Black Rose

Black Rose: Logo

Even if their name isn't much original, all the real NWoBHM maniax just love their classic 7" releases. And now, after many years of silence, Black Rose is back! How? When? Why? I asked few questions to Chris Watson, axeman of the Black Rose...

Hi Chris! I lately heard some rumours about the possible Black Rose return, so... tell me everything!

Yeah, it's true we did some writing at the beginning of the year but it's on hold at the moment as Steve (Bardsley, vocals) is having some problems recreating his vocal style... He's been singing for years since Black Rose called it a day and his voice has mellowed a bit. I think it'll happen in some shape or form in the future if the call is there.

I know you played with some cover bands. Did you want to create own stuff after leaving Black Rose?

Well, after I left I moved from the North East of England to London with the intention of looking to join a good band but, at the time, the metal thing was taking a nose-dive... this was about 1987 - so I didn't really do anything until the beginning of the 90's and then it was only hard rock covers to keep me sane!

I also know about your band named Bad Luck... What was that? Did you ever record anything?

Good God! You know your stuff... where did you find this out? Bad Luck were a band I formed with a friend back in the early 80's before I joined Black Rose. The friend was Craig Ellis (who is now the drummer with the Tygers Of Pan Tang). There was also another guitarist called Bob Henman (who later joined Holland and Hammer who released stuff on the Ebony label) and a good mate called Phil Renton who was a singer. It never really got off the ground as I got the gig with Black Rose but the funny thing was, I was round Bob's house a month or so ago and he put on a tape of a rehearsal where we were playing Judas Priest "Beyond The Realms Of Death " and some Blackfoot stuff! I never knew it existed so he's gonna do me a copy and send it on... sounded ok as well!

Do you know that there were 3 or 4 Black Rose bands? Why did you change the name? As I know, you started as Ice...

I know Cher had a backing band called Black Rose and the guys called it a day in 1988 I think after getting a letter threatening court action from a US band with the same name. The name changed from Ice to Black Rose before I joined but I think it had something to do with us all being Thin Lizzy nuts!

I have in my collection pretty nice collection of your tracks from various singles and recording sessions... Could you please list all the official and unofficial Black Rose works?

Don't know if I know 'em all! I'll have to nick the info from Steve's site! See below!

- No Point Runnin' - Sucker for your love. / Teesbeat records TB5 - 1982

- V. A. ROXCALIBUR w/ No Point Runnin' - Ridin' Higher. / Guardian Records GRC 130 - 1982

- V.A. British Steel CD Metal 15 - 1998

- ONE TAKE NO DUBS Knocked Out. / Various artists , Neat Records 25 - 1982

- BLACK ROSE EP We're Gonna Rock You - Used & Abused - Red Light Lady - Stand Your Ground. / Bullet Records Bolt 6 - 1983

- BOYS WILL BE BOYS LP - Boys Will Be Boys - No Point Runnin' - We're Gonna Rock You - Fun and Games - Just wanna be your Lover - First Light - Baby Believe Me - Burn me Blind - Knocked Out. , Bullet Records Bulp 3 - 1984

- Boys Will Be Boys - Liar. EP / Bullet Records Bol 9 - 1984

- NIGHTMARE EP/ Nightmare - Need a lot of Lovin' - Rock me Hard - Breakaway. / Neat Records 48-12B - 1985

- WALK IT HOW YOU TALK IT LP / California U.S.A - E.Z.L.Y - Don't Fall in Love - Bright Lights Burnin' - Walk It How You Talk It - Shout it Out - Honestly Love You - Party Animal - Want Your Love. / Neat Records 1034 UK release . AJK TU 188-1 & Qwil TV 188 , US releases - 1987. Fools Union. CDFOOL 2060 , Italian release - 1987

- Shout it Out. - Promo single . K-tel International ( USA ) AJK NU 188-6 - 1987

- METAL MASTERS Vol 4 CD Nightmare . / - Various artists , MBSCD 411/4 , Castle - 1993

- THE FLAME BURNS ON - Best of Neat Records CD / Nightmare . / Various artists , CMDDD 391 , Castle - 2002

- THE NEAT SINGLES COLLECTION Vol 2 CD / Knocked Out. / - Various artists , CMDDD 541 , Castle - 2002

- THE NEAT SINGLES COLLECTION Vol 3 CD / Nightmare - Need A Lot of Lovin' - Rock Me Hard - Breakaway - Various artists , CMETD 568 , Castle -2002

- THE ESSENTIAL NEAT RECORDS SINGLES COLLECTION CD / Knocked Out / Various artists , PCCY-01413 , Pony Canyon - 1999. Japanese Import

I never knew there were this many! I know I only have three of 'em!

You guys recorded tracks such as "No Point Runnin'" at the Neat Records' studio... How do you remember those times?

