Metal Origins is a series designed to let musos of all ages reel back the years to the time when they were taking their formative steps into the strange and beautiful realms of heavy metal… Norwegian drummer/guitarist/vocalist Rick Hagan, of prog-doom uberlords Hex A.D., grabbed that chance with both hands in one of the most enjoyable chats we’ve had in this series so far…

Hello Mister Hagan – welcome to Sentinel Daily and thanks for giving Metal Origins a go! What are your earliest memories of heavy metal? “I was obsessed with music even from an early age… we had Sky TV where we lived in Oslo and I somehow grabbed onto Duran Duran and David Bowie before I could walk, but my first memories of hard rock or heavy metal must be when I got the cassette The Final Countdown by Europe for Christmas in 1986. I vividly remember being completely sucked in by the combination of the organ and (John) Norum’s furious Strat on tracks like Danger on the Track and Heart of Stone“.

What was the first metal album you bought with your own cash? “I have absolutely no idea. In the late eighties and early nineties between the age six to ten I bought a lot of the current high profile hard rock on cassette. The first one I bought for my own money could have been TNT‘s Intuition, TindrumHow ‘bout This, Trash by Alice Cooper or Dr. Feelgood by Mötley Crüe. I am absolutely one hundred per cent sure that the first CD I bought was Bon Jovi’s Keep the Faith when it came out. Didn’t even have a CD player at the time”.

Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask: ‘what was I thinking’? “No, not really. I was always very conscious about what I liked and not. For instance the first time I heard Dream Theater in a record store I almost fell off the chair laughing. I bought Megadeth instead, and have yet to hear anything I like by DT”.

Now, who were the first band you saw live – please feel free to include no-name local bands if that was your first interaction with live metal. “The first band I saw live on my own initiative was the semi legendary melodic heavy band Return from Norway. They played an acoustic show in my hometown sometime in 1993 I think. Their album V was high in the national charts back then and as I’d already been a fan since their record Attitudes, it was a big moment for me! The first big arena show I got to see was C.O.C. with Metallica on the Load tour. I was fourteen at the time and went to see C.O.C of course… Metallica had cut their hair and were wearing make-up – not the best image to go for if you want to keep your ‘fourteen year old – die hard’ fans!” (laughs).

How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “A lot of the info I felt I needed I got from going to the local record stores, but also through fan clubs and magazines. Besides I always dove deep into the album’s liner notes, pictures et cetera… at one point I could name Nicko (McBrain)’s entire drum kit set up on the Fear of the Dark tour by heart. I absorbed everything I could find related to my favourite bands during my teens”.

As an adjunct to the previous question, do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today? Do we know too much about our heroes in 2021? “Not really, but the focus has shifted! It’s more about the gossip et cetera, which of course is candy for everyone who’s not really into the music. Interaction between fan and performer is something I think is positive. As long as is stays within the boundaries of what’s related to music and art and not about who’s screwing who et cetera. I think that stuff gets old quickly… the latest controversy in the Megadeth camp is a prime example of a private matter getting out and messing up for the art of a band. Is the mystique gone? Absolutely! The days where Jimmy Page could nurse the rumour that he was a warlock has long gone! (more laughter)… Although I will say this – Ghost’s rapid rise to arena status goes a long way in saying that many heavy fans miss that aspect of hard rock”.

Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “Was and still am! The summer of 2004 I went to 9 different European festivals! My favourite holiday EVER was when I went to Wacken in 2004. Great lineup, fantastic weather, slept in the back of my 1986 Corolla, great friends… fabulous!”

Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “I have done that quite a lot, but only in Europe though! I’ve driven from Norway to Germany, Denmark or Poland to catch Cathedral, Electric Wizard, Trouble, Candlemass et cetera… often alone actually. Seeing my favourite bands has always felt quite personal for me, and if no one has been able to join me, I’ve been more than happy to just get in my car and drive! I drove eight hours to see Spiritual Beggars in Halmstad in Sweden a couple of years back, saw the show, drove back home during the night”.

What six albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “TNT – Intuition, Iron MaidenNo Prayer for the Dying, Deep PurpleMachine Head, Black SabbathDehumanizer, Metallica – the Black Album and Guns and Roses Use Your Illusion II“.

Did you have a metal crush? I had life size posters of Lee Aaron and Doro Pesch, amongst others, on my ceiling in 1986… “Well, not really. I was too absorbed in the music. Girls weren’t really on the radar back then. Well, I recognised that Lita Ford wasn’t exactly ugly, but I still play her records from time to time and I must admit that I care more for her songwriting and guitar playing than her looks! When it comes to girls and heavy music, it was more the big budget music videos that caught my eye. November Rain hello?”

Thanks for taking part!

Hex A.D.’s new album, Funeral Tango For Gods and Men, releases on October 22nd.