We shall all burn in Hell - Andy Sneap speaks out.
If you ever thought that 'Hell' was a new band, you better think again. Even I thought the band never actually recorded anything but a single but things went downhill for the band just as the NWOBHM was happening. In 82 the band arose from Hell when Satan called them to cause devastation upon this mortal coil. Things didn't move for the band sadly but over 2 decades the band were summoned from Hell's fire to released their long awaited debut album 'Human Remains' released on Nuclear Blast. I managed to have a chat with Andy Sneap (ex Sabbat/ producer) to find out more about this band what never really made it until now. Having Metallica's Lars Ulrich speak highly about the EP and Andy been a young metal head who was inspired by the original line-up it was time to find out more about one of the UK's best NWOBHM bands that never made it, that was until now. Here is what Andy had to say about the band. If you like such bands as Trouble, King Diamond/ Mercyful Fate or even Sabbat then you really need to check out this band.
OK Andy it's a please to interview at last, your a really sort after producer that a lot of people would like to work with. I'd like to start by asking you about the band 'Hell', please enlighten me about the history of the band?
"OK Jase, nice chatting to you. To answer your question, the band recorded a single which was they recorded themselves which had the songs 'Death Squad' & 'Saviors' and then signed to Mausoleum Records which ended up going bankrupt, this was back in 85. With the label going bankrupt it pretty much destroyed the band and they had spent all their time rehearsing for the album and in the end it all fell apart. They only ended up doing demos in their rehearsal studio. There are some bootleg stuff kicking around, 1 is called 'Land of the living Dead' which is basically a couple of their demos put onto record, which had nothing to do with the band. I think the 'Savior' single got pressed up on red vinyl, which has certainly helped the bands name alive and properly helped the bands reform. This is the reason for doing the album now and we are releasing it as a digi pack with all the demos on the bonus CD."
I noticed the band were formed from the ashes of 2 other bands 'Race Against Time' and 'Paralex', what were those 2 bands like?
"Well I think those 2 bands were more like the NWOBHM than Hell, especially Paralex and Race against Time were more Black Sabbath influenced meets Rush. They were also a 3 piece and I think Kev Bower was in Paralex and I think Tony came into the band later on but I'm not a Paralex expert. They did do a single on green vinyl called 'White Lightning' which got them known a little bit & Race against Time did a song from the 'New Electric Warriors' album. Both bands were actually gigging together doing a lot of local shows around the midlands and that is how they got to know each other. When 'Race against Time' split up Kev jumped ship and took Tony with him and got together with Dave Halliday and they got Tim from a band called 'Over Drive'. So basically a lot of Hell stuff is Paralex & Race against Time reformatted and re jammed together. So if you listen too those 2 bands you can really hear the odd guitar riff and out into Hell songs."
So Andy which bands from the NWOBHM have influenced you?
"Well for me it was just the classic bands like Maiden, Priest, AC/DC, Saxon and I was going to see them all from 82 till 90 and every band was doing those tours back then but I wasn't a really big fan of those bands back then I was more into the next wave of bands with the heavier bands."
I was reading on the Nuclear Blast page that you were a young metal head going to see Hell live back in the day, is this true?
"Yeah that's true, I 1st met Dave Halliday when I was 12yrs old & and their was a guy called John Spencer who use to have Angus on the back of his jacket with a guitar under his arm, so I had guitar lessons. John had introduced me to Dave and I didn't even know Dave was in a band at that time and I had seen 'Race Against Time' posters in the local area. When I got to know him I knew he was put this band together called 'Hell' and I was taken to one of their shows and I was totally blown away. It was amazing to see these bands playing local pub gigs as if they were on city hall stage, I was so impressed. So I kept following them around and I knew these guys so it really did help. Dave taught me guitar lessons for 5 yrs and we became very good friends and Sabbat met through them actually as Dave introduced by to Frazer and then introduced us to Simon and then Martin."
So what actually sparked the whole revamped 'Hell' band back together?
"Well we actually thought about doing this for some time now, I had always had this on my mind to do this album but we didn't know were Kev was, as he is the missing piece to the puzzle and songs. I got back in touch with Tim and Tony over the last 10yrs and once Kev came back on the scene again we got chatting and had a few drinks with him and after a while we kept going and recording stuff just for fun and that was 3yrs ago and once we got Kev's brother David Bower as the singer we knew we had a singer who could replace David Halliday. We finally got singed to Nuclear Blast and we are now getting booked to play shows in Europe. We didn't set out with a big plan to do this, it was more of old friends getting back together for a jam and recording some songs for fun, and it has now taken a life of it's own."
Listening too the album I have to say that Kev's brother David Bower is an incredible singer, very theatrical with his vocal techniques, you reminds me of King Diamond with the way he performs. Has David done any acting at all?
