A few weeks before the release of their new album entitled ‘Awakening’, we talked about it with Millennium’s guitarist Will Philpot, but also about the band’s glorious past and their legendary homonymous debut among other (hopefully) interesting topics…
You’re no stranger to the Greek metal audience as your same-titled album, was re-released recently via No Remorse Records. Your comeback also came via the same label. Still I have to ask you for a small bio of the band.
MILLENNIUM was formed in 1982 by Mark Duffy (vocals) and Pete McArdle (guitar) . They recruited Steve Mennell (drums) Dave Price (bass) and Dave Merrington ( guitar) . The band released their debut album in 1984 on the Guardian Record label to much critical acclaim. The band recorded a number of demos between 1985 – 1988 and disbanded in June 1988. Vocalist Mark Duffy went on to join Thrash Metal band TORANAGA releasing albums through Peaceville records and Chrysalis records.
In 2014 No Remorse Records rereleased Millennium’s debut album followed by a second album released in 2016 titled “Caught in a Warzone” this album was made up from recordings the band made throughout 1985.
In 2015 Mark responded to an advert that Will Philpot had posted looking for likeminded individuals to form a Metal band. The idea of resurrecting Mark’s NWOBHM band Millennium seemed an obvious course as Mark had always felt that this chapter of Metal history was not yet over. Original members were contacted and drummer Steve Mennell and guitarist Dave Hardy were on board along with new bass player Andy Fisher. Rehearsals and gigs followed with a great response to the live appearances’ at Brofest, Live Evil and Mearfest. During this time Will and Mark had been demoing new material that they had written. Sadlυ, ill health and other commitments meant the loss of Steve and Dave. In February 2017 the band, including new drummer Darren Moore, travelled to Coach House Studios in France to record their new album, mixing the album at Ritual Studios in Darlington UK, the band are ready to unleash ” AWAKENING”, a combination of NWOBHM riffage, Heavy Metal ideals and a lyrical call to arms.
How do you feel that you have to re-introduce yourself to metal community back from the start?
The debut album has a strong following and many fans want to hear songs from that album and the Caught in a Warzone album. The new songs are a bit heavier but still have that NWOBHM feel to them. It’s going to be great playing the new and old songs in the new set.
It is less than a year since your last release Caught In A Warzone that it was actually the demo recordings from 85-88 era that was first published only in 2014 as bonus on the No Remorse edition of Millennium album. Why it took you so long to publish these tracks?
The band had been quiet for many years but after the reformation we thought it would be good to get the demo out because there are some great songs on there. We may rerecord some of the tracks at some point to give them a better production. Songs like Caught in a Warzone and Devil Rides out always have a place in the setlist.
When you started writing the songs for the new record, what were your expectations?
We had a good feeling when the new songs were coming together. We wanted to update the Millennium sound without losing the classic feel of the NWOBHM era.
Tell us more about the new album and the writing procedure.
The songs are a collaboration of ideas from Will and Mark. We then demo the material and present it to the band. We already have enough materiel to record the next album. We recorded the album at Coach House Studios in France and mixed at Ritual Studios in the UK. There are 11 tracks on the new album. There is a powerful mix of crunching riffs, different tempos and strong lyrical themes.
Your last album has a similar approaching to Caught In A Warzone as the compositions are more powerful and less NWOBHM-driven. Do you feel that you are now a much more different band from what people have in mind for you (cult NWOBHM heroes) and practically a more or less new band?
The old stuff is great and a lot of old songs will always feature in the live set. They don’t clash with the new songs but obviously there are a few differences. The new songs may be a little heavier but still have melodic themes and big choruses. They key difference is that technology has improved and we are able to capture more of the powerful sound on new recordings.
Which is your favorite track from the album? What kind of feedback do you get for Awakening?
We have had a fantastic response to the album so far! We can’t wait to get it out on release so the world can hear how Millennium have evolved. We are immensely pleased with what we have achieved with this album. Favorite track at the moment is “Searching” but tomorrow it may be “Witch Hunt”.
How does the experience of recording an album and playing shows today compare to when you were active in the 80’s?
I think recording is much easier these days but it still requires quality performances from each individual member of the band. Some of us are a little older now and not as spritely as we were in the 80’s, but it is still the best feeling to play live in front of an appreciative audience.
What are your memories of writing and recording the ‘Millennium’ LP (originally released in 1984 and one of the best New Wave of British Heavy Metal records of the 80’s)?
It was a difficult time. The recording of the album was not a good experience for the band. We had a lot of disagreements with Guardian Records who released the album and we were not happy with the way the recording was done. When the album was released we had great feedback and some great reviews but the band just wanted to forget about the album because of the bad experience in doing it and just move on and write new songs. Dave Merrington left the band after recording the album because of the bad experience of recording it.
Why do you think that N.W.O.B.H.M. is once again popular among younger audiences?
There were some great bands that were involved in the scene that was termed NWOBHM. With the advancement of technology everyone now has immediate access to every era of music via the internet, social media and sites like You Tube.
Have you ever discussed what did get wrong and you never make it big? Why Millennium split up back in the late 80s?
Finance was a real problem: without record company backing it was almost impossible to achieve, back then. Millennium split when Mike Muskett and Steve Mennell left the band. We did replace Mike and Steve but the style had changed, we became a lot heavier and it did not sound like Millennium anymore so we changed the name to Major Threat then our bassist moved away and it started to be lineup change after lineup change. Mark then saw an advert in Kerrang magazine for a vocalist to join Toranaga which Mark auditioned for and then joined.
What have you been listening to lately (metal and non-metal)?
The new Styx album is great. Mastodon’s latest album is superb. I love classical music – my favorite piece at the moment is the Asrael Symphony by Josef Suk.
Within the heavy metal and rock worlds there has been a massive resurgence of vinyl, and even cassettes to an extent. How do you feel about the re-emergence of these formats? Do you have a preferred medium for listening to music?
I think there is room for multiple formats. A lot of people download but many metal/rock fans prefer something physical, be it vinyl, cassette or CD. I am personally a big fan of CD’s. I love their simplicity and high quality playback.
Just before the ending, please tell us Millennium’ future plans.
We have several live dates planned later in the year. We already have enough quality material to record another album. First, we have to get this latest album out and are hopeful in securing a deal in the very near future.