Email arrived from the Band. Might I be interested in reviewing their single Saturday Night Special? Well of course. A chance to reconnect with a band with roots back in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal days most welcome.
High Treason hail from Luton getting together in the 1970s as NWOBHM was exploding. They did not reach the heights of some of their counterparts back then though that was not for want of trying.
Indeed, Saturday Night Special was the band’s single, er, single from those days with a limited distribution and some exposure on the (still) much missed Friday Rock Show on Radio 1.
The band trundled on for a while before going their separate ways before reforming under arguably bizarre circumstance after a Japanese band covered some of their stuff.
Saturday Night Special has been re-recorded and available as a single c/w Blue Beyond. In a clever marketing trick, the CD looks like a proper old fashioned vinyl single. The cut out circle on the sleeve showing the CD label. The CD itself is black and the top side having grooves cut in to it. Very nice, very retro. I liked it before I listened to it……!
Heck of a catchy number too. It drives along at pace and not a little power. Plenty of melody without losing the rocking edge. Some excellent guitar work too. Blue Beyond isn’t half bad either. A slower pace and a bit moody. Reminds me of something you’d find on a UFO album if Phil Mogg’s in a reflective mood.
Saturday Night Special can be obtained from High Treason’s web site store. A real snip at the price. Have a look: http://high-treason.net (web site) http://3msmusic.com/shop/ (record label for the single).
To help you learn a bit more about the band, here’s a mini-interview I arranged with them.
HIGH TREASON INTERVIEW
NWOBHM: Forgive my ignorance though I cannot recall High Treason from the good old NWOBHM days. Would you mind giving us a little history about the band back then?
HT: Hi there, we first put the band together in 1979 – from a mix of 2 local bands in Luton. Right from the start we wanted to put out melodic punchy rock music with a punky edge – we had a great singer and the band were very technically strong, so we played a lot and created a following. We went into the studio and produced a single Saturday Night Special and this got airplay on Tommy Vance’s BBC Friday Night Rock Show – which got us interest from a record label Chrysalis. Sadly, although they sent into the studio to do more demos, we moved too far towards new wave and away from rock – so things didn’t progress much further, which was sad. But we reformed in 2006, which was great.
NWOBHM: How tough was it to catch a break back then with all the competition and bands appearing (and sometimes disappearing…..) almost overnight?
HT: We weren’t really aware of that – we played with other bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket, Bleak House, Moonstone and Clientele but we didn’t have much sense of the bigger NWOBHM movement, which may be what made us move towards a new wave sound (which was a massive mistake)
NWOBHM: Any particular favourite anecdote from the “old days”?
HT: We had great fun playing live: for some reason we were a real favourite for the biker contingent and we played at many Chopper Club functions, including their annual convention at Dunstable Queensway Hall. Malcolm, our guitarist, always liked to get his foot up on the monitor (in time-honoured fashion). Sadly at the Chopper Club gig our road crew (who were a little the worse for wear) and had set up thunder-flashes for key moments in the songs and decided to set these off randomly when Malc was posing during a solo: the flashes effectively welded his leather trousers to his leg (he’s got the scar to this day). But we played on: after all, it was rock and roll wasn’t it?
NWOBHM: What brought about High Treason becoming active again?
HT: By a series of coincidences, in 2006 we realised that all the band was back in the same bit of the UK and decided to meet up. Nothing had changed: we were the same idiots as in 1980 and it was fun to play together again. We recorded an album ‘Radio Will Find Me’, which came out on High Roller Records and we played a come-back gig at Grantham College with Overdrive. But since we were the same idiots, we promptly had a massive argument and split up. Nevertheless we persisted and, despite a lot of line-up changes we’re still here!! We’ve had a number of blows – not the least of which was the sudden death last year of our drummer and founding member Gary Scarbrow, from a heart attack. We’ve decided to really go for it on his behalf – he loved the music biz and he’ll always be around in the band mind. We were lucky to find another old contemporary from Luton, Paul Madden, to step in for Gary and that has made it less weird. Motivation is not a problem: we love playing!!
NWOBHM: I believe an album is imminent – anything to tell us about that?
HT: We have now finished a new album at Smokehouse Studios with legendary producer Dennis Weinreich, with guests like Ben Matthews from Thunder and Elliott Randall from Steely Dan. It’s coming out on vinyl – and will include a re-working of our original single Saturday Night Special (out now as a CD and vinyl single). It’s been great and we’re looking forward to promoting it live!!
NWOBHM: What do you hope to achieve in 2016?
HT: A successful album launch: lots of media coverage and many great gigs!! We’re booked at Brofest in 2016 and we’re all looking forward to that!!
NWOBHM: Future plans for High reason?
HT: Lots of writing and recording – and maybe a world tour before we get too old!!!
NWOBHM: What would you say the main differences in the industry are
now compared with 40 years ago. For better or worse……
HT: Yes, it’s very different – when we started there was a very narrow path to commercial success: purely through a small number of record labels. Nowadays bands are much more in control of their product, its distribution and the promotion of their music. Just as hard to make it pay, but we have some ideas around that: watch this space!! Overall we think it’s probably a better situation – you’re probably unlikely to ever get that ‘big break’, but there’s more chance to get your music heard and play live so that’s really good. In terms of the music biz at present – I guess we see it as rather anodyne and derivative: but that’s fine, since it means that good original writing and decent ROCK music will eventually prevail!!!
High Treason Links:
http://3msmusic.com/shop/ (record label for the single).