Interview with Andy Boulton (guitars)
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: April 9, 2011
MetalMike: Let me get the "I'm a fan from way back" stuff out of the way and say I really am a fan from way back, having bought Midnight Rendezvous in 1984 (and I still have it!) It is great to see the band back with a strong album in Thousand Men Strong.
Andy: Hi Mike and many thanks for your support over the years
MetalMike: What keeps you going after nearly 30 years?
Andy: LOL hard drugs! Seriously it's the love of the music basically.
MetalMike: Tokyo Blade's infamous history is no secret. What inspired you to give it another go?
Andy: Well we discovered that there are still many Tokyo Blade fans out there and we just want to give them something new.
MetalMike: The new album, Thousand Men Strong, has a definite modern sound with only some hints of the old NWOBHM. Was that a conscious decision on your part or just a by-product of the way you write music these days?
Andy: I would say it's just a natural progression Mike. We can't sound the same with a new singer and today's technology but I don't feel we've changed much in terms of the songwriting and the album was recorded in just over a week with the band playing live really as it should be IMO.
MetalMike: Any meaning behind the title for Thousand Men Strong?
Andy: I guess Nicolaj feels as we do that Tokyo Blade is more of a brotherhood and together we are like a thousand men strong. I think we are greater than the sum of our parts.
MetalMike: What was it like working with legendary producer Chris Tsangarides?
Andy: Fantastic! Chris is a great guy, we had a great laugh together and he knows how to get a great sound on everything, while keeping the sound live as it was recorded.
MetalMike: Obviously recording albums has changed a lot since the debut. What do you miss from the old days and what are you glad you'll never have to do again?
Andy: Well in the old days we were very poor and lived on a terrible diet of chips and bread. We recorded in fairly poor studios with just a few days to make the record and no producer. After Night of the Blade we did big tours with full tour buses and hotels, but the first tour we all slept in a small van. Glad I'll never do that again.
MetalMike: No "Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia" hidden in the grooves this time? LOL! I'll never forget hearing that the first time I listened to Midnight Rendezvous and thinking my parents had somehow switched records on me.
Andy: LOL, we did have a little something in mind for the album but we were struggling against time. We are all huge fans of the late and great Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and we had such a laugh doing "trail of the lonesome pine." Who knows? If we do a follow up album there may well be a surprise or two?
MetalMike: What is your favorite song from Thousand Men Strong? You did all of the writing on this album, have the songs been around for a while or were they all new for this album? Any leftovers that might turn up, a la "Madame Guillotine?"
Andy: Difficult to say really! I love "Lunchcase" which Nicolaj and I wrote in 20 mins over the phone LOL! I also like "Forged in Hellsfire" and "Condemmed to Fire."
I had the songs for a while and just sent the tracks to Nicolaj so that he could write the melody and lyrics. There were a few that didn't make it but they may turn up on an EP or something. I was seriously ill prior to and during the recording and until I went to hospital I had no idea of just how ill I was, so recording was a real struggle for me but the guys helped me get through it bless them.
MetalMike: The re-recorded song "Night of the Blade" sounds awesome and is a great way to close Thousand Men Strong. While both the Alan Marsh and Vic Wright versions of Night of the Blade have their moments, any thought to having the new band give the album the modern touch?
Andy: No, we did NOTB as a kind of link and tribute to the old band, both versions (Alan's and Vic's) are great and I feel it should be left that way.
MetalMike: How did the current lineup come together? Nicolaj Ruhnow really has some pipes, how happy were you when he showed up?
Andy: Very happy :-) Nic is a great singer and a great guy; he's our brother and a full member of Tokyo Blade. We all met up, Andy Wrighton and I at first then John and then we finally tracked down Steve, LOL! He was hiding in deepest Surrey so that took a while.
MetalMike: What were your influences back in the 80s? How about today?
Andy: Well just about anything back then and now, the usual Floyd, Zeppelin, Lizzy, Purple, Halen, Queensryche plus some obscure and different stuff like Storyville, Glen Hughes, Heart, Jann Arden, Kate Bush
MetalMike: What are you favorite songs to play live from the debut or Night of the Blade?
Andy: I still love "Break the Chains" and "Meanstreak" and from NOTB the title track of course also "Dead of the Night."
MetalMike: What do your tour plans look like? Any chance we'll see you in the States?
Andy: We have some dates in Germany later this month and we have the huge Wacken festival to do which will be great, hopefully the States will come next year.
MetalMike: Favorite guitar?
Andy: Probably still my old signature Lag to be honest. I had it back in the 80's but I fell out of love with the body, so I screwed the Lag neck to an old body that I got from eBay for £30. I found an old Seymour Duncan and chucked that in there and was good to go. I had a pull pot fitted a few months ago which gives me a coil tap so the clean sound is better.
MetalMike: What are you the other guys up to when not actively recording or playing with Tokyo Blade?
Andy: All kinds of stuff really. I love my falconry I also work for the charity "One Spirit," Steve loves fishing, John plays about with his custom VW bug and VW bus, Nicolaj loves climbing and jumping out of planes and Andy W is in to walking with his dog and listening to music.
MetalMike: Anything we didn't touch on that you'd like to talk about?
Andy: I'd just like to put it out there that folks should check out www.nativeprogress.org
the website of the charity I work for to help the terrible conditions on the Pine ridge reservation for the Lakota nation. If you can do something to help or donate please, please do so as people are dying.
Some people spend their spare time doing others wrong and engaging in negative actions and some people waste their lives doing nothing positive at all. Make a difference and do something good, it feels good, too and I thank you in advance for taking the time to look at the site at least.
MetalMike: Thanks for taking time to answer these questions, Andy. Huge congratulations on the new album, Thousand Men Strong and I hope this is the beginning of a string of successful albums for you and guys in Tokyo Blade!
Andy: Many thanks to you Mike for your support and for taking the time to do this interview. Many blessings to you my friend and I wish you a long and happy life.
|Other information about Tokyo Blade on this site|
|Review: Night of the Blade|
|Review: Thousand Men Strong|
|Review: Midnight Rendezvous|
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