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Stairway

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My first introduction to Stairway was a review of their debut-album in a Dutch zine. The reviewer mentioned in the review that the band existed for more than ten years. Until recently I heard no music from this band. Though this band is not at all new to the scene, I thought it was a good idea to do an introductional interview.

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Interview with: The whole band.

Date: November 9th 1999

Where: This is an E-mail interview. Date refers to date first mail.

Bandmembers: Graeme Leslie (vocalist & guitarist) Rob Jennens (bass), Andy Edwards (drums), Pete Jennens (guitar)

Band's Hometown: Atherstone, United Kingdom

Discography: No Rest: No Mercy (1993), Bleeding Heart (1999)

Contact Address: Website coming up. 48 Radford Close, Aldermill Grange, Atherstone. Warwickshire.CV9 3LA. England. E-mail: stairway.deoduce@virgin.net

Interview by: MPO

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When exactly did the band start?

(Graeme) The band began life in October 1978, which seems a heck of a long time ago now!! We started whilst still in High School with four members: Graeme Leslie, Robert Jennens, Peter Jennens and a friend, whose name escapes me, but left after only a few months, this left the three of us. Andrew Edwards joined us in 1982 as drummer. Up to this point, Pete had been on drums, but with Andy moving in there, Pete was able to take his rightful place on the lead guitar. It comes as quite an advantage sometimes having the potential of two drummers in the band.

(Pete) I had been practicing the guitar for quite a few months previous to Andy coming in, and I wanted to put all this practice to use. Fortunately for me, my frustrations were satisfied when Andy took his place behind the kit.

As I understand it, the band's line-up hasn't changed since 1982. How do you manage to have such a stable line-up?

(Andy) As I am the newest member of the band- if you can call 17 years at the back new!!, I'll answer this one. I feel, that we are not so much a band, we are more a family, and we react to each other as one would if we were all from the same family.

(Rob) Yes, and even though over the times we've had our spells of arguments and disagreements- sometimes almost coming to blows, we respect each other for our different talents and abilities, which we reckon adds to the flavour of the band as a whole- I should say, that stability comes with time. If line-ups change too frequently, then stability might never be realised!

It took until 1993 before the debute-album was released. Why took it so long before you released something? Or did you make demos in the time previous to that?

(Graeme) We recorded quite a few demos in different studios from around 1983/84- it was a good learning curve for us and great to gain experience in how studios work and how we actually sounded. We recorded a demo in 1988 which we sent to Kingsway Music- and it was on the strength of that, that we were signed in 1989 to be part of the compilation album 'Last Ship Home' they were producing featuring 5 White Metal bands. We recorded 2 tracks for that and the deal was, that we would record one further complete album of our own, which was 'No Rest : No Mercy' released in 1993. Kingsway, I think, lost heart a bit with Metal, so our contract was never renewed. It didn't stop us as a band though, we continued working the live scene in the UK and took up nearly 3 years, which brings us to almost where we are now!

As the band exists for more than twenty years now, I wonder what keeps you moving. What, in your eyes, makes it worth moving on?

(Graeme) Really, I suppose, determination to succeed is what keeps us going. We want to reach an even wider audience than where we are at the moment- and although we've released 2 albums, there's a huge audience out there who've never heard of Stairway and what we stand for. I think this is what drives us most. We also get letters from people who have got 'No Rest-' and are eager to hear the latest material- and the fact that it's been 6 years between releases and people are still interested, is a real boost and keeps us moving on!

Have your dreams, as it comes to the band, changed through the years?

(Rob) Our dreams, or ambitions, tend to change as we reach certain goals, but then, other ambitions take their place and we then set high goals to reach for. It was a dream to be signed by a label and have an album released. We realised that dream with 'No Rest-', and that in itself opened up more ambitions for us to reach for, such as, a second album and reaching more people with that, than we did with the first. So our ambitions are changing and moving on all the time!

I'm not totally familiar with the UK hard music scene. I mean   the Christian bands that you're part of. I only know of bands that have been around a long time like Ashen Mortality and AND. I also know there's an annual conference called Meltdown in Shropshire, I think. Can you tell what's current at the moment as it comes to bands?

(Graeme) We tend not to have much contact with other Christian bands in the UK. I don't think there are many who still survive from the early days, except perhaps, Ashen Mortality, who rose from the ashes of Seventh Angel. We tend only to gig the secular scene most of the time, and don't have much contact with the Christian band scene. We have, in the past, been involved with the Cross Rhythms and Greenbelt Festivals when White Metal was on the up, but as it is rather quiet now-a-days. We don't do much there, which is a shame, because there are still those who want to hear it- we just need to convince the 'powers that be' to take notice.

And what about opportunities to play live?

(Andy) Very scarce!

(Rob) and quite difficult!

(Pete)  It can be quite frustrating sometimes not being able to play as frequently as we would like here in the UK, or reach the audience we want to. Europe seems to be the market where Rock hasn't become alienated to other genre of music, and sales of the new album seem to prove that.

(Graeme) Previous to the release of 'Bleeding Heart' we gigged   for almost 3 years, which isn't bad considering the Rock scene in the UK is almost non-existent. We have managed to keep our heads above water though. There is a rumbling on the underground scene, and it pops its head up now and again. There are still a lot of good traditional rock bands around, but the UK has never really been a particularly Rock orientated Country, as opposed to Europe where it never died. But there's still hope!!

Any last comment?

(Graeme,Rob,Andy,Pete) We would just like to send our best regards to everyone, and may God bless us all.

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