A band like Triarchy definitely needs no long introduction on this site. They are a true N.W.O.B.H.M. legend in their own right. Due to their unique sound, incorporating heavy use of keyboards, the band from Kent has secured their very own place in Heavy Metal history. In 1979, Mike Wheeler (vocals, bass, keyboards), Graham Legg (guitars) and Mark Newbold (drums) released their debut single called "Save The Khan" (re-issued one year later), followed by the aptly titled "Metal Messiah" in 1980. In 1983, the original band split up but Tony at Vinyl Tap encouraged the band to compile a retrospective CD named "Before Your Very Ears" (which saw the light of day in 1995). With a completely new (much improved) artwork the vinyl album "Live To Fight Again" (HRR 015) features all the tracks from "Before Your Very Ears" (minus the disposable "Marionette") and adding two really excellent, previously unreleased bonus tracks in "Wheel of Samsara" and "Rockchild". Drummer Mark Newbold agreed to be interviewed by Matthias Mader in April 2007. Please read what he had to say:
Matthias Mader (M.M.): "In how far does the track listing of the High Roller vinyl differ from the ‚Before your very Ears' CD on Vinyl Tap, please give me a complete track list for the vinyl. I have heard that it will include two unreleased songs, where are they from?"
Mark Newbold (M.N.): "The new album 'Live to Fight Again' has all the tracks from our 1995 'Before Your very Ears' CD apart from 'Marionette', and also includes two previously unreleased tracks 'Wheel of Samsara' and 'Rockchild'. The full track listing is, Side 1: 'Hiroshima', 'Metal Messiah', 'Hellhound on my Trail', 'Sweet Alcohol', 'Before Your Very Eyes'. Side 2: 'Save the Khan', 'Juliet's Tomb', 'Wheel of Samsara', 'Ghost of an Emotion', 'Rockchild'. Inside the gatefold sleeve are the lyrics to all the tracks (unpublished before now) and stage photographs of Mike Wheeler, Mark Newbold, Graham Legg and Brian Galibardy.
As well as recording and releasing 'Save the Khan' and 'Juliet's Tomb' with Graham Legg, we also produced an earlier demo tape comprising 'Play to Win' and 'Wheel of Samsara'. The latter track showed a tremendous amount of creativity and pushed Mike's songwriting, both musically and lyrically, to a level far higher than had previously been reached by earlier Triarchy line-ups. In 1980, 'Radio Free London', (a pirate radio station ran by friends of Graham Legg) gave the band its first airplay as they broadcast 'Wheel of Samsara', using a portable transmitter and mast, from a forest in South East London.
'Rockchild' was recorded on 16 June 1981 at the Mousehole studio in Orpington with Justin (surname unknown) on guitar, who disappeared shortly after, with the intention that it would be included on the fateful 'Kent Rocks 2' compilation album (see below). Fortunately, Mike still had a cassette copy of 'Rockchild', which High Roller Records thought would be ideal for the new album."
M.M.: "How did 'Before your very Ears' do sales wise? I mean Tony at Vinyl Tap has ceased putting out releases altogether ..."
M.N.: "The initial run of our 1995 CD was only 1,000 copies, which sold out fairly quickly and we haven't heard from Vinyl Tap records since about 1996. The company now seem to concentrate on selling rare singles and albums by N.W.O.B.H.M. and Progressive Rock bands, along with older and obscure releases, rather than producing and promoting original CDs themselves. I assume that if they were going to re-release it, they would have been in contact with us by now. However, anyone who would like to listen to our old tracks and cannot find copies of 'Save the Khan', 'Metal Messiah' or 'Before Your Very Ears' over the internet, (often at very high 'collectible' prices), can now hear all the tracks from that CD (less 'Marionette') along with 'Rockchild' and 'Wheel of Samsara' on our new release."
M.M.: "Are you still playing music yourself today?"
M.N.: "No, I am not personally, as after I quit the band in 1981, I took up photography as a creative outlet whilst helping the band when they gigged under the line up of Mike Wheeler, Mark Annal, Eddie Webb and Pete Moore with the lighting and pyrotechnics etc. Brian Galibardy is the only original member who still plays regularly with various bands in London, while Graham Legg is still a keen guitarist (although mainly confined to his bedroom) and Mike is currently enjoying a very busy academic career as a philosopher at Stirling University."
M.M.: "Let's talk about the cover of 'Before your very Ears', that must be one of the worst sleeves in Heavy Metal history ..."
