Deep Machine is probably the most mysterious of all New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands. Back then, in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, they were heralded as some kind of N.W.O.B.H.M. all-star band. Almost like (Dennis Stratton’s) Lionheart a couple of years later. At the time, at least in London, Deep Machine were almost as popular and as well-known as Samson, Angel Witch, Praying Mantis and the early Iron Maiden. Numerous live tapes were circulating among fans, adding to their “mystique”. There was only one tiny detail missing to complete the puzzle: They never signed a record deal. Whereas Samson, Angel Witch, Praying Mantis and above all Iron Maiden went on to endure more or less healthy recording careers, Deep Machine remained probably the “most prominent unsigned Metal band in the universe”. Until now, that is! The band has just signed a deal with High Roller Records. Founder and guitarist Robert (Bob) Hooker gives us the full story ...
“I’ve heard it said many times that a certain ‘mystery’ surrounds Deep Machine due to the fact that no official material has ever been released”, that’s how he supports my thesis. But he carries on: “There really is no mystery, it was purely after I left the band, there were various line up changes in a relatively short period of time, which appeared to cause ‘stability’ problems within the band, and ultimately the chance of any future recordings (apart from demos) were probably affected as the band struggled to sustain a permanent line up for any length of time. During this period, various members departed to join bands like Angel Witch, Paul Di'Anno's Lone Wolf, and the EF Band.
The four track recording about to be released by High Roller Records was recorded on 18th and 25th of January 1981 at Pathway Studios, London. It was intended to be used as a demo to market the band in an effort to get more gigs in a variety of venues, and also ultimately a record deal.
It turned out to be the best Deep Machine studio recording in existence, and one that was considered by some to be the ‘definitive’ Deep Machine line up. I would not personally subscribe to the ‘definitive line up’ thing though ... both Dave Orton AND Andy Wrighton were great bass players, and did an equally good job in the band.”
Back then, in the heydays of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement, at least in England everybody seemed to know about Deep Machine but, as mentioned before, the band never got round to signing a record deal. Bob Hooker explains why: “Looking back, I don’t think the band really pushed enough in a concentrated effort to get a record deal (in fact I honestly don’t think we really approached ANY significant record companies). Back then, most of the N.W.O.B.H.M. bands like Angel Witch, Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis, Diamond Head etc. all had fairly decent management of some sorts. We had a guy who only ‘managed’ us on a ‘part time’ basis really, and any focused effort needed to ‘compete’ with the more notable bands back then in terms of chasing record deals and securing new shows/promotional work etc. was sadly lacking. It was basically down to us really, and with concentrating our efforts to rehearsals, playing gigs plus the added pressure of us all holding down full time jobs, (plus very little spare cash ... it was all spent on pyros, lighting and PA hire for our shows) there was really very little opportunity to persue and approach record companies really. So I think a decent and commited manager would have helped us in this respect.”
In the late ‘70’s/early ‘80’s Deep Machine was heralded as some kind of “N.W.O.B.H.M. supergroup”. What does Bob say about this tag? “Yes, I’ve read this many times that the band were heralded as some kind of ‘N.W.O.B.H.M. supergroup’”, he answers. “Well, I guess my answer to that would be that it was maybe because of the fact that many band members were also later involved with the more prominent N.W.O.B.H.M. bands of that time, together with new band members that were also recruited from ‘name’ bands of that period. To name but a few: (Paul Di'Anno’s) Lone Wolf, Angel Witch, EF Band, Battlezone, Tokyo Blade, Nevadda Foxx, Shogun, Janine, Strutt ... the list goes on. So yes, in that respect perhaps it’s fair to say we could be labelled a ‘N.W.O.B.H.M supergroup’.”
By the time Bob Hooker left Deep Machine, which must have been towards mid to late 1981, Deep Machine had a repertoire of 18 all original songs, all of which (with the exception of one, 'Street Fighters', co-written by John Wiggins and Roger Marsden) he either wrote, or co-wrote.
