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Reaping Big Rewards | Reaper Madness | To Hell And Back
A Really Grim Tale | A Date With Terror | Steve Grimmett 03 | Grim & Bear It
Pictures From The Lion's Den | British Lions | Away Win


Metal Forces #9, 1984

REAPING BIG REWARDS

by Dave Reynolds

I remember when GRIM REAPER were just another young bunch of hopefuls from the Midlands signed to Heavy Metal Records. Since those naive days GRIM REAPER have come a long long way. They may mean very little to UK headbangers apart from those who have followed them from the start or have seen any of their gigs, but in the US they are on the verge of becoming the next Brit band to break BIG, in the fine traditions set by THE BEATLES, ROLLING STONES, THE WHO or in more recent, metalized times- DEF LEPPARD, JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN.

To find out what makes GRIM REAPER the surprise, but deserving success of 1984 I spoke to Nick Bowcott, G.R's guitarist and only original remaining member. "I think our success shocked us I suppose it took us all by surprise - especially as the record was released in 1983. RCA released "See You In Hell" back in July, on Friday 13th to be exact. We've been given some really slick promotion by them. In the US record sales can be affected not only by airplay but also by record store appearances. We had quite a few parties. The most memorable was possibly in St. Louis where they had a release wake and someone had laid on this coffin with a Michael Jackson dummy in it. It was pretty sick! So far the album has racked up sales of around 170,000."

What about chart action? "It's been in 18 weeks as I speak, it's currently 180. The highest it's got has been 73 and that was in Mid-November."

"I think it's helped being a British band in some respects. We've had a lot of people coming to see us decked out in Union Jacks..." A throwback to a trend started by DEF LEPPARD? "probably but hopefully we don't sound like DEF LEPPARD! Many of our fans have been into the really hard-core stuff. We played a few dates with EXCITER and it was a pleasure to play with them. I can't praise those guys highly enough - they're a great band, really talented. As I was saying about being a British band, a lot of Americans believe that Heavy Metal started in the UK with bands like JUDAS PRIEST and BLACK SABBATH who are still very popular over there."

I notice you aren't one of the bands (like SHY or SAVAGE) to slag off Ebony label boss Darry Johnston as you're still signed to his company..... "yeah Darryl has been very upset over some of the things that has been said about him. There are a few jerks in the indie label scene but he isn't one of them. We are in great debt to Darryl for all that he's done for us and it was he who thrashed out the deal with RCA."

I saw GRIM REAPER play a gig at The Royal Standard in East London earlier in 1984 where they played a blinder (despite vocalist Steve Grimmett losing a Donner Kebab in the dressing room halfway through the show!) but the one criticism I, and many others (including Derek Oliver now with Kerrang! who could pass for Nick's twin brother!) had was the very noticable lack of image. "Yes I had to agree with you on that. When we started it was our belief that the music was the main thing which it is but we did find that we were lacking in the image department but we've worked on that since that gig. I'm into image as long as it doesn't overtake the music. Bands such as RATT and MOTLEY CRUE have both a good image and good music and we'd like to be the same (not that this means Nick and Co will be donning make-up and fishnet shirts !!) in so much as giving the people who pay good money to see us a good show."

Metal Forces #9

How many gigs did you do in the US? "About 40 or more. We were over there for seven weeks. It was pretty hectic - the country's so big and therefore we did a lot of travelling."

What was the reception like? "We only had three bad shows where we only had a lukewarm reception. 60% of the gigs were sold-out. The one's that stick out in my mind are in Denver, an open-air gig in San Antonio and also the last date at the Country Club in Los Angeles on Halloween night which was one big party!"

By now the GRIM REAPER quartet (completed by bassist Dave Wanklin and drummer Lee Harris) should have finished work on their second album titled "Fear No Evil" and that's scheduled for release at the end of February/early March. "The new LP will be released in the UK and US at the same time. We could've put it out sooner but "See You In Hell" is still selling around 3 to 4,000 a week. The new album will obviously be a lot better than our debut. "See You In Hell" was recorded on a limited budget in four or five days. There's a lot more thought gone into "Fear No Evil", Steve in particular has done some excellent lyrics. It's definatly not a wimp-out just because we've become popular in the US.

"Possibly the biggest key to success in America now is MTV. We had the video of "See You In Hell" on for about 3 months on heavy medium rotation which is about 4 times a day especially when the LP peaked. As for radio airplay we've had really bugger-all! Most radio stations are scared to play our stuff and a lot of other bands material because it would harm their image and affect their revenue from advertising. I don't think one station played "D.O.A." (possibly the albums best track). We did a lot of interviews and we were constantly asked if we were devil worshippers - in some instances it got pretty bad and of course the press latched onto us and kept asking questions about Ozzy.

"To be honest the reason we're called GRIM REAPER is that a) I like the name and b) it lends itself to an image and logo - similar in respect to what IRON MAIDEN have done with Eddie. Also you know we're a hard rock band and not some reggae band or something!"

But did you have any strange encounters over there? Apart from demolishing gas pumps (a story too long to explain here!)!? "Well at one of the gigs there was this really weird girl, a real hippy type looking like something from the late sixties and throughout the gig she tried to "hypnotise" us with an amulet - I couldn't stop laughing! She was very weird! We did hear of one place we played where the previous week SANTERS had appeared and nobody could get out afterwards 'cos there was a sniper outside just waiting to kill a few people! I did notice that the American audiences are very much into that DIO devil sign with their fingers. We had one set of fans who followed us in this van to a few shows in the East who called themselves 'The Doom Society'. They had a motto that said "you can't kill us we're already dead." They were OK - always down the front."

What about press reviews? "We've had some really good press, most saying it was the best release of the year. The METAL FORCES review you gave us in issue three was probably the best we've had - a quote was actually used on the albums on a little sticker from that review. We did have some negative ones calling us foul-mouthed yobbo's - one guy wrote that he played the LP and his dog threw up!"

I did find the album surprising in view of your past material with the old line-up, notably a track on the "Heavy Metal Heroes" compilation LP "The Reaper" and the single "Can't Take Anymore" both on the Heavy Metal label. "Our earlier material definately was patchy but I think things took off when Steve joined. Although we want to continue our success in the States we do want to do a major tour in the UK, we have many diehard GRIM REAPER fans who've followed us from the very beginning and we owe it to them. Our one aim is to break big in the UK. There's so much crap in the charts in this country and the radio airplay is ridiculous for rock bands like ourselves."

But do the BBC really care? Whether this ludicrous situation will change is another matter but what is certain is that GRIM REAPER will continue to grow and I suspect, as I stated in my LP review in issue three that "This band could be up there with the BIG names soon". Or are they, in your opinion, already there?!

