There are classic bands and then there are bands like TRAITORS GATE that are just pure cult. Read this very informative interview to find out almost everything about the band. Answers by Andy D’Urso Anders Ekdahl ©2018
You released one record in 1985, then you broke up/went on a hiatus to re‐embark in 2016, and now in 2018 we see your debut album being released. That is quite a journey. Did you ever think that you’d get to release an album?
-That’s a good question. In all honesty, I don’t think any of us thought we’d be here doing this all over again in 2018. In truth, the band went through a lineup change in 1985, when Robbie left the band, but we existed (in one form or another) as a live band until the early part of 1989.
As far as getting an album released, I’m sure we all thought that dream died in 1989 I guess. But here we are, loud and proud, cranking it up once again.
When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
-Hmm, if you had asked me that question 30 years ago, I would have probably said things like…
”We’re hoping this will get us to the next level, and hopefully some good tour supports..” or “Hopefully, this will help to expose the band to promoters, management…” blah, blah.
But if you’re asking me now, in 2018, our expectations would be slightly lower. I think you’ve got to be realistic in this business, so being in a band where the members are in their late 40’s and early 50’s, forces you to think differently about what you can actually achieve, purely because the ladder is a long one to climb, and you simply have less time than when you were younger.
That said, we would still like it all, mainly because we all feel exactly as we did back in the 80’s. I don’t think those feelings/goals ever really leave you, but make no mistake, we are fully committed to follow this road wherever it leads us, and we are definitely excited about where we might go from here.
How weird is it that in 2018 people still remember you from one record you did in 1985? What kind of feelings does that bring up when you realize that what you did had an impact on people?
-He he, it’s definitely weird! I mean, it’s awesome but strange all at the same time, and for us more of a distant memory to be honest. Of course, we can still piece together the events of that time, and how proud everyone was with the record, but it’s just a long time ago now.
As for the reaction we see to the ’85 record, it still feels a bit strange, but we do get why it’s now seen as a bit of a NWOBHM ‘classic’. Once you get past feeling weird about the whole thing, it’s hard not to feel humbled by people’s commitment to something you were part of.
It really is a testament to the current Metal movement that bands like us are being given the opportunity to still get on stages all over the world. They truly are amazingly loyal to the whole Metal genre.
I have reviewed the album and I gotta say that you have managed to capture the essence of the NWOBHM sound as well as being contemporary. How much of a battle has it been to write the songs and to get them to sound the way you wanted?
-Great question, and thank you for your review, and kind comments.
If I’m honest, I have some mixed feelings about the writing process for the tracks on ‘Fallen’.
When we reformed, I was faced with having to write a bunch of tracks for our Brofest appearance in 2017. I hadn’t written anything for at least 15 years, so it was really hard to find a way start writing material that was ‘Traitors Gate’.
In the end, I literally sat in my studio, locked the doors, deliberately didn’t listen to any music, and recorded anything and everything that came into my head.
From that, we had our Brofest set (we also played most of that set for our appearance at KIT).
Now though, I compare that set with riding a bike with the training wheels still on.
It gave me a start, and after that, I simply allowed every influence I had ever had back into my head. He he, all sounds a bit ‘cosmic’ doesn’t it, but that’s the best way I can find to describe it.
After that, it was like being 19 again and in my bedroom cranking out riffs all day and night! I can honestly say that the tracks on ‘Fallen’ were written by piecing together whatever put a smile on my face. Now, it just flows, plus I understand how to write for Sy’s style and range better than I did before, and I know what moves Paul and Steve too.
The final piece in the process, is to always be open to someone suggesting changes, or even not liking what you’ve written. The day you become ‘precious’ about anything you wrote, is the day you need to stop and have a good look in the mirror.
What circumstances was it that lead to you only releasing an EP and then nothing more before you split?
-When it comes to the finer details of that time, I usually turn to Steve for the answers, but I will try to answer as best I can.
Soon after the EP was pressed and in our hands, Robbie decided he wanted to leave. I don’t remember there being any particular incident that lead to his decision, I just think he wanted to do something different. Once we had replaced him with Dave McLean, we concentrated mainly on doing live shows, right up until we split in early 1989.
The record label that released the EP, simply took the demo version of the 3 tracks, and released it. You also have to remember that the industry was much different back then. The labels controlled everything, and you had to be something really special to rise above everyone else.
The appearance of Indie labels like ‘Music for Nations’, ‘Mausoleum’, ‘Roadrunner, etc, did present a real opportunity for bands like us at the time; mainly because they had much more of an open door policy compared to the major labels at that time, but you have to remember that there were 100’s of bands all looking for the same thing during the NWOBHM era. It really was a case of just being in the right place at the right time. Sadly, no matter how hard we tried, we never were.
Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
-Yes, 100%. When we were younger, playing guitar was a great way to make new friends. Just being able to be in the same room and exchange ideas and techniques was awesome. It very much gave us a sense of ‘community’, which I don’t think has ever changed. I made some really good friends that way.
