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  STAMPEDE: HOLD YOUR HORSES!
Pippa Lang

9th June 2011
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Stampede singer Reuben Archer chats to Pippa Lang about the band's new lease of life, the thirty-year break between albums, the nightmare behind the recording of 'A Sudden Impulse'... plus: The Archer Empire, mods, plastic macs, Eric Clapton, Welsh rarebit... Are you sitting comfortably? (There could be a book in this).

Reuben and I are munching Welsh Rarebit in the Bishop by Kingston Bridge. He, Head of the Archer Empire, looks curiously at his food and then waves his arm in the direction of the river. Memories, it appears, are stirring:

"Me and Eric used to hang around here," he remarks casually. Reuben and Eric – yes – Clapton both went to Kingston School of Art, when Reuben's dad was Principal. It turns out he didn't do much painting until after Clapton had left:

Article continues below...

   


"That's when I got into the guitar, because of Eric, and it wasn't until he left that I actually got down to doing what I was supposed to be doing - studying art!"

It is recollections like this that make me realise exactly how many lifetimes Stampede's singer has lived. "Five or six", he shrugs nonchalantly, and then laughs, as if he thinks it sounds like he's boasting. It doesn't – nor does it make him sound like Old Father Time (something he's conscious of!). Reuben is a lovely man who speaks (and sings) with the voice of experience, but never to preach or gloat; and it isn't the quantity but the quality of those years that counts.

Reuben believes in grabbing the bull by the horns, and as with all eternal optimists, is always eager to plunge into each new adventure life throws his way. Stampede's new lease of life, for example, and the praise poured upon 'A Sudden Impulse', their first album for nearly thirty years, has Reuben positively beside himself:

"I'm quite overwhelmed, I never expected this to happen. We've had so much good press I feel like my head might explode!"

It comes as no surprise, then, that Stampede are already well into recording the next album. Considering the huge gap between 'Hurricane Town', the first album in 1983, and 'A Sudden Impulse', their creative honeypot is overflowing. But this doesn't mean they've been sitting around gathering dust and inspiration for three decades – au contraire (Rodney). The concept of exploiting the past for the benefit of the future has always been Reuben's mantra, and it seems his kids, Lauren, Frankie and stepson Laurence, have inherited that attitude to life. ("I love the lot of 'em, I'm very lucky.")

THE BREAK-UP

Last time I saw Reuben (apart from Stampede's comeback gig two years ago) was in 1996 on a little island called Platts Eyot near Sunbury On Thames. Both of us had left our respective roles in the music business, pretty much for the same reasons: disenchantment with the swings and roundabouts of an industry built on corporate rules and regulations. More to the point, Reuben had broken his hip running with Bruce Dickinson. This is all history, but for those who don't know:

"I did Reading and Mildenhall on crutches in 1982. We were sitting round doing the second album for Polydor, and the doctor said 'if you're going to carry on jumping around on drumrisers, I'm gonna take those plates out of your leg. You land badly, you're gonna bend them and then you'll be a cripple.'

"When I went in for the op, they told me they couldn't do it coz someone'd nicked the forceps! So I had to get back in my car, stoned out of my head. Went back a week later, they took the plates out, but when I got home, I suddenly felt really ill. My wife called the doctor, and he said I'd caught an infection from the operating theatre, and if I hadn't called, I'd have been dead! Great! After that I just didn't wanna do anything musically anymore, wasn't interested."

So Reuben packed in the band. Knowing that experience is a gift not to be sniffed at, he soon turned his past as an art student into a successful design company, Craven-Archer Design, initially based on the island in Sunbury. Now that Stampede are back in the saddle, what'll happen to the business?:

"My son Frankie, who's 20, is doing his degree in Computer Visualization, so he can take the business over. Well, that's what I want him to do. He's not gonna get a job in this recession is he?"

