(Photo's by Paul Broome)
Hi Reuben, this is Woody from Midlands Rocks, hope your well and ready for a few questions!
Stampede reformed in 2009, what inspired the band to get back together and play some shows and ultimately record a new album?
Well I guess it was the fact that Rock Candy had re-released Hurricane Town really nicely packaged and a bit later the Japanese released the live bootleg from Reading and Mildenhall festivals that made me think something was worth doing. Also it seems to me that although it’s never really gone away Rock does seem to be having something of a revival, so it’s a good time to be around.
Was it hard getting back into the swing of things with Stampede considering the band split originally in the mid 80’s? And are you guys enjoying been back in action and working together again?
Playing again was no problem, we got together over a weekend and nailed the live set on the Saturday and started writing three new songs on the Sunday. It was like we’d never actually stopped.
It wasn’t ever going to be that side of things that would be a problem; it would be the management and PR that might have posed one. I’m glad to say though that my daughter Lauren who works in the music biz solved all of that. She formed a company and manages us full time and has done a fantastic job. Much of the way that A Sudden Impulse has been received by the industry is as a result of her hard work, and we owe her a lot.
What has been the general feedback for you since the band reformed based on what I’ve heard and read I presume it’s mostly been positive?
Well all I can say is it’s been fantastic and far better than anything I could have hoped for. One thing that really came to light is just how many people were into what we were doing in the 80s, and are now genuinely pleased to see us back and doing it again. Ever since the single and album release we’ve been getting emails and feedback on our sites every day and that has been really encouraging. It’s always worrying when you put yourselves in the firing line, you could get shot down. Thankfully this time around just the opposite has happened.
Stampede’s new album “A Sudden Impulse” has just been released, has the album turned out the way you hoped? And what has the initial reaction been like to the new batch of songs?
Well I was concerned about how we were gonna sound, we didn’t really want to end up with that rather over produced feel to the record, as we did back then with HT, we wanted more edge and a more up to date feel which I think we got in the end. I was tempted at first to go for a more 80s production because that’s the period we came from, however I think Mark and Sheena at Madhat clearly had ideas about it and they turned out to be right.
When you were writing the new album did you feel pressure to stick to the sound and style the band were known for?
No I don’t think we felt we had to do that, although like I said I sort of wondered about being more retro. The fact is the way we write and the signature sound of the band really dictates to a certain degree what our style and sound is gonna be. Colins Taurus pedals for instance go a long way to establishing that. The way I write and my own vocal style means we are always gonna sound like us, it’s not like we are having to strive at something it’s just there anyway. And we don’t go out of our way to be anything other than what we are. If it works the songs should stand on their own merit and the delivery should do the rest. Laurence’s guitar has always been a feature of everything we ever did, and he is freed up to do even more now with the addition of Chris Clowesly also on guitar. Also when Laurence was unavailable Rob Woolverson helped out and he fits right into the niche perfectly. Actually I did ask Colin what he thought about how we should sound and he just said go with your gut feeling, so with Madhat’s help we did.
Who are the principal songwriters in the band? Did the song writing flow quickly or did it take a while to get the songs together for the new album?
Well like I said earlier, the first three new songs were written on the second day of our reunion rehearsal, Laurence came up with the riffs for Having Fun and Humble pie, Colin and Laurence with Send Me Down an Angel, and I started putting the lyrics together.
The next rehearsal Colin had Shame On You together and then we commenced recording in Weston Super Mare, and later Dartington Hall in Devon. Then the problem of availability of band members reared its head and work on the project stopped for several months. Finally because I couldn’t see any way around the problem of Laurence being away I pulled in Rob and together we wrote four songs, and then when Chris came in the three of us wrote the remainder of the material together and have been working on stuff ever since.
What are your favourite songs on the new album and are there any reasons why?
Send Me Down An Angel was at first my fave’ It’s got that anthemic thing going on and I love the intro, and it’s just great to sing, it’s just feel good rock to play live. I also really like Having Fun, It’s has such a funky powerful riff. But one of the most enjoyable to write was Flaming Gold. Lol and I came back late from the studio and were having a few glasses of Merlot and he started playing the chords on my acoustic. Eight minutes later we had the song complete I jotted down the words as we went along and we recorded it before we forgot it first thing the next morning.