"Well yes her has done some work as a actor, he has done some work on 'Coronation Street', 'Emmadale', a Polish immigrant in the series 'Casualty', and he has also worked with Lenny Henry in London and he has also done a musical in London called 'Batboy'. His main thing is stage acting and he is a musician as well, he has a couple of local bands were he plays guitar and sings as well and I think he has taken to the part very naturally. I think he is great with his theatrical side as it really blends itself to Hell. On stage he will be also acting is part which I think will come across really strong and very different, I guess he could be a like King Diamond on stage, but I'm not sure. it will be like a rock opera on stage at times."
Do you know who is singing influences are?
"I think David Halliday must of been a massive influence on him on the way he is fazing his vocals because he grew up watching Kev with Hell and been an actor he kind of knows how it wants to be and how it needs to be delivered and the songs were writing vocally by David Halliday so we have tried to keep it true to that. I think he is also singing naturally for himself with the whole soul and feel behind Hell."
Are the band an anti-religious band with the way they deal with the darker side of life?
"Yes I would say so in a way, its tongue and cheek really but it's not taken religion as serious like a lot of the Norwegian Black Metal bands do but it is more based on theatrics and it is always a good story telling point is Satan, as he always has a tail to tell (laughing). With a name like 'Hell' it has to have some kind of theatrics and story telling behind it."
So Andy lets talk about the album, why the title 'Human Remains'? Were there any other titles in mind?
"Well the title comes from the remaining humans of the band back in the day and I think Kev came up with the title of the album, with 3 original band members left and Dave and me doing Dave Halliday parts. We did have another title which was 'Scions-Fiction' which Martin mentioned but Kev wanted 'Human Remains' and to keep it true to what the band idea would be."
So am I right in saying that the songs on the album are old songs reworked?
"yes they are all old songs from the 80's redone, we actually we worked a couple of bits but I would say that the album is 90% true to the old original songs."
What songs on the album do you like and why?
"I do like the song 'Blasphemy And The Master', because it has so much going in it with the theatrics in the song and I like the way the arrangements drop in the mid section and picks up. I also like the song 'The Oppressors', it really does grow on me. I also like 'No Martyrs Cage', as I like the vocals on that one as they do sound like Rush in places. I really like the album".
This album must of took some time to record with you been so busy producing albums like Arch Enemy, Megadeth etc... was it hard to produce it and play in the band with all the others things happening in your life?
"Well we had been doing this Hell band for over 3 yrs and in downtime getting together when we could and if you had to combine the time we spent on it it would properly be about 10-12 wks recording it. Like I said it has been spread out of a period of 3yrs. I produced the whole album myself and Kev had a lot of ideas with the keyboard ideas and it was Kev and myself that sat in the studio."
Moving on Andy, who did the artwork for the album and who else has he worked with?
"The album was done by a guy called Dan Goldsworthy and I know him through a forum were he was doing pictures on there and I thought his photo shop work was really good but it also turned out that he was a really good artist. We had been let down with pieces of artwork in the past so I got in touch with Dan and asked him if he would like to do the album cover for the band. I think the album cover is killer!!"
As I only have an ipool promo, could you please explain the artwork for the CD booklet?
"Yes I can, well the whole album booklet has pictures of us been portrayed in pictures doing certain demonic things and there is a bonus booklet has a lot of old pictures form the 80's and there is a bio from Kev and myself telling the story how the whole idea has come around again. It's good for the older fans to read."
The music that hell is doing certainly reminds me of Mercyful Fate or King Diamond, do you agree?
"Well yes I do, it is the same era if you think about it and a lot of the songs were wrote back in 82-83 when 'Don't Break The Oath' was coming out and I think there could be a lot of similar influences within the band with also bands like Priest and Rush."
Moving on let's talk about the promo video you have just done for the song 'On Earth As It Is In Hell', who's idea was it to come up with the video concept?
"Well I don't think we came up with a video concept? We just got lots of fire (laughing) and it was done by Dan who use to be in Xentrix and he runs a video production company and we did the video before we got signed to Nuclear Blast and we knew we needed something to show the labels that it was a proper band. We just did a basic video filmed at night with some piro's and we wanted to do an old school video really."
Which record companies did you send the demos too?
"Well we had 5 offers on the table by the time we had signed to Nuclear Blast, and we originally approached Nuclear Blast 18 months ago before we signed to them but things were different then but then Jaap from the label but onto another label, we had offers from Century Media, Candlelight, but later on Nuclear Blast came back to us and Jaap was really into the band and the timing was right so we signed to them."
Is it going to be hard to tour with all your producing you are doing?
"No not at all, I am cutting back on producing at the moment, I am more into playing guitar right now so touring shouldn't be a problem. We play one show locally on May 20th and then we are in Europe the following month paying some metal festivals in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and then Download festival."
So what's the future plans for you and the band?
"Well I have to produce the new Testament in a couple of weeks, then I have the new Accept album, a tour with Hell."
Well Andy, thanks for doing the interview, best of luck with the band and your producing career. May I see you in Hell!! Do you have anything to say before we finish the interview?
"I hope they get the chance to check out the band live and the CD, thanx for the interview. Lets burn in Hell!!"
Thanks to Nuclear Blast and Andy Sneap for the interview.