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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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linkin park LINKIN PARK PLAY TWO NIGHTS AT LONDON'S 02 ARENA IN NOVEMBER
Following their exhilarating headline sets at the European summer festivals, Linkin Park return for their own headline tour in November...

evil scraecrow AT LAST! A NEW VIDEO FROM EVIL SCARECROW
"It's an emotional thing for us to watch back. We hope that translates to everyone that watches it too!"

sabctuary SANCTUARY POSTS LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'EXITIUM (ANTHEM OF THE LIVING)'
Sanctuary continue that legacy that they started decades ago, delivering yet another fresh take on "classic-sounding" Metal...

electric mary ELECTRIC MARY ANNOUNCE MINI ALBUM AND UK TOUR
Australian five piece Electric Mary are back to spread Rock n' Roll's genuine flavour to Europe...

accept ACCEPT REVEAL LIVE CLIP OF 'PANDEMIC' FILMED IN FRONT OF 750,000 PEOPLE AT WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL 2014
UK fans can catch the band live at The Forum in London on the 27th November 2014...

hornet HORNET ANNOUNCE NEW EP AND SINGLE
"We really wanted to just expand the sound we already had by incorporating more of our influences to make our sound more modern and diverse..."

jimmy barnes JIMMY BARNES ANNOUNCES NEW 30th ANNIVERSARY ALBUM 'HINDSIGHT'
2014 marks the 30th anniversary of Jimmy Barnes' debut as Scottish born Australian rock singer-songwriter...

dragonforce DRAGONFORCE SUPPORTS ANNOUNCED FOR FORTHCOMING TOUR
London based hard rockers Neonfly will support in the UK mainland, with Northern Irish Metalheads Conjuring Fate doing the honours at the Belfast and Dublin shows...

within temptation WITHIN TEMPTATION TO HEADLINE BLOODSTOCK 2015
Within Temptation appear as a UK exclusive. Prog Metal titans Opeth will also appear on the bill...

emigrate EMIGRATE CONFIRM NEW ALBUM FOR UK RELEASE VIA SPINEFARM RECORDS
'Silent So Long' is the second album from the band formed by Rammstein's Richard Kruspe...

highway to hell WINNERS OF HIGHWAY TO HELL 5 ANNOUNCED
Texas Flood are the overall winners from an outstanding field, winning a contract and an appearance at Hard Rock Hell...

grim reaper THE LEGENDARY GRIM REAPER RETURN TO LONDON
Get down to the Boston Music Room on 27th September for Grim Reaper with Amulet and Dark Forest...

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR NOVEMBER 2014
The 30th anniversary celebrations continue with a world tour including a trip to North America and a nine date UK leg...

eric martin MR. BIG SINGER ANNOUNCES UK SOLO ACOUSTIC TOUR
Eric Martin will play nine unplugged dates in December 2014 with a mix of solo and Mr Big material...

absolva ABSOLVA ANNOUNCE NEW BASSIST
British classic Metallers Absolva are delighted to announce the appointment of new bassist Karl Schramm...

manowar MANOWAR ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM PLANS AND UPDATED TOURING SCHEDULE
Manowar will headline Loud Park Festival in Tokyo on October 18th 2014 and will then resume the 'Kings Of Metal MMXIV' World Tour...

skyscraper SKYSCRAPER RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'MONDAY MORNING'
This dynamic band has been taking critics by storm with their inimitable brand of melodic hard rock...

the more i see THE MORE I SEE ANNOUNCE OCT/NOV TOUR WITH SAVAGE MESSIAH AND BULL RIFF STAMPEDE
Featuring world renowned guitarist Gizz Butt, the band always deliver incredible live shows that combine passion, energy and breathtaking musicianship...

devin townsend DEVIN TOWNSEND REVEALS Z DETAILS AND ANNOUNCES SPECIAL ROYAL ALBERT HALL PERFORMANCE
Devin Townsend is extremely pleased to announce the release of long-awaited new double-album...

blastfest AT THE GATES, DARK FUNERAL, ROTTING CHRIST AND MORE ANNOUNCED FOR BLASTFEST 2015
Bergen, Norway, former home of the legendary Hole In The Sky Festival and considered thee black metal capital of the world...

exodus EXODUS REVEAL SPECIAL GUESTS ON NEW ALBUM 'BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT'
Bay Area thrash Metal provocateurs Exodus proudly announce the special guests appearing on their latest showcase of unrefined rage...