The Head of the Family has spoken! Daughter Lauren, meanwhile, is now Stampede's extremely efficient manager and PR ("She's doing a blinding job for us, I am so grateful!"), and stepson Laurence is not only their prodigious lead guitarist, but runs his own film company, a commitment that demands a lot of his attention. Indeed, when Reuben decided to reform Stampede, it proved a little harder than expected to gather everybody together. The reunion, incidentally, was not a conscious decision – more of a snowball effect - and certainly nothing to do with money:

"We're not one of those bands who have to get back together because of money (naming no names). With us, it's never been about that, but about playing."

Considering Craven-Archer now count Harrods amongst their clients, there's no disputing this. In fact, by 1999, the business was doing so well that Reuben decided to take a backseat and take on more of a consultancy role. Moving off the island, he and his wife bought a house in the Midlands, the idea being to retire. But Reuben's past decided to follow him - to Molineux football ground:

"I went to a party there in 2000 - I'd never been to a football ground at night, and this was an opportunity to see what it looked like all lit up. This guy came up to me and said 'I know your name', but he couldn't remember where he'd seen me before.

"The evening wore on, we got more and more drunk, and eventually he remembered he'd seen me with Stampede at Birmingham Odeon and Wolverhampton Civic bloody years ago. So he asked if I'd do a gig for his cancer charity. Well, I had to say 'no' because I hadn't done anything for fifteen years. But he kept phoning me.

"So I ended up saying if I could find some musicians, I'd do the gig, but it'd be bluesy stuff. So I called the ex-guitarist of a band called Whirly Blues I'd managed when I'd first moved to Wolverhampton after Stampede split. I'd actually got them a record deal, and then they broke up! Anyway, he sorted out a band and we called ourselves The Boogeymen for a laugh, did the gig - and ended up staying together for five years til 2006!"

reuben archer

THE REUNION AND A VERY DIFFICULT ALBUM

By now, the music bug had bitten Reuben again, and he formed a blues band with his wife - The Archer Marriott Band (who are still gigging regularly, and will continue to do so, Stampede's success permitting). So, Reuben was buzzing. Just after New Year 2008, he picked up the phone and called Stampede's original bassist Colin 'Boggy' Bond:

"Boggy was by now in a very successful Beach Boys tribute band – amazing coz he'd never sung in Stampede, and here he was fronting this lot! Anyway, I thought if I could get Boggy interested in reforming Stampede, then maybe Laurence would go for it – I knew he'd be the big stumbling block. In fact, he went for it straightaway. We couldn't find Eddie, our original drummer, but I phoned Clive Edwards (ex-UFO), who'd been playing in a blues band with Laurence, to see if he wanted to do some gigs, and he said yes."

A few rehearsals later and Stampede were playing their first gig in twenty-five years at Krusher's Embassy Club in London in 2009. The outstanding reaction confirmed Reuben's decision to record an album. This, however, would not be so easy to organise. It turned out to be a logistical nightmare, a case of 'Relocation! Relocation! Relocation!' First stop Weston-Super-Mare. Reuben grimaces:

"It was the most traumatic recording process I've ever been involved with! First, we went down to Weston-Super-Mare, where a friend of Colin's had a studio. We had four tracks ready for me to do guide vocals over, so I went down there. But Clive wasn't happy with the drums, he didn't think they had the rock 'n' roll element - and I said 'well, you're the drummer!' – but he thought they were too neat and tidy. Anyway, we had four tracks that nobody seemed to like."

Next stop Dartford College:

"We knew the guys who ran the studios there (they have ten). We had all our gear with us and we were going to record everything live, like apparently Van Halen did. So we went in, set up - it was like a bloody gymnasium – and then went off to the complex we were staying in, very nice, and got wrecked - and the next morning, the playing wasn't very good!"

...and Wolverhampton:

"I thought 'God, I'm paying for this!', so I lugged all the equipment and the recordings we'd done all the way up to Wolverhampton to Mark Stuart, Magnum's producer, who runs Madhat Studios, about two miles from where I live.

"There's a girl there called Sheena Sear, who was amazing; she retrieved everything that was any good, and reformatted it all. It wasn't rubbish or anything, but the band hadn't played for years, so it was just badly-played pissed stuff basically! And some of the tracks were in the wrong key, so Laurence came up and rerecorded the guitar. He was only supposed to come up for two days, but he's a workaholic, once he's started on something, he has to finish it, so he stayed all week. And at the end of it, he said he didn't know if he could cope with the pressure, he had too much film work, he was gonna sell his guitars! I've known Laurence all his life, I know what he's like, he's difficult to argue with.

