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Into The Sign Of Evil with Millennium

Into The Sign Of Evil with Millennium

Into The Sign Of Evil with Millennium

The almighty Millennium has returned with a new lineup, unleashing The Sign Of Evil upon the world at large via No Remorse Records!  With roots dating back to 1982 when the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene was at its very height, Millennium has experienced an epic career within the early 80’s and even more so with their amazing comeback albums such as Awakening (2017), A New World (2019), and now their latest and greatest The Sign Of Evil!

Highwire Daze recently interviewed vocalist and founding member Mark Duffy to find out more about the hard-hitting songs found within The Sign Of Evil, the history of this very amazing band, his other projects he participated in after the first initial breakup, and a whole lot more!  Read on…

Introduce yourself, what you do in Millennium, and how long the band has been together.
Hi, I’m Mark Duffy, vocalist in Millennium. Originally we started in 1982 and we reformed in 2015 after we suddenly got some interest again for Millennium. So, from there, we’ve been doing various albums since 2015. We’ve done 3 new albums since then.

Where are you based and what is your local heavy metal scene like there?
Well, initially we’re from a small town called Billingham. But now we’re really sort of based in Newcastle because we’ve got a new lineup. Newcastle’s a bigger city. And also, there are a few rock venues there. The main one there is one called Trillians that we’ve played a number of times, which is a great venue and lots of bands have played there.  It’s a great venue to go to as well for anyone visiting Newcastle.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title, The Sign of Evil?
it’s sort of based on good and evil. And the songs, I sort of feel at the moment things are going a bit negative in the world. And I’ve sort of wrote songs based on that and based on the fight against evil, if you want to say that really.

Yeah, that’s basically the theme of the album, good and evil, which obviously people have used it before, but I just felt like this was the time to sort of bring things up. Because things seem to be a bit negative in the world at the moment and people have to be aware of things that are going on, in my mind.

Let’s go ahead and talk about the first song, There Is a Devil. Tell me about the inspiration behind that amazing song.
Well, it’s that thing where there’s good and bad in everybody. And the fact that maybe the devil is in you and people let this devil in and then it makes them rather sinister or evil even. Obviously, there’s good in people, but the fact that the devil can get into people and cause horrifiC things happening in the world. So that’s sort of what it’s based on. I think it’s a bit of a saying as well. There Is A Devil!

One of my favorite songs on there is Virus, which was probably inspired by the pandemic. Tell me about that song and the inspiration behind it.
I wrote that song in the second week of the lockdown, because obviously everyone was locked down during the virus. And I just felt that things – I’ve never known this happened ever in my lifetime. And I thought things don’t seem right here. And so, I wrote these words, and this is my take on things. Obviously, not everyone agrees with it.

But I do sort of think it caused more damage having lockdowns than what it was – supposed to help people. A lot of people disagree with that, which I know. I mean, some people have pulled me up on those lyrics of that song. But I think it’s my opinion. A lot of people agree with me. A lot of people don’t. So, it was my take on what was happening at the time. So, that’s how Virus was written.

Why don’t you select a song and what inspired the lyrics for you off of The Sign of Evil?
The song itself, The Sign of Evil, that’s probably one of my favorite songs in the album. It’s a bit more of a, I wouldn’t say ballad-y, but it’s a slower-paced song. It’s a bit more melodic maybe than some of the other songs. And it’s about, well, again, it’s about evil.

That’s about – that you have to be aware of it in various places. It can be anywhere, and even within yourself as the lyrics say, it could be someone out there watching you, someone following you, it could be your self reflection, it could be in religious establishments, it could be in government.  And that’s basically what the song is saying, evil is out there, and evil is everywhere. So yeah, that’s what that one is trying to say.

How inspirational has it been to work with all new members on The Sign of Evil?
It’s been great actually. I mean I was a bit disappointed when 3 of the guys left in 2021 for various reasons. We didn’t see each other for 7 months due to the lockdown and we actually recorded 4 songs. We had this massive break, but we were already rehearsing 4 songs to go in again. And we had the studio booked and everything and then the lockdown came.

We didn’t get the chance to go and record these songs.  I was really shocked and tried to resolve any issues, but that didn’t happen. So, I started building the band again and trying to get a band together. I’ve got a few people to help out initially and then advertise and managed to get a new lineup. And the great thing about the lineup is they are really enthusiastic.