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FACES - March 1985

REAPER MADNESS

Heavy Metal at its rawest from Britain's Grim Reaper

By Lisa Lampugnale


"See You in Hell". "Dead on Arrival". "Wrath of the Ripper". Subtle, these guys ain't. They're Grim Reaper and along with these three brilliantly titled selections, their first album on RCA Records, and the LP's very cover seethe one message: "If you have a garage band that can't really play, come on! Cash in on the Satan craze!"

So what? We're all used to heavy metal bands the likes of Black Sabbath or Motley Crue singing the praises of the devil. Hey, it's a part of rock'n'roll, right? But, this latest group of alleged "satan worshippers" Britain has belched onto our shores couldn't be more blatant about structuring its entire act around the big guy with the red pitchfork. In fact, strip away the Reaper-madness from this band and you're left with four guys who grind out mediocre-at-best metal.

But, pssst! You know what? The songs, the album, the group's name, even the album cover - a painting of His Grimness ruling over the recesses of hell with a bloody scythe -none of it means shit! Really! It's all a big joke and a so-so paycheck to a band that makes loud, rather repulsive music. In fact, Steve Grimmett, the lead singer and man behind the image, admits he's a little bit scared of all this devil stuff anyway. Not that that'll stop him and his band from reaping, so to speak, the commercial harvest. Are you kidding? So far, the gimmick's working.

"We don't believe in it (satanism) at all," Steve asserts without hesitation. "It frightens me, to be quite honest. I've never really dealt with it or read up on it. It's just a hook. That's exactly what it is. The name Grim Reaper lends itself superbly to a logo but all the other satanic stuff on the album cover (pentagrams and other symbols of black magic) weren't our idea. In fact, it took me almost two months to find out exactly what they meant."

According to Steve, the name Grim Reaper is perfect for the band. It reinforces their sense of identity, you know? "I think it's a good name because if someone said to me, 'You're in a rock band? What's the name of your band?' and I say, 'Grim Reaper', they straightaway think of heavy metal, you know? I mean, there's no way they can sort of get it wrong and think we're a soul band or something." (Oh, okay. We're talking conversation straight out of Spinal Tap here, folks.)

But, despite Grim Reaper's songs for Satan, Steve and his cohorts, bassist Dave Wanklin, guitarist Nick Bowcott and drummer Lee Harris, aren't low-lifes or anything. They're hard working boys who wile away their daytime hours working in paintbrush and computer manufacturing plants so that at night they can don their leather'n'studs and sing about hell, Satan and other cheery subject matter. The fall season found them in America for six weeks where their album, See You In Hell, and video clip of the title track (the first heavy metal clip directed by the legendary "grandfather of rock video" Jim Roseman) garnered lots of attention from head bangers coast to coast. Critics have gone from a "must avoid" rating in Playboy to "this may be the best heavy metal to come along since Motorhead" in Record Auction Monthly.

Talking to Reaper after the last gig of their tour was like interviewing a kid after Christmas morning: They were incredibly excited and happy but a little disappointed that it was all about to end. Lee personally couldn't enthuse enough about the reaction Reaper got from American audiences: 
Q: How did the people of America seem to like your music?
A: Oh, it was gr-ay-t (Lee's a roight Cockney fellow). It was am-ayy-zing!
Q: Did you ever expect so much response to your album?
A: Nevah! We were totally am-ayy-zed! It was am-ayy-zing!

Even if you don't like their music - believe me, it's about as entertaining as plunging your hand into a meat grinder- you've gotta feel for the guys. "Bursting with excitement" is a mild description.

"It's 'ard to believe what's 'appenin' to us over 'here," Lee continued. "We knew it would be good, but it was even beyond our expectations."

Unfortunately, Reaper hasn't been getting the support or the respect its members think the band deserves in its native country. Since they're not up to selling out the big halls "like your Maidens or your Priests," Reaper turned to the U.S. club circuit. (Well, we asked for it-you know, "give us your poor, your homeless . . .") And America's supposedly taken to them. Reaper played to crowds of about 1,000 during the tour and they insist the fans were behind them "150 percent." Truckers who saw them at all-night diners asked them for autographs and their video scored medium rotation on MTV. That, the members agree, is what's made them recognizable to Americans that noticed them. "The video has obviously done us a lot of good," Steve says of the creatively filmed but rather ordinary performance clip. "I don't think it's a brilliant video by any means but it portrays our rawness of heavy metal. It's a preview of what the kids get at the show. And they get more than they can handle." Uh-oh. Another attack of Spinal Tap-itis coming on, the opportune time to bid Grim Reaper adieu. See you guys, if not on the charts, maybe in hell. 

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Hit Parader - November 1987

To Hell And Back

British Bashers Rally From Adversity To Release Rock You To Hell.
By Andy Secher

 

It was nearly a year ago that Hit Parader informed the rock world to keep an eye out for a new Grim Reaper LP entitled Night Of The Vampire. Well, as anyone with eyes and ears can tell you, that album never made it into local record stores. The tale of how the record went from being Reaper's all-important third LP to a nonexistent entity, is worthy of any soap opera it's a story of intrigue, deception and incompetency, as you will soon read. But at the moment, the four British bashers who comprise Grim Reaper vocalist Steve Grimmett, guitarist Nick Bowcott, bassist Dave Wanklin and drummer Marc Scott are simply relieved that their long-awaited new album. Rock You To Hell, is finally ready for public consumption.


Hit Parader: Whatever happened to the Night Of The Vampire album? It's been over two years since your second LP Fear No Evil was released.

Nick Bowcott: Do you have a few hours to hear the whole story? (laughs) Actually, the last year has been a horrible time for this band, and little of it had to do with us. To make the story as simple as possible, let's just say that the man who produced our first two albums, a bloke named Darryl Johnston, also happened to own our record label. Ebony Records. We were contractually obligated to work with him again on this album, and we began recording in early 1986. We soon discovered that he really wasn't helping us as a producer he was just sitting there turning knobs. On top of that, there were questions arising over some money we felt he owed us.

Steve Grimmett: Johnston really didn't know what he was doing as a producer, but we were more or less forced to work with him, so we did. That was the album that was supposed to be called Night Of The Vampire.

NB: The trouble began when we brought those tapes to our American label. They just didn't think the production was up to major label standards, and we had to agree. We knew that this was a vital album in our career, and here we had a record with great songs that sounded like shit. We knew we had to get out of our contract and find another producer. Unfortunately, the legal ramifications of doing that caused us to actually break up for a while.

Nick

HP: You mean that Grim Reaper actually ceased to exist?

NB: At the end of last year, after spending something like ten months in limbo trying to get all the legal matters straightened out, we were all totally broke. We needed to find regular jobs, so I called up Steve one night and said, "That's it, the band's over." I was very sincere about it. But luckily, within a matter of weeks, our people were able to finally get us free of our commitments and we were able to get Grim Reaper going again.

