If tell you that this guy play drums alongside Mark The Shark Shelton… If I tell you that Neudi at the age of 16 started his own heavy metal TV show on a local channel, under the name of “Heavy Metal Battle”, featuring guests from Kreator, Backwater, Saints Anger, etc… If I tell you this guy runs Manilla Road official website… If I tell you that Neudi is an awesome drummer with a vast knowledge of Metal bands, Metal history and moreover a humble guy… If I tell you that this guy has, as a hobby, call it Metal faith, joined forces with other guys from american power Master of Desguise to pay tribute to the NWOBHM heroes (famous or not)… Then, seriously, are you not going to read this amazing interview? You should be crazy to do so… This is a lesson in Metal history, and very amusing, besides.
Hello Neudi, it’s a great honor to have you in my blog. Thanks for your time and let’s go for it! How did you decide to become a coverband?
After two albums with VIRON I didn´t feel really comfortable with the band anymore, but to be honest, I thought about a NWOBHM tribute band in the early 2000s. Alexx (vocals) and Roger (guitars) also thought it would be a good idea and so we started with Roxxcalibur while VIRON still was an active band. Bassist Mario already helped us out in two shows and Kalli (guitars) was already a good friend and we knew his band ABANDONED. That´s how Roxxcalibur was born. Funny thing is that we had record deal with Limb Music (Limb is a NWOBHM fan too) before our first rehearsal.
That is playing with advantage, good for you. There are many bands making covers from typical acts as ACDC, GNR, Queen, etc, but you have chosen a completely different path, why?
That´s indeed a huge difference. You can make a lot of money locally with coverbands like that and our singer Alexx is in two “regular” coverbands right now (Deep Purple and Rainbow). Sure it is also fun to do that but it still remains “just a coverband”. With Roxxcalibur we want to offer songs that only a few hardcore-NWOBHM-fans know, so in the end we appear like a regular metalband to most fans out there. It´s like we would have an external songwriter. Most can listen to our albums without thinking that we are tribute band and I remember some fans telling us, that we are really good songwriter *lol*. This is the one thing, the other is that we want to give some fantastic songs a second chance. If you listen to the originals you can find bad productions (sound) or the playing skills of the whole band were not too good. As a NWOBHM fan I don´t care for that at all, but it might be one reason why some of those bands never made it big(ger). And of course a good record deal was even more important in the early 80s than today. Some of the stuff simply was locally only. That´s why so many NWOBHM singles, albums and compilations are so rare and expensive these days. So it totally makes sense to relive these songs.
It makes sense, absolutely. If my info is right this is your third album, how did you chose the songs to appear in the album?
Yes, that´s correct. We are not as fast as other bands when it comes to record a new album, so we cover Def Leppard with that *lol*. Roxxcalibur should remain something special and I don´t think it would make sense to release an album every year. I started collecting NWOBHM in the 90s. Sure I had some of that stuff since the 80s but I didn´t care too much where these bands come from. The real interest started in the 90s when I got the books from the German company Iron Pages. I have noticed that it is a very interesting and exciting period of time. The 70s were over and the metallic 80s just have started. And over the years (and with spending way too much money on vinyls and CDs….) my collection grew and grew. So that´s the library for Roxxcalibur and made it possible at all. You will notice that on the first album our choices were more metal-related. The most melodic song was “Lady of Mars” from Dark Star. And “Rainbow Warrior” from Bleak House also had some mellow parts. We felt more and more comfortable with songs that are not typical metal, but still typical NWOBHM. I think about “Day to Day” from Cryer or “A Face in the Crowd” from Saracen on our second CD. I think on the new CD we really show off the whole spectrum of the NWOBHM. We finally decide on the songs for an album by rating them, very democratic:) And our labelboss Limb has one song too each time.
