quarta-feira, 22 de maio de 2024

Steve Toplek (Cockneys on Tour)


Q. - Hello Steve, how did your interest in hard rock and heavy metal music start?

Steve - Hearing Machine Head by Deep purple, school friend raved about it, was completely blown away hearing it.

Q. - Did you start to go to the Soundhouse in the late 70's? Do you think it was a mythical place?

Steve - No, my Best mate was working with Sid (Simon) Adams at a musical instrument shop in Ealing. He introduces us to the Soundhouse , where he had won “headbanger of the year” and also the Brecknock pub in Camden, where his favourite band Urchin played.

Q. - How would you describe the enthusiasm of the fans? Do you remember the effort and dedication on the cardboard guitars contest?

Steve - It was somewhere where everyone felt at home, they loved the music and the atmosphere, and being part of something where they all felt the same. I was told the cardboard guitars came after one of the guys at the Soundhouse, “Rob Loonhouse” started headbanging with a broom, the guitars followed, and escalated to  the “Headbanging  Band Of The Year” competition, with not onlt cardboard & wooden guitars but roadies with cardboard amplifiers! The competition was judged by members of Motorhead and Iron Maiden and other heavy rock musicians.

Q. - Were you part of Cockneys on Tour? What did it consist of? Did you travel around the UK following some bands? Which bands did you follow on tour, at that time?

Steve - Yeah, it started one night, we were going somewhere, someone made a comment like “the cockneys are on the move”, to which someone shouted out “Cockneys On Tour”, and the name was born, along with a shout of Oh for f***s sake!”. There were quite a few of us, none of whom were actually cockneys, one guy, Tom, was from Sunderland. There was Sid, Mark & Cliff, Tim, Colin, Tom, Dennis & basically anyone with us.

We mostly went to see Urchin & Iron Maiden, who often played gigs together. In the beginning, Maiden were usually the support band for Urchin. Dave Murray of Iron Maiden had been Urchin’s original guitarist, Adrian Smith, one of Urchins guitarists later joined Maiden after Urchin broke up.

Outside of London gigs, we went to see Urchin a couple of times at the Corn Dolly in Oxford, Urchin & Iron Maiden at Upper Heyford US Army base in Oxford (some of the American soldiers were Soundhouse members) and the following week at Guilford University.


Q. - Did you guys keep in touch all over the years?

Steve - Yes, unfortunately Dennis and Tim both died, and Sid died last year. Tom disappeared, I think he went back to Sunderland. I did try to track him down, but no luck.  I still see Colin & Mark occasionally, and am in touch with Cliff on Facebook.  I had worked with Colin at City Express courier company in 1978 , I was a motorbike rider and he was a van driver. In fact, when we went to oxford & Guildford, it was in Colin’s van. Through Sid, we met Mark, Cliff, Dennis and a few others at the Brecknock.

Some of us went to the Brecknock (now called The Unicorn) a couple of times a few years back.

I’m still in touch with Steve Allen, saw him in Camden a few weeks ago. Cliff Evans lives in Hastings, and runs a monthly psychedelic disco at a local hotel. Me & my wife, Colin & his girlfriend & Mark went to one last year. Cliff still plays in Tank, mostly rock festivals in Europe. They played here recently Colin & his girlfriend went, but I couldn’t go as we were away elsewhere.

Q. - When you were frequenting the Soundhouse in the late 70's, early 1980’s were there any bands that surprised you or were you disappointed with?

Steve - They didn’t have that may bands on, it was more a heavy metal & rock disco. I remember Iron Maiden playing several times, and Nutz, other bands might have played there occasionally, but if they did, I wasn’t there. Ted Nugent made an appearance one night, but not to play, just a visit and a few signings.

Q. - Do you think Neal Kay was very important in the revival of heavy metal in the late 70's?

Steve - Definitely. A large music room with a bar, a massive sound system, great records, and a lot of enthusiastic members, all rushing to headbang when their favourite songs were played, it was heaven. Plus the record chart. Iron Maiden sent their demo tape, which topped the cart & was later issued as a 7-inch single “The Soundhouse Tapes”, which today is extremely rare, probably one of if not the most famous HM single ever, copies sell for hundreds of pounds. Praying Mantis also had a Soundhouse tapes single, there’s a 12-inch version of “captured City”, which the band still plays at their concerts. The most amazing story is about Riot from America, a track from one of their albums was a big favorite, apparently, they were about to give up due to lack of success, but they heard about their popularity at the soundhouse, and actually came to the UK to play, I saw them at Hammersmith Odeon along with other members from the Soundhouse.