M.N.: "Strictly speaking, although we are considered part of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement, our music, ideology and style, were quite a distance apart from the rest of the bands of that period. When we were offered the chance to put out a CD by Vinyl Tap, in 1995, the choice of tracks on 'Before Your Very Ears' meant that we didn't really consider it a true Heavy Metal album. As my interest in photography was at its peak then, we decided to use an image that was unusual to reflect the diversity of the tracks, and so used a photograph I had taken of a baby walrus in the mid-1980's, and on the rear, a photograph of the band performing 'Hiroshima' at the Red Lion pub in Kent, at the precise moment a flash bomb explodes on stage."
M.M.: "Will the High Roller vinyl also be called 'Before your very Ears' and what will the new cover be like?"
M.N.: "The new vinyl album is called 'Live to Fight Again' which is taken from the lyrics of our first single 'Save the Khan'. I am sure that many heavy metal fans will enjoy the cover, as it very much returns to the theme of the 'Save the Khan' picture sleeve, and graphically shows an apocalyptic horseman decapitating one of his enemies beneath a blood red sky."
M.M.: "Was there a lot of renewed interest in Triarchy after the Vinyl Tap CD from 1995?"
M.N.: "12 years after the band had split up in 1982 we were contacted by Vinyl Tap records as they were branching out from selling (among other things) N.W.O.B.H.M. classics to releasing material by N.W.0.B.H.M. bands. Mike was still in contact with me (I'd moved back from Los Angeles in 1988) and Brian Galibardy, so we got together and chose to record the old stage favourite 'Hiroshima'. Unfortunately, we had lost contact with Graham Legg who left the band after 'Save the Khan' was released, and so were unable to involve him in any new recordings or in discussing the tracks we were putting forward for the CD."
We entered Mark Dawson's studio to record the song in 1995 and the CD was released the same year, with my cover design and photographs that I mentioned earlier. Now, over 12 years later, copies can still occasionally be found in the various specialist record shops or, over the Internet, on sites such as www.gemm.com and www.eBay.co.uk and we have since discovered copies being sold by fans from as far apart as Russia and the United States, which I and the other band members find truly awesome."
M.M.: "What kind of music are you listening to today, are you keeping up with current developments in Heavy Rock?"
M.N.: "Much to Mike's amusement, I'm afraid that I still tend to listen to the bands that I grew up with, and consequently, have recently seen Journey in London, and have tickets to see Ozzy, Mötley Crüe and The Scorpions later this year too. I am still very much into hard rock and metal, but more of what you might call 'old school', i.e. Judas Priest, Van Halen, Kiss, Starz, Journey, Angel, Blackfoot, Rush, Ted Nugent, AC/DC, early Ozzy Osbourne and British bands, like Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull as well as Ultravox, Japan, ELP, Terrovision, Buckcherry, Feeder, Muse, Garbage, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and The Killers, to name but a few."
M.M.: "Is there a chance of a Triarchy live re-union, say for one of the European Heavy Metal festivals like Headbanger's Open Air or Wacken?"
M.N.: "Brian Galibardy (guitar), Mike Wheeler (bass, keyboards, vocals) and I (drums) have kept in touch now for over 20 years, as we all lived in the same area and shared many of the same friends, and also for the past two years I have been meeting up with Graham Legg (guitar). The possibility of a reunion is often mentioned, but currently it would be rather difficult to arrange, due to work and family commitments and geographical locations as Mike lives in Scotland, about 500 miles north of Brian, myself and Graham. However, if there were enough feedback and interest generated from our fans and the media, regarding our new record, we might seriously think about reforming to arrange a couple of gigs, possibly next summer, which could then be recorded and released as a live album or, alternatively, arrange some studio time to re-record some of the earlier tracks we made as simple four-track demos. With Mike, Graham, Brian and myself all very excited about the new album and renewed interest in the band, with regards to a reunion, we should 'Never say never!' Also, in a couple of years time, alongside such events as The British Steel Festival organised by Dragonight and the others you have mentioned, my idea of a great 'All-Dayer' would be to hold a huge N.W.O.B.H.M. festival in London at somewhere like The Town & Country Club, with about 10 or so bands from the NWOBHM period, who would play a set each. What a show Triarchy, Saxon, Girlschool, Praying Mantis, Tygers of Tang Pang, Vardis, Diamond Head and a few others could put on!"
M.M.: "Have you written any brand new tracks?"
