Spartan Warrior is actually quiet an old name on the metal scene. Thy were active since 80s, and they have made returned almost ten years ago. But, still there was a huge distance between their latest records. Anyway, we took chance to present this old school band on Metal Sound pages…
As a matter of fact Spartan warrior has a brand new record out Hell to Pay so please tell us something about your latest record?
Hi, thanks for asking me to do this interview. Well “Hell To Pay” is an album we’ve been working on for some time and I’m pleased to say it’s finally being released.
After Behind Closed Eyes we took some time to just gig but after a while we talked about whether we wanted to do another album.
As a band and songwriter even if we’re not recording we’re always working on new ideas so at that point we did have some songs almost complete.
Once we’d made the decision to do another album we started to record it again at my home studio. The album got recorded as we wrote the songs for it. We did have some old ideas to revisit but for this album and with a new line up we felt it was important that the new line up was represented by working on fresh material and songs tended to get written at band rehearsals and ideas for lyrics would come from various sources whether that was Dave reading or seeing something or even us having a laugh on the road on the way to play a gig.
As usual in terms of song writing there wasn’t a plan to write in a certain way, we jam ideas and it is what it is , and if we like it we record it .
So unlike the previous album where we used a mixture of new songs with older songs from as far back as 1983, Hell To Pay is an album of freshly written material.
Once the songs were done and recorded we looked for label interest and got quite a bit I’m pleased to say. We signed with Pure Steel Records who’ve been very supportive and once that was decided it was just a case of getting the album mastered and the artwork done which we’ve been very happy with.
We sent the mix to Robert Romagna at Audiostahl who did a great job mastering the album for us.
For artwork we decided on the title track for the album as a concept and we told artist Timo Wuerz what we would like. I have to say he produced a stunning cover for us created around the lyrics in the track Hell To Pay.
We’re very happy with the way the album as a whole has turned out.
Spartan Warrior’s previous record was released in 2010 so it has passed like 8 years. Why there was such a long pause between two records, any particular reason?
Well, it took a long time for various reasons.
When we did Behind Closed Eyes we didn’t have any plans to do another album at all. Then in 2011 we had line-up changes. For a while we were just doing gigs. Once the new line up had been together for a while and as we did have some new songs we decided to do another album.
Unfortunately the reality of being in a band these days , at least for us, is that people have lives and other commitments so writing gigging and recording has to be worked around that . There were also some health issues while we were doing this album and that held things up for quite a while.
I suppose another reason was that we record at my home studio so we have to fit in recording when it’s convenient really .
Also, when we started doing the album I wanted it to be a definite improvement on the previous one and that coupled with some technical issues made me decide to upgrade my equipment which again held things up while I got stuff and got used to using it.
Recording for us is a slow process these days, because as well as writing songs I also record produce and engineer for the band.
To be honest I’m not a trained engineer. I had to learn to use the equipment as I went along and it takes a lot of time just doing stuff over and over, its all trial and error for me until I get something that I’m happy with. I spent god knows how many hours researching recording and talking to friends for advice.
So when you add up all of those factors it ended up taking a long time to get the album finished.
Could you tell us something more about Spartan Warrior since the band was found during the 80s? How and why have you returned? What was the true reason for come back?
Spartan Warrior began as a band called Deceiver. When me and John Stormont joined Deceiver and started writing songs it became obvious that the band was becoming something different so we took the decision to change the bands name and that’s when Spartan Warrior began really. Shortly after we changed the name we were offered the chance to record a couple of songs for a compilation album at Guardian Studios which we did and they went on the Pure Overkill album. Shortly after that John left the band and we recruited Paul Swaddle and that line up went on to record Steel n Chains. That album led to us signing to Roadrunner for the 2nd album. Unfortunately shortly after that the band split.
How and why did the band come back? Well, even after we spilt I always wanted to do Spartan Warrior again.
The turning point came in 2007 when I was playing with Waysted. When the Waysted thing came to an end I saw on the internet that there was actually still interest in Spartan Warrior so I decided to try and put it together again. I contacted everyone and managed get four of the original band together.
At that point the only plan was to record an album. I bought my recording set up and went about recording Behind Closed Eyes which took a year to do.
After the album came out we decided to do some gigs and things just kicked on from there and we decided to keep it going and here we are!
Do you plan now to have some tours around Europe at least on some festivals?
Yes. We’re always working on gigs. We’re in contact with several festivals in Europe at the moment so hopefully they’ll come off and I’m also really keen to get to South America too. We will be working on booking a UK tour. Its no secret we love playing live and when it comes down to it that’s what being in a band is all about!
Could you tell us something about your albums that SW released during 80s Steel n’ Chains and Spartan Warrior? Also how and why have you found the band back in 80s since it was quite different time and atmosphere?
Well, the first time we recorded was when we had heard that Guardian records were looking for bands to put on a compilation record. We went to the studio and they chose two songs which went on Pure Overkill.
That in turn led to Guardian asking us if we wanted to do a full length album. We recorded it 2 songs at a time when we could afford it so it took a while to do.
Just as Steel n Chains was about to be released we got an offer from Roadrunner records. We signed to them and recording started pretty much straight away.
