viernes, 2 de junio de 2017


Tokyo Blade was one of the NWOBHM legends chosen to grace that unreleased first issue of Ample Destruction 'zine. Very much in the vein of Tygers of Pan Tang, Tokyo Blade remained in a commendable second row behind the big genere names but, again, it wasn't a case of lack of talent. Both their self titled debut and the sophomore "Night of the Blade" are top releases among all those early British metal gems. Let's see what founding member Andy Boulton tells us about their rich history and about their, back then, recent activities.

Hi Andy, let's start with the reunion of this almost classic line-up (everybody is here with the exception of Alan Marsh) so, what made you decide to call your old mates from the Blade and give the band a new try in 2010? Do you think that the positive feedback that traditional metal gets nowadays could have maybe influenced this decision?

Hi, well Andy Wrighton (bass) and I saw each other in a pub called the Ruskin arms which is Iron Maiden’s old stomping ground and the place where we often played and signed our 1st record deal actually. We talked about the old days as neither of us had seen each other for 25 years and we then went to see John Wiggins band play in London and the 3 of us talked about finding Steve Pierce and playing together again.

However, the only missing element from the early years of Tokyo is the presence of either Alan March or Vic Wright, replaced by Nicolaj Ruhnow. Did you think in including any of them in this reunion? Have you even tried to contact them?

No, we didn't really want to work with either of them again and we felt we needed a strong vocalist if we were to re-form.

Nicolaj is a really good vocalist, quite melodic, and probably more reminiscent of Vic Wright than Alan Marsh. His name doesn't sound British at all so, where does he come from? Has he ever played in any other band prior to Tokyo Blade?

Nicolaj is from Germany and was playing in the German band “Domain”

You re-recorded “Night of the Blade” with him. It sounds quite different (not only the voice but some brakes and arrangements) but fucking great!!! I really like it and I think it’s a good idea, but probably some people will say that the original version is better, the old sound is better, the old singer is better and bla, bla, bla, what was your reason to re-record that old song and what do you think about all those “metal popes” telling to the bands what they have to do, play, dress and think?

Firstly thank you for the comment and yes we were really pleased with this version. We wanted to establish a link with the past and also hear NOTB with Nic's vocals.
Yes we've had the comparison junkies giving their views as you correctly said. It's inevitable I guess but we don't mind as everyone is entitled to their opinion and I personally would die to defend that right so it’s fine. We don't take much notice of the people that tell us how to play, dress or think and never have. Besides we are too strong and old to change! Ha ha!

I really think that "Thousand Men Strong" is a great album but, as happened with Tygers of Pan Tang’s (also featured in this issue) last efforts, it seems that it's being quite hard for you to get the media and audience attention in the current scene. How was the response, label wise, to a possible new Tokyo Blade album, when you started to work on "Thousand Men Strong"?

Well the music business is very different now so record deals are not the same as they were anyway which is both a good and bad thing. We knew that as with so many bands nowadays we were going to have to do a lot of the promotional work ourselves which we did using our website, Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth of course. 

The album was released in March, how would you value the fan and media reaction to "Thousand Men Strong? Do you think that is being capable of reactivating the attention of the metal scene towards Tokyo Blade? 

Well the old fans all seem to like it which is of course a priority but we've been stunned at the number of new fans we seem to have attracted too and we are really happy about that. These kids at the shows are younger than my son Jamie, but they all wear the denim and patches and they know all the lyrics and they sing along. It's awesome really just like the old days when Metal was real and rebellious, it's always been about attitude and always should be. I guess that will never change.
In truth we've been amazed at the reaction to TMS. As to reactivating the attention of the metal scene, we'll just have to wait and see I guess. Like us, lots of the older bands are still out there making great records so it’s up to the fans really to have a look at what’s going on. 

Another pleasant surprise is the presence of none other than production master Chris Tsangarides behind the control desk. Did you instantly think in him when you were deciding the recording crew for the album? He seems to be quite out from the metal business in the lasts years because, aside from Anvil's "This is Thirteen", I hadn't seen him in the credits of any other album. What is he currently doing?  

Chris actually approached me about producing the album and told me he has always wanted to produce Tokyo Blade! As you can imagine that was a real honour to hear as I have been a fan of Chris's work since I first heard Y&T's Meanstreak. He's busy with lots of young bands and he really is fantastic to work with. We love the guy and his production skills.  

How was it to go again into the studio with the band and which differences have you found between the old analogue studios and the new digital ones? As a professional musician and teacher, are you that kind of “fanatic” with new stuff, machines and technology going every week to the music-store, buying magazines and catalogues or you are more an “old-school” musician? I mean: old guitar, old amp and toooons of experience, ha, ha.   

