– Hello and first of all, thanks for taking the time. What are you currently up to? How is everything right now ino the ENGLISH DOGS’ camp?
we’re just tying up the loose ends . The new album artwork ,publishing details , legal stuff . Credits and thank you’s. All the crossover period stuff back from ’84 to ’86 is being rereleased with liner notes and old pics. We’ve been racking our brains trying to remember stuff from those recording sessions. Now it’s the touring side. Getting the dates set in stone. I’m hungry to get us out on the road.
– After some split-ups, line-up changes and apparently bad blood between some of the band members/ex-members, you reunited in 2009. What prompted this reunion with the «Forward into Battle» line-up? Were you in touch throughout all these years?
You’re right! There was a low point when I’d fallen out with virtually everybody (Except for Adie) . In 2007 there was a chance that there was to be a reunion . After exchanging emails with Jon Murray I got a call from Wakey which was along the lines of «We don’t wanna do any of the metal era stuff so you’re not needed!!!» , Well that made me completely pissed of course but shortly after I found that Pinch had declined the idea from the start . What can you say to that though? That drew a line under a couple of friendships for a while ! And then there were the actual physical fights!!!!Me and Pinch used to get in such a state . I think we had around half a dozen fights. One time in some club he even put a chair over my head! All I can say is that it isn’t a great idea to get into a fight with an ex boxer!! Even if you’ve had boxing training yourself. I really cannot see any of that inter band scrapping happening again now. I’ve learned a lot more control . It was just anger issues or about getting overly sensitive or territorial with a situation. It was never anything important but a lack of control at the time. Anyway, I wanted to get the Forward into Battle» line-up back since 2003 but had to deal with the obstacles . Getting Pinch interested in the idea being the main one , finding Adie (Facebook helped with that) then what were we gonna do about rhythm and bass guitarist. I’d tried to hook up with Wattie for a jam but it was a logistical nightmare caused by his over possessive wife! Jon had some issues with health. Pinch found two guys close to him for the task and they made it right away (Enter Ryan and Craig Christy on Rhythm and bass guitar).
– But there are now two different bands using the ENGLISH DOGS moniker, the oher one is Wakey’s version. This can be a bit messy for some people who maybe haven’t followed your career too much so, how come there are two «versions» of the band?
You have to look at Iron Maiden and say would it be right if Paul Dianno formed a band (With him as the only original) and called it Iron Maiden then would it be right? So if I were to be Adrian Smith and Adie was Bruce then Pinch is the Steve Harris and English Dogs should not and can not exist without his persona and drumming style and sound. Pinch formed and named the band , led the band , wrote 95% of the lyrics. What is Wakey doing? he ought know better . Pinch asked him to join his band and then he leaves . Then he forms a band years later with 3 totally new guys and calls it «English Dogs» . It reads like a mid life crisis to me! It can’t be English Dogs without Pinch in the band! For a while Wakey kept sending me hate text messages , beginning with threats and moving onto tales of my Wife having an affair . It was a sad situation that clouded what was genuinely important that was going on at the time . Wakey texting me nonsense as my eldest brother was trying to reach out to me. My brother took his own life due to depression. And still the text messages came!!! None us need to take band wars as far as that . It’s desperate.
– As I said, your new «The Thing with Two Heads» is your first album in over a decade, and the first one in a while with such a classic line-up. How was like working together again after so many years? Was the chemistry still there?
More so than ever. There was a unity , like a huge mutual respect between us . We had to do some rehearsals in an unorthodox way to begin with , separately , Pinch , Ryan and Craig in the USA and me and ade in the uk and passing pro tools files between us . When we rehearsed in San Diego it was magic. Real brutal Punk metal power. Nothing like it. It’s tribal! There’s a moment just after the intro song «FORWARD INTO BATTLE» into the opening chords of «THE FINAL CONQUEST» when Adie shouts «COME ON!!!» and Pinch powers through those trademark drum fills and the fast tempo snaps in .The circle pit was INVENTED for that very moment!!
– Starting to dig into this «The Thing with Two Heads», first off I would like to know what does the album’s title come from. Does it make reference to the two ENGLISH DOGS?
Well yes because the English Dogs are a tale of 2 paths in the band’s story and also the crossover of our two favorite music forms PUNK AND METAL. The band’s following has at times been split into two by who we assumed to be friends choosing to abuse the trust given in them when they turn around and spread false tales painting a picture of treachery . Sadly , at points we find there are self centered schemers in the punk scene ……. but we don’t want any splintering , we want unity and brotherhood! The two tribes should come together and arise! What is the point in fragmenting an already fragmented scene. We are already outnumbered. It’s strength through numbers and the CROSSOVER scene was meant to bring both worlds together.
– Musically you take back the good old UK Punk Rock but with an updated, clean sound. Recording techniques have changed a lot in jus a few years so, what kind of effect has this had on the sound of the new album?
We all have our own studios or easy access to a studio and we all use pro tools so that recording tool and the ability to DropBox large files between us has given us the freedom to write , demo and record this album to a level that sounds like it was on a £40,000 budget . In fact it cost us nothing because we did it ourselves . Absolutely D.I.Y. except for the final mix which has just cost a few «favors» . Thanks to a great old friend Dean Pansy for that one! Unlike the old days we now have the equipment and the knowledge to record to a high level because we all hung out with producers and engineers and Applemac guru’s so in time you get to learn a load of tricks and tips.
