Andy Dawsoon, Chris Bradley, and Kristian Bradley of Savage took the time to talk with ThisIsNotAScene‘s Chris Ward, about the new album, “Sons of Malice,” the band’s influences, NWOBHM and much, much more.
Hey guys. Congratulations on “Sons of Malice”, I really enjoyed it. First thing I wanted to ask was – where did it come from? After eleven years since “Xtreme Machine” what made you decide to ‘put the band back together’, as it were and what have you been doing in that time?
AD: Mark our drummer suggested it first to me and I spoke to Chris and got on with it. I’d taken a few ideas to Chris a couple of years earlier but nothing came of it. The band was I suppose on a long term break rather than split. We were all busy dealing with life’s ups and downs (and still are!)
CB: The intention was to write a new album after “Xtreme Machine” but it just seemed that life threw one thing after another and conspired against us. We have all, as individuals, had some serious personnel upheavals to deal with that just made it difficult to all be in the right place at the right time. We had a brief respite from this about 2009 to 2011 which gave us the opportunity to write this new album. Unfortunately, life stuck the boot in again and slowed things down a bit, but we got it done and are raring to go.
However, I would say the prolonged break gave us the opportunity to re-evaluate what we had done in the past and where we wanted to go, which led us kinda back to our roots, which included back to writing songs in a rehearsal room as a band, which I think has given us our best album since “Loose ‘n’ Lethal”, and there is still more to come!
The song “Sons of Malice” addresses the current global financial situation and the people that put us there – can you tell me about some of the other lyrical influences on the album?
AD: Chris handles most of that and I chuck ideas in as needed, the odd verse or chorus or maybe the melody. Chris only asks me when he’s run out of ideas… hahaha
CB: …and I never run out of ideas, the real world provides infinite inspiration. I leave all that devils, demons and wizards to others. As I said, my inspiration comes from all aspects of life itself, so I write about societal issues and the ‘human condition’ which provides plenty of scope.
Occasionally, I write a song that is more of a short story or mini movie like ‘The Hangin Tree’ which is something I wrote for my grandson. ‘Jack’, and ‘Monkey on my Back’ which was taking the two meanings of the phrase, where one applies to a burden and the other more modern use tends to refer to a drug or alcohol addiction. I combined the two into a short story about a guy turning to drink and drugs due to the stresses of the modern workplace and then the song basically refers to an intervention by his family and friends
Do you think the addition of Kristian on guitar has added a bit of youthful fire to your core sound?
KB: I dunno about that, Andy writes most of the guitar stuff anyway, all I have done is added a few of my own touches to the music that maybe Andy wouldn’t have done himself.
AD: Yeah, it’s also good to have 2 guitars that are tight but slightly different approaches to rhythm playing, it has spread the sound really well I think.
Going back a bit, you first came to the public’s attention during the early 80s and the rise of the NWOBHM – did you ever feel a part of that scene?
AD: Not really to be honest we were trying to honour a lot of the stuff we grew up on and did our own thing. The timing happened to fit with the scene but we didn’t consciously attempt to be part of it. But I guess that’s how most scenes come together if they are real and not fake.
CB: As Andy said we never really felt like part of the scene. I formed the band around the start of the NWOBHM era but that was purely coincidence. There did seem a good heavy rock scene in our local area and I suppose we where part of that, as we all kinda knew each other bands like Witchfynde, Sparta and Dawntrader, but there had been quite a tradition of rock bands locally for quite sometime, and one of the main venues in my home town, the Golden Diamond, had over the years, been part of the circuit. Pretty much every major band there ever was had come through their doors at some point in their early careers, even I remember sneaking in there in early ‘76’ while still at school to see Nutz, pretending to be older and drinking pints with older mates, who had got me in laughs.
We spent a long time without a drummer during the early years of the NWOBHM which delayed our visibility for a while and when we did eventually hit the radar the NWOBHM was on its way out.
Do you still keep up to date with other bands that rose to prominence during that time, like Saxon, Iron Maiden, Venom, etc.?
CB: In all honesty, I don’t follow many bands as such, if I hear something on the radio (very rare these days, let’s be honest) or on music TV that I like I will probably check it out but don’t go out my way to follow many bands unless they really impress me, are doing something new that I find them interesting or they are the bands I listened to as a kid. I met Dave Murray once at the Kerrang 100 bash in London and I’ve run into Conrad sorry Cronos a couple of times over the years.
AD: I like Saxon; I promoted a gig on the Solid Ball of Rock tour and made a few quid! I saw Maiden with Paul Dianno and they were great. I’m not a follower today but I really admire what they have achieved and their work ethic, incredible! I met Venom maybe 10 years ago which was cool.
