Avenger: Band Of The Day

By on 11 March 2015


The North East of England was a hotbed of heavy metal talent in the heyday of the NWOBHM, with Newcastle being the epicentre of the significant northern contribution to that now infamous and influential scene with bands such as Venom, Raven, Blitzkrieg, Tank, Satan, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Neat Records all making a huge impact both nationwide and worldwide in the early ’80s. Some other bands from Newcastle didn’t enjoy the same level of success but are in my opinion just as relevant and deserving of attention; one of those more obscure NWOBHM bands are Avenger from Newcastle who are armed with a new album ‘The Slaughter Never Stops’ (featuring one of the vocalists from their classic early ’80s era Ian Swift), so I thought it would be a good time to fire some questions to drummer/founder Gary Young and here is what he had to say about the new album, reconnecting with old members and the resurgence of NWOBHM, amongst other things…

Words: Kat Gillham

WHERE ARE THEY FROM: Newcastle, England
FOR FANS OF: Raven, Blitzkrieg, Iron Maiden, early Metallica, Satan
LATEST RELEASE: ‘The Slaughter Never Stops’ (Rock Sector Records, 2014)
WEBSITE: Facebook

Hails Gary! Please give the readers a quick background history on the band.
“Hi Kat, Avenger was formed back in 1982 by myself and Brian Ross and Mick Moore. Both Mick and Brian had just been playing in the original line up of Blitzkrieg up to that point. Later Ian Swift from Satan joined us with Brian paradoxically joining Satan! We recorded two singles and two albums between 1982/1985 and the original formation split up after our 1985 USA tour. The band reformed in 2005 and since then we have picked up pretty much where we left off , playing shows all over the world , we recently finished a new studio album The–Slaughter-Never-Stops which has just been released (1/12/14). Avenger are looking forward to 2015 to enjoy 10 years reformed with a brand new album to unleash!”

Please introduce us to the Avenger line up of 2014.
“Our current line up is: Ian Swift on Vocals, Liam Thompson Lead guitar, Sean Jefferies Lead Guitar, Ian Fuzz Fulton on bass, and myself Gary Young on Drums.”

You guys have a new album ‘The Slaughter Never Stops’, please tell the readers a bit about it in your own words and what they can expect from it.
“Ok, our new album is a very deliberate attempt to continue from where our last studio album ‘Killer Elite’ left off, by this I mean both in sound and musical style and also sounding how people would anticipate us to sound skill wise etc after a further 30 years of playing and writing. It is very English sounding and also traditional but deliberately heavy riff wise and with just a hint of thrash there too as we have been tagged “proto thrash!!” a lot over the years , and we like that!”

Where was it recorded at?
“The basic drum tracks and guide guitars were recorded at Blast Studios in Newcastle and the guitars , bass , vocals were recorded at Bear studios in Sunderland it was also mixed and mastered there too by the uber skilful Dean Thompson.”

Are you very satisfied with how it turned out overall? What has the overall response been like to it so far?
“Production wise were are delighted with it, Dean has done a fantastic job and many people’s first reaction has been…Wow, great sound!! Up to now the reaction to the album has been great , the first reviews are just coming through now and we couldn’t have asked for a more positive confirmation that we actually have picked up where we left off!”

Please tell us the meaning behind the title.
“The title is a bit of a double edged sword. We always had blood thirsty titles such as ‘Killer Elite’ which we just mentioned, so we knew we would have to think of another for this new album. We also were conscious that some people may have thought our general hunger to play with the same conviction we had when we were 18 may have diminished so we had to declare that ‘The Slaughter Never Stops’ with us!

This album sees the return of old vocalist Ian “Swifty” Swift what brought about his return to the Avenger camp?
“Yes Swifty’s back after a three year absence, the door was never really shut and when he indicated his desire to come back it was decided practically on the spot that it was the best route to take for the band.”

How have the fans reacted to his return so far and the departure of Rodrigo?
“Naturally people who know us and who have followed Avenger over the years were very pro Ian’s return, however it does not detract from the fact Roddy did a good solid job during his time with us and both the band and the bands following wish him all the best as he’s just starting a new and very interesting project with a legendary drummer called Abaddon!”

