AVENGER released some really cool albums on Neat Records in the 80s but they never got as big as they should have. Now they are active again. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
Why is it that AVENGER is still around?
Gary: Good question , most importantly the requests from fans to see us live is the primary reason we are still about , once the offers of gigs cease to come It may be a different story. Also our desire personally to get out and play Heavy Metal I think is a factor especially as its now something we have done for 30 years in various bands , this becomes part of your personality and identity after such a long time , something that would be hard to let go of in my personal opinion. This is why we are still about I think.
How relevant is AVENGER in today’s metal scene? What can you bring to both us older metal fans as well to the younger ones?
Gary: I think the fact Avenger can still play gigs as near as their home town of Newcastle upon Tyne in England and the play a show as far away as Sau Paulo Brazil and have the same crowds singing along to the songs regardless of the distances between the gigs highlights we are relevant to the people who have followed us or discovered us in the mean time. At these shows more and more young people are attending , maybe this shows the endurance and merit of NWOBHM bands generally , and that this is about the quality this style of metal contains. Think about it , the biggest bands going , Iron Maiden a NWOBHM band and Metallica a band heavily influenced by NWOBHM . Its a worthy thing to be a part of and we are a bonifided NWOBHM band so both to old school older fans and new younger fans we are relevant when you take that into consideration.
How aware are you of the metal scene of today?
Ian: We are totally aware of the current metal scene , and its negatives and positive effects , Every member in this band has played in other projects maybe Thrash or Death Metal so we have it in context from first hand experience , this make us even more aware of how important NWOBHM actually has been to the developing metal scene and because we where/are part of that original scene I actually think we understand the current metal scene better than most people because we can clearly see the evolutionary trail from then to now.
When you released albums on Nest Records in the 80s did it feel like you were part of something special?
Ian: No the “special” thing if you like is a retrospective opinion , at the time we wanted to just play and emulate the bands we loved , trying to get heavier and faster as we went along , I think us and other nwobhm bands were only identified as being part of a special movement after the grunge era , because talking about it since Gary and myself found that both Atomkraft and Blitzkrieg (the bands we played in after the original Avenger formation) found it hard to get gigs anywhere in the late 1980’s and early 90’s . So we sure didn’t feel very special back then , but we soldiered on regardless playing gigs with grunge bands to crowds who didn’t really give a shit about us. Once again the people who stuck by us and the genre made the whole thing “special” but much later.
How different is it to be a band today compared to back then? Where do you feel you fit in the jungle of metal sub genres?
Gary:Well NWOBHM or old school metal is a sub genre to a lot of people in its own right , and there are people who actually live the whole genre thing as if its law , nothing wrong with that. Where we fit into the moderns scene is even in the most elite Black Metal underground circles those people still give NWOBHM respect , our contributions , all the bands collectively not just Avenger are recognised as influential and even if they don’t really like the music from our genre they respect us as an influence to the trends that followed us. We fit in comfortably in the jungle you mention and during the mixed genre festivals we have played over years we certainly felt welcome by all the metal fans regardless of their preferences.
I remember your album covers as cool ones. How important is the graphic side?
Ian: I think important!! especially the fact you can display that nothing has changed within a band by the way you present your artwork..On our most current album we deliberately left clues and indications to our history , this was to re-assure our fans that what we are doing now will be familiar to them. The familiarity starting with the artwork then continuing with the musical content.
I love the LP format still to this day. Nowadays it is all about digital downloads. What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
Ian: Well we like solid substantial albums either Vinyl or CD , maybe because we are old school and grew up this way. Computers get lost and stolen , phone become old fashioned and get replaced , an album has the potential to last 200 years and I would like people discovering our music and hopefully finding merit in them in 200 years time….when all the computers of today are replaced and long gone along with the “uploads” on them.
What is it that you expect to get out of it this time around?
Gary: We hope to get out and play as much as we can , to as many people as we can , while we still can!!! very simple. The agenda has not changed since 82 the only difference is there is not as much time now , both for us and all the nwobhm bands still playing.
What is it like playing live today? Can you still be as intense on stage today as you were back in the days?
Ian: We recently played a festival in Athens Greece , quite a few people were there who know us and talking during one of the bands sets before our performance someone noted “they seem a bit tired” and they then said “we will be watching you guys for that” . I made a point of asking after Avengers Show…Did we seen tired ? and the reply was…NO WAY!!!! if I didn’t feel like an 18 year old at every gig I play you wouldn’t get me onstage for $20.000!!! . So my answer is yes!! we are still a heads down intense band.
What plans do you have for the future?
Gary: We have a brand new album out just now THE-SLAUGHTER-NEVER-STOPS! we will be busy promoting it in 2015 and have shows all over Europe and The UK already set. In the mean time we are now hunting through 24 track live recordings from 4 different shows , the initial quality has us hopeful that we will release a live album 2015/16 followed by more gigs and festival appearances , Then another studio album which we are slowly writing now…so busy!! Nothings changing in the Avenger camp for the for see-able future.