KB: I follow Maiden. LOVE Maiden. Seen them live a few times too, it’s a great show! As for Saxon & Venom etc. I don’t think I’m being un-diplomatic when I say they’re shit!
Which bands from that era did you get to play with and who would you like to tour with now?
CB: Back then we played with Venom, Metallica and Tokyo Blade at Aardschok, Mercyful Fate in Hammersmith just before “Loose ‘n’ Lethal’ came out, they did a short UK tour and we lent them all out gear to do it.
We played with Diamond Head in our home town also before ‘L ‘n’ L’, they fucked us about something rotten because they thought we where some two bit support band, it was our crowd! They soon came out the dressing room at the end of our first number, but they had a great show after.
We also supported Witchfynde at our local theatre, they where supposed to be supporting Limelight who where the biggest local band at that time, but one of the bands family members passed away that day so they pulled out and we got a phone call 1 hour before show time asking us to step in and support Witchfynde who got bumped up, so fuck it we did, that was our first big local show and we really started to pull our own regular crowds after that.
As for now I’d tour with anyone just for the chance to play some decent shows!
KB: Touring with Maiden would be awesome! Actually touring with ANYONE would be awesome!
AD: Reformed Lizzy for one, Maiden, Saxon or Van Halen, oh and UFO/Schenker
Similarly, who were your main influences when you started and what bands are you listening to now?
AD: All of the above and for me as a guitar player, Gary Moore and Pat Travers and I’m still listening to Lizzy, Purple, Van Halen, plus newer bands like Audioslave, Soundgarden, RHCP, Foo’s, I love it all. I think there are great bands from every decade from the 60′s to now. I don’t get hung up on just early 80′s Metal; some of it was awful some it was incredible
CB: I guess back then was the only time when I and Andy really listened to the same stuff! I started out listening to Deep Purple and was into Queen from the very start. From there I found Lizzy and UFO pretty quickly after, Lizzy being my number 1, then Van Halen appeared in the late seventies and WOW! They changed everything.
I still listen to all these bands off and on, but I also found great bands over the decades as the genre has metamorphed from Thrash to Grunge to Nu-metal. We’ve always been open to new stuff, though my tastes are probably heavier than Andy’s.
Who do you see as your contemporaries now?
AD: I suppose we are set against all the other NWOBHM bands but I would rather be compared to the classic bands such as Purple, Lizzy, Sabbath etc.
CB: For me, I can’t give you an answer, Savage have never been a band for doing the same album twice, we’ve been called Post Punk, Proto Thrash, Melodic Metal, Heavy Metal, Heavy Rock, Grunge and Hard Rock and I can’t think of anyone who we could easily be categorically linked too. We are not that easy to pigeon hole and perhaps that’s been our biggest problem. We are Savage, we do our own thing and go our own way with no illusions and no agenda.
You’re part of that exclusive set of bands that have had songs covered by Metallica. How aware were you of Metallica’s growing status during those years and how did it feel being covered by a young band on the other side of the pond?
AD: We didn’t really now about them until our first Kerrang interview and of course we were really flattered. It has taken hindsight to see the importance of that connection to one of the world’s biggest bands
CB: As Andy said, we were not aware of them until Xavier Russell at Kerrang told us all about it. For me it’s the same as it was then, I think it’s great that any band wants to cover your songs no matter how big or small they are, it means you have made an impact on someone and it don’t get much better than that!
I believe you’ve been added to the line-up of Hard Rock Hell in December – what can we expect from your set there and who else will you be checking out?
CB: Well, I guess we will be playing some old stuff and some new stuff and some stuff from in between depending on how long we got! I suspect Kristian will be watching Fozzy, that boy was a massive WWF wresting fan when he was a kid, I even took him and his sister to see a WWF show back in the early nineties at the NEC, laughs.
KB: There’s going to be a LOT of energy on that stage! It will be my first gig with Savage and I can’t wait!
AD: We’ll be concentrating on getting our shit together and then we’ll start to look at the other guys. It’s natural to be looking to blow the competition away whilst having massive respect for all the guys there
What’s next for Savage? Thirty years since Loose n’ Lethal next year…
AD: 30 years! Fuck me! Yeah, hopefully we can mark it with something special like a live album but we still have “Sons of Malice” to push and then newer stuff after that hopefully.
CB: Well, we are talking about doing a live album next year to mark the 30th anniversary of “Loose ‘n’ Lethal”, I’ve always wanted to do a double live album like our heroes so maybe “Live ‘n’ Lethal,” as opposed to “Live and Dangerous”, laughs but a lot will depend on raising the finance to put it together, recording live shows is an expensive proposition! And, of course, we need the shows so we can get out and promote “Sons of Malice” too!
Thanks for your time, gents.
CB: Thanks for the chance to chat!
AD: You are most welcome! Time for a beer!!