Clive Burr's Escape and Stratus in the Press
Last Modified On 21 Mar 2009
Kerrang - January 1984 (The gig was 17 December 1983)
REALLY, for a new band with a pedigree at least 50 fretboards long, Clive Burr's Escape failed to gain the full attention and interest that should have been due to them on this their debut performance. The turn-out could have been much better and it seemed that the rival attractions of Judas Priest and Quiet Riot had cost the ex-Maiden drummer some of his potential audience.
Those that were there, however, were keen to see what direction Clive would be taking after his ignominious departure from Maiden. Though, with three ex-Praying Mantis men fronting the stage, it was obvious they would be stamping their ID on the material.
As one might have expected the volume of the drums was well up in the mix although thankfully the noise level declined as the gig progressed), Escape opening with an instrumental that succeeded in pushing Burr's talents to the fore.
Generally, the standard of material was consistently high and the numbers well constructed, as one might expect from such an illustrious crew. 'Your Number', featuring typical, short, sharp Troy Bros. harmonies, the polished but ballsy 'Enough Is Enough' and the deliciously meandering 'Raining In Kensington' all served to build impetus in the first half of the set. Unfortunately, Escape failed to capitalise on it, including one or two downbeat numbers as proceedings wore on, something that put a damper on the favourable reaction they had built up.
Without wanting to seem cynical, I am afraid that despite previously proven talent and good classy numbers, Escape are going to find themselves in a no-man's land; not heavy enough to appeal to hard core HM fans and not commercial enough for any kind of chart success. It's hard to see them taking off in a big way, professional though they are. JUSTINE COLE
CLIVE BURR, former Iron Maiden drummer, has formed a band called Clive Burr's Escape which features guitarist Tino Troy and bassist Chris Troy from Praying Mantis and ex-Grand Prix vocalist Bernie Shaw together with Don Garbett on keyboards. (One session in studio not full time Member - Tino 8/7/97)
The band, pictured above, have spent the last six months writing and rehearsing and reckon they've already got three albums' worth of material together -and that's before they've even signed a record contract!
They play their first 'official' gig at London's Marquee on December 17 and are planning more after Christmas when they hope to have a record deal signed.
Sounds March 31 1984?
THE BURR FACTS
CLIVE BURR'S ESCAPE
THE GREMLINS were out for blood tonight. First of all they tortured the sound with horrendous feedback and then, just as normal service looked like being resumed, poor old Bernie Shaw's mike started cutting out. But technical traumas couldn't keep this band down for long.
Overcoming the obstacles (almost as if they weren't there) with a mixture of charisma, panache and natural good humour, Escape managed to transfer their excellent demo material onto the stage with apparently effortless ease.
Guitarist Tine Troy, who was sporting a fetching off-the-shoulder length of insulation tape (Lips-stylee) and see-through papier mache kegs, hammed it up like a trooper. Tongue set firmly in cheek, he careered around the stage like a man possessed.
Brother Chris concentrated on his underpinning bass work, which was effective and accurate but unfortunately too often swamped in the mix. Alan Nelson supplied some tasty, unobtrusive keyboards and displayed a sensitive touch - especially on the melodramatic 'Raining In Kensington'.
The drummer wasn't that bad either! With a drum kit that took up nearly as much room as the rest of the band, Clive (Blurr?) was always up front but never overpoweringly so.
His drumming was much more than just a way of keeping time. Rich and deadly by turns, he was in his element. More arm power than a thousand government training schemes.
So to Bernie again. As near as one will get to a born performer, he captured the big heart and spirit of this band; from the way he handled the aforementioned feedback ("It took us ages to get it at this pitch - so it would annoy everybody") to his intuitive feel for their music.
It's hard to believe that Clive Burr's Escape are still without a record deal. Their material is splendid, quality stuff, and with their musical experience prior to Escape, they have all the makings of a premier live act.
Unfortunately, more than half the people who attended the show were so busy looking good (and looking around to make sure they were spotted) that they barely had time to focus their attentions on the band. Still, as my photographer assured me at the bar, it's only rock and roll.
The Great Escape
WHEN I arrived, late, the band were already ensconced around a colossal onyx conference table, looking for all the world like second generation Mafiosi. But no mates of Tony Montana these - this was a meeting of the Escape committee. Clive Burr's Escape, that is.
Two years after leaving Maiden, the cheeky cockney has assembled a band which, although it may have a good few dues to pay yet, possesses more than its fair share of potential. Or put another way the not inconsiderable record company interest currently being shown in the band is not just because they have a 'name' drummer.
To use an antiquated hippy phrase, they've got their act together.
Somebody once said about us that we weren't heavy enough to appeal to HM fans, and we weren't commercial enough to satisfy the pop fans," says Clive without the rockstar disgruntlement I have come to expect.
So what sort of folk come to their gigs? "The first three rows are the die-hards - the guys who headbang to everything, even the ballads!! Then the second row is writers and friends and the backline (as per usual} is the liggers."
