Breaker – Mark (drums) & Jim (vocals)

August 24th, 2005
by EvilG

Mark Klein (drums) & Jim Hamar (vocals) of
Breaker

Interviewed December, 15, 1999 by Waspman

As we hurtle towards the Millennium, it seems that an ever-increasing number of bands are looking backwards to the 80’s for inspiration. One need only look at the current Hammerfall craze for a perfect example of this. At the same time, it seems that many bands from the 80’s are trying to capitalize on this resurgence of “true” metal and reforming to show these new whipper-snappers a thing or two.

There were a number of metal hotbeds in the 80’s (Los Angeles and the Bay Area immediately come to mind), but one that was generally overlooked was Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland. Bands such as Shok Paris, Purgatory, and Destructor all made waves in the halcyon days of “true” metal. However there was one band that stood out, even then. Taking their name from both a classic Accept song and album, this band broke out quick and fast and then seemingly disappeared just as quickly. That band was, and is, Breaker. Having recently reformed because of the constant demands from their loyal European fanbase, Breaker are back to kick your teeth in and blow your eardrums. What’re you gonna do about it?


BREAKER

I guess we should start with some background on Breaker. How did Breaker first get its start?

Jim Hamar:
We got our start in 1982.

Mark Klein:
Well, Don, Michael and I were in one band while Jim and Ian were in another and we all had some mutual friends.

Jim:
I was playing in a metal cover band named Hellion that was just starting to write original material, and Ian Shipley was the bassist in the group.

Mark:
Neither band was going all that well and we got to hanging out.

Jim:
I had been acquainted with Don Depew through a mutual friend, and was approached by the trio of Don, Michael & Mark Klein about helping out with a demo that they were trying to complete. In exchange for Ian and myself helping them, they would let our band use their facilities to record a demo of our own. I recorded the material that they had, and realized that I fit in better with them than with my own band. As a matter of fact, the “hidden” track from the “Accept” EP, the demo of “10 Seconds In”, is from that session. It is the first known recording, not only that I had done with Breaker (known then as Imposter) but also the first time my voice was ever recorded.

Mark:
We eventually played a show together. It became pretty clear that we should all get together as a band, it felt totally right, everything just fell into place like magic!

 

You guys are obviously influenced by Accept. What were some of your other influences?

Jim:
Believe me, we have PLENTY of influences?UFO, early Scorpions, Iron Maiden, early Judas Priest and even some not so evident influences like Montrose, City Boy and Mott The Hoople. They certainly weren’t the HEAVIEST, but you could learn a thing or two about writing a good song from them. The guitarist in City Boy, Mike Slamer, is totally underrated. This guy can play! But mainly it was the European stuff. European bands always had these monster guitarists and a totally unique sound. I am a frustrated guitarist, so for me to be in a band with guys that admired Uli Roth and Michael Schenker as much as I did?hmmm?I was more than thrilled!

Mark:
We were all big fans of the NWOBHM sound as well. It truly is amazing now that I sit back and think of it how five guys could get together during that specific time period with such similar tastes. All of the groups Jim mentioned, especially UFO, were big influences on the Breaker sound.

 

Jim, as I mentioned in my review of the CD, you’ve got a really powerful voice. Who were your vocal influences?

Jim:
Thanks so much for the kind words. There are actually a lot of vocalists that I admire, but the guy who set the standard for the craft was Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. As a kid, I had heard “Made In Japan”, and the screams, coupled with the pure intensity of this voice was overwhelming. I really like Glenn Hughes quite a bit as well. His voice does so many things, but in the pure power department?hands down, it’s Bruce Dickinson. Don’t even get me started on “The Air Raid Siren”. (laughs). I am very fortunate to be friends with him, and he is a constant source of inspiration. He takes all of the Gillan techniques and turns it into one huge voice. If a guy ever had an appropriate nickname, it’s him. He is an “Air Raid Siren”. If I get into MY influences any more, this is gonna be one long interview?(laughs).

