Remember Chariot? The famous self-styled "toothbrush clan" from London? Formed in the early '80's, they released their first demo in 1982. In the further course of things they managed to put out two well-received albums: "The Warrior" in 1984 and "Burning Ambition" (wasn't that the title of the B-Side of Maiden's "Running free" single?) two years later. Due to lack of record company interest both albums were released on Shades Records. Originally, Shades was the best ever Heavy Metal shop on the planet, situated in St. Anne's Court, off Wardour Street, right around the corner of the famous old Marquee club. The owner of Shades was a certain Mike Shannon, who helped to push the band no end. Vocalist Pete Franklin remembers: "Mike Shannon was only our manager and member of the band but he never influenced us music wise. He is a good friend still." Shannon and Shades Records were also instrumental in founding Britain's Metal Forces magazine, of which Pete has only good things to say: "Metal Forces was a bit like playing for the home team, yes, I must admit that. It was a great mag for Metal."
The name Chariot (especially tying in with great record sleeves like the one for "The Warrior") always struck me as having real potential. Pete talks about the origin of the band's name: "It was John Smith, the bass basher, that came up with the name. Nothing behind it, it was just a good name. Until you get to France and discover it means 'shopping trolley'!" The highlight of Chariot's recording career surely must have been playing at the famous Reading Festival. My guess is surely right: "To play on the same bill as Venom and Manowar, those were great days for us. We were different musically but the fans didn't mind, rock fans are great that way. But for us Reading was one of the best shows we ever did. That and selling the Marquee out lots of times. To walk out in front of 20,000 screaming fans is one of the best feelings you could ever have - I still get goose bumps. Fans still have the frisbees we threw out on stage." When Chariot released their first longplayer in 1984, the N.W.O.B.H.M. had already started to diversify into different fractions like melodic Metal, progressive Metal, Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, even Black Metal. At what end of the spectrum of the N.W.O.B.H.M. would Pete place Chariot? "The N.W.O.B.H.M. was great for us. I don't know what part of the spectrum we were but you don't care about that, you just want to play for the fans. That's why Metal is still here." In 1984, Chariot recorded a session for the BBC which has not yet been (at least to my knowledge) officially released on CD or vinyl: "The BBC session was just for the Friday Rock show and Tommy Vance, R.I.P. It was arranged by Mike. We found out Tommy loved the band and the BBC also recorded our live show in 1987 at the Reading Festival."
By the end of the '80's, Chariot had run its course, the band struggled on for a couple of years, forming and re-forming, but finally called it quits in 1992. Pete Franklin explains: "When John and Jeff left the band, Scott and I wanted to carry on so we got new guys Simon Dawson and Tony Newton in. But it was never the same feel doing the Chariot songs with them so we changed the name to Outland and Charge and finally to Dirty Deeds. Different personel came and went but Mostly Tony and I. Dirty Deeds did three albums on Beast Records ("Danger of Infection", "Welcome to the real World" and "Blown") and yes, I think the demise of Beast did start the end of Dirty Deeds." Beast Records, as we know, was the short-lived brainchild of a certain ex-youth team player of West Ham United Football Club: "We met Steve Harris purely by accident. Tony Newton took up football for his local team and they met and became friends. He loved the music and really helped us. We also did some fantastic tours with Maiden, all over the world, feels like a dream now looking back. We are still friends. I saw them at Monsters of Rock when they headlined. It was great to see them all. You get so close to the band and crew on tour."
In 2006, with Dirty Deeds long having been laid to rest, Chariot rose again. The band put out the self-produced "Behind the Wire" CD (now finally out on vinyl via High Roller Records). However, the public did not really take that much notice: "We did Ok out of it but it wasn't promoted as it should have been, slowly but surely it's getting out there. After Dirty Deeds' split I was going to do a solo album, then I got the Idea to contact the guys about a new Chariot project and they were all up for it. Scott, the original guitarist, lived too for away so we got new guy Paul Lane, a good injection of new blood. First time together and went through the new songs and it was as if we had still been together for years. 'Behind the Wire' is the first Chariot CD since the '80's. Sometimes you need that break to remember how good it was but those were the days of rock and Metal. We do live in very different times now." However, Pete Franklin makes the impression that he has tasted blood again. Chariot seem to be more active than they have been over the last ten years: "I'll give you an exclusive. Chariot are recording some tracks from 'The Warrior' album for the fans, just to say thanks. We will only be putting them on our website to download. We are recording as we speak, so thanks and see ya!"