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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 song is a tale of "a young aristocratic lady of high breeding, led astray by a terrible man. Only the names have been changed, because we forgot them..."

abgott ABGOTT PLAY ONLY UK SHOW OF 2014 IN DECEMBER
The Black Metal heroes will play the Boston Music Rooms on December 5th...

fear factory FEAR FACTORY CANCEL EUROPEAN TOUR
Fear Factory will be concentrating on finishing their new studio album and will return in the Summer of 2015...

download KISS AND MUSE ANNOUNCED AS DOWNLOAD 2015 HEADLINERS
British rock trio Muse will headline the Saturday night of next year's event, which runs between June 12th and 14th...

magnum MAGNUM RELEASE NEW SINGLE 'ON CHRISTMAS DAY' ON DECEMBER 1ST
The poignant song is based on a true life incident in the WW1 trenches...

sonata arctica SONATA ARCTICA DANCE ACROSS NORTH AMERICA IN HILARIOUS NEW VIDEO FOR GENESIS COVER 'I CAN'T DANCE'
"The experience ranged from no one even paid too much attention to us to people looking a little scared..."

manowar MANOWAR ANNOUNCE GERMAN DATES FOR 2016 WORLD TOUR
The German dates are just the first of many live appearances, with plenty more to be announced. "And for 2016, we will have more surprises and an even bigger production..."

ensiferum ENSIFERUM ANNOUNCE ALBUM TITLE AND RELEASE DATE FOR 2015
"Kippo kicked our asses to make us do the very best, and you can hear that in this album. It's a killer album with killer sound. I'm very proud to a part of this masterpiece..."

hellfest BREAKING NEWS: HELLFEST ANNOUNCE MOTORHEAD, SCORPIONS, ALESTORM, SLASH, ZZ TOP, VENOM AND MANY, MANY MORE FOR 2015
Hellfest have announced a stellar line-up for the 2015 edition of the festival which will take place at on June 19th to 21st 2015...

download BREAKING NEWS: JUDAS PRIEST, SLIPKNOT AND MORE ANNOUNCED FOR DOWNLOAD 2015
Slipknot will play the main stage at Donington on Friday June 12th, following Judas Priest...

chris appleton CHRIS APPLETON ANNOUNCES ACOUSTIC ALBUM & TOUR
In the downtime between Absolva projects, Chris Appleton applies his skills to solo album 'Restless'...

out and loud NAPALM RECORDS ANNOUNCE LABEL NIGHT AT OUT & LOUD FESTIVAL 2015
The German festival gets off to a quality start with the warm up night on July 3rd featuring a fine cross-section of the label repertoire...

jeff loomis ARCH ENEMY WELCOME JEFF LOOMIS AS NEW GUITARIST
The ex-Nevermore guitarist will debut for Arch Enemy on the European tour starting November 26th as Nick Cordle's replacement...

wildfire WILDFIRE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2014 CHRISTMAS SHOWCASE
The two day showcase promises to give Glasgow a Rock and Metal party to remember...

periphery PERIPHERY ANNOUNCE DUAL ALBUMS FOR 2015
There will also be plenty of touring in next year, including a stint on the road with Devin Townsend Project...

anathema ANATHEMA ANNOUNCE 'RESONANCE' SHOW AT SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE IN APRIL 2015
This special show will be a celebration of the entire history of Anathema music...

cradle of filth CRADLE OF FILTH SIGN WORLDWIDE DEAL WITH NUCLEAR BLAST
"For the full frontal assault we have planned for the awesome new album, Nuclear Blast are the perfect war stallion to carry us screaming into the heart of the next chapter of COF's dark, enigmatic history..."

yardbirds THE YARDBIRDS RETURN TO LONDON WITH SPECIAL GUESTS SOME VELVET MORNING
The Yardbirds will play Bush Hall on November 21st, fifty years after the release of the seminal 'Five Live Yardbirds'...

marilyn manson NEW MARILYN MANSON ALBUM 'THE PALE EMPEROR' COMING JANUARY 19th
The album is available for pre-orders now...

udo UDO, ONE OF GERMAN CLASSIC ROCK'S GREATEST, ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM
'Decadent' is mastered and due for release in January 2015...

fozzy FOZZY LAUNCH VIDEO CLIP FOR 'DO YOU WANNA START A WAR'
"Fog, slow motion camera shots, and chicks in military uniforms. Touchdown!..."

phil rudd 'PROCURE TO KILL' CHARGE AGAINST AC/DC DRUMMER PHIL RUDD DROPPED BUT OTHER CHARGES REMAIN
Rudd is on bail and is scheduled to reappear in court on November 27th and still faces one charge of threatening to kill...

blind guardian BLIND GUARDIAN TO RELEASE 'BEYOND THE RED MIRROR' IN FEBRUARY 2015
"A story between science fiction and fantasy. While there used to be several passages between the worlds, there is only one gate left now: The Red Mirror. It has to be found at any cost..."

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