Interview with Tony Speakman from Hell
Review by James Griffiths
Photography by Andre Purvis
After a great opening for Sabaton I caught up with Tony Speakman from HELL backstage.
You guys have been playing all over Europe this year, how has it been for you?
Fantastic. Yeah really good. I mean the reception, obviously when we went out there we really didn’t know what to expect. Before we went to Europe we did like one local show then we were out there with the big boys. We really didn’t know what to expect or how we would go down. We didn’t really know the European metal scene as its different to the UK, and it was an absolute blast.
The reception was tremendous, everything about it was great. The staff, the crowds…just fantastic. Relativity speaking, being amongst some of the really big bands we held our own and it went well. It was great. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
What about next year do you have any plans? New album, gigs or festivals?
Yeah we got to start work on the new album in the early part of the year. We got the Hammerfest at Prestatin with Anthrax and Skindred and all the others. Then we’ve got the Accept tour which should do us, as we are really looking forward to it. We’ve been confirmed for, there’s one in Denmark I can’t remember the name of that one (haha). Masters of Rock in Czech Republic, we’ve got Sweeden Rock Festival I believe. Yes we have got Sweden Rock. We also have Muscle Rock as well. I think we might even be headlining the bill on that one, there’s one or two others in the pipeline but we cant say anything about those at the moment.
The last album ‘Human Remains’. How did the recording go?
Recording went brilliantly! I mean it was one of those things that was done, I mean when we first started it was never really the idea, for it was to never be the album it was. We all got together had a curry, we said lets have a bit of fun, lets do some recording, lets put something together for ourselves. Then it was yeah put it on the internet for Hell fans only sort of thing. As it got together we realised that we had something quite decent on our hands so more effort went into it, more care was taken, but it had to be done inbetween Andy’s other duties of course.
At the time he was doing a lot of production in between all the other things he was doing. We had to spend a lot of time around Andy so that’s why it took so long to do. The recording went really well. We was meticulous about everything and made sure everything was right.
The music itself of course is as it was in the 80’s, there are a few little tweaks but not real changes, if you listen to the demos its very similar its not a lot different. Yeah everything just seemed to fall into place it want hard work if you know what I mean. A lot of hard work went into it don’t get me wrong Andy and Kev put a lot of time and effort into everything.
Dan did the artwork and we’re thrilled to bits with it.
It just went well, we didn’t rush anything nothing was put out until we were absolutely totally satisfied with it and of course the rest is history, the results from it has been totally amazing.
So how have the fans perceived the album?
Very well. A lot better than we expected! The album sales have been higher than we expected, the response has been great, the awards in Sweden Rock magazine, Number 1 with album of the year, Metal Hammer UK number 6 and the list is amazing. Its like my record collection it’s like hey we are in there! WOW where has that come from! We got into the Kerrang top one hundred as well. We never expected things like that, none of us did.
It’s just been amazing…it’s a fairy tale. It’s the only way I can put it. It’s a dream come true. Hopefully it’s going to go on from there and get better.
According to your website, back in the 80’s the press just didn’t get you at all, how has their perception of you changed now?
When we first came out we were in that no mans land where the NWOBHM was on its weigh and the thrash scene was coming up and we were stuck in the middle of it, and the kind of show we had the music we were doing it was complex, I mean you imagine yourself your a metal fan in today’s age you imagine if something totally radically different came out your either going to get it or your gonna hate it, there’s no in between, there’s no borderline on that its going to be an absolute storm or its gonna die.
Basically the people that did get it loved it and they are still following us today. The people that didn’t get have now come on board cause as music evolved of course Hell influenced Sabbath who went on to do what they do of course and apparently went onto influence Cradle of Filth.
Its had its little place in history and its done its bit, and now because there is so much, the music scenes evolved so much there’s so many different things that people are more open minded there are pretty much everything’s been done, there’s room for those little bits and now hopefully we can and seem to be fitting in rather well.
Obviously you guys have been around for quite a long time, how does it feel opening up for a band like Sabaton?
Fantastic. Its great. You forget that really we’re just a bunch of old guys, this was never destined to happen 5 years ago. It was a dead and buried project and now to be doing shows like this its unbelievable. It really is a dream.
Can you think of a band who’s been in the same situation as us in the past?
I cant no! That answers itself because its like when Def Leppard came out they were young kids that were having all this major success and we are the pension version of Def Leopard (hahaha)
Since forming back in 1982 how do you feel the band has changed and progressed? Obviously you had the tragic news of the original vocalist committing suicide, how has all that changed the band?
It’s a difficult one to answer, you gotta remember when we first started we were young full of testosterone and we want to be rock stars, we are now older, wiser well I say older we don’t necessarily behave it, but we are physically older and wiser.
The whole scene has changed but we try to keep the essence of the band as it was. You know we’ve not tried to model ourselves on anybody or anything. We’ve tried to carry on as if Hell was still in the 80’s and if there was a Nuclear Blast deal back then and we’ve carried on.
Obviously we have the new toys and technologies in the studio to play with now, its just great. We’ve tried not to follow any trends to take on any influences, just try and be as authentic and original possible as we can. That’s the best I can say really.
Changed I don’t think it has changed really. As characters it’s quite weird really I mean Kev to me hasn’t changed at all. Its one of those things….Andy’s changed he’s a little bit older now, but I don’t think the band has changed really a bit matured but we have tried to keep it as original as possible.
The image the essence of and how the public perceive it as well we have tried to keep it original.
Before we end, is there anything else you’d like to add at all?
Just thanks to all the fans for their support! It’s been brilliant. Everybody who has supported us, has made our dream come true! Keep it up (haha) buy 2 copies of the next album! (hahahaha)
Well thanks for your time and it was great meeting you!