The new album “A Sudden Impulse” was released through Rock Candy Records – the same label that re-issued Stampede’s one and only album “Hurricane Town” – Was it hard securing a new album deal with the label?
Well we did have another Polydor album release prior to HT with the Live Bootleg and also an EP and several singles and tracks on Comp’ But it’s true to say that HT was the only real studio album at that time. I was really surprised when Rock Candy decided to re-release HT in 2006, and then Rock Candy’s Derek Oliver told me that he was launching a new label so he could release new material from established acts. I told him that we were recording a new album and he told me straight away he’d love to do it. The rest as they say is history.
I presume Rock Candy approached the band when initially they wanted to release “Hurricane Town” was you surprised by their interest and subsequent public demand for it to be re-issued?
I was surprised but when I realised the aim of the record label was to bring many acts back into the public eye again it made sense and they did a great job of our particular package with the booklet etc.
Rock Candy also wanted to re-release our first Polydor album The Live Bootleg but I think the Japanese beat them to it. I am pleased though, how it’s all been accepted, we all are.
Mark Stanway keyboardist with Magnum played on “Hurricane Town” what was it like working with Mark? Actually I think that would make a great combination for a gig Magnum and Stampede!
Well it’s kind of funny you should mention that because at one time with this new album to promote we were hoping to do some dates on Magnums latest tour, but for one reason and another it didn’t work out.
Yeah Mark worked with us on HT and if I remember correctly we had some good times, then of course Magnum asked Laurence to stand in for Tony Clarkin, on a tour when Tony was ill. Then a few years later Lol was back again with Mark in Grand Slam with Phil Lynott.
Are there any other musicians you would love to work or collaborate with?
There isn’t anyone in particular at the moment...I find these situations only work when they happen spontaneously. You sit down maybe by accident with another musician and stuff happens, nothing is forced, that’s when it works. Years ago when UFO weren’t doing anything I did quite a lot of writing with Paul Raymond but it kind of fizzled out and then they got things going again. I am happier writing with band members because I know we are all working to the same goal.
Having said that I am actually collaborating with someone on a project and it's been going on for a while. Vince Neades who plays guitar with me in the Archer Marriott band has a great little studio set up, and over the past months we've been writing and demo-ing tracks for a possible record. The music is kind of high energy contemporary blues verging on the rock side of things. We aren’t in a rush and its great fun, which is probably why when you asked, I didn't think of it as collaboration...it's just something we are doing and eventually I guess it will get done.
Some of the album was recorded at Mad Hat Studio’s in Wolverhampton, a very popular local studio – famous for been Tony Clarkin’s studio of local Legends Magnum! What was it like recording there and working with Mark Stuart & Sheena Sear, who co-produced, mixed and mastered “A Sudden Impulse”?
I was very pleased to get into Mad Hat and sort things out because due to the logistical problems with us all living at different ends of the country things were really just not happening. We had various tracks recorded but some things needed to be re-addressed and as a whole the project needed to be rationalised so to speak...sorted out. I found between Mark and Sheena we had the right degree of purpose or focus that you need when doing something like this. I personally love the studio it just works for me and it’s so near to where I live too.
Do Stampede have any live dates lined up to promote the new album? I’ve heard you are supporting Y&T at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton in October, a gig I’m very much looking forward to! Are you supporting Y&T on all their dates? I see you’ve also been added to the Hard Rock Hell Festival line-up are there any other gigs you can tell us about?
Well we just played the Peel in London as a double headline with our mates Praying Mantis, which looks like being an annual happening now. Last year we went on first and them second, this time them first and us second, so next year we’ll do it all again. This last one was a great night for both of us.
Yes we have the Y&T Wolves gig and we are waiting to hear on the possibility of some other dates on the same tour. Then there is Devonrox Festival on the 6th August where we are headlining the Devil Stage on the Saturday and of course Hard Rock Hell in December. There will probably be a few more slotted in during the remainder of 2011 but really for Stampede it’s gonna be all about 2012.
Are there any songs you are specifically looking forward to performing live or that you think will get the crowd dancing and singing? Any chance my favourite song the highly melodic “Homeward Bound” will be in the set list?
The set is pretty much 50% new stuff from A Sudden Impulse and 50% old songs which people always ask for. We are adding Shadows Of The Night which we recorded live at Reading Festival. I am pleased you like Homeward Bound and up until now it hasn’t been in the set but time permitting it will get included. As far as fave’s I don’t have any one song, If it’s all cooking on the night I’m happy to do em’ all.
