Well, no doubt about it, Tyrant from sunny California are one of the most legendary US Metal acts of all time. They debuted with the song "The Battle Of Armageddon" on "Metal Massacre III" in 1983. In 1985, Metal Blade released their first album "Legions Of The Dead", followed by "Too Late To Pray" two years later. Fans had to wait for "King Of Kings" for almost ten years. Tyrant's third album was issued on CD by Art of Music in 1996. High Roller Records is proud to announce the vinyl re-release of this lost US Metal jewel. Three regular studio albums within 26 years is not what one would expect of a highly talented bands such as Tyrant. Whereas Metallica, Slayer or Megadeth went on to superstardom Tyrant underachieved mightily. Bassist and founder member Greg May has a logical explanation for this: "We didn't want to put records out just for the sake of putting product out. The three records we did record have many years behind them of writing or playing before they were ever released. Kind of like when most bands release their first record … ours were all like first records, which made them all cult classics and very epic. I know what you're saying - why no national or world tours etc.? It was our wish to stay underground and not reach a plateau of being commercial or that readily accessible. We had chances to go out on the road with some of the other bands from Metal Blade, but at the time, there were so many other issues involved, and the tours just didn't seem right for us. I have a funny story about Slayer, a band I greatly admired, who never stopped touring. I ran into Tom Araya in a grocery store near my house. It was so funny that after Slayer had been touring the world for ten years, we ended up living within a few houses of each other on the same street." "King Of Kings", the somehow "lost" third album was released on CD in 1996. Is Greg surprised about the fact that the album is experiencing a re-release on vinyl some 14 odd years later? He takes his time to answer: "If you would have asked me this before Tyrant's show at 'Keep It True', I would have said yes! But after meeting so many of our legions (Tyrant fans) while I was in Germany, I would have to say no! I was asked quite a few times if 'King of Kings' would ever come out on vinyl. With such a demand, I was surprised it didn't happen earlier." Greg himself is a huge vinyl lover, which makes him even more sympathetic: "Well, as a kid growing up, all I had were records. My parents gave me a record player to play some of my mom's records that she and my grandmother, Nana, had made together. They had a record recorder like a cassette recorder. Too bad it got destroyed or I would be making vinyl records myself right now! To answer your question, yes, I have a lot of vinyl myself. Also, my wife has a ton, so between the two of us we have a Metal and Hardrock collection of nearly 200 records. My first record was in 1969 … I was nine years old, and my mom bought me Black Sabbath's first album to play on Halloween. I was impressed."
The mentioned "King Of Kings" was initially only released on CD by the now forgotten German label Art of Music. Greg explains the genesis of the album: "I had just returned from Germany after meeting with Sasha and Art of Music Records. I came back with a suitcase full of cash to record the new album. I hired Bill Metoyer and the studio of Mark 'Thunder Child' Zonder. They were working for Tyrant, so we called the shots. In the Metal Blade days, Brian Slagel paid for everything, so he called the shots. Bill Metoyer liked to have us play each song about 20 times, and then keep the last one. By then, we were kind of burned out on it. Because we were calling the shots on 'King Of Kings', most of them were first takes, which added a lot more of a live energy to the album. We think it represents Tyrant the best out of our three records. Because we had written and been playing most of these songs live since shortly after the release of 'Too Late To Pray', it just seemed just felt to us like a third album rather than a reunion album. It just took until 1996 to get it out." So the band never really split up between 1989 and 1996? "No, we were busy playing live in 1990. We did the cable T.V. special, which featured us lip syncing the songs from 'Too Late To Pray'. It was fun. We had a cool place to rehearse, which was actually a venue with a stage. We would do concerts on weekends there and the place would fill up like a club while we rehearsed. We had a drummer named Rich Price at the time, but by 1993 we had found drummer Tom Meadows. Tom had a studio at his house, so we got together with him and wrote the rest of 'King Of Kings'." With hindsight, does Greg think it was the right decision to sing to Art of Music? "There were a few months between drummers at the time, so Glen and Rocky would go over to an open mic night at a club and play acoustic stuff. I sat home and planned Tyrant's next move. I decided to take out a full page advertisement in a local rock paper saying we were looking for management. A guy named Chris Leibundgut contacted me and said two German labels were interested in doing a third record for Tyrant. Art of Music actually got the contract because they offered to bring me to Germany for a visit where I would go to concerts and record stores to promote and meet fans. I ended up coming back with enough to record 'King Of Kings'. We feel it was the right choice and the best offer at the time. It was only released in Europe, which was probably a drawback, but now it's being re-issued on vinyl."
