Outlaw – Interview

Scouring the end of year lists always proves to be one of my favourite past times once December/January hits – I like to think I’ve got my finger on the pulse when it comes to covering new releases, but it is incredible how these lists invariably throw up bands and albums that you simply missed among the throng of others.

One such release that slipped passed me in November 2018 was “Marauders”, the debut album from Finnish Old School Heavy Metallers Outlaw. One look at the cover art and the song titles and it’s pretty clear what you are in for here. Outlaw makes no apologies for boldly wearing their influences on their sleeves for all to witness – this is some sort of New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal (NWOTHM) – honouring the classics acts that have gone before them (in this case, think Saxon/Maiden/Priest) whilst adding their own individual charm to the music. It doesn’t try to be anything else; it is old school heavy metal captured with 100% heart and spirit throughout.

Having digested the album over several spins, I wanted to find out a little more about where Outlaw was truly coming from with this debut and how they might progress forward….so the invite for a chat was put out to lead singer and main man, Lee Anvel. Here is what he had to say….

Welcome Lee, thank you for taking the time to chat with us here at Blessed Altar.
Thanks, man, appreciate the invite!

And for the readers who may not have a clue, who are Outlaw? Can you introduce your line up and where they have come from?
Outlaw is a traditional heavy metal band from Lappeenranta, Finland. We’re a five piece line-up; we have Johnny on drums, Jimmy and Simon on guitars, Kaiser on bass and I (Lee) am in charge of vocals and some other stuff too.

We are here to discuss your band Outlaw and the recently released debut ‘Marauders’ – we stupidly missed it here at the point of release in November of 2018, but tell me Lee, in the couple of months since it dropped, how has the response been?
It’s been good so far! We’ve had some really good, inspiring reviews and at the end of the year the album made it to quite many best of 2018 album lists. It has also gained a couple of reaaally low review scores, which I take as a sign that it is indeed a quite good album.

Marauders is such a fun listen, Lee! Absolutely unashamedly Old School 80’s Metal – Priest/Maiden/Saxon – NWOBHM. Clearly this was the vibe you were after?
Thanks! Sure, that vibe was not accidental!

Anyone that is a fan of this classic metal era will find lots to enjoy with what Outlaw does but how do you go about ensuring that the homage isn’t a pure rip-off to the point of redundancy?
NWOTHM approach is a challenging one, cause everything truly good has already been done on that playground, and we’re basically just redoing it our own way. So we’re not reinventing the wheel, but you can be assured we’re pouring our heart blood into our music. We do not rely on gimmicks like 666bpm double bass, world widest vocal range or other tv talent show crap, but aim for quality songs that have both variation and catchiness, are 100% honest and will kick your ass and break your jaw as soon as you let your guard down.

And of course, there will also be those who trot out the ‘nothing new’ line when listening to ‘Marauders’ – what do you say to those people who can’t appreciate the spirit of your material?
You saw the cover, you read the description, and despite the warning signs you went on. So, if you want something new look elsewhere; if you want something good then give it another try.

There’s a distinctive Scandinavian vibe throughout also – obviously, this is your roots and something that just seeps into your song writing?
It may be so. I tried to conjure that kind of spirit up when working on the title track, but it was not my intention to make the whole album sound distinctively “Scandinavian”.

Are you the main song writer, Lee? How much are the other members contributing?
I did all music and lyrics for Marauders and recorded demos for most of the songs before we started rehearsing them with the others. The guys changed some things here and there and we co-wrote most of the guitar solos with Simon and Jimmy.

If I can indulge you a little in some track specifics, there are numerous standouts. The title track itself – I believe it’s one of your oldest songs. Were you looking for a Judas Priest feel on that one?
Yes, it’s the second Outlaw song ever written (with the first one being “Speed Calls”). I was think about more commercial Judas Priest and also Gotham City there.

