The Reaper awaits you - Steve Grimmet speak out.
The history behind one of the UK's most underrated vocalist in Metal has to be Steve Grimmet, the voice who brought Grim Reaper, who had success in the early 80's with 3 fantastic releases, 2 of which were recorded by Ebony Records, the label who brought you 'Shy', 'Samaria' and many more. Steve after the break up of Grim Reaper was soon joining Bristol thrasher's 'Onslaught' for their 'In Search of Sanity' album, but soon found himself without a band once again. Next step for Steve was 'Lionsheart', who released several albums firstly with Music For Nations, the label that brought Metallica to were they are now. Many years have past for Steve, and now he has 2 projects on the go, his own band and a band called 'Grimmstine'. Both of which are superb albums with Steve strong vocal abilities makes both albums well worth checking out. I managed to have a chat with Steve on the phone to ask him about Grim Reaper, and his previous bands and to find out more about his 2 new exciting projects. Here is what he had to say.
As we all know you have been a vocalist now for many years, did it just come natural to you back in the early days or did you have any family members who were musical wo may of inspired you?
"Well my uncle use to enter show a band which we would now call a covers band and that is about it as far as I can remember. He singer and plays the guitar and my mum sings but she has never done anything with it and I believe he is the only musical one in the family. I think my vocals did pretty much naturally in the end."
So what vocalists have influenced you to become a singer in the first place?
"I was inspired by Elton John believe it or not. I am a massive fan of his work and if it wasn't for him I would not be singing now. I was a bigger fan of his early stuff really and I never really got into Rock until I joined my first band & I got a audition for my first band in Cheltenham (UK) and they wanted me to audition the song 'The Boys Are back In Town' by Thin Lizzy so I had to learn it and that was it really. After which I got myself into a Rock/ Metal band playing Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and all the 80's Metal bands."
So what made you want to do a Thin Lizzy song when you are a big fan of Elton John and not really been into the Metal Hard Rock thing?
"Well the metal stuff would of been in the charts anyway, so I would of heard it as a kid and I went out and bought the Thin Lizzy single so I could learn it.
Was it just the one cover you did or a full cover band?
"No I didn't do any more song, I was slowly introduced into the band because the guitarist was the guitarist as well who told him he should just concentrate on playing the guitar and find a singer, so he chose to play the guitar instead. In the end I never really got to play with the band, we only ever did 2 gigs I think because he wanted to be the center of attention, so in the end I heard less and less from them. In the end I got myself into a local band which were looking for a local singer."
So how did the Grim Reaper thing come about? Where you all local lads at the time?
"Yes we were all local lads at that time, Grim Reaper was a was a rival band if you want to put it that way, as I was in a band called 'Medusa' and Grim Reaper were going then and Nick and myself knew one another rather well and in the end things started to break up with Medusa with Eddy the drummer leaving first and then joined Wrathchild, and then Lance the guitarist left who also joined Wrathchild. In the end I was left on my own, but it wasn't too long before I got a phone call from Nick Bocott one night and over the next nights he asked me if I wanted to join his band. In the end one thing led to another which was rather cool."
So how did the deal come about with Ebony Records back in the day?
"Well again there was a local band in Cheltenham who asked me to do a single for them called 'Chateaux' which I did and and 3-4 months later they asked me to do the album for them which I was a bit unsure about doing at the time. In between me doing the single and album we won a battle of the band competition were we won a 24 hour slot in a 24 track recording studio which we recorded a 6 track demo and when I went up to do the album for 'Chateaux' titled 'Chained and desperate' Darryl Johnson and 6 weeks later we got a deal with Ebony Records."
The debut album for Grim Reaper 'See You In Hell' received some positive reviews from the press?
"Well that album received some excellent reviews which sold really well over there in the UK and it went fairly well in Europe and in those days I had no idea to what was a great album in sale or not. We started to get some interests from the U.S. through Ebony and long and behold we were singed to RCA Records. We did 3 album in the end, 2 with Ebony and 1 with RCA."
So what went wrong with the 3rd album 'Rock You To Hell', that was a awesome album, it was a shame you never recorded a 4th album.
"Yeah it was a great album, it was Ebony records which went wrong (laughing). We were licensed to RCA through Ebony and quite a few thing went wrong with Ebony were the label breached their contract with us and we decided it take it further and told him we were leaving the label and recorded the 3rd album with RCA and in between times he got the money to sue us and that it what basically happened. They sued each band member and RCA which the guy at Ebony ripped us off major style with a lot of money and in the end he took us to court in which he never turned up in the end. At that point Ebony Records had gone bust so in the end there was no way he could contest the whole thing. In the end RCA decided that they didn't want to keep the band due to the problems we had with Ebony. We did actually have a 4th album wrote which was only demo'd but never actually recorded."
I know Nick went onto record something with a member of New York thrasher's 'Toxik', what was that please?
