From Weapon 1980 to Weapon (UK) 2016 - The Journey
|'Metallica opened its early live sets (and 'Kill em all' album) with 'Hit the Lights', a song that begins with a noisy two - chord flourish meant to evoke the opening of a concert. However, in a further illustration of NWOBHM’s important role in Metallica's musical direction, the opening chords- drum fills and all seem to have been lifted directly from Weapon's 'Set the Stage alight', the 1980 release from the influential fledgling NWOBHM band. |
Danny Hynes places an ad in the wanted section of the UK's legendary Melody Maker. He is looking for a band, just as Jeff Summers places one looking for a singer! Danny auditions and is offered the job in Jeff's band 'Fast Relief'. After several weeks in the studio and a couple of gigs under their belts, Danny and Jeff decide to replace the rhythm section. Danny recommends his best friend and bassist, Baz Downes, who played in his former band 'Snatch'. Jeff calls in Bruce Bisland the young up and-coming Scottish drummer. One rehearsal, a name change, and 'Weapon' are formed.
A showcase for Laurie Dunn, then head of Virgin Publishing, result in the band being immediately signed to a worldwide deal with Virgin, then, after playing a gig at The Venue, London, Motorhead guitarist Eddie Clarke (who happened to be in the audience) suggested to the band that Weapon should support Motorhead on their forthcoming U.K. tour. Another showcase gig was hastily arranged at The Music Machine, Camden, for Motorhead and their management.
On the day of the showcase there had been a lot of tension and arguments within the band, to the point where they were on the verge of splitting up and by the time they hit the stage they were all full of aggression and pissed off with each other. This of course made for a great show. Basically they didn't give a toss what happened. In the words of Lemmy: ‘Any band that can have that amount of contempt for their audience has to tour with us' ! Weapon were offered (and of course, accepted) the tour.
The 32 date 'Ace Up Your Sleeve' UK Tour began on October 22nd 1980 at the Ipswich Gaunt and ended in November with a four-night stint at the world-famous Hammersmith Odeon. The band released one single, the double A-sided 'Mad Mad World' / 'Set The Stage Alight' The latter reaching number two in the Sounds heavy metal charts. They also recorded several tracks for an album to be called 'Set The Stage Alight' which didn’t actually see the light of day until 2003 when it was released on Zoom Club Records. The band toured for the next 18 months before management/contractual problems arose, forcing the band to split. The boys remained and still are the best of friends, so much so, that in Summer 2005, they re-grouped to celebrate what would have been their 25th anniversary.
After a couple of warm-up shows in London they headed of to Germany to play the Headbangers Open-Air Ball on Saturday 8th July, 2005. The boys then went their separate ways again, Danny returned to his band, Paddy Goes To Holyhead, Bruce to Andy Scott’s Sweet and Jeff to Statetrooper. Sadly, Baz, had to retire from live music due to illness.
Danny & Jeff would soon discuss the idea of getting the band back together and finish what they started all those years ago. Unfortunately, Bruce was unavailable due his commitments with Andy Scott’s Sweet and with the now retired Baz, a new rhythm section was needed. Enter drummer Ian Sweeting (The Risen) and bassist Gavin Cooper (Statetrooper). The new line-up debuted to a sold-out show at London's premier rock venue, The Peel and were subsequently offered billing at the Hard Rock Hell Festival with Wasp and Queensryche.
Rave reviews and ecstatic audiences prompted the band to consider recording an album of new material with the now successful, new and invigorated line up.
The band goes into the Scream Studios, Croydon and decide they should release a single with the new line up (the band’s first single in over 30 years!). A promo video was shot on the roof of The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill, Surrey and the Jeff Summers penned ‘Ready 4 U' was digitally released worldwide on June 6th to rave reviews. The boys were then offered a spot at the Aero Rock Starz Festival in Bulgaria on July 9th but due to previous commitments Gavin wasn''t available so Jeff's brother Gary stepped in and after just one rehearsal and a warm-up show, the boys flew out to Bulgaria to perform a blinding set in the 40 degrees heat. They certainly 'Set The Stage Alight'
With Gavin ultimately unable to commit fully to the band, Danny recommends a friend of his, world-renowned session player PJ Phillips (Bill Liesegang/Glenn Hughes, Xero, Nina Hagen, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, Vanessa-Mae, Cozy Powell etc.) This line-up get straight to work with shows in Italy (Diversemente Festival), Belgium (Negasonic) and the UK (Denim & Leather Festival, British Steel Festival etc.) and PJ fits in like a well-worn glove.
