Killer Elite - 1985 - Neat
MembersS= Middle Earth, Black Leather, Talisman, Ripped Panties, Kashmir, Anvil, Blitzkrieg, Unter Den Linden>>Brian Ross>>Satan, Blitzkrieg, Metalizer - Satan>>Ian Davison Swift>>Atomkraft, Cardinal Synne
G= The Horst>>Steve Bird - John Brownless - Lee Cheetham - Hot Ice, Metalwolf, Telepath, Psychopath>>Greg Reiter>>Ghost Dance Tribe, Savage Pagan Zombies, Highway Chile, Bitch Boy, Solo
B= Bondage, Anthem, Strapeddo, McKitty, Axe Victim, Blitzkrieg, Unter Den Linden>>Mick Moore
D= The Horst, Unter Den Linden, Ice Jungle, Blitzkrieg, Hurricane, Ghetto Messiah>>Gary Young>>Ice Jungle, Blitzkrieg, Hurricane, Ghetto Messiah
HistoryAvenger came into being when former Blitzkrieg members Moore and Ross relocated to Newcastle from Leicester and formed the band with drummer Gary Young. The latter had been in Unter Den Linden with Moore and Ross. Steve Bird, who was a band-mate of Young in The Horst, soon completed the line-up. Mick Moore, Brian Ross and Gary Young had met in Unter Den Linden which was founded by one Malcome Midwood. Much of the material from this band ended up on Blood Sports.
The band was formed in 1982 and appeared on Neat sampler One Take, No Dubs (a.k.a. Live In The Studio EP) with the song Hot And Heavy Express. The sampler showed up on Melody Maker's Heavy Metal Charts. It is at that point that the band did a famous singer-swap with Satan! That is Swift came in from Satan and Ross relocated to, er, Satan. Ross had left because of musical, lyrical and image differences with his band-mates. Steve Bird left the band due to hearing problems and was replaced by John Brownless who appeared on the Too Wild To Tame single of 1983. The music on this single was originally meant for Blitzkrieg and recorded by that band in late 1981, but never released.
Lee Cheetham, who had already guested with Avenger, now officially joined the act. A short time later Brownless left the fold. Nevertheless, Avenger headed for Continental Europe and performed gigs in the Benelux.
Avenger recorded its debut and headed back to mainland Europe for shows. Accompanying the band on second guitars was none other than 'Ginger' who would go on to The Wildhearts as a live guest. Greg Reiter was an American who joined the band via an advertisement he had placed in Kerrang. As fate would have it, the advertisement was placed across another advertisement depicting Avenger's album! The quartet had nevertheless auditioned a few other budding singers. Reiter had previously played in bands called Telepath and Psychopath with Smith and Kiefer respectively of Cinderella/Britney Fox and Cinderella. He was the replacement for Cheetham who had played on Bloodsports. Darren Kurland replaced Young. The band filmed three video clips in the 80's and had Liege Lord support them on a few gigs in the USA. Incidentally, Greg's wife, Nancy, was a featured actress in the aforementioned videos. Keith Nichols, who had worked with Venom, had also produced Avenger. Avenger broke up for good in 1986 amidst internal tensions once returning from America. The band had turfed drummer Gary Young before the tour. Alternatively, the story goes, Young had had to deal with health issues. Mick Moore went into band management and resided in the Toronto-area in Canada for a while.
