Greg Hart, guitarist and leading light behind UK pomp rock Titans Cats in Space, takes us down memory lane to a world where it's perfectly normal to have bespoke tartan trousers made...
Hello again Greg – welcome back to Sentinel Daily! What are your earliest memories of heavy metal – was it love at first sight/hearing? “The earliest ‘heavy rock’ song i can remember would be Fireball by Deep Purple possibly, or Silver Machine by Hawkwind, when I was seven, but i didn’t care for it much! I preferred the glam rock that was emerging from the UK, like T-Rex, Slade and The Sweet… the first time I really dug a ‘rock song’ (even though Sweet were rock) would be Seven Seas of Rhye by Queen.. and the love affair started!”
What was the first metal or rock album you bought with your own money? Or a record token maybe? “The first album was David Bowie‘s Alladin Sane, the first ‘rock albums’ were Destroyer by Kiss and Rainbow – Rising at the same time!”
Not a bad pair of albums! Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask ‘what
was I thinking’? “Nope, I still embrace all my childhood favourites, as I love seventies pop music, so groups like The Partridge Family and Bay City Rollers I still really like.. I’m far more a pop fan than rock truth be told, as it has so many memories! If anything I wince at all those hair metal bands we used to like in the eighties, such as Dokken and White Lion… style over substance and too much guitar wank going on for my liking!”
My God man, I’m not having that! Dokken and White Lion are two of my favourite bands! Who were the first band you saw live as a youngster? “My first gig was quite special- Queen at Earls Court 1977- still regarded as the bands finest period, I was 14 and thought I had gone into Space!”
I would imagine you did! It’s an amazing feeling, being hit by the power of live music for the first time. I was never the same again after seeing Judas Priest at Hammersmith Odeon! How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “I was lucky as i had older brothers and they were always coming home from school with the latest stuff- so I grew up from a very young age, probably five or six, and was hooked on music there and then. I remember when my eldest brother told me about a band called ‘The Sweet’, probably around the time of Chop-Chop in 1971… HOOKED!!!! Later we had a shop that got all the American teen magazines and we would by those to read about Kiss, Cheap Trick et cetera”.
I loved those mags – I grew up desperately wanting to try Hostess Cup Cakes and Twinkies! But enough nostalgia… Do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today? Do we know too much about our heroes in 2016? “Yes, I tend to agree with that, worse is reading these old bands moaning about their ex members all the time.. very uncool and not what we want to read”.
Mmmm… the journalist in me likes that scurrilous gossip side of things… Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “No, I was always too busy writing and rehearsing in bands waiting to be the next big thing! my motto was always ‘i’d rather be up on stage looking down, than in a field looking up!… I did go to Reading and Donington, but only for the ‘lig’ to be honest!”
Nothing wrong with the lig… I know people who were at Festivals for four whole days without seeing a single band! How hard/easy was it for you to get to big gigs growing up? Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “I live only an hour from Hammersmith- that was our Mecca… saw so many gigs there! So it was easy for us”.
Yep. Hammersmith was my Mecca too! What five albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “Rainbow – Rising, Thin Lizzy‘s Jailbreak, Sheer Heart Attack by Queen, Sweet – Fanny Adams and Peter Frampton – Comes Alive, all bought within 12 months of each other in 1975-76.. still the finest period ever for me”.
Did you have a metal crush? I had lifesize posters of Lee Aaron and Doro Pesch on my ceiling in 1986… “(laughs) that’s cool! I fancied Roxy from Vixen! And Kate Bush obviously.. and I also had a bad crush on Jody from Rock Goddess in the late eighties!… oh well, there go my secrets!”
Anything else you’d like to reveal about your metal upbringing? “I like to try and be very honest with any question asked in interviews, so i’m not sure i’m hiding anything! (more laughter)… maybe the fact during my Glam Rock years (1975) I once cut my hair with a pair of scissors to look like Woody from the Bay City Rollers… and had a pair of tartan trousers made.. The most ‘metal’ i’ve got was getting my nipple pierced and loads of tattoos done when i was 40!! Oh and I threw up in Hammersmith Odeon at a Motörhead gig too..Rock n’roll dudes!”