Grim Reaper may be best known for the jokes Beavis and Butt-head cracked at their expense, but they’re enjoying a new wave of genuine appreciation from fans younger than the songs that made the band famous. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) veterens recorded only three albums–See You in Hell, Fear No Evil, and Rock You To Hell–that found minor U.S. success in the 80s before legal troubles with record labels split up the band.
Tonight, 6/10, vocalist Steve Grimmett leads a revamped line-up (without original guitarist Nick Bowcott, who has tendenitis) in the first of a two-night stint at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn. We talked with him about the groundswell of renewed interest in Grim Reaper and, yes, about Beavis and Butt-head.
When was the last time you played in New York?
Would’ve been 1987.
That’s a long time ago!
It is. It is a long time ago. It’s very strange what’s happening at the moment. We seem to be–I can’t say popular all over again, but I think in general, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is doing well because nobody’s writing any material like that, and basically the audiences that we’re playing to are not of our age. They are younger. So it’s on a total turnaround again. I’m not sure why, and I’ve tried to question it, and I’m just not going to bother anymore because I can’t put my finger on it.
I’ve noticed that. Especially among what I might call, for lack of a better term, the lesser-known NWOBHM bands–bands like Raven, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Grim Reaper–there seems to be a resurgence of interest. People have continued to be fans of bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, who have continued to make albums all this time, but there were quite a number of British bands who did their thing in the 80s and then didn’t do a lot of albums afterwards, and now there’s a revival of interest in them.
Yeah, absolutely. To be perfectly honest with you, there was no record company interest after that period. It’s a real shame, really. I did bring out other albums with other bands, but the actual New Wave of British Heavy Metal just died a death. For some of them, like you said, it’s all coming back, and we’ve been touring–albeit just festivals all over Europe–since 2001, and then just recently we’ve actually started touring [outside of Europe] again. We just completed a South American tour–a sold-out tour, and this one looks to be heading that way, too. It’s just incredible, really.
You’ve said before that you play music simply because it’s fun for you, and I get the impression you’re not a competitive person. Did it ever feel like that attitude of playing music because you love it, because it’s fun, almost doesn’t work in the music industry?
Yeah, it kind of does. Or it did. There was one point before we got asked to do this show in Germany that I was ready to give it all up. I’d had enough. It was just becoming a chore, and I didn’t think anybody was interested. We got absolutely nothing from anybody. We had no label interest. It was a struggle…It’s just like, well, why am I carrying on? What’s the point? But then we did this show, this Keep It True festival in Germany [in 2006], and it proved me wrong. There was still interest in the band. There was real keen interest in it. There were fans coming up with albums to sign, and it kicked me into touch, really, and it was just saying, you know what? You’re still going to do this. And we’ve been doing it since then. And, slowly but surely, the whole thing has grown.
Grim Reaper have the somewhat dubious distinction of being the only band with all of their music videos featured on Beavis and Butt-head.
In the context of that show, they were making fun of the songs, but I understand that your band actually liked it. You thought it was funny.
Well, we did. We did think it was funny. And the reason that they’re all on there is because we met the producer of the show, and he was like, “Oh no, I don’t want to meet you! I don’t want to meet you because they’re going to hurt me! They’re going to beat me up!” And [we said], “Whoa, whoa, whoa. No, we really like this! This is really cool.” The reason that it was on there in the first place is ’cause he is a fan of Grim Reaper. And after that meeting, he decided to put all three [videos] on, which was great.