Interview with Kelv Hellrazer (Interviewed by Regent St. Claire); June 2007

In the early 80's, a Post-Modern breed of Glam was making an astounding comeback via bands like Crue, Ratt, and Poison. Simultaneously, a parallel movement called the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (N.W.O.B.H.M.) was also gathering steam. U.K.-based magazines like Kerrrang! and Metal Forces became the ultimate guides to this brave new world, and at its center was England's glamourous version of Rodney Bingeheimer, one Kelv Hellrazer.

RTS: Kelv, you wrote for Metal Forces when that scene was literally exploding. How did you get your start in music journalism, and what other mags did you contribute to?

KH: I owe it all to being an insane fan of the Hard Rock genre and going into the first version of Shades Records. Dave Constable seemed overly impressed with my musical knowledge and hooked me up almost straight away with his new mag, Metal Forces that he started with Bernard Doe. I was already in cahoots with the likes of Derek Oliver, Dave Reynolds and Steve Hammonds. That mag was the best thing ever. You wouldn't believe how many corporate moguls it pissed off. Bernard and Dave had Metallica and Slayer and I had Poison and White Lion. It really was an amazing time, but the ambulance chasers ruined it all. Bernard must be given the ultimate big up respect for lasting as long as he did.

I also worked for Sounds where I interviewed the likes of Double O Zeros and Ray Zell, which never got printed. They wanted me to interview old fogies. I was trying to tell them about Poison but they weren't having it, really only Sandy Robertson was left from the old school. I respected him.

Of course, I did some stuff for Kerrang as well, some Glam articles for them too, and compiled their import charts. That mag had the power but the knowledge didn't match the arrogance. Filled with ambulance chasers now and then. Ray Zell rox tho.

Finally, I also worked for Burn and Noisy Mothers TV show. To hear Jackyl's Jessie Dupree sayin 'Whoa horsey, let's go Glam!" really was something.

RTS: At that time, you were also working at Shades Records, a place considered the center of the universe for the genre. How did you get that gig, and who are some of the beautiful people that came by the shop?

KH: I always go back to The Sweet. That linked me to buying from specialist rock stores like Flyover and of course the legendary Shades Records. Dave Constable recognised my knowledge and enthusiasm and harnessed it as soon as they branched out, it really was a one-off place. I went to Wendy's with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, saw shylock Gene Simmons try and convince me that he didn't have a £5-00. Ha ha, he was with his side-kick Paul Stanley, very quiet guy. Pete Way stumbled in once paralytic to a full house and left promptly. Bon Jovi signing was a blast. Before they hit it big, Jon was quiet. No personality. Tico and Ritchie rocked. Now let's not forget the Vanity Sisters, Seb Bach and many more great times. That shop closing was end of an era.

RTS: Like Rodney Bingenheimer in the U.S., you were directly or indirectly responsible for a lot of bands getting deals. In a way, you were an unpaid A&R rep. for a many indie as well as major labels. Did you ever approach any of those companies about a job?

KH: Yes, I approached FM/Revolver Records, and I did get a coupla paychecks outta them. I was shocked. I didn't need the gig till after Shades. I would have loved to work for a US major in the heyday. Put a different perspective on things. Only Kalodner got away with it. My friend Benjie Gordon worked for Columbia Records round the Grunge era. Didn't sound like as much fun as the 80's.

RTS: In the 2003 documentary film "Mayor Of The Sunset Strip," we got to see Rodney hanging out with his old pal, the notorious Kim Fowley, most notable for creating and managing (and exploiting in every possible unseemly way) The Runaways, as well as co-writing the Kiss gem "Do You Love Me?" Did you ever have any dealings with Fowley?

KH: Kim's my hero. We first crossed paths with a band from Illinois called Tough Love, you guessed it - an all-girl band. He picked up the phone and did his classic spiel. He is what Hollywood RnR is all about. Tells it like it is. He's worked with everyone. His infamous descriptions are amazing. He left an amazin message on my phone once about Slamhound. Something about 'pound for pound shakin' sound here, this is a demon band. Call Kim Fowley? Get the job done.' I've utilised it ever since.