Q. - And what about the "Friday Rock Show"? What memories do you keep from listening to Tommy Vance?

Steve - One of the few places to hear heavy rock on the radio, I listened every week. There is actually a website dedicated to it, where the fans who run it are collecting all episodes and making them available online.

Q. – At that time did you think that Iron Maiden could have reached so high as they did?

Steve - Maiden seemed different to a lot of the bands before them, playing their own material and very dynamic, brilliant original songs and their own recognizable style Paul Di’Anno was a great frontman. They started off as a support band, but, especially after Bruce Dickenson Joined, with a lot of hard work and good management, they achieved major success.

Q. - And did you feel that the NWOBHM was reaching to a higher point, in the whole UK? What do you think about all the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement, and the repercussion it had around the world?

Steve - Not sure really, bands like Maiden definitely inspired other bands, and people to form bands, but there were a lot of good bands about.

Q. - Did you play or try to play in some bands back then? Tell us a bit about it please.

Steve - Cliff & Mark had a band before I knew them called Moby Dick, not sure how much they played. Me, Tim & a guy Steve Allen formed a band called Cosmic Tortoise, Steve was a Brecknock regular lived at Brecknock School 2 minute’s walk away and also went to the soundhouse. Steve was a great guitarist the rest of us were rubbish to be honest, we rehearsed a bit and gave up. Steve joined a band called Voyeur, they had some success, had a mini album out played a lot of gigs and festivals, did a small US tour, but there were problems and they split up. After that Chris their drummer played with a tribute band The Counterfeit Stones for a while. The only one who hasd any real success was Cliff evens, another from the Brecknock/Soundhouse. He was in the blues band Chicken Shack for a short time, and for many years has been a guitarist in the heavy rock band Tank.

Q. - What are your thoughts about the 90's? Did you feel it was bad times for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal bands?

Steve - I got married, moved and by the mid 80’s had a daughter so didn’t really go to many gigs. I listened to Friday Rock show, but there wasn’t much else on the radio, I wasn’t keen on a lot of the AOR type bands.

Q. - Are there any funny moments that you can share with us?

Steve - Going to see Urchin & Maiden at the USAF base in Oxford. The Americans at the Soundhouse told someone about it, probably Sid, Colin drove us there in the van, with Me, Sid,  Tim, Mark & Cliff in the back . We arrived. It was a military base, with high security, no one knew the American guys names. The guards wouldn’t let us in without invites or passes. Fortunately, one of the Americans came past, and got us admitted. Being a US base, we had to change our money into dollars to buy beer. The bands were in a big room, the others there, all US soldiers & maybe staff’ at the base, were standing or sitting on the floor  in front of the stage. Behind us were some high-ranking American Officers on chairs wearing full military uniforms, not the sort of people usually at a heavy rock gig. Also, some uniformed military Police. Maiden played first. We all got up to headbang, the police made us sit down. Every time they went away, we got up, they would come back & make us sit down again. Gradually others joined in. By the end of the night, security had given up and people were dancing on the tables. Colin started the drive back to London. We were all in the back of the van. It was dark, and we were going down a narrow country road, when someone said “it’s very quiet, where’s Tim”? We looked round. The back doors of the van were open & he was gone, Colin reversed back along the road. The back doors had somehow come open, Tim had fallen out, he was lying in the road, laughing. He had a full-length leather coat on, was drunk but, seemed ok. We got him back into the van and continued on home. It started to get lighter outside. Can’t remember if we stopped or were still in the van, but discover the fall had ripped a big hole in the arse of Tim’s jeans and his arse was redraw & full of gravel. He was so drunk he hadn’t even noticed.

The next week, we all went to Guilford University, Tim got drunk, fell down some stairs, broke his leg, went to hospital and came back to the gig with his leg in plaster!

