Heavy Pettin+Spartan Warrior
Trillians Rock Bar, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Heavy Pettin + Spartan Warrior
Heavy Pettin Biography
So you wanna be a rock ‘n’ roll star? Yeah, you and tens of thousands. No, you and generations for whom this is an aspiration, a dream, a milestone and a millstone. Only a precious few make it to drink deep from this unholy grail. That’s why we love ‘em. The vicarious orgasm, as it were. But, there are some who didn’t quite make it to the top, but in attempting the climb actually made some damn good musical statements.
Heavy Pettin should have been contenders. No, that’s unfair - they were contenders. They could have been big time. Some still insist they should have been big time. However, the fates conspired to consign these celtic warriors to cult status. Yet, here we are…a quarter-of-a-century after they first appeared, and the hursuite Heavy highfllyers’ music still sounds affirmative, confident, of its time, yet also timeless. Moreover, they’re back – with an album that’s more than a nostalgia trip…’Prodigal Songs’ isn’t a last ditch effort to re-capture the spirit of youth, the spirits of a bygone age. It actually comes across as dynamic, forthright and classy. The characteristics that marked out these polydecibel Pets as likely lads when the 1980s first stirred into action.
When vocalist Hamie, guitarists Gordon Bonnar and Punky Mendoza, drummer Gary Moat and bassist Brian Waugh first burst out of Glasgow in 1981, they were vibrant, priapic, anthemic and focused. As they showed on a three-tarck demo, and on the subsequent debut single for independent label Neat (‘Roll The Dice’/’Love Xs Love’), they were more than mere Def Leppard slaves. In fact, the Pettin had an international sound that owed something to AC/DC, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Foreigner, but also had its own raging momentum.
Not that the band found the road forward straightforward. But, thanks to a work ethic that took them around the country, plus a valuable session for Radio 1’s prestigious ‘Friday Rock Show’, the band eventually landed a crucial deal with the major Polydor Records. Moreover, their 1983 debut album (‘Lettin’ Loose’) was co-produced by the creative Mack…together with Queen guitarist Brian May. Now, that’s pedigree.
Amazingly, that album has survived more than 20 years of high speed hi-tech developments intact. While other, more celebrated records have dated badly, ‘Lettin’ Loose’ re-affirms the belief back then that the Pettin would follow Leppard to big time stature. What went wrong at the time has little to do with band, or lack of ambition/talent. In America, where they should have broken big long before Bon Jovi gave Love A Bad Name, they were held back by the label’s insistence on an anaemic re-mix (as well as a title change to ‘Heavy Pettin’, which caused more confusion than anything else). If the band’s essential, vital British brio had been left as conceived in the first place, who knows what might have been achieved.
Still, a slot on the bill for the 1983 Reading Festival, the day that Black Sabbath infamously headlined when fronted by Ian Gillan, did them no harm. And touring with both Kiss and Ozzy helped the quintet’s progress.
Two years later, the Pettin return to the studio, this time with producer Mark Dearnley (who’d worked with AC/DC and Krokus). The result? ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’, which surprised many with a slicker yet conversely tougher approach. The lads really had progressed, although ironically if things had gone to plan, this would have been produced by Lance Quinn, of Bon Jovi and Lita Ford fame. However, just hours before the band were due to fly to Philadelphia, to work with Quinn at his Warehouse Studios, the decision was taken by PolyGram (to whom both Heavy Pettin and Bon Jovi were signed in the US) that, instead, he should start work immediately on what was to be Jovi’s second record, ‘7800 Degrees Fahrenheit’.
Perhaps then, it should have been obvious that record company politics were to scupper Pettin in the crucial American market. And, despite continuing to show up well in the UK, once again the US was to prove elusive – through no fault of the five musicians. In many respects, this was the point when the writing was scrawled over every available wall space. Despite their obvious determination and grassroots support in Britain, it seemed as if Pettin’s realistic chance of significant international success had gone. A third album, ‘The Big Bang’, was released by FM Revolver in 1989 – and still proved this lot were way ahead of so many others who were selling truckloads of ‘units’ and getting acclaim from the media But, as the 1980s faded into memory, so too did Heavy Pettin.
