Click here for home page

Click here

Contact Us | Customer Information | Privacy Policy | Audio Help

Main Menu
Submit a review
Sign up for newsletter
Album Reviews
Backstage Heroes
10 Questions with...
Rock Stars
Rising Stars
Celebrity interviews
Submit your website

Interview: Dave Reynolds


Dave Reynolds has been on all the big UK rock magazines including 'Metal Forces' (what a great mag that was!), 'Kerrang!', 'Metal Hammer' and he now has his own monthly column in 'Classic Rock'. All this and he has helped write books on rock as well!

How did you first become involved in the music business?

After living in Germany in the latter half of the 70s, I returned to the UK as a full on metalhead thanks to life changing exposure to the works of Kiss, Angel, Cheap Trick, Van Halen and, er, Status Quo! The latter were the first band I ever saw live, thankfully when they were at their creative peak and not as the joke they became.

I returned to find Britain in the midst of the NWOBHM boom and I was soon scouring the record stores for everything and anything I could lay my hands on connected with that scene and hard rock in general. In the Sussex town I had moved to there was a market every Saturday. One of the stalls always had a very interesting array of import albums and singles. But it was the day I bought a copy of a fanzine called 'The Wocker' being hawked by a guy called Steve Hammonds - the only person I had ever seen with the Legs Diamond logo on his jacket - in the local 'W.H. Smiths' that things kinda changed. Steve shared the same kind of appetite for hard rock I did and he introduced me to the 'Record & Tape Exchange' stores in London. As a consequence, I met people like Derek Oliver and Dave Ling, who were equally die-hard metal fans.

Along with Steve and a couple of others, I decided to start a new fanzine, 'White Lightning'. It would only run to three issues, but would lead us into contact with the journalist/broadcaster Tony Jasper.

Tony Jasper was the presenter of 'The Rock Show'; a weekly radio programme produced for the British Forces Broadcasting Service and listened to by members of the British Armed Forces around the world. A friend of mine knew the producer, who invited us to watch a show being recorded. I think the guest that week was Paul Psilias, a guitarist with German metal outfit Bullet. We also later hung out with Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, Girlschool and Brit tea drinking boogie merchants Spider on subsequent shows.

Tony asked Steve and I if we were interested in co-writing a heavy metal encyclopaedia. We eagerly began work, but knew that information on some of the more obscure hard rock bands was needed. And who had the best record collection? Derek Oliver came on board. That book became the `International Encyclopaedia Of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal'. In late 1982 the legendary 'Modest' Mike Shannon opened the soon to be notorious 'Shades' record store in central London. I seem to remember my first purchase being Night Ranger's 'Dawn Patrol'. 'Shades', initially nothing more than a leaky, lock up shed just around the corner from the old Marquee Club in central London, became the meeting place for the country's hard rock fans. And it was through 'Shades' that Steve (who now works for Sanctuary Records) and I got to know Bernard Doe.

Bernard was a highly respected figure on the tape trading circuit and a big NWOBHM fan. He also held a growing interest in what was happening over on the American west coast with bands like Metallica, Black N' Blue and Anvil Chorus. I wound up working part-time, mostly on Saturdays, in `Shades' throughout the 80s and early 90s once it had moved into the more spacious basement next door.

What was your first magazine and your first review/feature?

The first feature I wrote for an established magazine was an `Armed And Ready' piece on the German metal band Bullet in an early issue of `Kerrang!' I followed that up with a full-page feature on the group, but it was really difficult to get more work with the title at that time and I wound up being involved in the team that founded 'Metal Forces'.

`Metal Forces' was a publication borne out of our frustration with the clique involved at 'Kerrang!' at the time. Contrary to popular belief, the magazine was not owned by the `Shades'. It was, however, founded by `Shades' customers (including Steve Hammonds, Dave Ling and myself) and initially co-owned by Bernard Doe and Dave Constable, The latter was a `Shades' employee at the time, but would later move to Sweden to manage Candlemass and form his Megarock Records Empire. Dave was also the first person to give Max Martin (now, of course, the king of pop as a songwriter and producer) a record deal. 'Metal Forces' quickly established itself as a minor, but nonetheless, nagging thorn in the side of the mighty 'Kerrang!' What we lacked in writing skills we more than made up for with enthusiasm. And the number of bands and records the title covered first is, even to this day, astounding. The 'Demo-lition' section of the title was always one of the more popular features of the publication.