Q. What about Urchin, with Adrian Smith, did you see them live?

Steve - That's where it all started. Colin was already a friend, he didn't go to the Brecknock much. Met Mark & his brother Cliff there, Dennis, Steve Allen, Tom & Cliff Evans, who'd been at school with Steve. There were a few others, Rob who's now in New Zealand & Paul, no idea where he is now. Urchin were a full-time band I think, they had a big coach, Dave their sound guy & roadie drove it, Dennis roadied with them for a while. We went to Oxford to a music pub a couple of times to see them. Andy their other guitarist was very good, but towards the end of the band, he was noticeably drinking a lot, it's just life that they didn't make it. Sid had a couple of their demo tapes that he shared with people, they eventually came out as LP's & CD's along with the early Urchin singles on a German label a few years back. Dave the sound guy normally drove, one night, we saw them in Oxford and got a lift back on the bus. Andy drove but was a bit drunk. In those days the road to Oxford was the A40, 3 lanes in most places, a 70-mph speed limit, and there were small roads alongside for access to any houses. There were a lot of roundabouts. Andy went round one of the roundabouts, but instead of going down the main road, he accidentally went on the small road at full speed. Narrow road with parked cars, could have been really dangerous Dave told hom he'd never let him drive again. After Urchin split up, Andy & Adrian had a band called Marshall Fury.

No success with that either.  When Adrian joined Maiden, I heard Andy joined Michael Des Barres & His Chequered Past. Michael had been the singer with Silverhead, he was also in a couple of episodes of Superman on TV. He married Miss Pamela, a groupie from the Chicago Plaster Casters (they made an album, Permanent Damage with Frank Zappa, featuring a lot of famous rock musicians like Jeff Beck) The Plaster Casters were famous for making plaster casts of rock stars dicks, the most famous was Hendrix. Pamela wrote a book about it all called "I'm With The Band" I heard Andy was also with the band FM at one point. There used to be a video on you Tube from maybe 10 years ago when Adrian jammed with Andy & some friends for the first time in years.

Q. - Do you still see bands live nowadays? Do you keep an eye to hard rock and heavy metal? Do you try to keep the seventies and eighties heavy metal spirit alive?

Steve - I still go to a couple of gigs a week, usually pubs & small clubs, and a few festivals. It tends to be more rock, blues, & prog than HM. Saw Praying Mantis at a festival last year and at a pub gig this year. Me, Colin & Mark went to see British Lion, the band formed by Steve Harris, Maiden’s bass player the Christmas  just after lockdown ended, And Me & Colin went to see Alestorm at Brixton Academy.

Q. - Anything more you want to say, to end up this interview?

Those of us left and who are still able go to gigs as often as possible and meet up occasionally. We all still love music.

Thank you for your time, and wish you all the best.

sexta-feira, 16 de junho de 2023

Simon Adams A.K.A. Bandwagon Sid


Simon Adams A.K.A. Bandwagon Sid, was a regular at the Bandwagon (Soundhouse), in the early days of the NWOBHM movement, even winning the "Headbanger of The Year" contest that was held there in 1979. Here you have some of his memories of pure rock n roll living.

Q. - Hello Sid, how did your interest in hard rock and heavy metal music start?

Sid - For me it began at the age of 11. I was given a place at one of the English public schools through a scholarship (I was seen as highly intelligent) and 95% of the other kids at my school were sons of people in the armed forces or nobility as it was a fee-paying school. Virtually everyone there had a stereo so instead of hearing singles on the radio I got to hear albums. Zeppelin, Purple, Heep, Hawkwind, Sabbath and lots of other bands who were around at the time, too many to mention but you get the idea, right?

Q. - Did you start to go to the Soundhouse in the late 70's? Do you think it was a mythical place?

Sid - I first went there in 1976 as I was working nearby and a there was a girl that I really fancied who said she went there on a Sunday night so I went there just to hang out with her for the evening. This was when it was a disco place and then Neal Kaye came along and totally changed it. To me, it wasn't a 'Mythical Place' as it was just the place that I used to go to. The thing that I loved the most about it was that people from all over London started to turn up there and I got to meet some great people who are still good friends to this day and through them I got into a lot of bands that I'd never heard before.

Q. - How would you describe the enthusiasm of the fans? Do you remember the effort and dedication on the cardboard guitars contest?

Sid - To be honest, at the first 'Headbanger Of The Year' contest the only person who had anything apart from fresh air was Loonhouse. He was without a doubt the man who started off the whole thing although I will point out that his guitars were made of hardboard and not cardboard as many people think.  He used to build them in his garage as I can testify to, he made my gold 'Les Paul' which I used in my '15 minutes of fame' in the Living After Midnight video by Judas Priest (Loonhouse used his trusty red Flying V). I'll put the video clip on your fb timeline so you can see it, the 2 other guys were Dobbo on 'drums' and Clive Bassett on 'bass', (Loonhouse made the Rickenbacker as well). The first time that I ever saw multiple hardboard guitars was at the Headbanging Band contest in 1979 when all the 4 bands that took part had everyone 'fully equipped'. Normal nights at the Soundhouse nobody except Loonhouse had one, it was expected of him and I know for a fact that people came down there just to see this legendary guy with his red hardboard Flying V. He even used to take it to concerts for fucks sake!!! Everyone who came down to the Soundhouse for the first time always got a warm welcome from the regulars for the simple reason that they were rock fans the same as we were and we were seen as 'evil people' by 95% of society because we liked rock music (ask Jimmy 'Tee Rets' Norcott !!!). People who came loved the place because they met like-minded people and got into new bands by word of mouth or swapping cassette tapes, no internet or you tube in those days!!!

