Wicked Lady | Dark | Mind Doctors | Interview with Martin Weaver
Wicked Lady remains one of the most overlooked bands from the early 1970s UK underground.
They never issued any album or single in their time. That’s probably part of the reason for remaining unknown for so long. They are one of the heaviest biker bands you have ever heard. Their sound is extremely raw! Definitely one of the UK’s heaviest power trio’s. Martin Weaver was also part of another heavy psych band with a cult following called Dark. Their album Round the Edges is one of the most impressive heavy (psych) rock albums.
“We wanted to be the loudest, heaviest band around”
What inspired you to start playing music?
Martin Weaver: 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 McLaughlin, 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 liked 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.
What bands were you a member of as a youth and what types of music did you play?
My first real band was a cover 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.
What does the name “Wicked Lady” refer to in the context of the band 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 guitar’s 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!
“Gigs would end in mayhem”
There’s a rumor you were part of the Hell’s Angels?
No, we were never Hell’s Angels but we had a big biker following who caused trouble. Gigs would end in mayhem. At one gig, fueled 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 its music license and hasn’t had one to this day.
What can you tell us about ‘The Axeman Cometh’ and ‘Psychotic Overkill’ material released in the 1990s?
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.
What was the writing and arranging process within the band?
You do me an honour calling it songwriting, it’s just riffs and words man. The themes are dark because it fits the music. Love songs were not us!
Where did you usually 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 here now, are you?”
What about the upcoming Guerssen Records reissues?
Very pleased Guerssen is 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.
You joined Dark to record ‘Round The Edges’.
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.
How many copies were pressed?
About 80 were pressed I think. I don’t understand the album artwork at all!
How about gigs?
Dark played around the Northamptonshire area. They played support for 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-seventies you had another band called Mind Doctors.
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 play live shows?
No, live shows were never part of the plan, this was for home listening – a film for the ears.
I formed a band called Radar in the 80’s and 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!
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Please play Wicked Lady music loud or not at all!