We kick off a new season of our ever-popular series Metal Origins with a chat to someone partly responsible for igniting my love of thrash metal in the mid eighties; Tommy Stewart, now plying his trade in his own Dyerwulf project, was bassist for Atlanta’s finest, Hallows Eve, back in the day, and I spent many hours cavorting to the likes of Metal Merchants and D.I.E (Death In Effect) as a junior headbanger.
So, Tommy was part of my own Metal Origins back story; but what about his own? Let’s find out…
Hello, Mr. Stewart, and thank for taking part in our new series of Metal Origins… To begin, what are your earliest memories of heavy metal? “Really it was that opening riff and that guitar sound in that first moment of Smoke on the Water playing by itself that made me think oh my god, what the hell is this?! I lost my mind right there in summer of ’72.”
You never forget your first! What was the first metal album you bought with your own cash? “If my memory of the dim and distant past is good, it was Machine Head by Deep Purple. Shortly after, the second was Vol 4 by Black Sabbath“.
Two classic, aeon-spanning discs for sure; But are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask: ‘what was I thinking’? “I’m still fond of my youthful oddballs. But I had friends who would drop by and hear me playing The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and THEY were saying ‘what was he thinking’?”
As a keen Urban Spaceman myself I’m glad to hear that you’re partial to a bit of Bonzo! 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. “Again, with first metal bands it was Deep Purple on the Machine Head tour and soon after Kiss on the Dressed to Kill tour, which became known as Alive!”
Marvellous! How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “With the NWoBHM and early thrash it seemed very hard. We had a store in my area that was the only store selling metal at all, really. We would drive twenty miles just to hang out at that store. I would usually buy two to four magazines of metal and two to four albums. They just didn’t carry this stuff in regular stores”.
As an adjunct to that question, do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today? We knew very little about the day-to-day lives of, say, Michael Schenker or Pete Way in the old days. Do we know too much about our heroes in 2021? “I think it’s good now too, just a different chapter in music history. But I do often remember and miss the times when all my music heroes were a mystery. You only saw how they moved or spoke if you went to a rare live show. They seemed to be unreal and I liked that magic. Today is cool too, but sometimes meeting musicians casts a different light”.
It certainly does! Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “Oh yeah! I cannot hardly believe how many shows I went to when I was younger”.
Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “No, but I have gone to great lengths to get to shows and pay for them. Abandoned cars when they broke on the way, quit jobs that wouldn’t let me off. I’m going, dammit!”
That’s the spirit! What five albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “Black Sabbath 4, Motörhead – No Remorse, Metallica‘s Ride the Lightning, Strangers in the Night by UFO, and I still put on a little AC/DC now and then, Let There Be Rock or Powerage. Later things got more thrashy”.
Six very good albums indeed! Did you have a junior metal crush? I had life size posters of Lee Aaron and Doro Pesch on my ceiling in 1986… “I should have had Doro Pesch! I had a nice Lita Ford poster though”.
Well, I had a few Lita pics too, but not life size! Thanks for taking part!
Tommy Stewart’s Dyerwulf release their new album, Doomsday Deferred, through Black Doomba Records on September 3rd. You can read Michael Stronge’s review of the album HERE.