It was great to get back to the studio again after all those years and nothing has really changed apart from technology of course. We used Chris's studio and he uses the Radar system to record which is digital of course but responds very much like the old analog tape machines. As far as old vs new goes I'm somewhere in the middle, of course there's nothing like the warmth of analog and nothing like the ease and convenience of digital systems. I'm certainly no fanatic about anything to do with music, perhaps surprisingly I have long periods when I don't even touch a guitar. But to me life is about balance and there are too many other things that I am interested in.
As I know you are playing some shows. How is to be on stage again with the band? In one of your last interviews you said that for a band like Tokyo Blade it is very difficult to play right now in UK.... paradoxical, one of the most important heads of the NWOBHM!!! Can you give 
us your personal view about this? 

The UK has always been a tough market for Tokyo Blade actually. England is more suited to the mass media bullshit that they ram down our throats and people here have become celebrity crazy, mindless sheep on the whole. They seem to have been brainwashed by reality TV shows and bullshit manufactured bands. I fear for my country I really do.  

Ok, let's go back 30 years in time to England's early 80's. Tokyo Blade was formed in 1982 but I know that you've been some time around before under the name of Killer and then Genghis Khan. Those were the big years of NWOBHM but, can you tell us, from your point of view, how did you live those years as youngsters and what made you found the band during that musical explosion in the UK?

Well there isn't much to say really, we are just musicians and as such have an overwhelming desire to play our music. It's an escape thing and a way of expressing our views on life and in general a fun thing to do. Sadly when it becomes business much of the fun aspect is taken away and we like all other Musicians have to deal with arseholes of which the list is long. Apart from the Record companies, agents, bootleggers, and critics we also have the arseholes from the past who want a slice of our very small pie. Sometimes we all wonder if it's worth it but still we continue so I guess we're all mental lol.

There was an obsession among the British bands with the oriental culture. What was the origin of that? In general, there was a long tradition in Rock and Roll with Japan: live albums, tours and so on; what was the reason for you? 

Quite simply Alan Marsh wanted to call the band ‘Blade Runner’ and I wanted to call it Tokyo so we combined the 2 names.

I've always though that your music, specially in the debut album, was quite reminiscent of Di'anno's era Iron Maiden and the fact that your first names were Killer and Genghis Khan (2 Maiden songs), concretely in 1981, just make me feel curious about this. Was Steve Harris' band some kind of influence when you formed Tokyo Blade or did all your key bands went back to the 70's?

Yes strangely enough it was pure coincidence. Killer was just meant to be a temporary name and as Alan was in a band called Ghengis Khan way before Maiden existed and we took the name as we liked it. When his former bandmates objected we changed it to Tokyo Blade. Our influences were the same as Maiden’s ie. Judas Priest, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple. I was really influenced by Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and early Queen.

This a more personal question. Searching for some pictures in internet, I found some where you appear with native-American culture stuff and a precious eagle. You have an especial relationship and connection with that culture and peoples. We, the European, fucked lots of native cultures with strong and very interesting knowledge (especially all across America, but also in Asia or Africa...) what do you think about that part of our History? What has that culture given to you? You seem a very open minded person. 

As you probably know my wife is an Apache and we met 5 years ago. My relationship to the Native Americans started as a small boy. I watched the Western movies with my late Father but I couldn't understand why the Indians got the bad press when they were treated so terribly by the settlers. I did my research as I always do and discovered a far different story of course. History is generally written from the viewpoint of the victor and as the Indians had no form of writing and were massacred in the most hideous crime against humanity it was easy for the Americans to tell the story their way. 
I do whatever I can to help the charities like “one spirit” who work to aid the Lakota Sioux on the Pine Ridge reservation. In fact we have just recorded a new track called “Camp 334” which is about the reservation still on US Government records as “POW Camp 334”. The proceeds will be donated to the people of Pine Ridge to help ease their obscene poverty. Nowhere in the world should people be treated this way and as fellow humans we should help or hang our heads in shame. The same can be said for all of the poor in the world. Check our website for news of the tracks release and where it can be downloaded from.

In 1984, you released and album with Combat records, entitled “Midnight Rendezvous”, which mostly contained songs from your debut. Then, you also released and EP with Powerstation under the same name and I think that one of them is even included in some re-releases of the first two albums. What did exactly happen? Why two releases with the same name?

The 1st album was simply called Tokyo Blade, Combat wanted to call it “Midnight Rendezvous” and we had no say in that decision.

