2017 started off greatly optimistic, the band in the new format had been together a year and we were planning to release an album later in the year, and while the big time hadn’t come calling in 2016 we were hopeful with the new line-up and album we could make huge strides forward in 2017.
Our first show of the year was at the B2 in Norwich, which was quickly followed by an intimate show at Sound Academy in Braintree. For those who do not know what Sound Academy is, it’s free music lessons and workshops for young people held at Braintree Foyer and it was really good to play there and meet with them there after our set.
We re-released Falling Through Freedom in a remastered format. It’s since nearly gone on to sell out again on CD. It will remain to be seen if we have another run of these CD’s done but it was fun to revisit that album, and we played some of it with both Josh Moreton and Anthony Murch who appeared on the original album in 2012 at a special show in support of Elimination’s 10 year anniversary at The Smokehouse, Ipswich in May.
Throughout the year we played bimonthly Metal shows at the Asylum in Chelmsford. The idea behind these shows would be ourselves headlining but the bands underneath us would change every show, and these would be a mixture of genres, a successful system we had promoted before out of the Soundhouse in Colchester before the new owners there came in and ended the shows. We were primarily running the shows, which were free entry, to help support the Asylum venue and keep it open in Chelmsford. The shows there were a success and every night we had was well attended, but sadly we were unable to keep the venue going with these shows alone and they closed before our final show there in December.
Other notable shows through the year were headlining a show with V1, which features Dennis Wilcock and Terry Wapram both formerly of Iron Maiden which James Balcombe joined us on drums for, Breaking Bands where we played the outside tent to an enthusiastic audience, many of which also saw us at Mearfest later that year as part of The Rock Den travelling group, who not only support those events in Hatfield but travel all over supporting gigs up and down the country.
In addition to having the honour of playing a show with ex-Maiden members, we also did a number of gigs at the Cart & Horses in Stratford throughout the year.
We recorded a live album at the Asylum earlier last year which will also be released later this year, which features the new album played in its entirety and two additional tracks featuring Dan Mailer on Vocals and a one-off appearance for Josh Moreton on drums which will be a very special release.
In March we parted ways with our management, Distilled Entertainment in America. This was a mutual decision as we simply couldn’t afford to progress the band in the way they wanted, which was essentially to buy onto a bigger bands tour, which would have both cost us a large amount of money in terms of the buy on but the addition costs of renting vehicles, fuel, food and board while on the road, with even in some cases just a doors slot for our trouble. We would have had to have taken time off of work to have done it, and possibly take unpaid leave and having toured in the past we knew the payback from the tour itself wouldn’t have amounted to the losses we would have made on the road.
We had also hoped to return to Scotland for the fourth year running but sadly we couldn’t find any festival or promoter who would book us up there this time, so we have made sure that in 2018 we will return and have booked two shows in August which will feature Scotland’s very own Midnight Force and special guests on the Glasgow date will be our very good friends, and one of England’s leading progressive rock outfits Twisted Illusion.
So while we didn’t get picked up (again..) by any of the medium and major festivals in the U.K. or Europe we did play 33 shows total right across England.
On the album, we first entered into the studio in June and finished recording in September. We decided to use Pointy Halo Productions (Carl Brewer and Sheldon James) based at Red Wall Studios in Bury, Greater Manchester after Stephen Ellis had worked with them while recording bass for Twisted Illusion’s Insight to the Mind of a Million Faces. We liked how the record sounded and Stephen believed that Carl could get our next record sounding the way we wanted with the new direction of the band.
The album is still being mixed and mastered, the delay coming due to the studio being very busy towards the end of the year and the Christmas/New Year period. However significant progress has been made in the last few weeks and we expect a release very soon.
One highlight from the studio wasn’t even music related. Chris, who is somewhat bothered by the paranormal decided that while in the studio rather than face the ghost sober he would get blind drunk. The end result was he ended up sleepwalking all over the studio, and at one point decided to take a piss all over one of the sofas, which is amusing enough but it was caught on CCTV for everyone in the studio to enjoy later that day.
We also ended up staying in a low budget hotel and we’d brought some video cameras along to film our studio progress and the people the hotel in Salford assumed we where there for “the usual”. When we saw the room, it was odd to begin with, one of the beds was sunk in one side and the shower head was covered in pubic hair. After returning from the studio for the second night, the room was still in a state so we decided to ask for housekeeping. We were then informed that it’s only ever a request to have the room cleaned and they assumed we were there to make pornography. That being the usual. This is why we don’t have a DVD.
Working with Carl and Sheldon was fantastic, they were very patient, and all the guys (Dean and other Carl) at Red Wall were very supportive given the time we spent knocking about the studio hearing our mostly nonsensical East Anglian chatter. Also Chris’s desecration.
Another landmark in 2017 was The Waystone turned a profit. Now we got a lot of hate from some of the local music scene for this as we decided to post the costs related to the album online. Although there was a lot of abuse aimed at us we didn’t get too upset by this as the people commenting weren’t really aware of the whole facts although some of them decided to go one further and post abuse on our band page on Facebook, probably not seeing the irony of their very own Love Trumps Hate Facebook posts ….
The reason the costs with the album were so high was simply due to the fact it was what MGR Records had outlined (as well as the sound) for us all the way back in 2013, as they managed the recording before we had a falling out and we had to self-release. Another reason for high costs is we don’t have a whole lot of money to bulk buy CD’s and press vinyl’s, so generally smaller runs of CD’s and vinyl’s are more expensive to produce. Having said that, to achieve a profit and sell as many copies as we have was a huge success and something our detractors can never really take away from us. It’s an album that continues to sell well even to this day.
To finish off, while 2017 wasn’t a major leap forward for the band in terms of playing bigger shows, festivals or being signed etc. It was a success in terms of the band becoming an incredibly tight live unit and for the new line-up to finally get into the studio and record the new album. What does 2018 hold for us? I expect much of the same, but we will get this new record out and continue to play shows as and where we can, and we are most grateful for everyone who supported us up unto this point. The pre-orders helped pay for the album recording, and having so many of your turn out for show after show up and down the country is always incredibly humbling. So while we may not be the next Iron Maiden or Metallica, we will continue to work hard on the underground and bring old school Heavy Metal to you!
As I said, we won’t be appearing on tour, at any big festivals, so if you want to see us in 2018 check out our dates and come along to one of our shows!