The UK thrash scene never grew to the size of its counterparts
in the USA or Germany, but still spit out a handful of quality outfits, one of
them being Hull-based Re-Animator. Best known for their fan-approved debut album
“Condemned to Eternity” the band went quiet for almost 25 years, and returned to the
scene just a while ago to play some shows and start working on new music, about time may I add. Noizz Eater caught up with Kev and John at one of their recent gigs with Acid Reign to ask about the band’s heyday, their musical influences and the upcoming EP.
As far as I’m concerned you guys re-united because a fan was nagging you about playing some gigs, is that correct?
K: Yeah, Chris from Wakefield, he set-up the Re- Animator facebook site and then we ended up getting in touch with him and he sort of handed over the running of the Facebook site to us. But he was always nagging us, “When are you gonna get back, when are you gonna do this, when are you gonna do that.” And also Howard from Acid Reign, he was asking us to reform so that we could do some gigs with them. But it took them a bit longer, we got back together, but it took them ages, ha-ha!
How hard was it to get most of the original line-up back together?
K: It wasn’t too bad. The thing is we all still live in the same city, nobody moved away so it wasn’t like it was difficult logistically, it was easy.
J: I mean we were all kind of, “Should we do it really, do we really wanna do it?” and it was nagging and nagging... And then obviously Howard said we would do some gigs in the future if we got back together. We were gonna re-do the Hoe Down from July ‘89 or ‘90 again with Acid Reign. So, we got back together and then we kind of sat down, had some drinks and we had a couple of rehearsals...
Jump a few years forward and you now have some new guys in the ranks. How did you team up with Dan and Jack?
K: Well, first we got Dan. Mike left the band about three weeks before we were due to play Bloodstock so we were like, “Oh shit, we can’t not do Bloodstock, we got to do it!”, because we’d missed it the year before. And we’d done a gig with Dan’s other band called 13, we’d gig with them in Hull and we were really impressed with their band so, we sort of started being friends with them. And then I just rang him up and I said, “How would you fancy learning our set in 3 weeks and playing Bloodstock.” And Jack, we were in a band with Jack after Re-Animator, we did that for a while, so then when we needed another drummer we just put an advert on our facebook site...
J: ...because we’d forgotten about Jack and of course he responded straight away and said, “I’ll do it!” and we were like, “Oh yeah, shit, Jack!” And it’s been great ever since.
When you started Re-Animator the US thrash metal scene was in full swing. Were those bands the reason why you founded a thrash metal band?
K: I’d say so, yeah. I mean I was massively into Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth at that time as were most people into thrash. I wanted to play guitar ‘cause I wanted to play like Metallica. And then obviously I was influenced by Maiden and DC and even old Saxon and old Def Leppard, stuff like that and I loved all that, but when Metallica came along, that’s what made me want to start playing guitar.
You got signed after giving a demo tape to the Acid Reign guys, which later landed on the Music For Nation boss’s desk. If the demo hadn’t reached them, do you think you would have still signed with a big label back then?
J: I mean we probably didn’t think we would get signed. We were just doing it for a bit of fun at that time, we did a few gigs, we did a few T-shirts, a demo as you said, we gave the tape to Acid Reign...
K: We didn’t just stick to our home town so when Acid Reign were playing we wanted to support them ‘cause they were signed, and we hit it off with them, we became friends with them. It was the old bass player Ian, he took our demo. But if we would get signed or not, it is impossible to say.
You guys have toured the UK with some of the US thrash legends such as Dark Angel, Exodus, Nuclear Assault etc. back in the day. Which of those tours do you remember best?
J: I think for me the Dark Angel tour probably ‘cause it was the last European tour we did and it was a big one, it was 5 weeks, a couple of days off, it was intense, the crowds were amazing.
