Uh… Actually this interview was made while very sad times for the band… Former lead vocalist Mike “Taffy” Taylor passed away recently… That was really sad news for fans etc, but this is very deep lost for the musicians mostly… So, RIP Mike “Taffy” Taylor, you’ll be always in our hearts!
Hi! Tell me about Quartz and ‘70s. Do you remember those days?
The band QUARTZ actually came to fruition back in 1977 and hail from Birmingham in England the “home” of heavy metal. However, the band had been working the UK music scene for four years prior to this under the name of Bandy Legs. It is often said that if you can remember the 70’s then you were never actually there! We ALL remember those times quite fondly as the band had some initial success with the self-titled debut album release and tours with Black Sabbath and AC/DC. Maybe today when we look back we are perhaps being a bit nostalgic and viewing things through our rose tinted spectacles that we have to wear these days?
“Fear No Evil” album will be released on October 2016. Do you feel you have put album into masses without any wishes to change something now?
The new album is how we wanted it to be. Obviously you can, in retrospect, think of small changes you could make but that could go on forever. Most musicians are perfectionists so with whatever you do you want it to be the best it can be always striving for improvement and to be better than before.
Tell me more about “Fear No Evil”? Album conception etc…
Initially band member Geoff Nicholls was contacted by a film director friend who sent him the story board to a zombie film project that he was in development with. He wanted the band to compose a couple of tracks that could be used in the sound track possibly. We wanted to write songs in a very heavy and dark style to suit the film but wanted them to be strong enough to stand up on their own merit also. Once we got started we found in no time at all we had a whole albums worth of songs. So no “conception” process as such just perhaps some “unfinished business”?
So, aforementioned album is something like triumphant return after TWENTY THREE years of silence! What are you feels guys? So long break and you on riding again, hehe!
It’s actually over THIRTY THREE years since our last studio album release!! We are extremely excited and proud of what we have accomplished with the new album. We feel it contains some of the best and heaviest stuff we have written and recorded to date. We can only hope that our fans and the general public are of the same opinion when it is released at the end of next month (28/10/2016).
And, let’s say – now Quartz line-up looks the same like in was 40 years ago!!!!!! How was it possible to save line-up in such way? Have you met each other while band break? I assume you are true metal friends, hehe!!
That’s correct… The current line-up contains four of the five original band members from 1973 ie Mick Hopkins (lead guitar), Malc Cope (drums), Dek Arnold (bass), Geoff Nicholls (guitar, keyboards & vocals) and new lead vocalist David Garner. Maybe “new” lead vocalist is somewhat stretching the truth a bit as David was actually in the band back in 1981 until 1982 when he was recommended to us by a good friend as an ideal replacement for original vocalist Taffy Taylor who had decided he was going to leave the band to pursue a different musical avenue. We have always remained very close friends with each other and always kept in touch and continued playing and making music through various side projects and ventures.
Your last album (Against All Odds – 1983) was released by Heavy Metal Records, since they still active, haven’t you spoke with them about new cooperation? Alternatively, why you have chosen an underground label High Roller records instead? Maybe you had some copyright/financial problems with HMR back then?
We recently worked with Bart Gabriel from Skol Records and he kindly introduced us to Steffen Boehm at High Roller Records. We have been really impressed by both labels and more than delighted with what they have been able to do for us with regards to releases, exposure and promotion so far. Hopefully we can try to take things to the next level with the album “Fear no Evil” but only time will tell as no-one has a crystal ball regarding these things and nothing can be taken for granted in the music business as we know from previous experiences.
Where do you take all inspirations now and where did you took them in the past? Are there the same sources, life views etc?
We have taken personal inspiration from some of the bands we have supported and admired in the past. Our inspirations for our songs have always come from several different sources. Manycome from our life experiences, some come from our imagination and our dreams, otherscome from stories or books that we have read and films or TV programs that we have watched. Sometimes a song will come just from a riff or a germ of an idea that is further developed over a period of time. Local and worldwide news and topical events can also be drawn on. Everyone in the band tries to contribute to the song writing process and no subjects are taboo really.