He described me once as a cross between Kerry Doll and Marc Bolan. From a man who worked with Zep and Kiss, it doesn't get any better than that. He took me on a tour of Sunset strip on my first LA visit, I knew Bobby Dall from Poison, but hadn't met in the flesh. Out of nowhere comes Axl Rose, 'Kelv please write about us, I love your mag, I hate Kerrang." He was a young kid really. Whilst I was talkin' to Bobby Dall, he kept tryin to butt-in. Finally we took a photo and I told Kim to cut him out from Bobby and little did I know. I did try and call him tho. He changed his number. 'Kim Fowley bought me a steak and I heard his famous sixpence story. He's still at it today. I would love to be a Glam version of him. Ha ha.

RTS: From your perspective, where is the Glam scene now?

KH: One word: Sweden. Its alive and kickin' out there. Kids are walkin around dressed like Motley a la Too Fast period. I'm shocked cos Mr Fowley predicted that about 3 years ago, only in the UK. Steevi Jaimz is always out there. I hope it catches on worldwide. Poison and Motley are enjoying a resurgence. I wish they could release new albums through majors like the old days tho, cause they need the production. I loved 'Crack A Smile'.

There's a lot of new music masquerading as Glam and Goth etc, whether a band can ever make it in the traditional mould - up until recently I would say no, but young kids miss the fun of the 80s, so it's possible.

RTS: With the advent/Pandora's box of The Internet, the traditional business model of the record labels seems precarious at best. It was recently reported that the #1 selling CD a few months ago sold 50,000 units during one week, and 10 years prior to that, the #1 selling CD sold 500,000 units in that same week. That's a 90% DECREASE in sales. Do you think the majors can survive?

KH: Yep unfortunately, they will diversify I'm sure, but they don't deserve it, too goddamn greedy. They should have dropped the price of CDs radically five years ago. The Internet is killing everything, not just music though.

RTS: We all have at least one band that each of us LOVED and just KNEW was going to make it huge, and then didn't. Was Ruby Slippers yours?

KH: I would have loved for them to be signed at least. They were too OTT image-wise for the majors, but yes, I would have loved to see it, and all the ambulance chasers copying them. I couldn't quite picture Ozzy Osbourne and Coverdale in nurse's outfits a la DJ from slippers. Together, Nigel Itson and Keith Varady had the best image in Hollywood. Musically it sounds better now. More retro.

RTS: Who are a few artists that we should be watching right now to do great things?

KH: Silverspoon from Sweden are great, not Glam but still good are Luna Jade, Cori Yarckin, khz, Steevi Jaimz Band their new music is killer. Wig Wam, Crash Diet, Supergroupies, Brother Fire Tribe, The Poodles, American Anthem and of course Sextus Eric Dovers.

RTS: Guys in bands, and guys who write about them, tend to have an uneasy relationship with authority figures at best. I understand that the law (the cops) had given you some bad days.

KH: Ok, you're talkin' 1989. Cops TV show. I got held up at gunpoint by 3 guys. They only robbed me in the whole hotel. The cops took ages to get there, waiting for the film crew, and when they did finally show, they were arseholes worse than the thieves. This was The Hyatt on Sunset. I should have sued they treated me so bad. To cap it all that show got repeated forever. I was hardly in it, thank god.

Their conclusion? My friends and I robbed ourselves and partied throwing chairs off the balcony. Yeah baby, The Rolling Stones.

RTS: Speaking of cops, I also heard that Sebastian Bach tried to break into your apartment at one point?

KH: Hilarious. Steevi Jaimz brought him round after a Hammersmith Odeon Skid Row gig. He wanted to see my record collection. He opened the top window and poked his head in. He didn't try to break in, but was sent packing. it was in Kerrang a week later He's never spoken to me since. It must be noted that Ace Finchum hid under the bed during the whole incident.

RTS: Okay, a little word association. What do you think of when I say:

1983: Castle Blak, bad stripey t shirts, red leather pants, short hair and Loverboy.

Tall Stories: Greatest vocalist since Perry, great record, Augeri better songs than Journey.

Starving Artists: Wrathchild, D'Molls, Double o Zeros, Michael Hannon.

Power Pop: JellyFish.

