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Alan Kelly

Interview with Alan Kelly from Alan Kelly
by Grigoris Chronis at 12 April 2005, 8:23 PM

The following interview is the perfect example of how a musician's passion for music can be trans-shaped into marvelous, genuine releases. Alan Kelly, ex-drummer of British Hard Rock/AOR legends Shy, has some very interesting things to say apart from his fabulous Shy home video double DVD set. I was a little bit sad by what he said, but NOT becuase of him…

Alan, greetings from Metal-Temple.com magazine. First of all, congratulations on your Shy home video double DVD release. What was the driving force behind this invaluable DVD set?

Hi everyone at Metal-Temple.com and thank your for your interest in my Shy DVD. My driving force was really not so much the DVD’s but to create a worth while Shy website for genuine fans to have a look at, and to be able to put my true side of the story across. Other unofficial Shy websites (and there are quite a few of them) initially draw you in but when it comes down to it they have little or no content and have made something out of nothing, so I kept striving to include new and unusual material which would be exclusively available from the Shy Official Website (www.shy-england.4t.com) and I realized I was in possession of several hours worth of home movie tapes which I had built up over the years of being in the band. I thought that real fans of Shy would love to get a look at. It was just a case of figuring out how to do it.

Had you ever imagined that one day this visual stuff would end up in a great compilation?

No, at the time I filmed for myself, others in the band used to take photographs of the tours, counties and various places that we visited. I was the only one who had a camcorder and had it not been for my involvement with building up the website, these films would otherwise be gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. I never considered at any point that these films would ever be put on a DVD compilation or that anyone else would be even interested in viewing their contents.

This double DVD featured so much different footage from the band’s activities. Do you think someone has to be a devoted Shy fan to grab this DVD set? I would recommend it to friends familiar with Melodic Rock/ Hard Rock in general even if they were not familiar with Shy’s discography.

Well, to be honest yes, I do think you would need to be a Shy fan to really appreciate the footage because it features only Shy behind the scenes etc but very much in an amateur style. It was not professionally filmed, as I have said, and it was originally only for personal use. This makes that all the more personal to the genuine fan whereas the general rock fan my not be so sympathetic to lesser qualities of the film, but maybe I will be proved wrong, lets hope so.

Shy never released a full-length video tape (compilation or live recording), If I remember well. Still, 4-5 Shy videos were released during the 80s/90s, also featured in your excellent compilation. Were these promo videos helpful enough for Shy’s recognition?

These promo videos are offered as a FREE bonus on the DVD collection. Of course, promo videos allowed us to be seen all over the world and as a band we could not personally be everywhere at the same time and these videos were the next best thing. I only recently got hold of the Brave The Storm footage, this was a video I hadn’t seen myself since we did it some twenty years ago and I was really pleased to finally see it again after all this time. It’s not the greatest of promos - it has to be said - but none the less a collectors item. In Hold On To Your Love you can really see how young we were, and Break Down The Walls with our collection of ’big hair do’s’, it’s fantastically eighties, I love it. Also Give It All You Got, filmed on an unfinished sky scraper in New York, and finally my favorite has to be It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, we really had a laugh making that video and I think it clearly shows.

Shy was an unlucky band in my opinion, since it was based in Great Britain but its music would be more acceptable form the US or big European countries’ fans. I mean, this first class Hard Rock music had created an entire goldmine in the 80s in the LA area.

I think you could use that excuse anywhere, even in L.A in the eighties I’m sure there are bands who think it’s because they come from L.A and had so much other competition that they themselves didn’t get the breaks they deserved. England was as good a place as any to be starting out in a rock band in the seventies/eighties, it had a thriving rock scene with plenty of venues and if a band had any real talent then there was no shortage of record companies willing to sign them up. I think the English Press didn’t help our cause, on one hand we had journalists who absolutely loved the band and for whom we could do no wrong and on the other hand we had journalists who seemed hell bent on bringing us down and slagging us off at every opportunity.

Initially we were the darlings of the Rock Press who praised us up and put us an a pedestal only to bring us crashing down as soon as we started to get the breaks. Unfortunately, that is something that is inherent in the English make up, we are not great at embracing success or successful people but we love celebrate someone’s failure, if we are not successful ourselves then we are most certainly are not going to run around celebrating someone else’s success. And most of the Rock journalists were seemingly frustrated guitarists or drummers who would much rather have been out there in a Rock band than stuck behind a desk somewhere and almost begrudged you the chance because you were doing something which ultimately they could only dream of.

I see… Bonfire was an excellent German band that didn’t achieve such success in the U.S., no that I remember… Really do you know Bonfire? Which other contemporary bands were you fond of in the 80s?

I know of them but I am not too familiar with their music, I understand from others that there are many similarities between the two bands not only musically but in the way our paths seem to follow.

In the early days  I used to really like bands like FM, Tobruk, Little Angels, Craaft etc, there were some fantastic bands around in the eighties who nearly made the break through and none the less exhibited some genuine talent. Marshall Law aired more on the Heavy side and I even did some guest backing vocals on one of there earlier albums, I think it was called  Under The Hammer  (e.n.:  Marshall Law , 1989). I know the singer Andy Pyke very well, in fact we were best mates throughout most of the eighties, I met him again just last year and he has asked me if I would do some BV’s for them on their forthcoming album so I’ll look forward to that - no doubt that will include several beers and an almighty hangover.

Grat! Well, Shy, based on Birmingham, were a part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (N.W.O.B.H.M.) movement. With a first contract in the legendary Ebony records, your Once Bitten…Twice Shy debut was clearly not compatible with the average British Metal sound of that time (Tygers Of Pan Tang, Saxon, Diamond Head). In contrast, Shy’s basic elements were based on passion and melody. Really, what band would you refer to as basic influences for Shy?

