Old Country Metal for the New World
David Lee Beowülf
With web-buzz (http://www.pinkcream69.com/) like the following, it’s not hard to see why PC69 has one of the largest worldwide fan clubs in all of metaldom:
[…in 1998] Pink Cream 69 schlagen erneut zu. Mit “Electrified”, ihrem bis dato stärksten Album, beweisen sie alten und neuen Fans, daß “back to the roots” Innovation nicht ausschließt. Davon konnten man sich dann auf der Tournee im Dezember mit Bruce Dickinson überzeugen.
This does present a bit of a problem for fans of power metal in the United States where PC69 (that’s what they’re called over here – not by their choice, I suspect) has a) only played one gig (in 1990) and b) “we” are righteously chauvinistic about speaking English.
Metal Hammer Newcomer Award winners, Pink Cream formed in 1987 in what was then the FRG, around a pre-EEC amalgam of Germany (Alfred Koffler on guitars), the U.S. (Dennis Ward on bass) and Greece (Kosta Fafiriou on drums). Between then and 1995, when their original singer Andi Deris left to join Helloween, Pink Cream released three full-length albums and achieved a Manowar-like following on the Continent and as far away as Japan. In 1995, they released Change , the first of three (so far) full-length albums featuring singer David Readman, who “hailed” just a bomber-flight away (sorry, I couldn’t resist…) in nearby England. The band’s new singer met with overwhelming approval from the gigantic fanbase and they recently released an album of classic power metal on the Digital Dimension label, Electrified , their sixth full-length recording. I spoke with Mr. Readman (pronounced REED-men) from his manor somewhere in the rolling countryside of merry old England.
[Phone rings] Hello?
David Readman : Hello, may I speak to David Lee, please. This is David from PC 69
Speaking. How are you?
Are you in England right now?
It must be late at night.
No, it’s only six-thirty.
And you are which one?
I’m the singer, I’m in the middle, with blonde hair. I don’t know which picture is in the American version.
You’re right in front! OK, let’s have some PC 69 history, please.
The band originated 13 years ago from the 80’s kind of thing and I’ve been with the guys about six years, though I’m still considered as the new singer.
Is PC69 a German band?
I’d like to say we’re European, sort of a little more international, I’m obviously English, we’ve got we’ve got Dennis – American, Kosta – Greek and of course Koffler from Germany. I’ve just moved back to England, the band is more or less based in Germany. It is a bit strange, because in America, it’s not such a big deal if you’re classed as a German band, but in England, it’s a bit strange, it doesn’t really help things, if you know what I mean… I think the Americans are a bit more lenient about those sorts of things.
Well, Mexico didn’t bomb our cities… How has it been that we Americans on the cutting edge of metal haven’t heard of PC 69?
It’s not easy breaking out over there. We were definitely lucky with this record [ Electrified ]. Our management wanted to take the record over there, which was quite a shock, really, because we’re more focused on Europe. We were living in Germany and that was our main base, a few years ago when we were with Sony Music I think they played a couple of times in America [New Music Seminar, 1990]. I don’t think we had a deal in America, but it’s more or less come to light now, and for us the record has been out already a year. We’ve toured, we were out with Bruce Dickinson on his solo tour and we’re basically writing a new record now. It’s nice, as it comes out in each country it’s fresh.
It’s a fresh sound, the screaming raging heavy metal with excellent guitars and vocals, it’s a good compliment to Bruce Dickinson’s tour I think. Power metal sounds almost new these days after so many years of all this rap-metal.
We’re Pink Cream 69, we’ve used short versions. We moved a little in style, this is, with me the third record. We did change a little bit… It was ’94 and with grunge… We weren’t a death metal band, but our previous album, Food For Thought , was definitely a little bit darker. We wanted to move slowly back to a bit more of the melodies kind of thing.
Lots of good melodies can come out in extremely heavy records.
I’m very involved in the writing, wrote “Electrified,” “Stranger in Time,” “Break The Silence,” a lot of that, I play guitar as well. So I arrange and write with Dennis and Koffler.
What goes into writing your songs?
I’ve obviously got some sort of concept in mind. A lot of meanings. Sometimes you might have a really great idea and it’s only got working lyrics and then you fine tune it with someone’s musical concept.
There’s a line in “Stranger in Time” that goes, “You have a new constitution/And it’s telling you to change your style/Would you like a revolution/Everybody’s got to walk the mile…” what’s that about?
It’s pretty deep stuff, I suppose. The pressure on you these days to conform to the norm in a way, and especially if you’re in a rock band and you’ve got long hair, I feel like I don’t fit!
Because you have long hair in England?
You’ve got to live where I live, man! All the people have short back and sides and side burns. I’ve got no trouble, but a lot of people, as they get older, feel like they have to conform and get “normal,” which is not my scene at all. I’ve actually met up with friends I’ve seen who’ve done exactly that, and it’s shocking to me. The song is along those sorts of lines.
I’m interested in the European following. You’ve obviously toured a lot.
Over here it’s certain circles, I’ve got friends over here who’ve got the record. Obviously in Germany, Spain, Italy… Japan’s really good for us too. That’s where we’re at. It was probably a market that was pretty dead for us at one time, really.
