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Satan

You don't have to tell anyone that heavy metal as a genre got an enormous boost in the early 80s of the previous century. Especially in England lots of bands were formed that, often inspired by Judas Priest and Motörhead, showcased a new, heavier sound. Satan was one of those bands and since old recordings have been released and the band performs again, it's great to ask them some questions. I contacted guitarist Steve Ramsey, who is also active in Skyclad, to ask some questions about Satan.

By: Pim B. | Archive under death metal / grindcore

I decided to get in touch with you because of the review I did on the re-release of the 'Into The Fire' demo on Buried By Time And Dust and the fact that you guys are active again. So how do you think that re-release turned out?
We were really pleased with it. The guys at Buried By Time And Dust are fans of the music and really care about the quality and content of their products. The 7 inch of the 'Kiss Of Death' single is a replica of the self financed one we made ourselves, and I remember sitting and folding and glueing the sleeves that we had printed for it. Of course the recordings were made a long time ago and not with the biggest of budgets! It was great to get something out on vinyl too.

There's also a CD out now called 'The Early Demos' on Death Rider Records. I think this release was meant to coincide with the appearance of Satan on the Keep It True Festival in Germany. So what can you tell about this release?
Yes, this was released to coincide with the show and Death Rider Records are part of the Keep It True set-up. This is a CD version of the demos and includes live tracks from a concert in Holland, The Earthquake Festival back in 1984 with Lou Taylor on vocals.

The aforementioned planned gig was supposed a gig with the line-up that recorded the 'Court In The Act' album. So is there anything to tell about that? Any plans to do further gigs with Satan?
We played a one-off show at the Wacken Festival 2004 but it wasn't the full original line-up as we had our friend Blitzkrieg's drummer Phil Brewis playing for us as Sean wasn't feeling up to it due to a leg injury. We then agreed to play at Keep it True in 2005 I think it was but it was cancelled due to Graeme suffering a head injury the day before while on tour with Skyclad. After that we all felt that if we ever played again it would have to be with Sean and the true original line up that made the 'Court in The Act' album. That finally happened this year. We enjoyed the show so much that we decided that if we were offered more shows that we'd like to play again. We now have a show booked in London on October 1st.

Looking at the band biography it is a pain in the ass to figure it all out, as Satan changed the name into Blind Fury after 'Court In The Act', then back to Satan again and then into The Kindred followed by Pariah. Could you shed some light on this?
The first name change came about as our new singer Lou Taylor didn't like the name and we were beginning to be associated with death/black metal which of course our music and lyrics wasn't. It was a mistake and we went back to Satan when Mick Jackson joined the band on vocals. The Kindred was an idea for another new name before we decided on Pariah. Again we became tired of explaining that our music and lyrics had nothing to do with the occult etc. There was one show in Germany when we supported Running Wild where the major of the town tried to stop us playing and a load of christian protesters turned up too!

Satan also has links to many other bands like Blitzkrieg, Tysondog, Skyclad and Raven to name a few. Many of the band's members played in other bands. Can you tell us a bit more about this as well?
Sean our drummer played in an early incarnation of Raven. Brian was and still is the vocalist with Blitzkrieg. Russ, Graeme and myself were a little younger than those two and we used to go and see both bands as fans before we played together. There was a big NWOBHM scene in the north east of England at the time and all of the bands knew eachother. Alan Hunter from Tysondog became a good friend and sang backing vocals on Court in the Act and main vocals on the last Pariah album.

I assume the time when you started out was quite exciting in the early 80's, especially in the Newcastle area with bands like Raven and Venom and of course Neat Records. How do you look back on that era when history was written with the NWOBHM?
It was a good time to be involved in that style of music because although it was still underground it was fresh and evolving. All the bands sounded different to each other with their own style. Nowadays a lot of bands sound the same to me.

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You ended up releasing your debut 'Court In The Act' on Neat Records in 1983 but it also came out on Holland's Roadrunner Records. Was that basically for the US-territory as Roadrunner worked over there as well?
We didn't sign to Neat records, our contract was with Roadrunner. They offered us a deal after we played our first concert in Eindhoven at the Dynamo club. We quickly became more popular in Holland than we were in England as our music wasn't as traditional sounding as Priest and Saxon etc. at the time.

Many people out there consider 'Court In The Act' as one of the most influential NWOBHM albums. What does that mean to you?
Like I said before, our music wasn't standard NWOBHM we were trying to create something different. It is good to know now that people look back to that era and realise that we were a bit different and forward thinking with our music.

Talking about Holland, you were quite successful back in the day over here, right? Both live albums 'Blitzkrieg in Holland' and 'Live In The Act' from 2000 and 2004 respectively consist of live recordings from 1983 from Holland. Being too young to have witnessed that I was wondering how you were received here?
I think the fans and press in Holland, and indeed the rest of Europe are more open minded and look for diversity where in England they like to play it safe. Our first single was available by a distributor in a magazine called Sounds in England but most of the sales of it were to shops in Holland and Germany. The early shows in Holland were crazy.

Stylewise I think you could say that Satan was very important seeing heavy metal shift towards speed and thrash metal in the mid 80s. What other bands actually influenced Satan to become what we now know the band for?
We were big fans of early Judas Priest when their music was more progressive. I remember Russ and myself when we first got our guitars sitting and learning the whole of 'Unleashed in the East', the live album from Priest. We used to play some of them in our early shows too. The twin guitars were part of our sound too. Black Sabbath was my favorite band back then and the long middle sections in our songs comes from those bands and other prog bands like Rush. I think we took some of the energy from listening to Motörhead. We also liked a bit of Punk i.e. Dead Kennedys and Stiff Little Fingers. I think also Thin Lizzy influenced a lot of bands back then too. We had already gone for the speed before we heard anyone else playing like that, I think it came from youthful exuberance!

I think the first reunion show you guys did was at Wacken Open Air in 2004. Am I right to conclude that this show got the ball rolling again?
As I said earlier that was supposed to be a one off show, we had no intention of doing more. If it wasn't for Sean coming back I don't think we would have played together again.

So, what is the current state of Satan? I know Graeme English and yourself are still active with Skyclad and Brian Ross still has Blitzkrieg going. Are there any plans for new material of Satan or any more shows line-up?
We have been getting together and writing again just for fun and we intend to do more shows if they are offered. Maybe we'll put a couple of new songs in as the set is short because we only play the songs from the time Brian was in the band.

Okay Steve, I think I covered it all even if I could go on for ages getting into every tiny detail, haha. But I'd like to leave the final words for you, so be my guest.
We've really enjoyed getting back together and playing and thanks for all the support especially to those who came to Keep It True and made it such a great show. We're looking forward to coming over there and playing again and there are already plans to play in Holland next year, maybe at the Dynamo Club, which will be our 30th anniversary!

Cheers, Steve.

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