Posted on January 05th. 2018
Questionnaire by Omni on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
I managed to catch up with Robert Stevens after the recent reissue of the sole EP by Dark Age on No Remorse Records. It took some time for us to be able to schedule time for an interview, but it was well worth the wait.
Omni: Hello, Robert! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview for Metal to Infinity. How are you doing?
Robert: I am doing well, Judith. Thanks for asking. My sincere apologies for the delay in response. Life has been very hectic lately.
Omni: I can relate. My real job takes up a lot of time that I’d rather spend listening to heavy metal. Are you excited about the recent Dark Age reissues on No Remorse Records?
Robert: I am ecstatic. Bart Gabriel did an amazing job of remastering the EP. The whole crew there deserves a shout out! Chris Papadatos, et cetera. Awesome job, guys!
Omni: Yes, it certainly looks and sounds great. I’ve got the 2012 reissue by Keltic Records, but this one blows it away. Is it surprising that so many people still love your old band and that these reissues are in such high demand?
Robert: To put it mildly, YES! It has been a LONG time and that single EP seems to be holding its own in the metal world. We must have made some type of mark, whether it was because of the vocals, guitar, bass, drums or overall sound. I don’t know, there’s something there that true metal fans still find enduring. I think it is the raw energy and the power. I believe we had a unique sound.
Omni: Yes, it is one of my all-time favorite metal releases. There’s nothing else quite like it. Speaking of guitar, bass and drums, have you been in touch with any of the old band members?
Robert: Yes, all but James McGearty. He seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. I believe that some of the other band members have had some contact with him. I have semi-regular contact with John Isaacs and Alan Foley, the two awesome guitar players of Dark Age. Jeff “Exx” Brunton was my ex-roommate and chess buddy. R.I.P. Jeff. He passed away too soon.
Omni: It’s good that you’ve managed to stay in touch with almost everyone. Jeff was a great drummer and he sounds like he was a great friend, so I think that he’d be quite happy to see you doing an interview about the new reissue of his old music. Have you sang for any bands aside from Dark Age?
Robert: Yes, I was also in Mournblade, Cyrion and Graven Image. The last one only for one practice session because we didn’t gel as a band. Getting ready to go back in the studio now to do a cover of a Dokken song, just to test the waters. It be the start of my reemergence!
Omni: I look forward to it. You’ve been gone from the music world for too long! If you don’t mind me asking, what happened to Dark Age after the 1984 EP was recorded?
Robert: Dark Age kind of just fizzled away. It was never anything that was really planned, or spoken. It just kind of happened. We had virtually no support from Greenworld and were financially deceived on this. It kind of soured me on the whole music scene for a long time. I washed my hands of the whole thing. One of my biggest regrets to this day. Ready to get back in the saddle now, as it were.
Omni: Sadly that story is all too common. Labels and management weren’t always there when bands needed them, so a lot of bands called it quits almost immediately. It’s a shame. Are there any other Dark Age songs that haven’t been released?
Robert: Actually yes. We had many more. We actually recorded another EP and sent it to Roadrunner Records. It was supposed to be our next release. We had a lot more material beyond that. I do not know who has the master tapes for the EP. Likely James, who I have no contact with.
Omni: That’s both sad and amazing at the same time. I can’t believe that they didn’t want to put out the EP! Hopefully it will see the light of day in the future, because I am sure that it rules. In this era of classic metal resurgence, do you think that there is any chance that we’ll see a Dark Age reunion in the future?
Robert: That will never happen since Jeff has passed. We are all separated by many miles and likely would not do that. Sadly.
Omni: The only other music that I’ve heard by members of Dark Age is the work that James McGearty did in Christian Death. Have you heard that stuff?
Robert: I have. Interesting story, my son was listening to Christian Death’s debut album, Only Theatre of Pain. He did not know I was in a band with James. Pretty funny. When I first met James, he would come and watch us when I was with Mournblade. I very clearly remember one remark he made to this day: ”Your screams get my nipples hard.” Hilarious! When I left Mournblade, he recruited me for Dark Age. The chemistry was magic. James, Alan Foley and I. I don’t remember the early drummer or second guitarist because I told James I will do this if we get John and Jeff from Mournblade. We did and clicked very well together.
Omni: That’s a very interesting story. I think that the lineup was perfect as well. Do you still follow heavy metal today? If so, what albums have you been listening to recently?
Robert: I always listen to good music. My choices may not impress TRUE metal fans. I LOVE Lzzy Hale and Halestorm. Damn that girl has some pipes. I also love Ghost and I’ve been jamming to “Seal the Deal” by Volbeat. Is that metal? I like Orchid, Oliver Haddo, Chevalier, Royal Blood, Radio Moscow. Probably not what some would consider true metal. My all time faves? Judas Priest, Queensrÿche, Scorpions, Yngwie Malmsteen, King Diamond and many others. I think that my tastes have mellowed over the years.
Omni: It’s okay. I love a ton of music, regardless of whether it’s metal or not. I really enjoy Chevalier as well, so I’ll be sure to check out some of the other stuff that you listed. Who are your main influences as a singer?
Robert: That’s easy! Rob Halford, Klaus Miene, Geoff Tate, Bruce Dickinson and Ian Gillian.
Omni: Nobody beats the classic vocalists. What is your favorite Dark Age song? Mine is probably “Dark Age” if I have to pick just one.
Robert: “Viper” is my favorite, hands down. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed ramming that song down people’s throat in a live setting. We were ROCK SOLID live. What you hear on the EP is exactly how we sounded live. People’s jaws would drop. I loved that.
Omni: I can only imagine what it would have been like to see Dark Age in 1984, especially since I was only born in 1987! If you could record an album with a dream lineup featuring any musicians, living or dead, who would you want to join your dream band?
Robert: K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton on guitars, Billy Sheehan on bass and maybe Nicko McBrain on drums. Or Terry John Bozzio or Neil Peart on drums.
Omni: Great selections. You’d probably be the singer in my own dream band. Are you aware that there is a band named Tales of Medusa that is named after the Dark Age song? Have you heard their music?
Robert: I was not. That is pretty damn flattering!
Omni: Yes, Tales of Medusa was a very secretive band, although you can hear their music on YouTube nowadays. What has been your proudest moment to date as a musician?
Robert: When people such as yourself tell me that I’m one of their favorite metal vocalists. What? That doesn’t count? Probably Alan Atkins, the first Judas Priest vocalist, giving “Viper” a thumbs-up. Or the recent resurgence of ‘80s metal and the amazing reaction to the music of Dark Age. I never realized…
Omni: You should be proud that your music lives on so strongly today. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Do you have any final words for the fans reading this interview?
Robert: I love you all and my one true regret is that I did not leave more of a legacy. The greatest gratification for me as a musician is the appreciation of the fans. Keep the music alive, my brothers and sisters! And thank you, Judith, for your patience and interest. You are all amazing!
Robert Stevens is a talented and passionate heavy metal vocalist and a testament to the might of the 1980s U.S. heavy metal scene. If you haven’t heard the great music from Dark Age, you can buy it directly from No Remorse Records. It will appeal to any fans of classic U.S. power metal. Don’t miss out!
P.S. James McGearty, if you read this, the world needs to hear that unreleased Dark Age EP. I’m a huge fan of Christian Death and Dark Age, so feel free to get in touch with me! 😉 😉