Glenn S. Howes Interview
Just this past week I had the pleasure of interviewing Glenn S. Howes. A real class Act, Glenn has spent time in some of my favorite bands and is currently involved with the legendary Avenger. I just want to thank Glenn for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with us. Enjoy!
Andy-You started your career in the early 1980's playing guitar. Can you tell us how you got your start playing in bands?
Glenn-I actually started out as a frontman when I was about 15 years old. I was in a band called Axizz. We use to play in my home town of South Shields in the North East UK. We used to support the likes of Fist and Saracen. This was during the early part of the NWOBHM era. Being so young we weren't very good but looking back it gave me a taste of what I liked about being in a rock/metal band and it also gave me an education. I also use to roadie for a lot of bands during this time. I used to skip school to do this. I should have been learning GCSE English, instead I was learning how to rock. I learned a lot from Fist and Saracen. Brilliant bands. I still listen to them to this day. They had a big influence on me. I was learning to play guitar at the same time and later I kinda decided to forge ahead as a guitarist. The main reason for that, is that I thought I could never be as good as the guys that were influencing me locally. When your around amazing singers like Keith Satchfield, Glenn Coates, Brian Ross and Louie Taylor its easy to be intimidated when your 15 -16 years old. They are world class singers. Later when in the 'Krieg. Brian Ross encouraged me to start singing again. I started doing harmony vocals etc. It wasn't really until the Earthrod sessions that I again took on the role of lead singer. I haven't looked back since then.
Andy-You've played with some of the greats of the NWOBHM movement- bands like Blitzkrieg, Tygers of Pan Tang and Avenger. How does it feel to know your a part of heavy metal history?
Glenn-In the early years I always held the belief that I would get somewhere in bands and continued to stick at it through all the ups and downs. Most people around me thought I was crazy. It kinda felt like Id been building up to something good most of my musical life. Then meeting Brian Ross in 1987 and subsequently joining Blitzkrieg as lead guitarist, those years of dedication and hard work finally came to fruition. Blitzkrieg will always be special to me as it was my first real break however I genuinely feel privileged to have been involved with all of the bands mentioned. I was a fan of these bands before I joined them and to be able to contribute to their history is especially rewarding. The thing I like about the bands that I have been involved with is that they are still held in high regard to this day. The NWOBHM in essence was about original honest music. In your face, raw and no bullshit. Times may have changed however I think even now true fans of rock and metal still genuinely recognise and respect the spirit of NWOBHM.
Andy-You must have so many great stories from the road. Any favorite memories?
Glenn-I have lots yeah however I'm not able to tell you ha.
Andy- You've recorded a number of albums at the legendary nwobhm Neat records label. What was your favorite?
Glenn-Blitzkriegs "Mists of Avalon" was the smoothest mainly due to the fact that our drummer at the time, Mark Hancock, laid his drums down very quickly. Quite a feat considering we recorded 25 songs. Everything just kinda followed. It had a great vibe in the studio and it was more interesting musically than what I had recorded previously with the 'Krieg. It also helped that we were all friends and still are to this day. The Tygers of Pan Tang "Live at Wacken" album was the easiest because we only had to sit in on the mix down. The Earthrod recordings were a complete joy because myself and Mark recorded it ourselves and had free reign however I think I have to say Blitzkriegs "Ten years of Blitzkrieg" is probably my favourite. It was my real 1st venture into the international scene and I have great memories of us playing our parts in the studio and having a good laugh when we fucked up. I remember Gary Young coming into the studio with black eyes after a night out ha. Rock n Roll!.
Andy- You've also toured internationally. What was your favorite place to play and why?
Glenn-Yeah I have played in a lot of different countries over the years. I have enjoyed all of the gigs I have played. Without a doubt though it was the Wacken festival in Germany that was my favourite. I did it in 1998 with Blitzkrieg and 1999 with the Tygers of Pan Tang. Both were fantastic gigs. Its just the whole vibe of the place. Everyone is there just to have a good time and the fans are true metal heads. We were treated like Royalty. The organisation is professional. I also have to mention that I did a UK tour with Avenger in 2005 when we were supporting American rockers Y&T. We had some great gigs but the last one on the tour in London was out of this world. Great stuff.
Andy- Glenn, you have had your own band with Earthrod. How did that come about?
