Checking In With Alan Kelly from Edge Of The Blade and SHY
Checking In With Alan Kelly from Edge Of The Blade and SHY
Alan Kelly, former and founding member of the legendary SHY, remains as prolific as ever – first with the unveiling of a collection of critically acclaimed Seven Hard Years (7HY) albums – and now with the reformation of his Edge Of The Blade Project. Also featuring the participation of John Francis from After Hours, Edge Of The Blade has presented Feels Like Home in the notorious year of 2020. In this interview, Alan Kelly discusses the making of Feels Like Home, how John Francis became involved with the band, news on the Seven Hard Years (7HY) front, as well as the recent SHY re-releases of Brave The Storm and Excess All Areas on Rock Candy Records. All this and a special message for this holiday season at the end of the story. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Edge Of The Blade, and how long the band has been together.
Hi my name is Alan Kelly and I guess I’m best known for being the former drummer of UK rock band SHY. ‘Feels Like Home’ is the second Edge Of The Blade album. The first being ‘The Ghosts Of Humans’ released on Escape Music in 2015.
I write a most of the music and lyrics and on Feels Like Home I play all the instruments with the exception of the odd guitar solo.
Is there any overall story of concept behind the CD title Feels Like Home?
No, there isn’t any kind of concept on this album, the first Edge Of The Blade album was more of a heavy sounding album in the style of Avenged Sevenfold/Alter Bridge which, at the time, both myself and Andrew Chick were quite keen on. However, Andrew had other commitments and wasn’t able to be involved in ‘Feels Like Home’ so myself and John had always wanted to do a melodic/AOR album together and took this opportunity to really show where our true roots lie.
Select two songs from Feels Like Home and what inspired the lyrics.
‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ is inspired by a TV series called Wayward Pines in which a Secret Service Agent finds himself in a bizarre place that turns out to be many years into the future and he has been frozen and brought back to life, but Waywood Pines is still being run as if nothing has changed. He eventually realizes that he is a million miles from home and he will never return.
‘End Well’ is inspired by a true life event in Northern Ireland, in which a deeply religious couple have an affair and in order to keep it secret from their church they each decide to kill their spouses so that they could be together. There was a TV show was called ‘The Secret’ based on these events.
How did you and John Francis formerly of After Hours wind up working together on this band?
I first became aware of John when the band he was in ‘After Hours’ supported SHY at a gig in the UK. John was outstanding as a vocalist, so when Tony Mills decided he wanted to leave SHY we all decided that we should ask John Francis if he would like to be the lead vocalist.
We did a few demos with John on and they sounded fantastic. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.
Some years later when I was looking for a decent vocalist for my own songs I tracked him down via Andrew Chick and that is how we got back in touch.
What has it been to like to record and release new music in the middle of a pandemic and so much social unrest in the world?
Oddly enough it hasn’t made much of a difference to me, as I record all of my songs in my studio at home and work with others over the internet. I was working this way long before the current state of affairs. Unfortunately, I have not been in a position to go out gigging with any of the projects purely because its a logistical nightmare and financially not viable.
Will there be any other Seven Hard Years (7HY) albums and do you still keep in touch with Shawn Pelata?
Yes, myself and Shawn haven’t fallen out or anything we just have different things on the go and can’t always fit our projects into each others schedules. We have done four albums so far together and he is an excellent vocalist whom I really enjoy working with. As it happens we do have at least one more album of 7HY to come it will be an acoustic album which is due for release in April 2021 on Lions Pride Music, currently entitled ‘Rogues Gallery’
When was the last time you had had spoken with Tony Mills, and did you keep up to date with his various projects post-SHY?
I last messaged Tony in August 2020 to do with the upcoming release of the Rock Candy Shy albums. No, I didn’t keep up to date with any of his projects, we didn’t get on that well on a personal level so so I had no interest in anything he was doing and I’m sure he had no interest in anything I was doing. I tried on several occasions to get him to sing on some of my songs but unfortunately I was never able get him to commit.
What did you think of the recent re-releases of Brave The Storm and Excess All Areas on Rock Candy Records and how involved were you in these re-releases?
It’s pity that I wasn’t asked to be involved with these releases in any way. They got my song credits wrong and spelt my name wrong. It seems to me that Malcolm Dome and Derek Oliver only consider Tony Mills and Steve Harris to be SHY and anyone else in the band as a only bit part players that don’t really matter. I gave my copies away as it was just basically insulting to all the time and effort that I, and others, had put into SHY to help make it what it was. I played the drums, sang backing vocals and wrote lyrics to most of the well known SHY songs and get little or no recognition for it so, if they can’t even be bothered to spell my name right on the re-releases, then I don’t consider these as products that I want to have in my collection.
What was it like working with Roy Thomas Baker on the Misspent Youth album, released as Shy England.
I have documented what went on with Roy Thomas Baker on my SHY website www.wordpress.com/shyengland.com. I personally thought we had a great selection of songs that with the right production could have really raised the bar. But unfortunately RTB was not the right man for this job and the end result speaks for itself. The production is amateur at best, it always feels like something is wrong with the system you’re listening to the album through but, no, that is the actual production. We did disagree over a trivial matter in pre-production which resulted in there being no further pre-production but that is still no excuse for how bad he made this album sound.
I actually liked the Welcome To The Madhouse album. What do you think of that album in retrospect and whatever happened to the vocalist Wardi?
I love this album I just feel that it came out a year or two too late, as the music scene at the time had changed drastically and Grunge and Indie/New Wave was the new thing and anyone playing melodic rock was suddenly ‘old hat’. I loved working with Neil Kernon, I think he is an excellent producer and it’s a pity we couldn’t have had him handle the production on Misspent Youth, as I think SHY could have gone on to be the stadium band that people were predicting that we would be.
I believe Wardi went on to be vocalist for Saxon for a while. He has his own album coming out shortly, on which I sang backing vocals on quite a few of the songs.
What did you think of Lee Small and that final Self-Titled Shy album?
I don’t have an opinion as I haven’t listened him or to anything from SHY after Welcome To The Madhouse.
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Edge Of The Blade?
I am currently working on Edge Of The Blade 3 with John Francis due for release in 2022. As I have mentioned before I have the fifth 7HY album due for release in April 2021
What do you hope 2021 brings for you and Edge Of The Blade?
As always, I would like Edge Of The Blade’s ‘Feels Like Home’ to be considered a classic and held in high esteem, maybe up there with the SHY album ’Excess All Areas’, then I would consider that I have achieved something.
Any final words of wisdom?
Remember kids don’t forget to leave a carrot and some cookies out, don’t want to be on the naughty list now do you!
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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