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New Interview With Lord Pyre and Captain Strange!

Revenants, behold! A NEW INTERVIEW has been published with LORD PYRE and CAPTAIN STRANGE. This one comes courtesy of our new Spainish allies ROCK ENTRE AMIGOS. The ENGLISH VERSION of the interview can be read below. The original (Spanish language) version can be found at

Interview Heavy metal vampire soldiers STUKA SQUADRON.

kikemaiden Entrevista, Entrevistas, Sin categoría 5 febrero, 2024 38 minutos

Heavy metal and vampire soldiers, heavy metal and undead, heavy metal and Rasputin…yes!!!! And much more… STUKA SQUADRON comes back to life with this concept after a decade of silence, and they do it with a cannon shot like «Zeppelin» where they mix everything, time travel, living dead and wars of all kinds. For this reason, we got in touch with Lord Pyre (Graham Cushway), founder of this gang of immortal mercenaries and with Captain Strange (Dave Hartley), flamboyant vocalist representing one of the great surprises we have had in the year 2023.

REA – I’m delighted to have you visit the Rock entre amigos podcast website.

Lord Pyre – That’s our pleasure. Thanks for supporting us and great to see that you have your ear to the ground in underground music and new Heavy Metal!

REA -STUKA SQUADRON was founded in 2007. The NWOBHM of the 80’s was far away and meanwhile, in Europe countries like Sweden, Germany, Spain or in the USA, there were already bands that started to go back to the roots of the 80’s heavy metal and the new wave of traditional heavy metal was born. What was the situation in those moments in the British Isles and why do you create a band with a style that in the UK has been unsuccessful for years?

LP- Ha! Unsuccessful indeed! There is the small matter of Iron Maiden and their hundred million record sales! What was the situation in Britain? Well, there is always good music around if you know where to look. However to say that we deliberately went out to be NWOBHM or anything like that is false. The band plays in a variety of styles on the Zeppelin album alone! We just play whatever sounds right, and if it sounds NWOBHM-ish (more properly NWOTHM-ish) then that is our style. It will always sound like Stuka.In terms of us being identified with NWOTHM we were one of the original bands in that genre, as selected by Geoff Barton, who of course discovered Iron Maiden, during a large feature in ‘Metal Hammer’, the biggest Metal magazine in the UK, followed by a similar article in ‘Classic Rock’ magazine.

REA – The first steps are always taken with a lot of illusion but they are very hard. How were those first days of the creation of STUKA SQUADRON? And why did you choose that name? By the way, were you afraid of people thinking that, with that name, you had some relation with the ultra-right or Nazi philosophy? Nowadays you must be very careful with these things because any misunderstanding can cost you dearly.

LP- Stuka Squadron kind of appeared by mistake. I was working in Iraq as a Private Military Contractor from 2006 to 2008. I had decided to book some time in with Paul Miles (of THE NEFILIM) at Select Studios during one of my leave periods, and had a plan to do some Cult covers. Was there a reason? Not really! I had been in many bands before. I always wanted to make more Metal.Then I remembered I had written our song ‘We Drink Blood’ for a band that never got off the ground, which featured James Duke Fang and Shoi Sen, who ended up founding Di Profundis. That band hadn’t worked, because Fang and I were fairly upbeat, good time and fun guys whereas Shoi had exactly the right personality for a very miserable Black Metal project! James and I recorded the song and within a few weeks it was on Totalrock Radio, and being requested by all these goth girls at clubs we were going to. I had a think about things and left Iraq shortly after.

As to how we became Stuka Squadron, I can remember the exact moment that I thought of this. I was walking through the desert in a US base called Camp Victory, Baghdad. I was thinking hard about vampires along the lines of “Vampires are cool, but there are lots of vampire bands. How do we make it cooler?” Then an A-10 Warthog went overhead a short distance away and I thought “A vampire in an aeroplane …. Warthog Squadron!’ Obviously that was a rubbish name and nobody would want to be in it, so I thought about the hardest, nastiest looking aircraft ever made. I remembered all the stories I had heard from World War II veterans in the pubs in England when I was a teenager. It HAD to be the Stuka! The moment I had that mental image I doubled up laughing. It was almost TOO cool!

As to being accused of being a Nazi or any of that stuff, yeah it has happened. If you actually listen to the music and read our material, you will see a lot of dark humour, and it is pretty clear from the ‘ZEPPELIN’ album exactly how serious we are about anything at all. I have been cancelled in the past. The band made the front pages of several UK newspapers. That was all political though. Metal fans know that the only thing that this band was ever serious about was the music.

REA- Which are 2000 bands in the UK that were a reference for you and had the necessary strength to create STUKA SQUADRON? As far as I can remember, apart from the classics like Saxon, Judas, Raven, Maiden and bands that had disappeared for a long time, I can think of: DragonForce, Skyclad, Threshold, Dragonheart, Power Quest and a little more…

LP- Come on man. Some of the most important Metal albums of all time were created in the 2000s! I just realized that one of the main albums I was going to cite as evidence and a key influence ‘The Chemical Wedding’ was actually in the 1990s … but never mind! It is true that there are probably far more classic Metal bands around now than in those days, but for our earliest shows in 2008 and 2009 we played with The Lamp of Thoth (now Arkham Witch), Asomvel and the dear, departed Conquest of Steel! There were lots of great Metal bands around and always are.