There were rumours of a reunion in the mid-'90s which came to naught. The turn of the century brought re-releases by Sanctuary Records and Frontline Records of Brazil. There were also plans for several South American shows. Avenger began making plans for a tour and festival appearances in 2005 when Moore reclaimed his bass guitar. The line-up featured members Gary Young and Mick Moore. The reformed band set up an English tour for June as openers for Y&T. The band was also playing at HOA in Germany on July 7th and the NWOBHM festival in Hoorn, Holland in October. The line-up was Ian Swift - vocals, Gary Young - drums, Mick Moore - bass, Glenn S Howes (Blitzkrieg/Tygers Of PanTang/Earthrod/The Reign) and Liam Thompson both on guitar. The band changed its name to Avenger UK in 2007 in order to avoid confusion given the existence of several bands with the same name. Mick Moore, who had in effect left in late 2005, asserted his ownership of the band's name and catalogue as well. The band also recruited guitarist Sean Jeffries and bassist Huw Holding. Howes was fired after having a falling out with Ian and Gary. Avenger UK was playing live in Europe in tandem with preparations for the release of a new album. The band has scheduled shows on the 13th and 14th July at Headbangers Open Air in Elmshorn, Germany, with Candlemass, Sinner, Malice, Hollow Ground and others. The band was next playing on the 22nd of September at the Metieval Festival Beverly UK with Skyclad, Talamaskar, Heathen Foray and Heat Ray. Finally, the band is playing on the 9th and 10th of November at the Hard Rock Hell in Maidenhead UK with Cradle Of Filth, Twisted Sister, Ufo, Girlschool, Saxon and many more. In the meantime, an album entitled The Slaughter Never Stops which was due in 2006, was not issued because the recording quality was deemed inadequate by the band. The session, which was taped with assistance from Demolition Records, was demoted to pre-production status and the band hoped to record an album - now called The Slaughter Continues - in late 2007 instead with Fred Pursers (Tygers Of Pan Tang) at Trinity Heights Studio. Brian Ross had a new band called Metalizer in 2010. The band wanted to cover old NWOBHM cuts and featured Glenn S. Howes (Blitzkrieg and Tygers Of Pan Tang) on guitar and Alan Ross on second guitar and Huw Holding (also Avenger) on bass. A drummer was being sought. In 2010, former singer Ian Davison Swift formed Cardinal Synne. Avenger bassist Huw Holding was also involved. All members used the ‘brother’ title.
InterviewsStatement by Mick Moore:
Contrary to what was stated on the Avenger UK web site that I was sacked from the band, the truth is I had no contact with Gary Young prior to this announcement since December 2005 when he emailed me to say that he had fired Glenn S Howes and asked Tony Liddle to join. During our brief reunion in 2005 it would be fair to say that there was a less than amicable situation between myself and Ian Swift, there is a long standing history between us.
Gary also stated in that email that he had written an album with Tony Liddle that was basically what they had written in a previous band Ghetto Messiah, this would be the new Avenger album. During the last 12 months whoever was the administrator for the Avenger web site used it as a tool to make personal attacks on myself and to post various untrue and malicious statements about Brian Ross and Blitzkrieg whom I may add remains a close friend. The only reason the situation with Avenger remained as it did for an entire year was due to far more important life events that needed attending to. People should perhaps also question why Glenn and Tony came and went without any explanation. I am too long in the tooth to be involved in situations like this, certain people perhaps need reminding they are in their 40s and not teenagers anymore. I wrote to Gary recently and suggested that as he had a new band, new material, they should use a new name and have a totally fresh start, IF the songs are good enough what difference does it make what you are called? He has chosen to try and use a version of the Avenger name as a selling point but as he is aware I legally own the copyright to the Avenger music and images and have refused them permission to use any copyright material. I would like to add I have no intention of using the Avenger name myself in the future, contrary to what some have posted on the old Avenger forum I have been writing and recording with various musicians, however I am more than happy to have the music judged on how it sounds and not on what name it goes by.
Most metal fans have heard the murmurings within the scene of peculiar goings on recently within the Avenger camp. First, founding member Mick Moore was out. Second he was replaced by a couple of newcomers. Then the crusading NWOBHM band announced a monicker change in order to avoid confusion with other similarly named bands. Each development seemingly odd in the eyes of the fans including those at Metallian Towers. It was time to get hold of the aforementioned bassist, when he issued an exclusive statement to Metallian early last week, in order to have him take up the story and explain the circumstances. – 07.04.2007
MICK: I guess I was the main man in Avenger. Originally I thought of the name Avenger. I wrote virtually all of the music on the first album, Blood Sports. Maybe I am biased, but I always thought music is more important than the lyrics and I always concentrated on the music. I think most rock fans identify more with the music than the lyrics. I suppose people identified with me, sounds a bit vain, being one of the main guys in Avenger.
