Cult NWOBHM band have their place in history being forever remembered for their 1983 debut “Loose n Lethal”. Although fate played its hand in denying them fame at the time, this Brits have never quit and with the release of a new album “Sons Of Malice” I got a chance to interview mighty Chris Bradley (bass / vocals), Andy Dawson (guitar) and ‘the kid’ (and son of Chris and nephew of Andy) Kristian Bradley also on guitar!
1. Ok straight to it lads – new album, new Savage – what’s the inspiration behind this – a full time return or just unable to restrain the inner rock beast in you!?
AD; It’s been on the cards for about 5 years and then it took about 2 years of the 5 to start getting ideas together. We wanted to take our time, we had no body demanding anything so it took as long as it took. Plus along the way we had family bereavements and other crises which took its toll and time to recover from.
CB: Just unable to restrain the beast! Laughs, no as Andy said the intention was always to follow ‘Xtreme Machine’ but life just got in the way! But on a positive note the prolonged absence allowed us to evaluate what we where doing and where we wanted to be as a band, this process of analysing ourselves has helped us return with something of a renaissance album but with a modern feel.
2. LOL – I can’t believe how fuckin loud the album is – I mean, physically, its bloody LOUD man!
CB: it’s a ‘Heavy Rock’ album and as we always say ‘Made Loud to Play Loud’. This is how we have always approached it; the difference is Marks engineering skills where able to capture it for the first time!
KB: Life is loud dude and this is how Heavy Metal/Rock music is meant to be played and heard lol!!
AD: That’s down to Marks’s mix and the mastering guys at Formation Audio. We play loud too!
3. How would you best describe Savage’s sound – I guess UFO and Lizzy would seem to have been inspirations – has it changed very much since the 80s?
CB; Maybe I am too close to it to give a reasoned answer but for me we have always done the same thing, its always about a heavy riff with a memorable melody, all I see that has changed is the subject matter of the songs is a little more mature, though it has always been my attention to say something worthwhile or reflect on aspects of the human condition.
KB; Van Halen on Steroids!
AD; For me I went back to listening to Lizzy, UFO, Purple, the stuff I grew up on. I still listen out for new stuff too but the classic bands still sound fresh.
4. Does Savage tour a lot these days like some other NWOBHM bands like Girlschool and AngelWitch?
AD; LOL nope! Hoping too though but I only want to play decent gigs, ones that can make a difference, festivals and the like. We hope to be out and about at the back end of the year in to next
CB; as Andy says its been a while, the other guys have their own little pet projects and get out in play in the smaller venues, but that’s never really been that appealing to me! I like to play too but the three men and a dog pub gig ain’t for me, I like a room full of people I can feed off. Both myself and Andy appeared at this years ‘Keep it True’ festival in Germany as guest of German NWOBHM covers band Roxxcalibur, we did the one song ‘Let it Loose’ and for the first time I just did the front man bit, no bass guitar to hide behind. Someone has posted a video on You Tube of our appearance; you can see I was loving it lol!
5. What do you think of the resurgence of these bands – I just got sent the new album from Gaskin – man, I think some of these bands must be more popular now than before LOL!
AD; the audiences are still there, they just got older plus they have a bit more money and for some (not for me!) the kids are off their hands (mine still young). There may be a few younger guys out there too looking for good stuff. Good music will last, and more will come, we shouldn’t just be stuck in the past.
CB; not sure I agree with the fact these bands are more popular, maybe they are being remembered with a little more affection than first time around, nostalgia has a way of colouring the vision, I tend to agree with Lars Ulrich who stated in Anvil’s movie that there are different levels of success and its not always about who got lucky and hit the big time! For me it’s about having a body of work that you can be proud of and ‘Sons of Malice’ is the 6th album in our body of work. I am proud of each and every one, for what we have done and for what we have said with little or no resources, and that for me is a major success.
6. I remember when you guys played the Aardschok Festival in ’84 alongside Metallica and Venom – man that was un-fucking believable – those were the days when no one gave a shit wot u looked like as long as you thrashed – was that the biggest gig Savage played?
CB; It was certainly up there, it was also a big experience for this bunch of young guys from the North Midlands and difficult to both absorb and not be intimidated by on the day, but years later listening to the bootleg live album from that show I could tell I was having a good time! Laughs
AD; Definitely a high point, we drove to that gig, with a van full of gear. I had flu and felt like shit, right up till the place filled up and then the adrenaline kicked in for sure. James and Lars were hanging out with us in our dressing room, it was very cool. My brother Simon was crewing for us and he didn’t recognise them and turned them away at the door; very funny.
7. I can’t remember when let alone why Savage originally split – I seem to remember problems with your label Ebony and also that the successor album “Hyperactive” was very commercial…?