 

I totally agree! I love Air Raid’s voice too! After the well-received (esp. in Europe) “Get Tough”, the band sort of fell off the map. What happened?

Mark:
Well, we got caught up in all these things happening very quickly for us and, between dealing with what was going on and our lousy management, we made some decisions which kept us from promoting the release properly and following it up like we should have. We eventually got back on track, playing concerts and recording but did lose some valuable time. We were young and stupid (laughs). Actually, the band never OFFICIALLY disbanded. We all just sort of drifted part. We had begun recording a follow-up to “Get Tough” tentatively entitled “Engines Of Disaster” in 1991. Jim’s father became ill during the recording and decided it was best for him to leave the band because he needed to devote full-time to taking care of him. Everything was put on hold and the rest is history.

 

What did the band members do during the interim period between the breakup and the reformation? Were there any other musical projects?

Jim:
I, of course, am still involved with Nightcrawler, and as we speak, are in the writing stage of a new full-length CD. Hopefully we can get it out soon.

Mark:
Michael, Don and myself have been in various musical projects together and separately. We’ve all got diverse musical tastes and not all of the projects have been flat-out metal but we seem to always bring our heaviness to whatever we’re involved in?it must be genetic! Don has been very successful with his studio, 609 Recording, and I also do work at his studio and on my own. Several Cleveland area bands have recorded at Don’s studio, including the Manimals and Crypt Kicker. Brook fills in on bass for a few area bands on occasion. We most definitely have all stayed musically involved.

Jim:
Nightcrawler will doing our CD with Don as well.

 

I’ll definitely be looking forward to that. Skipping ahead to current day, what has made the band decide to make a return to the metal scene?

Mark:
I think we’d all say that the FANS are probably the single biggest reason for the return. We’ve been amazed and flattered by the interest from both older and newer fans?it’s incredible!

Jim:
The support we have been getting from Europe is amazing!

Mark:
Bill Peters of Auburn Records has also been a big part of our resurfacing. He’s been a great friend and supporter and we definitely couldn’t have done any of this without him.

Jim:
When word got out that the possibility of Auburn putting “Get Tough” out on CD was becoming a reality, we knew we had to make it special, and getting together to record a new track sounded like a good idea. Well, one thing lead to another, and before we knew it we were offered a spot on a Nuclear Blast Scorpions tribute to record the song “Pictured Life”. Now we are gonna see how it goes to hopefully play shows, maybe even a festival or two if they’re offered, and then concentrate mainly on getting something new out. Y2Kbreaker I guess?Ha! Ha!

 

Turning to the new CD, “Accept” is a great album! Are there any other cool demos/outtakes lying around that the band will release in the future?

Mark:
Thanks! Oh yeah, there are a few other surprises planned for the “Get Tough!” double-CD though we haven’t decided on which ones yet.

Jim:
A lot of real early “rough” sounding demo stuff will be included too. This way the listener gets a real good idea on how we wrote back then, and gets to hear how we’ve grown. Breaker History 101, if you will, our very first demos straight through to a recording from 1999.

Mark:
We’ve always been big on recording things from the very beginning and have lots to choose from. Beyond that, we’ve got a bunch of songs that we’d love to get recorded and released, some of our best material yet.

 

“Still Life” is my favorite song on the CD, it’s just so intense! Can you give me some background on how that song came to be?

Mark:
Don came up with the basic riff, the idea for the drum beat, but he never mentioned which part was the chorus and which was the verse. When the lyrics were written, the song got flipped around. He wrote the damn thing backwards!!! Ha! Ha! It was a happy mistake because I think it’s one of our best songs.

 

How does the band go about songwriting? From the credits on the CD, it looks like guitarist Don Depew is the main songwriter for the band. Does the rest of the band get much input or is it more of a one-man type thing?

Mark:
It’s kinda weird because we’ve never had one particular way of writing material.

Jim:
We all get to put our ideas in the pot. That is another thing that’s very cool, EVERYBODY contributed to the songs. Once in a while, someone would have a complete idea, but for the most part we all had an involvement.

