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Salem UK's Adrian Jenkinson: "It was a question of musicianship. Simon and I were not happy, we felt that standards were slipping. When we tried to discuss this, instead of being reasonable, the other three sacked us…"

Interview with Adrian Jenkinson from Salem UK
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 05 November 2019, 10:49 PM

A band career can turn out to be quite a gamble, its fate relies on so many things, and it needs only a single negative flair to show the road down spiral. However, making an effort to save a foundation on the basis of an endless struggle is certainly worth it. After a difficult year, Salem UK is on the rise, paving a new path in their career, in their upcoming 40th anniversary year (well at least in one version). Steinmetal talked with longtime member Adrian Jenkinson due to the band's new album "Win Lose Or Draw", the happenings of last year, songwriting, inspiration and more…

Hello Adrian, it is a pleasure having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how are things going on your end sir?

Everything is splendid here in sunny Hull sir!

For sure, Salem UK has been constantly working in the past three years or so, with already three albums under its belt in just that period of time. However, there were hints that there were things that threatened the very existence of the band. Would it be possible to shed some light on what went on in the past year?

It was a question of musicianship. Simon and I were not happy, we felt that standards were slipping. When we tried to discuss this, instead of being reasonable, the other three sacked us. We took it to litigation and won. Simon and I now own the rights to the name Salem UK and the rights to all four studio albums.

You entitled your new album “Win Lose Or Draw”, which sounded to me at first as a sort of a battle against the odds, or simply lack of assurance of what is going to happen, like a sort of a gamble. Is that what it is or was it simply just a cool title to give for an album?

Good effort! You're close! We just felt after the litigation process 'Right, let's go! We'll take whatever comes our way - win lose or draw'. But it's also a very cool title :)

In regards to happenings in the past year, wasn’t it a bit of a rush to record “Win Lose Or Draw? Looking back, would you have done it slowly?

No, we couldn't get in the studio fast enough. We were delighted to be playing with such a talent as Francis and we wanted to cement his position in the band ASAP.

What would you say is the chief lyrical theme that guides this album throughout or these are mini-stories each to its own? If so, on what are those all about?

Simon and I usually write from personal experience, so about half of the album covers the break up. The rest is mainly about other personal experiences.

Salem UK has been one of the early bands of NWOBHM, yet only a s short lived act, however, when listening to “Win Lose Or Draw”, I can hear a tighter band, not really revamping the vintage Metal of its crowned Metal scene, but rather taking a Hard Rock edge, crossing decades of the heavier edge of Rock. How do you think that this new album developed Salem UK musically?

It's probably positioned us as a hard rock band rather than a metal band. We all love bands such as led Zeppelin, Whitesnake and Deep Purple so I think we're always going to be in that area musically. From the standpoint of musicianship, we are now where we wanted to be, and I hope that shows in the album.

Though you are veteran musicians, I guess that you still live by your past inspirations when writing music, in particular the older gods of Rock such as Deep Purple and Uriah Heep for instance. Was I in the right direction here? What other acts inspired you when “Win Lose Or Draw” was under the cutting table?

In addition, Simon and I both love US outfits such as Night Ranger, Sammy Hagar, Triumph and Y&T. Again, if you listen carefully you can hear a bit of that coming through in the album.

While listening I could sense the reincarnation of the old 70s Hard Rock sound, yet for some of the tracks it went through a modernized layer. Were there thoughts to reach out of the old vintage Hard Rock sound, perhaps to record with analog means? What draws you to the contemporary sound?

Definitely no analogue! As the producer, mix engineer and mastering engineer the last thing I want is the grief that you get from non-digital equipment. Having said that we did use a Blackstar valve (tube) head for all Francis's guitars. Although we are old school in many ways, Francis brings that modern metal edge to the recordings too, so we get the best of both worlds.

How do you think that Salem UK, now with “Win Lose Or Draw”stands out in today's market? especially when a substantial number of fans of the harder music are looking for complexion, or technical showcases, instead of actual songs.

In all honesty if you're not looking for actual songs with melody then we're probably not the band for you! However, if you're looking for technical excellence I think we would measure up favorably to many of today's bands.

In general, do you believe that not only by the hand of mainstream Metal, but due to the capitalizing of techniques, the songs lost their souls?

That's a big, fat 'Yes'! We see and play with many bands on the circuit, and while playing standards are high, we do feel that the actual songs suffer sometimes. For us, the songs get the priority.

How would you describe the songwriting process of “Win Lose Or Draw”? Were the new band members able to contribute to the songwriting efforts? Would you say that the writing sessions of Salem UK are a group thing without a leading songwriter?

Simon and I took our normal share of the songwriting duties; we've always written about 80% of the songs between us, but Francis made a big contribution too. The whole process was stress free. No-one got precious about anything, which made for an enjoyable experience.

While writing the music for the album, would you say that your approach changed or you rather stuck to the same methods that served you throughout the years? What elements in the music were provided with a better focus this time around?

We stuck mostly to the tried-and-tested process. In the past, I have been bogged down with editing which is a necessary evil when the recording stage has not gone well. This time there was very little editing because the recording stage was so easy, which freed me off to do more actual producing, and I think that comes through on the album.

I believe that your longtime vocalist, Simon Saxby, made one of his mightiest performances at the helm on the vocals on this record. Truly a passionate singer, which his voice and singing style is compelling as Ian Gillian’s. What is your appreciation of Saxby’s performance? Is he like vintage wine, only gets better and better over the years?

As you say, Simon seems to get better with age, and I'm sure he will appreciate your comments. Part of singing well is understanding your limitations and not trying to go beyond them. More positively, I think it's about recognizing your strengths and capitalizing on them Simon has been exceptional in both areas. He is always willing to take direction, even when he isn't necessarily in agreement, so I always appreciate the trust he places in me as a producer.

Which of the album’s songs is your number one? That one track that you believe that the band truly outdid itself. Please elaborate on your pick

That's not fair! OK I will say The Wraith, because it showcases our new modern and technical side, while still retaining a colossal melodic chorus. Early public reaction to this track is very positive.

I wonder, with all that has been going on in the worldwide scene, so many sub-genres of both Metal and Rock, a swarm of bands all over the place, what still motivates you to constantly write music? What still makes you tick?

We are creative people. We love the thrill of creating something of worth from nothing. It's such a wonderful buzz to complete a song and know that you've created something that has the potential to make other people happy.

Next year it is going to be four decades since the formation of Salem UK. I know that in most of the time the band wasn’t really active, yet are you still planning a special event?

OMG don't remind us! We don't have anything special planned; the problem is deciding exactly when the band formed, because there were a couple of false starts. I guess we might celebrate with a cup of Horlicks and a Netflix binge watch.

How do you intend to support the efforts of “Win Lose Or Draw”? Any plans to tour Europe or perhaps out of the continent?

Yes, we've got a European mini-tour booked for March 2020, currently we've got shows in Belgium, Germany and France.

Adrian, I wish to thank you for your time for this interview. The new album surely sent me decades back to the classics of Hard Rock, in its own vision. Cheers sir.

You are most kind, we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us

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