M.N.: "Unfortunately not, as the band had ceased writing and recording after the last line-up of Triarchy broke up in 1983. The final line-up had Mike team up with Paul Gunn (drums, ex-Squeeze) and Mark Dawson (guitar) - ex N.W.O.B.H.M. band Legend, who wrote and recorded in Mark's Goldust studio, producing a small number of tracks, including 'Ghost of an Emotion', 'Before your very Eyes' and 'Marionette' which are included on 'Before Your Very Ears'.
So in essence, the 'new' Triarchy tracks for anyone who already has our two singles and 'Before your very Eyes', are the previously unreleased songs, 'Wheel of Samsara' and 'Rockchild', which are featured on 'Live to Fight Again'."
M.M.: "Are you doing anything to promote the new High Roller vinyl, doing interviews, manufacturing T-Shirts, selling it through your homepage?"
M.N.: "Basically, Steffen Böhm and Michael Honegger of High Roller Records will be promoting the album through their High Roller website (www.high-roller-records.de) and, the band have received a considerable amount of interest via e-mails sent to our own website (www.triarchy.co.uk) from fans throughout Europe, regarding the new album, and especially, the news of the two previously unreleased tracks. With the renewed interest in the band, along with the pressing being limited to only 500 clear vinyl copies, I doubt very much whether it will take long to sell out."
M.M.: "What was the biggest ever live gig you played back then?"
M.N.: "Supporting Vardis in Gravesend in 1981 would have been our biggest gig I think, when we played a blinding set, got a great reception and, did an encore to a hall full of enthusiastic headbangers. We also supported the EF Band at the Electric Ballroom in Essex in 1982, and on that particular evening, the band played a great set of hard rock, including all the stage favourites like 'Save the Khan' and 'Metal Messiah', accompanied by a spectacular in-house light show, and two explosive pyrotechnics (the very same that I'd blown myself up with at the first 'official' Triarchy gig!). After a rousing send-off with 'Hiroshima', the band left the stage, only to quickly return to encore with AC/DC's 'Whole Lotta Rosie', which was always a big crowd pleaser. After a great ovation, the band left the stage again, ready for the EF Band to come on stage about half hour later. However, once the Swedish band got into their stride, and after their opening songs only produced a lukewarm response from the crowd, their lead singer announced to the audience - in a rather bad tempered and sulky way - that they didn't need pyrotechnics or to play AC/DC covers to get a good reaction. They were clearly upset at the fact that Triarchy had earlier got a far better reaction from the audience, than they were currently receiving during their set."
M.M.: "What was your relation to the Kent band Legend and to Goldust Studios?"
M.N.: "As I mentioned earlier, Mike wrote and recorded 'Ghost of an Emotion', 'Before your very Eyes' and 'Marionette' with and Paul Gunn and Mark Dawson, the latter of whom had previously played guitar with Legend. Fortunately, Mark owned and ran the Goldust recording studio, enabling them to take their time in recording these three tracks which, more pop than metal, and a major departure from the earliest Triarchy material, show some unique lyrics, musical interplay and song construction. Also, we recorded Hiroshima for the 'Before you very Ears' album at Goldust, with Mark on the desk."
M.M.: "Was there actually ever a concrete plan to release a third 7" single or even an album?"
M.N.: "'Save the Khan' was entirely self-financed, and the recording of 'Metal Messiah' was again paid for by the band, while the pressing was paid by Bullet Records. As we were never professionally managed, or contracted to a record company to produce a specific number of singles or albums and, with no contract, there was perhaps some reluctance by the final line-up of the band (Wheeler/Webb/Annal and Moore) to have to pay for further recordings and pressings. However, at the moment when the Wheeler-Webb-More-Annal line-up split, some studio time had been booked to record one of the band's later stage favourites, a track called 'Orange and Green', the lyrics of which presented a socialist analysis of the troubles in Northern Ireland, an unusual topic for a heavy rock band. That track was never recorded - a lost gem.
In hindsight, we should have gone straight to the major record companies for an album and singles deal after the success of 'Save the Khan', considering that the single charted in both the Heavy Rock and Independent charts in Sounds music paper, and was also receiving national airplay by some of the major rock DJ's at the time."
M.M.: "When Lars Ulrich of Metallica picked his bands for the 'N.W.O.B.H.M' '79 re-visited' album, were you disappointed that Triarchy was not on it or did you know that it would have been a bit too obscure for Lars?"