Mark:
Don shows up in the credits a lot because he’s an incredible songwriter and arranger and puts a lot of his personality and time into all of our songs but we’ve always had a really good working relationship as a band. I think we all understand each other’s strengths and really like to hear what we can all contribute.

 

I’ve mentioned my favorite song on the CD. What are your favorite tracks on “Accept” and why?

Jim:
Hmmmm, I really love “Still Life” too. That song was written when I was out of the band for a short time, and was the first thing I had heard when I re-joined in 1988. I really dig “Breaker” too, just for the reason that it got us all back together in the same room, and it didn’t seem like we were apart seven or eight years at all. The sessions were just fun.

Mark:
I’d have to say “Still Life” would be my favorite as well. I’ve always been a fan of darker, more atmospheric songs and I think that song did a nice job of capturing that type of feel. I also think it has some of Jim and Michael’s best performances!

 

Tell me about the “Get Tough” reissue. What can we expect to see out of that one?

Jim:
Pretty much what I had said before. The whole album, which includes the cassette only track “Touch Like Thunder”, compilation appearances, our single, demos?a little of everything.

Mark:
One disc will have the entire “Get Tough!” release. The other disc will have our first 7″ (“Blood Money”/”Afraid Of The Dark”), our contributions to “Cleveland Metal” (“10 Seconds In” & “Walking The Wire”), “Heavy Artillery” (“Still Life”) and some unreleased tracks and demos. We really hope that fans feel like they’ll be getting a lot when they plunk down their cash. Auburn plans on keeping the price low.

 

Sounds like we’re in for quite an album! Is this reunion going to be a full-scale thing or is it a one-off? Can we expect to see a tour and an album of new material?

Jim:
Things are looking good for us right now. I guess we’ll just see how things shake out. We do have a few ideas, and would love to record, but I think concentrating on getting the reissue out first is most important to us.

Mark:
We’ve been talking about getting the next full-length together but our focus at the moment is getting “Get Tough!” finished and out. We would really love to get the next release together because we feel it’ll have some of our strongest stuff so we’re waiting to see how the scheduling works out. We’ve been getting more and more requests for shows here and overseas and would definitely want to play some concerts in Europe if possible!

 

Keeping an eye on the future, how do you see Breaker fitting into today’s metal scene?

Jim:
I think we fit in quite nicely. There is quite an impressive roster of bands out there right now that are still playing a very traditional style of metal And of course, different versions of UFO, with and without Schenker, are still around. So I think we fit in just right. A lot of the bands we dug in the 80’s are still around.

 

If you had the opportunity to choose, what would be the ideal tour for Breaker? Who else would be on the bill?

Jim:
That’s a tough one?in fantasy land, I’m thinking?Iron Maiden, Breaker and UFO, with Schenker of course on guitar. I would never get any sleep?(laughs). Really, I think a bill of Breaker and someone like Sinner, Primal Fear, or Hammerfall would be real compatible. Nuclear Blast has got a lot of traditional sounding power metal bands on their roster.

 

Besides being reviewed in Metal-Rules (laughs), what has been your biggest career highlight up to this point?

Mark:
Of course, nothing can top our being interviewed by Waspman of Metal-Rules! (laughs). I would say that the next best thing would have to be the continued interest in our music. It feels GREAT to think that Breaker did something that has lasted for a while?our sincere THANKS to everyone for that! All the killer bands we’ve met and played with has also been very cool.

Jim:
The biggest for me is the fact that 12 years after “Get Tough’s” release people are still interested in us, and still get into our music. That is VERY flattering and is something I’ll never forget.

 

Thanks for the interview guys! I’m looking forward to hearing from the band in the near future! Any parting thoughts?

Jim:
Thank you Waspman! I’m looking forward to the re-release finally getting out there, and getting people’s reaction to it years later?.should be fun.

Mark:
Thanks for the interview. I’d just like to say again how much we appreciate everyone’s support. Extra special thanks to both Metal-Rules! and yourself for giving us this interview. Keep rockin’!

 

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