The start of the 80’s saw a profound shift in my musical direction and a return to Heavy Rock and original material played in larger venues and to rock audiences. I got together with a number of the like-minded guys from the recent past and born partly out of frustration with the current music scene (punk and post-punk crap in our view, with a lack of decent rock bands around) and partly out of need for expression I formed Phoenix Rising in 1980. We were in the vanguard of what later became known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM).
This became a big project because to play the venues we wished to play, with the right audiences, we needed to step up a gear in both equipment and logistics. We also needed heavy promotion and aid in the management. We put together a full-sized road crew, obtained a reasonably sized vehicle and everyone then mucked in to build a sizeable PA based upon published Altec designs, along with various other redesigned and rebuilt equipment. This gave us a full scale professional rig and a 4 ton truck. We paid for all of this by ‘doing the clubs’ under the name of ‘Off The Cuff’ in parallel to our early Phoenix Rising gigs. We eventually had to stop the club band when info got out that we were doing it, because audiences in the clubs started getting filled up with Phoenix Rising followers who demanded material from the main set in no uncertain terms. Issues started to break out between them, the club audiences and ‘The Committee’, but by that time we had raised our cash so we could stop the funding gigs altogether.
As a means of further publicity we entered the Rock and Pop competition run in Sheffield winning through the rock section of the competition and gained an enormous amount of media publicity as a result. This led on to Radio coverage and live broadcast sections, bigger gigs nationally and the wherewithal to produce our first record. This was the period of growth of the independent label. To aid the production of our album and to keep intellectual and creative control within the band I formed the Rising Records independent record label and registered it with the Independent Label Association at that time. We produced a five track 12” EP entitled Phoenix Rising on the Rising Records label. We also established our own management and offices to cover promotion, distribution and booking co-ordination. Things went well for a good period of time but as the band’s focus went more into the musical side and as the band was self-financing, it became increasingly difficult to keep the finances together to keep the band on the road. There were some appalling management decisions made outside the band’s control and so as a result of stretched management and debts the band had to fold. A great pity as we had a spark which could have gone a long way. Shortly after the bands assets were liquidated to pay off those debts still outstanding.
I found it difficult to bounce back following the end of what was a long period of hard work and went from gigging musician into semi-retirement for a couple of years, but the record label continued.