2011. április 30., szombat

Mercyful Fate - third part

Is it true, that there was a priest in Denmark who really tried to finish Mercyful Fate’s career, before the first EP came out, and you had the chance of appearing on national TV in Denmark? Did it do/mean some extra promotion for the band?
No not before the first EP. But there was a priest at a time who went on to national TV in Denmark to confront King. He was left blank, because King had some really good answers to all his accusations.And yes I think it gave people the impression that we weren’t just a stupid rock band, but young guys with brains, and if that was the case it couldn’t be all that bad.
The band had the opportunity to perform their first shows outside their native Denmark under the name Mercyful Fate, the first one took place at the famous Dynamo Club in Eindhoven, Holland, on September 23rd, as the club was packed with 300 people, can you tell us more about this gig, since it was your very first touring/live experience abroad?
Dynamo Club in Eindhoven still stands as one of my favorite venues all over the world. As I told you earlier, Eindhoven became our 2nd hometown. We were blown away by the reaction from the crowd in Dynamo Club. They really took us to their hearts and we have visited friends in Eindhoven after and one summer about 6 people from Eindhoven came and visited us in Copenhagen. So we have always had a special feeling about Dynamo Club.
How did the second show, that was at Ulicoten, still in Holland, two days later go?
Again a great reception from the audience. But then again a lot of people from Dynamo Club came and saw us at Ulicoten too, so we had a great gig there too.
The next day, the band returned to Copenhagen, where they were booked to support the English all-female band Girlschool, were all of you aware of that NWOBHM movement? Which NWOBHM bands were you into?
Yes we all knew NWOBHM and have known it all the time we were playing as a band. Bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Girlschool, Saxon, Riot, Tygers of Pan Tang and others. They were/are all great bands.
During this show, Girlschool singer Kim McAuliffe suffered an injury, right?
Yes unfortunately she was electrocuted when holding her guitar and the mike stand. She touched both at the same time and some bad electricity went through the whole PA and that’s when it happened. It was an unfortunate accident, but luckily she wasn’t really hurt by it. Only a little shocked.
How and when did then an invitation from Tommy Vance, who asked the band to record a live session for the Friday Rock Show on BBC Radio 1, in England come? What about the travel to England?
I can’t really recall how we came about the invitation, but I guess he heard about this new band from little Denmark and got interested. That's where we played Satan’s Fall live and he was very impressed.
In London on March 18th you performed your first show in England at The Moonlight Club in front of a small but very enthusiastic audience, how did the people welcome Mercyful Fate? Would you say, that you were heavier, than the NWOBHM bands altogether?
I remember this little club The Moonlight Club. There was only about 25-30 people there, but we agreed that if they had paid to see us they deserved a full show, and we went on stage and had a great time. After the show we just went down and talked to all the people there. It was like performing for a group of friends and the people there really liked out attitude and I think this helped us further on, as we were known as a bunch of really nice guys who really gave us time to talk to everyone. I think we were heavier than NWOBHM bands altogether as NWOBHM bands were more metal than heavy. Not that I see this as bad, cause I have always loved the above mentioned bands.
The band recorded the 3 songs for the BBC session: Curse Of The Pharaohs, Evil and Satan's Fall, that were recorded in only 8 hours in The Maida Vale Studios, were later mixed and produced by BBC engineer Tony Wilson, what was the goal of this recording sessions? How did these songs sound like?
What can I say. As I explained about Satan’s Fall we took it in one take. So it sounded fantastic ! ! !
You managed then to perform at The Clarendon Ballroom, also located in London…
Ah yes the Clarendon. I don’t really remember much from that gig. Sorry.
In April, after you returned home you decided to leave Rave On Records, what kind of reasons did lead to the department with the label? How much support, help did you get from them?

We were offered a better contract with Roadrunner Records and King and Ole Bang took care of all negotiations with them. Rave on Records helped us as much as they could, but the offer from Roadrunner was just too good to pass.
Having returned to Denmark, the BBC broadcast of The Friday Rock Show was aired on April 22nd and after the broadcast, BBC had so many requests for a re-broadcast that you did it, and it really helped the band a lot, it seems, Mercyful Fate conquered England and draw more fans attention to the band, right? Did you reckon to such a success by the way?
No we didn’t really expect that kind of response, but after Tony Wilson praised us for our performance in the studio, we all had a feeling that something great could happen.
