Most musicians would completely love to choose the tune that turns into their most cherished anthem. Sadly, life doesn’t work like that. As he cheerfully admits right this moment, Angel Witch singer/guitarist Kevin Heybourne wrote the tune that may give his band its identify and grow to be their perennial set-closer, when he was nonetheless a youngster, “actually simply mucking about on my guitar, attempting to write down a tune.
“It’s not like several of our different stuff, is it?” he continues. “At that time there was no Angel Witch anyway. I used to be simply discovering my toes as a songwriter. It was simply bed room stuff, when your dad and mom let you know flip it down, you understand?”
A lot has been written about these heady days within the early 80s when the New Wave Of British Heavy Steel swept throughout the UK, conjuring numerous nice bands and galvanizing Metallica within the course of. However with the apparent exceptions of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Saxon, few of the motion’s key gamers really deserved legendary standing: Angel Witch being the important thing exception.
Darker, heavier and extra adventurous than their innumerable friends, Kevin’s crew could not have equalled the business achievements of the aforementioned legendary trio, however their self-titled 1980 debut album is broadly and rightly thought to be one of many real basic information of that period.
And whereas the upbeat boogie rock of its opening title monitor (sure, it’s Angel Witch by Angel Witch from the album Angel Witch) is by no means typical of their sound, it is a licensed NWOBHM anthem. As Kevin notes with a chuckle, if he had tried to write down a tune that may endure for 40 years, it positively wouldn’t have labored out.
“The entire NWOBHM factor didn’t exist once I wrote Angel Witch,” he recollects. “We had been referred to as Lucifer at that time and we had been only a heavy rock band. I used to be in love with Sabbath, you understand? I didn’t like anything I used to be listening to. I appreciated bands like Led Zep and Deep Purple, however I most well-liked the Sabs as a result of it simply made extra sense to me, with the whole lot that was occurring round me. I assumed, ‘Why is everybody writing love songs?’ I used to be into the fantasy factor and horror and I simply felt that was extra of the best way to go.”
In actual fact, Angel Witch is one in all Kevin’s band’s solely upbeat and cheerful tunes, with lyrics that do appear to level to the inner monologue of a surly teenager. In stark distinction to the music, which kicks all method of unholy arse, traces like, ‘The extra love I really feel for you, the extra you fade away’ are unlikely to provide Slayer sleepless nights.
“Effectively, it was a load of shit that simply got here out of my head at 17 years previous!” the guitarist laughs. “It’s like a love tune, however gone flawed. However I didn’t spend days agonising over the phrases. It was simply one other rock tune. I’ve no fucking concept what would undergo a 17-year-old’s head now, however you needed to assume in your toes again then. Now you simply go on YouTube and study another person’s solo or no matter. It’s a disgrace, actually.”
Whereas the remainder of the fabric Kevin was writing as an aspiring teenage musician tended in direction of a extra overtly Sabbath-influenced sprawl of riffs and environment, Angel Witch itself was a quick, three-minute rampage with a brilliantly simplistic refrain (‘You’re an angel witch! You’re an angel witch!’) that, because it seems, even extremely drunk folks at steel reveals can sing together with. None of this was in Kevin’s thoughts on the time, nonetheless. He was simply attempting to emulate one in all his favorite bands.
“I’d been listening to a (British psych rock legends) Pink Fairies monitor, Stroll Don’t Run,” Kevin says. “It wasn’t their tune, it was initially by The Shadows, however I simply cherished the groove they used for that and the best way there was a pause between hitting every chord.
I simply labored round that and it simply developed from there. It was simple. The intro guitar half got here a bit later. I assumed, ‘I’ve acquired to start out it someway!’ I’ve acquired no concept the place that got here from. I used to be simply messing round with the E and the B string, simply to observe the chords, and it simply appeared!”
Lucifer turned Angel Witch in 1978, simply in time for the arrival of the New Wave Of British Heavy Steel. The band’s eventual breakthrough got here three years later after they contributed a monitor, Baphomet, to a compilation album referred to as Steel For Muthas that was launched by EMI in February 1980.
