Marshall Law - 02/12/2008

MARSHALL LAW is a heavy metal band from Birmingham, England. The group formed in 1988. Regarded by many as one of the finest exponents of the Power Metal genre the UK has to offer, MARSHALL LAW have enjoyed a seven album career spanning nearly two decades. Known for their relentless touring and quality studio offerings, the band built up a dedicated and loyal worldwide fan-base during the early nineties. Their debut album ‘Marshall Law’ has been widely described as a cult classic. The follow-up ‘Power Game’ went on to sell more than 75,000 copies in Japan. The third release, 'Metal Detector' once more pulled in worthy reviews with increased sales in Germany and Japan. 'Warning from History' was recorded in early 1999 and saw the band's first release in South America, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Main stage appearances at major European festivals, such as the legendary Wacken festival in Germany, endorsed the view of the critics that MARSHALL LAW remain a true force to be reckoned with. Sanctuary records released a best of album in 2003 which gained world wide interest. So the ball started to roll again and 'Axis Of Power' was recorded. Then a series of Line up changes came about and the band looked to re-branding the name and image. In 2006 MARSHALL LAW were invited to appear on the main stage at the prestigious Bloodstock UK festival and so they took time off from the studio to deliver an epic performance, receiving raving reviews from fans and press.



The new album ‘Razorhead’ is the result of three years writing and recording and it is a dark and intense journey that undoubtedly contains the band’s best material to date. We had the opportunity to ask the band a couple of questions, here you can read what Dave Martin (Guitar) has to say about their latest release.


Congratulations on your new album ‘Razorhead’ which was recently released in Europe!


First of all, I’m not familiar with your band so could you tell me something about Marshall Law, how did this reunion happen? Could you start this interview off with a short introduction of the (new) members and the origins of the name of the band for our readers?

Dave: Andy Pyke and Dave Martin formed Marshall Law in 1988. The name Marshall Law was a pun based on the comic character and the fact we used Marshall amps. 2nd guitarist Andy Southwell, drummer Mick Donavan and bass player Malcolm Gould joined shortly after. The band toured with many artists including Yngwie Malmsteen, Hellion, Little Angels and Thunderhead. The band also played the German Bang your Head and Wacken Festivals in 1999. The new members are Guitarist Dave Rothan, Drummer Stevie H and bass player Tom Dwyer. The new line up played Bloodstock UK festival in 2006 and 2008.


After all these years, what made you think “ok let’s reunite, write new songs and record a new album”?

Dave: Andy Southwell, Andy Pyke and me continued writing and experimenting with recording and studio production after 1999. We took time out around 2001/2 as Dave M and Andy S both lost their fathers to cancer. It took time to deal with that. (The anger and grief would later be channeled into the song ‘Nothing lasts Forever’ on the new Razorhead album). We realized there was still interest in the band and we began writing new songs and wanted to record them ourselves without interference from producers and engineers. This became known as the ‘Axis of Power’ project.  During this venture we gained newfound respect for the role of a good engineer and producer! Before we could complete the album Andy Southwell had an accident with a hack saw and he found it too painful to continue playing guitar. We auditioned a number of guitarists but it took some to find someone who could match Andy’s skill and professionalism. We were lucky to be reunited with Dave Rothan, an old friend from our wild drinking days at Birmingham’s notorious Rock clubs, Edwards Number 8 and Exels. Dave is a fantastic musician but also a very skilled studio technician. This proved invaluable when we decided to begin recording ‘Razorhead’. Dave Rothan helped bring new energy and power to the band. We found a great rhythm section in drummer Stevie H and bass player Tom Dwyer. With the new line up complete, we scrapped ‘Axis of Power’ and enlisted Mark Stuart and Sheena Sear of M2 studios in Wolverhampton to help with the recording process.


How did you launch into writing material for ‘Razorhead’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?

Dave: I started writing the music to Razorhead just after Andy Southwell left the band as a way of fighting the adversity of losing a key band member and friend. We spent a lot of time trying to write songs that would be a move forward yet still maintain the essence of Marshall Law. The process took about 18 months before we were ready to enter M2 studios in January 2007.


Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

Dave: The music for “Razorhead”, “Headtrap”, “Premonition” and “Night Terror” came quickly – there was a lot of energy and anger to fuel the writing process. Once the songs were in a basic format, Dave Rothan and Dave Martin spent time adding atmospherics and sound effects to create a darker sound, not usually associated with Marshall Law. We were tempted to go a lot further with these experiments but decided to save them for the next album!


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Razorhead’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

Dave: Seeing as 9 years had elapsed since the last record we had many new influences and ideas we wanted to incorporate. The problem was getting the balance between a fresh modern sound and the Marshall Law style of the past. We wanted it to be heavier and darker and show off the defiant angry side of Andy Pyke’s character that comes over at live gigs, but is rarely captured on record.


Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?

Dave: Partly, though inevitably things evolve in ways you can’t imagine and foresee. We’re not afraid to change things at the last minute, much to the frustration of the producer!


In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you? Is there any typical way that a Marshall Law song comes into being?

Dave: In the past a song would start with a guitar riff but more frequently these days we start with a song title like “The Chamber”. This makes song writing easier - the title creates a picture in your imagination which triggers musical ideas.


Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics on this album and where do you get your inspiration from?

Dave: Each Marshall Law album has had a different band member as the driving force… Dave Martin and Dave Rothan did most of the writing for ‘Razorhead’. We would change things to suit Andy’s voice. ‘Warning from History’ was very much Andy Pyke and Dave Martin - ultimately it’s a collaborative process.


What would you say are the main themes in your lyrics?

Dave: Books and films mainly inspired the subject matter on ‘Razorhead’. We tried to cover a number of themes, some more serious than others. “Divides Us” was prompted after the bombings in England. “Necromancer” was inspired by the feelings we get from old B movies!


Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?

Dave: There is no set formula, it can happen both ways.


What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?

Dave: Generally melodies come first. I’m often inspired to pick up a guitar and write music after seeing a good film or hearing a great riff or song.



Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Razorhead’?

Dave: ‘Razorhead’ was a character created by Dave Martin and Andy Pyke. He’s really a metaphor for the wrong choices we make in life. He did evil deeds and therefore becomes the victim of evil forces. He is cursed to be the agent of retribution and right wrongs done to the innocent.


Do you have any favorites on ‘Razorhead’, songs that you think are somehow above the others?

Dave: Well I think we’d all disagree on that! Generally ”Razorhead”, “The Chamber”, “Headtrap” and “Night Terror” get mentioned the most.


How much time did you spend in the studio for ‘Razorhead’?

Dave: We only had three weeks to make the album so we had to be very careful with time. We were the most prepared we’ve ever been for ‘Razorhead’…although as Peter Jackson said on a huge production like Lord of the Rings, if only we’d had a bit more money and time!


What do you think are the main differences between your previous albums back in the eighties / nineties and ‘Razorhead’?

Dave: Razorhead is darker and angrier. We are a bit older now and we like to take chances and experiment…what’s the worst that can happen?…someone may say “that’s shit!”…..who cares!.


Have you received any feedback on the album yet?

Dave: A lot more than we expected!!!! Generally it’s been received well by our target audience…people who know hat we are trying to capture.


Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

Dave: We are open to constructive criticism. We all have opinions about music. It’s quite disposable these days so you can’t take any one comment too seriously. Sooner or later you have to be your own person and play the music you enjoy making.


Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

Dave: Let me throw that one back to you by way of giving an honest answer….have you ever created something, decorated your house or painted a picture…all you see are the faults!!!’….if only I could just change this or that!  All in all, given the time and budget, we are very happy with it.


What do you think is the difference between Marshall Law and other bands in the heavy / power metal scene?

Dave: Every band makes its own sound. It’s hard for me to answer that one….that’s for the observer of the band to answer I think. Much of it though is down to Andy Pyke’s vocals

What is your opinion on the English metal scene these days, what do you think about the overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the ‘metal’ scene?

Dave: I don’t really see a metal scene in England other than the Bloodstock festival. ‘Razorhead’ was written for the European scene. If we are lucky we may get to play over there again. We recently headlined the last weekend at the Ruskin Arms where Iron Maiden started out…it’s to be bulldozed to the ground…that’s the British metal scene!


Who are your greatest influences - both in terms of composition as well as your guitar / /bass / drum playing?

Dave: Too many to mention. Once you get to our age you have heroes from many eras!.

& 70s/80s – Michael Schenker, Gary Moore, Dokken. Queen - 90s onwards… Rammstein ….film composers likes Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?

Dave: Generally my own life experience. Seeing injustices or wanting to create characters and other worlds…maybe we’re frustrated film producers.



What were the highlights and low points throughout your career?
Dave: High points – touring Germany and Europe, low points playing in Rotheram UK to one man and a dog!


Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?

Dave: Well it’s probably one or two from years ago….AC/DC’s live album…’If you want Blood’, Motorhead’s ‘Overkill’ and Def Leppard’s ‘On Through The Night’.


Are there any particular bands that’ve been a big influence in your song writing?

Dave: Too many to list: Queen, Priest, Metallica, Testament, Savatage, Faith no More, Rammstein…………..


What can we expect from Marshall Law in the near future, any touring plans?

Dave: We hope to tour the ‘Razorhead’ album next year but only if we can do it justice with a decent stage show.


Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

Dave: We would like to continue exploring the heavier and darker side of the band.


Any last statement you'd like to share with us?

Dave: Thanks for showing interest in the band and the new album. Maybe we can share a beer out on the road next year!

Thanks for your time!

Eugene Straver


Current line-up

Andy Pyke - Vocals

Dave Martin - Guitar

Dave Rothan - Guitar (Tom Dwyer - Bass

Steve Hauxwell - Drums

Former members:  

Guitar :

Andy Southwell

Jack Frost

Bass :

Roger Davis

Malcolm Gould


Drums :

Mick Donovan

Lee Morris

Paul Brookes

Chris Green

Peter Hunt


Marshall Law (1989) 

Power Crazy EP, (1991) 

Power Game, (1992) 

Law In the Raw, Live album, (1996) 

Metal Detector, (1997) 

Warning From History, (1999) 

Razorhead, (2008)