Q. - Do you know what ever happened to Rob Loonhouse?

Sid - Sadly Paulo. Loonhouse has apparently become a total recluse. He won't leave his house, won't answer the phone, nothing. One of my great friends from the Soundhouse days is award winning rock journalist Mark Blake and he was very close to Loonhouse. He told me about a year ago that Loonhouse was meant to turn up at a bar for a re-union of some sorts about 10 years ago, he didn't turn up and nobody that he knows has seen him since. I became very close friends with him after the 'Headbanger Of The Year' contest in December 1978 when we were voted best and second best in the competition (I won it by the way, will send you a picture of my trophy presentation later). He actually introduced me to the woman that I ended up marrying (she was his boss's daughter) and he was at our wedding as well.

Q.- What about the Music Machine gig on May 8, 1979, with Samson, Angel Witch and Iron Maiden? Did you see it as the re-emergence of the heavy metal movement?

Sid - The Music Machine gig in 1979? I'm sure that I would have been there but can't remember for sure. Did I see it as the re-emergence of the Heavy Metal Movement? Didn't even think about it to be honest Paulo, it was just another night for me in that I'd go to a gig, bump into the same people from all over London and rock out to some good bands. All I can remember is that slowly the venues that I was going to were now becoming clubs rather than pubs and there seemed to be more new faces appearing that all us 'regulars' had never seen before.

Q. - When you were frequenting the Soundhouse in the late 70's, early 1980’s were there any bands that surprised you or were you disappointed with?

Sid - What you have to remember Paulo is that while there were some really good bands emerging, there were also a hell of a lot of bands that were, shall we say to be polite, not so good. It wasn't a case of being disappointed with a band as I realised that some would be better than others, it was all about getting lucky and coming across the right band, usually by accident. Even if the band you went to see were not that good, you'd have a night out drinking beer with fellow rock fans and maybe make a new friend or two.

Q. - What bands most impressed you at the beginning of the N.W.O.B.H.M.? And why?

Sid - The bands that I used to take an interest in at the very start (or before it even all began maybe) were Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis and Urchin. They were the ones who, to me anyway, had the best songs and put on the best live shows and I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that if all 4 bands were playing on the same night, I would be at the Urchin gig as they were my favourite.

Q. - Were there any bands that you used to follow on tour, at that time?

Sid - Urchin. Living in London we saw lots of bands every week and getting around London was pretty easy via public transport so London gigs were never a problem. However, outside of London and within 100km distance, Urchin were my 'go-to' band. Being an Urchin fan made me a lot of new friends as it was the same people turning up for the gigs, we got to know each other well and a 'band of brothers' were born. One of the guys had a transit van so we decided to drive out to Urchin gigs outside London. We went to a lot of US Air Force bases for gigs as well as pub gigs and we became known as the 'Cockneys On Tour' (Cockney is the name used by non-Londoners to describe people from London although a true cockney is from East London). At the airforce base gigs, it was usually Iron Maiden SUPPORTING Urchin as well. I'm still in very close contact with a couple of the guys from COT, would you like me to hook you up for some of their memories from back in the day as well? There is also a Cockneys On Tour fb page if you want to check it out.

Q. - And what about the "Friday Rock Show"? What memories do you keep from listening to Tommy Vance?

Sid - This might surprise you Paulo but I never listened to it once. I heard copies of the show that my friends had taped and, from all the taped shows that I heard, I only heard 2 or 3 new songs that I didn't know. You must remember that I grew up in London, Friday was the start of the weekend after a week at work so it was time to drink a few beers with your mates and there was always either a good band on or a rock club night on somewhere. Stay at home on my own and listen to the radio where I might not hear a single song that I didn't know in two hours? No chance mate.

Q. – How did you get the chance to be on the “Living After Midnight” video?

Sid - I remember it quite well, this guy came down to the bandwagon looking for guys to be on the crowd for the video clip.

