WOLFSBANE – Jase Edwards, Jeff Hateley and Steve “Danger” Ellet

June 3rd, 2011
by Marko Syrjala

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INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ

Wolfsbane are an English heavy metal/hard rock band that formed in Tamworth’s in the mid-80’s. In 1988 they were signed by Rick Rubin’s Def American label and  the classic debut LIVE FAST, DIE FAST came out one year later. The band released two more studio albums (DOWN FALL THE GOOD GUYS and WOLFSBANE) until they disbanded in 1994 when lead singer Blaze Bayley went on to join Iron Maiden. After a couple of reunion shows in 2007 and 2009, Wolfsbane officially reunited in June 2010. The original four: Bayley, guitarist Jase Edwards, bassist Jeff Hateley and drummer Steve “Danger” Ellet are currently working on new studio album which should be released later on this year. In April  2011 they did several shows across the U.K supporting NWOBHM legends Saxon and when the tour reached the city called Bournemouth we had the pleasure to sit down and have a few pints with Jase, Jeff and Steve… Read on!

THE WOLFSBANE REUNION

First of all,  who really needs Wolfsbane in 2011?

Steve: The world needs Wolfsbane; everybody needs Wolfsbane “laughs”.

Jeff: We are back to save the world.  The world has been too boring.   

Steve: We are taking over to avoid American drudgery, the sludge metal…

Jeff: Yeah.  And now we are back to set things right. 

Jason: But we are just doing it for the fun really.  There is not really a major game plan is there. 

Jeff: No.  It was one of those…the planets aligned for us all in our lives to do this.  It just kind of came together in that way.  

In a way this Wolfsbane reunion thing actually first started in 2007 and since then you have been doing some gig s every then and now, right?

Jeff: Yeah.  It’s kind of started slowly really over the last 3 or 4 years.

Jase: We did one half ’n hour set after Blaze’s own band set in Tamworth in and that was our first gig together in 13 years.  Once we got back together we got more shows to do, which was great.  Then we didn’t do anything for over a year but then we did the tour with the Quireboys in the end of 2009. 

So what actually was the main reason to do this re-union and how it actually got started in a first place?

Jase: It just fell together, literally.  We didn’t decide now is the time it just seemed right and we were all in a position to where we had to come back to it fresh.

Now you’re working on new Wolfsbane album and it seems that Wolfsbane is back in permanent basis. Did all this have anything to do with the fact that Blaze (Bayley) just recently split with his own band?

Jeff: No.  This was already all booked and happening.

Steve: We already took him from Iron Maiden, remember he was in this big band and we went to him and said look, get your fucking ass out of this shit band and come back to a real band “laughs”

Jeff: Yeah, the idea was that the Blaze’s band was his day job and this is the thing he does just for fun.  But then his band started to split so he is doing this at the moment. 

Jase: But this is not connected to his split with solo band  

Jeff: There is no connection at all.

Steve: You know the fact that he split with his band was another thing.  The idea was that we would all live in Tamworth and so we were going to have someone in his band…

Jase: We just knew if something good came up for us we would do it and the rest of the time he would do his own band. 

Jeff: So that kind of happened in his world independently of what we are doing.  It is okay to do more than one thing.  We all do other things.  These days everybody is a bit like Dave Grohl, aren’t they?  They don’t necessarily just have one thing that you do.  And that is fine because people like to hear it.  If they like your music they like to hear that you are doing with different things and challenging yourself. 

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Wolfsbane: Live at Bournemouth in 2011

 

NEW WOLFSBANE MATERIAL

Tell us something about the new Wolfsbane track “Did It for the Money” which is included on your new EP?

Jase: It is just one of the new ones that we have written for the album.  We have written between 10 and 15 songs and…

Jeff: About 10 are finished now.

Jase: “Did it for the Money” was one of the more recent ones that we wrote and we just felt that it had the spirit.  At first we were going to put the EP out with just some reworked and rare tracks but then we decided to make it even better and bring out something brand new as well.  You know, we wanted to revisit stuff that hadn’t really been properly recorded.  We have gone back to demos and stuff from there old sessions…there are some songs which have only been released on some demos so we wanted to record them properly.  And we wanted to redo “Killing Machine” again because we really like it.  It is from the first album and it just really sounds…

Jeff: It didn’t really come out very well in the first album.

Steve: Yeah so we wanted to come back to that now. 

Jeff: We were just going to do that and then we just thought let’s just put a new track on it and make it a new single.  Originally it was going to be just old stuff but then we wanted to get something new out.