Cool! You are like a NWOBHM encyclopedia, Neudi. Apart of the great musical execution you deliver, one of the things I most thank is that the songs are not the typical from the most famous bands of the nwobhm
Thank you! There is no reason for covering really every second of a song. We don´t change arrangements except of some little parts here and there but beside that we play just the way we feel and the way each musician sounds. We have some covers of Saxon and Maiden when we play shows but we would never record anything of the big names. The only exception was on our second CD when we´ve finished a Saxon song, a fragment of one minute that was available on a weird Saxon CD from a cheap budget company. We wrote the rest to this song and brought it to over 5 minutes.
Moreover, I think you have a very good taste, as we can find wonderful songs from great bands as Fist, Trespass or Budgie. You sound very loyal to the original sound, don’t you think so?
Thank you again! Like I said before, we don´t cover the original musicians, we just cover the song itself. One example is that I have included doublebass to “Why don´t you kill me?” from Legend, even there is nothing like that on the original song. In two songs we went on playing when the original was already over. So there is two jam sessions on the album. There are moments in each song that must be played exactly like on the original (key moments), but there is enough freedom for everybody most of the time.
May be, for some fans to sound so equal to the original song is not the best approach…
I totally agree, even there are not too many fans who know or own the originals. It is more like somebody would have written a song for Roxxcalibur. That´s how we treat these gems. Just have a look at the credits on some KISS albums or Manfred Mann´s Earth Band. You will notice that they don´t have written all of their stuff, still it became “their songs”. In the history of rock music you will find that very very often. Even if the original is muddy or bad sounding, it still is the unbeatable original. It always will be the best.
An interesting point of view, I think it has more to do with the mood or the original spirit of the song or the original band than with their skills, something as the magic in the air or in the past. Of course, you deliver it with a great production, if you have never listened to those songs you might think they are all brand new
That sums it up and I agree 100%. The NWOBHM tribute part is for those who know the original songs but all in all we simply want to offer a good traditional metal album. That´s why I am always wondering when I read reviews and they write “this album is for a few people who know the NWOBHM”. The opposite is the truth in my opinion, otherwise we could release a compilation with original songs (which would be a great bonus disc but impossible to do…too many labels would be involved…).
Well, as you said before, I think there is not much people that can know all the songs you are covering, some of them are really atypical and even hard to find. What are you favorite bands from the nwobhm?
I can´t say as it changes all the time. I am not one of those guys who thinks “the more rare it is the better it is”. There are great albums by the big names (the first Maiden or the early Saxon stuff) and really bad rare items. I know that if you pay 100 Euros for a 7″ single and it really sucks, you can still hear the money you spent and you might like it more than you should *lol*. Looking back the debut of Iron Maiden was my first NWOBHM album. I saw them as 9 year old kid when they were support on the Unmasked tour from Kiss. This was kind of life changing. When I was a teenager I had an older friend who ran a small fanzine. He got all the cool stuff from Neat Records and so I was into my alltime-fave compilation album “Lead Weight” (we did “Soldier´s of War” from Satan´s Empire from that album) very early. When Heavy Metal became more fast and heavy during the eighties there was a point when I had enough of that “Olympic Games in metal” *lol*. The last thing was Cryptic Slaughter or something like that and I never was into Death Metal (except of the old bands like Possessed). I also hated that modern stuff from the 90s, when they´ve combined metal with other styles. And we don´t need to talk about grunge…. So exploring the NWOBHM was something obvious for me, even I am interested in other 80s metal too. Today I can say that I like those NWOBHM most who still sound a little 70s while already playing Heavy Metal. Bleak House or Jameson Raid might be good examples, also Triarchy. I love Raven or Jaguar too, no doubt, but these missing links between 70s rock and metal are my faves.
You are a compilation of good taste, in my opinion. And your favorite song?
Ok, that´s impossible to say *lol*. Ask me 7 days in a row and you might get 7 answers. Today it would be “Save The Khan” from Triarchy.
Hahaha I knew you would say that it was impossible to decide, and I understand you. You talk to the bands you cover before putting yourself into work, what do they think about your work? Any anecdote?