Towards the mid 80’s, the history of Tokyo Blade turned a bit confused, at some moment your albums were even named under the moniker of Andy Boulton’s Tokyo Blade. Then I think that there was an American version of the band with some ex-members. Can you explain us what happened during that period?

I recorded an album called “Ain’t Misbehaving” and used the name Tokyo Blade as it was my name, however because of issues with our old record company I called it “Andy Boulton's Tokyo Blade”

Then, in the 90’s, after 6 years without releasing new stuff, Alan Marsh returned to the band and you released “Burning Down Paradise” and “Pumphouse”. How were the “difficult 90’s” for Tokyo Blade? Why did this reunion end so quickly? If I’m not wrong, you didn’t take part in “Pumphouse”?

No I have nothing to do with “Pumphouse”. The Tokyo Blade re-union was very short lived for the usual reasons, lack of support, lack of interest and differences within the band.

Well, that was everything. Thanks a lot for spending some time to appear in the pages of Ample Destruction ‘zine and good luck with Tokyo Blade in the future. Some last words?

My pleasure, thank you for taking the time to interview me. 
And to all the metal fans out there a big Thank You, and a warning:
If we do not support our music as well as we possibly can by making the effort to go and see bands live and buying the new music instead of just downloading it then it will surely die. The mainstream media will get their way and we will all be force-fed the utter shit that they manufacture for us. I am not being over-dramatic here or trying to scare anyone but it's a FACT! Look at your high streets and shopping malls in the last few years - they are all the same and full of the big corporate giants. What has happened to the small caring family businesses and the specialist stores?

Bless you all,

Andy B.

Andy Boulton, December 2011.

viernes, 13 de enero de 2017


TYGERS OF PAN TANG were one of the best bands to appear under the banner of the NWOBHM but, although their career continues to this day, they're best remembered for that albums of the early 80's. Ah, the promised land and its tales of success! Many of those great NWOBHM bands fell under the spell of the industry and got immersed in that race for glory, but only a few reached the coast. All in all, we still have those fantastic albums that paved the way for 80's heavy metal, and Tygers recorded some of the best!

Hi Robb, how’s everything going? Your latest news are around the re-recording of some songs from your first albums under the name of “The Wildcat Sessions” and “The Spellbound Sessions”. I have to confess that I usually don’t like the re-recordings of old songs, as I think that an album is a child of its time, with the conditions that made it possible. It's a very personal opinion though. What was your main reason to do these re-recordings?

Hi everyone! I’m doing really well, Thank You.

I am also very excited at the moment about the Tygers up and coming shows and our recent EP releases. The main reason behind the re-recording of some of the old tracks was to celebrate the 30 years anniversary of Spellbound as we did last year with `Wildcat`. The songs are in the main true to the originals with a few tweaks here and there. We were very careful not to move too far away from the true feeling of the original songs but a 30 year re-fresh has given them a new life. I suspect that fans will be brushing off the dust of the original versions as well so they themselves will have renewed playtime.    
You’ve decided to record five songs from “Wild Cat” and six from “Spellbound”. Why only those ones? Are they maybe the songs that you usually play live?

We do play these songs live, but the idea was to pick out our favourite songs as a band, each member and our Management Team. We also listen very carefully to our fans at shows so we tried to please as much as we could. We did look at the idea of re-recording the whole album but that idea was quickly dismissed. The EP was a better celebration of the original and keeps with the Sessions EP series.

In both cases we’re talking about limited edition EP’s, with a very good price, that you’ve totally self-produced. Have you thought in looking for a label to make a proper distribution or is it totally conscious to keep it as limited editions to be sold exclusively by the band?

We are very keen as a band to have that emotional connection with the fans, they like to get in touch and buy from the Tygers of Pan Tang direct, it gives them access to the originator and not just simply a transaction through a third party distributer or retailer. This will only work on these Ltd Edition EPs though with an album release you need the expertise and infrastructure of a label to support the release.

Are you going to make a tour to support this releases? I don’t know how busy is the band live wise currently but, do you share your musical career with any other professional activities?

As a band we always try and work live as much as possible but we are actively writing new material at the moment. We made a decision that a new album would come first in 2011 but when an opportunity to play live presents itself, we have to consider the benefits of always promoting the band. This happened with the invite to play the BYH Festival in Germany. All the band members do work though with other bands or as session musicians so it can be hectic working within diary restrictions. 

I’ve read in an interview from last year that you did have intentions to record a new album soon. Anything more to tell about the new album? Will these re-recordings of the old stuff influence you in any way with the new songs? I mean, returning to the vibe of that old amazing songs...

