The tale of a heavy rock band:
The Restless Breed 1979-?
THE RESTLESS BREED – THE STORY…SO FAR.
It was 1980, in Aberdeen, on Scotland’s north-east coast.
Like millions of youngsters before and since, I played in bands. You won’t have heard of any of them. They included THE FORCE, DIRTY WEEKEND and THE HELMETS (oh how we sniggered in our schoolboy-ish way at that one!)
I’d get together with some friends, choose a few cover versions and even make a stab at writing some original material.
Fun was the main aim; we’d be together for a few months, even weeks, then split up when a member broke a nail or got a bad haircut!
The first band I was ever in was called RISQUE (we insisted it be pronounced ‘risk’ – nobody knew why. Fewer cared). One of our guitarists was Dave McLauchlin. A couple of years were to pass before our paths crossed again.
He had joined up with bassist, Dave Steele and drummer, Charles ‘Chuckles’ Gordon, in a trio called SARACEN. I was now trying to put something together with another drummer called Graham ‘Mop’ Youngson.
Somehow I heard that SARACEN was looking for a singer and I auditioned. They wanted me and, with the arrogance of youth, I pointed out that if they wanted me, Mop came too.
Believe it or not, ‘Chuckles’ very sweetly agreed to leave! SARACEN was now a 4-piece.
One of my first tasks was putting new words to three songs the Daves already had. Two of those – ‘SARACEN’ and ‘ACES HIGH’ - are included on the CD.
I also brought a song with me. I’d written it for a previous band but, to the best of my knowledge, they never played it. You’ll also find ‘AMAZON WOMAN’ on the CD.
We rehearsed, wrote, chose covers but didn’t gig. After just a few months, Dave McLauchlin decided to leave. I’m sure even he can’t remember why, now.
Ah well, I thought, that’ll be the end of the band. But no, Dave Steele announced that we’d be auditioning for a replacement. At that point, I knew I was in a serious band!
In fact, we chose two guitarists – an old friend of mine, Neil ‘Garrow’ Smith and Steve Allen.
We continued to rehearse but still didn’t venture out in front of an audience. The line-up didn’t last, though. ‘Garrow’ wasn’t happy and Dave McLauchlin let it be known that he might be tempted back. So, ‘Garrow’ left and Dave returned. We remained a 5-piece.
Only now did SARACEN tentatively step out to savour the smell of the crowd! We were the right band at the right time: the so-called New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was at its height, with IRON MAIDEN, SAXON and others making real inroads into the charts.
Personally, I was fairly indifferent to the NWOBHM. Although I had a soft spot for SAXON, I thought the genre was swamped with badly produced records by some fairly suspect musicians.
However, the real advantage of this renewed interest in rock was that it was world-wide. Suddenly exciting bands were emerging from some unusual countries:- KROKUS from Switzerland, ACCEPT from Germany, the wonderful TRUST from France and the sublime LOUDNESS from Japan.
In addition, there was a whole raft of great acts from America and Canada; MOXY, TEAZE, CONEY HATCH and the incredible RIOT.
From day one, we deliberately chose unusual cover songs. Sure, we did a couple of THIN LIZZY tracks, but avoided the usual ZEPPELIN/ PURPLE/QUO songs which were the mainstays of most rock repertoires.
We covered tunes by some of our new heroes – ‘Wheels Of Steel’ and later ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ by SAXON, TRUST’s ‘Anti Social’, ‘Heatstrokes’ by KROKUS, ‘Rock City’ and ‘Outlaw’ by RIOT. We even did ‘SMOKIN’ IN THE BOY’S ROOM’ by BROWNSVILLE STATION long before a certain MOTLEY CRUE had a hit with it!
We also added new songs of our own to the set, including ‘NOSTRADAMUS’, ‘(THROUGH THE) EYE OF THE STORM’ and ‘FEEL THE FIRE’, all of which you’ll find here.
The gigs became more frequent and further afield. We were getting press coverage and playing throughout the north of Scotland.
