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INTERVIEW – GUITAR WIZARD JAMIE PAGE, June 2012

By Shane Pinnegar

A veteran of bands dating back to the late Seventies, Jamie Page was present in London at the birth of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, returning to Perth to hone his six string skills, first with BLACK ALICE (renamed from GYPSY), then with one of the shining lights of Perth’s early Eighties hard rock scene with TRILOGY.

On the eve of their debut album’s release Jamie decamped to England in search of career opportunities, forming several bands over a few years, including DRIVESHAFT with legendary drummer Cozy Powell, Neil Murray (Whitesnake) & John Sinclair (Ozzy Osbourne, Uriah Heep).

Back in Perth in the late Nineties, Jamie hooked up with Dave Harrison and Matt Williams to form BLACK STEEL, unleashing three albums of thunderous power metal on the world.

Since then he has worked for Kosmic Light & Sound, enjoying working with guitars all day, playing when and with whom he likes. Recently that meant a guest appearance on PROJECT X’s album “D Generation”, with his Black Steel compatriot, vocalist Matt Williams – and his latest projects include BLACK X – teaming up with Matt Williams again, alongside Matt’s PROJECT X partner, drummer Rick Lovett, and STONE CIRCLE’s bass/keyboard whiz Craig Skelton to play a selection of not only Jamie’s past work from Black Steel and Trilogy, but also some Project X songs, in their first live performance.

Secondly, Jamie has teamed up with former ICE TIGER vocalist Dave Crosby, THE ANGELS bassist James Morley and more to fire up his love for old school metal with CROZ & THE MONSTERS. Expect tracks from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple. Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Dio and more, all featuring Jamie’s incomparable six string talents.

Hey Jamie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.  You have 2 big gigs coming up this week – The first is Friday’s GUITAR GODS V, as BLACK X, which is you, Matt Williams & Rick Lovett of Project X, and Craig Skelton from Stone Circle. For this show you’re playing Black Steel songs, Project X songs, and also delving into your past to rip out some Trilogy material. How did this come about at this time?

This came from Donna Greene. She offered up the slot at Guitar Gods V and my first thought was “Fuck, what to do!?” I rang Matt and he suggested Rick, and Rick found Craig. It was quite a revelation when we saw Craig at rehearsals, and that opened up the song list to include more Trilogy songs with keys. I also wanted to help out Matt and Rick to promote their Project X CD “D Generation”.

Did you consider alternatives – like reuniting Trilogy, for instance?

No, it was just a question of playing with the mates first. I gave up trying to re-unite Trilogy ages ago. I would love for that to happen, but I can’t see it happening.

Your second show this weekend is Saturday with CROZ & THE MONSTERS – Dave Crosby (Ice Tiger), James Morley (Raise The Flag, The Angels), and more. I believe this is just a fun covers project for you all?

Sort of… Dave is a talented singer, James is a powerhouse, Mick Burn is one of my fave drummers, and Rob Watson has been one of my heroes since high school in Whyalla. I was really keen to see this line-up take on some tough songs that were a challenge, and really nail them, having a good time really trying to play the songs to the best of our ability. This is a very serious band, really good musos, and it really gels as a unit.

Let’s travel back in time a bit… the first time I ever saw you was as a virginal 16 year old when you were with Gypsy/Black Alice. Was “Endangered Species” your first recording experience?

No. But it was the first to get released on vinyl. First was a band called Invaders.

It’s a very cool, proto-power metal album – did this one ever get a CD release? I still have my vinyl copy which I love!

It may well have done, I don’t know. I was pretty excited about the ‘second’ album [the soundtrack] from the “Sons Of Steel” movie, which was more where I wanted to go production wise. I wish we could have recorded “Endangered Species” again with that line up, and that production. That album [the “Sons Of Steel” soundtrack] did get released on CD. A band called Cessation Of Life in the US has re-recorded some of the old “Endangered Species” songs, [which] sounds awesome, sort of like Pantera!

Around ’83, Trilogy were THE Perth hard rock/metal band. You were just about to release your one and only album “Life On Earth”, and you jetted off to England. In hindsight, would you have done anything differently?

Yep! Having said that, I felt I had to get out of Perth to have a career, and would never have worked with Cozy Powell and a whole bunch of other great people in the UK [If I didn’t go]. I did try to push Trilogy in the UK, particularly with Cozy, who was interested in it. Like a lot of great bands, Trilogy was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and deserved to go on to great things, but that would not have happened staying in Perth, sadly.