As mentioned above the writing of the new album is under way; we probably have 30 ideas already! When I write it’s always in the vein of NWOBHM. That’s what I do! The other band members then piece my ideas together; add their version and we make a song. Jacopo and Craig tend to then take care of the lyrics although Dean also has some great lyrical ideas that are presented. We are looking to start recording later this year.

One of the main problems of bands as Tygers of Pan Tang which recorded great albums in the past and were out of the business for a while is getting the attention of the fans on their recent stuff. I’m going to be sincere and recognize that I hadn’t checked “Animal Instinct” until I was preparing the interview and now I think that it’s a very good album, maybe not as metal as your early works, but really good. How has “Animal Instinct” worked so far? How was the response to this album

Animal Instinct has had fantastic reviews worldwide, we are all VERY proud of it. This was really the kick start for the present band line up as the album proved we still had what it takes to write and record very good songs. It gave us lots of confidence too which was then emulated in our stage performances which further enhanced the bands reputation. It was an album that we needed to make to re-establish the Tygers name and it does seem to have worked. 

In that same interview that I mentioned before, when you were asked about the possibility of a reunion of the “classic” line-up, you said that it was impossible, partly because John Sykes was busy with Thin Lizzy and the other guys with the regular jobs. Now things are even better for bands as Tygers of Pan Tang as there’s an increasing interest in old school heavy metal. Have you thought about the reunion thing again? (For example, in Spain seemed almost impossible to see Baron Rojo’s classic line-up again and it happened a couple of years ago).

The original line up was fantastic in its own right and I have tremendous memories of that time, but the current band which has been together 10 years now is the Tygers of to-day. Everything just rocks! Between us and I have been there in both and I am enjoying playing with these guys every bit as much as the original line ups. I don’t think a reunion would be possible as the guys all have other projects in their life and only John (Sykes) is still in the Industry. I do think that one day there may be a chance that JS may join the band on stage for a song Jam or something if we are in the same part of the world at the same time. I know John is up for that and it would be great for the fans to see.

Now it’s time to make a travel to the past. I'm a heavy metal fan since I was a kid and I've also always loved to travel to England and London in particular. When I'm walking around London and I go to the record shops from Berwick St. (where I sometimes find great NWOBHM gems) I always try to imagine how special a time as the early 80's could have been. Can you, as someone that lived it directly (although you were from Whitley Bay, in the north of the country), tell us what that magic period between '80 and '83 meant for you?

Wow great question, where do I start? The Tygers lived in London off and on for 3 years so we went out to see the bands of the time, check them out, and make sure we were as good and original as them. We would learn and steal some ideas and then see if we could expand them further! It was a fantastic time, there was bands playing anywhere in pubs and clubs, basically anywhere they could plug into a wall socket. It’s very hard to describe but the fans and bands alike lived for music, it was there life. The scene was magical and probably will never be repeated in the UK. You had to be there and live it to feel the true essence of it all.

Those years were incredible in terms of musical creativity with newer bands as Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, Angel Witch, Def Leppard, Diamond Head,... releasing amazing works, bands from the 70's as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest or Thin Lizzy recovering their best moments... but I've always wondered how was the relationship between the bands in the scene. Which other bands were you in touch with? Which were your favourite among your contemporaries?

Everybody more or less liked and respected each other; there was a friendship among us all as well as a friendly rivalry. The Tygers are mentioned a number of times in Brian Tatler (Diamond Head) book as a band they always looked at as a bench mark to their own progression. There was a form of chivalry between musicians in those days. My favourite bands were not particularly NWOBHM though, they were and still are, Ted Nugent, Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Rush, the list goes on and on. I just love music. It’s a fantastic disease you get in your blood which is with you till you die!         

I've always thought that the NWOBHM bands where the ones that finally changed the face of heavy music setting the pillars where the entire 80 heavy metal scene would later stand on. We just have to think in the roots of 80's hard rock, thrash metal, traditional heavy metal... This would be extremely difficult for you but, how do you measure the NWOBHM legacy 30 years after its peak of fame and creativity?

NWOBHM was a very important movement of the time. It spawned many a stadium act to come in the following years. A lot of bands took their roots from our movement including Metallica who once said the Tygers were one of the main reasons for starting a band in the first place! Check out Wikipedia. I feel humbled and proud that my vision of music and song writing style back in 1979 has inspired so many musicians. Although not as influential today, every year NWOBHM is celebrated and remembered in some way, which is nice.  

For your first album you got signed to a big label, MCA Records. They should have given you big support. Was it very difficult to get signed back in those days? Nowadays it seems impossible to see a debuting band with a label as MCA Records.