– As alaways, you are providing a quite diverse opus, ranging from Punk to Thrash or Heavy Metal among others. What do you think were and still are the most influential bands for the ENGLISH DOGS’ sound?
No bullshit , our biggest influence was ourselves. The 84 and 85 era stuff that we wrote , sure a few other things came out . One very special ingredient was a cassette tape of songs that I had which was destined to be the next album AFTER «Where Legend Began» and our plan THEN was to get back to the Forward into Battle attitude. We stripped a lot out of that cassette and there were some diamonds in there .As for other influences at that time , well, GBH «City Baby» came out on the turntable again , also I was listening to Billy Talent’s four albums quite a bit . At the time of writing I was fresh from recording an album with my «other» band THE MORE I SEE so that would definitely have had an effect. THE DAMNED (Of course!) and Diary Of A Madman era Ozzy , METAL CHURCHs first 2 albums , Rudimentary Peni , Slayer , I’m sure they all had some impact. However , when I’m in a foreign country I often listen to the radio tuned into local stations and try to find really srange , exotic sounding stuff. I’ve often come across unknown (to us) bands that write songs with incredible chord patterns . I absorb all of that stuff and bring it to the table.
– There are quite thrashy tracks, such as «Freak Boy». What’s the story behind this song?
The lyrics are based on the theme of ; «Some people are only happy when they are in pain and who are we to argue? » . This song is a mix of riffs from that 1986 lost tape and some new riff ideas that I could best describe as being «Black Country Thrash» , this is using guitar techniques that incorporates open strings with fretted double stops that produce a shimmery dissonance!!!! Baffled yet? Bluegrass and country techniques make an interesting fusion with aggressive thrash! The middle eight is pure classic Forward into Battle style English Dogs , with some amazing rhythmic ideas that Pinch came up with.I love the drumming on this song . It rules!
– It also caught my attetion «Gorgonized», with almost prog parts and epic choruses. In certain way you are doing something new here still being ENGLISH DOGS. Are you always open to embrace new influences and new things?
I’m actually more into digging old stuff that I didn’t quite get first time around like Deep Purple , CREAM, Led Zep , Lynyrd Skynyrd , Pink Floyd , and I must have bought every ACDC album in the last couple of years ,but if something new comes along which is refreshing then of course it will stay in my van stereo for weeks at a time.BARONESS being the perfect example. There is some old stuff that I will always return to no matter what ,such as the UK Punk band «THE RUTS» in my opinion the greatest punk band of all time! I listen to a lot of metal of course , all kinds really . I prefer a more melodic vocal approach to the metalcore or screamo stuff . Everyone should try Metal Church’s first 2 albums «Metal Church » and «The Dark» which I would say are near perfect ! On «Gorgonised» as on all the tracks on «The Thing With Two Heads» Adie’s vocal is perfect for what we are doing – it’s right back to his roots with his pre Dogs band «ULTRA VIOLENCE» and the performances he put into «TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH» . No one could touch him then.
– «The Thing will Arise» is a quite traditional Thrash track at the US style, with a great chorus, as well as «Planet of the Living Dead», which has a strong melodic chorus too, or the catchy «Royal Flying Corpse». These series of songs are some of the most melodic and catchy on the album, showing you can be melodic still being aggressive. Is it easy to get a good equilibrium? And how important is for the overall impact to have such a balance?
That was a balance between my suggestions and what Pinch was hoping for . Although I’m coming up with the riffs ,Pinch is sending song templates to me as drum tracks and they are suggesting riffs to me. The first 3 tracks written for this album were composed in a traditional way . Planet of the living dead for instance (Which contains a riff that I wrote in 1979!!!!) . I wrote the music and tracked a home demo with guitars , bass and a click track and emailed it to Pinch and he came up with the lyric. That song was meant to be very anthemic , very old school but there was some debate from Pinch whether it would fit amongst the other songs. In the end there turned out to be 4 tracks on the album that were of a more melodic nature so we felt it could balance out.
– Though I would dare say you have a quite Punk Rock approach to your music, there’s an epic 10 minute song entitled «Down with the Underdogs». You haven’ done a song like that since the «Where Legend Began» years. What could you comment on this song?
Yeah it was something that we had to do. We had a song that we nicknamed «The one that very nearly got away» which was initially Pinch’s piece of music
and we tried it in several different ways and he just didn’t like it no matter what we did with it. Then there was a slow , epic track on the cassette of riffs from 1986 and Pinch was really psyched on a particular riff on there and I was keen on another. Eventually it was time to roll up the sleeves and wade in and try to make something out of this crazy bunch of ideas. This track bounced backwards and forwards like no other. This 1986 riff I had in mind was like the utter climactic riff so I imagined the song to be one enormous build up , leading up to this riff and then an utter explosion of epicness. It was like a firework display . The intro was my favorite moment ever . Just so exposed , so blatantly honest and simple and building up and up. The song was meant to be a full ten minutes long because it was kind of a fusion of 3 songs. I was gutted when it came in at 9.55 !!!!
– All this about «The Thing with Two Heads» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
CROSSOVER NEW LEVEL!
– And finally, what are your near-future plans?
TOURING , I CANNOT WAIT!!!!! Beginning with the USA. I cannot tell you how hungry we are for this . Ready? You cannot be readier!
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
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