Jase: There’s a certain amount of everything so I love listening.  People are going to think…people will say oh we are just getting back to this and to that.  A lot of people are doing it as well and there is a phrase expanded around.  So we thought we would have a bit of fun with it.

Steve: And it is a total fluke that the new single is called” Did It for the Money” because we aren’t doing it for the debt.  We are doing it for the opposite reason. 

Steve: Yeah, we are not enough in debt.  We need more debt in our lives.

Jeff: Well, I just do it for the fun.  All I am interested in is rocking out and drinking beer.  As long as I don’t lost any money I am not bothered about it.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah.  That really is what it is about, just rocking out and going out.



So have you guys already got some feedback from that new release?

Jase: Yes, there’s been lot of reviews on the internet magazines and…

Steve: Yeah, and we were reviewed in the Sun.

Jase: The Sun, the biggest-selling tabloid in Britain, gave us a good review.  So yeah, there’s a lot of positive stuff.  Actually, it’s been exclusively positive stuff.  I haven’t seen anything negative actually.  I am sure it will come but so far it has been “thumbs up” only!  But actually it doesn’t matter, yeah, because the two things it is not going to affect is whether the people who are interested in the band will buy it regardless of what a review says.  Secondly, we are not that worried about it.

Jeff: It’s not like we are trying to make it massive or anything.  We are just doing our thing.

Jase: We want to do it and it is fun and if people like it then it’s just great.

Steve: One of the key things was to do it for enjoyment.  When we go on these tours we make sure that everything is right.  We stay at a nice hotel and we enjoy ourselves.  We go to the gig and make sure we have everything right and the pressure is comfortable.  We don’t want to be sleeping on anybody’s floor and driving around in a van until the early hours of the morning or any of those sorts of stuff.  So either we do it properly or we don’t do it and that is just the whole philosophy.  Everyone can enjoy…Jeff says, oh I got this because I treat it like it is a holiday.  I enjoy myself and play the gigs.  We really enjoy ourselves.

Jeff: And we are seaside as well two days in a row.

Steve: If we get a bad gig, if we get a bad review, well then so what.  Absolutely makes no difference whatsoever. 

Jeff: It is not going to stop anybody coming to the shows.

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TOURING PLANS

I was going to ask about your touring plans because since the reunion you have played shows in the UK only. Do you have plans to go to Europe or some other areas as well?

Jeff: We would like to go Europe.  We didn’t really go to Europe the first time around. 

Jase: We did a couple of tours and supported Motorhead didn’t we, and Anthrax and…

Jeff: And we did support some other bands as well but on our own we certainly didn’t play in Europe.  We wanted to, we always wanted to, but for some reason it just seemed impossible and I don’t know why it was like that?  We were ready for it, weren’t we?  But your agent is booking stuff and you are trying to get tours and get out there and do stuff and it just seemed like we couldn’t do it.  I never understood why we didn’t do that.  We never went to Japan either, which is something we would like to change this time.

Steve: Back in the day we had that old record company cliché which is: “You are fucked by your management”

Jase: There was a lot of stuff going on that seemed…I mean how hard it is?  You book a gig and you go there and you plug your guitar in and play.  At the time it seemed impossible for some reason.

Jeff: There was a lot of incompetence at the time and that’s all.

Jase: But now after Blaze did the whole Maiden thing and he does have much more of a presence across Europe, so we are hoping that it will make those things more possible for us.  We have all been to Japan with other bands since then and so being over there, I mean I have signed full sets of Wolfsbane albums in Japan.  We are known over there so we are hoping to get over there and go to Europe and do some…I’d love to.  It would be great.

There are a couple of great festivals in Europe like Sweden Rock Fest.  It’s full of classic metal bands from the 70s, 80s and so on…

Jeff: That would be great.  Anything like that would be great for us.

Jase: That kind of stuff would be great.  We would love to do that and go out.

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MAKING MUSIC AND WORKING WITH RICK RUBIN

You mentioned earlier that the new EP will be released by yourselves, right? 

Jase: It is.  We are starting that way and doing it through our own website and everything.  Then we will kind of roll it out.  We will be our own record company and essentially some kind of distribution deal for it, so we will go through a distributor, but we are sort of shopping around at the moment.  We have got a few possibilities but we would rather do that than get in bed with another record company because you don’t really need to these days.  You make your records for people and they can get it directly from you and that is the way we are going to start.  Then from there we will probably go to the digital thing first with iTunes and all that and then we will go through some kind of a distributor.    