I hope it was our music that got us signed! To-day there are only a few large record companies left! A lot of bands self-release product which seems to be a possible way ahead, although I do believe you need the expertise of a label to get the product to the fans in mass . For a major label, however MCA in the early 80s were very poorly organised compared to the likes of EMI or CBS. We did the best we could, given with what we had at the time.

Another quite usual phenomenon back in the early 80's was seeing bands releasing many albums in only a few years. For example you released four between 1980 and 1982 (two in 1981), if I'm not mistaken. Did the label force you to record in a so fast schedule?

Yes, MCA, for some mad reason kept asking us for albums when we hadn’t properly toured and promoted the last one. Thinking back the timescale was ridiculous, but I guess that’s what made life exciting in those days! Especially when your 21 years old.
If I'm not wrong some of those albums never got the touring support that they needed. What do you think that it was more important to push the band back in those days, touring or recording? Was this also due to pressure from the label?

Touring was the most important way to play to the masses and spread the word! We didn’t tour enough, and I think that played a part in the break-up of the band. The record company are all powerful, they hold the purse strings and what they say goes!  Our management at the time could have been more pro-active and agree a five year strategic plan for the band before we signed to a record company which was what Rod Smallwood did for Iron Maiden, that all history now though.    

I've always liked "Wild Cat" but, in my opinion, the quality improvement between the debut and "Spellbound" (my fave in all your history) was impressive. The songs got much more mature and diverse, the sound was better and the overall impression of the album seemed that you finally ended with a perfect product. What made these changes possible between both albums? How would you value John Sykes and Jon Deverill's contribution to the band in that moment?

The addition of both John and Jon made a huge difference. The band took on a whole new persona, direction and attitude. JS had a slightly more melodic song writing style to me. This gave the Tygers a more diverse direction which would benefit us in the years to come. Spellbound was a masterpiece (in my opinion) and Crazy Nights was a great album too but was let down with its poor production. It was a natural musical progression which I believe was the right decision looking at the songs that were produced with that line up.

After these two albums and the also excellent "Crazy Nights" things started to change. John Sykes left the band and you recorded "The Cage". Why did John leave the band when it seemed that you were gaining more and more reputation?

The true answer lies with John on that one. I was shocked when I was told he had gone, we were bigger than ever at that stage. I guess he left to become famous even quicker! I really loved John in a brotherly sense, we shared a room together on tour and got up to all sorts of things we shouldn’t! It hurt me when he left because he didn’t talk to me and tell me how he felt. There is no grudge though, it was a privilege to play and share a stage with John, and we will always be friends.

"The Cage" was one of the albums that I bought in Berwick St. and I have to confess that it was a big disappointment for me when I heard it. What did exactly happen after "Crazy Nights"? In "The Cage" you go for an obvious more commercial and melodic sound? What lead you to this style change? How do you feel with "The Cage" now?

The ‘Cage,’ was quite ground breaking at the time, and MCA should have had us tour it in the States for 2 years….but there you go another lack of vision on their part. The album charted in the UK at 12 and sold across the world really well but because we did not tour the world to support the release, it was quickly forgotten. The direction was quite deliberate on the part of the record company. They wanted a ‘USA’ friendly album but then didn’t promote it properly! I don’t think the band quite wanted to go quite that far in terms of musical direction but again the power of the label dictates….

After this album you make the decision to disband the band. What happened? Despite the problems with MCA Records, did you ever think in restarting the band again, recover the style from the early albums and look for a new label?

We recorded a 5th album and played it to MCA. They said it was OK, BUT they wanted us to record songs from outside writers, they needed 4 or 5 hit singles to finance the band across the world. We argued our case as the fifth album had really catchy tunes but they were adamant. We agreed to disagree, walked out of the MCA boardroom and never went back! Foolish maybe? Were we right to do it? taking on the might of a label, Of course we fucking were!!

And now we arrive to the bizarre reincarnation of the band in the mid 80's with Jon Deverill and Brian Dick leading the line-up and following an even more commercial approach. Did they ever inform you that they had the intention to reform the band? I've seen that you don't include this years in the band bio from you website. Do you consider that this band was not Tygers of Pan Tang?

I wasn’t informed or connected to the band at that time. They did what they did and they were Tygers of that day. Brian was involved as an original member but It’s always difficult for a band to continue with none of the primary original songwriters which Brian was not, guiding the musical direction. We exclude this era from the website mainly as we have no real knowledge of the band set up and what went on. It was a version of Tygers of Pan Tang, we would never claim otherwise.

Now I just want to ask you one thing that I've always wondered. Tygers of Pan Tang is one of the most original names that I've found in the metal world. Where does the name and your fascination with tigers come from?

