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¬ Triarchy (UK) - A high octane Burst of Hard Rock!!

Since we’ve already done quite an in-depth interview about Triarchy’s past some years ago, I guess we needn’t go through all that early days stuff anymore, but rather kick off right away with the bands latest release, namely the ”Live To Fight Again“ LP which got released a few months ago on High Roller Records. How did you get into contact with the High Roller guys and what were the main reasons for your decision to work with them on the re-release of your old songs?

Mark: We were contacted by Bart Gabriel who was then running the Dragonight Agency (now branded& around July last year, who mentioned the High Roller record company and how they were producing high quality, limited edition, vinyl albums of old NWOBHM bands, and he suggested that they might be interested in working with us in creating a new release. After speaking with Michael Honegger who runs the Canadian side of the company, and Steffen Boehm who oversees the production in Germany, they offered us their usual deal to produce 500 copies of what became ‘Live to Fight Again’. We were keen to produce a new album (albeit of old songs) as we had a couple of tracks that were recorded but never released, namely ‘Rockchild’ and ‘Wheel of Samsara’, which were not included in our 1995 CD release - ‘Before Your Very Ears’.

How has the cooperation with the High Roller guys been like? Was it fun to work with them and did they involve the band in the production of the LP?

Mark: Once the contract was signed in August 2006, it was then a matter of choosing the tracks we wanted to use, whilst Steffen arranged the artwork and production. It took a while to find some decent copies of ‘Wheel of Samsara’ and ‘Rockchild’ (as the only version we had of the song was on a cassette, that was almost 25 years old), then we provided the digital masters of the remaining songs, and of course the lyrics, which until now, have never been published. I was in weekly e-mail contact with Steffen, who is very easy going and enthusiastic about the NWOBHM, who advised me on the progress of the artwork and production, which I then passed on to the other band members as the album took shape.

High Roller Records is quite known for the good quality of their releases and for the Triarchy LP they’ve really come along with a fantastic deluxe package!! New artwork, Gatefold sleeve, clear vinyl, thick sleeve, etc... what do you think about the final product? Are you happy with the way this LP turned out to be?

Mark: To be honest, when I first received the draft design of the album cover last year, which was a rough, pencil drawn draft of an apocalyptic horseman holding a decapitated head, I thought it may have been a little OTT but, but when you consider some of our song titles, the artwork for ‘Save the Khan’, and the designs used for earlier High Roller albums, it ended up suiting the album extremely well. The band members were very much surprised with the high quality of the album, after receiving their complimentary copies, and all agreed, the design, layout and printing is very stylish and packages the transparent 12” vinyl record very well. You can definitely see and feel the time and artistic energy that went into the ideas and production, which are reproduced and work well in the gatefold sleeve format. Unlike today’s age of CD’s and downloads, a 12” gatefold sleeve definitely gives the artist and graphic designers far more scope to create something visually exciting.

The songs on there are basically the same as on the “Before Your Very Ears” CD. If I’m not mistaken, the only CD track that got crossed out is the rather poppy “Marionette”. Why did this song not end up on the vinyl as well?

Mark: Our initial plan was to use all the songs from our ‘Before Your Very Ears’ CD, along with the previously unreleased ‘Rockchild’ and ‘Wheel of Samsara’, which we thought our fans would love to hear, whilst also being a unique selling point for the record company. Unfortunately, whilst it would have been possible to include all nine tracks plus the two unreleased ones, if the album had been produced in CD format, on a vinyl album there are time constraints to each side of the record (approximately 22 minutes I believe). So, regardless of which ever way we juggled the tracks, one side always ‘ran over’ time, so it was decided to omit the track ‘Marionette’.

On the other hand there’s also two previously unreleased songs on “Live To Fight Again”, namely “Wheel Of Samsara” and “Rock Child”. Can you give us some additional info about these tracks? Since they both got recorded in the late 70s/early 80s, I wonder why it took so long for them to be officially released? And what does it mean to you that these two songs have not vanished into oblivion, but finally been presented to the Triarchy fans on an official LP?

Mark: As well as recording and releasing ‘Save the Khan’ and ‘Juliet’s Tomb’ with Graham Legg, we also produced an earlier demo tape comprising ‘Play to Win’ and ‘Wheel of Samsara’. The latter track showed a tremendous amount of creativity and pushed Mike’s songwriting, both musically and lyrically, to a level far higher than had previously been reached by earlier Triarchy line-ups.

