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Blitzkrieg: Veteran NWOBHM's Return With Absolute Power!

By Vinnie Apicella, Contributor
Friday, May 24, 2002 @ 2:42 PM


And Interview With Blitzkrieg'

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What do bands like Def Leppard, Diamond Head, Blitzkrieg, Raven, Saxon, and Iron Maiden (the other five or six hundred left off due to space considerations) have in common? Along with many, they were at the forefront of a new crusade that began in the late '70s that would define and deliver an indelible style of Heavy Metal music for countless generations to follow. During the late '70s and early '80s, the Metal world was ripe for the picking. With old favorites like Sabbath and Aerosmith fading to a low profile haze of self-imposed oblivion, and names like Alice Cooper and Deep Purple having long since peaked, a number of young acts followed the lead of a resurgent Judas Priest and Scorpions, original purveyors of Heavy Rock guitar music with muscle, melody and mass anthem appeal.

From this era, many would disappear without a trace, becoming limited existence early exiters fulfilling little more than record collector obsession and provide counter top fodder for middle-aged mug lifters about what ifs and what might've been. Some yet have gone on to have manageable, if not million selling careers, satisfied to do a one off gig and maybe an album here or there with the odd session drummer; a few have gone on to greatness. Iron Maiden's worldwide success has been well documented and propelled them to legendary status in the Metal ranks twenty years strong. Def Leppard, who many might find difficult to believe, was right there at the beginning. Where they're at and where they're going today is anybody's guess, but to call them anything less than a success is shortsighted. And yet success can be judged in different ways depending on who is asked. For many musicians, success is not measured in terms of popularity and record sales, it's being afforded the opportunity to continue doing what they love to do by creating music for the sake of art and if they're lucky enough, avoid the doldrums of a nine to five life.

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In re-examining the life of a typical NWOBHM band, I've learned two things. The first is that for many, there's plenty of unfinished business to take care of and life does indeed begin at forty. The second is that while it seemed a nice gesture at the time, the Metallica connection could be either a blessing or a curse. Many old enough to remember the very first Metallica Creeping Death EP from back in '83 will know of course it included a cover of Blitzkrieg's first single, "Blitzkrieg" from which the band certainly garnered acclaim and a stateside jumpstart to a career that unfortunately bombed out before it began. Now what has Metallica gone on to do since, and then what of Blitzkrieg? I, for one, don't believe in fate, but maybe it's time Brian and the boys hit on Ride The Lightning or Master Of Puppets, for a B-side reminder of what might've been. Certainly they're not lacking in the power or dexterity to pull 'em off. Upon word that a handful of these Heavy Metal "anti" heroes would be making a first (or second for some) jaunt to America to ride the "second" wave of Metal resurgence for the annual Metal Meltdown in the ol' seaside ghost/resort town of Asbury Park in New Jersey, I had to make the most of this opportunity to finally get a peek at all that previously wasted potential on the stage and the full story from the bands themselves as to what happened, where they've been and what brought them back. My sit-down with the members of Blitzkrieg was actually the first of four successive interviews with the UK participants that culminated with a one-on-one with the man working the record label levers (Neat Metal) that's afforded such bands the ability to remain above ground during their bout with membership changes and media oppression. Fresh off their previous night's appearance before a sizeable late evening gathering, Brian Ross, founding vocalist, along with returning guitarist Tony J. Liddle, with a few intermittent interjections from various band members, spoke in glowing terms about their bands' rebirth and the resilience of real Metal; of a renewed solidity within their ranks and of blowing holes in buildings and all that sort of edge of sanity excitement that's usually reserved for your very first record and tour, which in many regards is what this all represents…

KNAC.COM: First of all, welcome back… Where've you been the last several years?
BRIAN: Well we needed to bring some new life into the band. Previous to that it was myself and Tony… we were Blitzkrieg, and we'd just bring people in as we needed them. It was difficult to get things focused and moving in the right direction. We finally decided we wanted to get permanent members in the band since throughout our history we've had people just coming in and going out. We wanted some sense of permanency to move forward in a true "band" sense. So we've gotten a solid lineup together and been able to get a new bunch of songs together. The Mists Of Avalon was our last album in '98, and was a bit of a divergence from the usual stuff that we did. So this time around we wanted to put it right and get back to our roots and doing what Blitzkrieg does best. So we're recording the album later this month and expecting a July release.

TONY: I got in with the band about nine months ago and decided to launch some new ideas by taking in a lot of the different styles from the heavier edge of music that it's about these days. Nothing to do with "Nu-Metal" I'm afraid, cuz that just sucks big time. But that's just a personal opinion of mine. We've taken on a heavier edge with our music and now we're just promoting the new stuff, which seems to be going over really well. Coming to do the "Meltdown" was the first time we've been to the states.