We were a headbanging band and I told him don’t look anywhere else, we’re here we’ll do it! We’ll do it as a headbanging band and we got the job! We did the video! We went to Sheffield and Iron Maiden was the supporting band, and we were friends with Maiden at that time. Rob Halford is a down to earth guy, friendly, very nice guy, all the guys were really nice, a bunch of nice guys.

We stayed there and watched the show and got merchandise for free, we were in the guest list for the whole tour. It will stay with me forever, a chance to hang out with guys I really like. I remember one night at that tour, I was watching Iron Maiden live and Adrian Smith came to me and told me that he was going to join the band. I was very happy for him because he was the right man for the job.

Q. – What do you feel when you look at yourself on the video?

Sid - I feel like I’ve been transported back in time. I’m single, free, and it takes me back to a magic time, I had some really fantastic friends, many people knows that I was part on that video, even here in the Netherlands, that’s something I’ll never forget, something I look back with lots of pride and happiness. My 15 minutes of fame.

Q. - Do you keep in touch with Neal Kay? Do you think he was very important in the revival of heavy metal in the late 70's?

Sid - Yes, definitely, I spoke with him two days ago and message him today, there is this guy that is writing a book about Neal Kay, about his all career, and he is going to interview me about the Soundhouse days, and what went on at that time. Yes, Neal was DJ years and years, way back before the NWOBHM and he was extremely important, there were some rock clubs in London and people from all London went to the Soundhouse, we called it home, people went there to listen to new music. Many bands brought cassettes to him, asking him to listen to their bands, that’s how he knew about new bands and he play them, at the Soundhouse you could listen to music that you couldn’t listen elsewhere, and another thing, when we were rock fans in the 70’s, people didn’t like us, they thought we were devil worshipers, Satanists, that was the reputation we had, this guy gave us a home where we could meet together and everybody was equal. In 4 years, I went there I never saw one fight, we were there to listen to music and I never saw any trouble there it was fantastic.

He was basically the one who built the Soundhouse, Geoff Barton wrote an article in the Sounds magazine, and Neal convinced him to put a heavy metal chart in the magazine, after that it completely took off, everybody knew where to go hanging with rockers and listen to new bands, people started to come from further places, Sweden, Norway. He played demo tapes from bands that we didn’t know, like Praying Mantis, and people took interest about who were these new bands, that would not be possible without Neal,

The worth night was when Neal had to play the standard bands. I was regular, I used to go 3 times in a week, I made a lot of good friends, I met my wife there in 79!

Q. - Did you try to play in some bands back then? Tell us a bit about it please.

Sid - I did but I was useless!! It would be better if I played in a punk band, because it was easier. But I was a good sound engineer, I went to California, San Diego, and learned how to do it!! But never did it in England, only in America I was there for 10 years (89-99). People liked my job, I did hundreds of shows, mostly local American bands. Not because I’ve worked as a sound engineer but the sound guy is the most important guy in the building when a band is playing live, you can have the best band playing, but if the sound guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, it’s going to be shaite!! At one of those shows I’ve met Ice-T, very nice guy.

Q. - What do you think of this recent revival of the N.W.O.B.H.M., and all these bands reforming?

Sid - To me some of them I think they reform because they love what they do, they can’t resist it. For example, Def Leppard, they do it just for the money and it pisses me off, another example, Kiss, they have some great songs, but I would not see them live, they asked for a bunch of money to meet them after the show on the farewell tour, they are extremely rich, don’t need money, why do they not put cheap tickets for their farewell tour, a way to say thank you for their fans! Even if they put cheap tickets people would by merchandise and they would do lots of money.

I would not ever spend money to meet a band, that’s not going to happen. I used to see pub bands, the bands used to hang out after the shows for the fans. It brings me great memories from those days, bands were not there for the money, they were there for rock ‘n’ roll, and that’s what makes it relevant.

Thank you for your time, and wish you all the best for the future!

sexta-feira, 31 de março de 2023

ROD1313 - Overcome

"Overcome" represents a natural evolution from "Gravity" and "Dark Clouds", both in terms of production and mastering.

"The Path" follows a way that Rod has already accustomed us to in "Dark Clouds".

"Something To Live For" is the advance single, and a personal favourite of mine, with excellent tempo variations, great melodies and guitar solos.

After the dark melodic "Lifeline" comes "Now and Forever" featuring João Brito from the band "Devil In Me" on lead guitar. The title track "Overcome" has the heaviest riff on the album and it ends with "Sign Of Life", which shows a darker environment.