The name comes from a fantasy science fiction book written by Michael Moorcock. The book is called ‘Strombringer.’ I the book there are cliffs along a shore line called the cliffs of Pan Tang and the emperor’s tigers guarded them. So we put the elements together and….the rest is history!
Well Robb. Thanks for everything. I hope that you enjoyed this travel along Tygers' history. If you want to finish the interview, it's your turn.

Thank you for your fantastic questions, and thank you, the reader for your time spent reading my ramblings about my band! God bless you all and remember if we are playing anywhere near you come and say ‘Hi Robb.’


Watch out for some news on a Spain show very soon and check out the Official website for all the news:-

Robb Weir/May 2011

miércoles, 11 de enero de 2017


This interview was, probably, the main reason to start a blog. I've never been a bit supporter of digital media, but as I explained before, I see myself without the time and energy to manage a printed publication by my own. Back in late 2011 (probably October or November) I interviewed Mark Reale on the occasion of the release of "Immortal Soul", their last album as RIOT. Fate is cruel, and Mark passed away only a couple of months after this interview and I've always felt that it was a shame that some of his last statements could never see the late of day. So, here I am finally making justice to his memory unleashing some of his last public words. With all of you, Mark Reale...  

Hi Mark. Back in 2008 you decided to reunite the "Thundersteel" line-up with the addition of your long time guitar player Mike Flyntz to conmemorate the 20 year anniversary of that album. What led to that reunion? How was the experience playing together again after 19 years since Don Van Stavern's departure?

We kept getting asked about the possibilities of a reunion when we would tour and Bobby said the same thing when he was on the road. Although Mike did not play on the two CD’s he was added to help fill the void in the guitar department live because I recorded so many guitar tracks on those records. He very quickly became a full fledged member. He’s a phenomenal player and an all around awesome guy on stage and off, he fit right in. The Thundersteel line up had a great relationship and a certain kind of formula for songs and a sound that people loved. Don was responsible for a lot of the changes of the sound of Riot during that period because of his background, he wrote most of the songs on "Thundersteel" and you will hear some of his recognizable style on "Immortal Soul". Everybody brought there “A” game on this CD. Mike did a lot of excellent writing and lead playing and Bobby of course did his usual awesome drumming and Tony outdid himself lyrically and vocally on this effort. I pretty much took a backseat for a lot of this! I am very proud of these guys and could definitely not have done it without them. Bobby actually contacted me initially first and we started talking about it and making phone calls to see who was still alive and available to do it and here we are today!  

I think that Mike Tirelli, Riot's singer between 2005 and 2008 was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Was this the reason why the previous line-up disbanded and made the reunion possible? By the way, how's Mike recovering from his illness? Best wishes for him from Ample Destruction...
No, we were just kind of on hiatus at that time, I was having a few health issues myself and it just so happened that this reunion idea was in talks at that time. I haven’t spoken with him in a while but I hear Mike’s doing great and I believe he has fully recovered from his bout with cancer. He’s a great person and singer and we wish him the best in health and with his musical endeavours. I’ll give him best wishes from Ample Destruction!
I'm not exactly sure if Mike Tirelli was ever considered as the official Riot frontman or if he was only a live singer for the band. In fact, I think that he was already singing live with Riot in 2005, but "Army of One" was released in 2006 with Mike Dimeo. Can you please explain us this fact? Did you ever plan to release any albums with Mike Tirelli fronting Riot before his forced departure?
Yes, Mike Tirelli was a full fledged member at the time. Mike Dimeo had scheduling conflicts and was dealing with various projects and wasn’t available to fit into our playbook at that time so basically it was just availability. It wasn’t on bad terms or any internal problems of that sort.
It would had been really interesting to hear a Riot album fronted by him as he's and excellent vocalist but this unfortunate situation, in some way, paved the path for the reunion of one of Riot's strongest line-ups. However, after only one year Tony Moore decided to leave the band although you had a new album scheduled for 2009. What did exactly happen?

When the Thundersteel line up broke up over 20 sum odd years ago, Don left shortly followed by Tony, we kept the line up going with the remaining members. It wasn’t that particular sound that we had created so it was turning another page in the history of Riot. During that period Don continued on in various projects, touring and recording where as Tony kind of left the scene and was doing stuff on a more grounded level. So I think after 20 years of that and a home life and then getting thrown back into the fire it was a little overwhelming at that time for him. We all didn’t know how this was going to turn out. But it ended up going from reunion shows to an overwhelming out cry for permanence. He had to step back and re evaluate his stance during this period.
In another curious evolution of facts, Tony was announced as Riot's frontman again in 2010. What made him change his decision of leaving Riot less than a year later?