They did really well on the album and they’re looking forward to writing more songs and playing live as well. We’re a better band, we’re coming across better, lots of people are saying they like our live shows now.  I think now we’ve come across even more enthusiastic, more stage movement, and it really has been an inspiration for the band. So, I’m really pleased with the lineup. It’s probably, I would say, one of the best lineups of Millennium that we’ve had.

Has Millennium ever played here in the States, or would you like to do so in the future?
We haven’t, but I would love to. I really would. I mean all the band would. We really would if we had the opportunity. We’d be there like a shot. It’s getting that opportunity. This is the thing, but we haven’t been to, but we’d love to.

Your self-titled album will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next year. Looking back, what do you think of that album and the fact that it’s almost been forty years?
Yeah, it’s pretty shocking really to think it’s forty years. Well, I’ve got to be honest, I say this to people, it sounds negative, but when we did the album, we didn’t have a great time in the studio, not as a band, but just the way things went. And we were so disappointed in the things that happened. We were like in shock really. And it spoilt the whole album for us. And I actually didn’t listen to the album for years and years.

And we didn’t really even want to play some of the songs at one point. But when it got re-released in 2014, I listened back to it and I thought, actually, it’s quite a good album. And I got into it, and there were negative thoughts I had to leave behind and think, “Well, actually, it’s a good album and it’s quite well produced for its time.” So now I’m sort of thinking, I can see people do like it. It’s a real compliment that people say, “Yeah, I love your album. It’s a great album.” It was just unfortunate that the events at the time weren’t really good.

It just put a bit of a damper on the whole album and the release for us at that time. But we still continued, we did demos and things and tried to get past that. I see the album differently now, and I actually quite like it. So we’ll be doing more of the older songs live.

In between the time that Millennium kind of broke up and then got back together again, it looks like you were involved with at least 2 different bands: Face The Unknown and Toranaga. Tell me about those two bands and are you still involved with them?
No, I’m not involved with them now. I joined Toranaga in 1988, and that was just at the point where Millennium was splitting up. We couldn’t go any further, to be honest with you. And the opportunity came to join Toranaga. I’d seen an advert and I applied for the position and got the job. And I was in Toranaga for a few years until things fell apart with them – as things do.

And then I started another band called X-Seed in around about ’93 or ’94. And then I actually did rejoin Toranaga in 2001, until 2006. We did do a few demos, but nothing really happened. And then the guitarist immigrated to Australia. So again, things dispersed, and then that band folded again.

And then I did Face The Unknown and did some demos. We did an album as well. And then Toranaga came along again in 2012. And I did an album with Toranaga. And then that lasted about another 5 years. And then that folded. And then the interest in Millennium came along and I didn’t realize that there’d been a resurgence of a new wave of heavy metal bands until I started getting emails from record labels asking for the Blue Album.

I thought what’s this all about and it’d been going on for a few years and I just didn’t realize that there was this interest. It was great because suddenly people were interested in Millennium and we got the opportunity. No Remorse wanted to release the debut album – so they did that. Then we got interest in asking us to reform and do festivals and things, and I got a few original members back and got a new lineup together and we started doing shows again.  And I haven’t looked back since really.

What would you like a listener to remember the most after hearing The Sign of Evil for the very first time?
Just to think that it’s a cool album. That would be great. If everyone likes the album, the more people listen to it, the better. To be honest, it’s my favorite Millennium album. I’m not just saying it because it’s the new album. It is my actual favorite Millennium album! I’m really happy with it. And we’ve captured a good vibe of the songs, which I’m really pleased about. I’m really pleased with the album. So, the more people hear it, the better.

What’s up next for Millennium?
Basically, trying to do more shows and festivals. We’ve already got a few new songs.  We got to keep that up because otherwise another couple of years go by, and by the time you start thinking of writing, then recording, and then getting the record released. So, we have got some new songs in the bag, so we’re going to rehearse those, and as well as do shows and promote the album as much as we can really. But we also have the re-release of the debut album on vinyl coming out in July on No Remorse Records.

Do you have any messages for Millennium fans here in the United States?
Yes, just keep on supporting Millennium. We’ve had fans from the States coming over to watch us, which is great. We’ve done a few festivals and fans from the States have come on. We’re really overwhelmed and can’t believe it. And even bringing the debut album over to sign and stuff like that – and I’m sometimes in shock thinking, “Wow! Actually, people know us in the States!” It’s great! So, just keep on metal and keep on Millennium!

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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