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Steve Ramsey (SATAN, SKYCLAD): the evil that mankind does to themselves

Steve Ramsey (SATAN, SKYCLAD): the evil that mankind does to themselves
BANDS : Satan, Skyclad

Satan, one of the legendary bands of the NWOBHM scene have recently reunited and released a new studio material, the third of them career and the first one  after a break of... 26 years! We took the opportunity and we've chatted with guitarist Steve Ramsey to learn more about the album, Life Sentence, the story of Satan and many other interesting topics. Detail on the lines below:

Metalfan: Hello, Mister Steve! Is everything fine? So, we have now an unexpected new release from Satan after the reunion. It’s a magic thing, an awesome album and it seems like this huge break never existed.  What have you done in the meantime?
Steve Ramsey: Well, we did a couple of albums as Pariah before we split up in 1989 – 90. Then I formed Skyclad with Martin Walkyier and that lasted ten years before he left and we replaced him with Kevin Ridley on vocals. We have made three more albums with Kevin and are writing a new one to be recorded and released in the spring next year.

Metalfan: Was Satan buried and then exhumed or did you just wait for the proper moment in order to return to the old stuff? I mean you “buried” the name a few times but every time you put out Satan again, the music was much stronger. So was there a need for a break to reveal again something even much better? ‘Cause actually, I consider now Life Sentence your greatest release.

Steve Ramsey: We only gor back together because we were asked to play the Keep It True festival in Germany 2011. We had played a one off show at Wacken but our original drummer couldn’t play the gig because he had suffered injuries in a car accident that prevented him from doing so. We only decided to play together again when he said he could play the demanding songs on Court in the Act (1983) again. Oliver, the guy who organises Keep It True persuaded us that there were a lot of fans, old and new, who wanted to hear us play the first album material again. It took him six years to convince us, but he was right. The audience was fantastic at that show and that led us to do more shows then eventually record an album. There was no plan to do any of this by us

Metalfan: Could you tell us few words about each song from Life Sentence? Which is your vision regarding the lyrics of the songs from this album?
Steve Ramsey: We would prefer the listeners to make their own minds up about the songs. The overall theme is injustice in the lyrics and we have covered subjects including, atonement, impending death and biblical retribution. We write about current affairs that affect us all and the evil that mankind does to themselves. 


Metalfan:You and Satan’s bass player as well, Graeme English are involved in the folk band Skyclad. Could this be a reason too which kept the both of you away from Satan?
Steve Ramsey: No, nothing kept us away from Satan, Satan just didn’t exist for a while.

Metalfan:Many bands are somehow returning to the roots of heavy metal even if they are founded by some very young people. I think the main reason for this fact has to do with the latest Darkthrone albums. Or do you think that this is a natural resumption of the metal industry cycle?
Steve Ramsey: I’ve noticed throughout the years that music and styles are on a kind of carousel and keep coming around again and again. This happens in all genres with new young musicians looking back to the past for inspiration to write new material. It is very difficult to come up with anything that sounds totally new nowadays because everything has been done musically. The retro thing happens and bands start sounding like they’ve gone back to the 50’s then the 60’s then the 70’s and so on.

Metalfan: Your first full-length album released with Satan - Court in the Act was released throgh Roadrunner Records. How did you got signed by Roadrunner back in the 80's? What do you think about the bands that are currently under contract with Roadrunner Records? Any favourites?
Steve Ramsey: We ended up signed to Roadrunner because we became popular in Holland. We played a lot of shows there in the early days and that’s where Roadrunner Records was based. Since then they have become a much bigger label. I don’t really know any bands signed to Roadrunner now, I might know their music but not their label.

Metalfan: Speaking about
Court in the Act, how do you see it after all these years? Which was the impact that it made on heavy metal genre?
Steve Ramsey: I think the album was ahead of its’ time and could now be considered as ground breaking although no one saw it at the time. We didn’t sound like the other NWOBHM bands and some of the press didn’t like that. We were always a band that was one of the favourites of other musicians who appreciated what we were doing.


Metalfan: What can you say more about the actual NWOBHM scene?
Steve Ramsey: It was a good time to be around, metal was really popular and there were loads of gigs to go to.