HP: How much different is Rock You To Hell from Night Of The Vampire?

SG: The material is almost exactly the same, but the record itself is totally different. The sound of it is incredible. We got the chance to work with Max Norman, who's produced people like Ozzy Osbourne, on this record, and that made all the difference in the world. Songs like Lust For Freedom and When Heaven Comes Down had been written well over a year before, but if you compare the first versions we did of them with the versions we did with Max, you
wouldn't believe the difference.

HP: Grim Reaper seem to have a particular fascination with hell. Your first album was called See You In Hell, now this one is called Rock You To Hell. Aren't you concerned you're going to be classified as one of those "black metal" bands?

NB: We always laugh when we hear that. We're about as far from those so-called satanic bands as you can get. We're just four blokes who enjoy writing about scary things, and to most people hell is a very scary place. Hell seems to hit some kind of nerve with Americans. They hear the word and start twitching. That's one of the reasons we like using it the word certainly gets a reaction from people, especially in your country.

SG: We're just a heavy metal band. With the kind of music we play, it just wouldn't be right to sing about flowers growing in the meadow. You need strong subject matter, and sometimes the occult can be a lot of fun to write and sing about. But it's all done in good fun. Just because you sing about hell doesn't mean you're the devil's disciple.

HP: Do you think the two-year gap between your albums hurt Grim Reaper's chance for success?

NB: We hope not, but when you take an honest look at the situation, the delay certainly didn't help our career. The only possible benefit of the delay was that it allowed us to release this record at a time when the media seem a little more receptive towards heavy metal. But we're not the kind of band that's going to depend on radio airplay to succeed.

SG: We think we can recapture some of the momentum we've lost if we can get out on the road with a good tour. To be honest, the last time we played America we opened for Uriah Heep, and we don't know how many people we reached on that tour. Heep's a great band, but they were on their last legs at that time. If we get on a good package, we should be able to make up for a lot of lost time in a hurry.

HP: It seems that the hard rock world has become more interested in image recently especially in terms of bands like Bon Jovi and Cinderella. Does that concern you, considering that Grim Reaper has to put its music ahead of its image?

SG: We've actually got a pretty good image we're just not pretty boys like Bon Jovi. (laughs). Nobody is going to confuse Grim Reaper with Poison we don't look as good in lipstick as they do. Our image is more like Iron Maiden or a band like that. But we are proud that people will think of our music before they think about the way we look.

NB: We've got something special to offer that's bigger than image. We have The Note. You have to listen to the album to know what I mean. We think we've hit upon a very special sound on this record. If people hear it, it will change their lives forever or at least for a few minutes.

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Metal Hammer No. 14 Vol. 2 - November 26, 1987

A REALLY GRIM TALE

Grim Reaper strike back with their long overdue third album, "Rock You To Hell". Dave Reynolds finds out why they've been away so long.

 

Midlands-based act Grim Reaper appeared at the same time that Iron Maiden started their rise to fame and fortune, back in the early eighties. But the band, founded by guitarist Nick Bowcott, appeared just as the NWOBHM bubble burst. They went through several line-ups, several demo tapes and a short-lived contract with Heavy Metal Records, having a track featured on the 1981 compilation, "Heavy Metal Heroes". It wasn't until 1983, with a stable line-up of Bowcott, Steve Grimmett (vocals), Dave Wanklin (bass) and Lee Harris (drums) that they hooked up with Ebony Records and released one of THE classic British heavy metal albums, "See You In Hell".

So far as the United Kingdom was concerned, metal fans didn't really want to know, with just a handful of albums sold and a pitiful string of dates up and down the country. That all changed when Ebony signed a licensing deal in the U.S. and the album started to climb the American charts, soon kids in the States were writing to their penpals in Britain about this fantastic British metal band called Grim Reaper Who? More copies of the album were sold over here, but most were still obsessed with Iron Maiden and Whitesnake. Thrash had still to make an impact, Slayer had only just got rid of their make-up!

By the end of 1984, The Greeps (as one American writer dubbed them) found themselves pretty big news in the States, releasing "Fear No Evil" in 1985. At that time Nick told me "we want to continue our success in the States, but we want so much to do a major tour in the U. K. Our one aim is to break big there". They still haven't and they may never, but they've had far bigger problems to contend with since the release of "Fear No Evil".

Nick was in a philosophical mood when I met him in London recently. He unraveled a sorry tale which, if published, could lead to both him and I getting involved in further legal shit. So what follows is a diluted version for your edification. 

"Grim Reaper is starting again with the release of "Rock You To Hell" because we were on the shelf for two years since "Fear No Evil". While all the walls were crumbling down on top of us I got involved in music journalism for American magazines, If you 'd have spoken to me in January I wouldn't even have mentioned Grim Reaper because I'd finished the band. I'd have told you I was now a freelance journalist and guitar teacher.

"The end of '85 started a nightmare. '86 was a nightmare. My girlfriend left me because I was so depressed about everything. I got heavily into debt and I just had to finish the band
which was something that probably hurt me more than my girlfriend leaving, because I created the band, it was my baby, my Frankenstein. So a year ago, I phoned Steve (Grimmett) and asked him to meet me in a local pub. Once there I noticed he was smoking, which was something he'd been warned not to do on our last American tour as he'd contracted a throat virus. I asked him why and he said that he knew why I 'd called him over and that if Grim Reaper wasn't going to exist anymore then he didn't give a f**k about his voice, because he didn't want to sing for anybody else.

"Grim Reaper was like a ghost that had to be exorcised, because to my mind it was finished and I had to let the others know (by this time Lee Harris had been replaced by the dynamic Mark Simon on the skins). I was so pissed off when we got back to this country after we'd played in front of 75,000 people with Deep Purple at the Texxas Jam (1985). I'm so proud to be British. I even play a guitar with a union jack on it and kids come to out gigs in the States with the flags, but nobody knows anything about us in Britain. 

"This last Christmas I was working in a paper mill making Kays mail order catalogues, of all things, trying to build up the finance to start a guitar school. Early January I got a phone call from our management, pointing out a breach of contract by our record company in the U.K. (Ebony) and soon after we were on a plane to New York to record the new album. We had a brand new worldwide deal with RCA, but we're starting from scratch again. We're so grateful to the management and to RCA for sticking with us".

Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Lizzy Borden) produced "Rock You To Hell" for the band, and according to Nick he was a dream choice to have made for the third LP. "Put it this way, I thought I knew quite a bit about studios", he says. "I don't know shit! He was like nothing before I've ever seen, he's one of the best. Ozzy wants him back, so what more can you say? Max actually appears in the video for "Rock You To Hell" because Dave (Wanklin) agreed to do the record but nothing further. Max looks like he should be in a band, appears in the video as we hadn't got our new bassist, Geoff Curtis (ex-Idol Rich), in at the time. 