"So there was a period of no contact for six weeks, he had a lotta pressure with the film he was doing. Eventually, I emailed him and said 'look we've got all this stuff, what're we gonna do with it?', and he said he just didn't have the time. On top of all this was the fact that Magnum were about to come in and do their album, we were using down time, so there was a lotta pressure. Mark said he'd phone us when the studio was free here and there.

"Now I don't wanna slag these guys off, but the prospect of phoning them up and saying 'oh we've got three hours here and there, can you make it' and they're coming back to me and saying they're playing golf or whatever, was just not that appealing."

But Reuben was determined to finish the album:

"Finally, I asked Laurence if he'd mind me getting another guitarist in, even though I hadn't got a clue who at the time, and he said fine. My son Frankie had a little band when he was fourteen, and I used to do the sound for them. There was a little kid called Rob Wolverson who played guitar, and I helped him buy his first guitar. So I asked Frankie what Rob was doing these days, and he said still playing guitar, and really good. So I got him in. He's absolutely fantastic, looks great – dreadlocks down to his knees – no ego at all, fucking great. So he finished the rest of the album with us, and now he stands in for Laurence when he can't play."

With second guitarist Chris Clowsley and drummer Steve Graystone, Stampede, and the album, was complete. After receiving outstanding praise for 'A Sudden Impulse', the band played a gig at The Peel in Kingston with Praying Mantis in May, to rapturous applause - both bands proving that, contrary to popular myth, most musicians improve with age, like a fine wine.
stampede

ERIC... WHO?


Reuben and I continue munching and looking out over the river, which brings us back to Reuben's halcyon days, and EC. Did he ever see Eric again?

"I tried to get him for the Bristol International Festival that I helped organise in 1976. I spoke to his manager Roger, but he just messed us about. Didn't know why then, but it was coz he was being a recluse at the time. Roger said 'no he's not doing anything, no album or anything', so we didn't get him.

"I used to tell Laurence all these stories, and he never believed me! I had a pass for Eric's first gig at The Rainbow when he came back, and I couldn't go, so I gave it to Laurence. He was standing in this doorway as Eric came offstage, and Eric said 'do I know you?' Laurence replied, 'you know my Dad, Reuben', and Eric said 'who the fuck is that?'!

"But I've got proof now! Neil Murray came up to me in Southampton when I was on the Whitesnake tour with Lionheart, and he said 'I didn't realise your age Reuben!' 'Whaddya mean?' He told me he'd just bought The Yardbirds' autobiography and in the second or third chapter it reads 'Eric Clapton and Reuben Archer frequented Richmond with bouffant hair and plastic macs'. Nobody believes any of this – so Jimmy McCarthy, the Yardbirds' drummer, is sending me a copy of the book, so I can prove it!"

Plastic macs? These, it appears, were Mod de rigeuer before parkas. I think we'll just leave that one there. Another story for another day methinks.

We finish munching, and Reuben says:

"That Welsh rarebit was nice. What is it anyway?"

"Cheese on toast, mate."

Some things, like Welsh rarebit, may've passed Reuben by, but Life has certainly not. As he said in his email a few days after our chat:

"It's like I said 'This Road Is Hard', but at the end of it you just can't get enough..."

Rock 'n' roll. Life. Welsh rarebit. Niiice.