Overall, "Overcome" is a pleasant listening album full of very interesting technical aspects. For catchy melodies and good guitar solos lovers.

Check the new video, "Something To Live For":


domingo, 11 de dezembro de 2022



From Folkestone, Kent, England, comes Denigh, formed in 1978 and having recorded 3 demo-tapes (two in 1979 and one in 82), the successful single "No Way" in 1980 and the album Fire from the Sky in 1984, besides the compilation of 1997. We had a chat with Jon (Bass, vocals) and Ian (Guitars, keyboards, vocals) the remaining members of the original line-up and the core of this great band.

Q. - Hello guys! How and when did it all start? Who were the first members of the band? Please tell us a bit about the origins of Denigh.

Jon: DENIGH was formed in 1978 in the coastal town of Folkestone, Kent in South East England.

As individuals we had served our apprenticeship in 'covers bands' on the local pub and club circuit and I guess the time was right to go our own way.

It's fair to say that me and Ian in particular wanted to write at least some of our own songs.

I had only provided backing vocals in other bands up to this time, so initially we were keen to recruit a lead singer but this proved extremely dificult. I recall we tried three guys at our rehearsals and, having decided they and we were wasting our time I eventually stepped up to the lead mic.

Combining Bass and lead vox didn't come easy and the learning process continued throughout our early gigs - we had to plan each set to help my voice!

Ian: Phil Allchin was with us at early rehearsals on lead guitar, but during the long delay in finding a lead vocalist, he was offered a place with another band. I'd known Phill for a while, we lived in the same street, Nos. 8 & 12 and our first encounter was a back garden stone throwing battle where he accused me of killing his rabbit. We started out fighting, but ended up good mates with our mutual interest in making music.

So I was sorry to see him leave us and it should have been a major setback, but we found Steve Maddock to take the lead guitar slot and Jon stepped up to the lead mic.

The original performing line up was:

Steve Maddock – Lead Guitar

Ian Devlin – Keyboards / Guitar / vox

Jon Everett – Bass Guitar / Lead vox

John Regan – Drums

Q. - How did your interest in Rock / Metal music start? Who are your main influences?

Jon: Making music is in my family, my taste is very broad, across most genres including classical.

However, I have early memories in the 1960's singing along to the Pirate Radio stations that my older brother and couzins were tuned to.

So that would have been The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys in particular. Later at school in my teens I didn't hang around with the 'pop crowd' - although I liked Slade, Elton John, Quo and a few others - but mostly for me it was Genesis, James Taylor, John Lennon, Santana with a little bit of John Mayall, Lou Reed, Uriah Heep …

Ian: My story is much the same as Jons. I grew up in a musical family where downstairs would be Mum & Dads Perry Como, Cilla Black & Sandy Shaw, but upstairs my two older sisters were playing The Beatles, The Who and The Move. In my teens I was into Led Zep, Quo etc.


Q. - Do you remember how did the band name came up?

Jon: Band names are so difficult to choose, especially when trying to think of one.

Our story is that after rehearsals in a hall near Folkestone we would pop into the village pub 'The Chequers' before going home.

The landlord knew us well, due to the fearful racket we made in the village hall and one day he set us a riddle “there's only one four letter word in the dictionary ending in ENY, what is it?”.

None of us could guess it, so he told us – DENY.

Ian: I reckon this is the first time anyone has asked this question!

We had been searching for a unique name for our new band and after thinking it over with a few beers in the pub, we changed the spelling and by the next rehearsal we had adopted it.

Q. - Do you recall the songs you were playing at the beginning? Did you play any covers too?

Ian: We had written eight songs ready for our first gig:

The Star / Falling Snow / Bed Of Nails / Stay On Top / Three Sparows / Burn The Sky / Echo Of An Echo / Missing You.

I don't remember the covers except 'Dont Believe a Word' by Thin Lizzy, coz I got to use my WahWah pedal!

Jon: And these covers, Rain - Quo, Strange Kinda Woman - Deep Purple … the two I remember!


Q. - How was the Kent Rock / Metal scene like? Did you play regularly there or even in the rest of the UK? Did you share the stage with other well-known bands?

Jon: In 1978 there was SAMSON in north Kent for us to look up to, but in our area on the south coast of Kent, there weren't many Rock Bands and of those, very few were writing their own material.

Generally a local band would get more gigs and therefore more money by playing covers, so thats what most did.