It sounds like you want to be more in control regarding the business side?

Jase: Yes we do.  Because…

Jeff: That’s where we got missed it last time.  We gave too much control and the other people.

Jase: In a way you had to then in a way that you don’t have to now, especially with me doing a lot of production work myself as a producer with my own studio.  It would be crazy for me not to do that and say “Let’s make our music right”, right?

Speaking about production, how was it to work on your first album with such a legendary producer as Rick Rubin is?

Jase: Well when we started it was all very exciting.  But he had two ideas for us as to how he was going to produce them.  And he freely admits himself that he chose the wrong one.  One was to do that whole very produced…like he did with the Cult.  It worked with them because they were more AC/DC or trying to be.  Whereas we were kind of more of a smoother or something… so the other was for him to just put us in a room with the microphone and shout “GO!”, and that is what he should have done.

Steve:  Really he shouldn’t have produced. He signed us but someone else should have produced the album.

Jeff: That’s what happened and then Brendan O’Brien that way, especially with ALL HELL’S BREAKIN LOOSE DOWN AT LITTLE KATHY WILSON PLACE because we only had 6 days to record it and mix the whole thing.  The mix is almost a rough mix.

Steve:  And that sounds great and we spend like six months for doing the first album and it sounds like… you know? “laughs”

Jase:  Yeah it wasn’t a fun experience.  I mean, Rick Rubin is an incredible person and he is a very interesting guy to be around. He is like Stanley Kubrick.  He does make a shit film every now and again and that was us then. But you know as a person…you look at the things he has done and he is an ideas kind of guy.  He is not going to sit there…he has engineers to do that.  He put Run DMC and Aerosmith together and he did get Johnny Cash singing a Nine Inch Nails song, that’s what he does and he is a fan isn’t he?  Obviously you can’t knock him for that because look at his career.  He has had a lot of success doing that.

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THE GLAM YEARS

At the very beginning of Wolfsbane, you first started as a glam rock band. Would you tell something more about that period?

Jeff: Yeah, we started as a glam band….

Jase: We had a real glam thing when we started.  But we couldn’t play and that’s why.  We did star doing our first gigs like 3 months after we had our first guitars and I was like 13 back then and… 

Jeff:  We learned by trying to be cool glam rock but that was just stupid, you know “laughs”

Jase:  We were just trying to shock, weren’t we?  Because we were surrounded by kind of blues cover bands and we would just get up in their jeans and be the hippie.  We just wanted to shake things up a bit.  So that whole area of our image was all we had, right? Because we couldn’t really play and…

Jeff:  We started a band with… we absolutely couldn’t play.  We had to have something to come in but once we started touring properly the image just kind of slowly fell away because we just didn’t keep up with it.  I do remember when we were like sleeping on people’s floors and playing at sleazy venues “laughs” 

Jase:  And also once you start getting good you start kind of moving away from it.

Jeff:  We were like full glam one day and then scruffy the next.  It just slowly…

Jase:  We just kind of became more rock as time went on I guess.

Jeff:  We just evolved.

Jase:  Yeah.  And it was…  During those early days, we were just kids, weren’t we? 

I do remember that I have seen some really early Wolfsbane pictures on the web and then you did look like a U.K version of Motley Crue?

Jase:  Yeah, and that was the idea.  I would say that it was like Twisted Sister that is the kind of glam band we were.  It was kind of like what?  That was the idea behind it. 

Jeff:  It was more Twisted Sister with a million dollars than Motley Crue or those kinds of hair bands at the time, you know?

Jase:  It was kind of Motley Crue the first album.

Steve:  It was like the early Motley Crue. 

Jase:  But we are not ashamed about it.  We are proud of our glam roots.  

Steve:  The thing is, why make such a big deal about changing your image.  Look at rock in the 60s.  Look at the Beatles.  They only made records for 8 years and they had a completely different image.  Everything was moving so fast whereas now things don’t move as fast.  They don’t move at all.  They get put into little sub-genres and you can only do this or that to be a band. 

Jeff:  There is a lot of hang up with rock and metal marriage.  It is all about the little sections and you can’t cross over.

Jase:  I think if you look at the EP as well.  It does start with “I Did It for the Money” and goes into “Limo”, which is kind of a very rock start and then it goes into “G.S.P” which is almost punk song. 

Jeff:  It was more glam on the demo but it has come out more punk on the new version.

Jase:  Then you go to “Killing Machine” which is a very metal song and it has a slightly filmic thing going on.