For all that, we didn’t NEED to have bands that sounded just like us playing at the local clubs to be able to make our own music. We just wrote what we wanted to hear and didn’t think that much about what everyone else was up to. I do listen to the other bands on the scene now, particularly if we play with them and I like the music. I have discovered my very favourite bands at shows we play, or on compilation CDs where we are featured with others of the genre.

REA- Before talking about your music, let’s talk about the concept you have chosen in STUKA SQUADRON. Nothing less than immortal soldiers that go through different periods of history, genetic experiments, world wars…etc. Where did this idea come from?

LP- Yeah when I came back from Iraq I was probably pretty traumatized and definitely far too ‘roided up (although I didn’t realise that at the time). When I came back after, what? Six back to back tours of Iraq … I wanted to be as confrontational as possible, and Stuka Squadron was designed to be exactly that. As it turned out, we got really popular really fast, so we had to dial all that confrontational stuff RIGHT down and just be entertaining instead!

So why the look? Well it is a Stuka squadron isn’t it? How very convenient for us that German gear from World War II does look rather like various items many Heavy Metal fans have in their wardrobes….Of course once you know that the band members are vampires and you have the Luftwaffe in World War II … well it is only a short goose-step from there to Nazi moon bases, Russian werewolves, The Bell and every other folk belief, conspiracy theory and outright lie (or are they truths?) that the dark recesses of the internet have to offer on all the things the Germans got up to in World War II.

I won’t pretend I think they are all COMPLETELY accurate … but they make for damn good plots for albums!

REA- You recorded in 2008 your demo «We drink your blood» in a precarious way and seeing that the official debut is with «Tales of the Ost» in 2011, what happened during all that time until you could release the debut? Did you have a lot of live activity in those years or was it more like a quest to look for members and try to stabilize STUKA SQUADRON?

LP- We recorded the ‘We Drink Blood’ EP between myself, Fang and Paul Miles in 2007-8. We put together our original line-up Myself, Fang, Gravedigger, Zabulon and Explosion) that year and debuted in London on 8th November 2008.

Between then and 2010 we gigged relentlessly, working on the what would become the ‘Tales Of The Ost’ album in between. By the time the album came out in 2010 (it was re-released by Metalbox Recordings in 2011) we were regulars in the main British Heavy Metal magazines and were always on the radio. We were extremely active, in particular playing a great deal in Camden, London, where we had an effective residency at a Metal pub / club called The Unicorn.

REA- Curiously, despite the relative success of «Tales of the Ost», soon after problems arise, the activity of STUKA SQUADRON stops, members of the band found Iron Knights, it is not clear what happens. What really happened and what was the reason for this schism in STUKA SQUADRON?

LP- Stuka Squadron signed to Metalbox Recordings in 2011. That in itself was a mistake. It came about because we touted ‘Tales’ around to a lot of record labels, but couldn’t make any headway with them. At one point we were negotiating with one major label, but they decided to go with some other acts instead. With hindsight that was a terrible thing for them because those acts were very poor, but people have strange tastes, including people at major labels. For us it was even worse.

We got really unlucky because Fang ran into Larry Paterson (former drummer from BLAZE BAYLEY now with ALCATRAZZ) on a radio show. Larry joined the band and persuaded us to sign to Metalbox, his own label. The real problem was that signing to Metalbox included also taking on ADL Management, which was run by his wife. That was a clear conflict of interest but I had to do something because working full time in a professional job I could no longer keep up with the very great demand for Stuka Squadron, which was taking up hours every single day.

The band was cash rich at this point, with thousands in the bank because of the many sales of ‘Tales Of The Ost’ and years of touring. However, after we signed to Metalbox we never saw another penny. ADL Management did arrange some tours, which was great. Unfortunately after those tours the band was run only in the interest of Metalbox and ADL.

For the second album, which was eventually released as ‘New Sound Of War’ I had booked us in for a few weeks with Paul Miles at Select Studios, which is relatively expensive. We had thousands in the bank ready to make the album, but also crowdfunded, so the final budget was relatively huge and we should have been there to create something truly exceptional.

Despite all that Larry Paterson was utterly insistent that we booked into a very cheap studio and were only in there for a couple of weeks. Where the rest of the budget went, who knows? I can only speculate, but that money was not spent on the record. I suspect that Metalbox cheated the fans, probably in their own financial interest.

‘New Sound Of War’ itself is a terrible album. It is almost unlistenable and sounds like rushed demos of the songs. I did one session on it, but after that didn’t want anything to do with it because the studio was so bad and the producer useless.

‘I listened to New Sound Of War’ from start to finish for the first time recently and what can I say? The bass playing is particularly poor, but nothing is very good. It is compelling like a car crash. I was cringing in embarrassment but I couldn’t stop listening. Most people only listened to it once.

By this time I was disenchanted with the whole thing and ultimately I was fired from my own creation. They had to change the name from STUKA SQUADRON for legal reasons, so became IRON KNIGHTS. Predictably Larry didn’t want to keep doing the image so that was the end of that, and IRON KNIGHTS went into a downward spiral into irrelevance. Fang told me that they gave their last album away for free, but I doubt many people wanted it, even at that price.

REA- STUKA SQUADRON is reactivated in 2014, and you do it with James Duke Fang who was the singer of the debut and also of the Iron Knight album. Why do you come back and do it with the singer who had left after Iron Knight?

