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VIRGIN STEELE – Virgin Savagery
Dave Reynolds
Metal Forces, Issue 17 (1986)

Virgin Steele (l-r): Joe O’Reilly, Edward Pursino, David DeFeis and Joey Ayvazian

In these times of intense as hell thrash, can anybody remember way back in 1982 when Virgin Steele released their self-titled debut album? Well it may surprise you to learn that despite a two year absence since the band’s second album, Guardians Of The Flame, the band are still going strong and still as original as ever.

Now Jack Starr-less, Virgin Steele have recently put out their third album (well, it was released at the tail end of 1985 to be exact), titled Noble Savage, released on Cobra Records who just so happen to be Piledriver’s label too. Virgin Steele haven’t appeared in the pages of Metal Forces since our debut issue. At that time, vocalist David DeFeis and then guitarist Jack Starr were interviewed by Steve Price. Since then, Starr quit the group and appeared on Metal Forces issue #9’s cover with a bevy of young ladies, and Virgin Steele recruited a new axe attacker by the name of Edward Pursino. So why has it taken so long to get a new album out? I spoke to David DeFeis and he gave me the answer to this and more. Read on!

“The first thing we had to do was settle the dispute over the name with Jack,” reveals David. “When he left the band he’d gone and copyrighted the name! Jack was claiming the name was his and he actually went over to Paris to do that Breaking Sound festival as Virgin Steele, and bombed which embarrassed us. Anyway, we finally sorted things out.

“Ed’s actually been in the band since the summer of ’84 when Jack left. We’ve actually been involved with Cobra Records and Zoran Busic since Jack was in the band, because we had records put out in Canada on his Maze label (who also handle Saga! In fact, Zoran used to manage them too!). Cobra Records is our kinda custom label. Actually, I’ve just produced the new Piledriver album, Stay Ugly, which will be out soon on Cobra.”

David was the guy responsible for producing Noble Savage as well. If you read the last issue’s mammoth new ‘Metal On Vinyl’ guide in Metal Forces you’ll have noticed I wasn’t over keen on the record’s production. “I guess you like heavy guitars, eh?,” he laughs. “We go for more of a drum / vocal emphasis. If you’ve noticed, Ronnie James Dio never mixes the rhythm guitar up either; neither did Led Zeppelin ’cos Jimmy Page never went for the rhythm guitar high in the mix.”

I notice there’s a couple of kinda airplay-oriented songs included on the album, in particular the excellent ‘The Evil In Her Eyes’ which is probably my favourite track? “Yeah, some of the things are, but I think we have a nice variety on the record, with tracks that have that commercial edge but also the usual Virgin Steele epics too. We feel it’s a well rounded album, and the next one will continue in that vein with a good balance of material.”

Is that your sword on the album cover David? “No it’s not! We had problems getting it to Canada where the photography was done and it would’ve been too big for the guy anyway, so we had a smaller replica made just for the album cover.”

When can we expect to see David, Edward, Joe O’Reilly (bass) and Joey Ayvazian (drums) on tour, live without a net? Well, that all depends on how record sales go. David hopes the band will be able to secure UK and European release for Noble Savage. At the time we spoke, Music For Nations were apparently showing interest (Virgin Steele and Guardians Of The Flame were both issued on the label in the past).

“We always felt our strongest support was in Europe,” says David. “New York bands tend to have a more European sound. Virgin Steele sound more like a European band, possibly because our roots lie with Queen, Led Zeppelin and Rainbow.”

But Jack Starr told me that you, personally, were a great Angel fan and sought to emulate Frank DiMino?! “Ha! Ha! Yeah, I liked Angel and Frank DiMino’s voice, but he’s just one of the singers I like. I’ve never sought to emulate him, just like I’ve never sought to emulate my favourite singer who is Freddie Mercury of Queen!”

I’ve heard you’re getting into production in a big way? “Yeah, as I told you I’ve produced the new Piledriver album and also another band who’ll be releasing their album on Cobra; that’s a band called Exorcist.” Zoran Busic told me that this mob are pretty thrashy – watch out for ’em.

David has also gotten involved with one of Bernard Doe’s ‘Demolition’ raves, Damien Thorne. “Yeah, I’ve just remixed their album ’cos it was really poorly recorded when it was first done.”

There’s another metallic tip for you. But don’t forget to look out for Virgin Steele too. They go back into the studio – “After a very trying year in ’85 we’re very grateful to Zoran for his support” – in May to record a brand new album. I’ll look out for it, how ’bout you?

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 17 (1986)

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