"I think it was the singer from Toxik, he had a band called 'Bar Flight', which recorded an album with RCA but it never got released which was yet another waste of time and money which is a shame. Most of them are used as tax right offs especially in the 80's. I really don't know why that album was never released."
So are you still friends with the former members of Grim Reaper? What are they all doing now?
"Yeah I'm still friends with them, I still see Dave but I did loose touch with them for a while. I see Lee the drummer too but I lost touch with Nick in about the last 6 months and he use to work for Marshall amps in the U.S. and now works for Fender guitars to which I haven't heard from him since. I guess at some point he will call me and say he is back in the UK and ask if I want to go for a beer, which I'd be glad to accept."
I heard that Grim Reaper are doing the odd gig here and there, is it the original members besides Nick?
"No it's not Jase, it is just me and it's called 'Steve Grimmett's 'Grim Reaper' and I have been doing this now for the last couple of years playing gigs in Europe, where I have played gigs in Europe and Brazil.
Moving on, Grim Reaper broke up and later on you joined Bristol Thrasher's 'Onslaught', how did that come about?
" Well I just got back from a tour and that is when things went tits up with RCA and basically I ended up not having any contacts with Grim Reaper so I got approached by Onslaught who asked me to do a demo with the band to see if I could do their new stuff which I did do a demo in my own studio. I did about 3-4 tracks for them and to be known by me the album had been rejected by London Records and they were not too keen on the original singers vocals as Sy is a a good singer so I really don't know what went wrong there. So later on they asked me to joint the and I tried to get a hold of RCA and my management and Nick and couldn't get a hold of any of them and nobody would reply to my phone calls or anything. So in the end they had made their choice and my mind up so I left Grim Reaper and joined Onslaught. "
Did you have some good times with Onslaught? Was it difficult for you to do the early songs of Onslaught live?
"Yeah I did actually, at times there was a rough trip but I got on with the guys well. I still speak to them now. I really didn't have a problem doing the early stuff."
After leaving Onslaught you formed your own band 'Lions Heart', which were released through Music For Nations (MFN) which consisted of 2 twin brothers, was it easy have the 2 brothers in the band? Do they share the same thoughts as many people would expect from twins?
"Well we were introduced through a mutual friend whilst I was in Onslaught, and I thought they talked the talked kind of speak, they didn't talk shit so that made me interested in working with them in the future at some point. I told them I was busy at that time so when I was done with Onslaught and touring there would be a gap so we decided th get together and record some stuff. In the end I really liked what we had recorded which was really up my street which was like Whitesnake & Hard Blues. We started to have some problems within Onslaught so I decided to pursue my own career. Onslaught had been dropped by London Records and I knew I was in the same situation as I was with Grim Reaper and I didn't want to be in that situation again. So I quit the band and formed Lionsheart. As for the twins, they were fantastic song writers and great musicians but the only thing they wouldn't do is tour, they hated it. On our first tour with Lillian Axe we had a tour bus and each with share with Lillian Axe and they did not want to do that tour at all, they did it but they would drive home after each show and in the end it got to a point were I got a phone call from our management of doing a show that Mark (1 of the twins) had a nervous breakdown so we could not continue the rest of the tour. So in the end I had enough of it and in the end I had 2 days to find 2 new replacement for the twins and get them to learn the 6 songs which we were doing on the tour and on the 3rd day we had a rehearsal and the 4th day we played a gig which was great for the band. I am not sure why Mark had a nervous breakdown, and they would always argue whilst we were playing. When we did the tour with Lillian Axe I remember Graham saying we should get the twins back and but I said I didn't want to work with them again and when we hit the shores of Japan Graham and myself were walking about in Tokyo on our own and he said if the twins had of done this tour they wouldn't of even got on the plane. So in the end it was a blessing in disguise."
The debut album of Lions Heart was released on Music For Nation, the label who had Metallica, Anthrax etc... as well as Lillian Axe. How many albums did you record for that label and were you happy with them back in the day? Also how did you see each album as a progression?
"Well we did 3 albums for MFN, and I see the debut album as a brilliant album which did really well and the 2nd album and 3rd didn't do that well really. I really don't know why the album didn't do well, I think it was a bit of a shock to the Japanese too, because they were really behind the debut album in a major way and with firing the twins they really didn't get into the music anymore. MFN were a great label, they really looked after the band and they wanted their moneys worth and if we ever needed any money they would help us out and they would be behind us and they were patient enough waiting for the 3rd album for me to build my own recording studio as I felt I didn't want to give money away to other studios and decided to make my own. My keyboard & I built the studio and put it together which took a lot longer then we expected. "
I never heard 'Under Fire' album, how was it to the 1st 2 albums?
"Well it wasn't too bad, we did that with the American guitarist Brooke St James from Tyketto who held me do that in my own studio and it was ok, but I wasn't in a great place in my life at that time. It was a very trying 3rd album so enough said about that (laughing)."
