AVENGER – Pick Of The Brit Metal Killers
Metal Forces, Issue 16 (1986)
Avenger (l-r): Greg Reiter, Gary Young, Ian Davison Swift and Mick Moore
Hello America! Lock up your Mothers. Lock up your grandmothers. Hide those old-age pension books ’cos Avenger are on the prowl. The band whose motto is “Nothing’s too wild – or old – to tame”, are heading your way. Don’t touch that dial. Read all about it.
’Twas a fine, sunny December morning when I left the South far behind from London Kings Cross, on board one of those British Rail Inter-City 125 trains speeding northwards bound for Newcastle. By the time Doncaster came round I, and all the other fortunate souls aboard, were thrust into a grimy, wet, dark afternoon. So this is the North eh? Dull and dreary? I hadn’t banked on Newcastle. Despite winter conditions – cold and rainy – I had a great time.
One of the finest (and too few) British metal bands, Avenger, are based in Newcastle, which is kinda weird ’cos they only have one bona fida Geordie in the line-up. That man is drummer Gary Young, a guy who loves his heavy metal and the pleasures of touring. Not that Avenger have been doing much of that recently. The rest of the crew are vocalist Ian Davison Swift, bassist Mick Moore and, newest recruit, Greg Reiter on guitar.
’Twas the diamond duo of Swift and Moore who met me at the station once I’d set foot on Geordie tarmac. Greg Reiter was back home in America, (yes, the guy is 100% all American) while I dread to think what Mr. Young was doing at the time. Probably on autopilot! First stop was at Wallsend and the home of the Neat Records operation for a viewing of the Metal City video due out on the market shortly. This features Venom, Warfare, Saracen, Avenger plus cameos by Dave Wood (Neat’s boss) and the lovely Diane (PR person), along with various scenes of Newcastle that would put the opening credits of the British soap Brookside to shame. To be honest, I couldn’t help but fall on the floor laughing at some of it! I mean, howz about the bare breasted nubiles running through a wood for Saracen’s benefit; Cronos on a horse and then, the (intentional) Twisted Sister piss-take during the ‘Under The Hammer’ clip by Avenger! I’ll give Neat credit, the video does entertain, but perhaps not in the way they planned.
It’s Neat who have been responsible for the release of all Avenger product so far, including the legendary ‘Too Wild To Tame’ single (featuring legend in his own lifetime, Brian Ross on vocals) and two of the best British heavy metal albums in Blood Sports (1984) and Killer Elite (1985), even if the production on both does, to all intents and purposes, leave a lot to be desired.
In the case of the Blood Sports album, the blame can be attributed to the producer, Martin Smith, as it was the first album he’d produced. As Mick rightly points out, “You can’t hear my bass at all.” Since the release of the musically stunning second album Killer Elite, Avenger’s rise to fame and fortune seemed to have ground to a halt. Why?
Ian Swift: “We’ve had problems regarding support tours, which wasn’t our fault but the particular band we were supposed to have toured with. Another problem was with having Greg in the band. The powers that be don’t like having ‘foreigners’ in English groups because it’s depriving a fellow countryman out of a job, so anything in the UK tour-wise has been out of the question.”
It’s not as if Avenger hadn’t tried getting a fellow Briton in the band. They auditioned countless would-be guitar heroes, but none came as good as Philadelphia’s Greg “My axe is packed” Reiter. He’s a pretty reserved guy by all accounts, but not when it comes to crankin’ out the metal. Greg is a guitar fanatic and has that certain guitar hero image that slays the girls at 50 paces. But don’t get too mad girl’s ’cos that’s his wife Nancy in the Avenger vids on Metal City. Apparently she’s a model (I’m sure I’ve seen her somewhere before) and cuts a kind of Pantera (Thor’s wife – not the band!) type image to boost your viewing time. The video should project Avenger’s name into at least the homes of Venom fans, but will it, in the long run do them more harm than good?
Mick Moore, always the optimist: “Will it do us any good at £20 a shot? I can’t really see it selling. We didn’t have much of a say in that at all, we just did what we were told to do by the director, but at least we did the thing which is the main thing I suppose.”
Ian: “People will enjoy ‘Under The Hammer’ because they can see it’s a piss-take. The other two… well, one isn’t really worth looking at, while ‘Run For Your Life’ is acceptable because at least it’s got some sort of story line to it.
“It was good at the time because it was a first for the band. It’s like your first record, when you get it out you’re really pleased with it and then you sit back and think about it and you find out how terrible it is. After the fuss had died down over Blood Sports I listened to it and put my head in my hands and almost cried. It was a rushed affair.
“We did a tour of Holland and as soon as we got back we were asked to do the album and went straight into the studio.”
However, now things seem to be looking up for Avenger as Neat seemed to have realised that there are people out there who look to Neat for good, solid British metal bands and that there is more to life than shoving Venom down our throats all the time. Hopefully the band will be given full encouragement and support from the label.
As you read this, Avenger should be embarking on their first ever American tour taking in about 20 or so dates on the East Coast. Up until now the major support fanwise has emanated from Holland where Avenger have toured several times and from which many a lewd story has come from, most of which are unprintable and that Gary Young features quite regularly in them! I met Gary Young between pubs one night in Newcastle city centre. What can I tell you? You’ve really got to meet the guy to believe him; he’s a laugh a minute. And was I drunk or did he really tell me that he thinks Metal Forces’ Dave Constable has got his head screwed on?!?
It was during one of these pub visits, in the Jubilee if I remember correctly, that Mick and Ian introduced me to their OAP following, notably one lady of advancing years who delighted in telling us that she’d had her “tubes cut”!! I quite liked the one in the black’n’white candy striped trousers though. “Swifty likes to be mothered,” quoth Mick Moore.
The up ’n’ comin’ US dates should be a turning for Avenger. For one thing, the fans will be considerably younger unless they bring their mothers with ’em, and for another they’ll be able to really thrash out their frustrations at not playing a live gig in ages which should provide for quite some performances.
As Mick says, “It’s been really frustrating sitting around doing nothing for so long. We were badly let down last year with that support tour of Europe that fell through, so we’re raring to go.”
Ian: “The tour is about twenty dates down the East Coast of America, the rainy part, so we’ll feel at home!! Greg’s the one who’s been arranging everything for the tour and we’ve got support from Neat, so we can’t wait.”
There was talk of doing a few gigs with another of my raved over bands, Liege Lord. If that comes off, what a bill eh? I just wish I was able to get over at such short notice to see that!
Mick: “I’ve corresponded with Liege Lord’s bass player Matt Vinci for quite a while now and we both have the utmost respect for each other’s music, so it would be good if we could do some gigs with ’em.”
Mick is the member of the band who has handled most of the group’s promotion and remarked to me about the letters he receives from Avenger fans worldwide, even as far apart as Brazil (where he’s known as a “fuckin’ friend” by admirers there!) and Poland.
“Y’know I feel sorry for them, I try and send ’em things now and again. One guy wrote to me praising the Blood Sports album which he’d bought on the black market for which he’d saved up a month’s wages for!”
Now that’s dedication. Anyway, if you’re lucky enough to have Avenger playing near you on that American trip get the hell over to see ’em. It should be a hot time and, talking of hot times and places, I gotta tell ya that there’s one helluva lot of pussy in Newcastle, and I’m not talking about Brian Ross’ cats! Take your pick. As for the pick of British heavy metal, I’ll choose Avenger every time. Got me?
Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 16 (1986).
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