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Steve Zodiac (Vardis)

Interview with Steve Zodiac from Vardis
by Stewart Taylor at 29 September 2017, 1:17 PM

Steve Zodiac of VARDIS: "If you create something that touches just one person that you don't know, then it is a worthwhile success. Sharing the things you create and care about is all that matters…

Vardis were forged out of Glam, Punk, Heavy Metal, Blues and Rock 'n' Roll in the crucible of 1970's northern England. Exploding into the 1980's as NWoBHM crusaders, the hard, ferocious attack of their sound directly influenced the development of thrash and speed metal across North America and Europe. Never losing sight of the melodic, boogie sensibilities of their earliest influences, the Vardis brand of Hard Rock has retained a unique heavy groove, and endured as truly original. Metal Temple's Stewart Taylor sat down with Steve Zodiac to talk about the band.

Vardis were forged out of Glam, Punk, Heavy Metal, Blues and Rock 'n' Roll in the crucible of 1970's northern England. Exploding into the 1980's as NWoBHM crusaders, the hard, ferocious attack of their sound directly influenced the development of thrash and speed metal across North America and Europe. Never losing sight of the melodic, boogie sensibilities of their earliest influences, the Vardis brand of Hard Rock has retained a unique heavy groove, and endured as truly original. Metal Temple's Harel Golstein sat down with Steve Zodiac to talk about the band.

Hi Steve. You started out around the mid 70's playing live- what were your musical influences?

My earliest influences where the music on my parents’ radio growing up: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, all the rock n roll and then as I got older the music of the early 70s from T Rex and The Faces to Led Zeppelin. It was Jimi Hendrix who bridged the gap from music to performance in my mind and made me want to get onstage.

I recall the band started out as Vardis but released the album Quo Vardis and then changed back to Vardis. What was the reason?

We actually started out a Quo Vardis back in the mid 1970's and we dropped the Quo, never changed it back. We called the third album “Quo Vardis" as an allusion to the Latin "where are you going" as it was our most Rock & Roll and yet our most experimental album at the time. 100mph became a classic of NWOBHM.

You had a more boogie style heavy rock sound but with real intensity. Were you happy with being called NWOBHM?

Yeah no problem with it, I remember NWOBHM was first used in an article back in Sounds, in reference to a crop of new, young bands emerging in the late 70s. All had different styles and sounded different yet all played rock music that was not punk. It felt a lot more eclectic at the time than how it’s been characterized in retrospect.

What are your memories of playing at the Heavy Metal Barn Dance & Heavy Metal Holocaust gigs?

The Barn Dance was one of those moments early on when I realized we were really cooking as a band and something special was happening, as the atmosphere and response for us was just fantastic, they weren’t just waiting for the headliners. Arriving. I remember thinking this must be big, as Motorhead seemed very tense drinking everything dry. I also remember seeing my wife Irene for the first time while onstage, and thinking “WOW” Regarding HMH it was a very hot day and we opened the show to a great reception. It was far more relaxed than the Barn Dance and everyone had a great time. It was a great atmosphere and the first metal festival on this scale I think.

Do you recall John Peel being a big fan?

I remember driving home from a gig in the late 70s and hearing him play "If Were King" on Radio 1 for the first time and feeling very honoured, especially as he had been a champion of Marc Bolan, one of my boyhood heroes.

In Sounds in 1982 you were voted in the top 15 guitarists in the world- was that quite an honour?

Indeed, it’s always extra special to be honoured by the fans.

You got fed up with the music business from the late 80's to re-forming in 2014. What did you do for those years?

I got out because I was spending more time on legal battles over song rights than music. I decided to learn the science behind the art and trained as a Sound Engineer, worked in theatre for a while and then designed education courses in production and sound engineering. Life has now come full circle!

How do you feel about influencing Metallica, Megadeth and many other bands?

If you create something that touches the just one person that you don't know, then it is a worthwhile success. It is all relative. Sharing the things you create and care about is all that matters, if you bring pleasure to lots of people then that is a bonus. The majority of artist die before their work is recognized. It’s an honour that after 30 years away, our music has touched other musicians.

My wife watched me and a mate headbang pretty much all through your set in Sheffield last December - she was quite impressed lol- It must be great to still have the fans after all these years?

It’s been an incredible experience to meet fans from all over the world who travel to see us, many of womb weren’t even born when the first albums came out. We really enjoy ourselves onstage, playing live is still what Rock music is all about and if you’re giving the crowd a good time then the band feed off that energy. Its a cyclic experience of love really that genuine Rock & Roll oozes out.

An original copy of 100mph in mint condition has been listed for sale at £500. Have you got any left!

Yea I think I have a signed copy somewhere…



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Edited 17 October 2017
 

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