THE END




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The bronze statue is the result of a two-year crowdfunding campaign which was supported by AC/DC and the band's former bass player Mark Evans officially unveiled it...

mikkey dee BREAKING NEWS: SAXON WITH PHIL CAMPBELL AND MIKKEY DEE TO PAY TRIBUTE TO LEMMY AT GOLDEN GODS, HAMMERSMITH ODEON
Ticket price is a very reasonable £6.66 with all proceeds going to Nordoff Robbins, Teenage Cancer Trust, and Childline...

mikkey dee BREAKING NEWS: MOTÖRHEAD'S MIKKEY DEE ANNOUNCED AS SCORPIONS DRUMMER
"We would like to continue our Return to Forever tour with James, but we have to realize that his health is priority..."

alex dickson gun BREAKING NEWS: ALEX DICKSON REJOINS GUN
As exclusively predicted by MetalTalk last week, guitarist Alex Dickson has re-joined Scottish rockers Gun...

cockney rejects WEST HAM UNITED TRIBUTE 'GOODBYE UPTON PARK' TO BE RELEASED BY COCKNEY REJECTS
"We were all born within a mile or so from the hallowed Boleyn ground and have all stood on the terraces through snow, rain and sunshine from a very early age."

ac/dc AC/DC RELEASE TICKET REFUND DETAILS FOR MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
If you don't want a refund, then we'll see you at The Olympic Stadium in London as we think we're about to witness a major piece of rock history...

deep purple IAN PAICE AND DON AIREY SCHEDULE SOLO EUROPEAN DATES AS 2016 DEEP PURPLE TOUR APPROACHES
Deep Purple are kicking off their 2016 tour next month in Japan, before heading to Israel, Russia and Europe in June and July.

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT TO RELEASE 'THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE LIVE IN LIVERPOOL', HIS ACOLYTE TO 'WOLFLIGHT' WITH GENESIS REVISITED TOUR
"Besides, it's not as if Liverpool is known for having any good music – there's never been a good band from there. Ha!"

lacuna coil LACUNA COIL LAUNCH NEW ALBUM TITLE TRACK 'DELIRIUM'
Lacuna Coil will be making their much-anticipated return to North America as part of the 'Delirium Worldwide' tour starting in San Francisco on May 7th

bibeau YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE BAND BIBEAU OFFER THEIR FIRST SINGLE/VIDEO, 'MARK THIS'
"We were also hoping to convey the look, feel and flow of some of the classic, timeless rock and metal videos from the height of MTV's popularity..."

virginmarys THE VIRGINMARYS ANNOUNCE HEADLINE UK TOUR FOR JUNE 2016
"It's going to be so great to get back in front of our home fans again, and really important to us to play some of the towns we've been wanting to come back to..."

weapon uk WEAPON UK TO HEADLINE THE RETRIBUTION ALIVE ROAD TRIP IN MAY
"They toured with Motörhead in the 80s, including four sold out shows at the Hammersmith Odean and I have to say, we're pretty excited about this!"

headbangers ball ICED EARTH AND ENSIFERUM TO HEADLINE MTV HEADBANGERS BALL TOUR 2016: FULL DATES HERE
"So brace yourselves for the ultimate Metal experience of a lifetime! See you in front row!"

bloodstock BLOODSTOCK ADDS MORE BANDS, DETAILS METAL 2 THE MASSES FINALS AND ANNOUNCES FIRST NEW BLOOD STAGE WINNERS
Bloodstock HQ is readying to send Team M2TM out on the road for the finals, but in the meantime, there's a few more band additions to the August bill

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN DATES FOR JULY/AUGUST IN SUPPORT OF NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'MAKE SOME NOISE'
The Dead Daisies, the biggest new name in Rock, have just recently announced the addition of Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) as their new lead guitar player

wolf hoffmann WOLF HOFFMANN TO RELEASE SOLO ALBUM 'HEADBANGERS SYMPHONY' ON JULY 1st
"I have always incorporated classical music in my song writing with Accept, especially with 'Metal Heart', but I constantly felt there was so much more that I could do..."

jaegermeister JÄGERMEISTER RELEASE FULL DOCUMENTARY OF WORLD'S FIRST MUSIC GIG ON AIR, SEA AND LAND
"We go bigger every year and because of the nature of this world first this gig was not only a test of friendship but one of supporting each other too..."

john otway JOHN OTWAY PLANNING ON BEING FIRST ARTIST SINCE THE ROLLING STONES TO RECORD IN MONTSERRAT
"Although the old Air Studios are now derelict the studio in the basement of Sir George Martin's house is sound – it just needs rebuilding..."