METALLIAN: It is my understanding that you were the instigator behind the band’s reformation in 2004.
MICK: Yeah, Gary and me really. We talked over a few pints in New Castle when I came back to England from Canada. Just prior to that I had managed to get the music re-released on CD in Brazil and then, it was coming towards the twenty-fifth anniversary of NWOBHM, Sanctuary released the music. We thought it would be fun to do a few festivals as a reunion, but to be honest with you I was against having Ian Swift back in the band for personal and musical reasons.
METALLIAN: Why was that?
MICK: Ian and I have a little bit of history on a personal level and I never rated him as a singer. Some people obviously like him, but to me he was an entertainer. He jumps off the stage and runs with the crowd. If you are a vocalist who stands there and sings then maybe people judge you by your vocal technique and range. I guess the showmanship element comes in too. Some people sacrifice that because it is entertaining to watch. These people replace vocal ability with showmanship. Does that make sense? It was quite funny to watch when he jumps on the people, but it doesn’t come across in the studio. The funny thing is that when we were doing both albums we had absolutely no input on what he would sing. We never ever heard the vocals. This sound ludicrous, but it is true. He wouldn’t let anyone into the studio – not even fellow band members. I heard the vocals only when the album was finished. It was bizarre. I thought ‘if you cannot do it in front of guys you play with, then how are you going to do it live?’ I suppose you would ask why we stayed with him all those years and the answer is there weren’t that many quality vocalists around. The guys who could sing knew it and were really in demand. We almost had a Texan vocalist in the band, but I won’t get into it. There were reasons Ian did the last tour in America for example…
We had actually approached Les Cheetham to do the reunion gigs, but he had gotten married and wasn’t available.
METALLIAN: When Gary Young e-mailed me four years ago looking for your contact information it did not seem there was tension between you and him. Was there a history of altercation between you two?
MICK: (Sighs)… hmm… well, prior to doing that American tour in 1986 I had gone around to see Gary. He ended up not doing the tour. A guy called Darren Kurland did the tour. It wasn’t down to personality. We were close back then. I also always rated Gary as a drummer. Gary had a collapsed lung back then. He had major health problems including asthma attacks. He hadn’t touched his kit for six or seven months. The only reason he didn’t go was due to health grounds, but we still weren’t his favourite people in the world after that.
We didn’t have health insurance or support from the record company back then. Yet, Gary didn’t forgive us for it.
METALLIAN: Nevertheless, how were things between you upon reformation a couple of years ago?
MICK: Erm… well, he would have to comment on that. When we went to do those festivals a couple of years ago I felt like an outsider. My wife Kelly came on the tour with me and we were treated as outsiders. I don’t know why. When Glen Howes was fired from the band he told me that the rest of the band had told him not to talk to us! I think a lot of it was resentment that Kelly came on tour with me. I don’t know why. It wasn’t an expense for the band because Kelly paid her own way. When we did the NWOBHM anniversary gig in Holland I talked more to the guys in Blitzkrieg than I did to the guys in Avenger.
METALLIAN: You have issued a statement regarding your departure from the band over a year ago. What is your version of the story?
MICK: They obviously think they fired me, but surely if you fire someone you would have to tell them. I have not spoken to anyone. I haven’t spoken to Gary since December, 2005. In his mind how did he fire me, telepathically? We also live 250 miles away from each other and no one has come knocking on the door. Of course, you cannot fire someone from their own band. Like it or not I actually own the rights to Avenger. Since the legal battle with Neat Records I won the rights to the name, all images and all recordings. It would be like somebody fired you from Metallian, isn’t it? It cannot happen.
Would I have left? Yes. Even then it would have been a case of their using a new name with a new line-up. It is not that they have another bassist, I really could care less, but it is a new band why would they not just call themselves something else? I speak to former singer Brian Ross frequently. They could have marketed themselves as former members of Avenger, Atomkraft, Satan, bla bla and nobody would have minded, but they didn’t want to do that!
