JJ's Powerhouse

JJ's Powerhouse: Logo

I guess that even between die hard NWoBHM lunatics are guys, that don't know this premier band. It's actually nothing strange, as their only one official release is the "Running For The Line" 7" from 1983. I dare to say that this one shows how fantastic bands are still undiscovered: single I'm talking about is for me one of the very best NWoBHM releases ever! Guys returned some time ago, and their demo CDR titled "In More Rock" includes both new tracks and soem re-recorded demo cuts. So, I asked few questions to Austin "Oz" Davies, the howling and screaming guy in the band...

Hi Austin!

Hi, It's great to hear from you Bart.

Tell me please about the latest news from JJ's Powerhouse camp! I heard something about... "The Watcher"!?

You are correct Bart, Jon and I have been working in the Studio on a new track "The Watcher" which is very hard and heavy. The song is about "revenge for a father deprived of his children by an evil woman". It's probably the best track yet, and should be available on the website from about August time. This track really really rocks, and should NOT be played near animals or small children!

Is there any chance that your outstanding "Running For The Line" single (which as you know is for me one of the very best NWoBHM singles ever!) will be re-released?

Thanks for saying that Bart, you are obviously an expert who appreciates great music! I doubt we will ever rerelease it on vinyl again but possibly on CD. The original singles sell for a fortune ($200+) in the USA, and there are still a few copies available from OPM Records. If we do a CD, it will be selling from the website at an affordable price (maybe L1.99p if orders are sufficiently big) so more people can get to hear it. Start taking orders for it and let me know!! What if the "Watcher" CD had "Running for the Line" included on it? Food for thought..??

Argh, definitely! I know you started under the name Quad. Did you record any demos in the very early days? And why did you change your name into JJ's Powerhouse?

Back in 1978, we did a demo tape of 3 trax (track "The Overlorde" appears on the new CD album). This was played on local rock radio stations at the time and helped us to build a loyal fan base in the North of England. The original Quad, Jon, Ted, Chaz and me had ceased to be together by the early 80s, but Jon (JJ) continued with the band name for a while after that until he decided to shake off the old Quad mantle and form a band with his own identity... JJ's Powerhouse was born. Jon took the Powerhouse to Europe and gigged with such names as Wishbone Ash, Gary Moore and Motorhead (Lemmy actualy made a point of saying how much he loved Jon's guitaring). In 83, Jon approached me to sing on his new single "Running for the Line"...how could I resist!!

If I remember well, you were also member of Topaz and Alchemy. Did you record any tracks with these guys?

Topaz was a Caberet band, performing cover versions of chart and popular music. I did this for a while to make some money (gigs paid better for this sort of music than for Rock). You wouldn't believe the crap I had to sing to put food on the table! I wished NWoBHM had paid better so I wouldn't have had to sell out! Alchemy was a great band. More in the style of Pat Travers Band type music. The band consisted of Ted (ex Quad) on drums, Two guys, both called Dave, on guitars, Joan (yes, a woman) on Bass guitar and me on vocals! Don't know (can't remember) what happened to this band (I was in a continual alcoholic daze at the time!). As for recording, only Topaz did demo tapes, and that was only to send to agencies to get more gigs. I wonder if any of the demos survived? (I hope not!)

As I know, you had strong feedback from bikers from your area. Was anyone of you a biker as well?

We were the adopted band of the local Hells Angels chapter "The Blackrods". The President, Steve, became our Road Manager. We had a great time! None of the band owned a bike, since all our money went on equipment and studios and transport... but one day I will have my own Harley! The B-side of the original 1983 single is called "Blackrods" and tells you all about them! This song was rerecorded in 2001 and appears on the new album.

I heard your brand new stuff, titled "In More Rock". Music is simply fantastic, but why for Satan's sake have you decided to use it with synthetic drums? No good punders in your area!?