Well for Steve Harris and myself our main influence has to be UFO. We loved the songs, the hooks the melodies and particularly Michael Schenker’s guitar playing, it was definitely a style that we tried to emulate.

We were fortunate enough to meet Mr Schenker at a gig we played in Hanover, he watched our show from the side of the stage which we were extremely honored with and after at the gig he spoke to me regarding some MSG patches that I had sewn onto my leather jacket.

Metal Hammer Magazine had printed a large colour photo of Shy in which I was wearing this particular jacket but they had printed the photo backwards in the magazine which obviously made the MSG patches look weird and this was what drew his attention to us. But none the less it was awesome to meet him, I was somewhat nervous, it’s not everyday you get to meet one of your heroes.

We were also being influenced by a lot of American bands like Journey, Night Ranger, Toto and the whole AOR thing and gradually our style began to swing more and more in that direction. At the time not many other bands were doing this, they were all still being Metal, which is maybe why we initially stood out.

Apart from Excess All Areas (in my Top-5 Hard Rock albums of all time), 1994’s Welcome To The Madhouse could be a top seller. This - I’m afraid - didn’t happen. Would you blame it on the new (then) singer, Jon Francis, the record company(ies), the grunge-dominated 90s? A mix of all the above?

Well the new then singer was actually John Ward or  Wardie  as he liked to be known. John Francis was a guy we tried out for lead vocals before Wardie came on the scene but we never recorded anything serious with him only demos.

The Welcome To The Madhouse album was done in a transitional period for Rock music in general. As you have pointed out, Grunge/Thrash/Indie music was becoming the mainstream areas for Rock music and anything else was just ’old hat’. A lot of the songs on that album had been kicking around for a few years and Tony Mills had even sung on some of the demos that’s how old they were, but by the time we had found a replacement vocalist and were in a position to record an album we had to more or less go with what we had though. Don’t get me wrong, we were happy with how they were sounding - yes, a little ’twee’ here and there - but hey, a good song will always stand out and Neil Kernon’s production was as awesome as ever which is another plus for the project.

I don’t blame the singer or necessarily the music scene at the time, I think the lack of real success steams from the record company/management we were with during this period, with all the will in the world (and I fully believe they had our interests at heart) they were not RCA or MCA and did not have a clue having got this fantastic album what to do with it - I mean distribution, promotion the whole nine yards the reason that album didn’t do as well as the others is because hardly anyone knew it existed and even today many Shy fans are still unaware of it.

For me, UK used to be the center of the Classic Rock/Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal world in the 60s/70s/80s. Then, I’m afraid few British bands did make such an impression internationally. To be specific: all major Hard festivals are now taking’ place in Germany (mainly), Sweden, Italy, Denmark, even Greece! What happened to e.g. the Monsters Of Rock legacy?                                                         

Well, to be honest the UK has moved on, as you say that was the 60s/70’s/80’s; it is now 2005 and we have some fantastic new bands in this country and it is currently reminiscent of the early eighties with several new bands breaking through at the same time. It is a great time to be in a young band again the opportunities are there, OK it’s not the classic bands we know and love but times change and we must change with them otherwise no new act will ever get a break. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the old stuff as well and I am glad that there is still a market for it but we must also allow new talent to get a look in.

Alan, a new shy release did come our lately, Sunset And Vine. You weren’t behind the kit… What happened?                                                                        

You would be better off asking Tony Mills that question. It seems an opportunity was presented to the band to record an new album which apparently had to include Tony Mills on vocals, and he appears to have taken this opportunity to carry out some kind long standing vendetta against me and say to the other members of the band that he would only do the project if it didn’t include me, and like true honorable friends they had their it was just like old times meeting and choose to exclude me from the project and didn’t even have the decency to tell me, no phone call, no letter, nothing, which was very nice of them. But why stop at me, they don’t need Paddy or Roy either, Steve is Shy and Tony is the voice so who needs the rest of the band.

We recorded and toured together for over fifteen years and they turn round and do that to me. Tony Mills I could understand, he was only ever in it for himself but the others, that hurt especially Steve, he new it meant the same to me as it did to him and he still chose to stab me in the back along with everyone else. I hear Tony has at last become a father and congratulations to him for that, I hope now that he will at last start to think of someone else other than himself and finally mature.

I see… So, is there any chance of seeing Alan Kelly again as the Shy sticks man in the near future? Is there ANY kind of correspondence with ANY other member of the band?


I very much doubt it, I think the opportunity has been missed for an genuine sincere comeback on the part of Shy, their true colours have been shown and that is the colour of money and greed. Friendship went out of the window a long time ago when they chose to stab me in the back, they don’t speak to me and like wise I choose not to speak to them.

Have you heard the Sunset And Vine album?

No, and nor do I care to either, I know Steve Harris is a very capable song writer and guitarist and Tony Mills has a voice that is well suited to Steve’s style of writing - I worked with them both for years and as a band we all did our bit and together made up was is generally accepted as Shy. So, I am not about to sit and listen to some other drummer/programmed bass and guitarist/ keyboard player try and pretend they are part of Shy. How ever they like to paint it up, it is not the Shy that did tours with Gary Moore, Twisted Sister, UFO, it is not the Shy that toured Europe and America building up a great reputation for classic AOR, and it is not the Shy that recorded Once Bitten…, Brave The storm, Excess All Areas, Misspent Youth and Welcome To The Madhouse albums. In short, as far as I am concerned this is not Shy.

Alan, thanks a lot for your spare time and the chance you gave us to have in our collection this full double DVD Shy home video set. I hope all the best for the future!- Alan Kelly’s Shy home video double DVD set is exclusively offered via his Shy Official Website (www.shy-england.4t.com).



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