In your opinion, what is the best way to define Quartz’s sound? What is the main difference (from your point of view) from, let’s say – “Stand Up and Fight”? I mean not a sound quality, but completely inner structure, feelings etc…
If we were pushed for an answer we would have to say possibly “heavy rock” and that is why we chose the name QUARTZ to reflect our musical style that we were developing back in 1977. However we are British and had a faster and slightly more aggressive sound but still retained good melodies and choruses so was dubbed at the time rightly or wrongly “NWoBHM” after the short lived Punk Rock explosion has fizzled out. With regards to the “Stand Up and Fight” album Geoff Nicholls had just left to help his good friend Tony Iommi in Black Sabbath which meant we continued on as a four piece outfit. We had just been signed by MCA Records and they wanted product like yesterday so everything was written and recorded within about ten days. We worked closely with Derek Lawrence as our producer on that album and he managed to get the best out of us whilst working to budget and a very tight time frame. The resultant album is considered by some music aficionados’ still today as one of the best examples of the NWoBHM genre of its time.
So, are you on hiatus now again, just relaxed and looking for album feedbacks, or did you started to compose new stuff immediately? What about some EU/US tour for example? Do you feel your self like a young men I hope?
Definitely not… Life’s too short and you never know what is waiting around the next corner. So whilst we are still fit enough and able to do so we decided to begin writing again almost immediately after the new album was completed. We have a couple of new songs already completed, a few more near completion and some ideas for others well into the early development stage. Although Geoff Nicholls is unwell at the moment and hasn’t been able to perform live with us for a whilenow he is still quite prolific at writing and composing in the comfort of his own home.
We would love to do an American tour as we have never played there before and definitely more European festivals because of the amazing reactions we have received so far in Germany, Sweden and Belgium. There are a lot of new young fans out there who are into the band and perhaps seeing us for the first time after discovering us on YouTube and via the internet?
What are your favorite rock/metal albums from nowadays scene? Do you think nowadays scene just sucks in comparison with ‘80s?
There is so much great music out there these days and it is so easy to access which is so very different from back when we started out. There is some amazing young talent out there with incredible skills. These are supplemented by many great muscians and bands that are still going strong from when we where starting out too so the scene is healthy but the competition is fierce.
Is there some well-known musician (maybe even some friend of yours) in particular that you would like to use in one of your upcoming albums?
One or two friends obviously spring to mind that could enhance certain songs of ours for example we would love to work with Tony Iommi again. So with the history and the connections the two bands share allied with the fact that Black Sabbath are calling “The End” to proceedings early next year maybe that could become a reality rather than just a possibility?
What is your personal strategy for making your music heard by a larger audience?
Music promotion has totally changed these days but is still driven by financial backing and having a good team around you. Digital skills are essential today with the internet and social media being pivotal and key elements for music promotion. As such we have our own official facebook page www.facebook.com/QuartzBackintheBand and a website www.quartztheband.co.ukso please check them out when you get chance. Also hopefully sites like yours, and others, will help get our message out there and by playing more gigs and festivals to help promote the new album we can reach a larger audience and convert some to fans of the band.
Do you have any other hobby beside music?
MICK HOPKINS – Tracing my family tree and exploring conspiracy theories
MALC COPE – Trying to keep fit and active so I can continue to play the drums
DEK ARNOLD – Travelling and caravan holidays in Wales
GEOFF NICHOLLS – Reading books especially Science Fiction and Horror genres
DAVID GARNER – Karate and playing with and spoiling the grandchildren
What about your families? Are you all supported by your relatives towards your devotion to music?
Yes we have been fortunate enough to have families and friends who understand and support fully our passion for and our dedication to music. We have had to make several sacrifices along the way in pursuance of our dreams and so have our loved ones too. Some of us needed to put our families first at times which resulted in us leaving the band or putting things on hold for several years but despite some setbacks we have never lost our enthusiasm or drive.
How’s the metal scene in Birmingham right now? As far as I know, there are always some gigs etc… Is it easy to play gigs, to buy records etc there these days?
Everything has changed now it’s the same in most big cities these days with not so many venues to play and the local scene is not so well supported unless your play one of the larger venues. There are not many record shops either except “The Diskery” and perhaps one or two others. Most of the time we buy our records online, in charity shops, from car boot sales or at specialist record fairs. It’s certainly not anything like it was when we started out all those years ago now sadly.
Thank you for answering my questions, see ya on the road!
You are most welcome and thanks for this opportunity to talk to you. If you do get the chance to see us on the road please be sure to come up and say hello as it would be great to put a face to the name.
Since writing this article the band has learned of the untimely passing of their former lead vocalist Mike “Taffy” Taylor. Quartz would like to take this opportunity to pay their respects to a great front man and vocalist and to a wonderful friend and person. Ours sincere condolences and deepest sympathies go out to his family at this most difficult and upsetting time. R.I.P. TAFF.