"But I'm so proud of this album, it's our first proper record. To be honest, the first two were bullshit if you compare them to the bands we were competing with at the time, such as Loudness". So Grim Reaper admit that they were lucky to get that break in the States in the first place?

Nick: "Oh yeah. Of course. The only thing I 'm happy about is that people bought the "See You In Hell" album because they liked the music, not because of how the record sounded or how we looked. I mean. look at us, c'mon!" 

So how old is the material on the new album? I know "Suck It And See" isn't exactly a recent composition. "No. that first appeared on the Hit Parader "Wild Bunch" cassette album. Actually. I have a bone to pick with Al Simpson (who? - Ed.), who reviewed the album a couple of months back. He said that the title track had been on the "Wild Bunch" album. I thought his review sucked in actual fact. We are not a Morris Minor, we're a Reliant Robin. Give us some credit for f**k's sake! That review pissed me off because he was knocking the whole British metal scene. Music is a subjective thing, but he said things about us being a typical British heavy metal band, whilst everyone else in the world is expanding. But he didn't give any examples. Who's expanding. Metallica? If you're gonna knock something, give reasons. F**k you. Al Simpson, you're a dick"

The apathy of critics and fans in this country makes my blood boil. The evening before the interview I'd been to see a promising U.K. hard rock band in Nottingham. Twenty-five people had showed up and that was considered a good turnout. People are more interested, it seems. in going to rock discos or pubs that play Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden, rather than going and checking out a new band.

Dave Reynolds

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RIP, October 1987

A Date With Terror  

Black magic? Lucifer? Hellish evil spawning from the bowels of the Earth? "Bullshit!" answers Nick Bowcott, lead guitarist and founding member of England's fast-rocking Grim Reaper. "We're about as satanic as Vincent Price or Christopher Lee." Indeed, the pudge-faced axe-picker harbors considerable contempt for the PMRC-type mentality that seeks to equate heavy metal with devil worship-at least where his band is concerned. To Bowcott, the creepy images consistent through Reaper tunes are nothing more than "theatrical music entertainment." That's it.

While Grim Reaper has only been recording since 1983, the band's history dates back to 1979, when Bowcott put the first incarnation of the Reaper together in Droitwich, England. The band went through an endless series of roster changes while they played in "anyplace that would have us." Finally, in 1984, after diligently sticking with it, Bowcott had a solid quartet that facilitated the release of the band's debut LP, See You in Hell, a well-received effort that, despite its raw production (it was recorded in four days), hit # 1 on Sounds magazine's independent charts. The very next spring, Reaper released their second album, Fear No Evil, to rave reviews and vigorous dates both here and abroad. The latest LP, Rock You to Hell, Bowcott calls the band's first "proper" record, due in part to the production efforts of Ozzy Osbourne studio genius, Max Norman. It's evident after listening to their new LP that Grim Reaper has elevated their music to a higher plateau, achieving slick, crisp sound quality without sacrificing the hard-driving, hook-laden metal melodies their fans have come to expect from the group once dubbed, "the ugliest band in rock'n'roll."

Feeling good-looking and in great spirits due to the release of the new LP, Rock You, involvement in an exciting film project and the upcoming celebration of Halloween, Bowcott was eager to rap with RIP about dark metal, scary movies and those eerie things that go "bump" in the night.


RIP: Do you believe in ghosts?

NICK: Yes, I've seen a ghost. I was about 12; so I can't blame it on drink or anything. But I definitely saw what looked, to all intents and purposes, like a human being climbing toward me. And I was scared! I was living in India at the time. I heard some noise one night and saw what looked like an Indian guy walking up the landing and climbing into a clover patch. So I grabbed a cricket bat-thinking I'd beat the shit out of it-and when I looked over, there was no one there. 

And something else weird is that the studio we recorded at in Worcester, Longview, has a ghost that only appears right after something bad happens. Since I was working there late at night, I got friendly with a couple of the guys who were the night watchmen. One of them had seen the ghost on three occasions: It's an old woman. On two of those occasions, she appeared about ten seconds prior to a fire alarm there. She was almost like a warning.

RIP: What's the history of this ghost? Do you know?

NICK: I don't know. From what I gather, it was someone who died in some form of accident. So, I guess she's trying to prevent the same thing from happening to other people. I certainly believe it....

RIP: How did you rationalize such an experience?

NICK: I think it helped being a kid, because kids don't have quite so much tunnelvision so you're more likely to accept what you've seen. I've also had a couple of weird experiences with Ouija boards as well... which I can't explain. There's one incident that scared the shit out of me. There were three of us, and we sort of contacted something-or somebody, rather. Anyway, I pulled this box of matches out and said, "How many matches are in this box?" It wasn't a small box, it was one of those big ones. There were something like 319 matches in a box, and it spelled it out on the board. And that scared me! In fact, I haven't messed with that stuff since! So I guess you could say I'm a believer in the supernatural as much as I experienced it as a kid. Also, I've read and heard sufficient evidence from people I trust who say, "Yeah, there are such things, definitely." 

RIP: Let's get into something more volatile. What do you think of those bands out there who try to make political statements?

NICK: I'm loathe to knock any band, even though I don't like them. I don't think it's right for me to say, "Oh, this band sucks." What's one man's meat is another man's poison; And having said that, "bands like Stryper nauseate the hell out of me, because I don't think that music should be used as a vehicle to push your views ... be they religious, social, sexual, political or moral. It's basically music entertainment. I mean, Christ, there's enough bullshit in the world, you know. I kind of see music as a form of escapism. It's like going to a film; it's like going to watch Rambo or that type of thing. And I kind of view our role as entertainers. You know, nothing more, nothing less. So, yeah, "Night of the Vampire" is "basically a musical version of Love at First Bite or something,

RIP: What are your favorite horror films?

NICK: I'm into the more psychic-type movies. One of my favorite films is The Shining. I like that everything's intense -even simple camera shots, he [director Stanley Kubrick] makes intense. And the music's great as well. And the blood gushing down the walls. But to be honest with you, I'm not too up on horror movies and such. I like stuff like Creepshow. I haven't seen Creepshow II yet. And the Freddy Krueger saga....

RIP: Nightmare on Elm Street?

NICK: Yeah, that stuff is classic. 

RIP: Do you have video plans for the new album?

NICK: Yeah, we shot one about three weeks ago in New York.

RIP: For Rock You to Hell?

NICK: Yeah, what we did was one of the songs on the album called "Lust for Freedom," and there's this film company that specializes in videos, and they've got some great titles like Toxic Avenger. They're cult movies basically. They recently did a film called Lust for Freedom, which is about a kind of female Rambo. This gorgeous woman drives through this town, gets picked up, and is put into a women's prison full of innocent people. And they asked us to write the title song. So that song appears in the film, as well as "Rock You to Hell." Not only do they play it bloody loud, but it's also used over an extended lesbian rape scene in the jail! Which is great! The PMRC should love it too!


