978-79, when I was fifteen. We can play them better now! We liked them because they were different to anybody else. "Jailbreak" is still a great album and I've always been drawn to American sounding bands."
Did you see the recent THIN LIZZY reunion tour and what do you think about the reunion of this magnificent band without Phil Lynott?
"I didn't see the reunion tour, but without Phil it's just like a covers band. That guy was THIN LIZZY, but unfortunately he destroyed himself. It is a shame! I think Chris should join the new THIN LIZZY. He's so much like Phil in his vocal style and bass playing and he owns a black Fender precision."
In '96 you played at a festival in Tübbingen with TOKYO BLADE (again!), BLIND GUARDIAN and GLENMORE; Andy Wilson of XL being your second guitar player. What was it like being on stage again and playing for so many German metal fans?
"It was fantastic! We had a great time and I think it was the tightest we'd ever played. It was the first time for us in Germany and we are pleased to be coming back this year. I do have that gig on video, which I still watch from time to time."
On the CD release of "Loose 'N Lethal", we hear bonus tracks like "No Cause To Kill", "The Devil Take You" and "Back On The Road". Is there more unreleased material, which we can expect on forthcoming releases or is 'the box' of previously unreleased SAVAGE stuff definitely empty now?
"There are a couple of tracks I think in the box, but they are very old and from our very early demos. I don't know if they will make it on to an album, but who knows?!?"
On "Babylon" you had Richard Kirk on the drums. David Lindley disappeared again. What happened to him?
"Dave has left us again and Richard Kirk was an obvious choice, because he played in XL and in the LIZZY BAND. Richard is busy with a tribute band, so we have another drummer, Mark Allsop, who played with us in the US. He's the best!"
This year you'll play at the Wacken Open Air festival (next to ANGELWITCH, PRAYING MANTIS, SAMSON, DEMON & GRIM REAPER). In previous years BLITZKRIEG, SWEET SAVAGE, PARIAH, JAGUAR and the TYGERS OF PAN TANG already were there. We can speak of some kind of a NWOBHM revival here. How's the popularity in your home country for that matter? Are you still able to play there?
"NWOBHM is not popular here at all. In fact, metal is pretty much dead in the U.K. at the moment. I'm sure things will improve, but everybody talks of a revival. It will only happen when there are bands, who are teenagers, playing it. When all of us old bands keep reforming, it is not enough. Metal will have to reinvent itself if it is to survive. The 80's are not coming back. A lot of it was shit anyway. Only the good stuff will survive (sorry!). There are very few gigs here. Thank God for Europe!"
Can you tell us a bit more about the new CD? When will it see the light and what will it sound like? Is it different from your previous material?
"The new CD is called "Xtreme Machine" and will be out before Wacken Open Air. It is probably the heaviest thing we've ever done. It is more up to date which may disappoint some people, but as I said earlier we all have to grow, develop and more on. I like to think that if Phil Lynott was around to make a metal album, it might sound something like this."
Any more plans other than Wacken?
"Plans to record a live album have been talked about. I would like to do one. It would be like a 'best of SAVAGE' set. Perhaps we could record the set at Wacken? We already have songs for the next studio album. Hopefully, we can play more gigs in Europe."
Have you got anything to add to this interview or maybe a message for the readers of Snakepit?
"Thanks for reading this interview. Keep listening and take a risk with the stuff you listen to. Check out our new CD!!
Interview by: Toine van Poorten
(originally appeared in SNAKEPIT, issue #8, 2000)