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
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
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
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
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'
`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
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
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?
Legs Diamond `Legs Diamond'
Roadmaster `Sweet Music'
Kiss `Alive II'
Classic albums from amazing bands, some obviously more successful
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
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
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