Do you like performing live or is it just a necessary promotional tool to you?
When I first started out I only liked playing live I really didn’t like the sterile atmosphere of the studio. These days after doing both for quite a while I love both, one compliments the other. However nothing beats being on stage with a band that is really in a groove if you can get that going you never want to get off.
You’ve recorded a few videos to promote the new album. Do you think it’s important to have music videos to help promote the album? I know many feel that they can be very expensive and if they fail to be played on the TV music channels a total waste of time. Personally I feel in the internet age they can be a valuable promotional tool via the net. Were they fun to make and were they worth it?
I think Video is vital to the survival of any act, it’s not enough to only be able to listen to a product, you gotta be able to see what’s going on with the people playing the music and I think it’s been like that for a long time now. As you rightly say we have the net and there is no bigger promotional tool than that, and if you don’t address it I don’t think you’d last five minutes.
Making videos can be expensive and I guess it’s down to the way you go about it as to the cost. You mentioned the track Homeward Bound, we are currently planning a story video of that coupled with some live playing too, and yes they are great fun to do.
Stampede are normally associated with the N.W.O.B.H.M tag, how do you feel about Stampede having that tag? Personally I always associate that tag with Metal acts like Iron Maiden & Judas Priest – where as I see Stampede as a Melodic Hard Rock band with blues influences.
Yeah this crops up all the time and the only thing I can say in answer is Laurence and I were lucky to get onto the first Major Saxon tour which kind of stemmed from that period. Like other bands around then, we were given that tag. As far as I’m concerned it’s perfectly obvious to anyone listening and watching us as to what kind of band we are..The music just speaks for itself. If people want to call us NWOBHM then so be it If we hadn’t been labelled as that in the first place we may never have emerged at all, I aint gonna knock it. Ok there were a lot of real metal type bands in that movement, some good and some not so good and there were some more melodic acts too...The fact is if they were good then they survived. It’s just terminology and was invented by a journalist and yes actually it probably did kick start people into appreciating Rock in a time when Punk and New Wave were beginning to take a hold.
It’s a bit like that Bad News Tour film ...was it..I aint playing until you say we are not Heavy Metal? Or was it the other way round? Just get on and play man It’s Rock n Roll, they’re either gonna love you or hate you!!
Have you been up to anything musical during Stampede’s 25 year hiatus? I know your brother Lawrence went on to work with Phil Lynott and UFO to much acclaim within rock circles after the band split up.
I did actually manage a Midlands band around 86’ish and pretty much with help from good friend Steve Hackett ex of Geneses got them a deal, but they split up before we could finalise things. When I moved to the Midlands in 2000 I started a band called The Boogeymen and we ran for 5 years playing all over the Midlands doing half covers and half our own stuff. Then I formed a Blues band with Sharon my Wife. She sings too and I get to play the guitar which of course I never did with Laurence except for the very early days. The Archer Marriott Band will be playing two slots over two days at the Dorset Steam Rally this summer and other odd gigs here and there.
Incidentally Laurence isn’t my brother, he’s my Stepson, I married his mom when he was five. A lot of people get that one wrong.
As of today what are the future plans for Stampede?
We are currently writing material for the next album which I want to bring out around about this time next year. As of now we have eight new songs and there’s a lot more to come, and we will commence recording fairly soon. I hope to use Mad Hat although Colin and Laurence’s parts maybe done in studios nearer to them. These days it’s amazing what you can do. Then there’s the live thing to address. Because we didn’t bring the album out until quite late in the year we missed many of the slots on festivals for 2011, so that’s why 2012 will be much busier for us. The main thing is we are back and really enjoying the whole experience, and that is the main thing..the key is to enjoy it.
Thanks for your time from myself and all at Midlands Rocks (see you on the road!), is there anything else you would like to add or say to our readers?
I would certainly like to say a big thanks to all who have bought our new single and album and have supported us in our reunion, It’s been a fantastic experience to realise so many people are on our side and even actually remember us. We are also extremely grateful to people like yourselves in the industry who do such a great job, the press reaction for us this time around has been simply amazing.
From all of us in Stampede we thank you immensely, and I know it’s a cliché but as our drummer Stevie G will insist on saying at every god given opportunity ROCK N ROLL.