Hydra Vein Interview
Andy: First off I'd just like to say thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Hydra Vein are now heald in such high regard despite only two releases. Does it surprise you any that even after all these years new people are still discovering your music?
Dan: Yes, it's a great surprise. I'd read lots of nice things on the net a few years back but I had had no contact with the band since 89'.So I managed to trace Nathan a few years ago and we met for a few beers. The whole rerelease snowballed from there and we all had a small reunion/piss up in 2007. The interest has escalated since the remergence of "proper metal".
Nathan:It certainly does. And I must say it's gratifying to know that there's people out there who dig it and are influenced by it.
Andy:Obviously there had to be quite a few old wounds left over from the way Hydra Vein ended. Was it a challenge to get everybody on board with the not only the re-release but also the reunion?
Nathan: Yeah, I myself didn't leave on the best of terms, but I had no major grudges with anyone in the band. I worked with Paul and Damon in a couple of different groups after Hydra Vein, so it was all pretty cool on a personal level a year or so after that band split. It was fairly straightforward in getting everyone to agree to the remastered remix, not least because the pressing and mastering on the first record was atrocious, and the mix on the second was poor. I think we felt we had the opportunity to right a few wrongs and everyone was in a position then to contribute the time and/or money to make it work. With the get-together, it was much the same: Our respective work, family and financial commitments didn't clash, so we took the opprtunity to have a few beers! The big shame is that Mike and Jon aren't around to be a part of it.
Damon: There were never any old wounds. Paul and Nat played together in Union after the split; both Mike and Nathan (who is, after all, my brother!) spent some time with me in Powerpact. That both Dan and Stephen had left prior to the recording of the second album was never a bone of contention – they wanted to try other things and that’s always fair enough, so we parted amicably. We were all very happy to get back in touch with each other when we did and the re-release wasn’t responsible for that – the idea came as a result of us getting back in touch, rather than being the reason we did. Dan: I was the oldest in the band and had been gigging constantly in various other bands previously to Hydra Vein. A "proper" job came up and I had to make a tough choice that I still regret a little to this day. I kind of left the band in the lurch. Luckily I tracked Nathan down a fee years back and we all met up and had a "few" beers. It was great to catchup with the guys. Hoping it's going to be a regular event :)
Stephen:Certainly no wounds; it was great to meet up with the guys again and was hard to believe it had been so long.
Andy:-I have to get this out of the way and ask you guys the question that is on everyone's mind-what is up with the album art on Rather Death Than False Of Faith.
Dan: Haha I hated it from the start but came to love it's total cheesiness. It got RAW Magazines vote for worst album cover of 1988 if I remember correctly. No such thing as bad press I suppose :)
Paul: Honestly, its probably the worst album cover in the world. Dan did the new album, you should have seen some of the stuff we were offered, Dan blew them away. and to add (sorry guys im on one now) The thing that makes me most proud of being involved with hydra vein was the democracy. Everything went to a vote, all wants are met. Its great that 23ish years on we can all comment and be involved with this, I thank the Brothers Maddison for that.
Nathan: Haha! I've got an 'O' level in art, I'll have you know! I could've done better blindfolded, drunk and left-handed. Anyhow, it's an unmitigated pile of sh!t. The concept was good, but the execution was diabolical. It was done by a friend of our then-manager's, if I recall correctly. I suspect he/she actually passed it on to an 8-year-old child to do. Or perhaps an 8-year-old chimp. I dunno; some people love it. I'd like to think it's gone beyond sh!t, out through the other side and into so-f*cking-awful-that-it-verges-on-genius. However, no matter how many times I try and convince myself, it is what it is: utter boll0cks.
Damon: What's up with it???? It's fucking magnificent, isn't it????? Seriously, we handed the concept off to a "friend of a friend of a friend" and then all we got back for weeks was "I'm working on it". By the time the fucking thing surfaced, we had no time left to switch it so went with it. Shit happens. I've actually grown quite fond of it, in a strange kind of way, in the intervening years. Don't ask me why.
Stephen: I don’t think anything needs to be said!
Andy: I understand. I like it for it's cheese factor even if it is quite bad. You guys mentioned that you got together for a few quick shows. Nothing fancy from the sounds of it. That said would there ever be anyway that Hydra vein would ever considering giving it another go?
Nathan: We got together for some quick shows? When was that? They must've been quick, as I don't remember any more than my last gig with Hydra Vein, supporting Toranaga and Sodom at the Greyhound in Fulham in in '87. Or was it '88? Long, long time ago, in any case. The one and only time all surviving members have been together in the same place at the same time was a couple of years ago when the re-release came out. We all met up for beers, and it was a good day. Getting back together is a question that comes up a lot, and it's something that Dan bangs on about fairly frequently! While I don't think any future musical collaboration can be absolutely ruled out, I would say that logistics and practicalities mean it's very, highly and extremely unlikely. Damon is in Holland, I'm in the North East of England, Dan's on the South Coast, Paul's in London and Stephen's just south of there in Croydon, I think. Everyone also has family and work commitments and I think Dan's the only one who keeps his hand in by playing regularly. I myself haven't picked up a drumstick in anger for about 8 or 9 years now and I've no idea how musically 'in shape' the other guys are. As I said to Paul and Dan recently, it would take months and months of intensive training and practising just to get half my chops and stamina levels back. And finally, for me personally, it couldn't really be Hydra Vein without Mike: He was right there from the off and was absolutely key to the band's sound and spirit. I think Hydra Vein belongs to a certain time, place and mindset and a lot of people have some good memories of that. Perhaps it's right and respectful to leave the band there.