KNAC.COM: From a fan's perspective who, like myself, may not be so clued in to your background, let's bring a little of the band history into focus.
BRIAN: We started out in 1980…

KNAC.COM: As part of the famed NWOBHM invasion of course…
BRIAN: Oh yeah…

KNAC.COM: And you and Tony are the original members?
BRIAN: No, I'm the only original member left. Tony joined the band in 1986-so he's been with me for a long time now. We like to think that the backbone of Blitzkrieg has been with me and Tony. He writes the kind of songs I like to play, but now I'm extremely lucky in that I've got a lot of good people around me.

KNAC.COM: So now that you've got some new band members -- a youth infusion of sorts -- is it safe to say considering the different eras between yourselves and the incoming, it's been an unusual transition? I understand the history between you and Tony but for all intents and purposes, it's a new approach with a new band -- can the upstanding Blitzkrieg tradition be maintained?
“I would say we are ‘traditional’ or ‘real’ British Heavy Metal. We're not fake… we just do what we're good at and we're proud of it.” – Brian Ross
BRIAN: You know if you're gonna sum it up, I would say we are "traditional" or "real" British Heavy Metal. We're not fake; we're not trying to be anything else; we didn't start a band this way or that way, we just do what we're good at and we're proud of it. For the incoming, it's all part of the selection process. When they'd come to audition for the band that was part of it. It wasn't just simply, "Can you play guitar and can you do the drums?" Which of course is very important, but they'd have to share the same idea that we're looking for… yet we wanted them to bring in something of their own. So you know even with the old material, you can have people play exactly as it is on the record… I don't want that. I want them to play the flavor of what's on the records, but put a little bit of their own style in there-they'll feel more at ease that way as well as being part of the process.

KNAC.COM: And it allows for that cohesion process where you can grow tighter as a unit that as a by-product should reflect in a freshness in the music as opposed to always bringing in session musicians.
BRIAN: Previous products have been like that. Unholy Trinity was probably the best album we've done so far, but that, apart from me and Tony, was with session musicians as well… though Shaun was an ex-member that returned.

TONY: He'd also had a lot of influence with our band in the past during Brian's "Satan" years.

KNAC.COM: Sometimes it's hard to come by when you're expecting to move forward and you've got roots that stretch as far back as 1980…
TONY: We searched long and hard for the band members we've got now, and we seem to have the right mix.

BRIAN: This is gonna be something new. It's a first for the band. We're going to actually plan to have the same members on two consecutive albums!

PHIL (New Drummer): [Laughs] It's a bit of irony really. Because for a while, to keep my hand in playing between doing original projects, I was actually drumming in a Metallica tribute band in the UK and doing quite big venues there for a while. Obviously the Metallica connection with "Blitzkrieg" and me coming from the background of doing that to join the band is a bit unexpected.

KNAC.COM: And one of my favorite songs on the Kill 'Em All disc was actually "Blitzkrieg."
BRIAN: Well they do it wrong though… they play it wrong and they got the lyrics wrong [Laughs].

KNAC.COM: I think too many people see only the connection with Metallica really and hadn't been able to follow the band much over the years. So I want to focus on the future now and make sure everyone knows Blitzkrieg does still exist and what we can expect.
BRIAN: We've got a new album on the way called Absolute Power. The songs are all written and we're just adding the final touches to 'em. It should be out in July at the latest and then we'll be heading over to do the Wacken festival in Germany.

KNAC.COM: Great timing then, Wacken is the place to play! So even though you're starting fresh with a new beginning, this record can still be looked at as a definite return to your roots?
TONY: The title became Absolute Power because that's what we wanted… we wanted something that was absolutely powerful and heavy, so that's the reason. We're back doing it all over again, bigger and better than ever before!

KNAC.COM: And so for referential purposes, how will Absolute Power differ from the last Mists Of Avalon release from a few years ago?
BRIAN: It's a "real" Blitzkrieg product. Technically Mists was a concept of mine, which I'd wanted to do for a long time -- it's really a Brian Ross solo album more than Blitzkrieg. It's a divergence away from the normal style in that it's a lot quieter and a lot calmer. But you know if you do a solo album, you want it to be different from your regular band anyway, so that's the reason it came out that way… and the label wanted to slap a "Blitzkrieg" tag across it… But if there is to be a proper follow up to the Unholy Trinity album, this would be it. It's absolutely awesome!

KNAC.COM: Unholy Trinity was released in which year?
BRIAN: 1995.

KNAC.COM: So for the most part you were active as a band during the early eighties, tapered off in the late eighties, came and went during the nineties… it's been something of a sporadic existence which couldn't have helped your following.
BRIAN: Of course Blitzkrieg's original lineup was only together for one year and we only did one single… and for various reasons we decided to split the band up. It was too bad because at the time we were offered a contract with Carrere Records and a tour with Saxon… but it was not to be and so we split the band up. From there I did a stint with Avenger for a while and then I joined Satan.