However, with no record deal forthcoming in 1979, and having saved up around £600 for a transit van, we decided to ‘blow’ the money on a single and, from the tracks we were playing in our set at the time (including ‘Wheel of Samsara’), the band and fan favourite ‘Save the Khan’ stood out as really encapsulating our sound and uniqueness, and the one which we considered would make an ideal single.

In between Brian Galibardy finally leaving the band and before Pete ‘Tabby’ Moore and Eddie Webb had joined, Mike and I had found an excellent guitarist named Justin (we can’t remember his surname now, I’m afraid) who joined and played with us, albeit for a brief period of time. Around this time we were approached by a local entrepreneur (for want of a better term). He had produced a compilation called ‘Kent Rocks’ which included one song each from about 10 local bands and had been distributed throughout the UK. When he approached us he was putting together ‘Kent Rocks 2’. The idea of a sort of showcase album appealed immensely, since no record deal or offers were on the horizon and the interest in Metal Messiah was on the wane. We decided that a new guitarist and great tune (‘Rockchild’ – a high octane burst of hard rock) would kick-start the band’s fortunes.

Unfortunately, instead of a kick-start, we were given more like a kick up the arse, with Justin disappearing shortly after recording the track, and the so called entrepreneur ‘legging’ it out of the country, with all the contributing bands’ master tapes. This double set back was compounded by not only being left with just cassette copies of this great track, but also having the ordeal and hassle of finding and recruiting another guitarist, although by this time, and with possibly ‘Rockchild’ in mind, we decided to take on two members to fill the guitar ‘void’.

The band members are especially pleased that ‘Wheel of Samsara’ and ‘Rockchild’ (after all the furore surrounding its recording) have finally been set free from the Triarchy archive, for fans to hear and, after almost 25 years, to get the airing that they truly deserve. It would have been very disappointing to know that these great tracks were never heard by our fans over the world, had we not issued our new album. Unfortunately, poor Justin will never get the recognition he deserves for some ace rhythm and solo work on Rockchild, as basically, we didn’t know who he was then, or where he is now.

Are these two songs the only previously unreleased relics of the band’s early days or do you still have any other live, demo or studio recordings up your sleeves?

Mark: In our set from the line-up that recorded ‘Save the Khan’ (Wheeler/Legg/Newbold) were songs such as ‘Play to Win’, ‘Suicide City’, ‘Hey Mister Death’, ‘Lies’, ‘Plastic People’, ‘Sex Electric’ and ‘All you Despise’, which have never been released. During this time, we made various recordings of these songs (live and whilst rehearsing) but these vary greatly in quality. We also recorded demo versions of ‘Play to Win’ and ‘Wheel of Samsara’. The latter is now happily available to hear. However, the overall quality of most of the recordings we have from that period would prohibit us from releasing the remaining tracks. The songs were very inventive and strong, and if there were any interest, we might just book ourselves into a studio to re-record them in the future.

The classic warrior artwork of “Live To Fight Again” is quite different from the rather unorthodox sea lion cover of “Before Your Very Ears”. I personally do not only think that the new cover suits the music way better than the CD cover, but it does also represent some kinda homage to the art of Triarchy’s very first single, “Save The Khan”... do you like the new cover as well or would you have preferred that sea lion to be on the frontside of the LP as well?

Mark: When we released our CD, ‘Before Your Very Ears’ In 1995, we didn’t really consider ourselves to be a pure Heavy Metal band, and we wanted a cover that reflected the band’s diversity, so, rather than use a run-of-the-mill rock album cover design, we chose my photograph of a baby Walrus, to illustrate the point. You are most definitely correct though in drawing a parallel between the hand drawn, silk screened, early picture sleeve of Save the Khan, and the cut throat horseman featured on the cover of ‘Live to Fight Again’ and, when you’re holding the 12” gatefold sleeve cover, it not only looks superb, but has a real feel of substance to it unlike a CD case. Likewise, if we had only produced a CD with the same artwork, the design would have been far less dramatic and, due to the limited space (unless you produce a small booklet), little scope to include the lyrics or much other album information.

The new LP does finally contain the lyrics to all the Triarchy songs!! And at least in my opinion, they’re surely worth reading. Why haven’t you already included any texts to your earlier releases?

