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¬ Stairway (UK) - We're a Metal band, pure and simple!!

Hi Graeme. Your band Stairway has just released its fourth album ”The Other Side Of Midnight”. Before we start to talk about the album itself and its music, please give us a little more info on the title. Since there’s no song by the name of “The Other Side Of Midnight” on this CD, I wonder why you’ve chose this title and if there’s a more concrete idea and deeper meaning behind it?

Graeme: Yeah, the title and cover represents Heaven as an open door through which we all can pass, provided we keep our eyes on the eternal and not on the temporal; This side of midnight – where we are now, is the temporal, The Other Side Of Midnight is the eternal. Midnight, or death, is the point between the one and the other.

The album got released as an independent release. It’s hard to imagine that no labels have shown any interest in such a great band as Stairway, so I wonder why you’ve decided to put “The Other Side Of Midnight” out on your own!? Were the deals not exactly what you expected or have you really not been offered any at all?

Graeme: We were talking with a couple of labels who were interested in maybe releasing the album, but, due to certain things during the process, this didn’t come about and we decided to go it alone and release the album on our own label again. We had some good conversations with those labels, which helped us get it more widely available.

Was it alot of hard work to make this CD happen? Have there been any hard rocks in your way during the making and release of “The Other Side Of Midnight”?

Graeme: Only in as much that it took rather longer to complete than we at first planned. We had planned to release it sometime last year, but, when we signed a deal in 2005 to re- release our debut album, No Rest : No Mercy, we decided to release that first and then the new album 6 months or so after that.

And now that the album is out, are you still satisfied with it as a whole? Or would you have changed anything about the sound, the songs or the package with hindsight?

Graeme: No – we are really pleased with how it has all turned out; having that extra time, so to speak, gave us more time to really get it as good as we could, both with the recording and with the package as a whole – I think it all worked well.

How has the album been received so far? Has it earned alot of good reviews and positive feedback?

Graeme: Yeah – we’ve been really blown away with all the great feedback we’ve had for the album. When, what you’ve feel is your best work, gets so much positive feedback, it’s a real boost and makes all the hard work worth while.

Musically Stairway is heavily influenced by the NWOBHM. What does this movement mean to you and which bands from that period have had the biggest influence on you as a musician and songwriter?

Graeme: This was the era in which we started as a band – I would have to say, Sabbath, Priest and Maiden were our main influences from that period, it all started with Sabbath in the early 70s and then after the punk era, taken up by Maiden and Saxon and all those bands – we still like that era for music, and I think it comes across in what we do.

And apart from the NWOBHM, what other bands and musicians have had an impact and Stairway’s sound and music?

Graeme: Queen, Lizzy and Sweet I guess. Queen were the masters at vocal harmonies and all that orchestral guitar stuff and Lizzy for the twin guitar stuff they did - it sort of rubs off on you after a while and becomes a part of what we do now – and to an extent, bands like ELP, Rush and Yes gave us that progressive lilt, all in all all these influences have moulded the Stairway sound.

When it comes to your lyrics, one finds alot of Christian themes in there. So I wonder if it’s OK for you if people refer to Stairway as a White Metal band, or is that label a little too cheesy and clishe’esque for you? If so, what answer do you give, if somebody asks you about the music you play?

Graeme: Everything seems to have to have a label these days, surely it’s all metal? I remember, in the 70s everything was Heavy Rock and from the 80’s onwards we started getting all these different titles and genres….it all gets confusing sometimes!!
We consider our selves a Metal band - pure and simple – yet with a positive message; there’s a lot of negativity in the world these days and there’s a need for a more positive attitude and thinking and dare I say…communication!!

I really like your lyrics and think they are pretty interesting and well-written!! So where do you get your inspiration from? And what are your favorite themes to deal with? Maybe you can pick out a few texts, that mean alot to you personally and let us know a little more about them and the way they were written...

Graeme: Thanks for that – I get inspiration and ideas from Scripture and from what’s going on at the time in the news and the like, such as ‘Pray For The Children’ which talks about all the conflict going on and how children depend on us for their well being, support and love, and where the world seems over occupied with money, possessions, ownership of land and religion, and fights for their so called right to have it at what ever the cost; all the time it’s the children, the future of our world, who are the losers. Too many innocent children die in the crossfire and of those who live through it, they are being killed psychologically by the bad example they are being shown.

The British Metal scene of today is unfortunatly noway as strong and lifely anymore as it has been in the 80s... so what is the overall situation in the UK alike for a band like Stairway? Do you get alot of support from the fans and media? And can you play alot of gigs and sell a decent amount of records?

Graeme: We don’t do too bad, the underground metal scene is quite buoyant in Britain at the moment and growing, better than it was a few years ago - and the fans are still there from the early days of metal - they’ve never left and are really loyal - we are picking up the kids as well which is great. Most of the media coverage is from Web Zines, but that seems to be the way the media is going these days.

When will you start to conquer the rest of Europe and also play on German stages, for example? Have you already made plans to head over to the mainland somehere in the future and play at – let’s say - one of the major underground festivals like Headbangers Open Air, Keep It True, Swordbrothers or Heavy Metal Maniacs? It would surely be great to see Stairway live on stage one day!!

Graeme: We came over to Germany and played Metalfest in Badhersfeld last October which was great – given the right time and opportunity, we’d love to come over to Europe and do more dates.

What else can we expect from Stairway in the future?? Have you, for example, already made any plans yet about upcoming releases? Or are you fully occupied with promoting the current album at the moment and don’t even think about anything that lies that far ahead?

Graeme: We haven’t done any thinking about a new album yet, it’s a bit early as ‘The Other Side Of Midnight’ has only been on the streets 6 weeks or so. All our efforts are being put into this album and getting the word out - we are hoping to do some more live dates the end of this year into next year which will be great, anything further than that we haven’t planned.

Before we come to an end, please introduce some other cool bands from your area to our readers!!

Graeme: Well, a cool band you could check out is Marshall Law and maybe My Silent Wake - two great Metal bands from Britain.

Thanks for your answers, Graeme, and keep up the excellent work with Stairway!! Now I leave the famous last words to you...

Graeme: Thanks for the interview, and to all your readers, Keep it True and KEEP IT METAL!!! God Bless.

Questions: September 2006 by Tobi
Answers: September 2006 by Graeme Leslie