He re evaluated!  I think he just needed time for this to sink in and that there was such a demand for the group. He had to arrange his personal life’s schedule to give it some priority that it was requiring. He also was seeing the people commenting on him singing, everyone wanted a new CD with him on it. We had a band pow wow and we decided to give it a shot. Tony’s vocals are a big part of this sound and we were exciting to have him back. You will hear on "Immortal Soul" how lucky we are to have him back. The vocals sound better than 20 years ago! It’s amazing. Hell, the whole band blows me away! Hopefully we can keep this unit together for years to come God willing!

In fact a new album, entitled "Immortal Soul" is just about to be. Is this the same album that was planned to be released in 2009? Was any of the new stuff recorded in 2009 or are we talking about totally recent recordings?
We did record a few songs then, but pretty much everything else was recorded and mixed within the last six months. It was funny, we had a CD two years in the making and then everything started happening quickly with record labels. The offers starting coming in so once we inked a deal it was crunch time and had to work our asses off to get this out on time!
I haven't had the opportunity to check any of the stuff for this new album but, as Riot's music has changed quite a bit during the years, what can we expect from "Immortal Soul"? Will it totally recall the more power metal years of "Thundersteel" and "The Privilege of Power"?

"Immortal Soul" is basically the follow up to "Thundersteel" and "Privilege of Power" 20 years later! The sound of the Thundersteel line up is so identifiable and the songs on the new CD have the same feel and sound but with more of a modern metal twist. This line up's writing and performing skills have the same kind of magic we had back when we recorded those two albums.

Going back to those albums, "Thundersteel" is regarded by many of your fans as one of your most inspired moments, but "The Privilege of Power" despite being a great record, had a mixed reception because of the brass section included in some of the songs (which, by the way, was not so present on the album, in my opinion). Who was behind that surprising idea? Have you ever regretted this decision?
"Thundersteel" was different than the earlier records. With the addition of the more metal players and Don's writing, it kind of led itself to come out heavier. Riot’s always been about aggressive music with great melody lines, it was a great power metal record and that's why I think it was received so well. On Privilege, back during that era we were produced by long time Riot producer Steve Loeb who consistently had crazy ideas, some good, a lot of bad, this was bad! We had nothing to do with this. Once we recorded it the next time we heard it was when the CD came out and that stuff was on there! The horn section on some songs didn’t bother me that bad, but those crazy song intros were really annoying. Still to date, we clip those off when listening! I suggest you do the same unless you plan on getting high before you listen to it! I’m sure they were when they did it! Haha!
However, the slight musical changes have been constant in your career. From the classic hard rock of the late 70's, to the classic metal sounding albums of the early 80's, going through the power metal orientation of the Tony Moore records to the Rainbow influenced heavy metal of the 90's and 2000's. Can we say that all this different approaches represent diverse moments and interests in your life? Did the different members in the band influenced this changes in your musical direction?

I think the vocalists have a lot to do with the way I’m writing at the time. Mike Dimeo’s voice had a more bluesy feel and fit the folksy gothic “rainbowish” type tunes. Guy had a unique mid range voice and it was great on the first three rock metalish records and of course the music was a little more straight up heavy rock when Rhett joined because of his vocal style. Tony’s voice leads us to write this way, very melodic and aggressive. Tony has one of the best voices and range out in rock today. Bobby and Don’s heavy metal influenced rythym section definitely are resposible for this era of Riot’s sound

Aside from the musical changes, Riot has always been a band of constant line-up changes. What was the reason for this? Was this maybe because the band always seemed to be on the road to success, but never managed to reach the big leagues?
I could write a book! If you think Anvil or Spinal Tap are full of drama and are funny and interesting, they ain’t got shit on my life story! It culminates from many different decisions, some good, some not so good. Management decisions were not the best at the time either. Musical differences and changes were usually the problem. Riot really never had any drug hang ups. Sometimes the band and sound needed to evolve and sometimes the players didn’t want to change or simply couldn’t rise to challenge. That’s obvious on the change of the Riot sound from hard rock to power metal. A musical roller coaster if you will! I’ve opened up for AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Rush and then a few years back we opened for Anvil and Virgin Steele! See the difference? Up and Down! Now we are back on the upside! We’ve gotten great response and played some great festivals with the heavy weights again and great record deals already, so let’s see how this chapter of the story plays out! I’m betting it will be great.
I think that you've always blamed the management deal that you signed in the late 70's for harming the band's ascension. To what extent did this guys stopped Riot's possibilities of growing as a band? Weren't they supposed to do exactly the opposite thing? Can you briefly tell us what happened?
Long story short, very short! We were a bunch of naive young Brooklyn New York musicians looking for that break into the music industry. They owned a studio in Manhattan and helped us out in the very beginning. We were there baby so to speak and after recording us and watching us grow into a serious contender, they never wanted us to leave the nest. We had offers from Black Sabbath’s Management, Metallica’s Management and a host of different opportunities. They wanted to control the band's every move early on. They were basically egotistical megalomaniacs. Unfortunately it took us forever to get out of that situation. We were appreciative for what they did, but at one point you have to let the eagle spread its wings and fly from the nest to the next level.
If I'm not wrong you were tied with this guys until 1996, just before you signed with Metal Blade. What meant, for you, finally being free from this deal and signing with Metal Blade for the release of "Inishmore"? Were this kind of long terms deals very usual back in those days?

