The Band: Atkins / May Project
Country: United Kingdom
Answers: Al Atkins, Paul May
Hello Al, it always a pleasure to talk to you, a Heavy Metal legend and a gentleman. We chat some years ago with the Empire of Destruction album as an excuse, Now we have another chance to talk again because you are back with the forth album of the Atkins / May Project, «The Final Cut». First of all, how do you do in this hard coronavirus time? I hope health and family be all right?
AL: All good here thanks, it’s a difficult and strange time that we are all in at the moment and I can’t see us ever getting back to normal unless we find a cure but we must press on regardless and do the best we all can in the circumstances…
There are 6 years between «The Final Cut» and it predecessor “Empire of Destruction”, a longer time than usual, any especial reason for it?
AL: Is it that long? where did that time go ?We were all thinking that ‘Empire’ could have been our last album and that’s why our record company bought out the ‘Anthology’ one. Paul and myself have kept busy working on different things, like I recorded my 6th solo album ‘Reloaded’ and I did a few guest spots on other albums while Paul has recorded and produced other artists at his studio’s…last year Paul called to say he had written a load of new material and asked me to give it a listen and when I did we decided to record again and pick up from where we left it last time and this one could be our best yet…
Hello Paul, How did you get the spark to start composing «The Final Cut”?
PAUL: The Final Cut is a really natural progression from our previous albums, without deviating too much from our identity.
As in the last years you and Paul May work together, it seems this is more than just a business relationship, we can talk about friendship?
AL: Yes we have been friends now for over 30 years since he played on my first solo album ‘Judgment Day’ …he was not just a brilliant young guitarist but a great songwriter too and I featured some of his work on my first albums…
How is it to work with Paul May? You still need to talk or you just with a glance is enough?
AL: We work really well together that’s why we have stayed both musicians and friends for so long….
Now Paul, how is it to work with Mr. Atkins?
PAUL: Its been a great ride you know, we’ve been doing stuff so long that its we kind of learned how each other tick so to speak and we still enjoy making good old honest hard Rock’n’Roll so that can’t be bad!!
Paul, can you imagine your career as musician without the presence of Atkins? Or, in other words, have you ever imagined how it would be if your paths had never crossed?
PAUL: Well both Al and myself have had musical careers where we haven’t been associated but I like to think that what’s meant to be will be, we were always destined to do the stuff so to speak.
Who completes the combo this time on drums and bass?
PAUL: I actually take care of all the instruments on the recordings.
When did you start writing the album and how was the composition process?
PAUL: Well the writing started as soon as the last CD was released, but through life’s circumstances and health issues its took a while longer to arrive at this one.
I would say that “The Final Cut” sound is more classic than ever, a hard heavy, dark and with the 80s flavour. Was that the intention or it just turned out that way?
PAUL: Well yes, its un-apologetic Classic “Old School” Rock & Metal with a twist!
In terms of composition who has the final word, Atkins? May? Or we can talk of a democracy? Who supplies more ideas?
PAUL: For the AMP stuff I write the material. In the recording process Al will come up with stuff that’s great and we work towards what we think works
I must confess that I feel really captured by the song Buried Alive, do you have any favorite?
AL: I keep changing my mind on a favorite one, last week it was heavy track ‘War In-Between’ which we put a video together for but this week it’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ ..They are all good songs and it’s really hard to pick a favorite…
What are the lyrics about?
PAUL: About the state of the world in its current form
So, probably quite doom. By the way, I hope the title, the final cut, has not a second meaning as the last chapter of this project, right?
AL: Who knows ? None of us are getting younger but I think we might just have another album in us to record.
I hope so Al, or more than one! Atkins, in 2017 you released «Reloaded» under the band Atkins. For you, what are the differences between Atkins and the Atkins/May Project?
AL: The Atkins/May/Project started out has Paul’s baby with his ‘Serpents Kiss’ debut album which he was in complete control with the writing, guitars and production and I was asked to sing on it which I was happy to do…..we signed a one year deal with our record company to see how things went in sales etc and it took off selling really well so we were asked to record another,then another and another and it’s been a great few years working together..My ‘Reloaded’ solo album was something I had in my mind for a while to do, I didn’t just want to release a ‘best of’ but to re record some of my back catalog of songs and use a host of top musicians like bass players Ian Hill (Judas Priest) and John McCoy of Gillan . German vocalist Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) also sang alongside me on the JP classic Victim of Changes and a host of other players the world over helped me put it together…
By the way, “Reloaded” received very good reviews. If I’m not wrong you are 72 years old, first Judas Priest vocalist and with a long career over your shoulders.
AL: You feel that after so many years they are already realizing the value of your legacy? Hope so …
You also had a band named Holy Rage with an album released in 2010, what memories you have of that project? Already buried or maybe it will see the light of sun some day?
AL: Great memories of a band which was more of a live project over about 5 years…we played alongside some great bands like Skid Row and Diamond Head to name a few and even played across the pond in Hollywood but the line up changed a few times and we recorded just the one self titled album and the record company we were signed to let us down on so many levels that I took control of the album myself in the end…i think that episode is dead and buried now.
What are your plans for the future, Al? We would love to see you on stage after all the coronavirus pandemonium.
AL: I would love to hit the road again but no plans on that at the moment i’m afraid to say…
With your long experience I cannot avoid to ask you something like a personal question: with all the things that happens in the world nowadays, the world it a better place to live now or we always look to the past with excessive affection?