After two outstanding albums for Rondelet Records, "End of the World" in 1981 and "No Way out" one year later, N.W.O.B.H.M. band Gaskin split up way too early in late 1983. Surprisingly, they hit back with a fantastic comeback record in the year 2000. "Stand or Fall" was originally released by Jess Cox' Edgy Records on CD only and High Roller Records is now pround to announce a very limited vinyl edition of said N.W.O.B.H.M. masterpiece. As the CD version of "Stand or Fall" was originally released some 18 years after "No Way out", one might wonder, if it was ever considered a continuation of Gaskin's unique style from the first two albums? Paul Gaskin himself does indeed think so: "Oh totally. 'Breaking my Heart' and 'City of Lights' were both written in 1983 and the intention was to bring out an album then, but in the autumn I broke the band up and gave up for a couple of years. I think once you have a style it stays with you to a degree. I'm a riffer when it comes down to it. I love balls and chunk but with good strong melodies. I don't get the shouting style vocal, it grates on me."
I really loved the cover artwork of "Stand or Fall". As does Paul Gaskin: "The cover is down to my good friend Danny Flynn who also did "End of the World". It's from a picture of his called 'The Waterfall'. The cover will be more or less the same, but the logo didn't really work on the CD, so this time we'll be using the same gold logo that was on "Beyond World's End". It'll be nice seeing it on a large scale I agree. Sadly there will be no bonus songs, because I used everything I recorded the first time round. However, at just over 55 minutes there is too much material to go on an LP, so I believe HR are thinking of doing a vinyl single to go alongside the LP which will be cool. Also, there will be a few more photos of the band. As most people know, "Stand or Fall" was really a solo album, so I didn't have a band in the studio with me, but I've included pictures of the guys that I put together to help me promote it: Andy Solomon (guitars), Dave Pick (drums) and Tony Ilkiw (bass)."
The original release of "Stand or Fall" spurned a whole lot of activities within the Gaskin camp back when it came out. They played the Wacken festival in 2000 and also the "Headbangers Open Air" a couple of years later. Paul Gaskin explains: "It was absolutely incredible! After 18 years of relative obscurity to come back and do Wacken was out of this world. Sadly, the momentum we built up then came to a sudden halt with the break up of my marriage. I won't go into details, but my head was fucked up for a couple of years after that, and all that new found interest seemed to disappear. However, when I got myself back on my feet, I got in touch with Jess Cox again, and he arranged the gig at HOA, so I put the guys back together and had a wonderful time. We shared a hotel with a load of bands from Chicago, and I still remain friends with Ravensthorn and Tyrants Reign. I was very pleased with the way we went down, I thought that maybe our 'old school' blues based Metal wouldn't be dynamic enough for today's audience, but I couldn't have been more wrong. One guy came up to me afterwards and said we were like a breath of fresh air, which was a great compliment. I just wish we could have played longer. I misjudged the time, so wasn't able to play 'I'm no Fool' at the end!" And what happened after this phenomenal appearance at the Headbangers Open Air cult festival? "After HOA Andy and Dave went off to form their own band, and Tony joined another local outfit, but I teamed up with Dave Norman again and the intention was to record a brand new album. Firstly though, in 2006, we organised a one off show to celebrate the 25th anniversary of "End of the World" being released, and that was a storming night. I'd had trouble with my vocal chords, so I brought in an incredible singer, Andy Wood, to do the vocal duties for me, and I concentrated on my guitar which worked out well. Dave and I even discussed using Andy on the new album, but we thought it better to stick with me as we made that mistake before, ha, ha! Well, because of work commitments the going has been incredibly slow, but we are getting there. Fingers crossed it may well be finished before the end of the year."
So there might be a brand new Gaskin studio album in the can after all? Paul Gaskin is positive about that: "I've written loads of material. Some of it quite dark as it relates to my break up and a short spell in a mental ward, ha, ha! All Rock 'n' Roll! I think we have something like 14 new songs for the next CD which will be called "Edge of Madness" I think, and the title track is something else. There will also be an instrumental which is kinda bluesy called 'For absent Friends' dedicated to Stef Procopczuk and Brendon Spencer who we've lost along the way, and a couple of acoustic tracks which won't be everyone's taste, but its all music. Then when it's done we will be moving straight on to the next project which is something that Dave's had around in bits for years. He wants to call it "Aftermath" which is what I was going to name the '83 album. It's basically a load of my old riffs that I never used, but Dave has put them together as one piece. I don't know much about it myself yet, so I'm as eager to have a listen as anyone else."
If you have ever had the chance to see Paul Gaskin in a live situation, you will surely know that he is one of the most underrated guitarists of the entire N.W.O.B.H.M. era. So what are his five favourite guitarists then? "That's a toughie, Matthias", Paul remarks. "Right now the two guitarists that I'm listening to the most are Eric Johnson and Jeff Beck. I recently bought "Live at Ronnie Scotts" and its great, so different from the stuff I play. Same with Eric. I got into him through the first G3 video, and bought everything he ever brought out. He is amazing. Robin Trower is my all time fave guitarist. That rich tone and his fluid playing I could listen to forever. I could say the same for Dave Gilmour, again I could listen to his playing any time. Ok, that's four ... Steve Vai, he just blows me away. If I could play a tenth as well as him I'd be a happy man." Are those also the five guitarists who influenced Paul Gaskin the most stylistically? "Maybe Trower and Gilmour, but going back to my early influences, that's got to be Tony Iommi and Ritchie Blackmore, they are the riff masters. You can definitely see both of them in my riffing and to an extent in my soloing. I'm not a big speed run merchant, I will leave that to the Malmsteens of this world, but I do like melody and getting the most out of a note or phrase. Yes, I do the occasional hammer on etc, but I'm basically a blues player ... oh yeah! Better add Billy Gibbons to that list."