Being mislead and being taken advantage of in this business is not uncommon, It still happens today unfortunately, ask anyone out there. It had its grips on me for sometime, but it is a great feeling to get out of something like that for so long and be able to record and play under more rewarding circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, fame has its price and we definitely paid to be where we are. It was nice to work with Brian and Metal Blade. Brian has his ears to the ground on this music and no games or head trips, just look at his track record.  
You've been through some highs and lows during these 36 years but, if I ask you about your more successful moments as a band, which ones would you choose?
Every Riot line up has had a remarkable time and great moments. There are highs and lows of each line up. This band has not had it easy by any means. Just being able to still play and a demand for Riot after all these years is rewarding in itself, believe it or not every time were are touring  it’s a thrill, if you love what you’re doing whether it be big or small you have a great time making music with people you love and playing it for people that love your music. The fans are definitely responsible for us continuing this legacy! Although highlights would include: The very first Castle Donington Monsters of Rock festival, Port Vale with Ozzy and Motorhead, our very first tour with Sammy Hagar, touring with Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult on the Black n’ Blue Tour, playing alongside Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Rhoads, the rebirth of Riot and the Thundersteel line up in ‘88 and now the resurrection of this line up is exciting and of course the Japanese and festival appearances are always awesome! It’s always a thrill to travel the world and perform in exotic places for some amazing friends and fans. We are blessed.
Probably Riot's most stable period would have been the years between 1994 and 2006 (except from some changes behind the drum kit) with Mike Dimeo fronting the band. Why did this line-up broke after 12 years being together? How did things end with Mike?
Basically it was kind of another being on a long hiatus situation! During that time some of the band members were doing other musical and personal things. I was involved with Tony Harnell and the Westworld project and a sideman for a few Bonnie Tyler shows and Mike was doing several side projects including the Bonnie gig as well. So when something came up it was a matter of scheduling. Mike wasn’t available for a couple tours, so we had to get a replacement which was Mike Tirelli.
Being this a so important and long time in the history of Riot, do you play songs from the Mike Dimeo or any other period with Riot's current line-up or are you specially sticking to the "Thundersteel" and "The Privilege of Power" stuff when you're preparing a set list for the shows?
For the most part we like to stick with the material from this line up but obviously we will play some of the past favourites. The most asked for music is usually from the Fire Down Under era or the Thundersteel era. We will do a few from "Thundersteel" and "Privilege of Power", a few from "Fire Down Under", "Narita" and "Rock City" and of course a few from "Immortal Soul". Tony’s vocal style fits better with those two eras of Riot and maybe a few surprises!
Just one more thing. I've always being quite intrigued by the strange creature that appeared in the covers up until "Born in America". What the hell was that?
Haha! Although a lot of people thought that character was named “Johnny” he was actually called “The Mighty Tior” he was supposed be our mascot, kind of like Iron Maiden did with Eddie the Head years later. He was a combination of a seal head and a sumo wrestler body with an axe. It was a Japanese folklore character symbol of strength. A lot of people just thought it was a stupid little emblem without meaning but he did have meaning and was associated with Riot and believe it or not that is a frequently asked question. He was another crazy idea conjured up by the same producer that I mentioned earlier that did all that stuff back in the day! I’m sure they were high then too! HaHa!
Well, that was all, thanks a lot for your time and patience answering our questions. Some last words to close the interview?

Thank you and looking forward to re-introducing the Riot Thundersteel line up to the masses. The new CD "Immortal Soul" is going to surprise a lot of people that didn’t think we could come back with the progressive power metal sound we had in the past. These players are top notch and still on point and the musicianship, creativity, camaraderie and magic is still there 10 fold. See you soon and Shine On Metal Soldiers!

Mark Reale/Autumn 2011