However, what has happened over the past two decades is that, every so often, people will dust down those Pettin recordings, scratch their heads in confusion and wonder what went wrong. Well, recriminations never help; they only serve to fuel frustrations. But, now the band are back – not for nostalgic reasons, not re-capture a long past youth. Not to right past wrongs. But to make music. So, here we are, with ‘Prodigal Songs’, a record that isn’t looking backwards to those years, when this lot were ready to take on the world, and toured with Motley Crue and Ratt. No, this is about the 21st Century. Driven by a desire, passion and a capacity simply to invoke the simple magic and rapport of what this band once stood for, the five have come up with a record that will delight the older fans, yet should also introduce them to a new, younger audience. It has an edge and a commitment that tells of musicians who aren’t bitter about being let down by past mistakes (made on their behalf), but have got on with their lives, and now want to put their re-kindled enthusiasm for rock music into perspective.
Yet, one can’t help but feel that here also is proof of what might have been. Supposing, Heavy Pettin had got their due rewards in America, is this where they might have developed, musically? Perhaps the answer lies in a parallel universe. But in this one…let’s rejoice in the legacy left to us by the Scots rousers, and revel in the fact that they’re back making music again.
Rock ‘n’ roll stars? Maybe not. Rock ‘n’ rollers sprinkled with stardust? Definitely.
Malcolm Dome (TotalRock Radio/Classic Rock magazine
Spartan Warrior Biography
New Wave of British Heavy Metal band, Spartan Warrior, was formed in the North East of England in the Autumn of 1980.
Between 1980 and 1982 the band carved themselves a solid reputation on the live circuit before attracting the attention of Guardian Studios.
Spartan Warrior recorded two tracks “Steel n Chains” and “Easy Prey/Comes as no Surprise” which featured on the Guardian Studios compilation album “Pure Overkill” in 1983.
Later that same year Spartan Warrior recorded and released their first full length album “Steel n’ Chains”.
Such was the response to the release of the bands full length debut that Spartan Warrior signed to Roadrunner and 1984 heralded the release of the bands second self titled album with world wide release.
With the possibility of a significant touring schedule ahead and against a background of competing band and personal interests Spartan Warrior split in 1985 before realising their full potential.
Like so many n.w.o.b.h.m bands of the day neither fate nor luck had been on the side of Spartan Warrior... however, the birth of the world wide web saw Spartan Warrior’s music reaching fans old and new achieving heavy metal cult status and almost demanding that the band return.
And return they did, reforming in 2008 with four original members including Neil Wilkinson (Guitars) and David Wilkinson (Vocals).
In 2009 Spartan Warrior recorded their third full length album “Behind Closed Eyes”.
2010 saw the release of “Behind Closed Eyes” on the Iron Age label to critical acclaim.
In late 2010 Spartan Warrior played their first live show since 1985 to a rapturous reception at Hard Rock Hell Festival joining a bill that boasted from the Nwobhm ranks Marseille, Saracen, Battleaxe and Saxon.
In 2011 Spartan Warrior played a number of select UK shows before heading to the legendary Headbangers Open Air Festival in Germany where the band opened Saturday’s proceedings.
Spartan Warrior very quickly re- established their reputation as a stunning live band playing a series of UK gigs alongside the likes of Holocaust, Blitzkrieg Avenger, Tysondog and Manilla Road.
Going from strength to strength Spartan Warrior featured at the inaugural Brofest 2013 in Newcastle with their performance being described by Nwobhm officianado and author Mark Gregory as “a master class in heavy metal”. By popular demand Spartan Warrior returned to Brofest in 2014.
Spartan Warrior have featured at many European festivals including Dr Metal Fest Spain , Ages of Metal Belgium, Rock You to Hell Greece, Heavy Sound Festival Belgium and have played alongside such metal legends as Praying Mantis, Diamond Head, Tygers of Pan Tang, Medieval Steel and the legendary Raven.
2017 saw the band sign to Pure Steel Records for the release of their 2018 album 'Hell To Pay'. 2018-2019 will see the band tour the UK, Belgium, Germany and France in promotion of both the 'Hell to Pay' album, and also the 35 year anniversary of 'Steel n Chains' & 'Spartan Warrior' albums.
Trillians Rock Bar
Newcastle upon Tyne