Shock — Tales from the ’80s — The Saxon tour rider on February 4, 1986

Shock — Tales from the ’80s — The Saxon tour rider on February 4, 1986

This is the third instalment of Sleaze Roxx’s series entitled Shock — Tales from the ’80s. The first two articles in this series were Opening for Megadeth in July 1986 and “Opening” for Motörhead on November 13, 1986. The series details Shock‘s fascinating rise and struggle to land that elusive record contract back in the ’80s.

Shock Once Denied CD coverFor the Sleaze Roxx readers who don’t know Shock‘s story, they were the premier unsigned heavy metal band in Canada’s nation capital city of Ottawa back in the mid to late 1980s. After five years of opening for some of the biggest heavy metal bands that would make their way to town and shopping around six different demos including the unreleased album Burning A Hole Through The Heavens, Shock called it quits frustrated with not obtaining what they thought was a proper recording deal. Fast forward 21 years and the power metal band’s co-founders Tony V and John Tennant reconnected and before long, the band was resurrected from the dead with the new line-up including guitarist Steve Monette switching to bass. Shock‘s first interview after their 21 year hiatus was with Sleaze Roxx who dubbed the group “one of the best metal bands that never released an album.” That all changed when Shock released their critically acclaimed debut album Once Denied in May 2013 twenty seven years after first forming and sophomore album Forewarned in November 2015.

The Saxon tour rider on February 4, 1986 (John Tennant and Steve Monette)

Steve Monette: There are still certain specific things from our opening gigs that we remember and laugh about to this day. For Saxon, they were all very nice guys — laid back and everything. But they had a bass player who was quite a bit younger than the rest of the guys in the band. Part of the rider for a lot of bands is that they require that food be provided but not like deli trays. They want a meal. So part of the rider for Saxon, they wanted fish and chips, which we thought was funny because they were British. It was cliché. But the thing about Barrymore’s [Music Hall in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada] at the time, it was a scuzzy dirty kind of place. There was a layer of grime on everything. I don’t think that the place was ever cleaned in any of the years (1985 to 1989) that we played there.

Behind the stage to the left, there was a door and if you went behind it, there was a kitchen. It was the most disgusting kitchen that I had ever seen. I don’t know of anyone who ever ate food from Barrymore’s. It was purely order a beer and watch them open it in front of you. And beyond that, you were on your own. Saxon‘s part of the rider was that they got fish and chips. I don’t know who Barrymore’s got to come in and cook them fish and chips in this kitchen. The smell of the old grease just waffled through the whole place when we were doing soundcheck. I remember seeing this young bass player just shovelling this disgusting food in his face so we nicknamed him “Fish and Chips.” I am sure that he is not in the band anymore as he struck me as the kind of guy that would only be on for one tour with the band and then you never hear from them again. I don’t even know who it was [editor’s note: most likely Paul Johnson who played bass for Saxon from 1986 to 1988 and replaced founding member Steve Dawson].

Shock photo 3

Shock circa early 1986

John Tennant: At the time, Saxon were not at their peak and they were playing these clubs and stuff like Barrymore’s. Again, we backed a legendary band and it was a good show. I remember we hardly had any room on stage. We each had maybe two square feet standing and that was about it. Again, this was a band that at one time was playing in arenas and stuff but here they were at Barrymore’s with maybe 150 people there. You see all these little things as a young impressionable person and you realize that there are different sides to the music business. These guys were like road warriors. It was interesting seeing them because they still went out and they worked hard. It’s not like they had a bad attitude about it. It was like they said “let’s roll with it and go there and put on a good show for them.”