Well, the band Legend from Jersey in the Channel Islands does not really need an introduction. Amongst fans of the N.W.O.B.H.M. they are truely a legend. With two albums and one 12" EP on their own Workshop Records in the early ‘80’s, they carved their name into music history. However, fans of the band were surprised when a brand new Legend studio album entitled “Still Screaming” was released on Monster Records in 2003. High Roller Records is proud to release “Still Screaming” for the first time ever on vinyl in a strictly limited edition.
The first thing I wanted to know of band founder and guitarist Pete Haworth was how “Still Screaming” came about in 2003 in the first place? For some it came a bit out of the blue (although Monster Records had already put out an “Anthology” CD before the studio album) ... “The ‘Still Screaming’ album was nothing more than me and Mike wanting to do some music again after all the years”, says Pete. And continues: “Yes, the ‘Anthology’ release had ‘re-ignited’ our passion for creating music like we used to but I feel it was always there, just waiting for the catalyst to actually do it. We are going through another period now. We are formulating ideas for new material so I think there may still be a few more albums in us yet.” That is nice to hear. But back to the past now for the time being. How does Pete Haworth judge the material on “Still Screaming” in relation for example to “Death In The Nursery”? “The material on ‘Still Screaming’ is far more mature yet still retains the passion of everything we have done in the past”, he answers. “In my mind it is the best overall album we have produced.” In my book the 11 songs on “Still Screaming” are classic Legend (especially the guitar work and the vocals) with a slightly modern touch (the best example is the opener “I’m Not Angry”). Does Pete Haworth agree? That’s what he has to say: “‘I’m Not Angry’ is a great song I think, however, I was not sure if it was the ideal song to start the album with. I guess I come from the ‘old school’ where guys listen to the first track of an album and judge the rest on it ... the best stuff is hidden in the middle.”
The album was christened “Still Screaming”, so this might have been the key song, was it also the first song written for the album? Pete denies: “No, the first track was ‘Living In Your Nightmare’ which although rocks is not a favourite of mine. ‘Still Screaming’ is a special song which seemed to encompass what Legend was and is, always about. The album was originally going to be called ‘Born In Chaos’ … but when we started to record the track ‘Still Screaming’ it seemed far more appropriate.” In “Still Screaming” it says: “The standards for our children have never been so low”. This probably holds true for 2010 even more so than for 2003? Pete Haworth knows the answer: “Yes, not just for Western children but children all over the world. They are learning violence much earlier, being sexualised much earlier, not being educated properly. It is a scary future we can look forward to as we get older, I guess that’s why we’re ‘still screaming’.”
Except for the re-working of “Hiroshima” all other titles on “Still Screaming” seem to have been new. Or have some old song ideas from the ‘80’s been re-cycled? Pete Haworth: “No, all the songs were new and written during 2002/03. On the next album I hope to re-work another classic Legend song ‘Taste Of Life’ to see if we can breathe new life into it like we did with ‘Hiroshima’. I always wanted ‘Hiroshima’ to be an epic, but the limitations of 45 minutes or so on a vinyl record meant that it wasn’t possible in 1980 without sacrificing another song.”
There is no line-up given on the album. So did Mister Haworth play everything on it himself or was “Still Screaming” recorded by a “real band”? Especially the drums sounded very “clinic”. Here is the revelation: “I played everything and Mike did all the vocals and harmonies. The drums were synthetic, however, on the majority of tracks I played them in real time on the drum pads. When Dave Whitley first heard the new version of ‘Hiroshima’, he asked me who I had got to play the drums as they sounded real. The drum track on that song took me two weeks.”
“The Eden Massacre” is another stand-out track on the album. What was that one all about? Is there a slight Christian touch in the lyrics? Pete explains: “’Eden Massacre’ is about the bombings in Bali at Christmas in 2002. Many people have often thought that Bali is so beautiful that it could well have been the original ‘Eden’ as described in the bible, so it seemed an appropriate title.” “Pompeii” is another very interesting composition. The lyrics deal with an historic event, which seems to be one of Legend’s favourite topics ... Pete Haworth: “I have been to Pompeii several times and the facts surrounding its destruction never cease to move me, especially when you see how advanced the original civilisation of that period was and how it laid buried for so long. I often see it as a symbol of the destruction of mankind one day.” Again, another good example of Legend’s philosophical depth in the lyrical department. “Generations Underground”, on the other hand, was probably nothing more than a nod to the band’s loyal fans around the world: “Yes, most definitely! Plus it gave me a chance to do some serious guitar noise at the end of the song.”
What have been the reactions when “Still Screaming” was released back in 2003? Pete answers: “The reaction was quite surprising. We had great reviews and I think there was a general surprise that we could make a ‘come back’ album which although more modern in sound and production, still had the same unique feel of all our earlier material. We even recorded Mike’s vocals in the same unique way we did in the 1980’s, double and triple tracking in ‘real time’ to get the same warmth and depth to his voice. Hard work for him as he had to be perfect each time but it was worth it.” Unfortunately, Legend never showcased the material on “Still Screaming” on stage: “We had planned to and were in the middle of putting a new band together with Eggy on bass in 2003 but I had a couple of personal issues which put a stop to it. Fortunately they have been sorted now and I’m hoping to start playing live again soon.” So what happened after “Still Screaming”? Was any new Legend material composed or did Pete follow any other musical projects besides Legend? “After ‘Still Screaming’ I intended to put the band back together and start playing live again. We had invitations to play at several festivals, both in Europe and the USA but as a result of circumstances it never happened. Both me and Mike are working on new material and I hope we can release another album soon. I’ve also been re-mastering a lot of old rehearsal recordings and rare songs which never got released which is a lot of fun. I’ve put some of the stuff on our website as MP3’s. The quality’s not great but it’s an interesting insight into what we were up to in the early 1980’s.” So go and check that out.
Delving a long time back to the past, Pete Haworth can still remember Legend’s last ever live appearance: “Yes, it was at the Marquee Club in London in 1984. We didn’t play very well, however, Lemmy did buy a copy of ‘Death In The Nursery’ and asked me to sign it. Then he took me and my brother Neil to some club in Soho and I can’t remember much after that!” Yeah, I know from personal experience that’s how you always end up with Lemmy once he has set his mind to party mode ...
Jersey in the Channel Islands was a very isolated place, especially in the early ‘80’s. Would Legend have made it on a bigger scale, if they had indeed moved to London? To be in direct contact with record labels, managements, the music press and fans? Pete Haworth finds that living on Jersey was a blessing and a curse for Legend: “It was a blessing in the fact that the isolation made our music more unique and more personal, rather than following a trend as most other N.W.O.B.H.M. bands seemed to be doing. But it was a curse that it made it virtually impossible (at that time) to get our music to the public and play live to the people that mattered. We all had commitments here in Jersey. I was married with two children and I would have had to leave them to seek my fame and fortune in the UK. At the time it just wasn’t an option.” Today, the music scene on Jersey seems to have changed quite a lot. But back in the first half of the ‘80’s Legend were more or less the only Rock band on the island creating their own material: “There were a lot of ‘cover’ bands but no one was writing and recording their own material and if they were, it wasn’t Metal. In the late ‘80’s a few bands had a go at the usual three track demo cassette but by then it was all big hair and spandex and trying to sound like Bon Jovi. The situation now of course is quite different. There is a very healthy music seen in Jersey with lots of live venues and a lot of local Metal bands doing their own material and releasing stuff on the internet etc. totally different to how things were in the early ‘80’s.”