Their demo tape, which has been in and Out of my cassette deck all week, is a genuinely pleasant surprise - theirs is a rich, melodic sound - and I'll wager that it will have the same effect on those expecting another dose of thrash.
"I think it c an damage you if you get too categorised," Clive continues. "You know, 'Oh, file 'im away under such and such' - we want to be recognised for playing the music that we're into, and hopefully people will enjoy it," he adds self-effacingly.
Did he feel at all stifled while he was with Maiden? It's just that the sound is so radically different.
"I do find HM a bit restrictive, but quite honestly I didn't have time to be stifled when I was with Maiden! I had no excess energy - I ploughed it all back into the music. I may not have the opportunity to explore different musical avenues, but I did learn all about stamina."
"This band is a rock band," interjects lead guitarist Tino Troy (ex Praying Mantis), "and rock is really the only music you can totally put your energy towards. Electro-pop and the like is very expressive image-wise, but it is very lightweight."
In what is and endlessly competitive business, all the members of the band are clearly aware of how discerning The Rock Fan has become.
As Clive points out, "You've got to give the best that you possibly can. These days there are so many bands and so many records that the fan has to choose carefully - and with albums at the price they are, you can't get away with bluffing."
Which of their contemporaries do they rate?
"Van Halen!" - this from effervescent Canadian frontman Bernie Shaw.
"They're so spontaneous and energetic." Another band to gain the respect and all-round thumbs-up is Blackfoot, the magnificent Jacksonville outfit who defy the traditional boogie confines.
"We toured Europe with them while I was in Maiden - they just enjoy their music so much. Being on stage for them was liking going out on the piss - and when you see them up there. You can't help having a good time yourself".
Clive laughs at the memories. Is that the way they want to approach music?
Vociferous nods from all corners. "Yes," says the drummer definitely, "No party poopers at our gigs!
"we're normally very relaxed, but there's an intensity on stage, and I think that's a result of the adrenaline. You've got an hour and twenty minutes to put everything across, and that's what we try to do."
Bernie sums it all up: "When the adrenaline goes, it's time to hang up your striped trousers, platform shoes and chest wigs!"
I have a sneaking suspicion that the platforms aren't even scuffed yet and the self-adhesive chest mat hasn't lost its stick. Escape, strange as it mat sound, are on the way in.
THE GREAT ESCAPE - Howard Johnson catches a band on the run.
IN THE true tradition of the publicity-conscious Rock 'n' Roll star, he's late! Not bad by the standards of these nocturnal creatures, but late nonetheless.
While the other band members, guitarist Tino Troy, bassist/brother Chris and vocalist Bernie Shaw (you ain't heard of 'em, where have you been?) mooch around within the portals of the Kerrang! emporium making wise-cracks about their leader and apologetically shifting from one foot - clean shoes de rigeur - to another in embarrassment, Clive Burr is putting more money in the parking meter, buying fags and generally performing the more mundane tasks of life. Still, these things have to be done and, with a breathless Mr. Burr safely ensconced in the office's main interviewee chair (electricity optional), it's time to talk business.
These days business ain't got a great deal to do with those bastions of the NWOBHM, Iron Maiden and Praying Mantis, but rather with a new venture going under the name of Clive Burr's Escape, a venture which will hopefully bring the protagonists some of the fame and fortune they believe they deserve, in the kind of amicable surroundings which make it a pleasure to work. As drummer Clive succinctly summarises:
'Do you want to be rich and famous doing something that you don't enjoy or do you want to have another crack in a situation where you're really happy? Obviously, the Maiden situation wasn't as cut and dried as that, but I really am much happier in this position.
"I've got loads of ideas that I'm bringing out in this group and the other guys are really helping them to reach fruition. Part of the reason why I left Maiden was because I couldn't use my song writing within the context of the band. I felt that the split was amicable, though a lot of things that have been said about me since I left are totally untrue (the only rumour that had breezed past my ears was that Clive had gotten too heavily involved with that Vim-like substance. Ya pays ya money, ya makes yer choice!). I don't feel malice about that but I really don't understand it. Maybe they felt like they needed some kind of reason to justify three members leaving in eighteen months, though that's only a hypothesis. All I can say is that I'm really glad to be out of all that."
Escape has been a while in coming together mainly because Clive was in Germany for five months in self-imposed exile (do you want to give all your money to Thatcher?). During that period, he laid down the drums on the stunning new Trust album, but didn't link up with them on a permanent basis owing to the general incompetence of the Frenchmen:
"I joined on a three month trial basis and during that time they did precisely
nothing. They really ain't together at all - I never even got a copy of the
album I played on - and as I had quite a lot of material, I got together with my
old mates and started working again."