Glenn-Essentially it was a project myself and former Blitzkrieg drummer Mark Hancock put together. It was purely experimental in all honesty. Between us we wrote and recorded 2 demo albums. The first one "Screaming in Digital" was more of a kinda power metal gothy sounding affair however the second "Acts of God" was far more darker and experimental. We got some excellent feedback from magazines and my fans gave me the thumbs up. We never really intended to do that much with it as such. It was one of those situations where we will see where it takes us etc. At one point there was genuine interest from a few labels so I took it a little more seriously and attempted to put a line up together. The truth is it isn't easy to play and I couldn't find the right line up to make it work so it was kinda shelved. Gary from Avenger loves the Earthrod stuff and has asked me if Avenger can include "The Watchers" in the set and maybe record it. So it looks likes some of that material still may see the light of day.
Andy- You've also sang for a number of tribute bands correct?
Glenn-I have however in all honesty the only one that came of anything was a Judas Priest tribute called Judas Beast. I'm a massive Priest fan and doing a priest tribute was something I had in my mind to do for a long time. I formed and started Judas Beast in 2006 as lead vocalist frontman. It was fantastic for me singing all the classic Priest tracks. I loved every minute of it. I'm no longer with them however they are still going strong and sound fantastic. I do have a cover band that I play/sing for called Requiem. www.requiemuk.com.We have been together since 2008 and we play mainly classic heavy rock/metal. The line up includes Dave Irwin from Fist fame. I love playing in Requiem. It keeps me out of trouble and brings a few pennies in.
Andy-What is happening with Avenger?
Glenn-Ahh... well I have re joined Avenger as a frontman recently. I was with the band in 2005 as a guitarist. I did the UK Y&T tour and some international dates with them including Headbangers Open Air Germany. I then started work on Judas Beast in December of 2005. Since 2005 I have maintained contact with Avenger and I understand they have had some line up changes since then. I'm really happy to be singing for Avenger and we have 3 festival shows booked at the moment in Belgium, Holland and Germany. Looking forward to getting back out there and ripping it up with the mighty "A".
Andy-Who were some of your influences growing up?
Glenn-I have lots of different influences. I have to say my main rock/metal influences over the years when I was growing up where the classic rock/metal bands. Judas Priest, Queen, UFO, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Motorhead and Gary Moore. Again the NWOBHM era was a big influence on me as well. Bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, Diamond Head, Raven, Hellenbach, Fist, Venom, Avenger, Blitzkrieg, Diamond Head and Satan really opened my eyes. I really dig some of the popular bands that are around now. Arch Enemy are cool. I also love Annihilator, Crimson Glory, Helloween and Gamma Ray. I love most anything that rocks.
Andy-You've done so much over the years and been involved with the scene for a long time. What are your thoughts on heavy metal in 2011?
Glenn-Its a great question. What I see is bands that are amazing that deserve success which is great of course. The thing that kinda bothers me though is that although you are always gonna have business interfering and pushing their own agenda (money) there seems to be a situation where a lot of bands go in for an already established formula. I would like to see more originality. Looking back on NWOBHM and classic bands like Priest they didn't sound like anyone else. They forged they own sound. I could be wrong of course but it kinda seems that way to me.
Andy-Any young bands you think are promising?
Glenn-I'm not sure what the age ranges are in these bands but I quite like While Heaven Wept and Voyager. To re iterate the point made earlier they are bands that have their own identity. There are some bands from my part of the world who are also fantastic as well, like Beyond the Grave, Fallen Fate and Vendetta. I wish I had more time to check new bands out.
Glenn-We are all human and make mistakes. Ive made some stinkers so yeah I have some regrets however I don't regret forging a life in the music industry with metal bands. Its been a dream come true for me.
Andy-You've sang for a Judas Priest cover band. That begs the question then. Judas Priest or Iron Maiden?
Glenn-Judas Priest for me. I love Maiden but I'm a Priest fan 1st. Even now when I listen to tracks like "Victims of changes", "Sinner" and "Beyond the realms of death" I'm totally blown away. Amazing and magical stuff.
Andy-When its all said and done what would you most like people to remember about you?
Glenn-Its an obvious thing to mention however the general rock/metal fan who listen to my music and see my shows, they don't actually know me. I would hope my family, friends and peers would remember me for being a lover of life and a hard working responsible, decent person. I would like to think that rock/metal fans will remember me in a positive way for my songwriting, musicianship and performances. Its great to think that when I pop my clogs that I'm gonna leave a legacy that will still be listened to, admired and respected. The thing is, I ain't finished yet!
Andy-Final thoughts? The stage is all yours.
Glenn-I hope that my involvement with bands show the musicians that will be in the next generation that anything is possible if you work hard enough. I came from humble beginnings, with no real musical background. It can be done! When you get respect from a fan for the job you've done in a band that's a complete rush for me. Everyone is a winner and you go home with great memories feeling contented. I aim to continue gaining that respect and thank everyone for their continued support. Thank you Heavy Metal Time Machine. Cheers n Beers!
Andy-Thank you Glenn and good luck with Avenger!