I was wondering if the band 'Medusa' ever did an album? If so what was it like and who released it?
"Yes we did an album, it was basically a collection of demos that we did in local studios and I think it was 2 demos which we put together. We released it through Zinc club records. I felt that I wanted to release the album as it was part of my history and for fans to check out what else I had recorded. It was a shame we never did anything else after those 2 demos as we had loads of interests form labels such as Virgin, and other top labels coming to our shows. "
Moving on as you are promoting the Steve Grimmett band, how did you hook with these guys?
"Well basically it was a long and winded affair as Ian was guitarist for the last Lions Heart album we did and it was just a natural progression really. I was about ti give up on the music scene, as I had enough of everything and we got asked to do the 'Keep It True' festival in Germany and it was a great gig actually. What I actually got out of playing that gig was to play under the name of Steve Grimmett's 'Grim Reaper' so we decided to go under that name and it totally amazed me about how the fans still wanted it and I really couldn't believe it and got home and I said to Ian that we should do another album. In the end I totally gave into it and we ended up not doing it in the grim Reaper style at all, it was the Steve Grimmett album 'Personal Crisis' and that 1 gig kicked off a big thing. It kept the interest going in the industry and we ended up doing a lot of gigs as Steve Grimmett's 'Grim Reaper'. It is totally different playing over there to playing here in the UK and it is a real struggle to do anything over here whereas, in Europe they just love the music. I didn't think I have played a gig out there to anybody less that 500+ people, but here in the UK it takes people to get of their asses to come to a show."
So where was the album recorded and how long did it take to record the debut album?
"Well the album was recorded at home and we all have recording studios at home which does help and Ian did his parts at his house and Pete did his parts at his studio and I did my parts at Pete's and then we went to Germany to Dennis Ward's studio and I did my vocals there and Pete went to Dennis studio to mix the album. Dennis is a great producer and he does work you hard and he can tare you down and rebuild you up again, that is what a great producer does, to bring out the best in you. I first worked with Max Norman on the 'Rock You To Hell' album and he was a right bastard!! He had us working really really hard and he broke me down to a point were I didn't think I could sing anymore. That is what a good producer does! Dennis has a great solid ear and comes up with a great drum sound, he's awesome."
Is it rather difficult for Pete been in the band when he is also in Eden's Curse, does that cause conflicts?
"Well no, we have had no problems with that so far, I have 2 bands and if the bands don't clash then I don't see any problems."
Do you write the lyrics yourself for the Steve Grimmett band?
"No it's a full joint thing with the whole band, we all take a part in the song writing."
What songs from your solo debut album do you like and why?
"Well I liked the songs 'Promises', as it was the first song that I heard from the mixes and it is pretty tough one to pick out any favourites. I don't have a real favourite song on that album at all."
Has the album been receiving positive reviews so far form the press?
"Well we did get some positive reviews and that is a old album now, and it was a good album and the thing that pissed me off about that album was the fact that I didn't do that many interviews for that album and it disappeared for me and we got nothing out of it and we didn't tour on it which is a real shame. It was a great album and it had some punchy tunes and I was upset that it didn't do anything."
Did you release that album yourselves before Metal Heaven came along?
"No Metal Heaven released it after we finished recording it and I am happy with the way the label is looking after us."
Let's talk quickly about your other band 'Grimestine', how did that project come about? How do you compare their music to your solo album's music?
"I really don't know, what I really like is that it is Steve and myself and Steve is a really unknown guitarist and he had the opportunity to come out of this one and I sort of guarded him in a small way to what style of music we should be doing. The whole album is a collection of songs that both me and Steve had wrote together even so that we liked them so much that we ended up recording them for the album. Steve send me the backing track and I end up doing the vocal melodies and the lyrics together and then I send them back to Steve who then works on the parts to make them sound even better. Steve when sends the finished songs by email to the studio in the U.S. where they mix the album. I met Steve when I was out there and I was married to an American & she came from the same area as Steve and I was told I should go and check out this band called 'Dozer' who were a covers band. I went along and checked them out and I thought he was a stunning guitarist and has a great personality and we have become good friends. We see each other for a couple of weeks a year and then he comes over here with his family so we are the very best of friends. We write great songs together."
Are you now writing new songs for Steve Grimmett and Grimstine band?
"Pete is busy with Eden's Curse right now so that is now on hold for the time being. As for Grimstine, we are now looking to tour and we hit the States in April 2010 and a tour in the UK & Europe in October of 2010. The Grimstine reviews for the CD have been fantastic so far!!"
Well Steve I'd like to thank you for your time, best wishes for 2010 and I hope to see you live one day. Do you have anything to say before we come to an end?
"Yes, thank's to the fans as always for their support with Steve Grimmett band and Grimstine. Also their support with my previous bands. I hope to see you all on tour soon, till then take care. Thanks for the interview Jason, support Friday 13th website.
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