Of course we had used what we thought were our best and newest material on Steel n Chains so we wrote some new songs and also used some older songs that didn’t make it onto the first album. So songs like Mercenary, Black Widow, Broken Promises and French Girls were older than most of the songs on Steel n Chains.
One of the things that happened when we were recoding Steel n Chains was we had to ditch, against our wishes, Never Take Me Alive as the producer felt that it wasn’t working. We later recorded it for the Behind Closed Eyes album in 2010.
We recorded the 2nd album differently too. We used Guardian again but this time we block booked the studio and did it all in one go over about two weeks.
In terms of what it was like being in a band then it was different. I think people are more connected these days and we work much more closely with each other because of the internet.
Back then everything was done by mail so even submitting a demo was a lengthy process as was waiting for a reply.
It was an exciting time because it was new but I find it just as exciting but in a different way these days. Back then I think we tended to do our own thing and didn’t really know or mix with other bands whereas these days we all know each other and work closely with each other, which is great.
Also, what could you tell about your album which was recorded in 2010 Behind Close Eyes?
I decided to try and reform Spartan Warrior after I had finished a brief spell in Waysted.
The only goal at the time was to record and release another album after I’d heard and read on the internet that there was still interest in the band.
I contacted the lads and once I had secured the line-up I invested in some recoding equipment and built my own studio.
I did that in the middle of 2008 and I spent about 6 months learning how to use the equipment and doing practice sessions until I felt I could produce something of an acceptable standard.
For songs we decided to pick old songs that we had written over the years and also use some new ideas. Some songs like Flesh and Blood, Behind Closed Eyes, Walking The Line and Loud and Proud were written while we were recording the album.
Once we had finished recording the album I mixed it and Fred Purser mastered it in his studio.
Initially we were going to release the album ourselves but managed to release it through Iron Age Records.
Could you compare the times back in 80s and now more than 30 years afterwards? Many things have changed?
A lot has changed.
I think the biggest factor is the internet. As I said earlier, people are much more connected now, which is great. It’s so easy these days to be able to communicate and get your music out there and engage with an audience.
Also back in the day it was different in as much we were trying to establish ourselves whereas these days because of the 2 albums in the 80s I suppose we are a name that’s recognised.
Of course things moved a lot slower back then too, even things like this interview would have taken much longer.
Also releasing music was harder. You had to get noticed to get signed by a record company but these days anyone can record an album which I suppose has its benefits but also some draw backs with so many people being able to release stuff.
Of course in terms of the kind of gigs we do now things have also changed which I suppose is because now we’re more “established” having worked extremely hard on the live circuit over the last 7 years. Back then it was small venues, bars and clubs and we only played in the UK. Now we get to play festivals outside the UK which is fantastic. If someone had told me 35 years ago that id be doing that in 2018 I wouldn’t have believed them!
What could you tell us about the lyrical background and the visual side of SW?
Dave writes all of the lyrics.
He usually draws his inspiration from things that he’s watched on TV, a film he’s seen, a book that he’s read or sometimes from personal experiences including things that have happened to us or been said by people when we’ve been travelling to shows and in the down time on the road.
I guess over the years Spartan Warrior’s lyrical content has been quite traditional with the focus being on themes of war, the occult and of course sex.
‘Behind Closed Eyes’ was in many respects a much more mature album lyrically than anything that Dave had written before. I guess he’s a bit older now and he really takes his time to make sure that the lyrics have impact and meaning where the song and subject matter requires it.
Of course he does still write the occasional traditional song about sex and rock n roll… on the new album Lettin’ Go and Covered in Lust are prime examples of that.
At the other end of the spectrum he’s written ‘Shadowland’ which draws its inspiration from the imagery within Bram Stoker’s book ‘Dracula’ and ‘Walls Fall Down’ which is fantasy telling the tale of a city under siege from a supernatural enemy.
‘In Memorium’ is an anti-war song and leans upon the message that Black Sabbath sent out with ‘War Pigs’ concerning the futility of war.
I guess that gives you some idea of the sort of things that he writes about. Some of it is very powerful and well thought whilst some of it is just a good time old fashioned song about rock n’ roll and sex!
I have to mention ‘Hell to Pay’ as the title track from the album as that links in with the artwork for the album and as such the visual side.
‘Hell to Pay’ lyrically tells the story of a man who is dying and he is thinking about his life, his sins, misdemeanours and crimes and he realises too late that he’s out of time, it’s too late to repent and he will have to pay the ultimate price!
The lyrics say ‘Man out of time gonna pay for life’s crimes and there’s gonna be hell to pay’.
We delivered that brief to Timo Wuerz who was commissioned by Pure Steel to create the album’s artwork.
Dave delivered the concept that the cover should show a man upon his death bed taking his last breath as a number of demons gather to claim and take his soul.
It’s quite a frightening concept and Timo Wuerz has really delivered a stunning piece of artwork that tells that story.
What’s the next step for SW? I would like also to thank you for the interview and I wish you all the best!
The next step is to get “Hell To Pay” out and promote it. We’re working on booking gigs and also some festivals and I’d really like to play some places we haven’t been to before.
Of course we’re working on new songs too. So there’s plenty to be getting on with!
Thank you to everyone for your support, it’s really appreciated! \m/
- Answers by Neil Wilkinson
- Interview by Marko Miranovic