Deep Machine were also playing live very frequently by that time, so frequently that Bob Hooker lost count: “I honestly cannot say how many shows we played, but I remember a period of around 18 months of us playing at least one, sometimes two shows every week.”
There are numerous live tapes of Deep Machine in existence. However, the bad sound quality of nearly all of them has kept the band from releasing a live vinyl: “Yes, it’s true. There are many Deep Machine live tapes in existence from various shows. I personally would have said the quality of the recording was lacking due to the fact they were all recorded (mainly by Brian Moore and Andy Gregory of Destroya) with a very simple old portable cassette tape recorder, just positioned on a table ‘somewhere in the audience’! In retrospect, it would of course had been a much better result if the recording had been made direct from the mixing desk. So it’s debateable really, if the live recordings in that respect are worthy of release. I guess it’s really just a matter of personal opinion here.”
Deep Machine were coming from the East End of London (just like Iron Maiden, Urchin, Desolation Angels or Oi! bands like Cock Sparrer and The Business). Did they ever “market” themselves as an “East End N.W.O.B.H.M. band” (like Maiden surely did in the early days)? Bob Hooker agrees: “Yes, we were very much an East End Metal band, and played numerous gigs in East Ham’s Ruskin Arms, which of course is pretty much where Iron Maiden started out and rose from the ranks. We never supported Iron Maiden, but would have been honoured to have done so. During my time with the band, we did however play a support slot for Angel Witch at London’s Marquee Club.” However, Deep Machine never really spread out their live activities beyond East or central London: “No, we never really played many shows outside the London area. We played a few shows in Essex and Kent, but that was all. At the point of when I left the band, we were looking to spread our wings a little and play some shows in the North of England, plus the possibility of some European shows ... sadly, this never happened.”
Not a lot of people know that Bob Hooker once auditioned for Iron Maiden (and landed among the Top 3)! In the end, Tony Parsons got the gig (soon to be replaced by Dennis Stratton, who was replaced by Adrian Smith for the 1981 “Killers” album). Here is the whole story: “I think it was 1979 when I answered an advertisement that appeared in the English music newspaper Melody Maker. It read ‘Iron Maiden require 2nd guitarist’ (or something like that). I had already seen Maiden play at The Ruskin Arms several times, and they had really impressed me so I was really keen to go for the gig and give it my best shot. I called and was told my audition slot would be the following Sunday at Hollywood Studios in London. That weekend was really hectic as Maiden had gigs scheduled for Friday night at the Ruskin, then Saturday night at The Saxon, Catford, South London, then on Sunday the first auditions were set to take place. I took along a small cassette recorder and recorded both the Ruskin and The Saxon gigs, and as soon as I got home each night, I played along to those songs untill almost dawn. I wanted to get them perfect! So after a few hours sleep that Sunday morning I went along to Hollywood Studios with my buddy Paul Ramsey for the audition. I was met with quite a daunting scene when I arrived, around the carpark area outside the studios were about 25-30 or so guitarists all lined up to take their turn in the studio. Most of them, however, only quite literally got to play just a few CHORDS, and at best just one song, before the studio door was pushed open by an irritated Paul Di'Anno yelling ‘NEXT!’. Anyway, my turn soon came. I got to play four songs: ‘Wrathchild’, ‘Running Free’, ‘Remember Tomorrow’ and ‘Iron Maiden’. I was really pleased as it had gone so well. Steve Harris remained in the studio, and as I left said that he had really enjoyed it. Dave Murray, Paul Di'Anno, and drummer Doug Sampson came out into the carpark all saying how impressed they were and that I’d been ‘the best so far’ ... they aked me if I was prepared to turn pro and leave my job .. (of course I said I would!). They said I would be hearing from them shortly. After about a week my hopes began to fade as I’d heard nothing and then I read Tony Parsons had nailed the gig. Disappointed, the following week I dragged myself along to The Music Machine in Camden, London, to see Maiden headline with Angel Witch as support. I met up with a guy there who I only knew as Dave Lights, who at the time was pretty much in charge of the whole Maiden stage show. He explained after the auditions, the band had narrowed it down to a ‘Top 3’ list of guitarists, obviously Tony Parsons was one, then myself and another guy who remains unknown to me to this day. Tony Parsons was chosen from the final three.”