Metalfan: Regarding your thoughts, is Life Sentence a resistance statement? Could you tell us more?

Steve Ramsey: The album title can have different meanings. The band reformed after thirty years since the start and in the judicial system in the UK thirty years is the term for a life sentence. It could also be said that the band has served a life sentence before getting the original members that recorded Court in the Act back together again!

Metalfan: Besides the announced gigs where you’ll play, are there any plans for Satan?
Steve Ramsey: We are hoping to play in all of the countries we didn’t get a chance to play in when we were together in the eighties. Already we have shows in Sweden and Canada, we have played in Germany where this line up never got the chance to and have a lot of offers to play in other countries too.

Metalfan: How do you see this world today? For instance, I believe that right now the birth rate should be reduced to zero for a while and then people can focus on doing things in order to annihilate the dominant feeling of time wasting. So, tell me about your views.
Steve Ramsey: That’s an interesting concept. I think the world is still dominated by religion and that is the cause of many of the problems that exist everywhere. 

Metalfan: Besides good skills, I find the individual perception very important in music. If you have to look in the past, how was your world back in the 80’s?
Steve Ramsey: Obviously my main aim was trying to get somewhere and forge a living playing music. When we started out most of the bands sang about girls and motorbikes and shit like that and we wanted to not preach a message to people, but have some content in the lyrics that the listener could identify with in a less obvious way if they chose to. We wanted to be individual too and in the music industry this is sometimes to your detriment.

Metalfan: Right now, I think that Satan has one of the best guitar players. What do you think? Who is your favourite guitarist?
Steve Ramsey: Russ has always been one of my favourite guitarists. The guitarists that have influenced my playing and that are still my favourites, a lot of time because of their writing abilities and not just their lead playing skills, are Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker and Glen Tipton.


Metalfan: Would you like to tell me about the albums you like most? The style doesn’t matter, it can be any kind of music, but I would like to hear the reason why you perceive them as so good.
Steve Ramsey: Black SabbathBlack Sabbath (1970). This album for me personally is the first heavy metal album and it is clearly influenced by blues music. The main riff in the title track is made up from the root note and the flattened fifth note which is commonly known as the blue note. A lot of metal riffs and some of the greatest have involved the blues. We have a blues based riff on our new album in the song Personal Demons. It is still relevant in metal today.

QueenNight at the Opera (1975). This album has some incredible music on it including Bohemian Rhapsody. I love all of the early Queen albums when they were more rock orientated in their songwriting approach. I also really like the fact that they weren’t afraid to take on any style of music and make them sound like Queen songs, something I took on board with Skyclad in the writing of the music.

I could go on forever, I like a lot of different styles of music but my main love is metal. These are two of the albums that made me want to play the guitar and write my own music along with all of the early Judas Priest albums up to Killing Machine (1978).

Metalfan: Which song that involves you do you consider the most special?
Steve Ramsey: The two songs that I have mentioned above are a couple of my favourites, one for the simplicity of using the blues to such great effect and the other for taking on such a difficult style as Opera music and making such an amazing and eternal rock song from it.

Metalfan: Are you a football fan? What do you think about the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson from Manchester United? What do you think that metal and football have in common?
Steve Ramsey: Yes, Newcastle United is my team. I think that Fergie retiring is good for us all and that Man Utd might not have such a stranglehold on the league in the future. I think there is a similar camaraderie within football and metal fans and a similar passion for both.

Metalfan: Well, I know that you are used with many of these questions above. But I would like you to tell me something you feel right now, anything which can cross your mind.
Steve Ramsey: I feel really good right now. It’s great to be able to make another Satan album and have so many fans liking it and getting all of the great reviews we’ve had. I would like to thank everyone for their support.

Metalfan: Thank you so much for your time. In the end I would like you to tell me about a place you never been but you would like to go there and play.
Steve Ramsey: Japan is the place I would love to go and play the most. I listened to a lot of live albums recorded in Japan when I was younger like Tokyo Tapes (1978) and Unleashed in the East (1979).
Autor: H., Gina S.
   June 08, 2013  | 0 Comments  | 5109 Views « BACK

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