They’d been discussing the idea of putting together an originals band to honour the styles of music they were playing in their other various outfits. Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, in particular the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, played a huge influence on all three during their formative years and has remained a passion ever since. Drawing on their wide range of influences and previous band experience (Elliott, Nigel & Phil had known each other from the age of 19 and had toured with the popular Bristol-based Voodoo in the late 80s and early 90s). Their aim was to recreate the feel of the early and mid-80s bands if not the exact sound.
“When you listen back to albums from that era, you hear something that has mostly been lost since,” comments Nigel. “Things are so much more two-dimensional these days. Whether that’s due to commerciality or label pressure isn’t important, but we decided we wanted to get back to that concept: to be able to play fast-paced balls-to-the-wall rockers alongside mid-paced anthems and ballads.”
They began writing sessions in February 2020… just three weeks later, in March, everything stopped.
Writing the songs
The world fell apart for many, and Elliott, Phil and Nigel were no exceptions. Shielding with vulnerable families, struggling to keep businesses afloat, coping with finding food at times, the three started weekly video calls just to keep each other sane. They soon decided that, despite the situation, they could carry on the song-writing process. It might even help them by giving themselves a focus away from the problems of the world.
Phil explains, “I’d been watching bands putting together homemade videos and thought while it’s not how we’ve traditionally worked – when writing before we’d all be together and jam ideas – we can easily send each other ideas, listen to them each week, share opinions and feedback, and see what develops.” So they did. It soon became a weekly schedule: Monday meetings, discussing melodies, riffs, drum patterns, deciding on actions for the week and tracking, re-tracking and tracking again, small sections that gradually developed into a series of strong songs.
“I think in one way the isolation helped us be extra critical with the ideas,” says Elliott. He continues, “When you’re paying for rehearsal space and jamming together you can sometimes feel more pressure to carry on working on things that aren’t quite cutting it. This way we could hear when things weren’t working and fine tune what was needed.”
Phil adds, “Yes, it was slow work, painfully slow at times, but it gave us something to look forward to. When life is falling apart all around you, you’ve got to have positivity. These songs gave us that – and strong friendships.”
Completing the band
With a series of embryonic song ideas taking shape, one thing was obvious: to be true to the styles and feel they were aiming for, they would need dual lead guitars and a seriously capable singer.
Pete Rossiter had played with Elliott and Nigel before, his guitar and song-writing skills were well known to them, and as a friend had joined their Friday evening “virtual pub” sessions. The choice was obvious.
“I’d not played for a while,” Pete says, “but had been thinking about recording some ideas so the offer came along at exactly the right time for me. I’d heard what they’d come up with and was blown away!”
And, of course, I am sure many of you have already realised that Pete is Phil’s brother. So what an honour for this band to have two talented Rossiters to share the stage.
To finish the line-up it was important to find a singer who would fit in with a close-knit group, both in terms of musical background and outlook on life. They found that in Ian “Nestor” Reason.
Elliott knew Ian from his position as the Metal God, Rob Halford, with tribute act Priest Unleashed.
Elliott laughs. “Nestor had actually been fitting some windows for me,” he explains. “We’d been discussing him as a possible singer, but as Phil & Nige didn’t know him, I was the one who was volunteered to raise the subject with him. Thankfully he was really keen and joined us without hearing a note! I kid you not!”
Deciding on a name for the group proved more problematic. The five carried on their online meetings, throwing ideas for names into the mix, which eventually turned into a long (long) list of suggestions, none of which worked for everyone.
“We came up with literally hundreds of names,” says Ian. “Two of us would love something, the others would hate it. It was Elliott who finally suggested Metallised. Probably in total frustration,” he laughs.
“We had come up with a couple of concepts back at the start that summed up what we were trying to do,” Elliott adds. “The main thing that resonated with me was that we were concentrating on strong, catchy songs and putting them into a metal context – not deliberately writing straightforward metal. It seemed obvious that we were taking songs and ‘metallising’ them.”
The name fitted perfectly, and surprisingly hadn’t been used before – not counting the debut album by Sword back in 1986.
“I love that album!” exclaims Nigel. “When Elliott came up with the name I knew we’d not find something that worked as well, although we did insist on the UK spelling to differentiate us from that album. But then we are British after all!”
Once the identity had been agreed on, the songs easily fell into place. Each band member was given pretty much free reign to write their own parts, adding their own unique input.
“The collaborative process was really important,” Phil explains. “We’ve each got our own influences and we felt it important that we didn’t write parts for each other, but let the songs be shaped by those differences.”
It was this approach that the band credits as the main reason for the way the overall sound ended up. What started as a Maiden-esque bass line, or a Priest-influenced riff, found its own personality and ended up going in a totally different direction.
Ian comments, “Most of the main ideas had been written by the time I joined, but even then as the final tracking was taking place, everyone was open to new ideas. While tracking the vocals, I’d find a way to sing a line, or change a melody totally. I was encouraged to put my own personality on things.”
How to release the songs was something that had been discussed from the start. It was agreed that they would never try to pretend that the recordings were anything other than home studio demos.
“This was the first time any of us had done anything like this,” says Phil. “We were all learning as we went along.”
Elliott agrees, “We’ve tried to make these demos as high quality as we can, and considering the adversity we found ourselves fighting over the last two years, we’ve been incredibly pleased with the result. It stands up well.”
The demo “album” has been titled Awakenings to summarise the journey the group has been through and how they view the first chapter of Metallised.
“Emotionally life has been a rollercoaster we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago,” says Nigel in closing. “Writing these songs has been influenced by that more than anything else. We’ve shared those emotions with each other, shared tears, laughs, heartache and all the problems we’ve found ourselves having to deal with. It’s been an awakening for us emotionally and musically, and is just the first step on what is hopefully made up of long and better days.”