TOKYO BLADE – Blade Runner
Metal Forces, Issue 4 (1984)
Tokyo Blade. The name means little to a British metal fan. Why? Because your average UK headbanger is only concerned with the new Iron Maiden, AC/DC or Whitesnake album. The Tokyo Blade legend means sweet FA. But in Europe it’s a different kettle of fish (non-Fugazi variety thank you). “In places like Holland we are like mega,” claims guitarist Andy Boulton. “Gods even! I don’t mean to sound big-headed, but it’s just unbelievable. In this country though it’s like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s hard to get tours or press attention unless you happen to be in Ratt, W.A.S.P. or Mötley Crüe. It’s only thanks to magazines like yours that we are starting to get the name known and you sell mostly to America! It’s ridiculous, it really is.”
I spoke to Andy on a crackly telephone connection virtually on the eve of their first French tour, playing support to Mama’s Boys (no doubt in my mind who’ll have the more audience support!). The big one though is yet to
come. They’ve got the support slot to Van Halen in Paris, when David Lee Roth and co. are over in Europe during the summer. “That’s down to the management and record company that we’ve got that. It definitely is the high point for us. Van Halen are the number one band for me.”
Andy is the sort of bloke you could hold a conversation with about almost anything. One of metal’s Mr. Nice Guys, he believes passionately in Tokyo Blade and heavy metal in general. Some might compare him with Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris in this respect, but, er, don’t mention Maiden when it comes to comparisons in musical style. “If we sound like Maiden then it’s tough titty! We aren’t going to change our style just because some idiots at Kerrang! think we’re Maiden clones because we’ve got twin guitars. I used to like Maiden when Paul Di’anno was with ’em, but they’ve never influenced me. The last album they did (Piece Of Mind) was just rubbish, metal by numbers stuff. We’ve never ripped them off or any other band. My favourite band is Van Halen so I suppose some people will start comparing us to them next, but we’re gonna carry on doing the things we’ve always done.”
Tokyo Blade started life as a band called Killer and released a promising demo in 1981. They then changed their name to Genghis Khan, releasing a double-pack indie single just prior to obtaining their current moniker and signing to the York-based Powerstation label. “What happened was we put out this single and had been talking to major labels, but with nothing ever happening. Anyway, we were going to start our own label and put out an album. When we were getting distribution for the single, we spoke to a guy at Stage One who liked our stuff. But no sooner did we put the single out than he had formed Powerstation up in York and signed us up.”
What did Powerstation offer you that others didn’t? “Freedom of choice really. They’re a small label but with a lot of money behind ’em. Other indie companies want you to put all the money into it, whereas Powerstation are willing to put up the money for everything we do. With a major label all they give you is an advance, and if they don’t believe in you then you’re onto a loser from the start because you have to pay back the advance and then the problems start. But Powerstation totally support us, they’ve been great.”
Quite recently the band have recruited ex-Deep Machine bass player Andy Wrighton (replacing Andy Robbins) and sacked vocalist Alan Marsh. The latter a surprising move. What happened? “Unfortunately, Alan has never had confidence in himself. He could never deliver what he’s really capable of because of nerves. I don’t have any intention of slagging him off ’cos he’s a great guy and he’s a good singer. He did an excellent job for us, but in the end the pressure was too great for him. There’s no ill-feeling between any of us, it’s just one of those sad facts of life.
“We’ve just got a temporary singer in for the French tour, a lad from York. He’s adequate for this thing, but not as a permanent member… so we’re still looking.”
What about the rumours that ex-Tygers Of Pan Tang vocalist Jon Deverill was going to join? “He was very interested at first, but we turned out to be too heavy for him! He’s wimped out a lot and also he said if he joined he’d want this and that. In the end we said no, so he’s not joining Tokyo Blade.”
What are you doing regarding your second album and the American release of the first album (on Combat)? “Well, the first album will be different in its US form as a few tracks will be changed. ‘Liar’, ‘Tonight’ and maybe ‘On Through The Night’ are off, and the likes of ‘Mean Streak’ and ‘Highway Passion’ are being put on instead. We didn’t really want to put ‘Tonight’ on in the first place, but the producer persuaded us to keep it on. Our second album (titled Night Of The Blade) should be out in June. Obviously the vocals will have to be re-done but it’s a 200% improvement as regards production.”
With plans also for a video shoot utilizing the director who made Def Leppard’s Pyromania and Elton John vids, Tokyo Blade are well on their way. Along with Black Rose, Avenger and Satan they’re opening up an even better Newer Wave of British Heavy Metal that promises to be more exciting than the last. Maybe they’ll get a colour feature in “That So Called Metal Magazine” yet!
Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 4 (1984). All photographs by Eric de Haas.
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