– Hello. First off thank you so much for answering our interview. How is the band currently doing?
Well, last year we were signed to SPV/Steamhammer and re-released Burn this Town and we have done quite well overall this year, with the release of Heavy Metal Sanctuary, the re-release of Power from the Universe , the Sanctuary video, the festivals we have played in the UK, Germany and Spain and the addition of a new drummer Ricky Squires, we seem to have been resurrected!
– Have been 30 years since that superb «Power from the Universe» came out, and you are now rereleasing it. How did the idea arise?
When the band signed to SPV/Steamhammer last year the provision was for them to re-release the two old albums Burn this Town and Power From the Universe, as well as the new album Heavy Metal Sanctuary. This was part of the conditions of the deal. So not only have they been re-released but they have both been re-mastered and have had extra bonus tracks added and they sound better than ever.
– Without any doubt, «Power…» is a reference into British Metal. How do you think and how do you feel has this album aged 30 years later? What are your feelings when listening to it again?
The album seems to have aged very well as everything seems to have come full circle back to this style again. After Burn this Town was originally released we felt that we could get a much better production, especially the drum sound. With the help of Tony Wilson the producer we managed to achieve this on Power from the Universe and even today the production sounds quite good, especially the new re-master. We feel it is a good indicator of where we were at that time and the new album Heavy Metal Sanctuary is a logical progression from that. However the projected new album may be a little different but still be Battleaxe.
– As I have the chance of interviewing you, I would like you to tell us a little bit how were the early days of the band like, and what did the release of this album mean to you into the music world.
The band formed in early 1981 but was really just an update from a previous band Warrior who started in 1978. Some of the early songs from the Burn this Town album were written in this early lineup but with different lyrics. With the Battleaxe lineup stable we soon start gigging in the Uk with a converted double decker bus and recorded a self financed single «Burn this Town» which also appeared on the Roxcalibur compilation album. We then decided to record more tracks which became the Burn this Town Album and we were soon signed to Roadrunner records who released this as our debut album. We continued gigging and recorded a Radio 1 session and later toured the Uk supporting Saxon on their Crusader tour in early 1984. In the meantime we continued writing songs and recorded Power from the Universe which was released in 1984. We were very happy with Power from the Universe at the time, the production was far better than Burn this Town although maybe not quite as frantic and speedy. The music appealed to the mainstream metal scene at the time and around most of the world it was well received, except by the British press. However by that time the music scene was changing rapidly with AOR, Hair metal, Thrash metal and other styles starting to become dominant.
– England was a core for really well-known acts, nowadays we can know thanks to the Internet almost the whole NWOBHM. What was the NWOBHM tag for you? Do you like it?
Although we are often classed as NWOBHM, some sources refer to some of our music as Speed metal and sometimes early Power Metal. While there are elements of this in our music we always just thought of ourselves as a metal band. Back then the differences were far less defined and looking back it is obvious that NWOBHM was the birthplace for many of the modern types of metal. Remember, the NWOBHM is an era not a genre. Bands of almost every type of rock and metal are contained within NWOBHM, because it is a time period. It is a bit of a two edged sword, on the one hand being part of the movement had its advantages and its historical context but sometimes the fans don’t like a band to do something a little «Out of the Box».
– On line with the previous question and talking about the Internet, nowadays there’s an easier access to more unknown bands an albums. Have you noticed the effect of the Internet? Maybe it helped you to reunite and record again?
Yes, it defininately helped the band get back together in 2010, although there are good and bad aspects to the internet as a whole. because of downloading there is very little or no money in record sales these days especially for smaller bands but on the plus side almost every band that ever existed is probably miuch more accessible to the public. Also because of the underground nature of metal itself, a lot of the music was never played much commercially, so the net has brought greater access to almost everyone.
– On the album there are some bonus, some of them were already featured on an EP from 2005. Was it a good moment to include them here and make these songs known?
Yes, although 3 of these tracks were already on the Nightmare Zone, that was never a full release and was very limited. Putting these tracks out as bonus tracks on the full SPV re-release allows a far larger community a chance to hear them. As well as this the lost track from the Burn this Town album «Lovesick Man» has been added. This was lost for over 30 years and was only found after Burn this Town was re-released otherwise it would have been on that album as it was the 11th track from that session.
– In 1984 you released another cult album, entitled «Burn this Town». Is there going to be a reissue on this record too?
Burn this Town has already been remastered and re-released last year by SPV/Steamhammer together with four bonus tracks from a 1983 Radio 1 session.
– What happened during the years when you weren’t active anymore? Didn’t you think before 2010 to get back together again? Were you completely away from the music world?
For the most part we were not involved in the music scene for many years. During that time most members followed other careers and pastimes. In 2007 after not seeing each other for many years the drummer phoned everyone up telling us he had started a small video company and as an experiment asked us if we would like to do a video of one of the old Battleaxe tracks. We were not sure at first but eventually decided to do it as there was nothing to lose. We chose to do Chopper Attack and it was then uploaded to Youtube. We never saw each other for another three years but by 2010 the video had garnered some attention and we were asked to play Headbanger Open Air in Germany that year. Since we were received very well at that festival we decided to restart the band and eventually decided to do a new album.
– In 2014 you are having a rebirth with «Heavy Metal Sanctuary». How has this opus worked?
The album originally started on a laptop and we had a few songs from before and we also wrote quite a few new ones. With virtually no budget and limited equipment we struggled to get the project completed and eventually took it into a studio in Newcastle to finish the recordings and mix it down. This cost money but fortunately we then got signed to SPV/Steamhammer and they helped sort out our problems. Eventually we managed to get a big modern production sound to it and after it was released we got a great many good reviews so it seems to have been the right move to make.
– This year I had the chance of seeing you at Keep it True, and you recently played in Barcelona, at the Metalcova Fest. What were your thoughts on these both shows?
It was great to play those shows, always nice to get feedback from different countries and we find that the audiences are so appreciative of what we do it makes it all worthwhile. Generally there is a positive attitude at the shows and festivals and we find today that a large proportion of the metal audience are quite young, many not having even been born when the albums were first released. This multi-generational aspect is good news for the survival of metal music.
– And on a view to the future, how do you see it? Do you plan to record something else, doing a DVD or something? What are your plans?
We already have some songs written for a new album and are are in the process of writing some more. A few of these songs are a little different to what we usually do but are still Battleaxe. Also we will be putting together a couple of videos, maybe even of a new song. Who knows? As well as this we should be doing a few more shows next year maybe even a small tour, remembering that for bands such as ourselves it is often not commercially viable to do larger tours.
– That’s all from our side. Our best wishes and see you next time.
Many thanks and good wishes from the band to yourselves and all of our fans!