Mark: During the early 1980’s when we released ‘Save the Khan’ and ‘Metal Messiah’ on 7” vinyl, although picture sleeves were fairly common then, with some very elaborate artwork, they rarely included the lyrics, mainly due to space constraints. As our first single, ‘Save the Khan’, was self financed, and the picture sleeves entirely hand produced by Mike’s father Dennis, it didn’t really occur to us to try to include the lyrics with that record. The ‘Metal Messiah’ EP was never released with an official picture sleeve (although recently, we were sent a copy of an eBay auction - for what we believe was a draft design produced by Dennis, but never used by the record company - which sold for over $470!). If we had been given the go-ahead to produce an album by our record company then, I am sure that given that it would have been in the 12” vinyl format, we would have ensured that the lyrics were included.

Similarly, the lyrics were omitted from our CD ‘Before Your Very Ears’ as we were only given a very limited amount of space to work with, as the inner paper sleeve, (a three page foldout), only contains photographs of the band members and the track listings etc, whilst one side of one foldout, was devoted to publicise other Vinyl Tap releases, so I would imagine, that to keep costs down, they didn’t want it any larger (or to produce a small booklet of sorts). For all intent and purposes, it is a lot easier to include a lot of information i.e. all the lyrics, when you have a large space within which to design and, a 12” gatefold sleeve allows you that freedom to include as much information and as many images as you wish.

How have the reactions on the LP been so far? Have you got a lot of feedback from guys who’ve either just discovered the band through the vinyl release or who’ve rather re-discovered it now and still dig your old tunes?

Mark: I spoke with Steffen at High Roller in mid-August, who said that sales were going well and they expect ‘Live to Fight Again’ to sell out by the start of next year. We have heard from established fans in Europe and the US, who were excited about our unexpected release and, after listening to the album have all given the two new tracks, ‘Wheel of Samsara’ and ‘Rockchild’ a big ‘thumbs-up’ along with the previously released tracks. Hopefully, as word spreads of our new album, through the various Heavy Metal websites like this one, and mentioned in chatrooms that fans communicate through, some people who maybe have only read or heard about the band, will be tempted to purchase the album and hear us for the first time.

On your website there’s still a short note, stating that a Triarchy reunion is not completely impossible... is this still up to date and is there indeed a chance that your fans will see you live on stage again some day?

Mark: Unfortunately, our website desperately needs updating, i.e. with the news of our new release ‘Live to Fight Again’ along with other information and images, that we can now share with fans and, on the subject that a reunion “is not completely impossible”, at the moment, I would say that it is fairly unlikely.
Whilst we say “never say never”, regarding having a Triarchy reunion and playing live again, in all practicality, as Mike lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, whilst Brian, Graham and I live in southern England, it would only really happen if we had a specific event to aim for. For example, if we were invited to play at a large, one-day NWOBHM festival somewhere in England or Europe, with sets from other recognised NWOBHM bands, that might well tempt us to set aside the time necessary to rehearse and get on stage again.

And what about any other upcoming releases or even new recordings? Is “Live To Fight Again” indeed the definite and final Triarchy record, that can be seen as an epitaph to that legendary band’s outstanding career? Or will you guys maybe enter a studio again and surprise your trusty fans with some completely new tunes in the near or distant future, as you did in 1995 with the awesome “Hiroshima” track?

Mark: Again, this would require a big commitment and a lot time to arrange, and unfortunately, with our current jobs, along with the fact that three band members have young children, would take quite a lot of organising.
However, as I mentioned earlier, we do have some material left in the Triarchy ‘archive’, and if an offer was made for another album, then there is always the possibility that these tracks, and any others that are written in the future, could be recorded and released.

There are many rock bands who were popular during the 1970’s and early 80’s who are now touring today and, even recording new material (I have recently seen the Scorpions play in London - as an example), so maybe, once our children have grown up, and we all have a little more spare time, we might get the artistic urge to dust off the amps, guitars and drums, and get something together to release.

Ok, Mark, since I promised you not to send another truckload of questions and keep you occupied for hours and hours this time, I think this is a good point to call it a quits now and leave the famous last words to you!!

Mark: Thanks Toby for giving me and the band the opportunity to bring you up-to-date on our new album, and to share some insight into the previously unreleased tracks ‘Wheel of Samsara’ and ‘Rockchild’, which I know you are enjoying listening to. Cheers. Mark


Questions: August 2007 by Tobi
:  August 2007 by Mark Newbold