Interview with guitarist Rex Alan
Interview conducted by Michel Renaud
Date online: December 30, 2001
Sometimes you just don't know what's hiding in the underground... Reading SnakePit Magazine one day I read an interview with Iron Cross and that was just one of those moments where I told myself "I have to get this stuff" without really knowing what the band sounded like. I contacted Rex and through him I was able to get the band's self- titled double LP and CD. A good four word description would be "Pure Fucking Heavy Metal"! While this band may not be too well-known, they've been around since 1979. Their recent record deal with Iron Glory Records may help to finally give them the recognition they deserve. Read on to find out more about those heavy metal pionneers...
Iron Cross have been around since 1979... I'm still in shock! I had never heard of the band until I read an interview in a recent issue of SnakePit Magazine. What I find most surprising is that it doesn't seem like the band has released much material over its 22 years of existence. What are the reasons for that?
Well, before 1985 or so most of the recordings were cheaply done demos and such so we took the best from them plus a couple new ones and did the first album. Also from 91 to 98 we were not together as a unit. We were all doing side projects and other things even though we stayed in touch and did the occasional show we were not coming up with new material.
How did the band start up?
Mike and Tony actually did that. They started It in high school doing metal and hard rock covers.
What bands were you into back then? What were your influences?
There are way to many to list but here is a couple Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Uriah Heep, early Judas Priest and Kiss just to name a few.
There's quite a bit of material on the double LP and on the CD. Were those songs re-recorded for those releases, or are they old recordings? There seemed to be some differences in the sound that led me to believe that they were not all recorded at the same studio(?)
The double lp is a mixture of songs from all through our library. Some are from as far back as 84/85 and a few were done in 98. And you are right about the studios being different. The studios around here tend to go out of business quite often (the ones we can afford lol) so they were all done at different studios with different engineers.
Why didn't you use the same cover art as the double LP for the CD?
Iron Glory made that call. The cd put out last July by them is actually the 1st album re-released with a few bonus tracks.
How did you choose which songs from the 2LP would appear on the CD?
We let Andi from Iron Glory do that. It was great having a fresh look at all the music.
First tell me you guys are working on new material. Then, tell me we won't have to wait too long to hear some more killer Iron Cross material! - haha! :)
Yes we are working on new material and will start recording just after the new year.
Will the new material be in the same vein as the one on the self-titled CD, or will you be drawing influences from more recent styles/bands?
Yes, and it sounds like the Iron Cross everyone has come to like. We have a quality that when we play a song it always sounds like us and even if there is a few different influences you can immediatly identify it as an Iron Cross tune.
For how many albums did you sign with Iron Glory?
Just two for now and we will see after that.
You played the Classic Metal Fest in Kalamazoo in 2001 and I think you're on the bill for the 2002 edition in Cleveland (which I hope to attend)? How did that show go? Did you play a pretty long set? How were things for bands there (equipment, etc...)?
For us it was a great show. The people that ran the show were great and we played a good 50 minute set. The backline was excellent and we are looking forward to this year. And the fans were awesome. We had no idea we were as popular in Europe as we are. There was a big group from Germany and Greece and they were headbanging and actually singing along.
I read that your shows are very Halloween-like (something like that anyway ;)). Why did you guys choose that concept for live performances?
We were always fans of Kiss and Alice Cooper and wanted to give our fans something more than four guys in jeans just staring at their feet. And since a lot of our songs has dark themes it kinda fell into place.
Are there any plans for a full-blown tour? Hitting Europe maybe?
Well, if everything goes right we will be playing the Headbangers Open Air in June in Hamburg, Germany then doing a small tour then coming back to the states to do the Classic Metal Fest 2 and a few shows the going back for the Wacken Open Air Festival in August.
You opened for Flotsam & Jetsam recently, how did that show go? How big was the attendance?
It went great. There was pretty much a full house and Flotsam and Jetsam rocked the show.
Are any of the band members also involved in other bands/projects?
Rex is doing some studio work for a band from Canada called Austin but The Cross is our priority now.
Were any of you guys in other bands before forming Iron Cross? If yes, what were they, and do you know if any of those bands are still around?
Yes, all of us had other bands but none are still together or doing anything.
Have there been many lineup changes since Iron Cross was formed?
There have been about 7 or 8 changes but Mike and Tony have always been there and Rex has been there since 85/86.
A lot of bands that were big in the 80s have reformed in the past couple of years and released new material. Do you feel Iron Cross can be put in the same basket, or do you feel your return is more like Iron Cross finally getting its "big break"?
This is more like us getting our big break. We have always stuck by our guns and never changed the way we sound so it is like the scene is coming back around to us.
Most new bands nowadays are pretty much either of the power, black, death or doom metal genre - we don't see many new "pure" heavy metal bands. Do you think that particular genre is dying or you feel it will come back strong again at some point? A lot of people said Thrash was dead but some new bands have started appearing lately...
It has never went away it just went underground. I am sure there are a bunch of pure metal bands out there just waiting for the chance to play. In 1992 the scenes bottom just dropped out but like us we just kept the fire burning until interest peaked again.
Here's a non-music related question - you guys live in the U.S., and at the time I'm preparing this interview, there's a big Anthrax scare going on. How are you guys dealing with this? Does it bother you at all or do you see this mostly as the media overreacting? I think the first case was reported in your home state of Florida... (Only the first two anthrax cases had appeared at the time of the interview - ed)
This a big case of media hype. They twist the truth blow shit out of proportion so they can sell ads on the news. You have a better chance of getting hit by lighting here in Fl. than ever coming in contact with anthrax (Unless you see the band at Hard Rock Live ;-) ) It was a terrible thing that happened but you cannot let it run your life.
I'm out of questions so I'd like to thank you for your time answering this interview and also for keeping the heavy metal flame alive! If you'd like to add anything else, plug some merchandise, etc.., here's your chance!
We would like to thank you first for giving us the chance to get this to our fans. And we also want to thank Andi from Iron Glory, Juergen from Hellion Records, Marcus from Truemetal.org and our friends Sascha, Toine, Rainer, Panos and all the rest for all their support in getting our music spread through out Europe. Also support you local metal!! They need you to keep the fire burning for all to hear. If you would like info on t-shirts and cd's just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again thanks for letting us put out our message and we will see you all soon, HAIL!Iron Cross
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