LP- Yeah I was in Iraq again and it was my birthday, when I suddenly got a message from Fang telling me he had left IRON KNIGHTS! I met him and Gravedigger, who were the last people from STUKA SQUADRON still left in that band. They were very bitter about ‘New Sound Of War’ and the whole experience they had touring with IRON KNIGHTS. They had gone on tour with VICIOUS RUMOURS and it was all a bit of a disaster. At one point we had had the opportunity of touring with JUDAS PRIEST, but for whatever reason, probably money, Metalbox had talked us out of it.

Of course we were still good friends and wanted to do things, so we reformed with Terrorsound (George Stergiou from ANGEL NATION, HI-ON MAIDEN, PAUL DI’ANNO etc etc). We played a lot of shows and a few small tours. By that point we had played close to two hundred shows together.

REA- An excessive amount of time passed between the return of STUKA SQUADRON and the release of the second album «Zeppelin» at the end of 2023: loss of the singer, comings and goings of members and pandemic in between. How were those years for STUKA SQUADRON, was there frustration and desire to abandon the project?

LP- Yeah the real problem was that we just weren’t progressing. When we reformed the original plan was to reclaim some songs that we liked back from IRON KNIGHTS and do an EP of the songs that were ruined on ‘New Sound Of War’ to show what they were supposed to sound like. We wanted to do ‘Desert Fox’, ‘Tell Me Strange Things’, ‘Feeder of Crows’ (which was particularly badly done) and ‘First Legion’. We did manage a version of ‘Tell Me Strange Things’ on ZEPPELIN (which Is now ‘Montague Summers’), but really we wanted to work on new material.

At that point it became obvious that some people thought we were making ‘Chinese Democracy’. We spent years in the studio, but only produced versions of three songs, (‘Pit Of Fire’, ‘Montague Summers’ and ‘The Weeper’) and those were getting worse each time they were re-recorded. Ultimately that line-up simply didn’t want to do anything new. One of them even talked about re-recording ‘Tales’ so that they could fiddle with the drum sound!

You can’t do anything with people like that, so the band essentially stopped doing things in 2018.

This is where Captain Strange comes in.

REA- There seems to be a key moment just before the pandemic for the band, and that is the incorporation of Captain Strange (Dave Hartley). A key figure for the evolution of STUKA SQUADRON’s sound and a singer who has an enviable variety of registers, how was the decision on the part of both Lord Pyre to make him part of the band and Captain Strange to join it?

LP- Yeah I had already started working on tracks for what became ‘ZEPPELIN’ with Count Axis in 2019. He had been in the band in 2009-10. For example he recorded the solo in ‘On The Volga Bridge’ on ‘Tales Of The Ost’ and wanted to come back on board to help rev The Squadron back up again. We started to do things in a small way, just the beginnings of songs really. Then, shortly afterwards, Captain Strange happened to spot an advert on STUKA SQUADRON’s Facebook for a singer.

He sent some recordings of his work with other bands and I could tell immediately that the guy is GOOD. We did kind of an audition in which he sang the tracks and I played along. He was a bit nervous at the start, but after a while all this Ripper Owens stuff started coming out. Then, once he was warmed up properly it was all Rob Halford! I knew almost at once that he is a special talent.

The ‘ZEPPELIN’ album is a real showcase for Strange’s ability. Sure, songs like ‘Pit of Fire’ and ‘One Man Blitzkrieg’ show the harder, more raucous side of his vocal range, but it was really rewarding to get him singing in softer styles, as on ‘The Last Valkyrie’, ‘The Weeper’ or in the spine-tingling mid-section on ‘Zeppelin’ itself.

He told me that he had never sung like that for other projects. Well, we are really glad to have given the opportunity to explore that side of his voice. As you can hear, he is a real find!

REA- And we stop here to let Captain Strange tell us what he had been doing until he joined STUKA SQUADRON and if he knew the band before joining it? I know you are in bands that play a more modern and extreme metal than STUKA SQUADRON, tell us what is it like to be in bands of such different styles and how do you adapt your voice on each occasion, especially during live performances, which will be the most complicated?

Captain Strange – Well, prior to STUKA SQUADRON, I’d played in a few different bands of varying repute (and skill!) – I started off years ago singing with fellow NWOTHM band, DENDERA, which in itself was an interesting experience and helped me develop what I wanted to achieve with my voice, particularly as a band who does everything in their power to rip off IRON MAIDEN! Since then I’ve played in a few bands, but the 2 that stood out really were SPINNING DEATH MACHINE and WINTER’S EDGE, both of which had very different sounds and gave unique experiences. With SPINNING DEATH MACHINE, musically I suppose you could class it as “extreme metal”, or potentially “technical death metal”, complete with a djent-y guitarist playing a massive, multi-stringed beast of a guitar. Musically, I loved it – I’ve always enjoyed that sort of music (although unsurprisingly I’ve found a lot of the vocals in it to be lacking). In terms of vocals for that band, I tried to keep to my roots in my style whilst adapting the occasional guttural vocal – you have to have some of that to an extent with that genre. It meant that the band had a truly unique sound which was appealing to a lot of people – usually described as being “like MESHUGGAH, but with JUDAS PRIEST vocals”. By comparison, WINTER’S EDGE was a swing in another direction, as they were a symphonic, progressive style of metal that incorporated a couple of lady vocalists at time – kind of a NIGHTWISH meets ICED EARTH sort of thing. Naturally, this meant that I leant more towards a traditional, NWOBHM style of vocals with more “clean” sung sections.