Some knew it before, especially this time, because I met some of the bands at several festivals (Mythra, Legend etc.). Usually we don´t ask because we don´t change the songs. You need to ask when you change the arrangements, the general style or the lyrics. You then need a permission. We try to contact all the bands but in some cases it is impossible. Some we met years later (Sparta, Quartz). Most bands are really excited and happy and with some we have a great friendship. The manager from Quartz for example, he helped us with some lyrics when they were not available. This part is always hard for us Germans *lol*. The coolest thing is when bands do a reunion because of we put a cover on our CD. This already happened several times. In fact Kalli and me have played in the resurrected Jameson Raid for a while. Oh, and Kalli was in Cloven Hoof for some weeks too.
Pretty cool, I didn’t know it worked that way with the changes and so on. And entering Cloven Hoof wow that is like a travel through a fantastic kingdom, I guess. Let’s talk a little about the gigs, because I suppose Roxxcalibur is mainly a project destined to the live shows…
It is true that we are not too active playing live, but that´s not just our fault. Some organizers call us “just a coverband” and others, who book coverbands, say “nobody knows the songs you are playing”. That´s simply stupid because you can enjoy Roxxcalibur like any other metalband and you don´t need a NWOBHM knowledge. That´s even more weird because we always get great fan reactions and live reviews. On the other hand we all play in other recording/touring-bands too. Alexx and Mario are in Masters of Disguise (a follow up of Savage Grace, as we were Chris Logue´s band on the reunion tour 2010) and I am the drummer of Manilla Road since 2011.
You are a box full of surprieses, Neudi. I should have made many more questions hahaha… OK, let’s go on with the old script… Have you ever toured with any of the bands you cover?
We have played shows, yes, Just some weeks ago we had a show with the Tygers of Pan Tang. On several festivals we have played with bands we did a cover of.
Your most important gig was?
For sure both shows at KEEP IT TRUE, the NWOBHM Anniversary shows when we played a song or two with original singers and musicians. This was mind blowing. Bang Your Head Festival and Rock Hard Festival were great too.
Amazing. What songs work out better in live?
As we record all the basics live in the studio (drums, rhythm guitars, bass) we can play all the songs like on the album, or at least very similar. It is more important to find a good song order for our shows. The only song that really never sounded good live is “Satan´s Serenade” from Quartz (on our second album) because of the choirs.
Some coverbands really get a good business with their work and even can make a living touring around, is this your case?
No, Roxxcalibur is a labour of love, even we are more successful than we had first expected. We could make money if we would do a regular metal coverband but we are not interested in that. And it is also cool not to be in the situation to NEED to make money with Roxxcalibur. There is no need for compromises because of that fact.
I guess your tour dates are restricted to the UK territory, right? Any gigs out of the UK?
We have never played the UK which is weird, but true. We mostly play Germany, Austria or the Netherlands. There is not a big scene for NWOBHM in the UK and if you go to BroFest in Newcastle you might notice that most fans are from around the world…but not from the UK. And yes, that´s a shame and it is kinda hard for some of the original bands too.
Incredible. As you have a very good technical level, have you ever thought to expand your covering work to another Metal genres?
And again: Thank you!!! We can live out all that with our other bands we play in, so there is no need to change anything for Roxxcalibur. And we don´t want to . What I would like to do is a project called “Metal Massacre”, playing all the more obscure US-Metal songs from these compilations (up to part 7). This would be a cool thing, but not with Roxxcalibur. And of course you could so something similar with US-Metal in general.
Oh man, that would be fantastic and many lovers of US Metal would appreciate it so much! What are your plans for the future?
Our plans? Well, we hope for some shows in 2016 in-between all the time we need for our other bands. There is a lot of touring with Manilla Road also next year, so it won´t be easy. But right now the most important thing is to promote our new album.
Thank you very much for your attention Neudi, it’s always great to have the chance to talk to guys as you that live and love METAL and that are part of its history. I wish you a successful and healthy 2016