Just how heavy are the Heavy Metal Kids? They peer at us from advertisements clad in top hats, patched jeans, braces, big boots and flat caps. And it comes as no surprise to hear they do their shopping for clothes at the flea markets of Paris.
Musically they are not as heavy as say yer Black Sabbath or Uriah Heep. But they do have a refreshing, bubbling appeal that is already luring a loyal following among those who thirst for uncomplicated rhythm.
The heavy bands always do well in times of growing musical complexity.
If the preponderance of album releases and concerts veers towards those who dabble in arrangement or far-out improvisation, then a boogie band will emerge to counter-balance their influence.
No bad thing really, and the Heavy Metal chaps are not an inexperienced bunch of cheeky upstarts. They have all paid their musical dues in a variety of settings.
Gary Holton is the face with the top hat, lead singer and contortionist. The rest of the Metallic Ones are Danny Peyronel (keyboards and vocals), Mickey Waller (lead guitar), Ronnie Thomas (vocals, bass guitar), and Keith Boyce (drums).
Mickey (no relation to the drummer), was suffering from a hangover when he arrived at the MM this week. Despite a bleary-eyed unshaven appearance, his hairy chest caused some gasping among the MM's staff of young ladies. who seemed intent on joining the fan club without delay.
"I used to be a Mickey Finn" revealed Mickey as he sank a reviving pint in a nearby pub.
The name seemed familiar - not the chap who beats a mean bongo for Marc Bolan? "Nah - I left England in 1969 to work in the Bahamas. Laurie O'Leary of the Speakeasy was our manager. We were a reggae and bluebeat band then, and we had two hits in Jamaica".
"Coals to Newcastle indeed." I observed.
"Yeah" said Mickey, "Then we broke up, but I stayed living in the sunshine. Then I came back and joined a band that became the basis of this one, down in Portsmouth. They needed a guitar player so I joined and then the drummer left to join the Glitter Band. The drummer we've got now used to be with Long John Baldry. We've been together nine months now."
"We were working in France at first and made an LP there called 'Legs'. Then Gary joined us and we started doing the Speakeasy. In fact we didn't have a name then, we were just called the Heavy Metal Kids playing at the Speak and we got stuck with the name. We never set out to have an image it just happened naturally. We haven't got a lot of money and we used to buy all our clothes at the flea markets when we were in Paris".
"I remember when we used to rehearse in abandoned beach huts in St. Tropez and the woman who owned the beach would give us odd jobs, building patios and cooking. But then the LP took off in France and gave us the money to get back to England."
"The first thing that happened was getting a contract with Atlantic, but it took a long time to get our first album for them together, because of personnel changes. We're basically a hard rock band. We're not over pretentious and the music is pretty basic. We all do the writing, and we play to the people and give them what they like. They want to watch us and get up and dance and have a good time. They have a laugh with the band and enjoy themselves. We've worked with Uriah Heep, Humble Pie and Nazareth and done most of the colleges and festivals."
"We didn't get an incredible reaction on the Uriah Heep tour it's true. But they are a very hard audience. As soon as you come on stage, they're yelling for Heep."
"But we like what we do and our confidence is growing all the time. We're turning out a lot of material and we go to the States in September. We don't feel we are in competition with the other heavy bands. If we see a good band, we can learn from them, and we've got our own good following."
"All the guys are experienced - Gary was in Hair for a long time, and we're hoping to expand our theatrical presentation as well as the music. Danny, our keyboard player, is from the Argentine and is only 20, but he's been with lots of bands over there, and Keith Boyce toured America before he toured England."
"Lots of bands take themselves too seriously, but we find the audiences we work to like to have a laugh and talk to us afterwards. We're not amazingly special you know! But things seem to be happening for us - almost too quickly. There's no time to organise anything."
Although Mickey claims the band are much heavier "live" than they are on the album he denies they are "incredibly loud." "We are loud, and our drummer is the loudest in England. But people have criticised us about this without even seeing us. We always get off on the music and take the audience with us. Technique isn't so important - it's the fee!".
"And we all get on really well with each other, and that's the basis of any good band. We all knew each other before we every played together. We're doing some singles, but we're not really aiming for the singles market. We put out an edited version of 'Rock And Roll Man' off the LP because it was getting a lot of radio play. But we're very much a live band y'know."
Heavy Metal Kids are co-managed by Ricky Farr of Isle of Wight festival fame and now proprietor of a sound hire firm.
"Ricky has all the ideas, and Laurie gets them all together," avowed Mickey.
If their management can wield these rhythmic ruffians into a team, then we can expect many a riveting performance 'ere long.
Special thanks to Keith Boyce for his help with this article. Cheers mate!