I’d like to say that I usually methodically sit down, listen to the music and adapt my vocals with some kind of precision. However, I find it much more instinctive – I’ll get together with a band, have a jam, and quickly evolve my singing style to what I feel works with the music whilst remaining interesting to me. The same was true with STUKA SQUADRON – who, I must confess, I was not aware of before I joined them. The difference with STUKA SQUADRON is that I had a chance to sit down and listen to DUKE FANG’s (previous vocalist) work on the first album, TALES OF THE OST, and get an idea of what sort of thing worked previously and what some of the fans had come to expect. More importantly, it allowed me to, for the first time, objectively look at the music and say “OK, he’s done this here – that’s interesting, what if I did this instead?”. You can see that in our live shows now when I perform the material from that album – I’ve no interest in trying to carbon copy anything done previously, but, I like to think I remain faithful to the original whilst adding my own flair. It also allowed me to get an idea of the kind of theatrics that were expected with the band, in terms of costume and the stage presence etc. With ZEPPELIN, both PYRE and I were keen for me to put my own stamp on things, and being part of the writing process really allowed that to happen.

LP- Yeah that is absolutely right. Fang was a big presence on the first album, and had a very particular vocal style. Strange has more of a range, but there was never any sense that we have to do things in a certain way. It has been really good to let a new singer bring their own style to The Squadron, which has let us work in new ways.

REA- And once the band gets down to work to record «Zeppelin», was it clear to you that you had to continue with the military fantasy concept but with a crazier development with experiments, time travel and a mythical and cursed character at the same time?

CS- Oh absolutely, from day 1 I joined the Squadron knowing that not only would the military fantasy concept continue, but that it had to get bolder and more grandiose! That’s the beauty and sublime nature of being in a band like STUKA SQUADRON. The band already has a rich lore behind it, begging to be explored further and the nature of the concept is that these characters are immortal vampires – they could turn up anywhere! I’m a massive fan of science fiction, horror and comic books so naturally this was all very appealing to me, both creatively and as a fan of the genre. The possibilities creatively are endless! Where will the Squadron show up next?!

LP- On ‘Tales Of the Ost’ we just recorded songs then tried to stitch it into a concept. For ‘ZEPPELIN’, Axis, Strange and I sat down and worked out exactly what it was that we wanted to do, including how the story would progress. Being the people that we are, it was always going to be a pretty unique idea.

Yeah it has worked out pretty crazy! All the better! Bring it on! After all we vampires don’t have ‘imaginations’ as such, so everything is true. We just write what we remember…

REA- And at a time when people are looking for immediate impact and to get people hooked, you opt for a conceptual story. Don’t you consider that it is taking a big risk?

CP- Concept albums are a funny thing aren’t they? They’re very divisive at times. Many people don’t realise that TALES OF THE OST was a concept album as well (albeit a bit more subtle in its storytelling). I think it was important for the band to continue having a story to tell with this album. After all, with the character’s involved and the lore behind them, it’d seem a waste to just produce an album that had no story involved at all. There are dozens of metal bands out there, all producing heavy music, it makes sense to add flavor to it and make it stand out with a compelling narrative. Everyone loves a good story – heroes, villains, exotic locales – why should music be any different? Besides, failed STUKA SQUADRON offshoot , IRON KNIGHTS, attempted to remove the conceptual and storytelling element from the band and where are they now? We can get people hooked with the excellent music that’s on ZEPPELIN, and we are more and more daily – we can get people really interested by giving them a band of heroes whose adventures they can follow.

LP- It is about having fun as well! The easy thing to do would have been to would have been to release an EP of a few songs, as we originally planned … but people expect a whole lot more from STUKA SQUADRON than THAT! It had to be great! It had to be a huge sound! It had to be ridiculous! Give the people what they want … always .. and especially if you have made them wait a very long time.

Of course it was frustrating for us having to wait three years while we carefully worked through this or that tiny part of one of the spoken word tracks. It was like carefully shading one tiny part of some great masterpiece. Now when I listen to ‘ZEPPELIN’ I still can’t believe it is real, or that we made it. Yet, we did.

I wouldn’t call it a risk. The real question is ‘Is it fun to do’? If we are having fun then we will always be entertaining for other people as well. While putting together what became ‘Zeppelin’ was really hard work, things like thinking up the plot and all the crazy stuff we did on the album (and then have to roll out live to entertain our fans) is incredibly enjoyable.

REA- You mention Queensryche’s «Operation Mindcrime» as a work that has influenced you in «Zeppelin», but there are other many great conceptual works in metal, which are for you the ones that have influenced you the most?

CS- In terms of musicality, for me I’d point towards albums such as ‘Somewhere In Time’ and ‘Seventh Son of A Seventh’ Son by IRON MAIDEN. Both are loose concept albums, but, musically both albums had the band utilizing big changes in their sound to accommodate the narrative that they were creating. Something that ZEPPELIN achieves is a number of diverse sounds throughout the album, certainly different to what can be heard on TALES OF THE OST, to help drive the narrative and put you in the right headspace for each track.

In terms of the idea of writing a more apparent story, following a central character and their life, for me ‘Nostradamus’ by JUDAS PRIEST was definitely a big influence. Its got such a unique atmosphere to it that weaves its narrative in so you can vividly imagine the life and times of the titular prophet.

LP- The ‘Operation Mindcrime’ comparison is because we wanted to hook people on the story in the same way that a lot of people want to know every part of the story on ‘Operation Mindcrime’ and there are websites explaining every nuance of the story. I know people who are obsessed with it!Our label, Metal On Metal Records, made me write out the plot for this album, but it became very involved and I ended up writing about 16 pages! I did not realise that we had put so much thought into all this, or that there is such a big back story, but actually the plot is very deep and complex.