Ian: Yeah, and in those early days of DENIGH we had no money and limited transport, so getting further afield was difficult. But before long we got a reliable van, so were able to travel all over Kent, into London, Essex and to Birmingham. We also crossed the channel to do a mini tour of French coastal towns.

In 1979 DENIGH were proud of the opportunity to support SAMSON and that was the first of many including: SAXON, BUDGIE, RAGE, GIRLSCHOOL and TORME.

Q. - Was the 1979 "Denigh" demo tape your first experience at studio? What memories do you keep from these recording sessions?

Ian: This was my first experience in a proper studio although I don't remember anything about it. But I recall a time much earlier when me and a mate Clive had used a couple of stereo tape recorders, bouncing tracks between them to build the recording – with hopeless results!

Jon: My first studio experience was with a band 'Talisman'. (Incidentaly, Phil Allchin was the lead guitarist in this band and Phil took over the lead guitar in DENIGH after Steve left mid 1979).

The first DENIGH demo was recorded at the same studio, in the basement of the engineers house in Folkestone. The sound proofing was really thick and made your ears 'strain' for sound!

I don't remember much else though. But I still have the tapes, they sound dated and on a budget but they're fine.


Q. – And how was the single "No Way'" received by the fans? Did it have airplay on radio stations?

Jon: The single was a success and such a shame that we couldn't follow it up sooner with another release.  We simply had no money and although we didn't realise it at the time, we also needed proper management guidance.

We sold the single mainly at gigs and through local record shops but a number were sold through a national distributor and it was these sales that led to a 'number 97' position in the official UK singles chart.

Ian: And on top of that, the single had airplay on the BBC Radio Kent show 'Kent Rocks ' hosted by Mike Brill and ultimately on the BBC 'Friday Night Rock Show' hosted by Tommy Vance.

Q. - After the release of "No Way", it took two years since you recorded new songs, the demo tape "Lean on 'em Hard". Did you try to approach a record deal at that time?

Jon: I have to give this question some thought.

We always had the idea that we could be completely independent and in control of everything about DENIGH.

After all, we had a successful single release, we had a decent fan-base, we had local and national radio airplay and last but not least, we produced good material.

We were certain that DENIGH was gathering momentum. And it was.

In addition to gigs on the usual circuit we were organising 'showcase' gigs in larger local venues that involved hiring PA equipment, lighting, roadcrew, support bands, advertising, tickets, posters – the list is endless.

On top of this we produced quality merchandise for fans, trying to maximise exposure of the band.

Looking back, the approach we adopted was misguided because it was too idealistic. We took on too much ourselves and seeking a record deal took a back seat.

Ian: I agree with Jon but there was also one fundamental thing missing. DENIGH didn't have a decent & up to date demo tape, likely through lack of funds, but also lack of focus.

Certainly the early demo wouldn't have convinced a record company.


Q. - What do you think that lacked to "Denigh" to have a successful career?

Jon & Ian: Paulo, we know we were successful, thinking back to all that DENIGH achieved, but we should have been more successful.

What we lacked was proper management and focus ....

….and maybe a bit of luck?

Q. - Did you stay in touch with the other former members of the band over the years?

Jon & Ian: Yes, of course though we all went our own ways with different bands and musicians.

Although Steve has stayed very much to himself with very little contact and sadly Phil Allchin died in 2019.

Q. - What other projects did you have after the end of "Denigh"? Tell us a bit about it please.

Jon: I fronted a couple of local bands through the eighties into the nineties, none with the same ambitions as DENIGH, but that suited me at the time. And I was also happy to provide my Bass and backing Vox for other bands recording projects. Later I coached and recorded a couple of local contempory folk artists / vocalists.

And of course, Ian and I have more than once got together, but there's often been other distractions that have broken the bond. That is, until now of course.

Ian: I also played in a couple of local bands and from one of those the bassist (Paul) and his brother formed a new band called Immaculate Fools - who later signed a deal with A&M.

Three years and two albums later Paul contacted, asking me to join the band for a tour of Spain and Portugal. After a week rehearsing in London I did the tour and joined the band officially. I worked with Immaculate Fools for about five years and in this time we recorded the album 'Another Mans World' with CBS that went 'Gold' in Spain and 'Silver' in a couple of other European countries – plus there were a couple of hit singles off that album.

And, for your interest Paulo I did numerous gigs and tours in Spain and Portugal, so you and me may have already crossed paths at some time?