Lonn Friend

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Metal Forces, Number 30, August 1988

AWAY WIN

Ha! If only you inquisitive little urchins knew the background. Yes, I admit, REAPER and myself have fallen out heavily in the past even to the point of violence being threatened. I'll tell you though, throughout our raging dispute I was still playing their then new release "Rock You To Hell" on an almost daily basis. Money may talk but music, and especially exceptional music, had a way of hypnotizing. Once those headphones are on everything else just fades into nonentities, it's just grinding guitars, extreme vocals and all consuming salacious heavy metal.

Grim Reaper have never had a fair crack of the whip in their nativeland, although the land of the free was all eager to embrace their distinctive British metal bounties. REAPER are big business stateside and their latest nationwide tour, a formidable Anschluss betwixt REAPER and support acts ARMORED SAINT and HELLOWEEN certainly enforced their grip on America's youth.

I began asking whether Steve ever got miffed that his band's undeniable success in the US goes virtually unheralded here, particular mention being made of UK mags reporting on REAPER'S opening acts but not deigning to talk about the headliners!

"True!" the man snaps with obvious venom. "That happened quite a bit, typically in Metal Hammer."

Predictable question I know, but how did the tour do? "It all actually went quite well. We had a few problems, like a drunk smashing into the side of our bus, but that was about it. We sold out most of the shows, we were outselling TWISTED SISTER who were on the road at that time. I don't think any bands, with the exception of MOTLEY CRUE and WHITESNAKE, were doing sell out tours then, so in comparison we did great. We were playing mainly civic centres and packing most of them out."

What kind of capacity venues were you playing? "Smallest was 1500 capacity clubs and the largest was a 4000 seater in Dallas which we sold out on Halloween. I remember the day before that gig MTV filmed us live for a 40 minute TV special which was broadcast into 50 million homes."

How would you define GRIM REAPER'S status in the USA? "Well.." he muses before answering. "We're what I would call a bubble-under band, we do OK. We're not losing any money and out three albums have all broke the Billboard Top 100. It's only a question of time before things really start rolling for us. We've done three quarters of a million albums which is pretty good and we've toured extensively throughout America and a few Canadian shows, especially an ice rink in Montreal I remember which was a brilliant gig".

Getting back to this sore point of not having your success broadcast in your home country, I know you did the Texas Jam which received no coverage whatsoever.

"That really pissed me off too because the following year the event was in all the mags but we got nothing, not even a news item. You would have thought that a British metal band playing in front of 80,000 people would of warranted at least a mention! It's always been a dream to play to that many people. On our way there from the hotel our driver got lost so we arrived twenty
minutes before we were due on so we got dressed ran out on stage and then you think "Oh shit!..." It was frightening. I thought 'Well, this is what you've always wanted - now you've got it!' My mouth dried up, I've never been so nervous in my life, but when we actually got
into a number it became just another gig. We do pretty well in Texas anyway and we went down great. Pace Concerts, who organize the Texas Jam, want us to do another one."

What do you find the main differences between the British and American scenes? "Oh, there are so many. Gigging over there is totally different. It doesn't matter whether it's a club or theatre over in America, people do things right. The promoter gets in the best light rig he can get and the best PA too. Over here, as far as I've experienced, it's real cheap and it's wrong because a band never gets the chance to present itself properly, it's a waste of time and effort."

Do you ever regret your lack of profile in the UK? "I think it's a shame that we had to go to America to do something. There is a definite apathetic attitude here from all concerned in the
record companies. I know quite a few A&R guys in America who'll travel the world to check bands out, but getting someone from London to see a band in Birmingham? You can't do it!! Even if you play the Marquee they're not there, the A&R departments over here aren't doing their job. Our A&R department in New York always say 'Where were RCA UK when you were on the scene? Where were they?'"

Is the scene in America healthier for up and coming bands? Say, for example, a UK club act moved over to L.A. would they find it easier to get somewhere? "Obviously the answer has to be yes. For a start there's so many clubs to play, a band can gig seven nights a week. Once you find somewhere to live and sort out work visas you could gig every day from that point on. The opportunities are there because A&R men actually go out to the clubs looking for bands. Also, major acts pay for support bands, over here it's the other way round."

Any solutions to the apathy of Britain? "I know what would give it a great boost, I know you do this Garry, but why don't journalists get out there and find good bands? Another problem here is that bands are so desperate to get a record out they'll virtually sign their lives away to release vinyl on some really dodgy label, I know because GRIM REAPER have paid the price. Major record companies have got to get off their arses, A&R men should travel around, get working for a change."

OK, let's change the subject and discuss your last album "Rock You To Hell" (only available on import here). Max Norman seems to have really brought out the best in the band. "Yeah" Steve readily agrees. "It's the best thing we've ever done. The worst part of recording with Max was
that we'd lived with those songs for 14 months and then this producer comes along and tears them to shreds!"

Most people won't know that you in fact recorded your third album twice! "True. We originally recorded it at Ebony studios with Darryl Johnston producing and to be honest it sounded like shit. The tapes were sent over to RCA America and rejected on 'technical inadequacy'. (At that time REAPER were signed to Ebony in the UK and licenced to RCA America - Gaz.) I'll tell you how bad the Ebony recordings were, when our management asked for a master tape of the album to be sent over they rang back and said 'You've sent the wrong tape, these are rough demos! It sounded fucking awful. RCA paid for us to re-record the entire thing with Max Norman which gave us that professional touch we'd always lacked. Ebony Records are now suing us for breech of contract so it's now in litigation. We are now finally released to RCA worldwide so the fourth album should get a UK release."

What was it like working with Max Norman? "We spent three weeks in pre-production, he just tore our songs apart and that's tough to deal with. The guy makes you work 120%, but you learn a hell of a lot."

I recall you telling me of an overpitching problem he dealt with. "Yes, he was clever enough to find out before recording began that I was overpitching, apparently I'd been singing that way for twelve years without realising. We ended up de-pitching guitars. What Max did was to de-pitch two guitars, we normally record four guitars, and fed them into the cans when I sang so making me sing in a lower pitch. Clever guy!"

Max Norman seems to get the best overall metal sound, especially his huge guitars and upfront drums. Is there any secret to it? "I think it's down to miking technique. Max spent two days miking up the guitar cabs alone, moving them one inch this way, then that way. The studio didn't have any special equipment, although we hired a lot in. He also spent ages miking up the drums and one thing I've noticed with Max is the massive drum sound he gets. Max spent seven years as an engineer so he knows what he wants and what the band is capable of."