Of course, people don’t have to delve into if they don’t want to. I am not hurt if people skip those tracks and just want to hear the songs. It’s just enjoying it in a different way. In terms of other concept albums I have listened to ‘Chemical Wedding’ is the one for me and a huge influence. Arthur Brown goes (who did he narration on «Chemical Wedding») goes to the rehearsal studio we use. Fingers crossed we run into him!

REA- And in the literary aspect or in the world of cinema. You name Lovecraft or Mignola’s Hellboy for the concept. What other works can you name?

CS- As I’ve mentioned, I’m a huge comic book nerd, so naturally I would point towards works by people such as Garth Ennis with his work on Hellblazer and Preacher for his take on demonology and the occult – and of course his glut of war comics! Equally, Grant Morrison’s ‘The Invisibles’ gives a lot of inspiration for the ideas of a ‘world beneath the world’ and general high strangeness.

In the world of cinema, I’m a sucker for both classic cosmic and body horror – particularly those created in the 70’s and 80’s. Films like the ‘Alien’ or ‘The Thing’ have tremendous atmospheric world building in them. At university, I actually wrote papers on the so called ‘Video Nasties’ of the 1980’s and their cultural impact and to me, they’re visual gold. They’re gory, nasty and at times comedic in their approach – everything that STUKA SQUADRON seeks to achieve!

LP- Crikey! That’s such a broad question. I would have to think very hard about all the things we have referenced to date. For lyrics have plundered roleplaying games, video games, films like ‘Dead Snow’ and ‘Iron Sky’, Norse mythology (repeatedly), quoted Cicero and Shakespeare and Sam Pekinpah in ‘Cross of Iron’ all in one song and on and on … there is just so much … even deliberately trolled Iron Maiden … because why not … there is so much of everything …

REA- I’ll admit that I met you looking for something new music to listen to on the internet and the name of the band and the cover of the album caught my attention, something that later I also felt with the music. And honestly, I was hooked from the intro, with that narrated presentation and the classic heavy metal riff in the background. Then, throughout the whole album, it proves that this is a great classic heavy metal work, with a sound that is perfect and fits for those who are looking for an eighties style sound, but it also sounds current. And here we talk about the production, how was it to unite the compositions created, and that the production ended up transmitting that modern and vintage feeling at the same time? And at the same time, why did you choose Paul Miles as your producer, who has worked with people like Fields of nefilim who are far away from your sound? By the way, one of my favorite bands is Carl McCoy’s Nefilim. I love Gotic rock of Sisters of Mercy, The Mission or Love like bloods.

CS- I’m sure Paul would appreciate that! Paul’s an old friend (and fan) of the band, having been there from the beginning – indeed he produced TALES OF THE OST. The choice to go back to him was a simple one, as he understood the vision of the band and the sound we were trying to create. I think the blend of more traditional sounding metal with a modern sound was a natural occurrence, rather than a planned one. I’d personally not worked with Paul before, and I found the experience excellent, particularly given that my previous recording experience was done with sound engineers who knew how to press ‘record’, but not how to actually produce. Paul is an excellent producer, suggesting the right things at the right time during recording. As a vocalist, it was very useful to work with someone as experienced and competent as Paul and I can happily say that he encouraged me to try new things and push myself to give the best performance I possibly could. I dare say the rest of the band had a similar experience.

The writing side of it is a result of us very much wearing our influences on our sleeve I think – we’re all fans of NWOBHM and the band has always leaned in that direction, tropes and all. It’s a sad fact that production technology has moved on so significantly that when you listen back to those classic albums, the thing that often stands out is just how poor the production often sounds compared to more modern efforts. The beauty of producing a record like this is the ability to combine that excellent genre with modern technology, combining both methodologies to an excellent result.

LP- I first met Paul in the 1990s when he was still in THE NEFILIM and he was very cool, hanging out in the Devonshire Arms in London, which was the main Goth hang-out in those days, and always surrounded by an entourage. We hit it off right away and I have worked with him many times over the years. His contribution to STUKA SQUADRON is always invaluable. He played a lot of the guitars on the ZEPPELIN album, and many of his ideas and suggestions went into the album. As you can see he still has it! Because of his huge contribution we wanted him to put a solo on there. He ended up taking the second one on ‘Angel of Mons’.

As you are a NEFILIM fan, you are no doubt aware that he wrote the ‘Zoon’ album? Paul is a great songwriter and I can’t recommend him highly enough as a producer. In terms of FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM being a long way from our sound, I don’t agree! They are a huge influence. I hate to point it out, but if you look at our stage costumes, you may notice some similarities? I used to meet members of that band fairly regularly when we were hanging out in London when the band first started. I am also a fan of SISTERS OF MERCY (Patricia!), THE CULT and all of the goth bands. I was never cool enough to live the lifestyle. Still, Stuka Squadron has many, many nods to Goth. That’s all deliberate.

By the way Paul has told me a secret that I am absolutely not allowed to tell anybody at all, but which I thought was very exciting for fans of classic Goth. My lips are sealed! You’ll have to guess …

REA- When I got into «Zeppelin» and I started to see more deeply your musical style, the truth is that I was surprised how well you embed the influences of bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Raven, Blind Guardian or Iced earth (BG+IE) = Demons & Wizards… hahaha… What do you think is the key to make your compositions sound fresh enough to be interesting, even though they are nothing new?

