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Grim Reaper Singer Steve Grimmett Talks New Album "At The Gates," The Status Of The Sanity Days And Lionsheart

Back in the seventies and eighties, Great Britain became known for its heavy metal bands. Part of this was thanks to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, which saw the rise of bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon, but there were so many bands before and after the NWOBHM that it feels like a national genre. One such band to come out swinging with metal imagery, soaring anthems and and enough power to light up London was Grim Reaper, a superb example of British heavy metal.

Over the years, frontman Steve Grimmett went on to other projects including fronting thrash metal favourites Onslaught for a time, forming a new band called Lionsheart and now, fronting a new version of his old outfit, named Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper. Only last week, the band released another stellar record in the form of "At The Gates" and I was lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Grimmett to discuss the album, his side project The Sanity Days with other former members of Onslaught and how kind America has been to the band. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: The new album, "At The Gates" is finally out. How does it compare to the previous release?

Steve Grimmett: Well, people are saying it's heavier. Some people are asking, "Why have you gone that way?" but really, we haven't. What we've done is written a bunch of songs and that's it. There was no choices about going down any road it was just, a song has got to be good to be on the album.

Oz: Something I really like about it, as I do with all Grim Reaper albums, is the artwork. Grim Reaper's always had really cool artwork. Who did this one?

Steve: It's a guy who's in a band called Tysondog, Steve Morrison. He offered his services some time ago and so I explained the story of the album; Me in the hospital, me losing my leg, blah blah blah and I want the grim reaper at the gates. He came up with a few but that one was the one that really stood out to us all. He's probably going to get another job (laughs). Considering he's not a professional, he just does it for pleasure. An absolute natural.

Oz: This is your second album through Dissonance, how has the relationship with them been so far?

Steve: It's been great. Like any band and their record label, we have our ups and our downs. But I find them to be truthful, they don't lie to me and they're a joy to work with. They tell us when they want to release an album by and that's the closest thing to interference from them. They're really good at their job.

Oz: Good. I know you've not long completed a North American tour. How did that go?

Steve: It was good! There was one show in Canada which was midweek and it wasn't that full, maybe only about fifty people there but they really went for it. So that wasn't bad but the rest of them were well attended and great shows.

Oz: And you played 70000 Tons Of Metal at the beginning of the year so you've well and truly got your name out there in America now.

Steve: Oh yeah. We did it for three years in the eighties and then there was a massive gap until 2014 when we did the Ragnarok festival in Chicago and that started everything off, we kept getting offers. So we've been out ever since then. We even toured the same year I lost my leg. I lost that in January, started playing again in June or July and then we go out there again. I must be nuts!

Oz: It's working. Every time I listen to Grim Reaper on YouTube, there's always comments saying "Love from Detroit!" "Love from L.A.!" etc. There's obviously lots of other things you've been involved with too. I know the Lionsheart albums were recently re-released as one package. Did you have much to do with that?

Steve: No. The label asked me if I thought it was a good idea and I said "Yes," because you can't get most of the albums anyway.

Oz: You've also got the Sanity Days project with other ex members of Onslaught. You did an album in 2015, what's the status of The Sanity Days at the moment?

Steve: It's come to a major grinding halt really because Al, the guitarist, he got cancer of the bladder. I spoke to him not so long ago and he hasn't picked up a guitar for two years. I haven't spoken to him for a few months so he's due a phone call really just to see how he's getting on. He went through several operations until they took the lot away. Poor bugger.

Oz: Obviously Grim Reaper has been going strong since returning in 2014. How does being in Grim Reaper today compare to back in the day?

Steve: You have to do everything yourself these days, which is not a bad thing. We do have all the media to help us do that so we're probably getting out to a lot more people than we ever did. We do a few magazines but we'll never get on the front cover. I'm too good looking! So we've got all that but there's no money in it anymore. Even the Onslaught album, we got over a hundred and forty thousand to do that, but now you're lucky if you get a couple of grand. Most labels now won't take you on without a finished article and artwork, so they can take that and away they go. But like I said, we can get out to a lot more people now, so that's the difference, money and access.

Oz: My first exposure to Grim Reaper was in 2005 when Weezer used your video for "Fear No Evil." Did they ask permission to use that?

Steve: I think they did but I think it was Nick (Bowcott, guitarist) got involved in that but it was a good thing, we got a bit more.

Oz: At first I didn't know where it came from, I just thought Weezer looked really different. Just finally then, what's your plans for next year?

Steve: Well, it's already started actually. If you'd have asked me a couple of days ago, I would have said, "We've got one show." But now we've got that show and it looks like we'll be doing a European tour in March/April. We're looking to return to the States again, probably about July/August time. We've been doing little jaunts over there but we can do so much more, visit so many more places that we haven't done or haven't done in a long time. We haven't done Florida, even with the original lineup and now it looks like we've got three shows on that coast. New York and then zig zagging across the country until we reach L.A.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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