KNAC.COM: Who was Avenger?
BRIAN: They were a British band that was supposed to be the follow up band to Blitzkrieg -- without being Blitzkrieg -- and I was in there for a while and we did a single and they did two further albums with different people. Then I also did the Satan album, Court In The Act, which a lot of people claim is the Satan album to have. It's a great album really and I wouldn't rule out, schedule allowing obviously, to get together with the guys and just do a few gigs. Next year would be the 20th anniversary of the album. Blitzkrieg's my first priority however. Everybody is so psyched about the new stuff and anything else that comes about is on the backburner… the new stuff is basically gonna blow holes out the buildings when people hear it!

KNAC.COM: Go a little into the schematics of the material -- does it follow any particular theme?
BRIAN: We did the three songs last night and they seemed to go over extremely well. The whole idea of Absolute Power is letting the fans know we're back… Absolute Power, the best Blitzkrieg album ever! It's up to date; it's in your face… But the concept behind this particular album -- and there's a concept behind every Blitzkrieg album -- is what happens when you put "absolute power" in the hands of a fool. So on the one hand you've got the all-powerful king and on the other you've got the fool… and they're one in the same person really.

KNAC.COM: And then you hear the destructive end result on the ten or twelve album tracks…
BRIAN: Yeah…

TONY: It is to say, "We're back," yet it's a continuation at the same time… we've never really been away.

BRIAN: You know for one reason or another we may have gone through lineup changes, which has happened too often in this band's history… but we're always united under the strength of our name.

KNAC.COM: I think that's something that's happened too often with many other bands that arrived on the scene when you did. Anyone who listens to the early records, you know, talent wise, there's not a lot that separates all of you, but I think besides strong material and maybe internal unity, luck had something to do with why some made it and some didn't…
BRIAN: Well look at Biff [Byford – Saxon]. He did the set last night with Saxon but I mean, he's like the only original member left… and maybe Paul Quinn. So it's really the same for me and Tony here. Blitzkrieg was and always has been up to now me and Tony and that was it. Now we've got a stable and steady lineup and it's too bad it wasn't like this in the beginning but it just didn't work that way. But at last Blitzkrieg are together, they are a real band and I think that's the only part of the equation that's been missing. With us, every time a new person comes in, you've got to put everything on hold till they catch up with you and before you know it, it's a couple years that you're retooling and low profile and people assume you're finished…

KNAC.COM: What about the new tracks you previewed earlier?
BRIAN: Everybody knows the film The Exorcist, but not everyone knows it was written by William Blatty who did a follow up book called Legion. That's what the song's about.

KNAC.COM: Would you say that you've changed much as a writer throughout your history in terms of what influences you?
BRIAN: Anything that catches my attention, I'll write a song about. On Mists Of Avalon I wrote a song about Princess Diana, "Princess For The World," because when she was killed I felt very strongly about that. It was my tribute to her. Other things like "Another Interview?" was influenced by the Interview With A Vampire movie. "Nocturnal Vision" is my tribute to Alice Cooper. So whatever it is… I'm not limited at all by what I'll write about.

KNAC.COM: And now you'll be able to have a more collaborative process.
TONY: We'll get more people writing on the next album. This one is more a concentration of three writers, but for the next it'll be all five of us. That way you get a genuine feel for the band.

KNAC.COM: And you mentioned Wacken earlier. Where else will you be going to support the new release?
BRIAN: The pre-release gigs involve doing the festivals at this point… this one, of course, then there was a power festival in Sweden with Iced Earth in February… it's all to just basically let people know we're still around. There's a possibility we might come back to the states sometime this summer, plus a few other things we're looking at.

KNAC.COM: How can fans get up to speed about what's going on in the Blitzkrieg camp?
BRIAN: We've got a website called "Absolute-Blitzkrieg.com" where we do regular updates. There's the band history, biographies, MP3's of songs… it's going to be very active.

KNAC.COM: I guess the Metallica connection will always be there and let's hope that's not destined to be your claim to fame as it were, but you see bands like theirs then and now and it makes you appreciate the genuine ones all the more today.
BRIAN: The way I look at this is traditional Heavy Metal is now sort of different because you've got your Nu-Metal bands like Slipknot and stuff like that which is totally different than what we're doing. And it's good the kids that are interested in it can look towards our band and say, "Well, what have you got to offer, let's have a look at what you're doing," and it brings a little more attention to us which is a good thing. The idea is to just get out what we have and connect with various audiences.

TONY: We're also planning to put unreleased demos and rare tracks on the website that nobody's ever heard before and then put those on CD. "Blitzed Alive's" gonna be redone from the original live tape and we'll put those for sale on the site along with band merchandise. So, yes, in a way this is exactly like a new beginning in what we're able to do… our options aren't so limited. We want people to get a full history of the band from day one right up to now.

Website: [www.Absolute-Blitzkrieg.com]

Discography:

"Buried Alive" c/w "Blitzkrieg" 7" (1981)
"A Time Of Changes" (1985)
"Ten Years Of Blitzkrieg" (1991)
"Unholy Trinity" (1996)
"Ten" (1996)
"The Mists Of Avalon" (1998)


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