Despite not gaining national distribution through newsagents until the late 80s and its untimely demise, the mag proved so popular that it prompted 'Kerrang!' to produce the thrash metal spin-off 'Mega Metal Kerrang!' Contrary to what anyone may have told you, 'Metal Forces' coined the terms 'death metal' and 'thrash metal'. The former almost as a lighthearted piss-take to anything that sounded as bad as Hellhammer!

But let's not forget that 'MF' led the way in its coverage of glam and AOR too.

So how did I end up 'where the money is' (as one of my fellow MF writers quipped) over at the 'dark side' with 'Kerrang!'? Isn't that akin to a Notts County player going over the River Trent to play for Nottingham Forest???? We all have ambitions and mine, at the time, was to write full-time and get paid for something I loved doing.

As mentioned previously, I had actually written a few things for 'Kerrang!' in 1983, almost a year before 'MF' appeared, but it was such a clique there was no way in the world that I would ever get a real foot in the door. It was more about being in the right place at the right time.

In November 1987, despite pleas from my boss saying I was in line for promotion again (bla bla bla), I left my office job to become reviews editor at 'Metal Hammer'. The magazine was still owned by German publishers. The less said about this episode the better. But within two weeks of my arrival the Germans had decided to install a whole new editorial team and I was fired by fax a week before Christmas. I had seen the writing on the wall though. The next day I joined 'Kerrang!'

Who are your musical heroes and why?

I can't say I have any musical heroes now, especially after meeting those I did have. I'm well known for my adoration of Angel, but as a kid it had to be Kiss. I guess it was only logical that I should become a Kiss fan after being exposed to Slade, Sweet, Alice Cooper and T-Rex at an influential age in the early 70s. When I was 11 years old I worshipped Noddy Holder, The Sweet and was in love with Suzi Quatro. And I collected all those classic posters in `Look In' magazine.

`Destroyer' was the first Kiss album I heard. I was fascinated by the cover art, but it wasn't until some time later that I saw a TV broadcast of one of the band's 1976 Japanese shows at the Budokan that I became hooked. Kiss weren't just mere musicians. They were like Slade, T-Rex and Alice Cooper rolled into one. No, better than that, they were gargantuan heavy metal rock gods. And the cool thing was that each was so different from one another that you could have your favourite. This was also the appeal the Spice Girls would have in the last decade.

Back in the day I was also impressed with David Lee Roth era Van Halen, as well as the mighty Starz. It was an honour to be invited up to guitarist Richie Ranno's place in New Jersey in the 80s to meet him and fellow axeman Brendan Harkin, to conduct an interview for `Metal Forces'. Despite a difference of opinion over my review of the `Requiem' album, we've kept in touch on and off ever since.

Of the many people you have interviewed over the years, who have been the most fun/honour to interview? Anyone else you would still like to interview?

Ted Nugent was a particularly memorable interviewee. Especially when he kicked a chair across the room when describing what he'd like to do, if ever he got hold of him, to my K! colleague Howard Johnson. I always enjoyed meeting the late Wendy O'Williams, who was one of the nicest people I have ever met in this business, and I was saddened by her death.

I also got on well with Mike Tramp (White Lion/Freak Of Nature). He actually became one of my best mates in the business Other enjoyable subjects include Manowar, Chip Z'Nuff (Enuff Z'Nuff) and Bruce Dickinson from Maiden.

What have been the best bands you have seen live and why?

Diamond Head blew me away when I saw them at a gig in London, just after they were signed by MCA in 1982. They remained the best band I had ever seen for many years. That original line-up of Sean Harris, Brian Tatler, Colin Kimberley and Duncan Scott was pure magic on stage. Better than Led Zeppelin (in-joke for long-time fans). I always thought Metallica ripped them off something rotten. Little Angels, It's Alive, Mother's Finest, Dan Reed Network, Metallica (when they first came over to Europe), Freak Of Nature, Iron Maiden, Crown Of Thorns, FM and (more recently) The Start have all impressed me with their ability, stage-craft and sheer personality.

Of course, I loved seeing the Kiss reunion in 96 too. However, I think they should just call it a day now. Ex Black `N Blue guitarist Tommy Thayer impersonated Ace Frehley in a Kiss covers band. To see him impersonating Ace Frehley in the real thing now is beyond a joke. He's just too talented to be doing that. Recently I saw The Blueskins in a club in Nottingham, who were just incredible. They had a real bluesy, melodic wall of noise going down. A really young band, perhaps more alternative than hard rock, but fantastic all the same.