After I left that band I did get an audition with Jethro Tull for a planned world tour - but sadly I didn't get the gig.


Q. - Denigh self-produced several different promo materials (like badges, stickers, posters) and even albums. Have you ever thought about the reissue of Fire from the Sky or the 1997 compilation on Cd?

Jon: As a result of recent appearances and exposure on Voodoo Radio we have been contacted by a specialist label, 'Obscure NWOBHM Releases', regarding the re-issue the 1997 Compilation CD.

Negotiations are complete and the project is underway with an expected release in the 1st quarter of 2023.

A similar plan for “Fire From The Sky” will be considered after the completion of the initial project.

As for promotional products / merchandise we're all for it, but now we don't offer it for the revenue it generates. Instead we have made our artwork / graphics available free via download from our Social Media pages and our 'Linktree' page.

Anyone can take the artwork to their local printer and get a shirt, mug, stickers etc.

Q. - How did you see the whole N.W.O.B.H.M. movement, back then, and how do you see the interest around those bands and recordings nowadays?

Ian: To be honest Paulo, we didn't know we were doing anything special.

As DENIGH we described ourselves as British Rock, taking our inspiration from the (mostly British) bands that preceeded us in the early 1970's. Such as Deep Purple, Led Zep, UFO etc.

So, DENIGH and other bands of that time just took this inspiration forward and it was much later on that 'NWOBHM' tagged this particular Rock era.

DENIGH never described their music as HM, something all of us in the band would agree right from day one in 1978.

Jon: As for the recordings, I recall speaking with Matt Mader at Iron Pages prior to their re-issue of “Fire From The Sky”. He was insistent that we didn't apply any modern studio tricks to the sound, because it had to be of the time.

And this is what he meant.

Nowadays, 'anyone' can make a good recording at home with easily available and low cost equipment, but back then the bands didn't have any money and relied on small independent basement studios to record their sound.

The time and cost restraints usually dictated a 'live take' of the band with some 'tracked' vox afterwards. And that was that.

Those hurried, low budget recordings have captured the essence of the times.

Ian: Its great that fans still review the bands and their recordings from those days and though there will be some that are lost, there must still be some that no one has heard yet.

Obviously we're glad that we still have our early recordings as they offer a tangible insight into what DENIGH was about.

Q. - In your opinion what are the main differences between the eighties and the reality of today?

Jon: I'm not sure how to answer this, except – that was then and today the music business is totally different.

Are there any regrets? Sure but we have to face up to the choices we make.

Could DENIGH have 'made it'? Yes, I believe there was every chance.

Ian: One big difference is the technology now available that enables musicians / artists to create and showcase their material to a high standard and within a reasonable budget.

DENIGH is taking advantage of this right now.

Thinking back, I remember my first 'guitar amp' involved pulling the stylus unit out of a record player, cutting off and stripping back the wires on one end of a guitar lead and joining them to the wires now hanging out of the tone arm. Plug in yer axe and crank up the volume – usually an impressive 4 watts …!

Those days are long gone.

Q. - What's the current status of "Denigh", still alive and kicking?

Jon: Me and Ian are active as DENIGH in a songwriting partnership.

Its important to add that we enjoy what we're doing with no constraints set on the material we produce.

DENIGH at last has a Manager …!  He is Carl Penfold.

Carl takes resposibility for our online and social media presence and is the single point of contact for DENIGH.

Carl also creates our Promo Videos that can be viewed on the DENIGH YouTube channel.

DENIGH material is released on our own label “Drawn Horse Records” and supported by proffesional publishing and distribution of our works.

Ian: This year we have released two new singles (BEVIN BOYS and BLACKSHEEP) that are available for download from all the usual online stores and a new album is due early 2023 titled “Back In The Game”.

The album will be for download / streaming initially, with a CD format expected to follow.

So, me, Jon and Carl are able to fully embrace our 'ideal' and maintain control of everything DENIGH.


Q. - Anything more you want to say, to end this interview?

Jon & Ian: Thanks Paulo, for inviting DENIGH to interview.

We look back with pride on what we achieved in the past and now look to the future as our music is evolving. The response has been fantastic, not only in the UK but globally too and its great to know that along with our original followers our music is attracting a new audience.

And if you will permit Paulo, anyone interested in what DENIGH is doing now please use this link to access all our Social Media / online platforms.  DENIGH

Thank you for your time, and wish you all the best for the future!

Thanks Paulo, you too mate. Jon, Ian and Carl

Steve Toplek (Cockneys on Tour)

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