While the story of Hell is well recorded, the band’s amazing new front-man David Bower is something of an unknown quantity to metalheads. We caught up with David after the recent album launch show to find out a little about him, and how he ended up fronting CackBlabbath’s favorite “new” metal band….
Rumour has it that you only went to the recording studio to do some voice overs for the album. How did you end up fronting the band ?
I did indeed go into the studio just to do the speech in Plague and Fyre…Andy asked if I fancied a go at the backing vocals on a couple of tracks, which I did while watching an inscrutable expression creep over his face. He gave me a ring later and asked me if I would like to try out a main vocal, so we did The Quest…then some more….and more…
Unlike the other new boy in the band finding information on you through the wonders of Google isn’t easy. Care to fill us in on a little of your background ?
I taught primary kids for ten years before accidentally getting involved in Am Dram – brother Kev had been asked to put a band together to play for Grease – the Musical by a local MD. I did the job and had such a laugh I joined the (mainly female and pretty!) company…a couple of years later I was approaching 30 and decided to leave teaching to become an actor. I went to drama school for a year and studied Classical acting, leaving in 1995. Since then I have done most things acting wise – loads of Shakespeare, much of it with Northern Broadsides (multiple award winning NORTHERN theatre company), touring plays, musicals in Europe, actor-musician shows (..I play guitar, mandolins etc,) west end musicals, pantos, a few films, radio plays, most of the tv potboilers from Corrie to Heartbeat, lots of voice stuff – I play Mr Lovebird in kid’s show 3rd and Bird, video games, adverts…oh and I performed at Buck house for the Queen’s 80th bash too. I like to mix things up and refuse to be typecast – Have played Colonel Gadaffi, Tony Blair, Prince Andrew, Kenny McGaskill and Jimmy Hill of late! Have mucked about in various bands over the years but nothing serious till now – have been away from home mostly to be fair, which limits musical outpourings.
I do know Andy is a legend and deservedly so – I have been lucky enough to work with a lot of people at the top of their game and he certainly is. I treated the recording like any voice job in a lot of ways – you prepare the material but have to be ready to change everything to suit the client’s needs. In this case we had to find a vocal style that was right as we wanted to honour Dave and his legacy, but try to find something new and contemporary (i.e. more aggressive) sounding for the modern market. I hope we did! He works you hard, but that’s why the results are good – I like to be pushed and to be honest, in the theatre when you are experienced, directors tend to let you get on with it, which I don’t always think is helpful – it can make you lazy. No chance of that here!
Hell are a very theatrical band, but you take this to a whole other level. How would you say preparing for a gig compares to getting ready for an acting role, or are they pretty similar ?
I have certainly prepared for this like I prepare acting roles, because it IS a character, no doubt about it. Much of it is prepared, but the live situation is more fluid than a theatre show as the audience are directly involved and you use your instincts and experience to deal with whatever happens. I learned a tremendous amount on Friday as it was my first gig fronting a band like this, it’s a learning curve and a half. I think I know what to work on for future outings now, certainly – they say one gig is worth many rehearsals and they’re right
How was the album launch gig for you ? You didn’t look that nervous from where I was standing.
The launch gig WAS amazing, it went by at a ridiculous speed so I felt I never got to settle in a way, but most opening nights are like that – you are totally focused on delivering it correctly from a technical point of view and can forget to enjoy it..you certainly don’t relax the way you do later on. I wasn’t really nervous about the show – I feel I have been given a great role with fantastic material – that is something all actor’s relish. There was a certain amount of expectation to deal with, as obviously we had all the fans in from back in the day who were used to seeing Dave. I tried to strike a balance between honouring that and ignoring it, the latter of which I have had to do in order to make it mine. I must say the response has been humbling.
Your preaching from the pulpit right next to me during Plague and Fyre was one of the most intense (and scary) things I’ve ever seen at a gig. Do you think this will translate onto the bigger stages or will some of the impact be lost ?
Hmmmm, larger stages in Europe – well I certainly feel confident with the material we have to present..I have only a slight idea what to expect to be honest, I know it is a great aid to atmosphere when you have a smaller, dark venue that you have set up yourselves, but I think the music stands up as it is. The theatrical element is just that – an element, so I think we will be ok.
Which song do you enjoy performing the most ?
I like Blasphemy and the Master best – it’s my favourite track on the album…and…erm…I get to thrash myself in public!
Who came up with the barbed wire crown and red contact lenses look ? It’s pretty much instantly iconic.
I came up with “The look” – I wanted something instantly recognisable, I know from theatre how important that is. A lot of bands look the same now, we don’t want to. I think that will work on big stages too.
Do you see Hell as a long term thing, or is this a one off ?
I hope Hell will be a long term thing…we have a lot of material from the back catalogue yet to do and plenty of new stuff on the go also. Kev has several tracks in production as do I, in fact I have just sent him some lyrics for the potential second album opener. Andy has a bag of ideas and Tony too – it’s looking good and though I can’t comment on my own stuff, I can tell you that Kev’s new material is amazing.
Finally, the spirit of Dave Halliday lives on in the band, and in his songs. Did you know him, what was he like ?
I did know Dave, since back in the Race Against Time days and used to ferry him around a fair bit as he didn’t drive. He was as fabulous as everyone says – kind, generous, hilarious and daft as a brush, not to mention being incredibly talented. A very sad loss, not only to music, but to the world. We loved him. All of us.