METALLIAN: How do you explain the statements on the Avenger website and the seemingly personal attacks on that site’s forum?
MICK: That has been going on in the last year. I have no idea why. It is childish. Let’s be honest; I know how old I am. Other people seem to forget how old they are. What they are doing is what teenagers do. Some of their attacks weren’t even funny. I called Brian Ross a couple of times because I was worried about his health because of stuff I read there! They wrote that Brian Ross looks like he’s at death’s door. Brian had a couple of health problems, but we are in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, why would you say stuff like ‘people have weeks to live’ on the website? Whoever was the administrator for the website was behind it. Posts were being put on and then would get toned down. There was one post praising certain members of Avenger, supposedly from a Dutch fan, but if you bothered to read it the posting was a football review of Holland versus Portugal. How ridiculous! There were plenty of posts like that.
If it weren’t for my wife Kelly suffering three tragedies last year I would have already put an end to this last year. Unfortunately, life doesn’t go to plan, does it?
METALLIAN: Will there be any action on your part regarding the use of the name Avenger, or Avenger UK, by the current band?
MICK: I think they are misleading people with their name. It is basically ‘Avenger’ with a ‘UK’ stuck on the end side. It is as I said still copyrighted. If it weren’t for the tragedies I would have put paid to this last year. It wouldn’t have been a case of anyone firing anyone. It would have been that they go their way, record what they want, call it what they want and I would have done my own thing. So I intend to do something about it. I am going to stop them using the name.
METALLIAN: At this juncture, are you still on talking terms with anyone in the band?
MICK: No. They have some guy playing bass and it is nothing personal with him or anyone else. I don’t know the new guys from Adam. They are based in the North East and I live in the Midlands.
METALLIAN: How does it transpire that a bunch of friends who gather for the love of music come to this?
MICK: You answered it yourself, haven’t you? They don’t… if they are friends. That is the whole point. In the future I only want to play with friends. You hit the nail on the head. There is no love lost between Swift and me and, to be fair, I didn’t even know the other guys. How could I? Tony Liddle, for instance, came and went but I only met the guy once around fifteen years ago when he was in Blitzkrieg. I didn’t know guitarist Liam either. He was again recruited by Gary. They have announced a new album basically, which is something Gary and Tony were writing before the announcement of the reunion. My argument is why don’t they just release it under their old monicker of Ghetto Messiah? They are using the name ‘Avenger’ as a selling point.
METALLIAN: Was there any intention on your part to record a new album when Avenger was reformed two years back?
MICK: No, I would say not. If I were perfectly honest if we hadn’t received the offer to tour with Y&T I wouldn’t have even done the tour. I am a huge Y&T fan. The chance to go and play with Y&T was important to me. Originally, the festivals were all that we had in mind.
I don’t think this Avenger UK can release an album. Their website features copyright from 1982 to 2007, which is misleading because I was awarded the rights to the catalogue. When Neat Records settled with me I ended up owning everything. It was not only morally, but also legally that I won everything. Gary is under the impression that because his and Swiftie’s names were on the credits he is the legal copyright holder. The Beatles don’t own their own rights. Certain people are manipulating the whole situation. To be honest, I do not want to get into a mudslinging match. There are personal issues and also musical ones. I will not do another recording with Ian Swift singing. Does that make sense? No one has contested the fact that I own the copyright.
To be fair, I didn’t get in touch with them either. As I said, I had other things to deal with.
METALLIAN: Can the fans expect new music from you?
MICK: Yes, I intend to. It is not going to be as Avenger. I have been writing and recording songs in any case. It wouldn’t be called Avenger because people would compare it to twenty-five years ago. We are not going to be rock stars at this point. It is about the enjoyment. I would be happy if people judge the music on its own merit, not based on names. I just want to play music with friends. The only thing missing right now is a vocalist. Nothing new there!
If you enjoyed this, read Blitzkrieg