What do you do over the summer holiday period? You rent a cottage in rainy Wales and do some record shopping. At least that's what I did in 2009. One day I was visiting Grey 'n Pink Records in Chester. Grey 'n Pink Records is one of the Top 10 remaining vinyl Second Hand Record Shops in the UK (especially if you are looking for rare and out of print New Wave Of British Heavy Metal stuff). And believe me, I have done the lot: from Brighton all the way up to Stirling. I bought a mint copy of the "See Them Running" 7" single of a band called Wolf at Grey 'n Pink. By the way, we are not talking about Wolf from Cumbria (formerly Black Axe) but about the more obscure (and much heavier) Wolf from Chester. Anyway, one thing lead to another, the lovely people at Grey 'n Pink got me in contact with Wolf guitarist Wally Rumsey and not even a year after my visit you are holding a copy of the first-ever Wolf album in your hands, aptly titled "Echoes Of The Past".
The Wolf we are talking about was formed at the height of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal period in the year 1979. Guitarist Wally Rumsey, however, played in another band before Wolf: "My first band was a Blues band called Broken Circle Blues Band. I got the idea from a film starring Christopher Lee called 'The Devil Rides Out' (scarey in those days!)." Wolf put out their only 7" single on their own Gremlin Records label in 1981. The two songs "See Them Running" and "Creatures Of The Night" (not related in any way to the Kiss song of the same name) were produced by Colin Richardson and Ian Blackburn (of N.W.O.B.H.M. colleagues Turbo). In the three years between forming the band and releasing the single Wolf was not very active as Wally mentions: "We had many, many ideas but not a lot of songs ever got finished." The two songs from the single were both somewhat centred around the werewolf theme, as Wally Rumsey explains: "I probably watched too many werewolf movies. But I have always had an interest in the American Red Indian culture and got lots of ideas from that." As the single was self-produced and self-pressed, the neat logo was also designed in-house. According to Wally, one of the guys in the band's trusty little roadcrew (consisting of Wayne aka Worzel & Ronnie) was responsible for the grim-looking werewolf (which you can also see in a revamped version on the cover of the "Echoes Of The Past" vinyl).
As Wolf was not the most original name in the world (and possibly to avoid confusion with their more popular namesakes from Cumbria), Wally Rumsey decided to change the band's name: "I can't really recall why we changed our name. Probably due to a change in line-up. Our singer Ken Tunstall left because of work commitments soon after the single had been released but we have kept in touch from time to time." Wolf changed their name to Krüizer (sometimes spelled with an umlaut): "Wolf did run straight into Krüizer with no break. Krüizer lasted a few years. Great times ... but still no finances in place to release anything on vinyl. No real offers, a few sharks out there then. We didn't trust them. We did not have any money ourselves, so could not finance a full album on our own. Sad but true! Krüizer played live three or four times a week at its peak, sometimes even more. Sheffield Uni was a great gig." In 1985 Krüizer recorded at 5-track cassette called "Suicide" (which was sold at gigs). It included the songs "Borderline", "Take The Strain", "The Ballad Of Reg", "Rain" and "Suicide". Especially "Borderline" was quite a heavy effort (not dissimilar in style to early Jaguar, Witchfynde or even Satan). Wally reflects: "I think if 'Borderline' was released and promoted as a single today, it would be sucessful. It is one of those numbers once heard never forgotten." The demo was reviewed in High Octane fanzine at the time and also elsewhere: "I can recall quite a few reviews but we were too busy enjoying ourselves to take much notice or to follow them up. It did fell real good when we were played on BBC Radio 1 on Tommy Vance's 'Friday Night Rock Show'. He played us over and over again but I don't know what happened to that now."
Today Wally Rumsey is playing guitar in his own band. At the moment, he even thinks about resurrecting Wolf/Krüizer and will definitely play songs of the "Echoes Of The Past" album with his current solo band whenever they get out on the road. So you better watch out for:
"Creatures of the night rushing across the sky
Creatures of the night watching people die
Creatures of the night in different shapes and form
Creatures of the night be before my eyes"
Depending on who you ask, Krüizer (the self-styled German umlaut in their name most definitely a nod to the famous “ö” in Motörhead) was either a totally indendent band or the direct follow-up to Chesire’s Wolf. Fact is that Wally Rumsey, guitarist and chief songwriter in Wolf, was also a central member of Krüizer. The rest of the line up originally consisted of Tommy Bagley on bass and Alan Ellis (drums and vocals). Alan had been playing alongside Wally in Wolf. He left the band to form Black Heart Winter with Tommy Bagley on bass. So technically speaking, the original three-piece formation of Krüizer consisted of two thirds Wolf and one third Black Heart Winter. This line-up played up and down the country in such venues as Stairway’s in Birkenhead, the Lion in Warrington, Cherry Tree in Runcorn and last but not least the prestigeous Sheffield University. The trio recorded a first demo at Cargo Studios in Rochdale. However, the tape was not widely distributed and the band was unhappy with their three-piece line-up. As a result, Shaun Owens (from Wrexham-based outfit Night Prowler) joined Krüizer as the new singer. About half a year later drummer Alan Ellis was replaced by Gary Williams (also stemming from the Wrexham area). Williams had to learn the material pretty quickly as Krüizer were asked to play three gigs in three days about a week after he had joined the band. He fitted in nicely and according to the short-lived newsletter of the band Krüizer were going “from strength to strength”. It was surely high time for a second, more professional demonstration tape. According to Malc Macmillan in his “N.W.O.B.H.M. Encyclopedia”, the five songs of their “Sucide” demo recorded in Liverpool’s Garden Studios, namely “Borderline”, “Take The Strain”, “The Ballad Of Reg”, “Rain” and finally “Suicide”, won praise in the British fanzine High Octane at the time (the mid-‘80’s). The band themself described the material as following: “The five tracks contained on the tape represent what Krüizer are all about live and that is raw energy and excitement, and most of all sheer class.” There you have it from the horse’s mouth – and I don’t beg to differ!