In fact Mythra is one of the oldest bands that we have a chance to interview since they have keepeing relesing the records since the late of 70s. Mythra has just released their brand ne wissue Still Burning so there was a fine chance to have a talk about many things concering the band’s future and past.
Please, also could you present Mythra to our readers since this is the very first time that we have a chance to have the interview with you?
Mythra were formed by John Roach, Maurice Bates, Vince High, Peter Melsom and Barry Hopper and Influenced by many of the first generation ‘heavy rock’ groups, at the tail end of the 1977, we were swimming against the Punk Rock tide to satisfy the legions of rock fans in the North East of England who didn’t subscribe to the claim that Heavy Metal was dead. The band played very regularly on the North East of England music scene and in 1979 recorded the death and destiny EP.
Geoff Barton, of the influential British Music weekly ‘Sounds’, was quick to spot the Mythra potential and his recommendation started the demand that kept Death and Destiny in the Alternative Chart for 12 weeks.
As a matter of fact Mythra is one old band arriving from the very edge of 70s, but so far you have released only three full-lengths. Why and how this has happened?
The original death and destiny EP was financed solely by the band and we originally paid for 200 copies, which we sent to record companies, radio stations, magazines, friends and fans of the band, Terry Gavaghan who owned guardian studios (where we recorded the EP) brokered a deal with Street Beat for a larger distribution of the EP.
Street Beat, saw potential in the band and paid for further recordings which would have been released as an album, but weren’t happy as they wanted a catchy single of a more mainstream, pop song. This was about 1983 and the band, due to everyone’s personal circumstances came to an end.
In 1999, we found out that the recorded songs intended for the album had been released by Cherry Red as the Death and Destiny album, with a few of the songs wrongly titled. Nick Vrankovich from Buried in Dust in Time re-released the album with our consent in 2012; this release had the correct song titles.
In 2015, Bart Gabriel owner of Skol records released the said album with fresh production and in 2016 High Roller Records released Mythra the Anthology which included 5 new tracks. Following the success of that release, High Roller released the new album entitled Still Burning in April 2017
Could you present in your own words your latest full-length Still Burning? It contains 11 songs but do you have any particular favorites among them?
It took us about twelve weeks in all to have that album written, rehearsed and recorded.
It was a very intensive process. From coming together with initial idea’s to working them up to a song and getting them in shape, we were very disciplined, that work ethic and our passion got the best out of us. We initially wrote 16 tracks and ended up taking 12 over to the studio in Poland. Bart Gabriel was producer for the album with Mariusz Pietka engineering, we got on really well with the team and it came out in our playing. Compared to the Guardian recordings completed in our late teenage years there was more of a mutual respect and collaboration this time around as the band had more input into the recording. We would like to think that all the tracks are as powerful as each other, therefore stand alone as favorites
What do you want to express by cover artwork? The same question goes for your music as well.
Roberto Toderico is responsible for the artwork, he was given the brief by High Roller Records and the band was in agreement with the results.
In as much as expressing our music, our aims are to write powerful, meaningful songs which we hope our fans enjoy and to play them live to the best of our ability
Could you compare situation now and back then during the 80s or even 90s? I guess that now you are doing this just for yourself and of course, for the people who are following the band, as well.
We started playing gigs from about 1977, at first they were low-key small gigs, but as we gained more experience the bigger venues beckoned. We were all working full time therefore, time was an issue (returning home from a gig at 4.00 am, then starting work at 7.30am was tiring), the larger venues were few and far between, as in the 1980’s, there was less demand for heavy metal bands.
Today, we are mainly playing selected festivals (mainly in Europe) where the audiences are committed metal heads and the experience, for us as a band is brilliant.
How would you like to describe the style which Mythra performs? Many will note that you are deeply rooted in NWOBHM since the long history of the band.
The term NWOBHM was created by Geoff Barton, who at the time was one of the main writers for Sounds magazine, the popularity and rise of punk, led to demise in the popularity of the main stream rock bands; this opened the door for a younger, faster, fresher type of music which was given the term mentioned.
The term NWOBHM will always be associated with us, as well as many bands from that era, and has lasted 40 years. We, as a band, see our music as heavy rock/metal, titles don’t matter but the music and fans do
What is the next step when it comes to the band? Do you plan to have any live shows or to create any more records in the future since there was a huge distance between your records already in the past.
We have, so far, played two festivals this year at Brofest #5 in February and Belgium in April. Lined up later this year so far is ‘Up the Hammers’ Festival in Athens in May, ‘Heavy Metal Maniacs’ in September and ‘Frost and fire 3’ in California in September.
As far as new recordings are concerned, the new album ‘Still Burning’ has just been released and we are hoping that if our fans old and new enjoy the new recordings, there will be scope in the near future to record and release further new material.
- Interview by Marko Miranovic