Metal is underground in America. If you consider Manowar, an American band unknown in America that’s touring the rest of the world and is huge! You’re new in America for heavy metal veterans.
Yeah, Manowar are very big in Europe, they’ve had a lot of success in the past and they have a lot of success now, filling up the places. I’m not sure about America, but the scene isn’t there like it used to be. But I think there’s definitely a movement something happening in Germany. It’s not like top of the charts, but the boy-band thing is just as big as it is everywhere, but you feel the movement of the metal scene happening. It’s underground but you feel something happening. It’s sort of in your face, but the German press, I don’t think they want people to like rock music any more but I think people are hungry for it.
“Electrified” is a great song. It has powerful melodies and the vocals play off the guitars very well. It sounds like there’s a lot going into crafting these metal songs.
Definitely, it’s a long, long process and this new stuff, I listen to a lot of stuff I’m quite open-minded, I’m still into hand-made music, which means people getting together and playing in a band type of thing. There’s a certain relationship rather than some young kid in his bedroom churning something out that’s just very strange, Especially with the internet. We have a web site with a guestbook that’s really nice, it’s bigger than what we had, we’re all into computers now, too..
What kind of magazine coverage? Is there good press in, for instance, Metal Hammer ?
They’re pretty good. In Germany it’s mostly devil worship, though. I mean, they’ve always been worshipping the devil, at least they didn’t chop up his body… It’s sort of dark and all “devil-oriented” and that’s what Metal Hammer in Germany is about. It’s still got to stay in to the scene, and we get a certain amount of respect since we’ve been around for some time. We get good coverage. There’s also a great magazine called Breakout that’s German and we get full coverage. I don’t think I’ve seen myself in Keraang! , though.
Speaking of underground movements, there’s this Black Sabbath reunion, and all the shows are sold out but there’s no radio stations who are playing the music here. No radio at all, yet the shows sell out.
There’s definitely something still an underground the people don’t forget, and it’s like Black Sabbath is an institution and you’ve just got to be there. I know there’s still a hell of a lot of people out there who want to hear this kind of music. We’ve just done this Motley Crüe tribute album where we did “Looks That Kill,” we didn’t have much choice since we were the last band to get it. I was quite surprised myself.
How did you end up becoming a singer?
I’ve always had a bit of a drive and my mother’s very music oriented, I come from a musical family so I played a bit of guitar and we’re always looking for a singer which you can never find so I could sing a bit and somehow I got better! I remember in 1987 when the Whitesnake record came out and it was very cool and that was pop music of that time. It was number one, and I wanted to grow my hair and, I was like 17 at the time, I realized that maybe I had a chance and I fell and landed on my feet! I was knocking around London, jamming with Thomas McRockland who played with Steve Vai and stuff. It was a nice experience. I’ve been out of the country for so long so I haven’t seen him in a while! I needed to come back for a piece of England, to smell the air and nice-nice, I’ve been back three-and-a-half weeks.
Where are you based in Germany? Saxony?
I lived in Karlsrhur, near Heidelberg, which is half an hour from Strassbourg, real south. I was always busy doing all sorts of stuff with friends, acoustic stuff with friends in the bars and It’s really good for clubs, when we do a tour there’s many, many places to play. I probably know Germany better than my own country! We did three tours over there. It is quite a nice place.
What’s up with the last song on Electrified ? It sounds like some drunken Cockney Wanker!
That’s me singing! We finished the record and it was a lot of work and we were in the studio late at night. So I said to Dennis “is that it?” and he said “finito! We’ve got it in the can we’ve done it.” So I said “Let’s rewind it I want to do again but different this time, one take, different” and he was so shocked and the fan club head was there too, and I don’t think he closed his mouth for an hour! And this was the first time was decided to have a bit of fun with the hidden track. It’s really like the record’s very serious and some people are not happy about me doing that and it’s really just fun! If you find the song… Not a lot of people do and they’re normally cleaning the house when they do and they either laugh or cry! It was always a good sign because when everyone heard the track it means they listened to the whole album.
What about the babe scene at your shows? I mean, you are have long hair and are rock stars.
Middle, sort of. The days are gone of stiletto heels and very tight dresses. There’s a little bit of that, the nice ones do turn up. I mean, Spain was nice. I don’t think any of the girls were ugly there, definitely a treat. We’ve got a mad group of at least 30 girls who turn up at a lot of the gigs. There was one who traveled all the way from Germany when we were playing in Italy and she was on the bus for like 10 hours. We’ve got a girl called “Daniella” who’s like the number one fan – she’s got files and files from over the last twelve years of my photos and stuff like that. In Japan we’ve got a lot of fan mail… This one girl made a doll of each member of the band so I scanned it and put it on the web site [they’re not there any more; if they are, I couldn’t find ’em] and she wrote back and she was like so amazed and I wrote her a personal letter and she told all her friends. You know, all this little stuff sets the snowball rolling and probably we’ll be going over there again next year with this record we’ve got a lot of doors opened for us!
Will you be playing the US?
Very possible, we’re hoping to do some promotion and do it in as big a way as possible. I believe that we will be doing that.
I noticed you have a song called “Rocket Ride,” did you know Ace Frehley has a song called “Rocket Ride” as well?
I had no idea. If he finds out and sues us it’s publicity for us! So that’ll be good for us.