Interview Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Live Gig reporter Myglobalmind Webzine
2013 was a landmark year for Voodoo Six.
Not only did they released a new album ‘Songs To Invade Countries To’, with the talents of powerhouse vocalist Luke Purdie helping garner positive critical reviews, they’ve also been main support on the legendary Iron Maiden’s ‘Maiden England’ European jaunt.
28 shows in 18 countries in arenas, stadiums and festivals, playing to an estimated 300,000 people, including ending the tour at a sold out O2 Arena in their hometown of London.
MyGlobalMind spoke to bassist, engineer, founder member and all round good guy, Tony Newton on the eve of their “STICT” show in London at the Underworld in Camden.
I’m really looking forward to catching up with you, because obviously you’ve got the connection with the Treatment as well, and we covered their gig at the academy a month or two ago.
Well Laurie (Mansworth – manager of the Treatment) and couple of guys are coming down tonight.
Are they really? Oh fantastic. And obviously you’ve got that connection with them through engineering the album and I managed to make a complete cock up with Rick as well when talking to him. His surname is so close to yours (Newman) so I ask him, “So what relation are you to Tony then?”.. No, No, it’s Newton not Newman. Easy mistake to make (laughs)
He’s like mini-me though isn’t he? (Laughter from the rest of the band in the dressing room) He does look like mini-me, yeah.
But you’re keeping yourself busy. So there’s another album you’re working on then?
I’m actually working on two at the minute for other people. One of them is the band The Raven Age (opening band who have just completed their set at The Underworld), which is actually sounding great. It’s really. That’s the first time I’ve actually seen them live. I’ve been obviously recording them and pretty impressed, really impressed yeah.
They’d be a logical support for you; It’s the right sort of sound, and your crowd I’d imagine.
I think so. They’re just looking to get some gigs under their belt for the minute, so they’re doing tomorrow as well with us in Milton Keynes. So I think we’ve got them in a few other shows as well. They just need to get playing. Get a little fan base running, you know.
So how long have they (The Raven Age) been together?
Well I’ve been sort of working on demos on and off with them for about the last couple of years. But, they were only really working with electronic drums and stuff, they didn’t have a drummer. It’s all really come together this year for them.
Yeah, I was going to say, that drummer that was playing on this evening, he looked….
Phenomenal! Really tight didn’t he? Yeah, phenomenal. But I think it’s only been, I would say, probably December since they’ve seriously had all members in, and it’s going really well for them.
They’re a really tight little unit. Superb. You’re obviously working on the album then, when are you hoping to get that out?
I don’t know. We’ve mixed four songs, got a few more bits of acoustic track, properly I would think maybe the autumn, something like that. Late summer or autumn.
Talking of mixing and producing albums, you’ve done your latest as well as The Treatment’s. All done at Steve’s (Harris of Iron Maiden) studios?
Yes, done at the Barnyard they call it. It’s just sort of a basement really; it’s about a half-hour from where I live. Steve sort of gives me a free reign to do what I want to. I really fought to put a new desk in it a few years ago, so I’ve made it my own really. And then he (Steve) likes it because when he’s over it’s a usable studio, whereas before he used to have a really old seventies Nave desk, which was absolutely fantastic. It was actually owned by The Who before Maiden. But it was so unreliable, and as the studio was not used a great deal it wasn’t ideal. Those sort of decks need to be left on 24 hours a day, when you fire them up they– causes problems. Power supplies etc.. Whereas if they’re on they’re on all the time and they’re still ticking over, they tend to last longer, you know. And there aren’t that many people who can fix them right now that used to be able to. It’s a bit of a dying art.
So you tend to wait until you’ve got a lot of problems with it, and then get one guy out to fix it, the lucky one guy. But not only that, it’s lots of down time. Any time you start recording album, there is always something going wrong. You have to wait, and then it takes them three days to come out. So, we decided the best thing to do is sell it, and just bring it up to date a bit. And so I did that some years ago. And I’ve done quite a lot of albums in there. It’s really, really working well.
So other than The Treatment…?
Yeah I’ve done– I’ve done Cockney Rejects. I did their album. I’ve done Maiden there; I’ve done mixes for Maiden there. So it gets a lot of use now. More than it used to really.
Your connection with the guys there isn’t just you’ve been using the studio for your own albums. You’re actually doing stuff for Maiden as well?
Yeah, I work all over the place, really. Wherever the people need me really, but I’ll do stuff in London and here when it’s local, so usually if someone asks me to do an album that’s my first port of call really, because I like it. It’s set up for me. I don’t have to,.. when you use another studio, there’s a bit of set up time every time you go in. With this one it’s basically, when I leave, it stays the same when I return. I haven’t got really a lot set out up do. So that’s my preference, to use there.
Whereabouts is it? Where are you based?
It’s Sheering, it’s just outside of Harlow. Essex.
So not many miles away by any means.
Last year when MGM reviewed your London show it was at the Garage, then all of a sudden you’re playing the O2.
That must have been something.
Well, it was but obviously there was an arena tour inbetween that, we’ve done all these arenas and festivals and stages around Europe. The weird thing was, the O2 is obviously massive. But, it was just the same as all the other ones we do in Europe so by the time we got there…
Because that was at the bottom end of the tour wasn’t it?
