Mythra

Mythra was a pretty mysterious band, as none seemed to know a lot about a mysterious band from South Shields, other than that their 7" release kicked ass. British Steel released their full recordings (with even wrong titles) asking whoever was behind them, to step forward and get a deal and it wasn’t until much later that the band came to prominence and even “reunited” with a somewhat “different” line up to perform shows, re-release their older material and lately even release a new album “Still Burning”. We dully contacted Vince High (vocals), John Roach (guitar) and Alex Perry (guitar) after being positively gobsmacked to find that their new album is almost every bit as good as their debut material that was widely released some twenty years ago and was actually composed almost forty years in the past! Probably not a coincidence...
Mythra band pic

Hi there dudes – so nice to have you on Grande Rock. Firstly, kudos for coming back after so many years with such a strong release…
 
Vince High: Thank you so much it’s great to be featured on Grande Rock.
 
John Roach: Thanks a lot; it’s great to be back!
 
Alex Perry: Thank you.
 
 
Well, what happened on the band’s camp during these 14 years since “The Darkener” album which was released back in 2003?
 
V: “The Darkener” wasn’t actually a full band project, it was just a set of songs written and demo’d by John and me between 2001 and 2002. That album was never actually released. We had a blast on that project for sure but the full band remained inactive until our reunion show at BroFest UK in 2015.
 
J: As Vince said, “The Darkener” was never released although we still get requests for copies, it exists only in demo form with a few signed CDRs given to a very few people. You would know you had an original as every single one of them was signed and dated personally by me, hahaha…
 
 
Did you always have in mind to release a new album at some point all these years but the circumstances weren’t just right or what?
 
V: Not really, it was only after the great reaction we received at our reunion show that we thought about continuing with the band. We initially planned to do the BroFest UK show as a one off but offers for follow up work came flooding in so we decided to continue.
 
J: Bart Gabriel released a remastered version of the “Death and Destiny” album with the correct song titles, as a previous release made without our knowledge or involvement had the wrong song titles. The re-release had a more logical track sequence and was called “Warriors of Time: The Anthology”. Bart asked us to record a few extra songs as bonus tracks so we wrote 5 more songs and recorded then in a very long day at Downcast Studios in Gateshead, UK. The new songs were received well and appeared in our live shows – it seemed natural that we would record a new full album at some point.
 
 
Did the fact that you found a label to release the new album play a major role for the release as well – or you would have done it independently if things hadn’t worked out, just like you did with “The Darkener”?
 
V: We have Bart Gabriel (CEO Skol Records and Gabriel Management) and Steffen Boehm (CEO High Roller Records) to thank for the new album release. These guys have been awesome for Mythra. Without them it would not have happened. They provided the opportunity. We trust them so we went ahead.
 
 
Regarding the new tracks, did you want to release something kinda “old-school” to satisfy your “old” fans and not only, or you just followed your heart, musically, as always, in order everyone to be satisfied with the final outcome?
 
V: We have always followed our hearts in terms of making music. We achieved exactly what we set out to create with the new album. We wanted to stay true to our NWOBHM roots, but at the same time have a contemporary sound and feel. With Bart in the producer’s seat it worked perfectly. The great reviews from music press and the awesome reactions from fans show we got it right and that makes us very happy.
 
A: I never set out to write old or new school. I just wrote what came naturally and hoped people would enjoy it.
 
J: I agree with Alex and Vince, we just wrote songs we believed in with feeling and integrity, they have turned out the way they have because of who we are. If they sound “old school” it’s because four of us are original band members and we are therefore “'old”… hahaha!
 
 
What does the album title “Still Burning” declare?
 
V: The title track declares that Mythra are still here. That we still have the passion to write, record and perform our music. That we love our fans. Metal is in our DNA!
 
J: I totally agree, we are on fire!
 
