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TOLEDO STEEL - Interview with Rich Rutter
By Wojtek Gabriel,
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Toledo Steel heavy metal band
It took them seven years, but they finally got there! The young English heavy metal combo Toledo Steel have just released their first full length album. Having played numerous local shows and festivals with just two self-released EPs under their collective belt, they have already managed to gather a significant following and "No Quarter" is no doubt an album that confirms their status of a young traditional metal band to be kept on your radar. Back from a short UK tour, the band's screamer Rich Rutter answered our questions about the album making process, the band's influences and their plans for the near future.
You've been around since 2011 and you've put out some EPs in the meantime, but seven years is quite a long time to release a debut album these days. Have there been any hurdles along the way that have held you back?
You're right, seven years is a fairly long time! I've often said how I think we should've released our first full length sooner but as you suggested, there was definitely some hurdles along the way that held us back. I won't go into too much detail but the biggest issue we had was with an ex-member not being motivated enough. They should've left sooner but we were all just worried about rocking the boat I think. After that we recruited a few new members, but it didn't work out due to their commitments in their personal lives. This general instability with obtaining the full line-up didn't stop us from getting out there and playing the live shows but it did affect the creative aspect of the band for a while. When we were given the opportunity to sign with Dissonance Productions, it was the kick up the ass that we needed as a band to finish writing and record the first album! Better late than never right?
How did the recording session go? I think you did most of the work at home?
The recording sessions went pretty smooth for the most part. All the guitars were recorded at home then re-amped in the studio, but the drums and vocals were all recorded in the studio. This worked out great because it meant we could spend more time getting the best possible result with the guitars and keep the cost down at the same time without compromising on quality. It made sense to record the drums in the studio though due to it just being more of a task to get the result needed. Same goes for the vocals too, the singing has to do more than just fit and we felt recording them in the studio with our engineer/producer using great quality mics was a no brainer!
Did you have more stuff to choose from for the release, or did you have a set plan in mind, to write and polish exactly eight songs?
8 tracks was the absolute minimum we wanted to do of course. We had a bunch of other half- finished ideas but unfortunately, we didn't have the time to really work on them and get them up to standard. It's a bit of a shame because there was one or two ideas in particular that were starting to sound killer and would've added to the album I'm sure! There's gonna be album number two though so they'll most like surface next time around.
The album doesn't sound vintage, but it doesn't sound modern either. It seems that you have found the right balance here. What was your approach to getting the sound you were after?
I'm glad you say that! I agree. This was the sound we were after, we didn't want the album to sound like it was recorded 35 years ago, and we didn't want it to sound too modern and polished either. A balance of the two was what we had in mind. We went for pretty straight forward recoding techniques but in a modern studio. We didn't overdo it on the mixing or mastering either!
When you were founding the band, Matt was into fencing and swords and all that stuff and that's how you came up with Toledo Steel name. Did you have any other ideas for a band name back then?
I honestly can't remember what other band name ideas were thrown about. There was definitely a few others though. The word "Steel" isn't remotely original of course but "Toledo" is. We felt that it was cool to use the word steel because it immediately has the association with heavy metal and Toledo has that connection in history with the forging of swords. You can't get much more heavy metal than that! Ha-ha!
Being an English band, you obviously worship your forefathers such as Sabbath, Maiden or Priest, but what non-British bands would you say had the biggest influence on you?
Of course! We love all those classic British bands. There's a ton of non-English bands I myself was inspired by. For a long time I've been massively into a lot of the bands that came out of the US power metal movement. Bands like Griffin, Savatage, Omen, Jag Panzer and Brocas Helm to name a few. What I liked about all those bands is that they clearly took influence from the NWOBHM scene but added in a hefty amount of energy and attitude. That influence no doubt can be heard in Toledo Steel. As for the other guys, I couldn't answer for them but I know they have their fair share of non-British influences too.
What makes young people want to play music that was at the peak of its popularity 30 years ago, before some of them were even born?
I think great music is timeless and there will always be younger people discovering it 30 years or so later. It's especially easy to do that now with the likes of YouTube and Spotify. It certainly exposed me to so many bands that I may have never heard prior to the internet. Once you're a fan there's always gonna be a percentage of people that wanna be more than just a listener and start to get more involved by playing it themselves. This is how it panned out for me anyway! I'm sure the same can be said for so many others too.
You guys are a 4-piece these days. Are you thinking about getting a second guitarist to enrich the live sound and to be able to play harmonies?
That's the plan, our newest member Josh Haysom was actually recruited as our second lead guitarist but he's playing bass at the moment until we find someone permanent to fill the slot. He's doing a great job on bass but as soon as we find the right guy, we'll be back to being a 5 piece for sure.
You played the Frost & Fire festival afterparty show a few weeks back. Must have been really good, as fans came in properly warmed-up by Angel Witch and Cirith Ungol, ha-ha?
That was great! Ha-ha! We couldn't have asked for a better gig to celebrate the launch of our album! The venue is only a small place and there was a ton of people at Frost and Fire so the atmosphere was great and the place was packed out! It was definitely a gig to remember for us personally.
How would you react if Rod Smallwood called you and told you that Steve and the guys wanted to take you on tour with them?
Once I'd recovered from passing out from shock I'd say, "Sure, when do we leave?", ha-ha! This obviously isn't going to happen but the exposure for the band would be massive from landing a gig like that. I think any band would be a fool to turn this kind of opportunity down, although it would be a real challenge. Maiden fans are fanatical and winning them over wouldn't be easy!
OK, now that your first baby has been born, are you already thinking about making a sibling for it?
Yes, we are indeed. We've got a bunch of leftover ideas that weren't used for No Quarter and some other new ideas on the back burner too. I'm not sure when we'll hit the studio again, but the wait certainly won't be as long as it was between our last E.P. and the album.
Interview by Wojtek Gabriel

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Tags: Toledo Steel, heavy metal, British metal, No Quarter
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© 1997-2019 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved.
Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations
or corporations without the prior written permission.