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ELIXIR – Capital Gains
Kelv Hellrazer
Metal Forces, Issue 23 (1987)

Elixir (l-r): Norman Gordon (bottom), Paul Taylor, Nigel Dobbs, Phil Denton
and Kevin Dobbs

Along with Desolation Angels and Chariot, who are probably London’s premiere act on the circuit at the present time, are another band who are well worthy of praise and acclaim. Their debut album entitled The Son Of Odin, released off their own independent label, has sold well to date and with the constant support and determination from their longstanding manager Seymour Mincer, they look set to take the capital, and indeed the rest of the country, by storm! But to whom do we owe this accolade? None other than Elixir of course.

I must confess to being thoroughly biased, unashamedly so, towards the more glam end of the market, but when I first heard Elixir’s debut platter I stood still in my stilettos. From the opening power of the opening track ‘The Star Of Beshaan’ through to the pulsing pace of ‘Dead Man’s Gold’, these guys pack a mean punch. With a line-up consisting of Paul Taylor (vocals), Phil Denton (guitar), Norman Gordon (guitar), Kevin Dobbs (bass) and Nigel Dobbs (drums), they have a good solid attitude to their sound.

So, when I spoke with Paul and Phil recently I was eager to find out more. I begun by asking how they had actually first got together? Phil: “Well, we were formed in November ’83, when I joined forces with brothers Kevin and Nigel, our rhythm section, and we worked for a while piecing together our material, before recruiting Paul on vocals around about July ’84. Eventually, by the end of that year, we had finalized our line-up as it remains today with the addition of Norman, our Irish guitarist.”

Which bands or artistes are you inspired by? Phil: “It varies really throughout the band. Like Paul, he’s more into Ian Gillan than anything else, or Deep Purple, whereas I prefer the twin guitar sounds of bands such as Queensrÿche, and speaking as a guitarist I do admire Michael Schenker too. Mainly, I’d say that we all prefer the good old English rock bands such as Saxon and things like that. We definitely couldn’t claim too much of an American influence at all. We like to use strong melodies over a powerful rock backing, illustrated by bands such as Dio or Iron Maiden.”

What are your views on the current British scene? Phil: “Well, there’s not really that much about or going on, at least not up-and-coming.” Paul: “There seems to be a distinct lack of mainstream new talent. You’ve either got your 100mph thrash bands or your middle-of-the-road rock, so I think that we’d both agree that it’s looking pretty unhealthy at the present time. A good few years back there seemed to be more of an opportunity for new acts, say for example when Maiden and Saxon were first picked up, but now things are pretty stagnant to say the least.”

So, bringing things closer to home, how do you see yourselves in relation to other bands in the capital city? Phil: “We don’t consciously think about it. I mean, you’ve got bands like Chariot who have a good following and they’re a good, down to earth bunch of guys, but I suppose we aim to be a little more refined in our sound overall, and in our approach to things.”

What made you decide to release your own album? Paul: “We’d had nil response from any of the bigger labels around so we decided to form our own and go it alone. So, we put together the label with Seymour and stuck our necks out, hoping that it would give people a chance to hear us at last. We’d already released a single, ‘Treachery (Ride Like The Wind)’, which had made people aware of our existence and had gotten the name about, and the album seemed to be a natural progression on from there. The single had two write-ups in Sounds alone, so we were pleased.”

Phil: “A few people had also criticised the single for being too much like Iron Maiden, but we particularly like it as a song, so to lay to rest any doubts in people’s minds we decided to release the album so that comparisons with other bands would cease and people could understand exactly what we were really about. Originally, it had been just another song on our demo tape, but then it was decided to release it as a single. It could have been a lot better, but it did what we had intended it to do. However, we are far more pleased with the album than anything we’ve ever attempted to date.”

How did the name come about? Phil: “Originally we were called Hellfire, but word got out and we were reliably informed that there were already two or three bands using that same moniker. So, we hastily grabbed a dictionary and came up with Elixir which has two basic definitions. It is an old, legendary magic potion, used to prolong life and it is also the description used of turning metal into gold, which maybe one day we’ll be able to do ourselves. We wanted a name a little more original than your typical metal names. A lot of them seem to be much of a muchness.”

What would you list as your main strengths as a band? Phil: “Our dual guitar sound for one thing, harmonising wherever we can and using keyboards to add a bit of classier sound to the overall content. We feel that we pay more attention to this than anything else.”

Paul: “We take a long time to write our material because we like to give as good as we can without jumping on to any musical bandwagons that are about.”

Phil: “We seem to be moving in the right direction as we are getting a larger following and more responsive audiences from gig to gig, so I would like to think that what we are currently doing is having positive results.”

So finally, what are the band’s future plans? Phil: “Our next step will probably be another album, more than likely on our own label once again, as we have two-thirds of the material ready and complete so it should all be ready by May or June, approximately a year after our debut release.”

Paul: “We have a lot of things under negotiation at the present time, but it certainly looks like being a busy time ahead for us. We will be gigging quite intensively around Britain, hopefully getting up as far as Scotland this time, so we’re looking forward to reaching new ground.”

Well, judging by the way that things have turned out for these guys over the last year or so, it looks as though things could be really happening for Elixir in the coming months. Meanwhile, grab a copy of their debut platter because I’m sure that you won’t be disappointed.

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 23 (1987)

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