CS- I think what we do is to acknowledge the steps that were taken before us musically, and make sure we don’t retread them too precisely! Like Issac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. Besides, I like to think what we’re doing is absolutely new. There are plenty of bands out there who chase their tails trying to perfectly recreate their favorite albums, plenty of guitarists who spend hours trying to recreate specific amp sounds, plenty of singers trying to impersonate their favorite vocalists. What we do is take what we love about classic bands and make it our own, or give it a fresh ‘Stuka’ twist. Those classic albums are classics for a reason, after all. Combine that with modern sensibilities regarding music production and you get a final product that would be just as relevant today as if it were released in 1987 (only with better haircuts).

LP- The main reason that the ‘ZEPPELIN’ album sounds so fresh is that we take pains to write in a new style every single song. Of course that is much harder than just playing the way we are expected to play, but we try to make everything as good as it can possibly be, including spending a very long time writing lyrics, perfecting riffs and so on.

As Strange says, a lot of our fellow bands in the NWOTHM genre are about recreating a moment in the 1980s that they personally cannot remember. That’s absolutely cool and I LOVE it, particularly their dedication to recreating that exact sound. However STUKA SQUADRON lives in the here and now. We listen to early Iron Maiden but we also listen to absolutely everything else, old and new. The bands you have named are holy texts that we venerate, but that doesn’t stop us listening to the RAMMSTEINs or MESHUGGAHs and bringing in those influences too. If it is cool and sounds STUKA-ish we will throw it in!

REA – In ZEPPELIN you have collaborated with the singer Meltem Yumulgam. How did this collaboration come about? Personally I didn’t know her at all and there is little information about her, what can you tell us about this pleasant surprise because in the song «The weeper» she is superb and does a brutal duet with Captain Strange?

LP- Meltem’s great isn’t she? I actually first came across her singing a duet with Doro, when I went down to review one of Doro’s gigs for a magazine in London. Doro was great as usual, but then this other girl bounced out onto stage and she was totally cool, a really good singer and looked amazing. I was like «Who was THAT?». If there was an introduction, I missed it. She made my review as the highlight of the show!

I was casting around for a female singer for The Weeper for a while. I ended up approaching Terrorsound (George Stergiou) as he knows a lot of people in the London scene and he suggested Meltem. As soon as I saw her Facebook profile I realise it was the girl from the Doro show! I had wanted to work for her for years, but didn’t know who she was. She was fantastic, and as you can hear gives it her all.

‘The Weeper’ was actually written for a Tarja Turunen-alike vocalist, but I think Meltem slays it with this much more ballsy style so I am glad it turned out that way instead. She has realised the part a lot better than one of those singers would have. The part is an evil tree spirit, and she certainly sounds pretty vengeful! We couldn’t have asked for better.

If the fans want us to get Meltem out again we absolutely will. Let us know, guys! If you want to see her singing with Doro, the video of that show is on our Facebook.

As for Meltem herself, well everyone needs to get on her case to get that solo album out! She has done some big things in the past. She toured with Eric Martin, for example. The world needs a Meltem album.

Meltem website :

REA- This question is for both of you in a more personalized way. Name bassists who have been a notable influence on Lord Pyre.

LP- When you talk about bassists there is only one name worth mentioning. Any bass player who plays the way I do and writes bass-driven songs is heavily influenced by Steve Harris. That’s just a given. I met him once. He is surprisingly tiny and his hand, when you shake it feels like a little bag of pebbles, but let’s face it. Who is the greatest? There is nobody to compare to his achievements.

Some of my work on ‘Tales Of The Ost’ was also influenced by Geezer Butler. I feel like there is far less of the Blues-driven Heavy Metal on ‘ZEPPELIN’ than there was on ‘Tales Of The Ost’, but of course there are still touches. On ‘Angel of Mons’ Axis wrote most of the music, but it needed that slow, Sabbath-y intro so I added some Geezer Butler at the start.

There are always people that you like. Sean Yseult from White Zombie comes to mind. SO cool, and a great player. Pete Steele obviously. I love the bass work on those Bruce albums, but who the player is? That I would have to check.

REA – And, of course, let’s go with Captain Strange: Who is your favorite singers? I have to say I’ve seen stuff from the likes of Bruce Dickinson, Hansi kursch and John Gallager (Raven).

CS- I’d be the first person to say that I unashamedly try to channel some of the magic of my heroes – channel, not copy! First and foremost for me, it would have to be Rob Halford. The man is a living legend and well into his 70s, he’s still performing vocal gymnastics that leave people in awe. For that matter, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, Priest’s temporary replacement during the 90’s I have a lot of respect for – he stepped into some big shoes and is now sounding better than ever with KK’s Priest. Otherwise, absolutely Bruce Dickinson – we’ve been told that the title track from ZEPPELIN is arguably the most ‘Maiden’ sounding track on the album and that’s certainly the kind of vibe I was going for, particularly in the middle section when it called for some cleaner operatic stylings. And of course, Ronnie James Dio. That much power out of such a little guy? Amazing. The big thing all of these guys understand is how to use dynamics in their voice to great effect, which is something it took me a long time to get to grips with. Its all well and good belting out some vocals on a track with as much power as you can muster, but if you did that for an entire album, or a gig, people would get bored. Weaving in dynamics (and of course a few high pitched power screams) is the best thing you can introduce into a band’s sound as a vocalist and these singers are all excellent at it.