K: I remember Candlemass, doing that one, they were good lads. I mean all the bands you told were all good. I remember Europe with Exodus and Nuclear Assault... I think at the time for me, because I loved Exodus and Nuclear Assault so, to support them it was like, “I get to see them free every night, yes!” ha-ha! And then you get to hang out with them every night and yeah, it was cool hanging out with all those people.
J: We’re still in touch with them which is great, they’re still friends.
K: John Connelly used to hang out on our bus, he hung out with us more than with his own band. We couldn’t get rid of him, ha-ha, like, “You do know you’re not in our band?”
After your 3rd album “That Was Then... This Is Now...” the band split-up and there was even no tour to promote the release. What happened back then?
J: Yeah, we should never have done that album. When Kev left the band became 5 piece which wasn’t right I think. The people we got in at the time, we got them in for the wrong reasons. We shouldn’t have really done that album, it wasn’t the same, the music wasn’t the same. I mean it was recoded with Colin Richardson, it was great 6 weeks but after that, yeah, I kinda said, “I don’t wanna do anything else.” It’s a shame the band broke up really. But you do what you do at the time.
K: Everyone was wrapping up, the scene was dying, everything was dead. Everyone wanted to be Nirvana...
You had some funk and reggae influences in your music, not very usual for a metal band. Where did it come from?
J: It was not even the drugs was it, ha-ha? Yeah, mostly from the “Laughing” album, that was really diverse album.
K: I know a lot of people don’t like that album but I still think it was a good album, but for different reasons. I mean you’re not gonna please everyone especially after “Condemned” ‘cause how heavy that was and then everybody wanted the same thing again. I mean everyone started listening to different music but if you start playing it in your band then people criticise you, yet everyone listens to different music.
J: That album had more sales in Europe than anything else. When we were touring with Dark Angel, when we were on the road in Europe we were selling more day-to-day in Germany than they were selling of their album “Time Does Not Heal” which is a big album now. So, we were selling a lot of records then, it did really well in Europe, not so much in the UK.
Your aforementioned 3rd album, that was out 25 years ago is still your most recent release. Are you working on any new material or are you just playing gigs for fun now and again?
K: Yeah, we’re doing an EP now. Luckily, we’ve got Colin Richardson back on board again. We’ve already done like a week or so recording just before we started rehearsing for these gigs really and then we’re back in studio in the new year and then hopefully we’ll see something mid-year... But I think it’s definitely a return. It’s gonna be the heaviest Re-Animator stuff that’s ever been released, it’s gonna be the best sounding, heaviest, best Re-Animator songs, best everything, that’s what it will be.
I just wanted to ask about the style of the new material, so, is it more old school like “Condemned to Eternity” or a bit more commercial like “That Was Then...” or maybe totally different to those two?
K: There’s some elements from that, yeah, but it’s different. It’s gonna be heavier, definitely. It’s got the aggression and the venom of the ‘80s but it’s got the heaviness and the riffs are more modern. And that’s the thing, with Dan in the band, Dan is a riff machine anyway. I mean he concentrates mainly on 13, on his own band but because we wrote these songs together he’s been coming up with
riffs so, with someone younger it will sound more up to date.
I suppose most of your setlist these days is built around the first two releases...
K: It’s mainly off “Condemned” and the first EP “Deny Reality”. We are not playing any new songs yet until they’re released. People seem to wanna hear the songs off “Deny Reality” and “Condemned” more than the other stuff.
J: It’s a good set, it fits well together. It’s got a good balance, with one or two from the “Laughing” album, the heavier ones.
What are your plans for 2018? I mean it’s the 30th
Anniversary of Re-Animator so, are you planning anything special for this occasion?
J: Pension I think. Bus pass...
K: We might have to get rid of the two old members, get a new band in and keep going for another 30 years, ha-ha!
J: I mean we’ve not planned anything yet. But it would be good to get the EP done as Kev said, do some nice festivals, Hammerfest, Bloodstock again, things like that, it would be nice to do.
K: Getting the EP out, the new songs out and we’ll just see what the response for them is. I think that’s the priority.