Interview with Dan Beehler and Allan
by Peter Markham
from Metallic Beast no. 4. (ca 1987)
has never really been my favourite band, but they were one of the very
first power metal bands back in ’83 with their legendary ”Heavy Metal Maniac”-album
which came out even before Metallica’s ”Kill ‘Em All”!! The music was just
so heavy and aggressive and no one had heard anything that raw since the
”heavier” bands at that time; Accept, Motorhead, Raven and Venom, and
had balls enough to blow away everyone of those bands.
The raw grinding power guitar, the furious pounding bass, the thunderous massive double bass blitz and the powerpacked vocals/screams has become the trademark of who were formed in 1979 in Ottawa, Canada by the holocaust trio: Dan Beehler (drums/vocals), Allan Johnson (bass) and John Ricci (guitar). With this line-up they put out the albums ”Violence & Force” (featuring the classic ”Pounding Metal”) in ’84 and ”Long Live the Loud” in ’85, but none of these albums have done anything for me. has been very unlucky with record deals (they’ve had three) and tours, however, they’ve sold loads of albums and been given much exposure in the metal scene, airplay and world-wide popularity.
In ’84 they opened on Motörhead’s four months’ ”No Remorse” US tour together with Mercyful Fate and they supported Accept on their ’85 ”Metal Heart” European tour. Right after this when they were about to embark on their headlining tour of Europe with Metal Church, guitarist John Ricci left the band and everybody thought that had split but in March ’86 came back stronger than ever with a new guitarist, Brian McPhee, and a new furious album ”Unveiling the Wicked” which I like a lot because it’s the ultimate and it kicks your fucking teeth in! (except the wimpy ”(I Hate) School Rules”!!). With Brian’s input has opened up to a wider audience and yet still retain the bone-crushing power that brought them massive underground success, and they’re still one of the major ”power metal” outfits.
I talked to Dan Beehler and Allan Johnson in Copenhagen in April on their European tour with Motorhead and Manowar.
Wasn’t ”Heavy Metal Maniac” original a demo tape?”
Al: ”It was just a rough demo that we did just send the record companies, and no record company in Canada would even listen to it. So we sent it down to Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records and he wanted to press it but we wanted to record it properly first. We tried in every angle to get a record deal, so we said fuck it, press the demo. It turned out that it did well for us and got us well-known across the world, but we weren’t happy with the production.”
Kerrang slagged you really off with the Royal Standard gig, didn’t they?
Al: ”Everything just blew up that night, it was beyond our control.”
Dan: ”Everybody have bad gigs but from a fan’s point of view you don’t know what happens behind and you don’t care. Plus at the time Metallica was getting a big push from Kerrang and everybody else and we were just the people on the side and when Metallica took off to Europe we just like faded into the underground scene. But we were getting bad reviews everywhere, but we’ve overcome that, that’s a part of the past.”
What would you call your brand of music, power, thrash, speed or what ever?
Dan: ”Nah, it’s just Heavy Metal played hard and heavy. People label everyone, satanic, thrash this and that. We play fast but we also play heavy, ”Pounding Metal” is one of our biggest songs and it’s not fast, songs like that that have done really well for the band aren’t fast, so people can’t say we’re thrash ‘cos we’re not, we call ourselves a Power Heavy Metal band.”
Do you think ”Violence & Force” was a let-down after ”Heavy Metal Maniac”?
Dan: ”No, we felt the songs were really good on the album, but as much as Carl Canedy is a good friend of ours now he didn’t really produce the band properly, if it had been produced properly it would have done better.”
How’s the Canadian scene now?
Dan: ”It’s getting better, it’s not as good as it is in the US or Europe. Canada is a big, big country with a small amount of people, it’s like the US very modern but the kids just doesn’t catch on until the US catches on, then they catch on. We do have a good following now, we do like 1500 people in Toronto, overhere everybody goes crazy but in Canada it’s just the front row. Ottawa is the capital of Canada, very, very conservative like all government. There’s a lot of new young bands but they just play the small clubs, like for instance there’s a band called Shock who’re trying to do what we did but find it very difficult.”
Why did John leave?”
Dan: ”He just got fed up with the music business and he didn’t get along with me and Al, and when you’re playing in a band and don’t get along it’s very hard, when you go on stage and hate each other it shows and the crowd can see that. John wasn’t a shit guitarist, he just wasn’t as good as Brian. To get Brian in just brought up to another level, Brian can write songs that John couldn’t. After the last tour John quit and it got around world-wide that we had spilt but we carried on. My first band was Brian’s band, we played together for two years and then we spilt up. As soon as we had to get another guitarist we thought of Brian immediately because we used to play that heavy back then, we started out heavy from day one with Brian.”
Do you think ”Unveiling the Wicked” is the final break-through for ?
Dan: ”Yeah, if John had still been in the band it would have been something that would have never happened, we would have stayed the same. Maybe with this album we can capture more fans, but the old fans would still get into it. We thought is was great when John left the band ‘cos we got Brian and he’s a lot better guitarist, he’s more technical and we wrote the songs to be different, you have to progress and we feel that ”Unveiling…” is a step above out last album, and our next album will still be fast and heavy but it will be a step above ”Unveiling…”, people want to hear something different. There’s nothing wrong with putting more melody into the songs and working with the vocals so that it actually sounds like a song when you sit back and listen to it and doesn’t sound like you spent two minutes writing it.”
What do you think of the new bands like Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus etc.?
Al: ”We’re not into it really, I’m sure they’re great musicians but I wouldn’t really know as I’ve never heard them. We’ve done a tour with Megadeth and a few shows with Exodus, but when they’re on stage I usually backstage doing something else.”
Dan: ”When it comes to Megadeth, they’re very, very good musicians and one thing I respect about Megadeth is that they’re not satanic and they don’t do every song 3 million miles an hour. They have stuff like ”Chosen Ones” which is slow and heavy and they do all kinds of metal instead of just one thrash straight-ahead thing and I think it’s great when bands do that. Dave Mustaine can show himself more as a guitarist in a slower song than he can do in ”Mechanix” which is very fast.”
You mentioned satanic bands, what do you think of them?
Dan: ”There’s a lot of young bands doing it that don’t know what they’re talking about, and it seems to be fading out now, I just think that everybody has overdone it.”
What are your future plans?
Dan: ”We will release ”(I Hate) School Rules” as single with a new song on the B-side and a live track from this tour, and we’ll also do a video with partly acting and partly live shots. We’ve had a lot of problems over the years so hopefully now we could bet above these problems.”
Any last words?
Dan: ”Yeah, get out and support us and buy our new album because we feel it’s our heaviest so far and we’ll come back and headline Europe next year, see you then!”
So get out and support
because they need your help and they deserve it!!! And catch ‘em live if
you can, they totally kick ass!!!!
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