LP- I actually used to fence with Bruce every now and then, so I have had a few conversations with him. Despite occasionally beating him up (mostly it went the other way, but occasionally) he was always great to talk to. He’s my all time favourite singer, personally.

REA- It seems that although we can’t say that «Zeppelin» is spreading a lot, the reviews you are getting are very positive. How is the promotion of «Zeppelin» going? Do you see that people remember you after such a long time without releasing anything?

CS- Its still early days yet, after all ‘Zeppelin’ was only released a little over a month ago, but the reception so far has been fantastic. We’re lucky to have a label behind us who believe in the album and are pushing it out as far and wide as possible! Certainly the reviews so far have been universally excellent. What I find particularly fantastic is that people are remembering the band after such a long silence! I stand in awe of the love and respect that people continue to have with this band. The first album, and the extensive gigging behind it, made such a huge impact at the time that the band has stuck in people’s minds. We’ve had people say “I discovered you as a teenager, I loved your album, now you’re back and I can finally hear new music from one of my favourite bands!”.

LP- I have been extremely touched by the response to ‘ZEPPELIN’. When we toured ‘Tales Of The Ost’ we met so many amazing people, and I am meeting many of them again, as well as all the new people ‘ZEPPELIN’ is bringing to STUKA SQUADRON. It is like being re-admitted to a whole community I thought was lost forever, but even bigger and certainly more international.

We are blessed, but we also know that we have an incredible amount of work to do to bring this amazing album to everyone’s attention. The good part is that even though it is very hard work, every part is rewarding and enjoyable.

Good news every day? That is priceless. It is what being in STUKA SQUADRON is like and what it is all about.

REA- «Zeppelin» has been released by the Italian label Metal on metal that has bands of classic styles that I love like Attacker, Meliah Rage or Skelator. Was it difficult to find a label? How is it in the UK in this sense? Are there many labels that bet on classic heavy metal, thrash metal or hard rock in the UK?

CS- I think its a struggle for most bands everywhere these days, it certainly is in the UK. Gone are the days where you could play a few gigs, get the attention of an A&R man who’d sign you up and give you a meager budget for an album. More often than not, a fledgling band is expected to front everything – self release albums, book everything themselves, all without any of the invaluable contacts in the industry, and hope that just maybe once all of the hard work had been done, someone will pay attention. Doubly so for heavy metal bands – there are not very many labels dealing with heavy metal in general, regardless of subgenre, in the UK. However, the good thing with that is that you tend to find that a smaller label will concentrate on the genre they love the most, there are definitely a few specialist labels in the UK who deal with some of the more esoteric areas of metal. In general though, its tough. With Zeppelin, we were part way there – we had the first album behind us which had a big enough impact and profile for people to still love the music. We produced Zeppelin ourselves and on our own budget and were able to take it to a few labels with looks for them to offer distribution. A lot of bands don’t have these kinds of opportunities and its a real shame.

LP- This is the first time in the interview that I feel I have to disagree with Strange. There are a lot of labels, but to get on them you have to work hard and be extraordinary. It is very hard for many bands to cut through, because what the vast majority of bands just don’t seem to realise is that to cut through you have to be doing something different and original.

That we struggled so hard to find a label for ‘Tales Of The Ost’ when we were in the biggest rock magazines in the UK every week seems bizarre with hindsight. I only pitched ‘ZEPPELIN’ to six labels, but I had targeted Metal On Metal Records from the outset as one of my preferred choices because they had certain bands that I also like.

As it happens it is probably an ideal match. We are extremely happy with the artwork on the ‘ZEPPELIN’ album, for example. Of course Metal On Metal are a bit smaller than some, but so what? They are doing it because they love the music! That’s very important, and they are clearly keen to invest time in STUKA SQUADRON.

REA- What expectations do you have with «Zeppelin»? What would be for you to achieve success with this album? Something real of course, let’s not set impossible goals.

CS- For me, if there’s one person out there who hears the album and says “This is great, its one of my favourite albums”, then I’m happy. Everything after that is a bonus. And hey, that’s happened already, several times over! For the band, we’re all keen to take Zeppelin on the road which we’ve begun to do. I’d love to play some festivals with it, and bring the Squadron to the masses somewhat! Otherwise, my hope is that it spreads far and wide enough that we get the same amount of love and praise (and more!) for the next STUKA SQUADRON album!

LP- Impossible goals? What is impossible if you stay true to yourself and keep producing great metal music? As Strange says we need to tour ‘ZEPPELIN’. The difference between this and before is that this time we don’t get sidetracked by self-interested and cynical hangers-on and we make enough money from this album to make an even better album to follow!

We want to take STUKA SQUADRON to every corner of the globe, particularly those blighted by The Werewolf Curse and … you know … sort that problem out …

REA- You have already done some occasional gigs, but how do you expect to play live in the near future? Is it a complicated moment? And what is the current line-up of STUKA SQUADRON on live?

CS- I’d say our main concern is being able to get to everyone who wants us to play in their town! We’ve been inundated with fans asking if we’re going to be playing near them, and of course if we’re able to we want to play as far and wide as possible. The process itself is always made easier when you have as excellent an album as ZEPPELIN behind you! Our first gigs after the release have all been the result of promoters approaching the band and asking us to come play at their venue or festival, so its been a refreshing experience for me when my experience has always been in hounding promoters and practically begging them to let us play at their venue. Our current lineup is of course myself and LORD PYRE, and live we are joined by MAX FLIEGER on drums (who played on the album), and GENERALISSIMO STRIX & KLAUSS VON ORLOK on twin guitar attack!