You must have some pretty cool memories of all those Friday nights at the City Hotel, playing covers and originals, perfecting the teeth playing solo to Man On The Silver Mountain…?

Best gigs ever!

Do you get any strong feelings walking into The Belgian Beer Café now – the much-renovated and very different room that was once The City Hotel?

Yep. Love the Belgian beer! I can still see my missus arguing with bikies for the cover charge. Loads of great gigs, not just by Trilogy but heaps of other bands too, seeing Saracen there, etc…

Will “Life On Earth” ever get a proper, remastered CD release?

We can’t find the masters, or get the publishing sorted so probably not. I will do everything I can to make that happen…

When you moved to England you played with Cozy Powell, Neil Murray (Whitesnake), John Sinclair (Ozzy, Uriah Heep) and more in Driveshaft, who inexplicably never got a deal or released anything. Why not?

The scene was changing. Coverdale had a new hairdo, a lot of the more muso bands were on the way out, and if you did not wear all the glam shit you were stuffed. Everything was about singles, being like Bon Jovi.

I thought if we went heavier we would have been better off, but even Cozy was not headed in that direction. Having said that, it was proved sort of right when he joined Sabbath. “Headless Cross” was the way to go!

Basically, the issue was the fact that me and the singer were unknown. The record companies could not put us on a headline tour and Cozy was too big a name to do supports. We were stuck in a metal twilight zone!

The idea was always to return and do more with Cozy in some form later on…

Will we ever see that material properly released?

Doubt it, but I have tried to make that happen. It would take some work as a lot was unfinished.

You also ended up with a co-write on one of Brian May’s solo albums – can you tell us how that came about?

Part of the Cozy saga… I was supposed to go over to play on his “Drums Are Back” album. I had tickets to go when he had his horse accident. A few months later I got a call saying Brian May was going to do my parts on the song I wrote – which was called Ride To Win – on his album, as an instrumental. It became Resurrection with Brian’s re-write. He did a great version.

Incidentally, Dave Crosby sang on the original demo which was called Ride By Night.

You also recorded with Cut Double – what your bio calls a Living Colour, half black, half white combo. I’ve never heard of this before – what can you tell us? Is any music available?

I have heaps of stuff, but I’m not keen to put it out there as it was not my stuff at all. The two guys that ran it, Ashton Liburd and Paul Gold wrote and own it all. It was like a cross between Thin Lizzy, Simple Minds, Prince, and anything in between – pretty experimental.

Incidentally, both Cut Double and Driveshaft were both protégés of producer Steve James, who did “Sons Of Steel”, “Endangered Species” and also the first Screaming Jets album, stuff with The Angels and others. Great producer.

Cut Double were originally called Shake The Tiger, produced by Steve, and went on to be produced by Go West’s producer, who was also pretty good, but Steve was the best man for that gig. Cut Double went in a heavier direction, inspired by Living Colour, but had no real success.

During this time I also had the joy to play a few times with Charlie Morgan, another mate of Steve James, who was on Gary Moore’s “Out In The Fields” album and went on to Elton John. Brilliant drummer.

There was also an attempt to form a band with Kevin Riddles of Angelwitch, which sort of did not happen for some reason, probably Driveshaft. That would have been a great project.

I also did some work with Dean Howard, who went on to T’Pau, Gillan and is now in Airrace. Dean played with Black Alice for a brief time in Perth. He really inspired me heaps as a player – really good player, I pinched all his licks!

The last UK link was Lou Taylor, of the band Satan, which became Blind Fury, produced again by Steve James.

We tried to form a band with Ashley Cooke [ex-Trilogy drummer] and a bass player who had also played in Angelwitch. The first rehearsal was great, Lou had a screamy Halford voice. It did not work out for Ash who returned home. At the same time all my gear was stolen, and I guess for a few months I went into a bit of a tailspin.

Everything drifted apart, which was a shame. That was when I got the call from Steve to do some stuff for Cut Double/Shake The Tiger and a bunch of other odd session things, some of which were awesome but never made it past the demo stage. There are lots of great people that never get a break! You do not read about them but it is an eye opener!

Back to the soundtrack to the “Sons Of Steel” movie, starring your old Black Alice buddy Rob Hartley. That’s a bloody hard one to find – both the movie and the music!

You can still get that actually. My mate Gary Keady, the film producer has copies for sale. Doing the sound track was a great experience. The band was seriously on fire. The only wish is that we could have re-recorded our own songs, but there were publishing issues.

