AVENGER

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This interview with the drummer Gary Young of Avenger was done by e-mail by Vincent Eldefors in April, 2005.

The Newcastle based band Avenger were one of the leading acts of the NWOBHM movement and released two albums in the mid 80s before splitting up. Now, almost twenty years later, they have reunited and are working on material for a new album.

Avenger was first sighted in 1982 when the band formed in the middle of the NWOBHM explosion, do you remember why you wanted to form this band back then? What social and musical backgrounds did you come from?
I think I was personally that impressed with other earlier Nwobhm bands that I wanted to form a band and enjoy playing that type of music I think the other founder members Brian Ross and Mick Moore wanted to pick up where Blitzkrieg had left off

What was it like being a metal band in Newcastle at that time? Were you able to get any live shows? Where and how often did you play in the UK in the early days?
We used to play quite often and would gig with Fist/Raven/Hellanbach. There was a great vibe at the time, the bands where competitive but not in an ego way I admired them all because even if you didint like a bands music you stil.l liked how enthusiastic they were. Avenger giged about quite a bit in the UK and Europe

How did you get in touch with Neat Records? Were you happy with the work they did for you?
Well I worked for them from being 16 years old and Mick and Brian were involved with neat through Blitzkrieg so Avenger recording with Neatwas almost a for gone conclusion in hindsight Neat did very little for Avenger but take from us. We ended up self financing tours and got none of the support we should have had. Mick ended up takingNeat to court in the 90's for none payment of royalties etc and won an out of court settlement. So no we were never impressed with Neat.

Even though the band was active only from 1982 till 1985 you had many line-up changes, what were the reasons for the frequent changes of personnel?
I think Avenger had a problem with Guitarists similar to what Judas Priest have with drummers "finding the right man" it was always Ian, Mick and me but with a constant change of guitarist Apart from Brian Ross's brief time with us before Ian, its the same today us three and a new guitarist or in this case two new guitarist's .

In 1985 you did a European tour, was this a headlining tour? In which countries and how many shows did you play?
the 1985 tour of Europe was in fact our third tour we played in three contries and played about six shows.

On this tour you had an additional guitarist with you called Ginger who later on became famous with The Wildhearts and now recently joined Brides Of Destruction, was he a friend of the band? Have you stayed in touch with him throughout the years?
He was guitarist Les Cheetams friend and the rest of us knew him a only a little bit, he was'int really into our type of thing but helped us out at short notice and he did strike me as a good song writer and a highly motivated guy.

I believe you also toured the East coast of America later in 1985, could you tell us more about this tour? How did it happen?
it was the usual no support from Neat records situation so the band just done it anyway because of the feedback from the USA. Greg Rieter Our gutarist set up the tour it was handy for him as he was an American .When the band got over to the USA American radio and press really got into the band and with more help from Neat it could have been really great.

Midway through the American dates the band split up, why? I have read that there were plans to add an American vocalist at that time?
The band didint really split up Ian Broke his leg in an accident and could'int manage the rest of the gigs even though he did try to. And there was'int any talk of an American singer we were at the end of our financial limit due to Neat thats why we split up we were just left to pay for everything without help and its too much when your 19 years old trying to organise American tours ith no record company help.

What do you remember most from the touring? Any particular moments you would like to share with us?
all the reasons that we went out for in the first place was what made it cool and great fun. The kids running small fanzines setting up gigs for us, meeting the kids who loved the nwobhm scene who would travel all over to see us and partying with them after gigs people who really tried their best for Avenger who would take no payment from us because they just wanted to help us out . I remember one gig at Middleburg on the Dutch/Belgium border just after Xmas 85 we had a snow ball fight with kids after the gig and we all ended up frozen and covered in snow so to warm up we all (about100 of us) went to a bar and had a drink that lead to us all headbanging to Saxon all of us standing on chairsin some bar, that sticks in my mind coool.