Heavy Metal America: White Sister, Sabu, Swinging Medallions, Paul "the judge" Birch, Dave Silverwing Roberts.

Star Star or Hanoi Rocks? Star Star I'm afraid. I used to do Heart bootlegs for Razzle.

Maybelline or Lancome? Neither. Max Factor cos Sweet used it.

"Brothers of The Head" or "Rock and Roll High School"? Brothers of The Head.

Dita Von Tease or Traci Lords? DVT or my wife will kill me. Never liked Traci Lords.

Sex or Money? Money, although the sex is amazin now.

RTS: So Kelv, as it says in the Poison video, "Tell me about the image".

KH: God, image, it all started with Sweet Angel, I wanted to be Punky Meadows and Mickey Jones rolled into one. Then came the New Romantics... Nicky Rhodes, Dead or Alive, Silverwing, Rox and Wrathchild, where it really took off, I wanted Eddie Starr's mirrored platforms... that was the early days.

Then LA beckoned, I planned it all, influenced by Sigue Sigue, Pete Burns, Poison and Ruby Slippers, I don't really think I got out of it what I put in and ended up scaring alot of people.

Had better outfits than designers, gave stuff to Rikki Rockett and Bret, used to trade with Tuff, best items pink rubber pants from Sigue's shop.. pure sex. Beverley Hill Taxi Cap.. Bret told me where to get it, I had to make six to get one. Mickey Rourke ended up with one and finally The Fly, an amazin leather jacket with lace hangin off.

Yes, I did get thumped... surprisingly only once, and yes, it became more important than the music at the end.

RTS: Talk about the bands you particularly championed and how you view them...

Shark Island: Amazin band... victim of the music industry, ruined their classic line and lost their identity, 'Go West' one of my fave songs of all time, big up Spence!

Jetboy: Cutting edge glam, great image... three letters MCA... what the hell was with all that AC/DC stuff?

Sweet Savage: All blond, all talent. Joey's better than any other high pitched singer and is a great songwriter.

Tuff: Real dedication... when Lean left it was over... to much Poison goin on, Stevie's great though, shrewd business guy, not arrogant enough haha. Where's my Sludge interview?

London: The combination of Lizzy's great pop sensibilities and Nadir's haunting metal vocals should have got em signed, Nadir's the real bad ass of Hollywood and hates me sayin it.

Castle Blak: Great music, dude you took too long to get dark, great musos. Matthias Montgomery, glams answer to Terry Bozzio. Scott Sanders RIP.

D'Molls: The great conspiracy.. where is the missing D'Moll SS, underhill? Great concept and image, you could put a D in front of everything including Diamond Rexx haha.

White Lion: Vito Bratta told me I scared him, didn't get out what I put in, Tramp's a star though, "Turn and Walk Away Mate".

Poison: Lost their way a bit in the 90's, devastated when Matt Smith left, Bret will always be a star, Rikki will always be cutting edge... their back, second biggest band of their ilk at the moment.

Life, Sex and Death: The most amazin band ever, if you haven't heard their Silent Majority CD download it free from their website, best concept and very daring... real guys... you can't fake being a tramp... Alex K, the time is right for a reunion.

Adam Bomb: Perennial rockstar... Seattle's Marc Bolan, he's a prolific songwriter of the highest order.

Electric Angels: Two words, The Loveless, Jonathon Daniel is king.

Pretty Boy Floyd: We're talkin again after 16 years... this band needs Keri Kelli the rock n' roll whore, Aerial or settle differences with Kristy Majors or Kerry Doll, Steve Summers has kept it going though through thick and thin.

Tigertailz: My biggest headache ever. Steevi's the guvnor of glam in the UK, Pepsi looked amazin, Ace best glam drummer in the UK... they blew it but no major deal didn't help, now they're all chasin the same audience, very misguided by their popularity, needed Steevi to keep em in line, it was an amazin ride.

RTS: Anything else you'd like to say?

I'm trying to re-promote Rikki Rocket's Glitter CD. Great record, better than Poison. Ha ha, not really. Bret. Helping American Anthem, Rocky Shades Wrathchild and trying to get Ruby Slippers a CD release.

Interviewed by Regent St. Claire