Thanks for saying the music's fantastic. A lot of time, love and energy went into this CD. We set out just to record the songs for our own pleasure. As we all live at different ends of the country it was difficult to record. Ted actualy played live on drums with a Roland Electronic Kit (fits into a car better than his old Premier Kit!). The downside is that the Roland sound just didnt cut through as much as skins, but he did a great job and I think the trax still really rock in a raw "live" way. Some people who have bought the CD, have said "What a great live sound, how did you get that?"...so you cant please all the people all of the time! Everyone who bought the CD and has emailed me about it, say they love it. Enjoy the whole power thing of the album and dont get too technical... It was never meant to be over produced!

You reformed after almost 20 years of silence. What brought you to that? What are the nearest plans of the band?

We had all been doing our own thing over the last 20 years, BUT, we never lost touch. For many years Ted and I have been visiting Jon in Cornwall England and recording bits and pieces from time to time. We are all good mates and always have been. I recall going to see Jon play at a gig (his band was called Panik Attak) in the 90s, and his vocalist kindly let me get up on stage and sing "Smoke on the Water"! Many bands drift and have bad feelings to each other... That never happened with us, we supported each other in whatever we were doing. The CD "In More Rock", as I said before, was originaly just for us, but OPM records was asking for the entire stock of the "Line" single to remarket, so we thought it was time we put something on the Web that NWoBHM fans could get to listen to. We enlisted the help of a great Bass player, Dunc (Ex A2Z) who did a great job for us. We are happy to keep putting out songs as long as people want to hear them! I would love us to perform live again, hopefully before I die!

Any live shows behind you already?

Hundreds between us over the last 30 years! Any new performances would have to be carefully arranged, as we all live in different parts of the country, have family and work commitments but who knows... I'd love to kick ass again on stage.

Lately a lot of great NWoBHM bands returned with outstanding releases. Did you have a chance to listen let's say Tygers of Pan Tang, Soldier, Tank or Ground Attack to name a few? Which NWoBHM bands were your fave ones?

I've spoken to other bands and it is quite common to find that they, like me, do not always listen a great deal to other bands of the genre... strange but true. As a real old school NWoBHM dinasaur, I listened and still do, to Judas Pries t/ Halford. Judas Pries for me were the ultimate NWoBHM band of the 80s. I think the old NWoBHM bands that you mention, who release stuff now, put out some great stuff, probably better than in their heyday... Due I believe to the fact that they now understand recording more and know exactly what they want to hear coming from the speakers.

Which radios or fanzines you think were most supportive and important in the early days of NWoBHM?

In the early days, Local Radio stations were always happy to air Metal on their Rock Shows. Even the British Icon, the BBC, supported Metal with their Friday Rock Show. We were played on Radio One too! Fanzines were not as plentiful as they are today, and Kerrang was really the only one to be mentioned in. The Melody Maker was also a must buy for musicians in those days too.

I know that you are a huge fan of Ozzy Osbourne. Would you like to show yourself in a reality show? You know, cam even in your toilette and so on... haha...

I often get up in Karaokes and strut my stuff! I expect I could do a great Ozzy on "Stars in their Eyes" show. What I get upto in my bathroom, you wouldnt be allowed to view!

Anything to add for the end?

I think it's great that guys like you keep this music alive. Your readers have got such great access to all this high energy rock today that we never got a chance to share. At 21 years old now, I look back at the last 25 years (Oops!) and feel proud that people still want to hear this music. Our new track, "The Watcher" is heavier, more energetic than ever, which just goes to prove that once bitten with the metal bug, it keeps surfacing in your blood! Urge your brethren to keep checking out the website for a release date. Anyone who buys it and doesn't like it (and there will be no-one) I will refund their money..can't say fairer than that!

Thanks for a great talk Austin, keep on rockin'!

No, thank you Bart.You are doing a great job... Keep doing it mate. Say Hi to everyone out there from all of us at JJ's Powerhouse and keep it hard and heavy. To all you metal fans out there.. We Salute You... Oz

Interview done by Bart Gabriel in July 2004.