With two early Iron Maiden tracks and Baphomet standing out as the apparent highlights, it swiftly turned a cult basic amongst NWOBHM aficionados, with Angel Witch broadly acknowledged because the decide of the nascent bunch. In consequence, as Maiden strode imperiously in direction of world domination, Kevin’s band had been subsequent in line for a major file deal.
“We had been truly one of many final bands to get signed from the remainder of the NWOBHM bunch, however we had been supplied a deal by EMI,” Kevin remembers. “However I didn’t need to do it, primarily as a result of Maiden had already been signed. The opposite guys within the band actually wished to do it, however the man that was managing us on the time mentioned, ‘Do you actually need to be below the shadow of a band which have already made it?’ Maiden acquired a massive deal. So we walked away from that. I don’t remorse it. You’ll be able to’t return and alter it.”
Signing as an alternative to the extra low-key Bronze Information imprint, Angel Witch headed to Roundhouse Studios in London, in autumn 1980, to file their first album. At this level, Kevin felt he was progressing as a songwriter and that Angel Witch was in all probability a bit too light-weight for inclusion on what might be a very powerful album his band would ever make.
“I truthfully didn’t take into consideration doing the tune for the album, however everybody mentioned it needed to be a bloody single!” he laughs. “The producer mentioned, ‘It’s acquired to be completed!’ in order that occurred. It developed within the studio, truly. I modified just a few bits and shortened it, as a result of it was for much longer with three verses and a particularly lengthy solo, which I name ‘practising on stage’! Ha ha ha!”
Angel Witch’s debut was launched in December 1980, receiving a flurry of nice evaluations alongside the best way. Practically 40 years on, it nonetheless stands out as one of many few real classics of the NWOBHM period. However whereas deep cuts like Atlantis and Angel Of Loss of life are a more true illustration of Kevin Heybourne’s distinctive song- writing, it was the album’s titular opening monitor – launched as a single simply earlier than the album’s unveiling – that considerably inevitably turned Angel Witch’s not-so-secret weapon for all future reside engagements.
“Yeah, folks had been liking it right away,” Kevin says. “There was a giant push from the file firm when it was launched as a single. So folks knew it and so they anticipated it and it ended up that we had to play it. I feel at one level we had been doing it twice, in the beginning of the set and on the finish! That was silly, actually. However yeah, as a tune, it’s mainly nailed to my again! Ha ha ha!”
After calling it a day within the mid-80s, Kevin introduced Angel Witch again from the lifeless a number of instances, most lately reuniting the band in 2008 with a brand new line-up and realising, a lot to his shock, that they had been extra in demand than ever. At this time, they’re about to launch Angel Of Mild, their fifth studio album (and second since reconvening in 2008), and it’s apparent that Kevin is extraordinarily pleased with the outcomes.
It’s a thunderous however versatile file, filled with colossal riffs and jagged old-school hooks, and simply essentially the most spectacular Angel Witch file since that seminal debut. As Kevin notes, the opposite members of the present line-up are all real followers of the band, and whereas he could by no means be capable to scratch Angel Witch from the setlist, taking part in the tune with individuals who really adore it has reworked the entire expertise.
“Oh, it makes a enormous distinction. It wasn’t ever like that previously. This band might be the perfect we’ve ever been, besides possibly for the line-up we had with Invoice [Steer, Carcass guitarist and Angel Witch member between 2010 and 2013]. But it surely’s shut! These guys are all so honest and into it and all of us take a look at issues the identical means.” So that you’re positively nonetheless joyful to maintain taking part in Angel Witch each evening?
“Oh, I’ve to. It’s the identify of the band! Should you take it out then there is no Angel Witch. Ha ha ha!”
Have you ever ever thought of making an attempt to write down one other tune like that? May you repeat the trick?
“It may by no means occur. However possibly I acquired near it on the brand new album. I feel that Don’t Flip Your Again has acquired the identical sort of power in locations. It’s acquired a component of that Angel Witch factor, however I don’t assume I’ll ever write one other one which lives on like that one. I genuinely recognize it, each time we play it. Individuals nonetheless adore it. I’m blown away each time.”