First of all, for me this interview is like a dream come true, but I've to travel back in time to explain my enthusiasm. It was in the year 1983 when I was a young urban rebel with spikey hair, combat boots, wearing a leather jacket with rivets and a bullet belt. I was getting bored with all that old '77 punk rock bands and I was looking for something that was more heavy. Ok, I was already listening to Discharge and Amebix, but that wasn't enough for me. Fortunately, it was a period where a lot of hardcore punk groups integrated a strong metal influence to their sound and one of them was the English band SACRILEGE. After listening to a Japanese flexi 7" and the legendary 'We Won't Be Your Fucking Poor' 2LP compilation SACRILEGE caught my attention immediately. In 1985 the band came up with their debut album 'Behind the Realms of Madness', and that was like a revelation to me. I was overwhelmed by this unique combination of hardcore punk and doom metal. Great songs, all the massive, heavy riffs were there, and the powerful female vocals formed a cool contrast to that merciless, wrathful sonic assault. The pile-driving riffs combined with a bottom heavy sound, and an intense vocal delivery made SACRILEGE to an outstanding band in 1985. Meanwhile 'Realms' is a classic album that has influenced hundreds of bands, starting with Bolt Thrower right through to other heavy crust bands like After The Bombs, Limb From Limb, Morne, Sanctum and so on.
After that, SACRILEGE made changes to their sound and some of their old punk fans didn't like the new direction of the second album 'Within The Prophecy', released in 1987. The album requires more patience to appreciate than its predecessors and they sound like a more progressive and more metal version of the early days. The riff assault of 'Within The Prophecy' is absolutely crushing, strongly influenced by early Trouble and Candlemass, but it wasn't until the third record 'Turn Back Trilobite', that SACRILEGE fully unveiled their doom metal influence. That last album is a forgotten jewel of heavy progressive doom, and most warmly recommended for all doomsters out there. All this was reason enough to get in contact with ex-bassplayer and co-founder Tony May, who's 49 years. Currently he's celebrating the 25th anniversary of the band, but maybe you can imagine that there were more questions preying on my mind. So I've sent him a lot of questions, and here's the result of our virtual interchange. It's a great trip into the past, and even if you've never heard anything before of original SACRILEGE, maybe this interview could inspire your interest in discovering one of the most influential band that has emerged from the English anarcho hardcore punk scene of the 1980's.
Hello Tony, I must admit that it's a real honour for me to do an interview with you, because I'm still a huge fan of SACRILEGE. As far as I remember it was the song 'Blood Run' from the Anglican Scrape Attic 7" flexi that introduced me to the band. Apart from Discharge, you were one of the first English bands who connected hardcore punk with metal and the result was simply mind-blowing. Before we deepen our talk about SACRILEGE I would like to know how did to get into the hardcore punk scene and when did it happen? I can imagine that you were a pissed off young guy at the end of the 70's....
My parents were in the Royal Air Force, so as a child I had to conform, short back and sides haircut etc, so as soon as I left home in 1976 I rebelled, grew my hair long, had ears pierced, tattoos the works. I was a big rock fan in 76, but by 1977 Punk hit the U.K. and the excitement that generated, just blew me away, so off came the long hair, ha,ha.So too this day, I still love my rock/punk music and always will.
After all this years it's not easy to remember each detail, but I seem to remind that you joined The Varukers in the early 80's, where you met drummer Andy Baker and guitarist Damien Thompson who came from Warwound. After leaving The Varukers you formed SACRILEGE with Andy and Damien, but you also played together with Lynda 'Tam' Simpson in a band. Can you agree with me and if not please correct my memories and the course of time. When exactly was SACRILEGE founded?
Yes, Damian and Andy were in Warwound, (that was a good band by the way), I joined the Varukers in 1984 as they were looking for a new bassist, I met Rat the singer and Damian (guitarist) at a Broken Bones gig, if my memory serves me right. After a gruelling European tour me and Damian discussed forming a new band, which became Sacrilege, the year was still 84, Tam was added to vocals and Liam came in on drums. Previously Tam had sang in a band called Innocent Victims with me on bass.
In the punk scene of the early 80's metal was a much-hated style, and a lot of headbanger were disgusted from punk and the scene. I can remember that there was a lot of tension, but otherwise there were also people who loved both styles of music. Bands like Venom, Discharge, Motörhead or Hellhammer were something like the missing link between both scenes. Today this situation is almost unimaginable. How do you remember this times? Did you had any problems at the first shows of SACRILEGE?
That was an interesting time we were big fans of Discharge from the early days and went to see them playing their new album 'Grave New World' at that time, they went down really badly with the hardcore punx, but we had evolved with their music and liked their sound, although we could see where the hardcore punx were coming from. The first Sacrilege gig was in Nottingham U.K., Antisect had cancelled an all dayer, so we were asked to play, the reaction of the crowd was very encouraging, so thus making our debut a memorable one.
In 1984 and 1985 you recorded your first demos and while 'Blood Run' found its way on the aforementioned Japanese 7" flexi compilation, the second track 'Dig Your Own Grave' has been released by Mortarhate Records on the 'We Won't Be Your Fucking Poor' double vinyl compilation. How did you get together with both label? Did you had a good relationship to Conflict?
I think Dig contacted us about the flexi release, and we agreed too that, Colin from Conflict had chatted to Tam and Damian at a gig and offered to include a track on their compilation LP, and as we were big fans of Crass and Conflict we said, yes straight away.