And ‘Heroes of Telemark’. I know there is a Ski Resort in Telemark, but the track has an epic feel about – very Maiden-ish. Is there a story involved here?
Yes, the place is the same but the song takes place in a WWII scenario where a pack of Norwegians are trying to take down a heavy water factory run by Germans in order to prevent the production of nuclear weapons. Heroes of Telemark is also a movie, and that is partly where the Maiden vibe derives from – when you think about Where Eagles Dare.

And for my final track analysis – ‘Tyrants of Ice’ – this one features your high-pitched vocals in the chorus line. And while many would say Halford/Tate as an inspiration, I heard Andy Michaud from early US Power Metal legends Liege Lord on this track. Have you had that pointed out before?
Nope, never heard the comparison before but I don’t mind at all. When I made the vocal lines I was actually thinking about John Cyriis- era Agent Steel.

A bit more about your vocals – the obvious legends have been stated – but who else gives you inspiration? Eric Adams, Blackie Lawless? Anyone else?
Yes, Adams and Lawless and I already mentioned John Cyriis. Some others would be Ted Pilot of Fifth Angel, Omen’s J.D. Kimball, Kai Hansen for his Helloween stuff, and Black Sabbath dudes Tony Martin and Dio. And honorary mentions go to Journey’s Steve Perry and Magnum’s Bob Catley.

“Marauders” is your debut album and follows up the 2017 3-track demo ‘Speed Calls’ – didn’t take long for High Roller Records to come knocking with a deal? Were you expecting to be picked up by a label so quickly?
Nope, but it sure was a pleasant surprise.

Have you been happy with the exposure from label High Roller?
Naturally yes. Although we’re not on the top of their priority list they have given Marauders visibility that we could not have imagined it to have without them.

The album cover art – absolutely old school. A friend of yours volunteers to dress up as a baseball bat wielding maniac??
Sort of. That’s me actually.

Hahah!! Really?… You can tell me to fuck off here, but you do know that the grip of the bat is fucked up in that picture? It’s like you’ve already followed through on the swing, not about to swing…
Damn, you may be right. But I betcha it would have hurt quite bad anyways if you would have been hit by that marauder. And if that wasn’t enough there’s another one with a flame thrower standing right outside the frame.

What have been your movements in terms of playing live since the album’s release? What are the plan moving forward playing live?
Lately we have not been actively looking for gigs, but if someone asks we have no objections to do live shows. We don’t have a clear plan for future bookings at the moment.

It may be a bit early, but are you writing for the next Outlaw album? If so, similar direction or something else?
Yes, we’re writing new stuff and much of it has already been written. It will be a bit more US/Teutonic oriented it seems.

I am aware of you involvement in a few other bands – Wandering Midget (Doom), Battlegoat (Black) and your one-man black metal effort Rautavaris – are these still highly active for you??
The Wandering Midget is active on some scale, others are not. Besides The Midget I’m presently working on a synthwave project called Anvil Strykez. It’s something like Turbo-era Priest stuck in a blender with Claudio Simonetti and Laserdance.

Wow, that sounds a tad different! How’s the Finnish Metal scene right now – are you up to speed with the local talent? From what I can tell, it is an absolute hot bed of killer bands. Stronger than ever across all heavy music genres?
It looks good, actually we will get to share the stage with many of Finland’s finest traditional heavies in Helsinki this march in a Heavy Metal Nights mini fest. Still, I think Finland will attract even more those into more extreme stuff like black metal.

Metal itself in the underground is better than ever, would you agree?
I’d say that metal underground is virile; there are many bands and lots of cooperation. So the spirit is strong, but when I want to hear really good heavy metal I tend to lean towards the albums from the golden era. Because 80s metal is like The Atlantean Sword – you can always trust it.

Finally, it’s be awesome to chat with you here Lee, the Marauders album rips and we hope it does well for you and the band moving forward. Is there anything we have missed or that you would like to say in closing?
Thank you for reading this, enjoy Marauders and stay tuned for the second coming of Outlaw!

 

INTERVIEW WITH Lee Anvel for the Outlaw album, “Marauders” (High Roller Rec, Nov 2018)

Interview by KMaN

 

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