I always suspected the name Deep Machine stems from Deep Purple and their album “Machine Head but Bob knows otherwise: “No, the name Deep Machine actually came to me, believe it or not, just before I was about to go to sleep one night! For some (strange) reason I was thinking of space craft (as you do!) ... machines that probe deep into space, right? And I just thought ‘yeah, Deep Machine is ok for a name’ ... and that was it! There was no intentional thoughts or influences of Deep Purple and their album ‘Machine Head’! I did want to change the name at one point to Screamin’ Demon, but it was decided the name Deep Machine had already started to become established, and so it stayed.”
Some old tapes of mine label the band Burn as “Deep Machine related”, what was the exact relationship between those two groups? Bob Hooker explains: “The band Burn (yes indeed, another Deep Purple connection) was as far as I know, another band put together by Andy Wrighton (after the demise of the latter versions of Deep Machine), of which I know very little about.”
Right, now we come to the question of who played when in Deep Machine. As pointed out above, this is a question which is extremely difficult to answer. Bob tries anyway: “As I’ve already said, there have been many members of Deep Machine throughout the band’s history. I originally formed the band with Pete Clements on drums, Kin Lou bass, and John ‘Budgie’ Edwards on vocals. Kin Lou was replaced by Kevin Maloney on bass, then John Edwards was replaced by Mick Silver on vocals. After a few gigs, I totally re-formed the band and recruited John Wiggins on guitar, Dave Orton bass, Rick Bruce drums, and Roger Marsden vocals. Dave Orton left and was replaced by Andy Wrighton on bass (these are the line ups that I personally played in). Other notable future members included: Kevin Heybourne (Angel Witch), Charlie Towler (Slam, Devil’s Candy, Straight Edge XFX and currently still with Deep Machine), Tony Harris (Strutt, Burn GBR), Paul Smith (Janine), Tony Smith (Strutt), Steve Kingsley (Rogue Male).
There are also reports that drummer Dave Dufort was once part of the band, but I cannot confirm this.
John Wiggins was very much involved in the forming of Tokyo Blade, having been playing in earlier forms of the band, namely Killer and Genghis Khan ... he then went on to play on the first Tokyo Blade album, as well as many others released by the band.”
As mentioned ealier, Bob Hooker left Deep Machine in 1981, to be replaced by Kevin Heybourne (of Angel Witch fame): “I really have no idea as to how productive Deep Machine was after my departure from the band. Obviously, they did continue to play some gigs, but I think the amount of shows they played during this period was greatly reduced in comparison to the ‘original’ band. Apparently, the later versions of Deep Machine did produce two further demo recordings, in 1982 and 1983, but I know very little about these.” According to Bob, Deep Machine said goodbye for good around late 1983/early 1984. However, there was a re-union show to be held: “I did not play in the 1988 re-union gig at the Ruskin Arms. The band line up for that show was: Ray Evans (guitar), John Wiggins (guitar), Charlie Towler (drums), Roger Marsden (vocals) and Dave Orton (bass). Although I never knew Ray Evans, I was saddened to hear he had passed away several years ago.” Just a couple of years ago, there was another, more inofficial Deep Machine re-union, as Bob explains: “Yes, in January 2009 myself, John Wiggins, Andy Wrighton and Charlie Towler got together for a jam at an East London rehearsal studio. We were all amazed at how tight it still sounded, considering we had not played together since 1981! So we decided to re-form the band.” So there you have it: Deep Machine are a working unit once again. So hopefully this fantastic 12" EP on High Roller Records is just a taster for the first Deep Machine longplayer, which has been overdue for three decade now! Bob nurtures my hope: “I am really hoping a Deep Machine album will now happen with the current line up of myself (guitar), Lenny Baxter (vocals), Charlie Towler (drums), John Riley (bass) and Nigel Martindale (guitar). It would be a mixture of classic Deep Machine tracks together with some new songs which are at present either complete or part-written. To play Headbangers Open Air or Britsh Steel would be awesome, a great honour. Who knows, it may happen, watch this space ...”