It has been mooted that Max has in fact made bands, the most commonly quoted example being ARMORED SAINT'S "Delirious Nomad" album which set new standards for metal production. When SAINT tried to follow it up with the self-produced "Raising Fear" they failed dismally. "I know what you're saying. I've heard all of Max's stuff, including "Delirious Nomad" which has a superb production. I don't think it would be wise to say anymore!"

Changing track, what's the situation with GRIM REAPER'S bass slot? "Yes, well.." he grins. "We have been through a few of late. Dave parted company with us, a totally mutual thing, he wasn't prepared to put up with the crap Ebony were giving us and we were looking for a bassist who was a little more solid. We went out on tour with Geoff Curtis, but he never really committed himself. We've now got a guy called Benje Brittan who used to play with our drummer
Mark Simon in VIRGIN STAR. I'd say that for the first time in reaper's history we've got a really solid rhythm section."

Onto the future, what can you tell us about the next album? "We go to America to record in late August, we're actually recording demos now. Nick (Bowcott-guitarist) went over some time
ago to write some songs with Jack Ponti who has co-written songs with BON JOVI and KISS. We're writing a little more commercial now, but not in any way detracting from our hard edge. The difference is you'd hear it on the radio now. Our biggest problem is that because we're called GRIM REAPER a lot of American radio stations see the name and think of death and all that shit, consequently we don't get played on some stations. I think that we're writing a lot more intelligently now."

As a parting shot, how important is Britain to you? "I'd like to say that GRIM REAPER had to go to America, we haven't sold out, but Britain is.." (At this juncture Margaret, the wife of AC/DC's Stevie Young rudely interrupts the interview in a pathetic attempt to scrounge a drink out of yours truly. I informed her that her churlish intrusion warranted a mention in METAL FORCES. She didn't believe me. She didn't get the drink.) Sorry about her Steve, do carry on.
"As I was saying, GRIM REAPER would love to play Britain, we just wish we could. Our next album should hopefully see us playing some serious gigs here. We want to break Britain badly!"

So, there you have it, a fearsomely sound British metal band spurned by their home country. Reaper's success in septicsville surely illustrates the laziness and stupidity of the UK majors. Grab a copy of "Rock You To Hell", I know it's expensive on import but believe me it's well worth it. The UK situation may look grim right now but sooner or later the ol' REAPER is going to come knocking on the door. Record companies - bring out ya dead!!

Garry Sharpe

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Steve Grimmett interview 03/03

Hello,
Good to here from you it's nice to know you are all still out there I promise you a good year with the release of my band Lionsheart's new album and here are the answers to your questions

Are you working on any musical projects at the moment - are SEVEN DEADLY SINS still active?

Seven Deadly Sins was a working title for the band, I have recently decided to use Lionsheart again as I do like the name, and yes we are recording a new album as I type.

Do you plan on coming to the US to promote the new album? Who will SEVEN be touring with? Need a roadie for Dallas?

Yes I would like to tour the states again, I am hoping to create enough interest it the record company's out there to release this new album of mine

Any plans to perform on any more tribute albums?

The tribute albums I recorded on was the first thing I did when I got into the industry again and I did enjoy doing them but I think the whole project has finished now.

Was a follow-up to Rock You To Hell in the pipeline? If so, what stage did it get to.

There was an album written by Nick Bowcott but I didn't have anything to do with the writing this time around so really it would not have been a true reaper album but shit happens

On a similar note - after touring Onslaught's In Search Of Sanity, was another album planned?

After the Onslaught tour, the band couldn't decide when to shit let alone do an album this made the record company loose faith, but I had already see what was coming and left before the shit hit the fan to start the Lionsheart project

Lionsheart appeared not long after grunge took off, was it difficult to get that type of music out there during that period?

To start with yes it was but I don't care what's in, I like what I do and I'm sure that you will too once it's on it's way.

Any possibility of a Grim Reaper or Lionsheart DVD with videos and/or live footage?

There is a possibility that Lionsheart may release a DVD album, but not this next one, maybe the one after.

At Wacken 2000 you performed under the Grim Reaper name, how did that come to be and who were the band members.

As far as I was concerned the bill for Grim Reaper heading was wrong I was asked to do a GR reunion but I wanted to air the new band but they lied to every one. It was always meant to be Lionsheart

The drums on the Friction album sounded like they were programmed. Is this true? Were programmed drums used because of the inability to find a drummer to work with? Were you satisfied with the support that Z Records provided for the Friction album?

The Friction drums were programmed I don't like them personally but I had nothing to do with the project all I did was sing on the album Nick liked the sounds on the machine and also didn't want to get a drummer involved

Did you have any input into the Grim Reaper re-issued/remastered CDs?

No I didn't

Are you in contact with any former band members?

No I'm not

Is a Grim Reaper reunion possible?

No the worst thing I think a band could do is reform what for ? I had a great time with Grim Reaper but it took everything I ever had I will never fan those flames again

What's your take on the MP3 controversy? I got my first taste of Lionsheart when I downloaded Can't Believe - I liked it so much I ordered all 3 CDs online but obviously some people abuse it and download entire albums

Well I think its like filling up at a gas station and leaving without paying very soon the gas stations will say, "hey fuck you". Then were will you fill up your car. Its taking money from me, that lets me make more music for you to enjoy.

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Metal Forces - #49 April 1990

GRIM & BEAR IT

Tim Oakes catches up with ex-Onslaught man Steve Grimmett and finds out about his latest venture

I can recall exactly the very first time I heard Steve Grimmett, when the first GRIM REAPER album was released, and caused no small interest amongst British rock fans. But, for a variety of reasons that band were forced away from their native soil - and sought their fortunes in the
US. What followed was a major assault on the American market, which eventually led to them shifting more albums (at the time) than WHITESNAKE. Contractual problems, and a lot of soul searching later, the band split - returning to the UK in debt, disillusioned, and mystified that what looked like a major international band should crumble and break up in such a fragmented way. Undeterred, Steve took a brief break from the music scene - but returned to the fold when he joined medium-weight thrashers ONSLAUGHT. One LP later (the stunning "In Search Of Sanity"), Steve Grimmett was again on the transfer list.. but not for long. Grabbing his destiny in both hands, he simply went out and found a good working bunch of musos - and set about doing it all again.

The project is so new, that only rough demos of the new songs are available, and the band is (as yet) nameless. Both situations will change: Steve and friends are being courted seriously by a grand total of nine US record companies (and no small fish either) and as for the name, the guys have a vast selection of ideas, but at the time of going to press, I couldn't quite pin them down to any of them. Suggestions on a postcard please...