The one blot on the landscape was the growing realisation that there was another SARACEN out there – ironically, part of the NWOBHM – who had already released an album on Neat Records. The ‘protocol’ in these cases is - the first band to get a record deal gets to keep the name. The ‘other’ SARACEN even sent us a very nice letter pointing out the duplication.
Reluctantly, we decided to come up with a new name. After much thought (you try doing it some time!) we settled on BLAZE.
Thanks to a smart publicity campaign, the name change made no difference; we continued to play all over Scotland.
At this point, Mop decided he wanted to move on, so, after another round of auditions, Malcolm Donald became the band’s third and final drummer.
This line-up won the North of Scotland heat of a national ‘Battle Of The Bands’ competition, sponsored by TDK, and travelled to Hull for the semi-final. It was our first trip outside Scotland. Come to think of it, it was our only trip outside Scotland!
We also made a TV appearance on BBC Scotland’s “Street Buzz”. We opened and closed the show…which was nice! All three of the songs we played are here; ‘HEAD ON (IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW AGAIN)’, ‘CRY OF THE WOLFEN’ and ‘ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH’.
Our manager, Mike Weatherley, used the publicity from the show to put together a series of dates covering the whole of Scotland. Thus, we embarked on our “Down In The City Tonight” tour in the summer of 1983! Songs like ‘GRACE OF GOD’ and ‘TOO LATE (FOR TURNING BACK)’ became live staples.
In early 1984, we supported Diamond Head when they played in Aberdeen. Afterwards, Steve announced that he was leaving! Strangely, nobody was terribly shocked. It seemed a rather appropriate point to bring things to their natural conclusion. We were still one of the most popular bands on the local scene and we’d just supported a major act. By the time we’d auditioned a new guitarist, then got him familiar with our set, months would have passed. So, BLAZE was gently doused!
Time passed. A lot of time. Dave Steele moved away to Glasgow and I left to live and work in London. But, we all stayed in touch and used to get together every so often.
It was 1997, in Seaford, on England’s south coast.
Mike, our manager, was hitting the big four-oh. Unknown to him, his wife, Anne, had been in touch with us and asked if there was any chance that we could get together, in secret, and surprise Mike by coming to his birthday party to play. None of us hesitated for even a second!
We rehearsed in Aberdeen over one weekend and couldn’t believe how quickly the old buzz came back, despite not having played together for 13 years!
The party was an incredible success (Mike’s face was a picture!) and afterwards, there was the inevitable talk of ‘doing something more’.
Well, it took two more years but we eventually decided that recording was the way forward. As poor, struggling 20-somethings, going into the studio would have been an expensive and daunting task.
Now, we were older, fatter, richer and aware that the whole recording process had become much more sophisticated, yet cheaper. From cassettes or vinyl from analogue reel-to- reels to CDs from digital tape. Now that’s progress.
When we listened back to old tapes of ourselves live, we were pleasantly surprised at how fresh many of the songs still sounded. Once we got into the studio, the whole recording process inspired us and we even added little bits here and there. including new bridges in ‘TOO LATE (FOR TURNING BACK)’ and ‘NOSTRADAMUS’ and a dramatic change of key at the end of ‘ACES HIGH’.
We still had one major task ahead; yet another name change! And you thought the U.S.Presidential elections were long-winded and confusing?
We considered around SEVENTY different names, shortlisted seven, then chose THE RESTLESS BREED. After ALL the to-ing and fro-ing THE RESTLESS BREED proved to the winner by quite some way.
So, the first album, ‘HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT’ was issued on CD in 2003 – three decades and two millennia in the making! A few years later, a German company asked if they could release 8 of the songs on good old-fashioned vinyl. Who were we to refuse, so the High Roller vinyl edition (limited to 500 copies worldwide, pressed on extra-heavy 140g black vinyl, catalogue number HRR 19) was released in 2008.
We've now put together a second album - 'THE MEDICATION'S WORKING' and want to get it out there. This is the music we loved then and still love now. So, if you’re an un-reconstructed rocker like us – listen and enjoy.