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Hallows Eve

One of my favourite bands from the eighties, Hallows Eve, have reunited and have just released their fourth opus: 'Evil Never Dies'. It was a privilege to converse with Tommy Stewart (lead vocalist and bassist) and to ask him about his whereabouts.

By: Koen B. | Archive under speed / thrash metal

The band was brought into being in 1983 and recorded three albums through Metal Blade Records, 'Tales Of Terror' (1985), 'Death And Insanity' (1986) and 'Monument' (1988). Especially the first two albums received good reviews from all over the orb, but unfortunately did not have the same impact as releases from label mates Slayer, Sacred Reich, Fates Warning, etcetera. Can you explain why?
Hey, what's up and first off I have to ask people to visit the website, okay? Alright! To answer, I would have to differ because at the time I happen to know for a documented fact that we had about the same number of sales as Fates Warning and Sacred Reich. As time went by, well, I don't know.

I always disliked the fact that the band never played Europe back then. Others gained
popularity just by touring the ancient lands or playing the big festivals like Dynamo Open Air. Why did the band never came over?

It was our greatest dream to tour Europe or play these festivals, but every time anyone contacted us about it all we had to do was mention our airfare and they weren't interested, the bastards! We still want nothing more than to be liked by Europe and to tour there, but the reality is that the expenses are not free. We're ready when you are, you know!

The first album blew me away back then with its combination of speed and power. How do you look back on the 'Tales Of Terror' album and please do share some recording experiences with me please?
Ah, we got by. It really was done however we could. The main thing I remember is that the demo which had 'Valley Of The Dolls', 'Metal Merchants', and 'Hallows Eve on it was done in the basement, with Nick Jamerson, the bassist and producer of Foghat, yup, Slowride woo hoo! It was kind of strange but it set the pace for the production sound because later we did the rest of the album at Axis studio in Atlanta and we had to match the sound. We did it on off hours and paid the engineer under the table. We told him it was a demo tape so we did it in 5 days. I could go on about it. The whole thing reminds me of the Ed Wood thing.

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'Death And Insanity' was a concept album about…well the title says it all. The music had slightly changed and was more influenced by punk. To me this album is the most excellent Hallows Eve album to date. How do you experience that album these days?
I think of it as something I'm proud of and it will never be done again quite that way. It was our 'Dark Side of the Moon' and an accident of it's time.

To me, 'Monument' was a good album, but was also a bit disappointing after 'Death And Insanity'. What's you opinion about that?
We were all tired from five years of non-stop work and I think the album shows a disconnection. We were rarely in the studio together during that one, though 'Speedfreak' came out of it and we still play that today!

Why was 'Sheer Heart Attack' (Queen) covered on that particular album? I never was very fond of that song and preferred a Hallows Eve song in stead of a cover song.
I didn't like it either! It was born from the idea that back then we always encored with a cover or two. Some others we did were 'Drifter' by Iron maiden and 'Riff-Raff' by AC/DC. I wanted to do 'Stone Cold Crazy', the others said no because every bar band does it so we did 'Sheer Heart Attack'. Metallica did 'Stone Cold Crazy' a couple of months later and got a Grammy Award. Typical.

In 1993, the band choose to quit. What was the reason for that, the changing musical climate, lack of interest from labels and promoters or personal circumstances?
Well, for many reasons. I could not find an acceptable line up, it was time to pay attention to raising my daughter, and I always said I would do Hallows Eve for ten years and that's it, so I did what I said.

After ten years, the band was reformed. What was the reason for that?
My daughter's grown and I'm musically bored so I thought I would come out with it again and piss everyone off by reminding what metal is about! And that is to not do what people expect! So the second go around of Hallows Eve will be completely different. It's my band and I'll express myself as I want and that is metal! Not following the crowd's stupid instructions. No offence, but how is it that I'm expressing myself as an artist if I do what you want? I just came back out to fuck with everybody, what else was I supposed to do with my life? I'm bored, frankly, and you can piss off if you don't like it is my attitude. Our fans support that attitude because that's them, too, and there's plenty of them. The rest can kiss my rosy red rectum. Thanks to you guys who hang in there, you're the shit!