 
Do give us a hint about each track…
 
V: “Still Burning”: We are still here and loving it…
“A Call to All”: A shout for compassion in the world.
“That Special Feeling”: Thank you to our fans for their loyalty and love…
“Ride the Storm”: Be strong and follow your dreams…
“Survival”: My life summed up in 16 lines: I stand, survived!
“Battle Cry”: Never give up!
“Silence in the Sirens”: End terror and the loss of innocent lives…
“Sands of Time”: Love life, make every day count…
“Victory Song”: Believe in yourself, it’s your time…
“We Belong”: Put people first, build hope for the future…
“Fundamental Extreme”: Time for action in the fight against religious extremism.
In writing the lyrics I set out to give positive messages throughout the entire album. Life is very difficult for so many people nowadays. I really just wanted to say believe in yourself, embrace life and keep hope for the future.
 
J: Musically, the rhythm and structure of each song sets the mood and framework for Vince to express himself. Each of the composers has different influences and I think you can hear subtle differences in each of the songs. The consistency of the playing on all of the tracks gives the band its signature sound so each band member brings their own feel and interpretation to the original composition, slightly altering, it and ultimately creating a Mythra song.
 
 
Where did the recordings take place and who mixed, produced & mastered the album? Are you satisfied with the final result?
 
V: We recorded “Still Burning” at MP Studios in Poland last October with Bart Gabriel as producer. The album was mixed by Mariusz Pietka. It was awesome working with those guys. Personally I am very satisfied with the final result the album sounds amazing.
 
A: I am more than satisfied; I think it’s got something on it to please even the most varied tastes.
 
J: I couldn’t agree more, I think it sounds great – I would buy it!
 
 
What are your touring plans so far? Any plans to play outside the UK too?
 
V: We have played a lot of Metal Festivals across Europe in the last two years including: Keep It True, Der Detze Rockt, Metalcova, Up The Hammers, HRH NWOBHM and Brofest UK. The crowd reactions have been amazing at all shows. We intend to carry on doing more festivals this year including Heavy Metal Maniacs in the Netherlands and Frost & Fire in the US.
 
 
How different are things nowadays in the metal scene in comparison to the 80s and the 90s?
 
V: The music is as awesome as ever and the current network of festivals on the Underground Metal scene is amazing but the greatest difference for me nowadays is the instant connection with fans via social media. Today’s communication is incredible.
 
A: In some ways there is no difference. Bands still try hard to get gigs and break through. But yeah, in other ways it’s totally different. Social media and its immediacy is probably the biggest change.
 
J: I find the fragmentation of Metal into specific genres the biggest difference from when we were kids in the 70s. I find it amazing that we have basically three generations of people who like our band these days. Those that were there the first time around, those that discovered us as a result of Metallica etc. and now a new generation of metal fans are discovering us. But I agree that social media and the internet have made the biggest impact.
 
 
Do you have any regrets from the 80s era and do you believe that things would have turned out way better for the band if you had done some things differently back then?
 
V: No regrets what so ever! I just feel blessed that we are still recording, playing live at awesome festivals and getting to meet with fans. Metalheads are amazing people.
 
J: We all did what we thought was the right thing at the time. The only thing I regret from that time is selling some 1970s Marshall Amps for peanuts hahaha...
 
 
Which are your expectations from “Still Burning” and what do you wish to achieve with Mythra over the next years?
 
V: The reaction to “Still Burning” has been amazing. The new songs are going down great at live shows. I would like to continue what we are doing for sure... more recording, more live performances.
 
A: I hope that everyone will like the album. I would also like to play gigs and record another album or two.
 
J: Same here; I would hope that we could carry on for as long as people want to hear and see us.
 
Mythra band pic 2017
 
It’s time for our “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Mythra initially?
 
