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Neudi (Roxxcalibur)

Interview with Neudi from Roxxcalibur
by Grigoris Chronis at 06 June 2009, 8:18 PM

No intro needed, indeed. It's just NWOBHM for muthas, made in Germany by ROXXCALIBUR. Drummer Neudi speaks the whole truth and nothing less.

Interview with: Neudi from ROXXCALIBUR

Neudi, four of Metal Temple mag's editors were present at the 'KIT XII' fest in Germany this April, plus I was self-assigned to write a report for your set (the whole team knows my passion for the NWOBHM magic) and a review for the NWOBHM For Muthas” CD you recently released. So, what kind of KIT memories you have as of now? Both you, personally, and the band.

I am always impressed that many people from your country make it to 'Keep It True' festival and/or 'Headbangers Open Air'. I wish we could play in your country very soon! Well, it is not easy for me to write about the show at the KIT festival and the whole day around it.

Why? It simply is very hard to find words for it. Most metalheads who just listen to the big names and bands from the second row may get nervous and are excited when they meet celebrities like James Hetfield or Ozzy Osbourne. This wouldn't work for me. I was really amazed meeting all those NWOBHM legends and then being on stage with them. This meant more to me than working with some real big names. I know, to some this may be hard to understand. It was the best day of my whole life and somehow also the fastest! There simply was not enough time left to talk to everybody. I wish most of them would have been there on Friday already. For ROXXCALIBUR the show sure was a very good start for our career. NWOBHM For Muthas was released on April 24th and we played on April 25th - perfect! Also we now don't have just reviews of our CD in the mags but also reviews from the show at 'KIT'. It can't get much better!

You set up the whole come-and-sing thing, right? Or the fest's organizers donated valuable help, too? Was it your idea, too, to call Harry The Tyrant for the rest of the takes? Of course, it was a brilliant idea!

Well, the idea came from Oliver Weinsheimer of 'Keep It True' and maybe Jess Cox was involved at an early stage too. Jess was responsible for many of the guests involved. I checked Terry Dark from JAMESON RAID and Grahsm Shaw from BLEAK HOUSE. Both bands are in my NWOBHM-Top 5 forever.

It was also Oliver's idea to get Harry to do the SAMSON songs and both MAIDEN tracks. And I agree that it was a great idea even he is from the USA. JAG PANZER's EP and first LP were obviously influenced by some NWOBHM bands and I wish he would have been the singer of IRON MAIDEN after Bruce left. I mean, imagine he also would have been involved in the songwriting.

Was e.g. Bruce Dickinson ever invited, even if little were the chances he'd make it to the fest? Also- I confess I bitched a little- why the hell didn't the TANK songs' team walk onstage during the last song of your set, or- at least- right afterwards?

Of course Bruce was not invited. This would have been way to expensive for a 2,000+ people festival and there is no airport in Lauda-Konigshofen! I know that Paul DiAnno was asked but even he wanted way too much money for two songs. That's sad because he was the only IRON MAIDEN singer for me (I know, some would like to kill me now…but I still think Paul Mario Day would have been a better choice than Bruce). The TANK guys and both SODOM members…well, I think they were a bit confused before and after the showtime. The set itself was great and it was a good thing that the No. 1 TANK fan Tom Angelripper did those two songs.

Do you share the opinion that the NWOBHM 30th anniversary' party should be the headliner for the fest's second day? Many many fans support this thought, and I cannot say I disagree with them (even if ARMORED SAINT's gig was- as always- a killer!)…

ARMORED SAINT were absolutely great and a true headliner for me. They have a long history and have many fans worldwide. Of course Mr. Bush is more famous too because of his years with ANTHRAX. And there is Joey Vera…I would have felt bad with ARMORED SAINT playing before the ROXXCALIBUR NWOBHM Anniversary. Nobody, neither Oliver or us, didn't know what to expect from the show. Many people have problems with cover-bands and don't give them a chance at all.