Deep Machine are a British Heavy Metal band, formed in 1979 by guitarist Bob Hooker.
The original line up was a four piece with Bob on Guitar, Kin Lou ( Bass) John Edwards ( Vocals), and Pete Clements ( Drums).....
Kin Lou left the band and was replaced by Kevin Maloney on Bass. Several gigs were played at East London's Ruskin Arms (London) and also The Bull, Hornchurch Essex.
John Edwards left the band, and was replaced by Mick Silver on vocals, and a few more Ruskin Arms gigs followed......
Bob then auditioned for Iron Maiden at Hollywood Studios Clapham London...
Unfortunately, although in the 'top 3', Bob didn't get the gig, which went to Tony Parsons (who was soon to be replaced by Dennis Stratton).
Disappointed at not nailing the 'Maiden gig, Bob began to put Deep Machine back together again (which at this point had pretty much fallen apart)
John Wiggins, guitarist from Metal band Black Friday, joined the band. Dave Orton (Bass) and Ricky Bruce (Drums) were recruited from Touchstone, a Metal band that had also played numerous gigs on the London circuit.........
Intensive rehearsals took place, working on all original new material. When this was completed,the band then looked for a vocalist to complete the line up... and as a result Roger Marsden became the new frontman ......
In the following year,the band did numerous gigs with this line up including the Ruskin, Greyhound Electric Stadium Chadwell Heath Essex,The Swan South London, Red Lion Gravesend Kent to name a few.
In January 1981, a demo was recorded (the re-mixed tracks you can hear on this page) at Pathway Studios Islington London. Tracks were: Demon Preacher, Asylum, Witchild and Deep Machine.
Bass player Dave Orton left the band, and auditions started to find his replacement.
Andy Wrighton was chosen from around 30 or so applicants.....
More gigs followed with this line up including a support slot with Angel Witch at London's Marquee Club....
Due to pressure from work, Bob (very reluctantly) decided to quit the band......and was replaced by the (excellent) Angel Witch guitarist, Kevin Heybourne.
The band played several gigs with this line up until Kevin Heybourne recruited Ricky Bruce and Roger Marsden to join the re-formed Angel Witch.
John Wiggins also left the band at this point and went on to join ex- Iron Maiden singer Paul Di'Anno in Lone Wolf, and later Battlezone. John also went on to join Tokyo Blade, XFX and Slam.
Andy Wrighton continued with the band for a while, and at this point there were several line up changes.... more notable members included Tony Harris (Guitar) Paul Smith (Guitar) Tony Smith (Vocals) Steve Kingsley (Drums). After around a year or so with these various line- ups, the end of the band was declaired, and Andy Wrighton went on to play in Shogun before moviing on to join ex Deep Machine bandmate John Wiggins in Tokyo Blade.
Roger Marsden left Angel Witch, and went on to sing with EF Band and Nevadda Foxx.
Deep Machine re-formed briefly in '88 to do a one-off gig at the Ruskin Arms....this line up included original members John Wiggins, Dave Orton, Roger Marsden, and notably new member Charlie Towler on Drums.
In January 2009, Bob Hooker, John Wiggins, Andy Wrighton and Slam Drummer Charlie Towler decided to have a jam after not playing together for 27 years! They were amazed at how tight it still sounded, so decided to re-form the band.
Rehearsals started, but it soon proved difficult in finding a singer that totally suited the band. Eventually Lenny Baxter (ex-Bass Player with Gangland, Straight Edge, XFX, Battlezone) became the new frontman.
At this point John and Andy were invited to re-join Tokyo Blade, and found it increasingly difficult to rehearse and commit with both bands, so after a very amicable split, replacements had to be found.
Bass player John Riley (ex- Stolen Property, Urban Clearway, Innovatia) joined the band, and guitarist Nigel Martindale (ex- Fawl, Carnal Rites, Art Of War, Torn Angel ) also joined the ranks, which has completed the current line-up.