IRON CLAW – A Metal Odyssey Interview: Part One (The Early Days and The Comeback)
(Photo courtesy of IRON CLAW)
(L to R: Gordon (Vocals), Ian (drums), Alex (bass) and Jimmy (guitar))
IRON CLAW – There are comeback stories in life that sometimes seem too unreal to fathom. Then there is that comeback story that bubbles over with so many feel-good vibes that you cannot hold yourself back from telling any and everyone about it. The comeback of IRON CLAW is both unreal to fathom and multi feel-good. Their Rock ‘n Roll journey all started about forty years ago in Scotland, where they were pioneering a Hard and Heavy sound while touring with the legendary likes of The Kinks and Pink Fairies.
With no coveted record deal during those early years, IRON CLAW became an unspoken and underground legend that went their separate ways. Fast forward to 2011 where the Rockin’ and forward thinking, independent label known as Ripple Music, has IRON CLAW signed, sealed and ready to deliver. On October 4th, 2011, when their new studio album of Hard and Heavy songs is to be released, (A Different Game), IRON CLAW will have defied the odds and proven that perseverance and Classic Rock does cast a magic spell.
Founding member and guitarist Jimmy Ronnie recently took the time to answer some questions for Metal Odyssey, reflecting on the past and present of IRON CLAW. While I researched the story of IRON CLAW, chills and ostrich bumps invaded the skin that covers my entire body. So many inspirational thoughts enveloped my mind, with one thought being: life is truly about second chances. The story of IRON CLAW symbolizes that Rock ‘n Roll dreams do come true… even if it’s forty years in the making. Here is what Jimmy Ronnie had to say:
Stone: When and how did Iron Claw originate?
Jimmy: Iron Claw formed in Dumfries, South West Scotland in the summer of 1969. I was told by someone that Alex Wilson was looking to start a band so I approached him. He knew of the best local drummer, Ian McDougall and that was it! Iron Claw was born.
Stone: What happened to the original vocalist of Iron Claw?
Jimmy: Mike Waller was the original vocalist (1969 – 1971). He left the band to persue other musical interests. Sadly he died in 2008. He was replaced by Willie Davidson in 1971 and Willie stayed with the band until we split in 1974.
Stone: Who were the “well known bands of the time” that Iron Claw played with and/or shared some beers with?
Jimmy: We played with many bands over our first lifetime in the 70’s. Bands such as The Kinks, Pink Fairies, Mick Abrahams Band, Spencer Davis, Barkley James Harvest, East of Eden, the list goes on and on.
Stone: During the early days, what are some fun or bizarre moments you can recall when playing a live gig?
Jimmy: Now you’re asking! I remember turning up at a gig one night and being payed off before we even got into the venue. They were obviously shocked at the sheer sight of us! I can also remenber having to escape from a town once because the local bikers wanted to kill us. I think it had something to do with Alex telling them over the PA to “fuck off”. There was the outdoor festival in Thornhill, Scotland where it rained for hours and the stage went live. I was getting shocks off the guitar strings but the show went on!
Stone: (laughs) Jimmy, those are some very cool and fun flashbacks to share! Simply legendary.
Stone: In the years during Iron Claw’s “hiatus”, what did you and the other band members do for careers?
Jimmy: Oh, it’s a long time to cover, 35 years. I played in various bands and kept my hand in recording self-penned material. The intention was always to get the illusive recording deal but it never happened. Not until 2010 and Ripple came along that is.
Stone: Looking back on the late 60’s and 70’s time period and comparing to the present, do you feel the Rock music industry has lost that “special vibe”?
Jimmy: You could say that. Lots of changes have happened. Some of them good and some possibly not. Technology has brought the possibility of recording music to the masses. In the 70’s it was relatively expensive to record in a studio where you could get quality results. Now you can almost do it in your own living room with a laptop. The internet brings an audience from all over the world to you. These things are good. On the down side, I fear that there are less accomplished musicians breaking through. Not that I’ve got anything against electronic music but there’s a lot of bands out there who can’t play and I personally lose interest in bands like that fairly quickly.
Stone: What was “the moment” that triggered you and the other band members to make a Rockin’ comeback?
Jimmy: It was the relative success of the Rockadrome album Iron Claw that made me think it was worth considering a comeback. There were no great plans in the beginning just “Do some recording and see how it goes”. The Ripple Music offer changed all that immediately.
Stone: What advice are you just ready to give in an instant, to a young and aspiring Rock band in 2011?
Jimmy: You must find and be yourself. Cover other artists, that’s not a problem but stamp your own identity on the songs. Better still, write your own material.
Stone: Iron Claw is embarking on a brand new Rockin’ chapter in 2011. What thoughts go through your mind as your new studio album A Different Game is just weeks away from world wide release?
Jimmy: This is very exciting. Every one of us has long held ambitions to release an album that we are proud of and at last, we’ve fulfilled that dream. It’s only taken a lifetime! This is the best studio work that Iron Claw has ever done. Not to say that it’s perfect. It’s Rock n’ Roll and therefore it shouldn’t be anyway. But the songs are strong, the band is tight and it sounds great. What more can you want?
Stone: What bands do you guys admire and have been influenced by in the past? Any bands
you admire/listen to regularly now?
Jimmy: Original influences are the Electric Blues and Rock bands from late 60’s early 70’s such as Cream, Free, Black Sabbath, Led Zep, Johnny Winter and lots more besides. Who do we admire now? Dream Theater, Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck and any other Classic Rock artists that have survived and are still playing.
Stone: Thank you Jimmy, Ian, Alex and Gordon… for never giving up on a dream!
* For more info on IRON CLAW, click on the links below:
* To read my album review of A Different Game, posted right here on Metal Odyssey, on July 15, 2011, click on the big header link below:
IRON CLAW – “A Different Game”: Bluesy, Classic Hard Rock That Points To The Past And Leads Us To The Present
LONG LIVE IRON CLAW.
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