The first reaction when I heard what Steve called a 'rough demo' was - Shit! These are better than most master recordings! The songs are different again from REAPER or ONSLAUGHT, with much more of a ballsy, blues edge to them. The only band I can compare them with on the contemporary scene is THUNDER but this project seems to have pushed the boundaries of blues and rock back even further than the Bowes/Morley partnership did on their recent debut "Back Street Symphony".

The line-up is: Anthony Christmas on drums, Graham Collet on keyboards, and an interesting visual and aural duo on guitar and bass, for Mark Owers (guitar) and Steve Owers (bass) are identical twins.. infact the only way you can generally tell them apart is to count the strings on their instruments! "Well, I was given the opportunity to do a solo project some time ago," explains Steve. "By Stefan Galfas, the guy who produced the last ONSLAUGHT album. It took time, but it got to the point where I couldn't wait any longer. I already had my eye on some musicians down in Southampton who had been in a band called TOUCHE. We were talking about doing something about eighteen months ago, and it's only in the last few weeks that everything has come together, including management and, hopefully, soon, a serious recording contract"

So much for the business of getting everything up and rolling, what of the bands own direction? Steve doesn't like this question much - he's a man dedicated to bursting out of any given pigeonhole... "I hate definitions! I can't put the band into one hat or another, simply because I'm reaching out to all the musical options open to me. The last thing I want is to see the
band held in some kind of straitjacket. The music is, I suppose, a throwback to the seventies, definitely blues based rock - but commercial too. It has in It a lot of different influences, and not just GRIM REAPER and ONSLAUGHT, because I listen to a really wide selection of music all the time."

Mention of ONSLAUGHT reminds me that it is only a few weeks since Steve and the band parted company. An amicable split? "Definitely, there were no hard feelings between us at all. I just wanted to do something on my own for a change - to have charge of my own career. I'd done lots of work with both REAPER and ONSLAUGHT, but I felt I was right back where I was ten years ago. But now I am in charge - it's turning into a full time job just dealing with the lawyers and the management. But I couldn't care less if I had to work 24 hours a day for this one. I can honestly say that this is the first band I've been excited about. I mean, really excited. I've been listening to the tapes ever since we recorded them, either at home or in the car, anywhere. Which is a real change for me, I generally get bored with the stuff I'm working on very quickly. But this... well, I think it has as much to do with the caliber of the musicians actually -I really enjoy every minute of the sessions. The bassist and guitarist are identical twins, which can be confusing, but they are truly great players, and I'd say Mark Owers is one of the best guitarists around. He can also write too, and arrange, which was bloody useful when it came to the recording."

In a nutshell, Steve and friends gathered in a front room to put down some basic ideas. Well, 'gather' is perhaps too strong a term because the drummer was first to put his tracks down, alone. With a totally clean tape, he sight-read the sheet music for the songs, and laid down as perfect a back beat as if the whole outfit was motoring on around him. That would be remarkable if he had known the tracks backwards. He didn't He had, in fact never heard a note of them... "The demos were all done on eight track too - which was a bind, but we managed eventually. The damn equipment was steam powered I think! but despite that, I was astonished at the quality of the recordings we got out of it at the end."
Hampered also by having to move recording location half way through the demo recording, the next stage for them was the time honoured tradition of submitting the tapes to the record companies. Mr. G. is not at all amused by what happened: "The British record companies excel at one thing - apathy. You can't get anywhere with that attitude. I've never felt so sure about a project in my life, and there are songs in there that I think are major world chart material - and you end up taking something you feel is really precious, and have to bang your head on their wall. We have a track called "My Love" which I feel is a major international hit, a ballad, and I get so angry when you meet up with people who just can't be bothered even to listen. The States is very different, totally the other way. But I know the band are capable of making these songs into real crackers - nothing can knock down my feelings for this project. No way."

Whining bottleneck guitar leads into "World Of Pain", the first track on the demo - and then it stabs straight through your heart with a riff like a battering ram. This is British rock, soulful, bluesy, or just bludgeoning you into submission. The band themselves are excellent players, and their ability to change from motor-drive rocking to the sloppy slush of "My Love" is musically awesome. But their lineages point definitely to a great mass of musical influences. Steve and Mark Owers, along with Graham Collet, were in AFTER HOURS, leaving before the FM Revolver album was released, after spending a lot of time learning their writing and recording craft. This background is blended in with Steve's own work with the grinding metal of REAPER and the thrashing of ONSLAUGHT, that is mixed with care, and which has fueled a band that can play in almost any rock style. If that all sounds cautiously optimistic - it isn't. I threw caution to the four winds on first hearing the tapes.

With luck and a following wind, Steve Grimmett and his cohorts should see their debut album in the shops sometime later on this summer. As the whole of the new UK scene advance on the States with blood and dollars in their hearts, they might find someone slipped under the door and got there first...
"The whole of the American scene is geared up and running. The gig situation there is fantastic - there are clubs everywhere you look, every night of the week. You can gig over there at any level too, from the little bars and local clubs, through halls of all shapes and sizes, right through to
stadiums. I've not been involved with the British scene for a while, but it looks little better than it was five or six years ago. At least there are a few clubs coming up again, but you can't compare that with the US. Over there, rock is an institution, it's on the radio, played by bands in the bars at night, you can't compare the two at all. I mean, we haven't even got a daytime rock show on the radio here! Having said that, Tewkesbury is still my home, and I couldn't leave Britain. Well, only for tours..."
The Return of Steve Grimmett... remember where you read it first.

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MF - Feb 1993

PICTURES FROM THE LION'S DEN

Are LIONSHEART the great white hope for British AOR? As they prepare to release their debut album, "Portrait" MIKE MERCURY finds vocalist Steve Grimmett in good heart

We all know the situation with UK melodic hard rock, don't we? It's in a mess. The likes
of Magnum and FM are bravely struggling to make an impact, but both of these acts - excellent though they are - have been around for a while. And neither is likely to offer up any surprise in
1993. So, from where is the new generation of AOR heroes likely to emerge this year? Well, for my money and taste the best shot we have in Britain comes from the depths of Gloucestershire, in the shape of Lionsheart.

You may already know the name. The band have been around a shade over three years now and should by rights already have an album in the shops, as vocalist Steve Grimmett explains. "We were originally going to release the LP "Portrait", through Music For Nations on September 28 last year. But then they signed Magnum and gave them our release slot for their "Sleepwalking" album. But I'm not at all pissed off by that - it was a sound and wise business decision. Quite honestly, I think our record might have gotten lost if it had come out back then. Now we are putting out "Portrait" in March."