BY THE time you feast your eyes on this work Clive Burr's Escape will have already played a showcase gig at London's Marquee Club (where else?) which will also, hopefully, lead to a major label deal. Naturally, interest has been piqued at major company level, not only because of Clive's Maiden connection, but also because of the strength of Escape's material. Tino:
"It sounds Mantis-ish to me but it's also certainly got a new feel to it. We've been trying to do this kind of stuff for the last two years and, while the name of Praying Mantis started to hinder us in the end, we never gave up on the musical style because it's what we believe in and it's what we all feel most comfortable playing, Clive included."
"It's got that basic heaviness," summarises Clive, "but it's enhanced by the more melodic fills. Heavy b****cks with melodies, that's what it is!"
He leans back, obviously satisfied with his descriptive definition of Escape music, and from the eight numbers that I've copped an earful of, this is pretty much hitting the proverbial nail on the head. While there is a certain need for a more definitive stamp to be attached to the overall sound, the bare essentials are there.
Numbers such as 'Fantasy', 'Woman Of The Night' and 'Top Of The Mountain' could well develop into the kind of finely- honed Hard Rock perpetrated by the likes of Journey. Influences? Could be, with a name like Escape and Clive's closet affection for America's mega-stars! What the songs need is a top-line producer to knock them into shape and stamp some character into them. This the band is well aware of. Clive:
"We've already got enough material for three albums so that if and when the deal comes we can go straight in the studio and produce one shit hot album. As you say, the producer is important and we really hope to get hold of Andy Johus, whom I worked with on the Trust album and who's also worked with Hughes/Thrall. We became very friendly being the only two Englishmen working on the album in the middle of gay Paris. I sang him some of the songs that I had together and he said he'd be interested in working on the project, so some demo tapes are currently on the way to him."
THE WHOLE project is certainly going to set jaws gyrating and the cynics will soon be out on their soap boxes, announcing here, there and everywhere that Clive Burr's Escape is nothing more than a trip for the overblown ego of a once famous drummer:
"We don't intend to keep Clive's name at the forefront of the hand," claims Tino. "We're just using it as a launching pad to help us get a deal because his name is known. If you've got it, why not flaunt it? (Why not indeed!). If the first album goes down as well as we hope It will, and present reaction seems to indicate that it will, they by the time the second album comes around we hope that the whole concern will be known as Escape. The fact that Clive's name will help us sell a few more tickets in Britain, Europe and Japan will be neither here nor there."
"You're bound to get a certain amount of cynicism," states a realistic Mr. Burr, "but I don't really care because we're all happy in every way imaginable. For us, this is like a supergroup in so far as how we all feel about it - not in terms of our own personal esteem! It's as if we've all been re-born. This really is our escape, our Shangri-La if you like! We all want to achieve the same goals and we're really into what we're playing.
"Musically playing, things have gone exceptionally well for us. It's as if this
is the only situation we've ever been in and my writing has taken some of the
pressure off Chris and Tino, which in turn can only help their own writing.
Personally too, things are great, I've known these guys for quite a while now,
since the days of the 'Metal For Muthas' tour. We played the funniest gigs
together, including a church in Grimsby from whence comes the term 'Metal For
Methodists', and we've always kept in touch so it really is like one big
SO STARTING all over again holds no fears for Clive: "I think It's a help to have been through the treadmill once," he asserts. "Having toured the world twice you do tend to pick up a few things (greeted by huge guffaws for pretty understandable reasons!), but there's really no way round starting again You have to go back to the beginning and stay in Howard Jonhson's, (more guffaws - can't understand why!) and travel in the hacks of trucks."
BEING SUITABLY impressed by ex-Maiden man Clive Burr's new outfit, Escape, some months ago, I awaited the recently re-christened Stratus as curiously as most, interested to see what goodies they'd come up with after quite a lengthy UK silence.
Sadly, the evening held rather more than its fair share of bad luck, and what could have been a first class set as well and truly screwed up by repeated equipment failure resulting in an atrocious out front sound. Despite the obvious embarrassment to the band and disappointment of the punters, the show went on to highlight 'Give Me Something' and 'So Tired' taken from their new album, 'Throwing Shapes' (to be released in the UK in '85).
We'll probably never know if it was a stitch-up or not, but Stratus (cock-ups or
no cock-ups) still managed to capture my complete attention, displaying classic
song-writing ability and the distinctive energy drive of a wholly pro outfit.
Tonight's fiasco was a crying shame, but I'm now more interested than ever to
see Stratus in full swing.
News of strange, poltergeist-type goings-on reaches us from West Germany, where Stratas (who were previously known as Clive Burr's Escape and briefly Tygon) are busy recording their debut album.
Apparently guitarist Tino Troy was on his way into the studio one evening when he saw a figure sitting in a chair in another dimly-lit room.
Rushing in and recruiting the rest of the band to help him investigate, they return to find the room completely empty, in a Scooby Doo style.
When they started recording later that night, they found the tape machine inoperable and before they could make investigations, it suddenly started functioning again. The next night, exactly the same thing happened, only this time it was Tino's brother Chris Troy who got freaked out.
Whatever next ? We thought this kind of thing only happened in The Young Ones...