Ultimately, in England you never found that breakthrough band, or scored that major label backing, and you headed home to Perth, started teaching, and were about to fly back to England to record with Cozy Powell again, when he had his tragic fatal accident. By this time, apart from losing a friend, were you feeling like it was time to look for other career opportunities?

Cozy was never a real friend as such, just someone we had a chance to work with. I was shocked by his passing. My old manager was distraught and she never really seemed to get over it. They were great friends. I am sure Cozy was helping her out by helping us out in some respects.

It was a great loss for a lot of people, Cozy was playing in tons of different projects, and he also played on heaps of sessions that no-one realized.

As for my career, in all honesty, all I really wanted to do was turn the clock back to Trilogy!

In the early Nineties you played on two albums by the very tongue in cheek, OTT metalhead Angus McDeth. I was overseas at the time but I hear stories of using a fret file and a barbie doll for solos – what was the motivation for this project?

Originally, this was John Meyer’s blues band Late For Dinner. Rick the bass player was on the news talking about his Wikka stuff, which freaked John and he left! They called me, and it evolved into this ridiculous thing.

Could you almost say that Angus McDeth was a Venom-like pre-Darkness/Steel Panther thing?

More like The Sex Pistols meets Motorhead meets Monty Python with a total lack of reverence for anything! We used to cry laughing about the idiocy we were unleashing.

The albums were recorded on Tascam 4 tracks. When we were doing the solos we got bored and started whacking the guitar with things, the most notable being a cheese grater, fret file, and one of my daughter’s dolls, which were in a box in the room.

The cheese grater was amazing, I must bring it out again!

The two big gigs we did were extremely out there. One is on video. I will get some posted one day… maybe, maybe not…

Ironically, perhaps your biggest success came back in Perth, when you formed Black Steel with Dave Harrison and Matt Williams in the late nineties. Can you tell us how it felt to finally be more widely recognised for your obvious abilities after 15-plus years of knocking on that door.

I did not think about it at all, we were just doing it for the fun of it, same as ever. Nothing has changed. We do it because we feel like it, same with the Black X thing.

Oddly enough Dave called me to join Infra Red when I got back from UK, before his Allegiance days. I was not in a good frame of mind and declined, which was a shame as Davo is a great bloke, really talented in many ways, and very under-rated.

There was a lot of different projects that were all a lot of fun in different ways. Croz & The Allstars with Graham Greene was a really good band to play in during the 90’s, and also the Fireball [A Deep Purple tribute band] gigs, which were great.

It was also good to get to record with James Morley on his album “Freewheelin’”

During the Black Steel years, you supported Deep Purple, Judas Priest and more, sold a bunch of records in Europe, and made the world aware that classic and power metal CAN come from Down Under. What are your highlights from these times?

All of the above! Some great local gigs too, very enjoyable. Recording the albums was great, and the lads are a great bunch.

Since then you’ve focussed more on teaching and guitar tech – what is it about the guitar which enthrals you so much?

I love everything about the instrument. That includes construction and design. I have been lucky enough to visit Fender, Gibson, PRS, G & L and other factories, and particularly love Fender history. Also working at Kosmic has been a great opportunity to be around guitars and music for a living without stressing about where the next gig comes from. Working at Kosmic really replaced the thought of a serious music career. All the music I have been involved with or currently write is totally for my own enjoyment, and also to hopefully provide some enjoyment for anyone who is interested.

Was there a defining moment you recall that you picked up a guitar and thought… THIS IS IT?

Probably when I first heard a Black Sabbath power chord! It must have been War Pigs!

I still remember that first guitar, I can still picture the day Mum came home with a brown box and the guitar was a Yamaha acoustic. I started shredding and doing pick scrapes straight away, really badly of course!

What can we expect from your gigs this weekend?

Lots of good memories hopefully, and also two bands that I feel are really good, that are enjoying playing for playing’s sake. I really respect all the musos involved and hope they have a ball, as do the punters!

Trying to pull all this together again may be difficult!

Jamie, if you could go back in time and be a part of ANY song or album recording ever – what might it be?

I would go back and get a budget to put Trilogy in a really good studio and have the band presented for how good it really was. It was a severely good band, and the album did not do it justice, though it was ok for the time.

Finally mate, what for you is the Meaning Of Life?

Er… Shredding?

Thanks so much for your time – good luck this weekend!

Cheers!

Find BLACK X on Facebook here

Find CROZ & THE MONSTERS on Facebook here

INTERVIEW – GUITAR WIZARD JAMIE PAGE, June 2012

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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