How can people get hold of the new album?
“The album is out worldwide now you can buy it via Amazon, Ebay, Itunes all the usual places or go direct to the record label Rock Sector Records, or from our own site.”

Do you plan to tour much in support of the new album? I know you are an active live band, do you have many gigs lined up?
“Yes we intend to tour the album as much as we can, we already have gigs lined up for 2015 in the UK , France, Belgium, Germany, Holland and potentially in the USA we also anticipate returning to South America to follow up the gigs we played in Brazil in 2013.”

What can people expect from a live Avenger onslaught?
“No tinsel, no bullshit, just heads down like our heros showed us back in the day.”

You recently played in Greece how was that?
“Yeah we played a festival in Athens, it was our first performance in Greece and the Greeks are very passionate and knowledgeable about metal, they know what they like and expect high standards, that’s the impression they give, it reminded me a lot of Brazil actually, fortunately we had a killer show and are very hopeful about going back in 2015.”

Do you find you get a more enthusiastic reaction from bands in Europe than the UK? What are the noticeable differences crowd wise?
“At one time especially in the 1980s I would have give the Europeans the lead, but these days with younger people becoming more and more into old school metal I’m noticing the Brits are giving a reaction to equal the hard core European fans, recent gigs are highlighting this new enthusiasm so its becoming very hard to choose who is the most enthusiastic now between the UK and continental fans.”

You guys were around in the NWOBHM heyday, hailing from the spiritual home of that movement Newcastle. What was the scene like back then compared to now? What are the fundamental differences between the local metal scene then and now?
“Well as we just discussed there is a resurgence in interest in old school bands just now especially from young people newly discovering the old albums and cassettes, but on the other hand when I think back to how big metal (generally not necessarily NWOBHM) was in Newcastle when I was young I think its doubtful for many reasons that it will ever be as big again. The main differences are accessibility to music, so many bands would come to play live that it was impossible to afford to see everyone! Sometimes five gigs in a week, all name acts supplemented by smaller bands too. I can only think modern media has brought music to everyone’s bedroom practically so the desire to see a live show is not as profound, the Rock Pubs have been wrecked too due to the knock on effect of this as concert goers would drink midweek prior to and after a gig. Newcastle had maybe 8 pubs like that in the mid 80’s now there is maybe one. Its not all doom and gloom though especially as we have our own old school metal festival in the shape of Brofest which keeps all the spirit of the city’s old school metal heritage alive.”

NWOBHM is once again alive and well in 2014 with quite a few obscure bands reforming as well as the obvious heavy hitters, which bands do you think were particularly underrated back in the day that you are glad to see the return of and can recommend to the readers?
“Hmmmm, Warrior from Newcastle for sure, they really impressed me live a few weeks ago, Spartan Warrior too, it’s awesome to see them back together and gigging all over Europe, getting so much well earned respect. I’d keep a look out for their new album coming in 2015, ahh and Salem from Hull, once again they only released an EP back in the day I think but they have put out a great new album and as with Spartan Warrior they are playing as far afield as Dubai! Fantastic to see and fantastic for the old school scene.”

Lyrically what inspires you to put pen to paper?
“The dark side of life , hard personal experiences, Science fiction and fact, religion the good and the bad aspects, War and its effects on ordinary people. That’s a general example but our inspirational topics are very varied and invariably quite dark.”

What bands made you want to play such a style of music in the first place? Which bands help fuel and shape the Avenger sound?
“Going right back to the roots its quite obvious I think, Iron Maiden which always gets mentioned, Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, all very guitar orientated very English sounding stuff, then as we progressed quite a big chunk of NWOBHM, Raven, Fist etc and USA thrash such as Metallica in their early days and Anthrax.”

Describe Avenger in 5 words
“UK old school guitar band.”

What’s the plans for rest of the year and into 2015?
“Promoting the album both via live concerts and in the media like this . Our first gig in 2015 is at Brofest on our Newcastle home turf, we perform the first day of the festival 27/2/15”

Thanks for answering the interview, the last words are yours!
“Thanks for the craic Kat and just to remind everyone THE-SLAUGHTER-NEVER-STOPS our new album, out now check it out!!”

About Kez Whelan

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: