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Mythra, Metal is in our DNA

av yngve

Image2Mythra er et band som har hengt med meg lenge, det er ikke et av de mest kjente banda fra Nwobhm-bølgen, men definitivt ett av de feteste, og et som inspirerte den røffere varianten som kom etterpå. Thrash- og speedmetal ble født innenfor veggene disse banda holdt hus, Jaguar, Blitzkrieg, Mythra, Fist, Savage, Tank og selvsagt forfedrene Judas Priest og Motörhead. Og selvsagt attityden og aggressiviteten punken hadde starte opp rett før denne engelske bølgen kickstartet. Jeg er kjempeglad for at tre av medlemmene tok seg tid til å snakke litt om historien og sitt nye album. Norsk intro, engelsk intervju.

Les min anmeldelse av bandets nye skive HER . Utgivelsen er en blanding av gammelt og nytt.

So, Mythra, finally I get to give something back to you after all these years. I wasn't there in 79, due to me being a tad younger (though most consider me old), but in the early days, the energic stuff coming out of the Uk, man - it must have been a thrill to be there!!

John: "It was a thrill to be young that’s for sure, the world is a different place when you are young and fearless …. It is interesting to be in a world where we are now old and fearless…."

Alex: "It was fantastic to be there so much great music to grow up with and most of it is still influential now."

Vince: "Exciting times for sure."

When I first got to experience Mythra, I don't know, perhaps around 84, 85, the nwobhm-era was over. I had discovered a lot of other bands prior to this of course, but Mythra was somehow not unveiled to me back then - probably 'cause I live in Norway, and we/I mainly got the more known bands. And the samplers, love the samplers. The band was so early, but never got its deserved attention. What was it like back then, when you were happening, doing gigs, getting reviewed, you ever felt Mythra would make it?

John: "When we started out in the mid 70’s we were young and there was a lot of rock music around at the time played by older guys. We played covers and original material at first. Stand out bands in our area at that time were White Spirit, Axe (who went on to become Fist) and Raven. There was a thriving rock club scene, where bands like Mythra and the others above were paid to play. We always hoped we would make it…"

Alex: "Always thought that we would make it / do something but unfortunately not to be."

Vince: "We got to play some awesome gigs back then. Highlight was 1980 Heavy Metal Barn Dance with Motörhead and Saxon at Stafford Bingley Hall."


And as the majority of the wave, Mythra crawled back in the shadows, not ever forgotten by the fans, but by everyone else .What do you think was the main reason for Mythra to step down? Was it the usual suspects? Musical indifferences? Getting fed up of the band, the members, bummer on not getting there?

Vince: "There were never any differences within the band. We had recorded tracks that were ready for release but conflict between our management and the record company meant it didn't happen, so we got less and less exposure and fewer opportunities to play live. We were caught up in it all without being directly involved, which was very frustrating!"

I see Mythra as one of the early bands inspiring the thrash movement, you agree? Jaguar, early Fist, Motörhead... And what made you play so fast/energetic? Back in those days it wasn't too common...

John: "We didn’t set out to create a genre, in my case the music was fast because on every album I had, I liked the songs that implied speed and energy, like Speed King, Exciter, Communication Breakdown, I could go on" (Getting goose bumps here :) - Yj).

Vince: "I was influenced by heavy rock/metal but also by punk and in particular The Clash as there was such an energy and rawness to that music!"

And what did you guys do after the split? Was it a matter of getting jobs? Or was working alongside running the band already happening?

John: "For me, I quit the music business, sold all of my gear and plugged into the matrix."

Alex: "Personally I tried several projects resulting in 4 demo's with 4 different line ups mostly with me singing, so quite a direction change as I cant sing metal, still had quite lengthy solos and major guitar parts more Van Halen meets Knopfler, I also did some session work with some obscure bands never to make it past demos and an advert for Ford motor company, I also wrote music for a musical and several contemporary dance pieces."

Vince: "I gave up my involvement in bands and playing live music. I'd had enough. Forged a new career working with and supporting young people which was very enjoyable. I'm now retired which is even more enjoyable!!!"

Did any of the members sign up for the band circuit after Mythra disbanned? I know John did the Fist album, but the other members?

"Only John with Fist."

Yeah, I know, but I was thinking of other bands - but basically, what I know from reading magz, no member beside John did any name for themselves, in any known bands at least. 

And you split in, 81? 82? When you reunited, in 2001, man, thats almost 20 years. How was it to rehearse old songs, getting together, surfin the music business again?

John: "We didn’t reunite in 2001, Vince and I did some recording in my home studio. There was a plan to release the material at the time that didn’t materialise. The songs from that period are effectively demos. We didn’t do any of the old, original material. As for getting together, Peter Melsom, Maurice and I were friends from school and would meet up periodically over the years for beers and fun. Barry Hopper still lives in the town and we still meet up for a chat every now and again."

Vince: "We split in 1983 for the reasons mentioned earlier (Ah, that late? Cool onfo - Yj). We reunited as a full band in 2014 to prepare for our reunion show at Brofest UK in 2015. We are like brothers meeting up again to do something together that we love."

