With a renewed interest in classic heavy metal, bands that didn't receive the necessary attention back in the '80s have garnered a new generation of fans. eGigs talks to New Wave of British Heavy Metal vocalist Steve Grimmett of his own version of reactivated metallers Grim Reaper about the band's new levels of exposure and the forthcoming release of their first album in over 25 years.
How are you?
I'm good, thank you.
You've been working on new tracks for your forth coming album.
Yeah, hopefully it will be finished mid-October and ready for mixing and mastering. Then I've got to pick who I want to release it. We're doing it all in my studio so it's not costing us anything. Got to finish it and then get it out. I've got a few ideas with who I want to use. A few have come to me. It will get realised, not problem at all. We've re-done the drums because we lost our last drummer and felt he didn't really do the business so our new drummer Paul is an awesome drummer so we've re-done those. We're all doing bits and pieces at home as well so we'll get it all together at my studio.
What can be expected from the new music?
More from hell [laughs].
How does it compare to previous albums?
Pretty much the same really. The writing process was: "What do we do? Do we do new stuff or do we do the fourth album?" With touring and everything we've done, we felt it would be best to keep it in the same vein so it's pretty much the fourth album.
Have advances in technology affected the sound?
No, not at all. We've done real drums like we've always done in the past and it's real bass, real guitar so it should have a bit of a vibe to it. It will have a vibe to it. It's good.
Have you got a name for the album?
'From Hell', unless anything pops up between me finishing the vocals.
Straight to the point. You reunited in 2006 but it's only now that you decided to release an album. What was the reason for that?
We've done a lot of gigging and basically – it was Germany - we weren't getting back in there. I really couldn't find out why and then it suddenly dawned on me that we've still been doing all the old stuff and we can continue to do that for another two years probably but in other places in the world. It dawned on me that we needed to get a new album out.
When you first reunited, did you think it would be a long term reunion with new music?
Not really. We've done a few Reaper gigs. I can't say it's a reunion because the guys that I play with now are not the original members. We did a few shows and there was a need to carry on doing it because we were getting asked to do so many shows so it's a natural progression. This whole thing started off being one show each weekend and now we've done tours all over the place – South America, North America – and we've got other places to finish of this year and then we're going back to the States, South America and parts of Europe.
What are reactions like to your concerts from fans worldwide, particularly in the more obscure countries?
You wouldn't believe it, absolutely awesome, especially in Brazil and South America. They're so passionate, it's unreal. We went to the States and did a few shows out there and it was pretty much the same, which surprised me really. I think we've got a whole new audience now anyway. I look out at the crowd and it's not fifty year old guys like me; it's teenagers and up to thirty year olds. That's a whole new audience, which is great.
There's a heavy metal revival happening now.
I think so, yeah. I couldn't put the finger on why it all took off but basically, it's because there's nobody around doing it or not doing it very well. That's why I think we've been asked to do all these shows. It's great.
Did you play South America during the '80s?
No. The only country we'd ever done was the States.
So you never even played Germany?
Nope. Actually, the very first show we did was Wacken and that was quite good but we did Keep It True in about 2001 and I was about ready to give up. We did that show and we thought there's more to this so we carried on. We did Keep It True. It was a really strange gig. I think there were about four and a half thousand people there. I was watching all the other bands and there was nobody there. Then we were just getting on stage and I thought I'd have a quick peak at the curtains and I couldn't believe that this place was absolutely full to the rafters because they've got balconies all the way along this hall. We went on and had a great show and that's why we're still doing it. It was a really good show.
You played a show with your original guitarist Nick Bowcott in America earlier this year. How was that?
That was great. I hadn't seen Nick for 27 years and haven't played with him for that long either. We basically got some rehearsal tapes together for him and sent them off. We actually saw him the day of the gig. We had rehearsals for a couple of hours and the show. It was a stunning show, the first time actually ever the guitars were played as they were on the album because they're a lot of clashing chords going on so two guitars were doing that. It was great.
How did you arrange that with Nick? Did he get in touch with you?
He did actually. He said: “I hear you're playing Chicago. Do you want a guest?” And we said: “Yeah, no problem.” Ian, my guitarist, has played with Nick a lot as well. It really was great.
Would you do something similar again?
Yeah, when we toured the States after that, we asked Nick to join us and I think he had hurt his hand and he couldn't' play but he's going to play a part on the new album and when we go back out again, we'll ask him to play.
You got popular in America because 'See You in Hell' appeared on the TV show 'Beavis and Butthead'. How did this appearance happen?
The album got into the States under import. It got into a shop called Zig Zag Records in New York. That guy took it to a guy called Walter O'Brien who had a company called Combat Records and he got in touch with Ebony Records who was our label and he said: “I want to release this.” And he said “I'm not going to do that. I want a major label to release this.” So he then took it to RCA Records and then we did a video for it. That went out on MTV and they put a questionnaire up after it: Is this the sort of thing you want to see more of on MTV? They got absolutely inundated with “Yes, this is what we want.” So much so that they put it on maximum rotation, seven times a day, seven days a week. Things couldn't get any better really. I can't remember if we knew about [the 'Beavis and Butthead'] appearance but we saw it. We thought it was really funny. We met up with the guy who produced the show and he was worried we were going to beat him up for doing it but we thought it was really funny and it was great being on the show. We're the only band that has ever had all of their videos put on 'Beavis and Butthead'. He was a fan, that's why we were on there in the first place.
That's great! As one of the original NWoBHM bands, how would you say the metal scene now compares to the '80s?
I don't think there are as many bands these days, to be fair. I think it's even tougher than it ever has been because if you have something about you - a sound - and you got it to a label, you'd get signed. Now, it's all changed. You've got to come up with the finished article, the finished artwork and you've got to deliver a full package before they'll even think about it. That's different, which means they're not putting a huge amount of money into it so they're not doing a huge amount of work and that's the most important thing. If they've got nothing invested in it, why do they have to bother? That's one thing I'm worried about. We can do a lot of it now because obviously we've got the Internet, which we didn't have in the '80s.
That's the end of the questions. Do you have any final words for the readers of eGigs.co.uk?
Just a big hi and thanks to the fans for turning up and hopefully we'll see them all soon as well.
Thanks for the interview.
You're very welcome.