You released two full-length albums on Neat Records - "Blood Sports" (1984) and "Killer Elite" (1985). Do you know how well you actually sold back then? Do people still talk to you about these albums?
I know now that they sold well although Neat always tried to give the impression at the time that the records were selling quite well .Even when the Sanctuary Anthology come out in 2003 people still seemed to want to buy it and I was suprised how many people have remembered the band after all this time

You also recorded some video material for "Under The Hammer", "Run For Your Life" and "Revenge Attack", where were those videos shot? Are they still available?
the videos were shot at the Wallsend young peoples theatre and the frontline rock Brazilian import of Killer Elite has the three videos included but they will be on our new website soon for download too.

What have you all been doing since Avenger dissolved?
Well Ian joined Atomkraft, I joined Blitzkrieg, Mick Moore moved to America after that I played in a few band about the place ,done some writing with Tony J Liddell from Blitzkrieg and joined a new band called Order of the Black Sun. About two years ago the idea to reform croped up and Glen S Howes from Blitzkrieg/Tygers of Pan Tang became involved and that slowly led to Avenger getting back on track.

There were talks of a reunion in 1995 already with Moore, Reiter and Joe Hasselvander (Pentagram, Raven) on drums but nothing came out of that. What really happened then?
It wasint a reunion just a Jam session for fun but someone mentioned it to the music press and the story was made out to be more than it was

Mick Moore has had a rough time with Neat Records during the 90s, what were the reasons for the legal battle? Is everything settled now?
As I mentioned Mick had a good idea how much Neat had abused the band and looked for legal help. Neat had been releasing material all over without ever consulting the band, even worse we never got paid a penny for this. After a long drawn out legal battle Neat settled out of court. I must also stress the point that this had nothing to do with the label Neat metal ran by Jess Cox at the time.

Almost 20 years has passed since Avenger broke up, why did you decide to reunite at this particular moment? Who are the people in the present band line-up?
The first mention of serriously getting back together was about two years ago although Mick and I had talked about it in the early 90's. Blood sports and Killer elite had been realeased in Brazil on frontline records and because of a possitive reaction we talked about playing in Brazil. Other interest in Avenger from Europe after other bands from the NWOBHM era had played Wacken started the ball rolling for us to get back together. The new Avenger line up is: Ian Davison Swift Vocals Mick Moore Bass Gary Young Drums Glen S Howes Guitar Liam Thompson Guitar

Have you followed the development of the metal scene during these years? What do you think of the bands of the 90s and the bands of today?
Yes I have watched the developing Scene and sometimes wonder what things would be like if the whole NWOBHM thing had not happened ,Would bands like Pantera have been the same?? its hard to say but I think the whole metal scene is still healthy with bands like Machine head, Arch Enemy

You are currently rehearsing and working on new material for a 2005 / 2006 release, what will Avenger anno 2005 sound like? Is there any resemblance to the 80s albums?
Yes and no it will always sound like Avenger because the three major components of Avenger are still in place but as we have just talked about the current and 90's metal bands have had their infuence on us since then, just as Judas Priest and Black Sabbath influenced us in the early 80's I think the new material we are writing with Glen and Liam has clear indications of the modern metal scene but also our NWOBHM roots

Do you have any plans for live shows during 2005. If so, when and where will the fans be able to see you on stage?
Yes we are touring this summer supporting Y&T in the UK

the dates are:
June23 Nuneaton Queens hall
June24 Nottingham Rock City
June25 Manchester Academy 3
June26 Dudley (venue to be announced)
june29 London blind fiddler.

Headlining
July 2 The office South Sheilds
July 7 Headbangers open air warm up show Elmshorn Germany (see www.headbangers-open-air.de)
October 29 NWOBHM Ball Hoorn Holland.

Any words to close the interview with?
Yes we look forward to seeing all our old friends on the road this Summer Cheers Gary

Thanks a lot for the interview and good luck with the band and everything else in the future!
Cheers Vincent