And your first gig as new Mythra, how was it getting used to the idea of standing on a stage again? I guess you felt the expectations from the fans?

John: "It was great, we knew we were going to be good, we couldn’t let the legacy down."

Alex: "The expectations were all on us, we didn't know what to expect, we did know we wanted to put on a good show and enjoy ourselves, so we rehearsed it to be as tight as we could possibly be, we went out and had a brilliant time."

Vince: "The fans were amazing to us and travelled from around the world including Europe, Usa, South America. We got a great welcome and a great reaction to the live set. That has continued since Brofest and we are soon to play the legendary Keep It True festival in Germany plus other shows in Europe which will be an awesome experience."

You did the British Steel release, 'Death And Destiny', in 98, what is the story behind this one? This is the one with some typos? Was the release out of your hands?

John: "The release on British Steel was nothing to do with us. I became aware of the release through a friend who had spotted the CD for sale on the internet through Cherry Red Records. I managed to piece together what happened afterwards. Apparently, Guardian were clearing out their studio and found a ¼ inch master tape box which contained the various unreleased tracks recorded by the band."

Image1Beside the early singles/ep, you did an album i 2003, I don't own this one. Hm. You have some inside info on this release? Is it hard to get? Style compared to the other stuff? And do you have a spare copy?

John: "The tracks Vince and I wrote and recorded at my home studio, have never been released, there are no plans to release them. There is a mixture of styles and one of the tracks from this demo appears on the Warriors of Time AnthologyReaching Out."

Then, in 2015, last year, you finally glued together a compilation you controlled, am I right? The aforementioned 'Anthology : Warriors Of Time'. You had everything to say regarding the songs...?

John: "We had a full input into this release, correcting the song titles, choosing the running order of the tracks and approving the remastering."

Alex: "Yes, involved with all aspects so a big thank you to Bart Gabriel at Skol Records and Gabriel Management."

Vince: "Bart has been amazing for the band and included us throughout. He remastered the recordings and commissioned the killer artwork for the album too...awesome guy! He's a metal fan as well as a producer and label owner...that makes a massive difference for us!!!"

How complete is this one? 13 tracks of classics? No songs are missing out?

John: "There are no songs missing from the full band recordings between 1979/82."

Vince: "13 classic tracks from the early days plus 5 brand new songs which are also getting a great reaction from fans across the world."

The coolest aspect of the Warriors-album are the new songs. Fans I guess have the ep and the older stuff, but getting to hear brand new material? Yeah! And you know what rocks? When I listen to the cd, and the 'Death And Destiny' track is done, and the new one, 'Reaching Out' begins, I really can't tell the old from the new. That's a major compliment.

Vince: "Thank you, we wanted to stay true to the Nwobhm spirit we'd helped create in 1979 and we feel we achieved that. we just did what felt natural and right to us. The reaction of fans bears that out too as they love the new tracks. Metal is in our DNA, it's what we are and who we are!"

Recording the five new songs, was it a matter of getting the production, the songs and the playing/attitude to sound as close to 1980 as possible? 'Cause it does. But did you use any technique, equipment etc, to ensure the outcome would land back in 1980?

John: "No special techniques were used, only those practiced by highly skilled musicians… hahaha."

10968419 708190585961637 4279291779008042275 NAlex : "We just wrote as a band, then recorded with as little overdubbing as possible, the sound of the late 70's early 80's was usually based on taking one day to record four tracks, to me that's probably where the raw sound and energy comes from."

Vince: "We wanted to stay true to our musical roots and everything came naturally to us when we started writing and felt like we'd never been away."

And the lineup, for those not familar with the classic one, Mythra anno 2016; exactly the same?

John: "This line up contains a new drummer in the form of Phil VanDetta Davies, first and last guitarists John Roach and Alex Perry together with the two ever present members in the band; Maurice Bates and Vince High."

Mythra has been doing gigs lately, and the nwobhm is still valid, growing and attracting new fans, how do you view the future? Do you see anything else than being a cult band, serving the oldschool fans? Playing at niche-festivals?

John: "For my part – I think if we were interested in remaining (or being) a cult band then it would have been a better idea to not play again. It’s too late for that, it will be interesting to see where this leads. As for being old-school, I think we have no choice, we’re old."

Alex: "For us, hopefully record a new album to show that we could, and can still do it, its also fantastic that we are attracting new fans both young and old and festivals or even a tour, with all of the cancelled tours we endured in the early days we must be owed that by now"

Vince: "We've signed with Gabriel Management EU , so more festival gigs to come plus hopefully a new album.  Fans want it, so we will try to deliver."

I am thrilled to have you as my guests here, and hopefully some of the readers will check you out. All the best!!! And if you have some final words, here is the perfect spot to let out steam, to give someone important to the band some credit, places some punches etc.:

John: "It’s great to be back, thanks to all of the old Mythra fans for the support. We’re going to work hard on obtaining some new ones."

Alex: "A big shout to the fans young and old who kept our name going for all of these years cheers everyone."

Vince: "Nwobhm forever, awesome music, amazing fans...The best is yet to come! \m/."