Among the listeners, there was also some people of Roadrunner Records of Amsterdam, Holland, they were then interested in signing the band for a long term contract and so, they contacted Mercyful Fate in May 1983, were you the first (or one of the first) signing of the label?
I don’t think we were their first signing, but I really don’t know.
Did you think, that Roadrunner will be a better chance for the band in terms of promotion, support, distribution etc.?
It seemed like it according to the contract we signed with them.
On June 1st, the band then played a show in Copenhagen, and on June 25th, you were performing at the annually held Aardshock Festival in Holland, which bands did you share the stage with? Did you do a really triumphant performance?
I’m sorry I can’t recall which other bands played the Aaardshock Festival, but as I recall we had a great gig at the festival. I remember stumbling around on stage after having stepping on a big nail which went through my foot. But I still had a great show.
The next day you played in Bochum, in Germany, before returning home to start preparing the material for the upcoming recording sessions of their first full-leghth album, correct?
As far as I remember we played with Accept in Bochum and I lost my Flying V when our roadies forgot it at the venue in Bochum. You’re right. We started working on our new material for the first full length album as soon as we came home from Bochum.
So, on July 18th 1983, Mercyful Fate started recording at Easy Sounds Studios in Copenhagen for the 13 next days with producer Henrik Lund, which was the co-owner of the studio along with his brother, how were those songs born? I mean, how were they written? How about the songcomposing as a whole?
Normally the person who wrote the song, presented it in our rehearsal studio and we all put our own way of playing to it. The composing was done by the songwriters alone at home.
Did you have more time working on Melissa and recording the material, as you did the first EP?
Yeah the first EP was recorded in a couple of days and Melissa we had 2 weeks in the studio.
Is it correct, that the band knew the songs very well before entering the studio and made it very quickly?
Yes, as I described earlier in the interview, we rehearsed 7 days a week and could play the songs even if we were woken up at 4AM and asked to play. All the songs were in our backbones.
What about the recording sessions?
We always recorded the ground track first, them the drummer put in his drumming with guitar and bass playing along. Then I went in and did my bass tracks. Then the rhythm guitars, then the guitar solos and finally Kings singing.
As for the title of the record, it was the name of a skull the band was using at the time in their shows, and that we can see on the cover of the album, wasn’t it? Does Melissa have a story by the way?
I’m not really sure. I think i remember it all was in Kings fantasy and he just called the skull Melissa for fun and the name followed the skull and also we thought it would be at great name for our 1st album.
Do you agree with, that this record is not only influential to countless bands, but also landmark of the genre?
I have heard from several musicians, that they took big influence from Melissa and Don’t break the Oath. At the same time I would agree with you that it was kind of a landmark of the genre. We were actually the first band (as far as I know) who wrote a full compilation album – meaning that all the songs were connected as one whole story.
Everything was said and written about Melissa, so I would ask you describing the album with your own words! What kind of memories do come in mind considering this period?
Oh, I have some great memories concerning Melissa. Not as much the recording as the people around the band at the time of the recording. We had 6-8 people from Eindhoven to visit us while we were recording and we had a great time with these people in Copenhagen.
Some of the material on the album had their roots in even earlier demo recordings done during the Brats days, such as Curse Of The Pharaohs, which was originally titled Night Riders on some old Brats demo, but retitled after King changed the lyrics to it as the original lyrics were written by the Brats bassist, there was also Love Criminals, which is actually the first song Mercyful Fate ever written, that have been finally available for the first time on this album, but under the title Into The Coven, which was originally meant to be the title of the album too, how much did these songs alter compared to their early versions? Did the sound lot heavier and brutal?
I have only heard these songs from earlier recordings once or twice, so I can’t really remember them other than they sounded slightly different in the earlier days. I think they came out a lot heavier played by Mercyful Fate.
Was Satan’s Fall unaccustomed those days in terms of lyrics, structure, music etc.? Would you name it an epic tune?
Satan’s Fall is one of the most complicated songs I ever had to rehearse and learn by ear. There was so many changes in the song (32-34 I believe in 12 minutes) going from light and fast to very heavy. And fast and half beats. In my opinion it is surely an epic in heavy music.
At that time, the label asked the band to do a cover song, so the band tried Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, why did ask you Roadrunner doing a cover at all? How did your choice fall on this song?
He wanted us to record a song people already knew to make more people than „just” underground listeners open their ears to Mercyful Fate. We actually agreed on Immigrant Song pretty fast. We all loved the song and we had jammed the song at several rehearsals just to warm up.