M.N.: "To be honest, considering the tracks that Lars chose, I doubt whether he considered 'Save the Khan', 'Metal' enough for inclusion, although the track was featured in Geoff Barton's weekly playlist in 'Sounds' music paper and made it high up the same paper's Heavy Rock and Independent charts. What is a somewhat mystifying though is, why neither 'Metal Messiah' nor 'Hellhound on my Trail' were considered, as both tracks kick proverbial 'arse' and were given rave reviews on national radio by Alan 'Fluff' Freeman and the late Tommy Vance, two of the UK's most respected rock DJ's."
M.M.: "What was your favourite N.W.O.B.H.M. band back then?"
M.N.: "Probably Saxon, with their excellent ‚747 (Strangers in the night)' single, of which I have the 12" version - great band and excellent riff. Mike and I saw the original line-up of Iron Maiden play the Marquee and Angelwitch at the Dutch House in Kent, and to be honest, on both occasions, I thought that neither band were really that impressive. I think Iron Maiden really took off after Bruce Dickinson joined them, as he brought a far better vocal range to the band and, as Angelwitch were heavily into the occult - something we had absolutely no interest in - found them fairly uninspiring. Rather than watching a lot of the fledgling N.W.O.B.H.M. bands during this period, we were going to see bands like Black Sabbath, Ted Nugent, Rush, Iggy Pop and UFO, along with numerous punk bands like The Clash, The Stranglers, Gang of Four and Ultravox, who tended to inspire us more in our writing and use of keyboards."
M.M.: "Any bands you played with on a regular basis, maybe Kent's Legend?"
M.N.: "With no record company or management and, a willingness to self finance and promote ourselves, we tended to organise and set up our own headline gigs at pubs, clubs and the large YMCA in Dartford, Kent. We also played regularly at a pub called The Red Lion, which frequently had N.W.O.B.H.M. bands playing there, the Norfolk Hotel on Kent's coast (a meeting place for bikers) and other venues, so we never really played regularly (supporting or otherwise) with other bands at that time."
M.M.: "Why didn't you make it onto the "Kent Rocks" compilation on White Witch Records?"
M.N.: "The original ‚Kent Rocks' compilation was put together a little before our time, but later, we were offered the chance to appear on ‚Kent Rocks 2' and, around the same time, Mike had written a superb, blistering rock track called 'Rockchild', whilst, we had also just recruited a great new guitarist, Justin (surname unknown) to replace Brian Galibardy. We entered The Mousehole Studio in Orpington, to record 'Rockchild' specifically for the album, and left the studio clutching the master tape and a number of cassette copies, then later, gave the master tape to the promoter who basically, along with all the other bands' master tapes, did a 'runner' abroad to Holland. If things couldn't get any worse, they did, as Justin basically just disappeared, leaving Mike and I needing to recruit another guitarist (although we later decided on two - Pete Moore & Eddie Webb) and us holding only cassette copies of a great track. However, the story has a happy ending, with the original version appearing on 'Live to Fight Again' after it was remastered from a cassette that Mike still had, and which is now almost 25 years old!"
M.M.: "With the use of keyboards Triarchy never had the classic power trio sound of bands like Motörhead, Tank or Venom. Did you always play as a trio or did you have a second guitarist or keyboard player in your line-up at times?"
M.N.: "The band's sparse, but effective use of keyboards, often ran parallel to some very heavy power chords on tracks like 'Save the Khan' and 'Metal Messiah', and which in unison, made an impressive, loud 'wall of sound', both in our recordings and also on stage, as a trio, featuring Graham Legg, and later, Brian Galibardy. Mike also played keyboards and bass on stage for 'Save the Khan' and Metal Messiah amongst others, and it was only the final Triarchy line-up of Mike Wheeler, Eddie Webb, Pete Moore and Mark Annal which featured two guitarists."
M.M.: "'Hell Hound on my Trail' is a very obscure cover of a song originating from the 1930's. That is very odd, who wrote the original? Did you cover it from the original or from a band covering the original?"
M.N.: "Robert Johnson wrote the track and recorded it in 1937, but died at the very young age of 29 under curious circumstances (possibly poisoning). He was an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was considered by some to be the 'Grandfather of Rock-and-Roll' influencing musicians such as Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, who called Johnson 'the most important blues musician who ever lived.' To sum up the influence Robert Johnson has had over latter day musicians - when Keith Richards was first introduced to Johnson's music by his Rolling Stones band mate Brian Jones, he replied, 'Who is the other guy playing with him?', not realising it was all Johnson playing on one guitar.