To be honest: in most cases I am the same except I already had 20 beers. Beside the KIT show I think we don't appear like a cover-band to most metalheads out there, especially with the songs we have chosen for our CD. You won't find many people out there who are able to say I'd rather go and listen to the original vinyls except they spent some hundreds of Euros for the records. We also weren't sure if all the guests are still good on stage. Of course many of them are still active with their bands but some of them weren't on stage for 20 or more years. And we are really happy that it went all so well and that everybody was great!

On to the new CD now: won't need to chat for the tracklist, since- as I wrote in my review- to cover the whole NWOBHM era you'd need to release a 666-disc box-set, haha! Still, my question is: the criteria for picking up which songs you'd include was- from A to Z- your personal picks, the songwriting's accessibility/incomplexity, the live' feeling for gigs…what? Or, what else in addition?

Oh, we have several criteria for the choice of songs on CD which differs a bit from our live set. First we take the term NWOBHM very serious which means that we just chose songs that were released between 1978 and 1984. Yes, we included 1978 even if we don't have a song from that year (yet). Second, we don't record songs from the big names like IRON MAIDEN, SAXON or DEF LEPPARD, also we won't add songs that METALLICA have already released as a B-side or on Garage Days. We think that this would be kinda boring. Too many did that before and in this case the argument I prefer the originals is obvious. It makes no sense to us.

After these important criteria it comes to the choice of songs. We have met two times for a BBQ at my house and we combined that with an intense listening session each. We listened to many vinyls, especially 7 singles, from my collection and wrote down the tracks most of us liked. Of course this was a long list so we needed the second step asking: What are we able to do style-wise and regarding the voice of the original singer? Will the song work when we record it in the year 2008? Will we be happy recording this song and playing it live?

The sound is really a killer. While not abandoning the originals' atmosphere, you succeeded in building up a strong sound scape, and…you know what? I really- personally- needed such a weapon/argument in my hands to persuade younger Metal fans about those songs' metallic wings, since for most of them the early 80s sound seems too soft/retro, compared to today's volumes, that they do not even bother checking the songwriting or the e.g. guitars themes themselves…

Thank you very much!! While the recording of the album was easy going, the final mix was a pain in the ass. We recorded with Uwe Lulis (REBELLION, SIEGES EVEN) at Black Solaris Studio in Frankfurt/Germany and the place can definitely called a modern studio with modern technique. Of course we had our rules like using just real instruments (no triggered drums, no amp-simulations) and recording the basics live, partially even without a click-track (it would have killed many parts of several songs, like the lower middle-section of Axe Crazy). The first final-mix was absolutely great. Most recent Metal bands would give away their right hands to have it on their CD. But…it was not what ROXXCALIBUR needed. So we had a break and started analyzing good sounding 80s records like British Steel or Powerslave.

These are records that still stand the test of time sound-wise. And we noticed a ton of small details that are different to nowadays productions. Just two examples: today most bands record two or even three rhythm guitars on each channel (left and right) to get a fat guitar sound. Back in the eighties even the famous records just contain one guitar on the left, and one guitar on the right channel. And this makes a BIG difference in the sound. Regarding the drums we noticed something interesting too: today the bass-drum is the leading part of a recorded drumset (in Heavy Metal). Back in the 80s it definitely was the snare. And there were many more details we wrote down and used it to do the second mix. And finally our label and ourselves were happy with the result and surprised at the same time. We think that the CD sounds like a hybrid of a recent and an 80s Metal record.

You mentioned the mastering. Too powerful mastering kills most Metal CDs these days and I talked about that problem already some years before METALLICA have released Death Magnetic. You can't keep the dynamics of a Rock band when your only goal is having a loud product in the end. Hell, just listen to the PRIEST records from the 70s when they had songs that started really slow and exploded in the end…

 NWOBHM For Muthas can serve as a course/encyclopedia article for the younger generations, right? Was this a motive, too, for ROXXCALIBUR to form and perform this specific style (apart from- obviously- have a good time and pay tribute)?

