The progressive metal band Salem Spade, was active between 1986-1990, having recorded 3 demo tapes. These demos can be found at the compilation Witch Hunt released in 2007 by Steel Legacy Records. Long time guitarrist, Pat Sternquist, spoke to us about the band.
Q. - Hello Patrik, tell us a bit about the beginning of "Salem Spade", how did it all start?
What were your main influences at the beginning of the band?
Patrik - Salem Spade went through many members starting in 1983. The ones I am most proud of are the ones with Me, Rikard, and Alex Ben-Kory and the lineup that recorded the demos with Kevin Emerson, Scott Davies, Travis LeRoy, Me and John Secrest. My main influences going into this was prominently Iron Maiden. I was also listening to UFO and Michael Schenker at the time. Rush has also been a huge influence on me.
Q. - Soon after the band started, Rikard Stjernquist leaves the band to join Jag Panzer, how did that happen?
Patrik - We had opened up for Jag Panzer in 1984 I believe, but that was not a representative version of the band. We were not very good. Then the lineup of Me, Rikard, and Alex Ben-Kori played a gig at a local college, and we played one of the best shows of our lives. John Tetley and Mark Briody were in the audience that night. They came up to us afterward and we became close friends
Q. - When Rikard leaved to join Jag Panzer did you think about call it a day?
Patrik - It did cross my mind, but I got a call from Kevin Emerson (then 15 years old) out of the blue. He convinced me to restart the band with him, and we did.
Q. - The demo tape "Witch Hunt 1991" received excellent reviews, did you try to approach a record deal at that time?
Patrik - We were trying, but it never came to that. I am not sure why. I am pretty proud of that demo.
Q. - You shared the stage with so many great bands like Fates Warning, Jag Panzer, or Great White, just to name a few, what memories do you keep from those gigs?
Patrik - Ha, yes those were amazing memories. The main hurdle was to convince the parents of my very young band mates, that I would look after them. We were playing bars, and they were all too young to legally be in there. Fates Warning was a huge influence on me at the time, so that was an amazing night. The Great White show was amazing in the fact that they had a top charting album at the time. The place was sold out. Many people thought we were an LA band as well. Kevin played that to his advantage 😊
Q. - Why did you and John Secrest left Salem Spade back in 1989? Was there some musical differences?
Patrik - A little bit, they went in a more aggressive route. We are all still good friends today, but at the time there may have been some acrimony among some of us.
Q. - Although you had leave the band, the "Sleepless" demo tape, shows the band in a more "Thrashy" way, what did you think about that?
Patrik - I like the music. Not a big fan of the vocals, but the performances were great.
Q. - Was the compilation "Witch Hunt" from 2007 very important in the return of Salem Spade? Having in mind it reunite all the material recorded in the 80s?
Patrik - It felt good to see it out on CD and vinyl so that more people could hear it. We got together for one session a few years ago, before John passed away. We sounded really good. The problem is that Kevin lives in New York, and Travis and Scott both have their own musical projects that keep them very busy.
Q. - Is it like a dream come true, to see the "Witch Hunt" compilation cd released after so many years?
Patrik - Yeah, I am pretty proud of that. The fact that I can go back and listen to it now and still enjoy it is pretty amazing.
Q. - John Secrest had an unique voice and was a "trade mark" for Salem Spade, how do you feel about his passing?
Patrik - It broke my heart. We had just reunited a few years before his passing. I feel for his family.
Q. - What do you think that lacked to Salem Spade to have a successful career?
Patrik - That is a good question. It may have to do with just trying to get by, and maybe not able to put 100% into it. I see what bands go through to just try and get a little recognition, and it’s tough.
Q. - Will you try to keep Salem Spade active, even without John Secrest?
Patrik - I don’t think so. We played a short set opening for Panzer a couple of years back. It was me, Alex Ben-Kori, Rikard and Bob Parduba. It went pretty well. I am not sure if that will happen again.
Q. - In your opinion what are the main differences between the eighties and the reality of today? Do you keep an eye to the metal scene of today?
Patrik - In the 80’s there was no internet. I think that is a huge factor. I do follow metal today, and I am glad to see some bands harken back to the good old ‘80s. I have been listening to Jesper Stromblad’s new band Cyhra quite a bit. Great CD. And I am a huge fan of Grand Magus
Q. - How do you want to end up this interview? Anything more you want to say?
Patrik - Thank you for reaching out. The fact that people still care about this band makes me happy. I will definitely let you know if any activity is planned in the future.
Thank you for your time, and wish you all the best for the future!