Any hints/tips for people keen to start out in rock journalism?

Try not to be too disheartened if it doesn't happen for you right from the start. There is a tremendous amount of politics and pettiness involved in the business, and it's more often than not a case of not what you know but who you know. Which is sad.

I think it helped in getting involved with `Kerrang!' that I had become known through my work at `Metal Forces', as well as working part-time in `Shades'. Publishing your own fanzines, building websites or contributing to those created by others is probably a better way of getting your name known, rather than annoying magazine editors with pleas for work, although it doesn't hurt to submit gig and album reviews to see if anyone will bite, so to speak.

But, most importantly, stick at it. I know someone who got dropped by a magazine I worked for because his face seemingly didn't fit who did just that, went on to edit another magazine and is now vice president of a major record label!

What has been the highlight of your career so far? Anything else you still want to achieve?

Obviously, once you're with a magazine that enjoyed the industry support 'Kerrang!' had at the time there exists the possibility to travel. I had interviewed bands abroad before, at my own expense, with 'Metal Forces', but with `Kerrang!' it was different.

Touring around Europe with Bon Jovi and being fortunate enough to go to Japan (not once but three times) to cover bands were particular highlights. Being asked by PolyGram to pen the liner notes for the Angel `Anthology' CD was another.

In terms of what else I'd like to achieve, I have plans. Stay tuned!

Your top five albums of all time and why?

Angel `Angel' Starz `Starz' Legs Diamond `Legs Diamond' Roadmaster `Sweet Music' Kiss `Alive II'

Classic albums from amazing bands, some obviously more successful than others!

Bubbling under: Self-titled albums from Boston and Freak Of Nature, Cheap Trick's `At Budokan', Sex Pistols' `Never Mind The Bollocks and Missing Persons `Spring Session M'

What in your view makes for a good band and what attracts you to a particular band/artist?

Any band with a bit of life to them who don't stare at their shoes. I was always impressed with the larger than life acts, such as The Sweet, Slade, Kiss, Van Halen and Angel.

Why do you think `Classic Rock' magazine has been such a big success?

The fact that it filled a niche in the market. Magazines like `Kerrang!' just turned their backs on the readership that had grown up with it and made it a success.

Heard any good music lately?

Loads of it! After a couple of years in the late 90s where I felt disillusioned with rock music, the new century has lifted my spirits and made me much more enthusiastic. Bands like The Juliana Theory, Forty Foot Echo, The Start, Mercury and Five Star Iris are really getting an awful lot of action on my `Death Deck'. And I've seen a couple of excellent new British bands on the club circuit, The Blueskins and Mower, who deserve to be huge. I really have to credit my girlfriend Jo for leading to the discovery of the latter. She went on about the latter for weeks before we saw them play in Leicester.

What has been your most embarrassing moment?

From a witness's viewpoint, interviewing Steven Tyler and Joe Perry just after `Permanent Vacation' was released, Bad Company's Brian Howe stepped in the room to say hello and Tyler unwittingly passed on his good wishes to Paul Rodgers!!

I've been personally embarrassed when I've been commissioned to write features or reviews - especially when they've been exclusive - and the magazine has opted not to print them. Not because the copy wasn't any good, but for other, often political reasons.

Any good rock 'n' roll tales to tell?

I enjoyed many escapades on the road, usually teamed up with the late, great Ray Palmer or Ross Halfin as the photographer, but I strongly believe that `What happens on the road stays on the road', unless the band has no problem with certain incidents being published for the entire world to see. One particularly memorable moment was meeting Larry Hagman in Poison's dressing room backstage in Dallas back in 1988. He was quite drunk and, rather than talking about his role as J.R. Ewing in `Dallas' just talked about his late 60s TV series `I Dream Of Genie' instead.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

That has to be Sir Geoff Barton. Without a doubt! I don't think I could ever thank Sir Geoff Barton enough for having the belief in me that he did. I remember him telling me that, although I might not have the same way with words as some of the others had, he took me on because I wrote with authority. I knew my subject and was enthusiastic about the music I loved. It's great to see him back writing about music again after a break of nearly a decade! Dave Ling has been an extremely good mate and very supportive over the years, so I feel I should pay tribute to him here too.

Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie

Featured Artists
Artist Archive
Featured Labels

Do you want to appear here?

get ready to rock is a division of hotdigitsnewmedia group