Just to expand on the ‘community’ thing, I have been surprised most to find just how big the current
Metal scene is now. It seems to me that it is still growing, with the foundation being the underground scene (which I guess we’re a part of now).
Historically, Metal fans have been the most loyal in my opinion. They seem to support the movement, as opposed to just a few bands. When it comes down to it, no matter what bands they love, stick a bunch of metal heads in a live concert situation, and they will bang until they drop, no matter what bands are playing! You’ve got to love that.
What influences/inspire you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
-A nice set of questions. I’ll take them in turn if that’s ok?
What influences/inspire you today?
-My main influences are bands that have been in my blood since I first picked up a guitar, Priest being my first real influence. After that, it was bands like UFO, Lizzy, Queensryche, Maiden, Skid Row,
Zeppelin, Ratt, etc, that gave me the variation I needed to explore different styles.
Today, I would say there are only few bands that I pay any attention to, Primal Fear probably being top of the list. I think they have a natural way of combining a hard edge with something more melodic, and even commercial sometimes, without ever losing their identity. I can identify with all of that I guess, which is probably why I like them. I love the energy of FFDP also, and I have a lot of respect for Jason Hook. To be honest, I don’t seek out new bands very much because…
I don’t want to get caught up in the ‘new’ scene too much, in case I start writing in that style (!)
I have more fun bringing my natural influences back to life, and sharing some of that traditional power metal with anyone who wants to listen.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
-Musically, I’m inspired by everyone I mentioned in my first answer, but I also take time to try and learn something new when I can. As far as themes go, I guess I draw on anything that gets my attention, and stuff from my younger days.
From a personal point of view, I feel inspired by the current metal movement. Actually, maybe ‘inspired’ isn’t the right term, let’s say ‘uplifted’ instead.
I mean it’s hard not to be uplifted by the sight of thousands of people, all sharing the same level of passion, right?
Is it important to have some sort of message?
-Hmm, that’s a tricky one….
I guess most people think of a ‘message’ as being political in nature, and I’m not sure that has been something we’ve seen a lot of in the metal scene (although it does appear at times).
Being very ‘old school’ I’ve always thought of metal as being a way to escape normal life, and enter some other place where you can be whatever you want to be.
Generally speaking, most metal fans are also fans of comic books, Anime, horror, sci fi, fantasy, gaming, concept art, literature, among many other things of course.
A lot of older metal, and some new metal, reflects this. For me, it’s all part of the same thing.
If you want to be a politically motivated band, then you are free to share your message however you want to. After all, music of any genre is a very powerful communication tool.
We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-I think this question is probably best answered by someone from an independent label or distributor working in the industry today, but I’ll take a shot at it.
I think the need to own something physical has definitely increased in the past couple of years, especially as the gap between the cost of downloading an album, or buying a physical copy, has become smaller.
My idea of the ‘record industry’ includes the major labels, publishers, distributors, and all their different partners around the world. If you accept that this is true, then you can see why people might say the ‘industry’ is in a bad state.
These companies have systematically stripped artists of their freedom to create their own style, and continue to offer empty opportunities to be a ‘star’. Greed is at the root of it, pure and simple.
They need to get as much product in the market as possible, in the hope that something gets some momentum. The more they release, the higher the chance of them making some money. Meanwhile, the artist is left with recording a bunch of songs written by somebody else.
Of course, I’m generalizing, but the strength of the internet, and the advent of online companies like Artist eCard, who offer bands ways to create a strong online presence, has taken the power away from the major companies. This, as much as anything, has sealed their fate in my opinion, but they will continue to release anything they can just to stay afloat.
Independent companies are a totally different story. Most of them focus on the genre they all love.
This allows them to avoid getting caught up in the typical major company approach.
Independent companies are also fully awake when it comes to the online tools needed to reach the right audience, whether it’s for new releases, or events. Independent companies, and self‐releasing is the future for the moment I think.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-I don’t have a problem with the digital approach (I use digital recording to write with) because it’s such an easy way to share data with someone else, whether it’s music or not.
That said, I personally like to feel the product in my hands, and look at the lyrics, photos, etc. I’m old enough to remember gate fold album covers that read like a book! I think there’s something special about that, so I wouldn’t like to see a time when there are no physical music products.
What lies in the future?
-Obviously world domination, then after that, probably an early night with a good book (he he). Seriously, I have no idea. It feels as though we are starting from the bottom again, except this time around, it feels less stressful and much more exciting for some reason.
If I had to answer the question from a position of what I would realistically like to happen, I guess I would say:
The ‘Fallen’ album is successful enough to allow more people notice us.
Obtain good Management so we can start to play larger venues/events.
Get onto some support tours with bigger bands.
Record a second album in 2019.
Link up with more bands playing at our level
Have fun while we’re doing it (which we do all the time).
Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed, I really enjoyed answering your questions.
Lastly, and I do say this a lot, we are truly grateful for all the support we have been given since our reunion in late 2016. We continue to be humbled by all those people who take the time to contact us, attend our shows, and buy our ‘stuff’. We are definitely here to stay, and we look forward to meeting every one of you in the future.