Jeff:  Well we don’t do…we don’t just do metal or pop rock stuff.  We do a little bit of everything. 

Jase:  Some people will like a certain part of what we do more than other parts but that is us.  You can’t really be anything other than what you are so it has its up and down side.

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THE SECOND NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL

When you first started as a band there were many bands coming from U.K at the time. There were bands like: The Wildhearts, Skin, The Almighty and much more. It was kind of a second new wave of British heavy metal, really. What’s a common thing for all those bands is that many of those bands never made it really big time, you know? In your opinion, why it went how it went?

Jeff:  The Wildhearts were the closest to get really big but Terrorvision were way bigger. 

Jase:  They, The Wildhearts, were more popular I think but the Terrorvision had more hits.

Jeff:  But nobody totally broke it did they? I suppose, from that scene.  But at the same time that doesn’t really matter does it.  You could almost in some ways say the same about Motorhead or the Ramones.  They were big bands but they never played a stadium did they, so I supposed we are like a smaller version of that.

Steve:  What the Ramones did in South America, they were actually bigger than the Rolling Stones in South America.  All they did, because they never had hit records, and they were playing to like 75,000 people in Brazil and they hadn’t had a hit record. 



Speaking about The Wildhearts, Ginger is nowadays spending a lot of time in Finland now when he’s working with Michael Monroe.  Are you Jason still working with him as well?

Jase:  Yeah I am about to go and do an acoustic things with him.  We actually just produced a song together.

Have you guys heard the new Michael Monroe album SENSORE OVERDRIVE?

Jase:  I heard the album actually when I had to…it was great.  It sounded like Ginger though all the way.  You could hear the changes he did all the time.

How well people in Britain do still know Michael Monroe nowadays?

Jeff:  People who liked Hanoi Rocks in the 80s really.  Just anyone who was from our era, I mean, anybody who was into all that kind of stuff.

Jase:  We have gone to see them… when they went to Rock City.  Monroe was in Rock City.  It wasn’t packed but it was OK.  They liked it because it was enough to be a good atmosphere but…

Steve: It felt a little bit exclusive.

Jeff: It was OK. 

Back in the early 90’s, how much grunge and other new musical trends affected Wolfbane’s success back then?

Jase:  Well we split up not long after all that anyway.  Really, it was kind of irrelevant to us because we were still only stuck in our cult level anyway.  Throwing the whole grunge thing up, it wasn’t like we were affected because we only had a cult fans anyway so they just liked us regardless.

Jeff:  The whole scene changed overnight.  I mean, it did at that time. I think it fits in with the social thing.  Those times were worse for a little while weren’t they?  Now things are different economically.   People don’t want to be miserable.  They want to have a drink and have a good time and forget about things for a while and that is wonderful. 

Jase: That whole thing is that I liked the early grunge stuff.  I really liked all that and I liked the Nirvana stuff but it when bands started to be commercially classed as grunge, you know Pearl Jam and all those kind of bands, I didn’t like that at all.  It was all about big shorts and everybody singing like “that”.  I had no interest in that.  When all that kicked off I was just getting into Suede and The Manics and the emerging Brit Pop thing.  That was what I was listening to as well as 60s garage rock and stuff like that.  Personally, I was not into this stuff anyway.  I am into the stuff that influenced it in the first place not the actual commercial version of it. 

 

THE STRETCH

After Wolfsbane first split up in the mid-90’s, you guys continued to work together in a band called Stretch. Tell something more about that one?

Jeff:  For a bit yeah…

Steve:  For a little while we did the Stretch.  That was kind of 60s beat meets the Motown…

Jeff:  .…meets garage rock meets Brit rock.  Basically it was getting out of our system all the stuff that we were into that we just couldn’t really do in the Wolfsbane format.  We went off initially and we split off to do all different things ourselves and then we couldn’t find the right people to work with so we just kind of got back together then.  We were doing stuff individually, the stuff I am writing and the stuff Jason is writing, it went alright together.

Jase:  Well we started Wolfsbane together so we had a lot…obviously it has evolved into four people, but it was our band, me and Jeff.  We were the ones in the back room with the little 6 watt amps kind of learning AC/DC songs and stuff and thinking about getting onstage and doing something.  I think Stretch was a bit more of that?

Steve:  We were getting quite ambitious.  If we had stayed together we could have been the greatest band in the world and we weren’t necessarily successful but…

Jeff:  We haven’t ruled out the idea of another album, have we?

Jase:  No.

