I’m very proud I got an opportunity to speak with the guys of Mythra (John and Vince), if you want to know something new about them – enjoy by this conversation!
Hi! Tell me about Mythra and far ‘70s, when you just started the band! Why did you decide to name the band with such title? Do you still remember those time?
John (Roach) – The history of Mythra is well documented in Malc Macmillan’s excellent book ‘The N.W.O.B.H.M. Encyclopedia’ but in a nutshell, Mo Bates and I started the band at school in about 1975 with Pete Melsom on bass and Kenny Anderson on Drums. We were just starting to figure stuff out at first. At that time the Band was called Zarathustra (from Also Sprach Zarathustra – 2001, A Space Odyssey was a popular film at the time and the theme music by Richard Strauss was inspired by the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche). When we told people the name of the band they always replied ‘Zara what?’ so we needed a name that was shorter and punchier. I used to read a lot of science fiction and was interested in the history of religion especially the similarities between the Persian Zoroastrianism and early Christianity, the transition from multiple gods to a single deity, particularly the cult of Mithras in Roman history. I changed the spelling and there was Mythra -a made up word that now appears in computer games and science fiction stories. Hahaha We only really became Mythra when Vince joined and then Barry Hopper on drums. We rehearsed on Friday nights at a youth club in the centre of South Shields and started to play gigs in youth clubs, pubs and working men’s clubs in the North East of England this was in 1978 and 1979. We have many great memories from that time as those were our formative years as people.
“Warriors of Time: The Anthology” compilation album was released last year. Who decided to put those songs on one CD?
Vince (High) – we were contacted by BART GABRIEL (CEO, SKOL RECORDS and GABRIEL MANAGEMENT) who was very keen to release a MYTHRA anthology album. We chose to link up and work with Bart for, as well as being a great music producer, he is also a massive Metal fan. This was important to us as we wanted to feel that our music was in safe hands. Bart did an awesome job remastering our songs for that album. He also brokered the incredible artwork which totally blew us away. Our fans love it!!! We cannot wait to link with him again in Poland when he produces our brand new studio album for High Roller Records. Scheduled for release in 2017.
Tell me more your plans regarding some new album from Mythra. There are more around 13 years has been passed since you released your last album “The Darkener”…
John – ‘The Darkener’ was never released, it was recorded at my house in 2000/01, all songs were written by Vince and myself and none of the other guys were involved. We tried to gain attention by sending out CDRs but there was a deafening silence, with no interest in MYTHRA as there is now. The recordings that made up ‘The Darkener’ are really just high quality demos. There are a few of the original CDRs out there all signed by me and marked copyright ©2001. The brand new MYTHRA studio album will be totally different as it is the full band at the height of its’ powers! We are currently rehearsing and demo-ing the songs. Getting them ready for when we link up with Bart for the recording.
Tell me please – how was it possible to save original line up during so many years
John – An interesting question as the current line up is not actually the full original band. Mo and Vince have been ever present but Alex [Perry] and I were never in MYTHRA at the same time. Our drummer Phil [Davies] was not in the original band either. Mo, Pete Melsom and I have remained friends since school but Pete was not interested in reforming. Mo eventually took over on bass duties so, for the first time, MYTHRA has two lead guitarists.
Hm, then I got wrong info from one source! Ok, where do you take all inspiration from?
John – From Science, the world around me, people and the Human condition.
Vince – Faith, the physical beauty in the world, and the goodness I see in regular people doing things on a daily basis to help others. There is genuine humanity and courage out there which is totally awesome.
In your opinion, what is the best way to define Mythra’s sound?
John – The MYTHRA sound is raw, aggressive energy…
Vince – Hell yes…Metal is in our DNA!
What are your main musical influences? How huge is their influence in your sound? And how did your musical tastes were changed year by year?
John – This is a big question. My musical influences stretch from the Beatles, through Blues, Rock and Metal. If I had to tie it down to a few bands I would have to say Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin and Motorhead. If I’m honest, I think we’ve tried to sound like every one of these bands at some point and it always comes out sounding like MYTHRA. In the 1980s my musical tastes changed and I got into American rock and metal, I was bought up in the 1960’s and everything American was bigger and better than what we had in the UK. It took me a while to regain my appreciation of European music and the impact it had on the whole world of music.
Vince – I became a teenage kid in the early 1970s and discovered Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath in real time which was incredible. Alongside Metal at that time there was also the emergence of Punk in the UK in the mid 70s. I loved the raw energy and attitude of the formative bands and in particular The Clash and early Sex Pistols recordings. I’ve said before that MYTHRA combined the musical ability of Metal with the attitude of Punk. That’s the essence of the MYTHRA sound for me and is the spirit that helped create the NWOBHM and what sets it apart from the first generation Metal bands. I’m still loving listening to all those bands today.
Is there some well-known musician in particular that you would like to use in one of your upcoming albums?
John – I would like to continue to work with the rest of the current MYTHRA guys. I’m not sure anyone else would fit in.
Vince – None for me. There are many well-known musicians I admire greatly but my first love is MYTHRA and those guys, first and foremost, are the ones I want to make music with. When we split back in the early 1980s I never got involved in any other band. That is why our reunion last year and current activity is so special to me. Our live work has been awesome, and recording our brand new studio album is going to be a fulfilling and also quite an emotional experience for me personally. I never thought I would ever see us back together…
Do you have any personal strategy for making your music heard by a larger audience?
Vince – High Roller Records will be releasing the brand new studio album in 2017. It will be available worldwide. Steffen Boehm, CEO at HRR has been awesome for MYTHRA. He released the double vinyl album version of our Anthology album earlier this year and he is backing us once again. His support ensures that Metal fans across the globe will be able to access our music. Once released we intend to get out on the road with live shows, do all the media work we can and also let the Internet work its magic too. Alongside that, we have incredible fans who continually spread the word through the likes of Facebook etc…
Do you have any other hobby beside music?
John – I am particularly interested in staying alive and have been pursuing this hobby for most of my life, I’m actually quite good at it. hahaha
Vince – Music, music, music…
Are you all supported by your relatives towards yourdevotion to music?
John – Absolutely, my parents and sisters are huge MYTHRA fans and my wife is awesome in her support.
Vince – Definitely for me too. Since our reunion show at BROFEST UK in February 2015 my wife has been incredibly supportive. She gives me great encouragement as she knows how much the band means to me. I am incredibly lucky to have her love… and understanding too!
How’s the metal scene in your local area right now? Is it easy to play gigs, to buy records etc there these days?
John – There is quite a healthy metal scene in the North East of England but there are not too many venues so bands need to travel a lot. Sometimes it seems that there are more bands than fans. hahahaha.
Thank you for answering my questions, see ya on the road!
John and Vince – Thank you too for your support, we’ll be out there soon…