TYSONDOG – Bite Back
Metal Forces, Issue 10 (1985)
With so many British metal bands searching for that sickly US polished heavy rock sound, Tysondog are one of the few bands sticking to their roots and producing metal in a tradition that the UK was once respected for.
Hailing from the north-east of England, the band were formed in early 1982 as a four-piece and went into the studio for the first time in July 1983 to record a track entitled ‘Eat The Rich’ with rhythm guitarist Alan Hunter on vocals.
Soon after the recording the band recruited a lead vocalist by the name of Clutch (aka John Carruthers) and returned to the studio to record another track ‘Dead Meat’. Both tracks were later released as the band’s debut single on Neat Records with ‘Eat The Rich’, the A-side, retaining Alan Hunter’s lead vocals due to an accident with the master tape which prevented Clutch’s vocals being dubbed on.
In November ’83 drummer Peter Reeve left the band and was replaced by ex-Venom roadie Ged Wolf. Then in late March / early April Tysondog recorded their debut album Beware Of The Dog with none other than Venom’s Cronos at the production helm, who also provided backing vocals on the track ‘Demon’. But soon after the recording of the album Ged Wolf was kicked out and replaced by Rob Walker.
Now, no doubt many readers will remember Dave Reynolds interview with Venom in Metal Forces issue #6, in which Cronos, as well as describing Tysondog as “crap, a Judas Priest rip-off”, stated that the only reason he produced the album was as a favour to Ged Wolf, who’s the brother of Venom’s manager Eric Cook, and accused the band of just using Ged to get him to produce the album.
Well as you can imagine those comments didn’t go down too well with Tysondog, as I found out in a recent conversation with the band’s bassist Kevin Wynn and lead guitarist Paul Burdis.
Kevin: “Yeah, Cronos caused a lot of uproar and bad feeling between the two camps, although I’m sure a lot of what he said was the effect of drink. It was Cronos who approached us to produce the album and he got paid for it, so it wasn’t exactly a ‘favour’ as he put it.
“We were never using Ged Wolf. In fact, when we kicked him out it was at a point when it could have been disastrous to our career. Eric Cook was threatening everything. He was gonna sue us, stop us playing festivals and getting Kerrang! reviews, but in the end he wasn’t powerful enough to do any of those things.”
So why did you get rid of Ged Wolf?
Kevin: “Well, when he came along to the audition, he had just bought Venom’s old 15-piece drum kit – you see he was their drum roadie for a couple of years – and he looked the part and was a fairly average drummer. As he was still a young kid, we thought he’d come on a bit. But as soon as we got in the studio to record the album his drumming just deteriorated and it was taking ages for us to get a track down. There’s no way to drop in the drums during a backing track, it’s got to be spot on, and after a few takes of a song the feeling just goes away from it.”
So how has Rob Walker fitted in?
Kevin: “We dropped Rob right in at the deep end, because within two weeks of him joining us we were gigging, and he learnt 15 songs in a matter of days. He’s so much better than Ged.”
As with a lot of British metal bands, Tysondog are bigger on the continent than they are back home, especially in Holland, and were one of the few successes at the recent Earthquake festival.
Kevin: “Holland is brilliant; the audiences are crazy! We get about eight or nine encores a night when we play there. The music we’re playing seems to be what they’re into now. Also, since the album was released we’ve had a great response from America and Canada.”
One look at the bands recent photo and it’s clear that Tysondog have gone for a more metal approach in their image.
Kevin: “Yeah, in the last image we had the odd studded belt here and there, but it was mainly the ripped T-shirt and dyed pants sort of look. But we thought, why go half-way? So now we’ve gone completely over the top with a W.A.S.P., come Judas Priest, come Iron Maiden look.”
But do you really think image is that important?
Kevin: “We didn’t when we done the Beware Of The Dog album, but when we went over to Holland it really opened our eyes. I mean, there were kids walking into the gigs who had on more stage gear than when we went on!
“Anyway, when we come back we went into Dave Woods at Neat and said, if you want us to sell lots of records for you and get some good photos taken, then we want money for stage gear.”
So has the music progressed with the image?
Kevin: “Yeah, definitely. Whereas before it was Paul who was writing most of the material, now Alan is getting more involved. Clutch writes all those excellent lyrics.”
Tysondog recently went into the studio and recorded five tracks. Four of the numbers – ‘The Changeling’, ‘Shoot To Kill’, ‘Back To The Bullet’ and a reworking of ‘Hammerhead’ from the first album – will soon be released by Neat Records on a 12-inch EP, simply entitled Tysondog. The remaining number, ‘T.W.A.T.’, which Kevin says is “a black metal piss take”, will be released on a Dutch compilation album, that also includes Venom.
Talking of Venom again, have Tysondog got any final thoughts on the band?
Paul: “How can you take any notice of any band with an IQ of a plant?!”
Kevin: “Seriously, the feedback we got from people when we were in Holland was that most people are bored with Venom. The feeling there was that Venom and black metal was a thing of the past, and now the people were into Queensrÿche and Dio. Venom are stuck in a rut now and I think they will find it difficult to get out of it.”
No doubt the conflict will continue.
Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 10 (1985)
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