For Grimmett, Lionsheart probably represents his most natural musical outlet thus far. Having started with power metal band Grim Reaper (big in the US - where they were signed to RCA. Almost unknowns in their native country, where they were contracted to Ebony Records), Grimmett then moved to thrash hopefuls Onslaught, recording the underrated 1988 album "In Search Of Sanity" with them. However, despite considerable promise and potential, Onslaught fell apart. "Our label, London, lost interest and dropped us. I could see that coming. So I got out in time. I feel that Onslaught had the potential to go all the way, but that's life."
This happened in 1989. By the end of that particular year, Grimmett had formed the first Lionsheart line-up. "I did some work with producer Stephan Galfas (Stryper, Onslaught, John Waite), just doing backing vocals on some of his projects. Anyway, he was the one who suggested that I should put together my own band. Now, just after I'd done "In Search..." I met the twins Mark and Steve Owers (guitar and bass, respectively). We all wanted to work together, so when I left Onslaught, it seemed logical to get together with them."



At that time, both the Owers brothers were in a band called Touche, who didn't seem to be going very far. However, Grimmett teamed up with the four members of that band (the Owers pair, drummer Anthony Christmas and keyboardsman Graham Collect), and a name change was effected to Lionsheart. There then followed a healthy two-year stint on the road, steadily gigging and building a following. Then in early '92... "Our management gave us loads of cash to go out and buy a 12-track studio, on which we recorded the album. Music For Nations were interested in signing us, but felt that the original recordings weren't good enough. So they put us in the 24-track Black Barn Studios out in Ripley (Surrey), with Mark Owers and (studio owner) Robin Black (veteran engineer with the likes ofjethro Tull and Black Sabbath) co-producing."

The album was thus finished on July 14, 1992, since when has followed the current long wait. In the meantime, Lionsheart have undergone two line-up changes, with the twins exiting.
"Mark is seriously ill. He had a slight nervous breakdown on the last tour we did and can no longer go out on the road. And Steve wants to stay with him. It's all very amicable, though"
Former Idol Rich/Passion/Killers guitarist Nick Burr (another resident of Gloucestershire) has been recruited to fill one slot, with ex-Grim Reaper bassist Geoff Curtis (he appeared on the 1987 US "Hell On Wheels" tour, which saw the Reaper billed alongside Armored Saint and Helloween) almost certain to gain the other vacant slot. And now Grimmett et al anxiously await the release of the long-heralded "Portrait". However, not only is this a musically impressive effort, full of vibrant, methodical songs, but it has caused a significant stir already in-Japan. Yep, it seems these fellas are big out there!

"We are going over to Japan in April. We have a deal there with the Pony Canyon label and they have been going apeshit over us. A TV crew is flying in soon to film us for a longform video, every magazine is coming over to interview us, and I've also done two one hour-long radio interviews. And the nice thing is that this is purely down to Lionsheart, not as a result of what I've done before in Grim Reaper or Onslaught. "And the interest from Japan has made Music For Nations really kick in. They can see a buzz starting to happen and really want to give this album a major push. I'm very happy with what they're doing. And, whilst I know it will be tough, I really want to do it here, not ignore Britain and concentrate on other territories."

However, Grimmett isn't forgetting his past either. For, although he and Curtis are the only high profile musical activists among the former members of Grim Reaper (guitarist Nick Bowcott works as a product manager for Marshall Amplification in New York and writes for various music magazines. Drummer Mark Simon is married and has given up the music business. Bassist Dave Ranklin has a local band in Worcestershire), nonetheless there are plans afoot for a Reaper compilation album. Grimmett is in the throes of buying back the rights to their first two albums, "See You In Hell" and "Rock You To Hell". Once that is achieved, watch out for both a compilation album and video.

However, with the stylish blues-based rock of Lionsheart offering hope for a bright future, I doubt very much if the affable singer will be relying solely on the past to provide for his old age. This is a band who have the capacity to defy current trends and break through as a quality melodic hard rock act who are British - and proud of it!
"Portrait" will be issued by Music For Nations on March 8.

 

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.Metal Hammer 12/94

BRITISH LIONS

 

In the past, vocalist Steve Grimmett must have wondered if he'd ever see the release of a second Lionsheart album. And who could blame him? The mettle of the band was severely tested before they even put out their debut. But the early problems they encountered have served to temper Lionsheart into a closely-knit, more determined unit.

Formed by ex-Grim Reaper/Onslaught vocalist Grimmett, with the Owers twins Mark on guitars and Steve on bass, keyboard player Graham Collet and drummer Anthony Christmas, Lionsheart landed their deal with Music For Nations in 1992 and recorded their eponymously titled first album during that summer. But everything went pear-shaped towards the end of the year, when, two dates into a European tour opening for Lillian Axe, the Owers brothers decided to leave the band. Having already been through the rock and roll mill with his two former bands, Steve could have thought he was experiencing deja vu...

"No, that was one thing I didn't," he says, sipping coffee in his record label's office. "Because I was just so mad, I said: 'Right, I'm going to get another guitarist in to get through the tour.' Fortunately, Nick (Burr, ex-Passion/Killers) was the first one who came to mind. My wife phoned him up and said: 'What are you doing?' He said: 'Nothing!' 'Well, do you want to go on tour? There's no money, no this, no that...' 'Yeah, okay then!' He had three days to learn the songs that we were doing. We had a day off on the tour, we rehearsed, and we were back out the following day as a full band."

The line-up complete once again, with Zak Bajon on bass, Lionsheart's debut was released in March 1993 and, to their great surprise, became an overnight success in Japan. "We went out to Japan, and the day after the album got released I went out with one of the record company executives to do a TV interview," Steve recalls. "He said to me: 'If an album does 30,000 units in its course, it's considered a success in Japan.' I said: 'Yeah, I really want to do 30,000, that would be a great start...' And he said: 'Well, it sold 45,000 yesterday!' I said: 'Okay, that'll do!"

In the UK it was harder, but consistent touring has built up a grass-roots following for the band and has also worked in and solidified the new line-up. The release of 'Pride Intact' is, Steve feels, a new start for the band. "I do feel this time, everything's got a better flow," he says, "because everybody has had a hand in the writing, not just me and the twins. I guess it's kinda similar to the first album in a way, but I think that probably the next album we'll see stuff move on, because the line-up's really stable now."

'Pride Intact', steeped in the tradition of British blues rock, is actually very reminiscent of early Whitesnake. It may not be hip, but the ticket sales of the 'Snake's British tour last summer proved that there are plenty of fans out there who want to hear this kind of music. "We don't follow any trends and we're certainly not what you'd call an in-vogue band," Steve agrees. "But we play what we want to play and that's really what I want to do. I don't want to be a Pantera, because they'll always be so much better at doing that. There's no point in competing, so you might as well do something you enjoy doing. "What actually brought it all home for me was that we did a gig down in Reading and a guy came up to me afterwards and said: 'We'd heard of your band, and obviously we don't see a lot of you in the press, but for God's sake don't give up. We love you and we really want to see more of you - carry on!' And that said it for me. There are people out there that appreciate you." 

Valerie Potter

 

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