The band skipped it because you didn’t felt it was working very well, so it seems, it wasn’t recorded, but was it planned to be featured on Melissa or…? Did this song fit to the band’s musical world?
We agreed that we didn’t want to do a cover song on our album. Melissa should only contain our own material. As far as our musical world I think the song would fit in very well.
November 26th 1983 Melissa, the first full-length album was released and this was also the first Mercyful Fate effort to get an official release in the United States, as the self-titled EP was a highly sought after import, and the BBC sessions were only availlable on bootleg tapes, do you think, that this album opened the doors for the band both in Europe and Overseas?
I’m pretty sure Melissa opened the doors for Mercyful Fate overseas. A lot of people had heard our demo tapes as they floated around the underground heavy metal world in the US, so when Melissa was released a lot of people wanted to hear more of this „Satanic” band from Denmark.
In December 1983, the Black Funeral single was released, it contained a B-Side called Black Masses, which was recorded during the Melissa session, but has been deleted from the album, why? Did you have other songs written, that didn’t make up on the record?
Black Masses was saved from the album exactly to be released as the B-side of a single. It was already agreed before recording Melissa. We didn’t really write any songs that didn’t go on an album. But as we had so many songs when we were about to record Melissa we decided to save Black Masses.
What kind of goals did the Ep serve at all? Was it a limited release by the way?
It was meant to open doors for us. Yes, I think it was only released in about 1000 copies. (As far as I know).
During the same month, Mercyful Fate was booked to support Ozzy Osbourne in Copenhagen, but due to an illness on Ozzy’s part, the show was cancelled, right? Were you disappointed about it?
I have no recollection of us supposed to support Ozzy in Copenhagen. Sorry.
Later that same month, the band performed a headline show in Copenhagen as preparation for your upcoming European tour….
We played the „Salt Storage” in Copenhagen.
It was also in 1983 that Mercyful Fate first met the guys of Metallica, with whom you stayed very good friends since then and it all began when Metallica, while recording some of its albums (Ride The Lightning – 1984 and Master Of Puppets – 1986) in Copenhagen, asked Mercyful Fate amplifiers and other borrowed equipments from them, can you tell us about it?
Michael Denner and Lars Ulrich knew each other from their school days and had stayed in touch. Then when Metallica came to Copenhagen to record Ride the Lightning, they used our rehearsal room to get ready to go into the studio (which by the way was right next door to our rehearsal room). During their recording we took the guys out in Copenhagen and we had some great times going out together. We introduced them to almost everyone in the heavy/metal scene in Denmark and we spend a lot of time together. It was also then Lars found his drum tech Flemming. Flemming was my brother in law and a drummer in a local band. Lars asked me if I knew a good drum tech who could prepare his drum kit every day in the studio and get paid for it. So I asked Flemming and he was happy to get the job. Now he has worked with Lars as his drum tech for 27 years.
The European tour started in Holland on January 19th 1984 at The Dynamo, in Eindhoven, do you recall how much gigs did you perform altogether? Can you tell us more about this tour?
Again I’m sorry I don’t recall how many shows we did and where. I think Ole Bang is the right person to ask this. He might still have itenerarys from back then.
What were the highlights and the lowpoints of the tour? What kind of experiences did you gain during the tour?
Dynamo Club in Eindhoven was ALWAYS a highlight on ANY european tour. We got familiar with performing live on these early tours to get ready for our first US tour.
March 3rd, you started your UK tour supporting Manowar and originally, 11 shows were booked, but it turned out that Mercyful Fate would only play one, what happened?
Manowar f..... us up real good at the first show, so we agreed that they could tour the UK without us and went back home to Copenhagen.
On April 5th, the band played a sold out headline show at Saltlageret, in Copenhagen, was it the last station of the Melissa tour?
As mentioned above there was never a Melissa tour due to „Women of war” as we called then after they treated us real bad in the UK. But the show in Saltlageret was great.
There, for the first time, you were able to present you new chapel; a fantastic stage set in which the band had invested a lot of their earnings in their never ending quest to deliver the ultimate show for the fans, weren’t you?
Yes that was the first time we had the „Chapel” with us on stage, and what a great prop that turned out to be. It gave our live show so much more atmosphere. Everybody thought it was a great show. We were always trying to give our fans a better show every time. And it was getting better and better from gig to gig, as we ourselves got more self confident on stage and developed our stage show. At the time of the King Diamond days the show was at the best I have experienced in my musical days.

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