Well actually, the first version of "No Point Runnin'" on single wasn't recorded at Neat... it was recorded at Guardian Studios in Pityme, County Durham... as for what do I remember, it was HAUNTED! This is a true story but I have no idea what happened... this was my first time in a studio. The house was actually built in an old miners cottage and we Terry, the owner gave us stories of "ghostly happenings". All I knew was that it was very cold in the drum/vocal booth and it had a very eerie feeling. This could have been down to the fact that the band was winding each other up all the time. We were staying at the studio and every night as we were going to bed, someone would start with "did you hear that?" or whatever. We were there three days and we recorded "No point Runnin", "Sucker For Your Love" and "Ridin' Higher". These tracks would eventually be released as both singles and also on Terry Gavanagh's own compilation album, Roxcalibur. Anyway, eventually we forgot about the "ghost" thing and buckled down to trying to get the best recording we could. On the final day, we were mixing the tracks in the control room. All the band was sitting on a sofa, intently listening to the mix to make sure everything was there. Our Road Manager, Barry Clapp, was sat opposite, and him and me were looking at each other intently and making notes about the mix. I was also sat a few feet away from the band (I like my own space when I'm concentrating!) All of a sudden, my hair was pulled violently (I had very long hair) and, I mean, violently. The rest of the band was too wrapped up to notice (they were also sitting on the same side as me which would have made it difficult) but Barry did. His eyes nearly popped out of his head and he looked very frightened. I knew instantly that it wasn't anybody in the room as it had been more than a friendly tug and there was absolutely no sign of a reaction or giggling or anything. The rest of the guys were in another world listening to that track. Barry made a quick gesture as if to say, "don't say anything-keep on with the mix". We didn't mention it to the other guys once the track finished or until we'd left and were on our way back to Cleveland. That confirmed for me that it wasn't a prank-there was no catch-line. We told them afterwards but nobody believed us. Barry said he was watching my face for reaction to the recording and that my hair just went up in the air and was pulled hard enough to make my head go wildly to the left. This guy was an ex-marine who had seen a lot of things in his life around the world but this was a bit of a new experience for me and also for him. We headed back and went straight to Radio Tees where we were going to do an interview on a local Rock Show that was waiting to hear this newly recorded stuff. I was being asked by the presenter, Brian Anderson, what my thoughts were when my mouth decided to stop working! My mouth started to go to one side and I gave a little shriek, as I didn't know what was wrong. My speech became a bit strange and I tried my best to carry on. I went to the Doctor a few days later and he told me I had "bell's palsy" which had almost certainly come as a result of a shock to my system. I was off work for 3 weeks as I couldn't close or open my eye and, as a welder, I would have got a "flash", which is pretty painful. I still have no idea what happened but I'm certain something wasn't very impressed with our demo! Like I said at the beginning, true... but who's going to believe you? Got a great story about Neat tho' from when we were recording our album. We were recording an acoustic guitar solo called "First Light" and we kept picking up all this noise so I was sent to find out what was causing it. So I go downstairs and find Mantas... (or Jeff as I preferred to call him) from Venom with a load of plywood, a jig saw and boxes and boxes of speakers! He was building 36 4x12 cabs for the 7 Dates Of Hell Tour and all we could hear upstairs was this banging and hammering everytime we started recording!!! This was just after they'd recorded the "Black Metal" album and they were getting ready to go out on the road. I remember that Conrad (Cronos) asked our bass player Mick if he'd give him a lift home with his gear in his little pick-up van. Mick was gone for about 5 hours... he took about 24 bass bins home!!! They were nice lads tho'. I sem to remember they were discussing which band should support them in New York... Metallica or Anthrax!!!

Is that true, that guys of Avenger once offered you joining them?

Well I got a letter from one of the guys asking if I was interested but I was wanting to do slightly different stuff then so I said no. It was nice to be asked though!

Black Rose was one of the bands from "One Take No Dubs" EP, am I right? How did you place your track on it?

I think we were invited up to the studio and asked for 2 songs. We knocked them out in about an hour and they were new tracks we'd been writing so we were excited at the time. It was a "warts and all" recording... all the mistakes and everything left in but that was the point-one take, no overdubs.

I know you are in touch with some other Black Rose members. What are they doing know? And what you do for a living?

They all still keep themselves in music... mainly clubs playing covers. Steve is writing and recording with Kiko Rivers at the moment who would be the replacement for Mick Thompson who we've lost contact with. Malla Smith, the drummer, has a band with the Bruce who used to sing in White Spirit with Jan Gers from Iron Maiden. As for me, I teach, record and do a day job to keep the money coming in. At 41 I'm the eternal optimist and couldn't imagine not playing the guitar anymore... so I keep playing and trying to get better.

Don't you think it is the best time to make official re-releases from Black Rose? Your singles are more than hard to find now!

I'm not sure there would be a mad dash to buy the stuff so I'd rather crack on and write new material. There's talk of a compilation album from a rock DJ in the US but I'll keep it under wraps at the moment until things have been finalised. We'd be releasing a track that wasn't available at the time.

Do you have any Black Rose related stuff for sale?

Well, I have my own stuff... I've got the Black Rose patch on my stage trousers hiding a hole! Steve and I keep looking for unreleased stuff but not many of us thought about the day it might be valuable... we just played and thought of the then!

Do you own any Black Rose or maybe other NWOBHM rarities, such as bootlegs or demos?

I've got a "Live at The Dynamo" cd that was sent to me from 1984. It's bloody awful! The thing is, I remember it as being one of our best gigs-we did 5 encores and had to play the song "Iron Maiden" which we did as a cover, three times before they'd let us off stage. Sometimes this stuff is best left in the memory because the reality when you hear it is sometimes disappointing.

You were touring with one of my absolute NWoBHM favorites: Limelight! How do you remember it? Any road tales? Don't you know what guys are doing now?

Well, touring would be a bit of an overstatement... we played a handful of gigs with them. They were an amazing band and we got to watch them on stage. The guys were a lot older than us then and so are probably in their 50's now but they left a huge influence on the North of England. They were very Rush like in their line-up... 3 piece with double neck guitars and keyboards and bass pedals. Great band and really good people. No idea where they are now though... somewhere good I hope!

I think that's all for the moment. Thanks for a great talk, it was a great pleasure for me! Last words are yours!

Keep playing the stuff and remember, "If it's too loud, you're TOO FUCKING OLD!"

Interview done by Bart Gabriel in July 2004.