It's no exaggeration to say that Marquis de Sade, formed in late 1979/early 1980, is one of the most legendary bands of the entire New Wave Of British Heavy Metal period. Their sole 7" single “Somewhere up in the Mountains”/”Black Angel” (issued in 1981 on X-Pose Records) has over the years turned into the holy grail for serious N.W.O.B.H.M. collectors. A mint copy of the single including the original picture sleeve and insert has recently changed hands for well over 1,500 US $. Marquis de Sade drummer Gary Pope is well aware of the single's cult status: “We originally pressed 1,000 copies. I collected the first 500 (the band split before collecting the balance), so only 500 were ever put out - the others must have been destroyed. I designed and produced the sleeves. Not all 500 had sleeves and inserts. I still have a few copies in white sleeves only. There are no more than 500 copies out there.” Contrary to what some people have speculated, X-Pose Records was not the band's own label: “No, my father was working for entertainer/friend Kenny Lynch whose label it was. I suppose having a catalogue number gives the single more prominence ...” In their short career Marquis de Sade never received an offer from a “proper” record company. Even today Gary Pope would never classify Marquis de Sade as a heavy metal band, just a normal rock band. Okay, but a band name like Marquis de Sade does indeed somehow invoke a “heavy” image of some sort or other. So was there a literary or philosophical reason behind the name at all? Or was it only chosen because it sounded somewhat “cool”? Gary Pope remembers: ”We were at an evening rehearsal flicking through a dictionary 'm' section. We wanted to retain the 'M' logo that I had designed for 'Mixdix' - so 'Marquis de Sade' was born and we thought it sounded very thought-provoking.” The mentioned Mixdix were the direct forerunner of Marquis de Sade. Gary and his brother Kevin (on guitar) were part of Mixdix. On the Marquis de Sade High Roller album there is an alternative version of “Somewhere up in the Mountains” credited to Mixdix (with Kenny Lynch on the chorus).
The song "Somewhere up in the Mountains" has become a classic. The lyrics are quite unusual. Gary explains how the number was created: “I wrote the lyrics and arranged the song with my brother Kevin. I thought it much too commercial for the N.W.O.B.H.M. and I love a good hook/chorus.” According to Gary, Marquis de Sade (and their forerunner Mixdix) only ever recorded the two single tracks plus "Living in the Ice Age", "Welcome to the Graveyard" and "London Air". That's the entire recorded work of Marquis de Sade!
In his famous book "The N.W.O.B.H.M. Encyclopedia" author Malc Macmillan has described Marquis de Sade, quite convincingly, as a mixture of Hell, Dawnwatcher and Kraken. As I was already suspecting, Gary Pope is not familiar with any of the three mentioned bands: “No, never heard of them.” Guitarist San Remo, however, was well aware of the New Wave Of British Heayv Metal movement which was taking the world by storm in the first half of the 1980's: “Yes, it was the buzz at the time, I really liked Iron Maiden. Before Marquis de Sade I played in a few other bands, one that played a few gigs was a band called Vengence. After I left Marquis de Sade, I formed the Sanctus. I re-recorded 'Welcome to the Graveyard' with Sanctus. It was written by me, San Remo. Sanctus will be releasing an album this year with 'Welcome to the Graveyard' on it.”
Marquis de Sade split up in late 1982. Until then, they had played 50+ gigs in roughly two years. Their setlist was limited though: “Kevin and I wrote a few, 'Somewhere up in the Mountains', 'Museum', 'Living in the Ice Age', 'Suspended Animation' and 'Cloning'. Chris and Pete Gordelier wrote 'Black Angel' and 'London Air'. San Remo wrote 'Welcome to the Graveyard'. I can't remember any others at the moment ...”