Damon: I don’t think so. That time has gone. It might be fun (and geographically speaking, a challenge) to see if we could successfully get any new material together but I think we were what we were and it wouldn’t be the same without Mike around, either.
Dan: I get asked a couple of times a month about new HV Material. I agree with a lot of what Nathan and Damon have said especially re Mike but I'm still curious to see what material we could come up between us even non HV. Anyway my 50th is coming up in a couple of years so I'm hatching a plan to get everyone on a stage for a number or two. Shh it's a secret haha.
Stephen: Although great times and memories, the past should remain the past. Apart from that, I can’t see how anyone would find the time to put something togethe
Andy:You briefly touched on life post-Hydra Vein. What has every one been up to?
Damon: Having had more than enough of 1980’s England, when the band disintegrated for the last time I upped sticks to continental Europe. Based in Amsterdam, I got a new band together (Powerpact) and we spent five or six years trying and failing to make an impression before calling it a day. That was the last properly serious band I was involved in before joining the rat race. Nowadays, I’m a forty-something husband and father – happy enough but largely retired from music.
Nathan: Blimey, that's about half my life ago! After I left Hydra Vein, I did consider jacking it all in...however, I joined a band called Storm Party, which was a straight-ahead hard rock outfit. I enjoyed my time with them immensely. We ended up changing the singer, and the band became Youngblood. The group eventually folded after the singer opted out, just as things were beginning to happen. It must have been around this time I had a drunken conversation with Dan's brother Stuart (who'd just been kicked out of Deathwish) about doing something, but nothing came of it. Some time after that, Paul got in touch out of the blue and asked if I fancied working on some songs. He'd sent me a demo, and I was very impressed with the numbers. We hooked up and Union was born. That was a terrific, raucous little band. Out of all the stuff I've done, that was probably the most all-round satisfying. Although, like Hydra vein, we didn't have that hustler-type to really push us. And we maybe enjoyed the 'lifestyle' a little more than we should have... again, much like Hydra Vein! In June 1994, I moved to Amsterdam, having first spent a couple of weeks in Austria working with a band called Gung Ho. In Holland, I hooked up with Damon when Powerpact was pretty much in it death throes, really. My heart was no longer into playing thrash at that point, and I joined a band which would morph into Gum (yes, Gum) Control. Damon rehearsed with us once or twice, I think. That band just ground to a halt, from what I can remember. Around this time, I also auditioned - unsuccesfully - for a band called the Blue Man Can. Me and Damon hooked up yet again in a band called Neutral, which was a lot of fun. That effectively folded when Damon went to work in the States, and that was the last band I was in, I think. I moved back to the UK in 2001, having sold the kit and retired from playing. I did sit in on rehearsals with Lux Roth Chop, The Sandcastles and The Desperate Ones to work up some material, and had a couple of studio jams, but I didn't have the desire to go out and play live anymore. And that is pretty much that.
Paul: Too much to say really, Hydra Vein was great so was Union. I've done a lot of things since but not relavant to hv. Me and Nat had some good times though.
Dan: When I left Hydra Vein just before the tour I had become a bit jaded with the whole music biz. I'd been out gigging since 84 ish with my brother,I was also the oldest in the band. "Real life" was calling or rather the lure of money was! I joined a covers band after about a year off but about 12months later I pretty well sold everything bar my 4x12, which I still have. I didn't touch a guitar for about 8 years until in 2000 when a mate "forced" me out of "retirement". Since then I've been in various metal,maiden,rock,tribute cover bands and have not stopped playing. I did start a solo album but I gave the idea up. I actually enjoy and play more than I ever did in the 80's! I love playing. Married with 2 great kids who hate metal. Parent fail :D
Stephen: Typing on the keyboard instead of tapping away on the strings and fxxx my old boots.. got into dancing!
Andy: Dan have no worries I'm married as well with two kids who hate metal! I'm working on my son though. Having the re-release out now gives people who missed out the first time around a chance to discover Hydra Vein. While I personally wish that the packaging would have been better (I would have loved to have seen a nice color booklet with the band's history, pictures,etc) the albums sound much better. Besides a Facebook fan page is this the last will see of Hydra Vein? Would you ever consider releasing a deluxe version of either album?
Nathan: There's nothing to rule it out, I suppose. I have the digital masters of the remixed and remastered stuff...we could possibly add the demo tracks and have a more comprehensive sleeve with additional photos, a biography and, yes, the original artwork for both albums. All that stuff is already out there on the net, but I can understand that some people may want the complete package with a CD: I'm a sucker for that sort of release, myself.
Andy:Same here. While I realize seeing Hyrda Vein play again is most likely out of the question (especially since I'm here in America) a DVD would be a cool thing too. Be sure to thank the rest of the band for me Dan. Also, if anything pops up as far as Hyrda Vein or any other bands you guys are in and you'd like me to mention it at Heavy Metal time Machine just drop me a line.
Dan: Andy, No problem mate and thanks for the interest. Cheers!