Interview conducted June 11 2016
Interview published June 22 2016
"If we'd made every album
like The Unexpected Guest we would have been probably huge."
Recently at Sweden Rock Festival,
Metal Covenant got a few words with lead vocalist Dave Hill
of the British veteran outfit Demon. The band had just arrived at the
scene and time was strictly limited before the set, nevertheless this
experienced fellow was fair enough to answer my questions properly.
The band never made it big really,
like some of the contemporary bands did in the early 80's, yet since the
reformation with a new lineup in 2001, Demon, with Hill being the only
original member, has indeed been a frequent visitor to Sweden, and particularly
this exact festival, and the guys definitely have quite a solid fanbase
to get back to every time they choose to put their feet on Northern soil.
Tobbe: There's quite a massive number of
younger bands out there today, that's taking part in the music industry,
so what does it take for you personally to still hang around after all
Dave: I still think we have the enthusiasm. You
know, we were talking today, as we came up from the airport. We're still
enthusiastic and we got a new album coming out. We like to play the
music and we don't feel that we've reached our peak as a band. I know,
tonight, that we'll spend an hour on stage, and play exactly what people
want. But basically, yeah, we still want to be doing it. I'm still enthusiastic
and it's great to still be playing music.
But still, you guys don't play a lot of shows. This year you have like
8 shows or something on your schedule and
was it anything last year?
Dave: Well, we didn't play last year. I mean,
I had a problem 2 years ago with my ears, which is, you know, rock'n'roll.
I mean, it gets to your ear, so my ears are gone and I have to use protectors.
The voice is okay. So we took some 2 years off, really, from playing,
but we decided to get back and do some shows this year.
Obviously we just finished the new album, which
will be out later in the year, and, you know, everybody wants to play,
so things are okay at the moment to go out there and play.
Tobbe: Would you even, like nowadays, consider
to go on a massive tour, if you got the right offer and the opportunity
to do so? With massive I mean like a 4-8 week tour.
Dave: Yeah, I think so. I mean, we've done that
in the past over the years. I mean, I particularly feel quite fit these
days. I keep myself fit and the band's in a good condition. Yeah, I
think so. We don't wanna be on the road forever and, I mean, I'm a grandfather
these days and everything else.
I do really still enjoy getting up there, playing
the music, and yeah, we will always listen to offers. And Sweden Rock
came very late. I mean, we were looking to maybe play Sweden Rock next
year, which was talked about, but 6 weeks ago we got the call and Sweden
Rock is, I think, one of the top 5 classic rock festivals in the world.
That's my opinion, so yeah, we said we'll be here.
Tobbe: So about your coming record. Unbroken
was critically acclaimed, so did you use that record as a benchmark? Like
"We're gonna top this record!".
Dave: Yeah, I think so. I mean, for me personally,
if you're gonna make a new record you want it to be the best record
you've ever made. That is still inside me. I still wanna make the best
thing. We did it on The Unexpected Guest, with the Night Of The Demon
we did, Taking The World By Storm, whatever, Unbroken, but this new
album, you can quote me, I think is a terrific album.
The new album though, we put together the combination
of quite classic rock, lots of keyboards; it's heavy as well, and it's
melodic. But I still want, and the band does too, to be better than
we've ever been, so.
But still, wouldn't it be easier to just rely completely on the old stuff,
because people kind of don't buy records anymore, you know?
Dave: I mean, tonight we will have to play the
old stuff. We have one hour and it's the end of 4 days of the festival.
People are tired, people are
smelly, and they wanna hear Demon
play one hour of Night Of The Demon, Don't Break The Circle, so we will
play that tonight. But it is nice when we can go places and we can play
something else. I think we've done over 100 songs on our albums, so
we would have to play all night to do that, so.
Sometimes we are able to put, you know, new songs
and old songs, whatever, to the show, but tonight will be one hour of
just what everybody knows, because it has to be that way. But it's great
to do a new album, and people appreciate what we did with Unbroken.
It was acclaimed and people liked it and the sales have been good. And
like you say, things have changed.
You know, people are even saying "Well,
what are CDs?". A young boy came up to me and I said to him "Have
you heard their latest CD?" and he said "Do you mean those
compact discs?" and I'm thinking "What age are we in?".
But that's the way it is, but as long as they can hear the music, whichever
You know, as long as the music gets over to the
people we will make music. Times have changed. I mean, in our 35 years
of Demon, the world has changed intangibly. Music format, whatever.
It's nice to see vinyl still. You know, we sell vinyl and the new album
will be available on vinyl and Unbroken is too.
Tobbe: Was there a time, apart from when
you were really young, that you really thought that Demon was gonna break
Dave: Yeah, I think so. I mean, we came through
with the period of what we call the New wave of British heavy metal
and, you know, Saxon were there, Biff & Co, and Iron Maiden. There
was Demon. There were lots of bands. Yeah, I think so.
For some years, I think 10 years ago, I was not
very happy that we hadn't sort of made what I thought we could make,
but then someone in an interview said to me "Well, a lot of bands
would like to have made it to the level that you made." and I said
"Well yeah, okay, fair enough.".
I mean, I still search to, you know, wanna be
at the big level. I think you always think, and that's why we still
make albums, that you can make it. And yeah, I think we should have
gotten further, but there again, I'm not complaining. That's the way
the business is and at least a lot of bands never got as far as we have.
You made a lot of changes in your music even in the early 80's, so would
it have made more sense, if you now look back at it, if you had followed
a more straight line?
Dave: If we'd made every album like The Unexpected
Guest we would have been probably huge. But I think, for me as growing
up as a record collector, I was always interested in bands. Bands that
made different albums every time and, for me, that's the world I come
from and I will stand and fall and say "Yeah maybe, if every album
would have been the same as The Unexpected Guest we would be big.",
but no, you know, that's what we do.
Tobbe: So in retrospect, which other decisions
weren't you happy with?
Dave: Nothing really. I think, basically I'm
a happy person. I'm happy in my life and the band is too. We could have
been huge if we'd played the same on our albums, but I'm quite pleased
we made Blow-Out, Breakout, Taking The World By Storm, whatever. I think
they're good albums and we didn't make the same album 15 times and I
will still stand by that, but we would have been rich. Lots of money.
Tobbe: So looking at it out of a financial
situation nowadays, is there any actual profit in Demon?
Dave: Yeah, we're okay. I mean, Demon does sell.
We sell CDs, we sell vinyl. And yeah, you know, there is a profit in
Demon and the music we make. Let's just say: had we not made the music,
you know, we wouldn't have been anywhere. It's taken me around the world
and it's taken the band around the world, with our music, so it's been
Tobbe: So for how many more years to come
will we be able to see Demon?
Dave: As long as we can stand up and play the
music and we're healthy. The new album will be out in September/October
and we will be doing some more dates. We'll just keep going.
Tobbe: So any plans for next year?
Dave: Yeah, if they want us back here, all the
festivals, we'll continue as long as my ears are okay, so.
Tobbe: But is it possible to actually retire
from making music? Because it's always there, in some way, in the back
of your mind.
Dave: I don't know. I haven't come to that yet.
Don't know. I'll tell you one day. [Laughs] As long as I can sing, as
long as we can play, as long as we enjoy it