In the early 80s, during the NWOBHM heyday, Trespass was one of the bands with great expectations. Unfortunately, instead of getting the debut album out, they disbanded in 1982, losing the momentum. Steel Mill had the honour to have a chat with the founding member, guitarist/vocalist Mark Sutcliffe, as we talked about the past and the present of Trespass – and, of course, Mark’s favourite Priest album…
Hi Mark, and welcome to Steel Mill! Trespass have just released new album, Footprints In The Rock. Since your name might not be familiar to all of our readers, let’s start from the beginning. Trespass started in the late 70s, and released three excellent singles between 1979-81, just in time when the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement took off. What do you remember about recording your first single One of These Days / Bloody Moon?
Those were great days! I was only twenty and my brother Paul was just 18. This was our first ever time in a recording studio. I remember the sound engineers wore white coats like scientists! Considering our lack of experience I have always been proud of that recording. Especially One Of These Days. We just played and they recorded us. That’s how it should be, I guess!That recording changed my life that’s for sure. When the single came out we had no idea that it was going to be so popular and our small record label couldn’t handle the demand. With a better distribution I reckon that song could have been much bigger than it was.
Speaking about the NWOBHM, what was it like to start a metal band in the late 70s – early 80s? Did you realise, at that point, that there was something big going on in Sudbury, or, on a larger scale, in the whole UK?
Not really. We were just doing our thing. I loved Deep Purple, UFO, Lizzy, Quo etc. I just wanted to be like them. The NWOBHM was created by the press. Trespass just happened to be there. The NWOBHM was a movement not a type of music. I wouldn’t want to be limited as to the music I want to do. Trespass is whatever I say it is!
Trespass also got support in the media from the legendary BBC dj Tommy Vance, didn’t it?
Yes, Tommy was a great guy. He and his producer Tony Wilson loved the band. John Peel played it too!
You did a studio session for the Friday Rock Show. How do you remember that session?
It was a great session. We recorded in one corner of a huge BBC studio big enough for an orchestra!
Steve Mills, our singer at the time, had a cold and sounded terrible. Tony Wilson asked me why I wasn’t singing and said I should take over. I didn’t have the courage to tell Steve it was rubbish. He was an ok guy but should never have had the job in the first place. We recorded One Of These Days, Live It Up, Storm Child and Visionary. Visionary was released on the BBC album Metal Explosion. I don’t think we really got that it was a big deal. The exuberance of youth, I guess
After Steve, in came Robert Eckland. Your second single Jealousy / Live It Up is, actually, the only Trespass record, on which there is someone else holding the mic. Based on the BBC session, did you consider the option of returning to the original form of the band at that time?
I wish I had. We were still chasing a major deal who wanted the stereotype rock band with the frontman. That was all down to pressure and bullying by the industry. Personally, I wish we had stuck to our guns. I’m not a great singer but I am the voice of Trespass.
Classic rock bands had a template that included a frontman dancing around. That was never our style.
Bright Lights ep in 1981 was the last of your early recordings. Listening to this material now, there’s – in my opinion – so much potential in it that the next logical step should have been making a full lenght album. Why didn’t this happen… instead of that, Trespass disbanded?
I guess we lost our way. Waiting around for a major label and all the disappointment lead to a lack of direction. Paul and I also had the tragedy of my fathers sudden death in 1982 to cope with. It all just disintegrated.
All your first records were released by Trial Records. How close did you actually get to signing a major record deal?
Very close indeed. I don’t know how we managed to avoid it! We should have made an album ourselves in 1980 anyway but kept waiting around for a major label to get.
Were you still active in the music business during the Trespass hiatus?
Yes, I am welded to the guitar and I never stop writing. Others had more influence in the direction we took. That lead to Trespass reforming in late 1984. I was pressured in to a name change and a change in direction and we became Blue Blud.
Now you’ve got a record deal with Mighty Music, and the new album, Footprints In The Rock, is out. How strongly did you have the original NWOBHM traditions in mind during the writing process? The new material comes quite close to the roots of Trespass, I think.
Thanks. I didn’t consciously try to make it sound like anything it’s just me writing rock songs again!
Could you introduce the current line-up, and maybe tell a few words about everyone’s musical backround?
Jason Roberts, drums, has been working with me on and off for over a decade. He is a great guy and a real rocker!
Joe Fawcett is a truly gifted musician. I was thrilled that he wanted to be involved despite being so much younger than the rest of us! He has brough new vigour to the sound and can match me note for note. I love the challenge!
Nigel Booth, bass, is our newest member. He has always been part of my musical world as his band Swift inspired me to play the guitar.
About the future of Trespass, can we expect more gigs, or maybe new music, in the near future? I noticed you are supporting The Sweet next month, for example.
A great big YES to all those questions! Also a slight change in direction. I want to explore a more progressive approach.
So there’s already new Trespass material existing?
Yes, there is new material. It’s still powerful and heavy but with more dimensions. The thing about being part of something like the NWOBHM is you can become trapped in it. It’s not 1980 anymore but I still have music to give!
And then the last question… you mentioned that Sad Wings Of Destiny is your favourite Judas Priest album. What makes it special among all the Priest releases?
There is just something so right about the sound. It is 100% pure British rock. Fantastic riffs. Superb vocals great guitar playing. And I love the sleeve!