Brian and Mike were both into blues music, and Brian's style of play was heavily influenced by The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan and blues musicians like Robert Johnson but although our version of 'Hellhound' is covered from the Johnson original, it is also, as you might imagine, very different, as it thunders along driven by a guitar structure that has only a subterranean presence in the original."
M.M.: "What was the circulation of your first (two pressings) and second single? Was there ever really a sleeve to ‚Metal Messiah'?"
M.N.: "The initial pressing of 'Save the Khan' was 1,000 copies, of which a limited number were distributed with a picture sleeve, designed and produced by Mike's father Dennis. The repressing by Bullet Records consisted of a further 500 copies, which were distributed in a plain white sleeve. Bullet Records pressed 1,000 copies of tThe ‚Metal Messiah' EP, with the band paying for the recording and Bullet the pressing costs. We produced no artwork for a picture sleeve, although there have reportedly been various sightings of one, but officially, none was ever produced by the band. However, it is possible that Bullet could have issued it with one that they had created (and not told us) or, some of our fans had decided to make their own, and it is these that have ended up in the market place. In either case, the fact that sellers of 'Metal Messiah' claim to have them, remains rather a mystery."
M.M.: "How did the number 'Marionette' end up on a CD compilation called 'Noise Level critical' on Hallmark? Was that a deal Vinyl Tap secured?"
M.N.: "It is somewhat annoying that the Triarchy track - chosen by we know not whom - to end up on the 'Noise Level Critical' CD compilation, was neither one of our vinyl releases nor, in any deep way representative of the band's music in general. I don't know whether this had anything to do with Vinyl Tap but, if any of the original band members had been asked to choose a track for the compilation, I am certain it would have been either 'Save the Khan', 'Metal Messiah', or 'Hellhound' on my Trail'."
M.M.: "How long was your live set and which numbers did it include, which have not been released as yet?"
M.N.: "After recording 'Save the Khan' and various demos, Graham Legg, Mike Wheeler and myself, gigged with a 45-60 minute set of entirely original material. The titles of the songs we were playing then included: 'Wheel of Samsara', 'Juliet's Tomb', 'Play to Win', 'Suicide City', 'Hey Mister Death', 'Lies', 'Plastic People', 'Sex Electric', 'All you Despise', 'Save the Khan' and our finale, 'Hiroshima'. Some of the tracks including 'Play to Win' and 'Lies' were recorded in four- or eight-track studios as demo-tapes, but there are few surviving copies of these today.
The line-up with Mike, myself and Brian Galibardy would have included some of the songs from the set above, plus the tracks we recorded for our ‚Metal Messiah' EP, i.e. 'Metal Messiah', 'Hellhound on my Trail' and 'Sweet Alcohol', along with 'Rockchild' and some cover versions, such as the J.J. Cale classic 'Cocaine', which was always well received and a joy to play."
M.M.: "Did you toy around with any other cover versions apart from 'Hell Hound on my Trail'?"
M.N.: "At various times Triarchy line-ups played the following covers in addition to 'Hellhound on my Trail': 'Cocaine', 'Sunshine of your Love, Superstition (yes, the Stevie Wonder track), 'White Room', 'Johnny Porter' (a Ry Cooder track), 'Hey Joe', 'Search and Destroy', 'Kick Out the Jams', 'Whole Lotta Rosie', 'Black Night' and 'Paranoid'."
M.M.: "Is it true that Alan "Fluff" Freeman played you on Capital Radio back then?"
M.N.: "'Fluff' Freeman played 'Save the Khan' and 'Hellhound' on his Capital Radio 'Monday Rock Show' in 1981, as did Tommy Vance, who after playing 'Hellhound' on my Trail' said, "… that this band were going places" and even John Peel, who generally played only new wave and punk music back then, aired 'Save the Khan' on his evening show.
As an unsigned band, it was a tremendous and exhilarating feeling, to hear respected and revered DJ's, who we had grown up with play our records and, make such positive and complementary comments about them."
M.M.: "I also read that The Enid helped you in the beginnings, is that true?"
M.N.: "Strictly speaking no, but, on Sunday, 3rd August 1980, we recorded all three tracks for the 'Metal Messiah' EP at the Lodge studio in Hertfordshire, which was owned and ran by The Enid. Stephen Stewart (the guitarist of the band), ran the desk that day, helped with the production, and mixed down all three tracks, in a near record 12 hours, including 'Hellhound' on my Trail', which we did in just 'one take'.
Matthias Mader (Iron Pages)