J: I would love to answer in the same way that John Lennon answered a similar question: “Well, I had a vision when I was twelve. And I saw a man on a flaming pie, and he said, ‘You are the Beatles with an A’. And so we are”. But it’s not true. We were originally a four piece band and we had feedback that our previous name – Zarathustra – was too long and difficult to say. We wanted a name that was memorable and short but which we could be confident wasn’t already being used. It’s well documented that our name comes from the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism (Zoroaster is Greek for Zarathustra – keeping the link to the previous name). In 1978 – 79 there was a lot of protesting in Iran about the Shah and there were a lot of Iranian people living in the North East of England – either as students or as Naval Officers in the Shipyards where I worked as an apprentice, so I had quite a few Iranian friends. I was fascinated by the role of Iran (or Persia as it used to be) in history and became interested in the development of organized religion and how there were common threads to most popular religions. This coincided with my discovery of the Dune books (particularly Dune Messiah) by Frank Herbert, which might explain my interest. I came across the Zoroastrian deity Mithras and liked the sound of the word, by dropping the “s” and adding the “y” instead of the “I” – there it was. The rest of the guys liked it and it stuck. I’ve since found that other bands have used this name but none of them released a record as early as 1979. Hahaha.
 
 
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
 
A: The quantize button…
 
J: Cut and Paste recording.
 
 
What do you think of the “free downloading & the free streaming issue” of our time? Will that help music generally or not?
 
A: It does make music more accessible but in the long term; I think it will mean that the smaller up and coming bands will not get the financial support they will need from record labels.
 
J: I think it’s too late to do anything about it now. When we started the money was in records, so record companies would sign bands to release records. Now there is no money in records, so bands find it harder to gain traction. That digital music is free is a common misconception. You could argue even that music is now a form of advertising and merchandising is where the business men now stand. Look at the really big bands and the cost of tickets and merchandising.
 
 
Top 3 action movies of any era?
 
A: The Bourne Supremacy, Apocalypto, Star Wars episode IV (original first film)…
 
J: First Blood (Rambo), Die Hard, Aliens (the second film)…
 
 
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
 
A: UFO…
 
J: Humble Pie or Porcupine Tree…
 
 
Which are the best 3 NWOBHM albums according to you?
 
V: Iron Maiden’s first album, Saxon’s “Wheels of Steel”. Not sure about a third as these two define NWOBHM for me: different but equally brilliant!
 
J: Raven – “Rock Until you Drop”, Fist – “Back With a Vengeance” and Mythra – “Still Burning”.
 
 
Fill in the phrase… “NWOBHM wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
 
V: Geoff Barton, the journalist who first used the term NWOBHM and gave the original bands including Mythra, so much vital exposure in the weekly “Sounds” magazine in 1979.
 
J: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Punk Rock.
 
 
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
 
A: “Rock Bottom” by UFO... it’s just on another planet!
 
J: “Beyond the Realms of Death” by Judas Priest – the structure, the arrangement, the lyrics and the way they are presented by Rob Halford, “The wind kissed him goodbye, and then he died...” – “Keep the world and all its sin, it’s not fit for living in...” – still tears into me. Glenn Tipton’s solo in the middle is so understated.
 
 
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
 
A: UFO – “Strangers In The Night”…
 
J: For me it would have to be “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band”, an unusual choice for a metalhead.
 
 
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
 
A: The future, just to see how it all turns out, apes or insects?
 
J: If I could travel in time I would like to go forward as far as possible, right to the very end, the end of time, to see what happens right at the very end. Although I know that time stands still and it is us who pass through it.
 
 
Which do you consider to be the best female & male vocalist in metal history?
 
A: Tarja Turunen and RJD…
 
J: Ann Boleyn and Lemmy Kilminster…
 
 
Who is the sexiest female Rock Star of all time?
 
A: Cristina Scabbia…
 
J: The Great Kat hahaha…
 
 
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms?
 
J: Tyrion Lannister!
 
 
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react? J
 
A: Give her a credit card…
 
J: I would sell her record collection and buy it all back...
 
 
Thank you very much for taking to Grande Rock dude. Wish you the best for the future. Keep on rockin’… take care!
 
V, J & A: Thank you \m/

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