Actually that was the last day. So we’d been out there eleven weeks up until that day. You get used to it. When you first go out on those stone stages, everything’s so open. You know, the sound you’ve got to get used to, and this and that. But, by the time a few weeks roll on you bang into it, and the last one was just like the pressure really of any London show which is mainly the guests. You always have your family, you’re trying to get everybody in who wants to see you. And, of course you want all your family to get in to see you in a venue like that.
That’s the only stress of it, really. Whereas when you’re playing all around Europe, you don’t get that much. You can just enjoy it more. It was more of a stress for us, the London one, to be honest.
Simply because somewhere down there in the front, your family are watching or whatever.
“Did they get in okay”, and that sort of stuff. So that one was probably the most stressful of all of them, to be honest. But it was amazing to do it. It’s one of them venues, I mean I love AC/DC, I saw them there. It’s just– wow, you can’t believe it, really. You’re actually doing it. Also, we’ve done a fourteen camera shoot that night, as well. Which we’ve now got for whenever we want to do something with it. We filmed two like that on the tour, one in Sweden, as well.
So there’s a DVD of that coming out for me by Christmas then, is there?
Yeah, I recorded all the shows as well– not all of them, about 18. About 18 shows we recorded. So everything’s there to do that. And the new video, you know that got previewed by Classic Rock Magazine, their website…
Yeah. I was going to say, it only came out a week or so ago. Reception for that so far? Positive?
It’s been great. Yeah. I mean everyone keeps saying that’s the song you should have put out first. They love it. But you know, what can you do? You can’t sort of satisfy everyone, can you? And it’s sometimes difficult for the band to choose which song to be the lead track, because you like them all.
Sink or swim there’s a video for that too?…
Yeah. We did a video for that. We did a video for Falling Knives. And one for Your Way. So this is the fourth video from the album.
Yeah. And I’m going to say, Sink or Swim lends itself to your playing a little bit more than some of the others, because it’s got a nice bass line intro in it as well hasn’t it?
Was it picked by you?
No, to be honest with you, we didn’t pick any of them. You know, being a label thing, it was just, you know they pass it around and get some opinions.
What’s going to work, what isn’t.
It’s difficult for yourself to pick them. Because, you wouldn’t put one on an album if you didn’t like them. But it’s difficult, and I want ones they feel is going to be commercially a worker.
Any festivals in the summer?
Yeah, we’ve got festivals, we’re doing Sonisphere. Fourth of July, I believe. It’s a Saturday.
That’s the best day. Looking at the lineup?
Oh, it’s amazing. I reckon we’ve got the best day there, as well.
You’ve also got, a personal preference of mine, you’ve got Sisters of Mercy playing that day, as well.
And you’ve got the Winery Dogs, who are really good as well.
Brilliant album that’s just come out. Is that one of yours?
[laughter] Maybe, maybe the next one. [I’m going to come here and] twist his arm. But, we know Mike Portnoy because we’ve toured with Adrenaline Mob. So he contacts Joe, our drummer, a lot, and they get on well. So yeah, you know never know what might happen.
He’s put quite a bit up on your website, hasn’t he, about how much he likes it.
Yeah, he’s been really helpful, yeah.
So Sonisphere, that’s your main UK festival this year.
Yeah. We’ve got some others we can’t announce yet, because they want to announce it first, but there are some other European ones. And then we’re planning on.. we’re going out to Europe ourselves, I believe it’s September, we’ve got dates booked for France, Spain, Portugal, that sort of area.
So, album was middle of last summer, wasn’t it?
May. End of May.
End of May, was it? You’re a year in, several singles, presumably you’re already thinking about what’s next.
Yeah, me and Luke, we tend to do a lot of the writing, and we’ve got songs, we’ve got… It’s just when we find the time really all getting in to knock them into shape.
But no sort of concrete plans…
No, because we haven’t started to think about it yet. Until this one’s done with what we feel we can do with it. Obviously, we had a big year of it last year. And we just continue with it…I would like to get something recorded later this year.
But you’ve got your EP, your singles, whatever that’ll keep you ticking over–
Exactly and we’ve got the previous album being picked up by Universal as well. Fluke only got released in the UK, you see. It was released through a company called PowerAge, which was initially tied in with Classic Rock magazine. I don’t know what happened- but it didn’t quite go as planned.
We’re not– I think it was not us so much, but the label itself just went– it defunct, you know? The Treatment were on it initially, as well.
That’s right. Because didn’t you redo that (The Treatment debut)?
Yeah, that got redone. And then we obviously recorded the new one with them. But, I don’t know what happened, the label just didn’t ever get off the ground. It turned into just be a distribution company. No promos done. So, anyway, good thing was, because it went defunct we got the album back. So, because this one obviously is doing really well. They’ve agreed to pick up that one and they’re going to release that.
So, I believe that’s sort of going to come out around the time of Sonisphere, then we can start playing some of them songs again. And they still are in the set, and maybe we could get more of them in, and do a tour to promote that.
Tony.. best of luck with the show tonight, thanks for your time.