Back to Scream Studios, where work starts seriously on the new album. One memorable day being when Baz and Bruce came in to re-record 'Killer Instinct'. The circle was complete. Danny and Jeff, the old and new rhythm sections, all together. There may have been a beer or two in the pub after that session.
Then, with the album finally mixed and major interest from several management and record companies everything was set to go when the band are hit with a legal action over the rights to the band name. This, frustratingly, delayed everything for over a year. To cut a very, very long story short they failed to renew the name they'd registered since 1980. With the threat of a lawsuit, the band decided to add (UK) to their name.
The album 'Rising From The Ashes is released to 'critical acclaim' at a sold out show at The Purple Turtle, London. Following UK dates in November 2014 Weapon parted company with drummer, Ian Sweeting. After a two month search the band announced his replacement, Australian powerhouse Darren Lee, who so impressed the band at his audition that he was immediately offered and, thankfully, accepted the job!
The band was back on the road again with dates in the UK and an appearance at the Matarock festival in Barcelona followed by dates in The Netherlands, Germany & Belgium after which bassist Phillips decided to leave the band.
With an appearance at Brofest (uk) #4 lined up in Newcastle on February 21st and a fruitless search for the 'right' bass player, in stepped their good friend, Tytan bassist, Kevin Riddles (ex-Anglewitch) To this day 'Big Kev' continues on bass duties with Weapon & Tytan.
August saw the re-release/repackaged '35 Anniversary Edition' of the 'Set The Stage Alight' album on Blood & Iron Records, which contains all the bands material from 1980/1 plus two live tracks from their appearance at The Headbangers-Open-Air Ball, Germany in 2005.The original 1980 line-up of Hynes, Summers, Downes & Bisland play on all tracks.
Former 'Rogue Male' bassist, Tony Forsythe, makes his debut with the band on Thursday 26th January at The Bomber Bar, Motala during a series of Swedish dates, replacing our good friend Tytan's - Kevin Riddles who had stood in on several dates during 2016. Many thanks to Big Kev..
Another series of gigs in the England, Scotland and Belgium, Norway, including an appearance at Jam At The Farm - A Tribute to the late legendary record producer Chris Tsangarides. Writing begins on the new album. Meanwhile, in April, Pure Steel Records re-release Rising From The Ashes in CD & DDL format. Followed by a limited edition in Vinyl on September 28th. The album was launched a ‘Sell Out’ at the biggest little club in London, The Cavern Freehouse. On November 30th sees another Limited-Edition vinyl release. ‘Set The Stage Alight – The Anthology’ Featuring the original line-up of Hynes, Summers, Downes & Bisland’s 1980’s recordings. Between gigs the band entered Scream Studios to begin work on the new album, Ghosts of War.
Back into Scream Studios to finish the album. On the title track Ghosts Of War Danny felt there the Mid 8 needed an Irish female voice so asked his friend, former Thundermother vocalist, Clare Cunningham if she would do it. Clare was delighted to oblige and recorded her part in the USA where she is building a successful career. . Some more road work, including an appearance at Mearfest on Sunday 2nd June. With the album, produced by the band, completed it’s time to find someone to mix it. After a couple of false starts Tony suggests Pete Newdeck@ PN Productions who was thankfully available and did an amazing job! The single, Ghosts Of War, was digitally released on 29thAugust and the album will be released worldwide by Pure Steel Records and distributed by The Orchard/Sony on Friday 27th September. Over the years Weapon have played shows in Belgium, Bulgaria, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Wales
Plans to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the bands formation with a European tour were postponed due to the Coronavirus epidemic.. Meanwhile we’ve unearthed a couple of cassettes of the band live on Motörhead’s ‘Ace Up Your Sleeve’ Tour These have since been digitised and mastered and will be released, warts and all, on limited edition vinyl in March or April 2021. November 16th we received the very sad news that our great friend, and original bass player, Baz Downes had died.
Weapon begins the year writing the follow up to Ghosts Of War. Tentatively titled ‘Forewarned Is Forearmed’ Meanwhile we await the end of the pandemic so we can get back on the road and Set The Stage Alight! Stay safe and healthy dear friends..
Onwards & Upwards \m/