Interview with guitarist Mike Wlad
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: December 13, 2012
Back in the early 80s, the Heavy Metal scene was exploding with new bands in the wake of the NWOBHM, and Denmark was no different. Along with fellow Danes Mercyful Fate, Witch Cross took up guitars and drums and hit the road. A single, a well received album, Fit for Fight, and tours throughout Europe followed. Unfortunately, as happened to so many good bands from that period, management and label bigwigs failed to see the quality of Witch Cross' music and never gave the band the promotional push that would have put them on the world stage.
Fast forward to 2010 and an interview guitarist Mike Wlad did with a popular Metal magazine which led to the suggestion he get the band back together for a festival appearance. The stars lined up and three of the original band members, guitarist Mike Wlad, bassist Jan "Little John" and drummer Lars Bjornstad, got together with new guitarist Paul Martin and singer Kevin Moore for the show. The response was great so the time was ripe to move forward with Mike's idea for a new Witch Cross album. He was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to give us some insight on the original incarnation of the band and what the future has in store.
MetalMike: Congratulations on the re-launch of Witch Cross and the re-release of Fit for Fight! How does it feel to be back on stage playing Heavy Metal for the masses again?
Mike Wlad: It's a wonderful feeling to be playing live again after all these years. I have had an idea for an album for a long time and with all the re-released material out now it means that we are working really hard on the new stuff to make sure it stands up against Fit for Fight. The fans have been awesome and it means so much to all of us that we have the support from so many metal heads.
MetalMike: What inspired you to put the band back together?
Mike Wlad: Well, we did an interview for Snakepit magazine two years ago and Laurent from the magazine asked if we would like to play at Keep it True in Germany in April 2012. "What a great idea," I thought, and got hold of all the old guys. We all agreed to try to make it work and in the end we ended up with three original members in the "new" Witch Cross; Jan, Lars and myself plus two new guys Paul Martin and Kevin Moore.
MetalMike: What have all the original band members been up to since Witch Cross disbanded in 1986? Three original members of the band are back but can you tell us the status of the two who are not in Witch Cross at this time?
Mike Wlad: Alex Savage is busy with a lot of other bands and also he is a national radio DJ with a daily program and Cole Hamilton is doing artwork and planning to start a new band. AC is running his own business and doing great at it, Lars is a bricklayer, Jan is teaching kids music and I write music for TV/Video etc and run a studio in London and also work with a number of bands.
MetalMike: What were the challenges for a young band from Denmark back in the 80s? Are there things you would have done differently, if you had the opportunity to go back in time? How do you think things will be different for the band today?
Mike Wlad: We didn't think too much about it in those days. We were developing as a band, I guess, and we loved every minute of it, so until we had released our first single and then the album we just worked so hard to get our music heard. Once you have a manager (RIP) and a record label then things change a bit as you are depending on them to do the work for the band and it worked, for a while, but then we really needed a big push to get to the next level which we never got so that's why we decided to call it a day.
Today we will stay in control of everything like we did in the beginning and we wont cut corners and with the help of the internet it will be possible to spread the new material in a different way that in the 80's. The new album is gonna blow everybody away there are so many great songs on the album.
MetalMike: I remember searching high and low for Fit for Fight back in 1984. The hunt was part of the experience back then! Do you think things might have turned out differently for Witch Cross if the Internet had been around in the 80s? What impact do you think it will have on the band today?
Mike Wlad: It is hard to say if the internet would have made a difference to the band's success but we would have liked to have sold some more albums and toured a bit more in those days. Today we use the Internet a lot to keep fans informed about the band and it's a great tool but maybe it's not always a good thing if it is too easy. I mean, hard work is what makes the difference and we intend to put a lot of hard work into the album. SO LOOK OUT!!!
MetalMike: What are your favorite songs from Fit for Fight? What is it about them that you like? How do you feel Fit for Fight has held up over the years?
Mike Wlad: I just love "Light of a Torch," it is a true old school metal song with a great building intro. Also, "Fight the Fire," which is a true crowd pleaser with the twin guitar parts and chasing solo section. "Axe Dance" is fun to play and is a great opening track.
To be honest, I was so surprised to find out how many people classed Fit for Fight as a classic. I believe we did a great job writing and recording the album, with a small budget and very little help from anybody. The album is really about the band and nobody else and it's amazing to see how fans have picked it up over the years. I think we have a greater following in today that we did in 1984-85, hail to the Internet ...hahahaha
MetalMike: What were some of the highlights and lowlights of your career?
Mike Wlad: There have been so many highlights. Touring in Holland and Germany in 1985 was amazing but also recording the first single and the album. I guess the real lowlights were stopping the band in 1985, which was way too early. So far with the new band the highlight has to be Keep It True in Germany!! Hail to all the people working so hard to keep the music alive!!!
MetalMike: Where were your favorite places to play in the 80s? Are there places you missed during the band's first incarnation that you hope to get to this time around?
Mike Wlad: Roskilde Festival in Denmark was so great and also the Dynamo club in Holland. We are back in Holland in October and I can't wait. We would love to play in the US and South America but also Japan, get on that "Night Flight to Tokyo."
MetalMike: What does the future hold for Witch Cross? On your website, you mention playing a couple of new songs at the recent Keep it True festival. Does that mean a new
Witch Cross album is in the works? How do these new songs stack up with the older songs, in your opinion?
Mike Wlad: We are working hard on the new songs to make them stand up against Fit for Fight but I am sure we are doing a great job! So look out for the new album, which is sounding awesome, and also some more gigs in 2013. We will try to cover most of the globe in the next few years and the new album will be out early 2013.
MetalMike: What made you decide to re-release Fit for Fight through Hells Headbangers and will they handle any new albums?
Mike Wlad: I wasn't really aware what was going on with the re-release until I had the album in my hands. I thought it was gonna be another bad release that didn't respect the work and effort we had put in to it in the first place. I am so happy that the album has finally got a great re-release, the people at Hells Heabangers are amazing and they really have put so much work into this release that we would never in out lives would have expected. It's bloody awesome!!!
MetalMike: I, for one, am glad to see Witch Cross back and wish you all the best with your future endeavours. And I hope to see you in the U.S. someday soon! Any last thoughts or things you'd like the readers to know about?
Mike Wlad: I would like to thank all the people and fans around the globe for keeping our music alive. We will try to play as many places as we can in the future and hope to see everybody on tour!! Also, keep supporting Witch Cross and look out for the new album. Finally thanks to MetalMike and The Metal Crypt for doing this interview, you abso-bloody-lutely keep the music alive!!
|Other information about Witch Cross on this site|
|Review: Fit for Fight|
|Review: Axe to Grind|
|Video: Rocking The Night Away|
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