panzer PANZER STREAMING LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'THE LAST MAN ON EARTH'
Brazilian thrash/stoner act Panzer have just released a new lyric video on for the second track of the album 'Honor'...

bush BUSH ANNOUNCE OCTOBER 20th RELEASE FOR 'MAN ON THE RUN'
Multi-platinum alt-rock band Bush have announced an October 20th release date for their highly anticipated new album...

absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE VIDEO FOR 'LIVE FOR THE FIGHT'
The video features Luke Appleton (Iced Earth) who is playing bass for the band on the forthcoming European Tour...

giants of rock GIANTS OF ROCK FESTIVAL: FIRST BANDS ANNOUNCED
The reformed Family and pomp rockers Magnum will headline the event...

weapon uk ESTRELLA TO SUPPORT GILBY CLARKE ON TOUR AND ANNOUNCE A NEW SINGLE
The band are currently gearing up for a thirteen date trek with Clarke that includes dates in Wakefield, London and Edinburgh...

weapon uk WEAPON UK ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES FOR NOVEMBER
Weapon UK have tour dates confirmed in support of their critically acclaimed album 'Rising From The Ashes'...

amulet AMULET DEBUT ALBUM 'THE FIRST' RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER: FIRST TRACK NOW ONLINE
The album track 'Mark Of Evil' has just been uploaded to Soundcloud. Raise your fists and bang your heads on this one...

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER'S GUITARS STOLEN FROM GERMAN RECORDING STUDIO
German police are examining evidence and the studio for fingerprints and DNA evidence to help catch the criminals...

jimi jamison JIMI JAMISON OF SURVIVOR PASSES AWAY AGED 63
Jimi Jamison, lead singer of Survivor, very sadly passed away on Sunday night...

distorted harmony DISTORTED HARMONY UNLEASH FOOTAGE FROM 'CHAIN REACTION LIVE!'
The Tel Aviv quintet are looking forward to bringing their show to Europe this November...

ensiferum ENSIFERUM TO BEGIN RECORDING SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM NEXT MONTH
"We are convinced that this will be a ground breaking album for us and the whole genre. Modesty? What's that?"...

les-fest wildfire LES-FEST WILDFIRE ANNOUNCES FURTHER ACTS FOR SUMMER 2015
Max Raptor, Anihilated and more join the stellar array of main stage bands...

mystery deeexpus THE HOUSE OF PROGRESSION & THE MERCH DESK PROUDLY PRESENT MYSTERY & DeeEXPUS LIVE
It's a night of Prog at The Borderline on Tuesday 9th September, one of three chances to see this unique pairing...

butcher babies BUTCHER BABIES ANNOUNCE DETAILS FOR UPCOMING 'UNCOVERED' EP
The breakthrough Metal act have chosen five of their favourite tracks to get a makeover...

avenged sevenfold AVENGED SEVENFOLD RELEASE NEVER BEFORE SEEN ORIGINAL VIDEO FOR 'UNHOLY CONFESSIONS'
Take a fresh look at the 2004 track taken from the essential 'Waking The Fallen: Resurrected'...

reckless ambition RECKLESS AMBITION AND DIRTY LIONS TO PLAY THE ROCK PATCH THIS SATURDAY
Anyone who hasn't seen Reckless Ambition, then you are in for a real treat...

meshuggah MESHUGGAH ANNOUNCE 25TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS IN EUROPE
Celebrate 25 years of musical deviance on this tour which includes a date a London's Roundhouse...

mr big MR. BIG CHANGE RELEASE DATE FOR NEW ALBUM "...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL"
The original line-up are back with some of their most powerful material to date and their signature hard rock sound...

well eavy 'WELL 'EAVY - VOL. 1' COMPILATION TO BE RELEASED BY HANGMAN - AMULET'S OWN LABEL
Get down to the free entry release party in Camden on 29th August...

slipknot DEF LEPPARD TO PERFORM NFL PRE-GAME SHOW AT FIRST LONDON NFL GAME OF 2014
Joe Elliott: "I know what the atmosphere in the ground is like for 'our' football so I'm really looking forward to performing there before the NFL game..."

slipknot SLIPKNOT REVEAL NEW ALBUM AND TOUR INFORMATION
'.5: The Gray Chapter' will be released on October 21 followed by US dates with Korn...

hard rock hell HARD ROCK HELL 8 ANNOUNCES MORE ACTS
The Vintage Caravan, Blue Pills, Horisont, Spiders and Santa Cruz have been added to the line up for November...

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