Definitely! We are no Metal missionaries and we don't want to be at all, but we feel like doing something good for the Metal scene beside the fact that we are fans, too. Like I mentioned before you just have the chance of hearing most of the songs when paying a lot of money for the original vinyls. That NWOBHM bootleg series (1 to 9, I think) contains some of these songs but the quality really sucks. It may be no problem grabbing a GRIM REAPER LP for small money and some of the tracks we have on our CD are on re-releases from the original artists (CHATEAUX, JAGUAR), but it really starts getting different with DARK STAR and gets really expensive and difficult with JAMESON RAID, ARC, JJ'S POWERHOUSE or TRIDENT. They all wrote great songs and the circumstances are responsible that just a few people know them today. It is not the fault of the song itself - you can't say unknown band = bad band. That never worked in Metal (sometimes I think it is opposite!!!). Just a few NWOBHM groups made it and many got stuck in the second row”. But the majority of acts remained unknown as they were just regional acts with a 7 or LP that was sold on their shows or in their local record-shop.

It makes me proud when a young fan talks to me after a show and says that War Of The Ring was a great song.

Really, how the hell did you achieve a contract with LMP? Was it because of VIRON's name (I love this band!) or…whatever happened, anyway?

Well, I know Limb from LMP for years as I already had a TV show when I was 15. And of course I did a HELLOWEEN interview and so I met Limb. He likes the first VIRON record and saw us (VIRON) playing live at Headbangers Open Air 2006. But this is not the cause for the deal. He just was sure that we will be able to fulfill the expectations of a NWOBHM tribute band.

In fact, we met Limb at Keep It True in 2007 when the idea of such a band was already close to be fixed. I told him about it and he replied: we will do a CD with that band! To be honest, we didn't took that too serious but after he saw ROXXCALIBUR at Headbangers Open Air in 2008 things got more concrete and lead to the deal we have now. I know that some bands are jealous because we have deal with just a cover-band(!) but we don't care about it. Limb is not just a fan of the NWOBHM, he is a real collector and knows a lot about it. Maybe some don't expect this when looking at his catalogue.

Won't take no for an answer, haha: we're also waiting for a vinyl format release, right? I think e.g. High Roller Records would not have a problem pressing NWOBHM For Muthas to feed our traditional needs, haha!!

I won't write a no but there are no plans of a vinyl right now. The CD is out for three weeks here in Europe and a vinyl would be a nice goodie in a couple of months. I don't know if LMP ever did a vinyl and we haven't talked about a license yet. So let's see what will happen…

Do you have any feedback, so far, from fans not 'into' NWOBHM that really liked the song making?

Yes and that's a very very nice thing. We are proud of being a NWOBHM tribute band, no doubt, but of course we want to reach those fans to who these songs appear to be new. And we got a lot of feedback from regular metalheads. Often it is interesting which songs they mention when writing to us. You would expect that the catchy tunes like See You In Hell would get most feedback but it is Rainbow Warrior and 7 Days of Splendour in most cases. And when a Black Metal fan thinks that Lady Of Mars is a real killer then we can just wonder and be happy about that! (Yes, that just happened!)

I saw at your MySpace page that you've added a whole lotta professional photos, in many of them re-posing like in original NWOBHM LP covers (RAVEN, WITCHFINDER GENERAL). Really a crazy idea, but still quite inspiring! Did you pay for these photo sessions? And what about the album, too? Was it your budget, with LMP only handling the promotion/distribution?

Somebody just told us you are not just covering the songs, you also cover the bands' photos, which was really funny. The idea came up during the recording and we saw what we were able to do. Unfortunately all the good ideas lead us two three-piece-bands and we are five guys in the band. Nevertheless we did RAVEN and WITCHFINDER GENERAL. RAVEN was just a lot of work AFTER the pics were taken (John Gallagher loved the idea) and to do the WITCHFINDER session we rented some strange clothes from a shop that deals with medieval clothes and Gothic stuff. We were happy enough that Heike Benter agreed on shooting these pics for us. She is great!

Regarding LMP: They paid for the whole recording which is unusual these days. Oh…I now see even more jealous bands writing harsh comments on our MySpace!