Jeff:  I think that would be fun at some point.

There is one release from the Stretch, right?

Jeff: Yeah but it’s just an EP, a mini album.  There were only about 1,000 ever pressed. 

Jase:  But there was lot of stuff that was demoed that never made it.

Jeff:  We have got an album’s worth of stuff that we never actually finished.  One day if we ever get around to it we might actually make the Stretch album.

Steve:  The idea behind it would be just the most ridiculous rock and roll album in the world.

Jeff:  We probably wouldn’t call it Stretch though.  We would probably call it something else?

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OTHER STUFF IN LIFE

After the Stretch thing went over, I know that Jason started his career as a producer and worked with Ginger etc but what you other guys started to do back then?

Jeff:  I was in a band called the Jellys for ages with C. J and Stidi from the Wildhearts and we did that for about five years. We did three albums and just toured around Britain loads.  I did that for ages and that was a full-on kind of punk Ramones type thing, complete madness. 

Jase:  It was a good few years wasn’t it?

Jeff:  Yeah five years.  We made three albums and went to Japan three times and toured the Reading Festival.  It was quite successful in that way.  We didn’t make any money or get famous or anything but you know, it was a successful, functioning band.  Complete drug-fuelled madness as well.  I had enough with them and when that split I was finished with that.  It was nonstop, horrible but… It was great actually.  It was great at the time.



How about you Steve?

Steve:  I did drive the tour bus.

Jeff:  He means after a Stretch.

Steve:  Oh, I was in a Shania Twain tribute band.

Jeff:  So you have got to hit rock bottom before you can come back up “laughs”

Jase:  You said you weren’t going to mention that! "laughs"

Jeff:  Nothing to be ashamed of ”laughs”

Steve:  Yeah, it was great.  Every night I got to see the singer’s breasts.  It wasn’t a sexist comment, but it was sexy.  

 

THE SPLIT WITH BLAZE

Back in the days, when Blaze announced that he was going to leave and join Maiden, how you guys react when it happened?

Jase:  Well obviously we were pissed off because one minute we were doing gigs and then… We knew that Bayley was going to be auditioning for Maiden and we didn’t have a problem with him doing it because we were kind of running out of steam by that time anyway.

Jeff:  I think what had happened as well was that we grew up together in the band.  We really had been in situations around business and at times physical danger as well where we have to look out for each other and we only really could trust each other in this environment.  I think that made split difficult.  It was impossible really for it to happen without a certain amount of pain.  But at the same time we all did wish for it anyway.  And it did make sense.  The whole Paul Di’Anno kind of idea, of him joining Maiden did look like a good idea on paper.

Steve:  It was crappy that the band had split and all that and we were all pissed off about it but it was also a bit liberating because we could try some different things so it wasn’t totally the end of the world.  It was like the rug had been pulled out from underneath you.

Jase:  I went out and wrote a musical and it was just full of all that.  I just had so much music inside me that we couldn’t use for Wolfsbane.  It was like an hour-and-a-half of total music. 

How about the very last Wolfsbane album, WOLFSBANE. The album came out at the time when Blaze was about to leave anyway. How it was to work that album?

Jase:  Well we didn’t really finish it properly.

Jeff:  It was dead in the water.  It was left.  There was never going to be a tour and there was no band anymore.  

Steve: It was almost a waste of time releasing it.

Jase:  So Bayley is one of us and whatever he is doing he is still…he is Wolfsbane and that is it.  That is what you are.  You might do other things and you might go off and that is your first band.  That is the only band that matters really.  No matter what else you do the first thing you do, the thing that gets you into it is the real.

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THE FUTURE OF WOLFSBANE

It’s time of the last question… of course it’s the usual one.  The future plans of Wolfsbane?

Jase: At the moment…

Steve: World domination.  Then once we take over the world we should take over the universe.  Wolfsbane taking over the universe and we will be God “laughs”

Jeff: Wolfsbane has to save the world.

Steve: People will worship at our feet.  Forget all this Christianity whatever, the one religion will be Wolfsbane.

That’s the plan…. Sounds good “laughs”

Jeff: But in actual fact we are going to make a new album and do some gigs in November. 

Jase: We are going to finish the record, tour at the end of the year and then decide…see what happens after that.  See where the wind blows us really.

Jeff: There is no major plan.

Our time is up now. Thanks guys!

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FOR MORE INFO GO TO:

WWW.WOLFSBANEHMS.COM

 

MORE PICTURES FROM BOURNEMOUTH

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