Who's in the band these days?
I'm going to make a t-shirt that says "I was in Hallows Eve and all I got was this lousy t-shirt".
Right NOW, is me, Skully (a.k.a. Skullator, guitars and death vocals) , Brandon Ottinger (guitars and occasional piano) and maybe Dane Jensen (drums).

Is anyone of you involved in other projects at the moment or are there plans in that direction?
No, every minute of our time is dedicated to the work of Hallows Eve.

After the reformation, the band released the 'Evil Offerings' single and the fourth album, 'Evil Never Dies' (on May 14th 2005). I didn't have the chance to listen to these cd's yet, so how would you describe the music from 'E.N.D.' if you were the one writing the review?
Diverse. Not what you expect. We did not stay in the eighties, we moved on to explore new paths while maintaining our specific band's style. I think diverse and brave are keywords here.

Could you be more specific about that?
Mainly the new album shows the diversity of the band which divides metal heads. With a diverse band whose never had the same line-up on any album, two things emerge: one is which member actually is the heart of the group, the staying one, of course. The other emerging fact is about diversity, people like an era of a band. With Motörhead, for instance, the next album sounds pretty much the same. It's a good trick, but it's one trick. You can count on them to sound the same, but isn't that often the criticism of a band. That they don't know how to move on, they're stuck in the old days. Not Hallows Eve, the epic song 'Hallows Eve' had very little to do with the punkish song 'Suicide'. It is my opinion that the truly biggest bands of all time experienced a journey through diversity. Bands such as Black Sabbath, Queen, Pink Floyd. That's what we do in metal, we mix all genres of metal so you will find all that within our band. People ask us often why we don't sound like this album or that year. I just say it was great back then, should have been there, we moved on because what's next is exciting, too.

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The 'Evil Offerings' single is somewhat of an collector's item I understand?
'Evil Offerings' is definitely limited. Only 249 copies were made so I wish they were numbered. It is an earlier raw mix of two songs from 'Evil Never Dies'. One of the songs, 'Technicolour Roadkill', is actually an old song that was recorded but never made it during the 'Death And Insanity' sessions. Those days the song was called 'Evil Offerings'. Full circle, eh? Some people say that song is not like the old Hallows Eve, not like 'Death And Insanity' days and the band laughs at that, knowing the in-joke is that it is from that very album.

Is there any “pre-reunion” songs involved on the new album?
No reunions. Just continuations. Maybe I don't understand, but no former members play anywhere anymore, they all gave up there dreams. We see this era as a continuation after a long break.

I suppose 'Evil Never Dies' is a self-financed release (because the album can only be bought through the bands homepage) and Hallows Eve is still searching for a good deal?
Oh, yeah! We've been turned down by most of the metal labels! Some said, and if I said the name you would know it, that we were "too heavy" and "didn't know it was that aggressive" upon seeing us live. Hello, asswipes! You are metal labels aren't you? What do you do, only sign bands whose asses we can beat up or something? Is it pussy-bands only? Whatever. Plus, eh, we're not free. These days you can do pretty good independent stuff. We're not missing anything and we're doing fine. We have thirty two dates booked as I speak.

In November 2004, the band finally made it to Europe and performed the Keep It True III festival. How do you look back on that trip?
I loved the trip and the people. A lot of fun. Worst performance of my career, though. I could go on about microphones cutting off and no monitors and such, but it doesn't matter. That's old news and, again, we moved on and we sound great. Or so people tell me upon seeing us! We're having fun anyway.

On the bands homepage there is stated that there will be a European tour very soon. Any details on that?
No, I would like details, too. Supposed to be October 6th through 23rd, I hear, and includes London.

If I were some kind of god (which I actually am of course) or a goddamn millionaire (which unfortunately I am not) and I was able to bring to life deceased artists or reform bands and give you an unlimited amount of money, with which bands would Hallows Eve be touring right now?
Slayer. I would like to tour with Mastodon. I would personally like to play with VoïVod in a recording project. There's real imagination and creativity in that camp.

What do you know about the Dutch hardrock and heavy metal scene?
Not much, just the legendary freedom of the area.

Any last words you like to share with the world?
Write to me at and come see us live. And, most of all, thanks to you guys who have shown your support to Hallows Eve this last year. Trust me, your letters of encouragement, good reviews, and helping us by buying the merchandise is how we stay afloat. Thanks. I didn't expect the growth we had this year and it's because of the people!

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