Hintf Interview

Interview Black Alice

By: Miguel Ribeiro

Hintf: Thank you for answering this interview! What were your expectations when all began? 

Alice: We were playing AC/DC covers three times a week live on stage as ‘Gipsy’ in a Perth metal gig called Blazers, and never thought we’d do much more than that. But when we met Gary Keady a record producer from Sydney, everything changed. That was all because he’d been working in London with heavy metal bands, knew AC/DC and figured when he heard us we had what it takes.

Hintf: Why first the name of the band was Gipsy?

Alice:  I dunno, we just came up with it. Sort of made sense all of us sort of music gypsies going from one cover band to another in Perth. The metal scene was like that at the time: only a few bands and you moonlighted with them … you know, I’d jump up on stage and blow with the band doing ‘Smoke on the Water’, ‘TNT’ or other covers.

Hintf: Why the name Black Alice?What does it mean?

Alice:  Gary came up with the name. Once we started working with him and writing songs of our own and with him, we sort of discovered a common post apocalyptic message in our lyrics. It’s most prevalent in the song ‘Hall of the Ancient Kings’ by Gary and his co-writer John Vallins, but it’s there in all of them really. Then Gary figured that Alice Springs, a small town in the desert of Central Australia, would go from being a red desert to black if there was ever a nuclear strike there. It would be hit because a big American satellite tracking station called Pine Gap is nearby. The idea galvanized us. So the image on the front cover of our first album ‘Endangered Species’ reflects that. The guy in a gas mask all singed, burnt, black and smoldering standing in front of Uluru the sacred rock near Alice Springs – hence Black Alice. A bit of trivia, when Gary took the masters of the album to London to get a record deal Street Tunes they wanted it so bad they asked for the album artwork to be done immediately. The band was back in Perth, so we asked Gary to stand in for us on the front cover shot. So that’s Gary our producer on the cover all singed, burnt and smoking 

Hintf: What are the main differences from now to when you guys began?

Alice:  There’s less melody in the songs and a lot more thrash. But it’s fuckin’ mighty, I love what bands are doing nowadays. They can get a heaps more level on tape and at gigs these days.

Hintf: What influences your music and lyrics?

Alice:  All the traditional HM bands of the 60s and 70s: Electric Flag, Hendrix, Steppenwolf, The Who, Pistols, Acca Dacca, Zeppelin, Floyd, Deep Purple and in the 80s, Iron Maiden, Motorhead.

Hintf: Consider yourself a Heavy Metal band?

Alice:  Yeah, much in the same way AC/DC consider themselves HM.

Hintf: Please tell us more about your new album “Sons of Steel”…

Alice:  The band split up after ‘Endangered Species’ … we had irreconcilable differences. I got a call from our producer Gary who was pretty bummed out by our spitting up after all the work he’d put in on the album and getting us a tour support in Europe. He told me he’d written the screenplay for a heavy metal short film called ‘Knightmare’ and wanted me to star in it as a character called Black Alice. I dug the idea and flew to Sydney. We recorded the song ‘Knightmare’ and then shot the film. It was a science fiction flick set in the future after a world nuclear war had stuffed everything. Though it was only 12 minutes long it took a week to shoot on 35 mm. I played a hologram that performs the song in what’s left of museum underground after Sydney had been blown away. Anyhow, Gary then took the film around the world playing it at festivals and in Heavy Metal discos in Europe. I went back to Perth and worked as a bricklayer. Years later I got a call from Gary. He’d written the screenplay for the movie version of ‘Knightmare’ and had raised the money to produce it. The film was to be a science fiction heavy metal musical starring Black Alice. He flew me to Sydney and Steve James (producer) in from London and we went about reforming the band Black Alice to record songs that would feature in the film and then released as the band’s second album. Jamie Page lead guitar from the original band agreed to join and then we got Scott Johnston on drums and Andy Cichon on bass, both of them originally from the famous Aussie hard rock band Rose Tattoo. Gary had written a bunch of songs with his brother Rod and long time composing partner John Vallins and we went into Rich Studios in Sydney to record. Ten songs ended up in the movie. Amongst them a kickarse cover of the famous Thunderclap Newman song from 1969, ‘Something in the Air’.

Hintf: How do you think the fans ands the media will receive it? 

Alice: : It’s different than the first album but with the same producers Steve James and Gary Keady. There are killer tracks on it. The title track ‘Sons of Steel’ is a belter. But hey, you can’t make records for people you can only do what you do best. I like to think the album has the ingredients of great 80s metal with the distinctive Black Alice sound – blistering guitar solos from Jamie, typical Alice power vocals, bone shattering kit and killer bass – all raw energy with melody – good melody. Songs with substance that you’ll remember.

Hintf: Tell us more about the music scene in Perth…

Alice: The Perth music scene was mighty in the 80s with bands performing cover songs from famous bands before massive crowds at gigs in pubs. So the bands learned how to play great songs because they were covering all the hits. When they got around to writing their own songs they had the formula down for success – so as a consequence a lot of great bands came out of Perth in the 80s. But video killed the radio star and over time the venues for live music were shut down and with it the industry that spawned the bands died. So it’s fucked now, like it is in most of Australia where once the proliferation of live music venues had spawned bands like INXS, AC/DC, Crowed House and Midnight Oil – the future for HM in Aussie is grim.

Hintf: What are your plans for the future?

Alice: Roll with the punches. Gary Keady has written the book of the film called ‘Sons of Steel book 1’ and it goes to dark places we could never go in the film. It has given Black Alice immortality. He has got six books in the series written, so Black Alice has gone from having a stage presence to being a HM science fiction time traveller, thumping the shit out of all kinds of monsters, aliens and arseholes. Check it all out on the website www.sonsofsteel.rocks

Hintf: Imagine you guys are recording a new album, and can choose anyone to be your special guest who would it be?

Alice: The guys I’d choose are all dead. Bon Scott would have been my first choice then Lemmy – but I suppose Robert Plant coz at least he’s still kicking.

Hintf: Please define Black Alice in only one word…

Alice: Kickarse.

Hintf: What you guys know about Portugal?  

Alice: I went to Barcelona a few years ago, so I came close to going there. I’m a big reader and read lots about the Knights Templar who had a lot to do with Portugal. You have a great football players there and I think I remember a HM band in the 80s Tarantula from there with a killer guitar player … Paul Barros (just Googled him), his brother on drums.

Hintf: Would you like to leave a special message to your fans in Portugal?

Alice: : Yeah, go to <www.sonsofsteel.rocks> get hold of the albums and the book – become a fan – he’s better than Dr Who. The movie will be coming your way soon. You’ll dig Alice, you people in Portugal have passion in your blood and you’ll find the same thing in all things Black Alice and Sons of Steel — Later dudes!

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