Would like to chat 'bout various things regarding the NWOBHM movement, but we'll definitely need some more space in the mag only for this interview, haha! So, my only question going out to Neudi the fan is: does the NWOBHM era symbolize- apart from anything/everything else - something that's not clearly visible in today's Metal business, meaning the partial- or total-lack of the plug-n-play-n-getcha-roxx-off or Metal way of life attitude from bands and (most) metalheads? Please, expand my question as much as you want!

Your question really contains my reply already. In most cases you feel that the band consists of three to five hungry young (unemployed and angry?) guys who were proud of what they do. Sure you had this also in US  or Euro Metal, but it was a tad more obvious within the NWOBHM.

When I started listening to Rock, Hard Rock and then Metal (I think I need to say that I am 38 years old) as a kid, I didn't care too much where a band was located. And I still enjoy Metal from all countries today of course. I started getting more interested in the whole thing when I was about 15. An older friend of mine had a b/w fanzine and he got all the new records of Neat Records along with those legendary newsletters. I still can't say why these pieces of printed paper fascinated me that much.
When the compilation Lead Weight was released as an LP too (it was on cassette only before) he got two copies and I took one of it. I tended to like more the harder stuff back then but when I put on Lead Weight I was fascinated by it. The songs sounded like the bands would play in my room and they had a special energy that was even more intense than the first Speed or Thrash bands I knew back then. No wonder as many of the tracks are recorded live. Hell, some even contain some horrible mistakes (just listen to the bass player of WARRIOR on Flying High!) but for some reason I loved that fact too. I still was far away from being a special NWOBHM fan. That started in the mid-90s when I had the Speed/Thrash/Death Metal overkill behind me and stopped looking for the next even more extreme thing. I stopped this when NAPALM DEATH released Scum. Even I still remained interested in the recent bands I got more interested in the history of Heavy Metal and…there was the NWOBHM again. Iron Pages released a book about it and I read about some bands I never heard about. I began accepting higher prices than usual for vinyls and when Ebay appeared I spent a ton of money for 7 singles and LPs. I explored the whole NWOBHM scene and found many great bands by buying their records.

When I look at my collection I must say that I enjoy most those bands who were already Metal but still remained a touch of 70s rock. To name a few: BLEAK HOUSE, OXYM, TRESPASS or SMOKIN' ROADIE. For some reason this means the epicenter of NWOBHM to me. On the other hand, many bands did something new. They even invented Metal subgenres that are popular today. Speed Metal (RAVEN, JAGUAR), Doom Metal (WITCHFINDER GENERAL…how unpopular must it have been sounding like BLACK SABBATH in the early 80s???), Black Metal/Occult Metal (VENOM, WITCFYNDE, ANGEL WITCH), Prog Metal (SHIVA), Glam Metal (WRATHCHILD, GIRL), AOR (PRAYING MANTIS, CHINATOWN) and so on. If they knew what they did back then? I don't think so but that makes it even more exciting.

The NWOBHM is the missing link between 70s Hard Rock + Punk and today's Heavy Metal with most of its sub-genres. It simply is the most important thing ever happened to Heavy Metal at all. Yes, these words come out of a German guy who should be proud of the early SCORPIONS and ACCEPT!

Neudi, thanks a lot for your free time to answer our questions! Really hope a Vol. II will be available in the near future (at least, the Metal For Muthas legendary compilation had two volumes, haha!).

Well, we have a long list for your 666 CDs! And we enjoy ourselves so much in this band that there is no reason to stop now. But there's one little thing and I hope you don't hate me for correcting you: there was a part three of the series, a 12 called Muthas Pride (Greg: yeap, so your third one shall be a CDEP, haha!). It was just an EP but worth to be heard too. Beside loving the 7 singles I am also a compilation freak. I love Scene Of The Crime, Roxcalibur, Green Metal, As Unheard Of… or Brute Force. And Lead Weight was my ticket to the NWOBHM.

Everybody is invited to visit our Myspace: www.myspace.com/roxxcalibur. Beside some songs from the album to pre-listen we also offer a ton of videos and pictures there. And of course you can send us suggestion for future songs. We have created a special folder were we save all the songs people ask for. When it comes to recording the next album I can guarantee that we will use this list too!



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