Newcastle. Metal city. In the 1980s Tyneside was one of the hotbeds of the glorious New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Neat Records, formed at the tail end of the 1970s in Wallsend, was seen by many as the most important label of the entire period (English journalist John Tucker has just released a book on the history of Neat Records). It’s only logical that since 2013 the city on the Tyne has been hosting the world’s finest indoor heavy metal festival. From February 19th to February 21st 2016 Brofest (UK) # 4 will be held at Northumbria Students Union in Newcastle city centre.
For the second time in a row Cumbria’s Hammerhead will make an appearance at Brofest. Not without justification. Germany’s Rock Hard magazine rated them “best band of the festival” in 2015. And this time around Hammerhead will have a special present for their most loyal fans. The first 250 paying punters at Brofest 2016 will get a free Hammerhead 7” single including two unreleased live tracks (recorded at Brofest 2015). This limited edition on red vinyl will only be available as a free gift at the festival!
Guitarist Buzz Elliot shares his recollections of playing at Brofest (UK) in 2015: “Playing live at Brofest was a real thrill for us, the crowd was fantastic! Luckily, I had arranged for the sound desk recording to be made, we were quite pleased with the overall results once the live recording was re-mixed by our producer Guy Forrester, so it was great news for us that this 7” single is being made and we are very grateful to yourself and High Roller Records for making this happen for us. It is a great way of promoting the band to some people that otherwise may not have been aware of what we sound like. It's also good to see that vinyl is making a comeback... to many rockers like myself, it never went away! The full gig was recorded and it is one of the best live recordings in our archives. It has really captured the energy and spirit of the band plus the crowd that day. I think that it could be good enough to release as an entire live album in the future if the opportunity arises...”
Was it difficult for Hammerhead to choose the two tracks for the single? “We would have liked to have used 'Crying As I Fall' as well”, states Buzz Elliot, “but it was going to mean editing one of the longer songs, so it was decided that it would be better to just have two of the longer songs. These two songs were agreed upon. We are possibly best known for the single 'Time Will Tell' and it has always been popular when we play live, so I guess that using this particular song makes sense. We wanted something new on there as well, and 'Angels Fall' sounded pretty cool to us.”
As mentioned earlier, Hammerhead’s Brofest 2015 show was outstanding. Quite a magic gig. “I would rate that particular gig as one of the most enjoyable gigs we have ever played in the band’s history,” confirms Buzz. “Although only a handful of our home town fans were there, we already knew quite a few others in the crowd, some friends that we made when we played in Barcelona were there. Also Ronny Santens and his friends from Belgium who had seen us at ‘Hard Rock Hell’ a few years earlier. I also got to meet several people that I have become friends with over the internet: Mario Corbella from Italy, George Alexopoulos and also Boris Bessarabov from Israel. It was a nice experience to actually meet these people and get a photograph with them, having talked to them over the last ten years on the internet. The reviews that I have seen from the gig have been kind to us, it was great to appear in Rock Hard magazine in Germany. Rock journalist and photographer John Tucker was also very complimentary towards us. ”
It has already become a tradition that the best bands at Brofest will be re-invited for next year. Bashful Alley have played there twice, Tytan will, and now Hammerhead. “It was such a great festival and we went down so well with the crowd, that I thought we must do this again”, explains Buzz Elliot. “So I contacted the organisers as soon as I got home to say that we would love to come back again sometime. We are thrilled to be coming back in 2016, can't wait! The vibe at Brofest is very cool. It is an absolute must for any serious fan of the NWOBHM era, it is possible to get up close and personal with the bands, who are often in the audience watching, just as I was myself. The two Stus and Martin have done a great job putting it on the map as a must-do gig for any of the old bands that are still out there.”
Were there any bands Buzz particularly liked in 2015? He reflects: “I stayed back for a while after we played and all the bands sounded pretty good to me. I particularly enjoyed High Spirits, which is a bit strange for me, because as an American band they sounded typically slick and polished, rather than the edgy sound that some UK bands often have. Troyen and Hammer also deserve a mention, both turned in good crowd pleasing sets, it's great that so many of these people are still rocking out like their lives depend on it.”
So what’s Hammerhead’s Brofest comeback gig going to sound like? Any specific ideas yet? “We might keep a few songs in from the last set,” explains Buzz, “but I would like to play mostly different songs. It was difficult trying to choose a set for the last one, there are certain songs that we wanted to do but didn't have enough time. But we also felt obliged to play other songs that the crowd might expect, such as both sides of our single and also ‘Lochinvar’. We will probably do a mix of old and new material in 2016.”
And there is going to be another nice surprise: “For the first time in the band’s history we have some funds in the Hammerhead account, so we will be arranging for a selection of items to be available: CDs, various vinyls, T-Shirts, perhaps we can also get some badges and patches done as well, I need to sort that out.”