Fireworks Magazine Online 50 - Daylight Robbery


The Birmingham based band, Daylight Robbery, has just released its debut album entitled ‘Cross Your Heart’ to critical acclaim. On top of that, supporting Uriah Heep at two recent high profile gigs has ensured the band is getting the attention many pundits are saying it deserves. Rob McKenzie got to speak to lead singer Tony Nicholl just as Daylight Robbery’s star rises.

What has been your approach to releasing your new album ‘Cross Your Heart’?

We knew what we wanted to do and didn’t want to wait to get a label before we recorded the album. We did the maths and worked out we could do it.
We decided to use TuneCore to distribute the recording digitally through virtually every feasible download outlet in a CD quality mp3. For the physical CD distribution, we chose a company called Code 7 to get the album out there so I’m not sure what more a record label could do with the actual release of the album. I would encourage any bands who want to get their music out there and have a tool to promote themselves to go down this route. I designed the sleeve myself, the logo was conceived by me and a graphic artist called Ashley Barber who is a friend of the band. The crucified heart is my design and the wings are Ashley’s idea. I think it works; it looks really retro and a bit like Bon Jovi’s New Jersey album sleeve I guess.

How did Daylight Robbery start?

I come from a background of friends and family who were big rock fans so I was introduced to rock very early on. Birmingham had a legendary venue called Edwards No. 8 and I frequented that and listened to bands like Dokken and Ratt - all the LA bands from the 80’s. I thought it was fantastic and it was in about ‘87 that I put together the band Daylight Robbery with friends who also went to Eddies. We used to play all over the place and supported bands like Kill City Dragons and Circus of Power from New York. It was a great time; Birmingham was really buzzing and it was a fantastic place to be a young guy. I played rhythm guitar in those days; our original singer then joined another Birmingham band called Shotgun Wedding. I had to decide whether to continue playing guitar or make the leap of faith to what I really always wanted to do which was sing, so I took the bold decision to sing and the rest is history.

What was your vision for the band in those days?

We wanted a band name that fitted into the scene where other bands were incorporating words like guns etc. and Daylight Robbery sounded like a heist and gave us the vibe of being slightly dangerous. About eighteen months down the line, Mark Carleton joined from a band called Wasteland, and we got on like a house on fire. With Mark’s addition we started writing in a different way; he liked Van Halen and a lot of technical stuff so we went in a new direction of heavy melodic rock. However, the chemistry of Daylight Robbery stopped working in the early 90s and I went onto other bands until rock fell from grace in about 1994 and people turned away from the rock scene.

Rock$tar was the band that I know you from. How did that band form?

Daz Yates, who I had played with before, contacted me with the idea of starting a tribute band and we formed Rock$tar in early 2005 and a few months later we were playing with Graham Bonnet!
There was a venue in Staffordshire called LA Rock Café and the promoter there, Mark Wheatley, who had arranged the tour for Graham didn’t have a backing band arranged. The management of the club told Mark that we were a band of the quality to support Graham and we got the tour. It was about twelve dates and a major job. We weren’t a keyboard band and so we created keyboard backing tracks to the Rainbow songs and full backing vocals with three-way harmonies. This gave him the best backing we could possibly give. We did ‘Stand In Line’ [originally recorded] by Impellitteri with the bells and thunder and Graham said ‘This is great’. It was a fantastic time and Graham was a real pleasure to work with. We were asked two years later to support him again but we couldn’t commit to the time.
We were quite a high profile tribute act, as we were also down to support Vince Neil on the Midland dates of his UK tour but due to reasons unknown it never happened.
The tribute work has been an interesting ride as we have had the pleasure of playing on the same bill as members of both Thunder and Bad Company over the years. The UK has had a bad reputation for tribute bands not being of the best standard; with Rock$tar we tried to be as good as the original bands! If you look at the standard of tribute bands in the States, you can’t tell the difference between them and the real thing. It is getting better here now though I think.

How did Daylight Robbery reform?

I got back with Mark [Carleton] who I’ve remained friends with since the band originally folded and within a period of a few months, we had about five songs we were really happy with. We then bought in Col Murdoch and Ben Dixon and the band started to come together. It was just a matter of getting a keyboard player; we approached Duncan Cook who was playing in a tribute band called Whitesnake UK who was interested in playing original material. We then approached Al Barrow from Magnum to take some promotional pictures and suddenly we had a band!
We all felt we needed to create an album; people thought we were crazy producing an album with our own finances in the middle of a recession but the process of writing and recording an album has been a great experience. The album was launched digitally on 11 November and the cd version is out on 16 January 2012.

How did you get to support Uriah Heep recently?

Mark, the promoter on the Uriah Heep Tour is a big supporter of us; he had heard early demos of our album and unbeknown to me he passed it on to the Uriah Heep management. They had support acts booked for the European dates but they had space for two of the UK gigs. We needed a spotlight for the new album and there is no better opportunity than playing support for Uriah Heep. I would say Mick Box is one the nicest rock ‘n’ roll people I have ever met; he never stops smiling and laughing and the rest of the guys were great too. We wrote them a nice letter when we finished the support dates as they were so supportive.
Their management company said we had packaged the band really well which was a nice compliment. We haven’t got management and they were a bit surprised we had so much press without having a label. It’s Uriah Heep’s fortieth anniversary next year, we would absolutely love to do something with them again.

Your album ‘Cross Your Heart’ has been very well received, can you give some background to the tracks?

There are three old songs on the album; ‘Shame On You’ which is a completely reworked old track, ‘She’s Got Me Understood’ which I wrote way back in the 80’s and ‘Line of Fire’ which I wrote with Mark in 1992. All the other songs were written recently for the album and there is one additional song we are working on at the moment which we have been asked to make a single out of. It might not be too long until we go back to the studio for the second album.
I wrote ‘Crossing The Great Divide’ on an acoustic guitar; I like to keep politics out of music but this song is about getting rid of the divisions between people that cause conflicts. It’s an important song that comes in at about eight minutes. ‘Reunite’ is about the same subject with the message for people to realise that we are all human beings.
As soon as Mark sent me the mp3 of him punching out ‘Cross Your Heart’ on guitar, I thought this is great, it feels like a heavy James Bond theme! As soon as we finished it, we loved it; the big hook was what we were looking for.

Thank you for your time Tony, do you have any final thoughts?

Thank you Rob and Fireworks Magazine for your support. We would just like to give a big thank you to everyone who has supported us either in the studio or on the road and especially for buying the album as it guarantees we have a future in very tough financial times.
It has been a great experience recording ‘Cross Your Heart’ and the feedback has been incredible. Daylight Robbery is now looking forward to the future and we are currently working on the next album and maybe a single in 2012; so see you all very soon.

This and more than 20 other interviews can be found in issue 50 of Fireworks Magazine, available from ...

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