CB; The split was in 86 just as we had started writing for the third album, as Andy said certain members of the band where pre-occupied with the shit that certain members of the press, notably some of the Kerrang! hacks were shovelling. This led to factions within the band and it all went pop! Andy, Wayne and Mark went off to form another band and I basically washed my hands of the whole music thing for a couple of years. It was pretty hard for me as I had put the band together and was initially the driving force so most of the press stuff was aimed at me, ‘get a new singer, get a new front man, get an image’. I began to feel like an outsider as Mark was championing this within the band. Xavier Russell (bless his heart) of Kerrang! never went along with this but the seed was set and it was over; however something I have wanted to say for a while is ‘Malcolm Dome – fuck you! You don’t know shit!’.
AD; We were badly managed and poorly supported and needed someone to kick us up the arse. We began to lose direction and became too focussed on the commercial side and what the press were saying about image and all that crap. If we had someone who could say ‘guys stick to your guns, write the stuff you write and ignore the press’ maybe we could have gone from strength to strength. We started not to get on at this stage so we, being immature split. I was like 21/22..no idea.
8. Why didn’t you guys move to a bigger label or even onto bigger bands – the band seems to have always had its roots in the Mansfield area so was location an issue?
AD; Yeah and green as grass. We could have approached any number of big labels but we went with a London label at first asking – big mistake – plus most of the band where holding down jobs which was always in the way of getting out there and making it happen.
KB; I don’t see why Mansfield is any different to say Birmingham, very industrial areas in their days, both very working class. I guess bad luck has played a massive part in the history of Savage, certainly from a 3rd person perspective.
CB; Kristian is right, Mansfield was not the issue, we spent most of our time playing and doing press in London. We should have been on RCA like Grim Reaper and Shy! RCA went to Ebony for ‘Loose ‘n’ Lethal’ but Darryl Johnston who ran Ebony kept this from us. ‘L’n’L’ was selling ridiculous amounts for an album that was only available on mail order so much so that at one point it was the biggest selling import into the states. Offers where coming in thick and fast to license the album but Darryl wouldn’t do it, he was convinced he was going to get ripped off. So our manager suggested we should leave Ebony because Cherry Red in London wanted to sign us and they could get us out of the contract which was something of a joke. Darryl kept this from us because we where in the throes of getting out of our contract, he also kept it from RCA too. So our manager never looked at other labels and we never knew about the RCA angle. RCA took Grim Reaper and Shy but then passed on ‘L’n’L’ because Savage were then signed to another label (I’m sure Spinal Tap was about us? Laughs).
9. I guess Savage will always be infamous for the fact that Metallica covered ‘Let It Loose’ (and got signed for their sins) – did they ever see you guys sweet for it over the years?
AD; Sweet? Ha ha ha no , not at all. I guess now it seems we are famous for that one fact so I suppose we should be grateful. It still opens doors for us I can’t complain, just wished they’d record it properly and then we could pay the bills!
CB; not a penny but it was a bootleg so they wouldn’t have made anything anyway, just wished they had done it on the ‘Garage Days’ album. I’m not sure why, everyone in this genre knows the link yet that album had some real obscure covers on it, but if you check out the album booklet you will see some live set lists in there with ‘Let It Loose’ along with most of the covers that did make the album, so why I do not know? We got added to the guest list at Sheffield Arena during their “Load” tour, we went along with Jess Cox (ex Tygers of Pan Tang) from Neat Records, but they wouldn’t come out to speak to us, so guess we were off their Christmas card list LOL!
10. As both bands operated at the same time do you feel that Savage could’ve made it as big as Lars n co – and if not, why not?
AD; Maybe but only with guidance, they do what they want and never followed the crowd and it paid off. We began to follow the scene – big mistake. I can’t knock them; they are probably the biggest metal band of all time. It’s nice to have a small piece of that! Plus Chris would be dead by now from excess. I would be trying to be best mates with Slash, Eddie VH and Dave Grohl lol!!
CB; Yeah I would be dead but I would have had a damn good time and made a good looking corpse LOL! Seriously though honest answer is who knows? Maybe(?) it wouldn’t have hurt if we had got the support and guidance their management had given them. We always hoped that Rod Smallwood would have taken us on but it never happened though Sanctuary did end up buying all our back catalogue from Neat.
11. Isn’t next year gonna be the 30th anniversary of “Loose n Lethal” – I hope you guys have something special planned!
CB; Yes it is! I am going to climb to the top of the Barclays building in Canary Wharf and ritually burn that fucking album and all those self absorb crooked bastards to the ground in the hope we will be remembered for something else, LOL LOL. No, only Kidding, we are thinking of doing the entire album for one disc of a double album, disc two will be live favourites from the other five albums, hopefully also on good old fashioned vinyl and double live too – ‘Live ‘n’ Lethal’ as opposed to ‘Live and Dangerous’ – LOL
AD; We would like to play the whole album and record it for a live release. That’s a plan?!
Thx for your time Guys and best of luck in the future!
AD; Welcome, buy the new album. It’s the business!
CB; Thanks Shan all the best!