If you are into heavy rock, I'm sure you know Wicked Lady, if you don't know them, well then I have to say, that they are one of the rawest, straight forward hard rock bands I ever heard. Highly recommended. I spoked with Martin Weaver, the axeman of the band and besides Wicked Lady we also talked about hard rock band called Dark and Mind Doctors. Album Round the Edges released by Dark in 1972 has a "cult" status.
I’m really grateful you agreed to answer a few of my questions. What are some memories from your childhood and teen years? What were some of your influences at that time?
Thanks for asking me! I started playing the guitar when I was ten; I didn’t know how to tune it properly and had to learn all over again when a friend showed me the error of my ways. As influences go it was always Jimi Hendrix, he was god! Other influences were Frank Zappa, John McLoughlin, and very early Gary Moore, he played incredible guitar when he was in his late teens in a band called Skid Row. A lot of my friends loved Clapton but I could play anything he did so I thought he was shit like me! I always like guitarists who are on a higher level than me.
What was the scene back in your town?
When we started Wicked Lady there was no heavy rock scene in middle England. There was Dark of course and one or two others but none had the raw power we did. Most bands were playing Rock and Roll and blues covers.
Were you in any bands before Wicked Lady? Any releases perhaps?
My first real band was a covers band but I was sacked by the manager, he said I didn’t fit in (he was right). The bass player and drummer walked out with me and we became Wicked Lady.
Tell me about Wicked Lady? How did you come with the name?
We were sitting in a pub trying to come up with a name as we had a gig lined up and the promoter wanted a name for the advertisement. We were drunk and arguing - nothing was coming but a beer mat advertising a new drink called Wicked Lady was on the table, I remember picking it up and saying, what about that for a name? – By this time the others were too drunk to argue any more. We wanted to be the loudest, heaviest band around and this caused problems with local venues. We would finish our set by leaving the guitars feeding back whilst Mad Dick would smash his drum set and kick it into the audience. He sometimes did this before the end if the mood took him!
I heard you formed in 1968 "Mad" Dick Smith and you. You were both Hell’s Angels members right?
No we were never Hells Angels but we had a big biker following who caused trouble, gigs would end in mayhem. At one gig, fuelled by the music, they fought with the police out in the street. Local residents had complained we were too loud and the Police were called to make us stop, that pub lost it’s music licence and hasn’t had one to this day.
You played a lot of shows and during that you recorded several songs, which we can hear on releases called The Axeman Cometh and Psychotic Overkill. Please tell me what are some of the strongest memories from producing and recording these raw and powerful songs?
The tracks were recorded during rehearsals on an old Revox four track – we couldn’t afford to go into a studio. The tracks were laid down so we could remember how the songs went, not with the intention of releasing them. In our minds we were a live band only; recorded music always seemed weak and sterile compared to the live sound.
Your themes are very dark. Would you like to tell me more about songwriting?
You do me an honour calling it songwriting, it’s just riffs and words man. The themes are dark because it fitted the music. Love songs were not us!
With who all and where did Wicked Lady play?
We played all round England but seldom returned to the same venue twice for obvious reasons. One place in Northampton had us back three times, the landlord loved us and would laugh at the way the glasses would vibrate off the shelves when we played.
Any particular crazy moments you would like to share?
I could write a book on crazy moments! One thing that always amused me was at one gig I just struck one chord and the room emptied. We finished the first set and went off to the lounge bar to be away from the few remaining audience members. I opened the door to the lounge bar and it was crammed full of people who had escaped from the concert room. A man looked horrified when he saw us and said “oh my God, you’re not going to start playing in here now are you?”
Wicked Lady never officially released. Now Guerssen will be releasing your stuff. How do you feel about it and what was the main problem with the release back then (heaviness?)?
Very pleased Guerssen are releasing the two albums, the original release on CD by Kissing Spell is now getting silly money on the collector market so it is great it will be out properly. I think Guerssen will do them on vinyl as well - fantastic. We nearly did get a record deal back in the day but I hit the A&R man because he insulted my girlfriend, so that was the end of that, but we weren’t that bothered anyway.
After Wicked Lady you went to Dark and recorded amazing LP called Round the Edges. Would you like to tell the story about making this LP?
Dark was very different to Wicked Lady, they were serious musicians and it was good for me to be in that band, it calmed me down and improved my playing. I joined just before we recorded Round the Edges, apart from a few overdubs and mixing the whole album was laid down in one weekend. It was recorded at SIS studio in Northampton England.
Do you perhaps know how many copies were made and what can you tell me about the cover artwork?
About 80 albums were pressed I think. I don’t understand the album artwork at all!
Where and with whom did Dark play?
Dark played around the Northamptonshire area. They played support to Status Quo just before I joined. It was mainly rehearsal and recording with Dark. Steve Giles had a four track recorder and built a studio in his attic.
In the mid 70’s you were in another band called Mind Doctors. You recorded quite original and very spacey demo recording (how many copies?) What can you tell me about that LP?
I was somewhat fed up with bands and wanted to do something different, keyboard virtuoso Dave Wadley and I started experimenting with ‘head music’ and came up with these tracks, 500 copies were pressed, it is still available from Dave on CD: search Mind Doctors, On the Threshold of Reality. It was put out by Kissing Spell but sold out now.
Did you do any live shows?
No, live shows were never part of the plan, this was for home listening – a film for the ears
What happened next for you and what are you up to these days?
I formed a band called Radar in the 80’s we played together for a few years, then
I concentrated on solo music playing synths and guitar. Dark reformed in the 90’s and we recorded the Anonymous Days album. We played a charity gig in 2011 and I think this will be available on DVD at some point. We played all the songs from the first album only; Dark fans came to the gig from all over the country.
I am now living in Bulgaria and am starting a new band over here. An English bass player and drummer live nearby, bizarrely both called Martin! They both have a similar musical history to me and are both old bastards like me. I am writing music for this project now; we hope to continue musically where Wicked Lady left off all those years ago, but without certain substances! We don’t have a name yet but will be looking at beer mats for inspiration!
Thanks a lot, Martin for taking your time and sharing your story! Would you like to add anything else perhaps?
Please play Wicked Lady music loud or not at all!
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
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