"Coast To Coast" is one of my favourite tracks on "King Of Kings". It probably is a sheer coincidence that "Coast To Coast" is also the title of one of the best tracks on the Scorpions' classic "Lovedrive" album. Greg knows more: "'Coast To Coast' on 'King Of Kings' deals with the west and east coasts in the United States, but could pretty much sum up any city or country's situation in the world. It wasn't intended to reference or correlate to the 'Coast To Coast' written by the Scorpions in any way - the song for which Klaus Meine took the day off and let Michael Schenker do the singing with his guitar. We are huge fans of both Schenker brothers, Michael and Rudolf, as well as Uli Roth. I would put Rocky's guitar work on 'King Of Kings', especially 'Coast To Coast', right there with any of them." I saw the "King Of Kings" CD listed by some Christian mailorders. Greg can't hide his surprise: "Christian mailorders? Although some members are Christian, Tyrant is not in the category of 'Christian band'. We are a Heavy Metal band first and foremost. When I think of a Christian band, I think of artists like P.O.D. or Jeremy Camp where everyone in the band is a born-again Christian. Early Tyrant was just pure evil, but Glen and I have always believed in God and Satan and our lyrics reflected that. After 2001 and the terrorist attacks on the United States, it really gave us a wake up call to what was important in our lives … God and family." And what did happen after the release of "King Of Kings" in 1996? "We had to find another drummer because Tom Meadows moved to Las Vegas to find work as an iron worker. So not only did we lose our drummer, but our studio as well. During that time, Rocky went back to playing acoustic music with his brother, who is also a guitarist. Glen and I signed a multi-album deal with Dwell Records to do some tribute CD's of our favourite artists. We did tributes to Black Sabbath, Dio, Judas Priest, Scorpions, and more. We used Blood Lust guitarist Anthony Romero and a local drummer named Jon Atfield. It kept us busy until about 2002 or 2003." Tyrant are still based in the city of Angels In 2010: "Yes, we still live in L.A. We have connections here. We recently played at the Whisky on the Sunset Strip and had a blast. It's definitely not like the Metal days of the 80's where all the clubs were packed with fans and the bands that went on to prominence. Everybody from Mötley Crüe, Tyrant and Slayer were playing on any given night. There are still some underground clubs, such as the Black Castle, that was booking primarily just Heavy Metal or Death Metal bands. I think they may be closing now though. There's really not a Metal scene going on in L.A. like it was in those days." A shame really. Can Greg still remember the very early days of the band, even before "Legions Of The Dead" was released? Any special moments? "Some of the bands that I can remember playing with were Metallica, Anthrax, Armored Saint, Bitch, Raven, Mercyful Fate, Stryper, Lizzy Borden, Abattoir, Ruthless, even Quiet Riot. We have tons of memories but one I can actually tell you about is probably one of the funniest. We played a club in Anaheim, California called The Woodstock back in '82 or '83. We played first, then Slayer right after us, then Metallica. The club would not allow us to use our dry ice machine to make fog, so Rocky had this thing in his guitar case called a 'smoke cookie'. We decided to try it out on our last song, 'Time Is Running Low'. It blew up and smoke poured out into the club to the point where the Fire Department was called in and all of the fans were evacuated. I remember the guys from Slayer and Metallica standing around our van after our show saying how messed up it was that their sets were cancelled thanks to us fogging the club out and asphyxiating most of the fans there. We laughed our asses off that they didn't get to play."
There are a few funny stories about the early days of Tyrant. One is that the sexy Betsy of Bitch got them the deal with Metal Blade. Greg laughs: "The story goes that Betsy and Dave from Bitch saw our advertisement for a show in a local music magazine and liked how we looked. They came to our show and really liked us. Since they knew Brian Slagel of Metal Blade Records, they told him he should try to get a hold of us to put a song on 'Metal Massacre III'. Once he heard the song, the rest was history."
At one time in the past Tyrant started to experiment with different keyboard sounds. "We actually started using keyboards back in the 80's with Paris Lane (of Hollywood band London) on the 'Legions Of The Dead' record", explains Greg May. "He also did some shows with us live. I was always a huge fan of Rainbow, and loved the way the keyboards and guitars sounded together; a very medieval type sound. We used keyboards again on 'Too Late To Pray' and 'King Of Kings'. It separated our sound from those bands that were just Thrash. It worked out great, so my guess is you'll probably hear them used again in the future."