fates warning FATES WARNING - NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'THEORIES OF FLIGHT' ANNOUNCED, ARTWORK UNVEILED
"There's a loose theme running through a lot of the lyrics, and this developed organically and separately..."

amon amarth RAISE YOUR HORNS AND BE IN AMON AMARTH'S NEW MUSIC VIDEO
Swedish Heavy Metal goliaths Amon Amarth are inviting their fans around the globe to be a part of their forthcoming video...

sixx am SIXX:A.M. ANNOUNCE THE "#REASONTORISE" CAMPAIGN, TOUR DATES AND 'VOL.1 PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED' DETAILS
"It is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders."

armored saint ARMORED SAINT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AND CLUB APPEARANCES
"For our first time in Spain, it's gonna be sick! And as if this wasn't enough - Saint is playing for the first time ever in Japan..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION TO REFORM IN 2017
"Preparing BCC Rocket Ship Re-launch for 2017 - all systems go."

tarja TARJA PREMIERES OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO OF HER NEW SINGLE 'NO BITTER END'
'No Bitter End', the opening track of the prequel album 'The Brightest Void', is the first glimpse of Tarja's new work – her heaviest to date...

stratovarius STRATOVARIUS RELEASE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'UNTIL THE END OF DAYS'
"To me it's a testament to the fact that paying attention to song writing and production was expensive, but so worth it..."

brian johnson EXCLUSIVE: PROMINENT AC/DC CREW MEMBER GIVES REMARKABLE INSIGHT INTO AXL ROSE APPOINTMENT
AC/DC are covering themselves in case Axl's poor reputation for unprofessionalism manifests itself...

brian johnson THE DARKEST DAY OF MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: BRIAN JOHNSON ISSUES PERSONAL STATEMENT ON AC/DC DEPARTURE
"I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that..."

thin lizzy THIN LIZZY ANNOUNCE BASS PLAYER AND NEW DRUMMER FOR 2016/17 ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
Thin Lizzy are undisputed legends and to be a small part of their lineage is a humble honor for me...

ian gillan IAN GILLAN TO PERFORM UNIQUE SOLO SHOW OF DEEP PURPLE CLASSICS IN BULGARIA
There is a possibility that Ian will also play some material from his catalogue outside of Deep Purple...

don airey DEEP PURPLE'S DON AIREY AND FRIENDS ADDED TO CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL PLUS ATOMIC ROOSTER
Expect to hear many classics from Airey's illustrious past which includes time spent with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne as well as his current job with Deep Purple...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINERS AND FIVE MORE ACTS
With June creeping ever closer, Wildfire Festival's impressive main stages line-up is all but finalised...

whitesnake THE END OF WHITESNAKE: DAVID COVERDALE TO RETIRE IN 2017
Whitesnake headline the UK's Ramblin Man Festival in July in what could be their final ever UK appearance...

axl rose AXL ROSE CONFIRMED AS AC/DC SINGER FOR THE REMAINING ROCK OR BUST DATES
The worst kept secret in rock is now official...

aerosmith THE END OF AEROSMITH?: NO FAREWELL TOUR CONFIRMED AT THE MOMENT
"A farewell tour is something we've talked about doing for years, let's say roughly in the last five years..."

hrh united ALESTORM, HAMMERFALL, FINSTERFORST, NAPALM DEATH, ARMORED SAINT, VENOM INC. AND EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCED FOR HRH UNITED
HRH United 3 will be an exclusive upgraded Metal Edition taking over the entire site @ Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales...

rolling stones PROUD GALLERIES PLAYING HOST TO FABULOUS ROLLING STONES PHOTO EXHIBITION: TERRY O'NEILL TO ATTEND SIGNING SESSION
It's a wonderful book by photographer Terry O'Neill of Rolling Stones images from 1963 to 1965, an era when the Stones were just "breaking through"...

between the buried and me BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN SUMMER DATES
As well as the European tour dates, BTBAM have launched a live video for 'The Ectopic Stroll' whih you can see here...

jade vine LONDON BASED ALTERNATIVE PROG ROCKERS JADE VINE ANNOUNCE ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Jade Vine's music has been influenced by artists such as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Anathema and Pain Of Salvation...
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