LP- One thing we have been slack about is arranging shows. I had to take all of December off from work to prepare for and promote the release of ‘ZEPPELIN’. We have practiced relentlessly and are REALLY good as a live band, but we have only played one show so far this year.

We are booked for Warhorns Balls Of Steel (the NWOTHM version of Warhorns) in Yorkshire, England in June 2024. That’s exciting because I was very envious of the bands playing Warhorns Festival in 2023. However STUKA SQUADRON is used to playing very often, so we are going to have to step on the gas and re-establish all of our relationships with promoters.

We should be playing every week! STUKA SQUADRON has always been a live band with a SERIOUS reputation to maintain.

REA – For some years now, Europe and the UK have been going through a complicated relationship, hence the Brexit. Do you think it is being a big problem for the groups in both directions, both for the part of the Europeans who have to go to the UK and for you to have to come to the European continent?

LP- Brexit was a blank slate that politicians could have done anything with, but they actively chose to trash Britain instead. How there hasn’t been a revolution yet is anybody’s guess. It is probably coming.

Anyway yes Brexit has been totally mishandled. We were warned that Brexit would cause problems for bands touring the Continent, but at that time the Government was coming up with so many ridiculous lies. At one point they told us that if we voted for Brexit we would all get super Gonhorrea … seriously they said that. So when you heard that bands would have real problems touring, then you just dismissed it as more nonsense.

People need to understand that politicians would close down every Metal club in Britain for personal profit (converting them into flats and so on) in a heartbeat if they could. Should be the only music they care about is the stuff that is part of their social circle, Glastonbury, Glyndebourne and all that. Things for the rich. Metal is counter-culture that they don’t understand or want anything to do with.

Let’s do everything we can to keep our clubs and festivals going and shove it up their asses!

REA- In Spain the conditions in which the bands that are small —or we can say underground— play are very precarious: the venues are in bad conditions, quite expensive and at the same time rarely one of them makes some money in the concerts they do. Is it the same for STUKA SQUADRON, do you also suffer these terrible conditions to be able to play?

CS- Absolutely any band worth their salt has played at these kind of venues – they’re a right of passage. I think this is pretty international – poorly looked after venues with poorly looked after kit, full of damp and sorrow. But then, people do go to these venues to see you as a band, so you can’t fault them too much. Its necessary for bands to to play at these venues to get perspective – before my time with the band, STUKA SQUADRON absolutely played gigs at some venues of this class. The venues we’re booking into at the moment (so far) are generally of a bigger, and better quality however. The band has enough popularity now that we can do that, but, I think gigs are what you make of them. So what if you’re playing in a terrible little hole? You give the same energy and commitment to a show whether you’re playing in these underground venues or to a festival crowd. People are there to see you, the very least you can do is make them feel that they’ve had a great show!

LP- STUKA SQUADRON played absolutely every postage stamp-sized stage in Britain. We have paid our dues, over and over and again … but we haven’t done it in Spain.

Situation Normal is that the sound onstage is like being locked in a tiny metal box which a deranged giant is hitting it over and over with a big metal hammer. You cannot hear yourself playing at all but out front every single note you play rings out perfectly, so that every single mistake is very obvious …

SO WHAT? It is still our job to put on a good show and play as well as we can. These days in Britain we look for shows with our friends in other well known bands, so usually we have sympathetic promoters and the best conditions that can be achieved.

If we had to come to Spain and play in hard conditions, then that’s fine. We will still deliver a big stadium show in a little club. 50 fans, or 500, or 5,000? It doesn’t really matter. If Metal fans come then our commitment will always be absolute.

REA- And the last question is about the current consumption of music. You have bet on releasing a physical product but… How is the STUKA SQUADRON fan? Do they consume most of it through digital platforms or are they also a CD consumer in this case?

CS- There’s a real good mix of people enjoying the album on physical media and streaming, however, I’d say the really die hard fans of both STUKA SQUADRON and heavy metal in general still love CD’s. They’re certainly buying a lot of ZEPPELIN CD’s! In some cases, we’ve had hardcore fans buying multiple copies. The newer fans in general tend to stick to streaming, and that’s just fine with me. Sure, like many in the industry, I’d say we see it as a necessary evil – there’s no point fighting it, its a reality that bands have to learn to accept. At the very least, it means more people hear our music meaning more chance of them coming to shows!

LP- We are selling A LOT of physical CDs, but when you look at Youtube and see that 12,000 people are listening to the album in 10 days you know where the money is now! We have a hard core of fans who buy the CD as Strange says. Even when we were touring ‘Tales Of The Ost’ we were selling many, many CDs, but the number of people who turned up knowing all the words, and indeed dressed like the band seemed to be a lot higher than the sales we were getting. Even then it was all about online sales.

REA- Little more to say. It has been a pleasure, and you have these last lines to say whatever you want to the readers of Rock entre amigos podcast and web.

LP- Friends of Spain. Enjoy the ZEPPELIN album. Hassle your local promoters to bring THE SQUADRON to your town. We will play your cellars, your Metal festivals and your hidden Rock emporia!

Eschew the werewolf and all his works. Come to The Squadron, collars loosened and veins bared …Um, no reason for this last bit … It just might be hot … or something …


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