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DESTROYA - Destroya (12" MLP)

United Kingdom | NWOBHM, Heavy
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Similar to High Roller recording art'sts Deep Machine, Destroya were a N.W.O.B.H.M. band which never got round to release anything on vinyl back in the early 1980's. Complicating things, there was another outfit called Destroyer who released a 7" single called "Evil Place" in 1981. I did indeed suspect that the spelling of Destroya was chosen to avoid confusion with the Destroyer bunch. That, however, was not the case as singer Andy Gregory explains: "We weren't aware of another band, we named the band after the 'Destroyer Roadshow' when myself and Brian used to DJ, in fact the Roadshow was named after the Kiss album, not the Twisted Sister track, as some people had thought. We decided to drop the 'er' at the time. I think there was an article in 'Sounds' saying that most band names ending in 'er' were doomed, a kind of curse, so we ditched it and went for the 'a', as did a very famous San Francisco Thrash band. To be honest, I can't remember the 'er' mob gigging. I never saw them on any bills etc., great'single though ? 'Evil Place'."
The history of Destroya goes way back to the late 1970's. Andy Gregory recounts: "Yeah, late '79 early 1980 I guess. Myself and Brian had left'school and were seeing bands such as Dragonfly, Maiden, Angel Witch and Ophidian (I always remember them for some reason) so we started to write lyrics and melodies. I remember we went to the London Dungeon for inspiration, then came up with the band name 'Satan's Axe'! Shortly after, Kev Petley joined on drums, he was part of the Chadwell Heath Maiden Crew, who would go to all the Maiden gigs around London and the Home Counties. In fact, three or four of them ended up working for Maiden on the lights etc. and did so for many years. So myself, Brian and Kev started to write lyrics and wrote a good few songs: 'Cry Of The Demon Wolf', 'Severed Head' , 'Hung Drawn and Quartered' and 'Daughter Of Death' (which later became 'Stay With Me' which is on the forthcoming High Roller E.P) to name but a few In fact, Kev wrote the lyrics to 'Victims Of War'. Also part of the Maiden Crew was Terry Lewis who became our first guitarist. We then dropped the darker lyrics and adopted a more glam look. We were just about to do a few gigs with Silverwing, one being the famous Bridgehouse in Canning Town, East London, when Terry went his own way, a few years later he went onto form Midnight Warrior with Wayne from Satan's Empire, who had relocated to London." As Andy has already stressed, Destroya came from the East End of London, same as Iron Maiden. Therefore, it's no wonder there were some connections between Destroya and Steve Harris' mob: "The first time I saw Maiden was either late '79 or early 1980. I can't remember if it was the Ruskin or the Bandwagon (North London). I know they were a four-piece and Dougie Sampson was on drums, I do remember seeing them at the Ruskin with Dennis Stratton as they used to play there on Dave Murray's birthday. Brian and Kev knew the band, I met them a few times as they would be out and about at the 'Green Man', Leytonstone where Neal Kay used to DJ, as well as 'Oscars'. I always preferred Angel Witch or Ophidian (with Laurie Mansworth of More). After Paul had parted company with Maiden, he used to go to 'Oscars' nearly every week, so we got to know him. That's how we got the Marquee gig, once he formed Battlezone, I never really saw him, occasionally at the Ruskin." Bassist Brian "Geno" Moore adds: "I first'saw Maiden in October 1979 at the Marquee Club with Praying Mant's, I got to know all the members really well."
Bassist Brian Moore was a roadie for Deep Machine and later sold merchandising for Iron Maiden. Surely Brian must have some tales to tell? That's the case: "I have loads of stories to tell about Deep Machine and Iron Maiden, pretty amazing really. I hope to write about it one day! Call Me on my cell phone and I can share some with you." Singer Andy takes over: "Brian and me started at the same secondary school in 1974, so we've known each other since we were 11. We both went to the same secondary school, if we weren't playing football at break time we'd be in the music room listening to Purple and Zep! Brian was mainly Andy Wrighton's bass roadie with Deep Machine, Shogun and Tokyo Blade, and also selling shirts with Maiden. I'm sure he has a good few stories to tell. I know he wanted to write a book, so maybe one day ... He's now a very successful estate agent in Hollywood, so he's done good."
As was the case with Iron Maiden, Destroya's favoured haunt was the Ruskin Arms, where they appeared live on stage a couple of times. Andy Gregory: "Yeah, the famous Ruskin Arms mainly, a few pubs in Essex, and we were lucky enough to play the famous Marquee Club, Wardour Street, London, supporting Di'Anno. I think it was Paul's first band after Maiden, it was basically him and another local band, Minas Tirith, as like his backing band, they recorded one album. The Tirith singer Tony Smith had joined Deep Machine. Tony Harris (guitarist with Deep Machine) joined us on stage and we did our own version of 'Demon Preacher' called 'Wicked Sinna'. Great place to play!"
The East End was the birthplace of the legendary Oi! movement, with bands like Cock Sparrer, the Cockney Rejects and The Business coming from there. However, the East End was also home to quite a few N.W.O.B.H.M. bands, like Iron Maiden, Urchin or the Desolation Angels. Did Destroya feel like being part of a little East End N.W.O.B.H.M. scene? Andy Gregory does not think so: "Not really a scene, you would see bands at different gigs and Metal nights mainly at the Ruskin on a Saturday with DJ's. Neal Kay was there for a while, I think the N.W.O.B.H.M thing came later. I can't remember bands categorising themselves as that, there were some great bands in East London and Essex: Deep Machine, Desolation Angels, Rampant, Gandalf Wizardry, Bastille, Rippa, Touchstone ..."
Andy Gregory and Brian Moore also acted as DJ's at the height of the N.W.O.B.H.M., spinning vinyl at 'Oscars': "Myself and Brian used to do a few hours before the main DJ came on, so we would play all the new stuff at the time: Holocaust, Mythra (I played that "Death & Destiny" EP to death), Fist, Tygers, we had it all, but most people wanted to hear the classics, so we had to play what they wanted too! Yeah, we owned all the N.W.O.B.H.M. stuff, singles mainly, I have most of them still today, stored away in my loft! It was great because a record shop near us was run by Stephen Heath, guitarist in Dragonfly, so he would stock everything, well, a few copies of everything. I also remember Maiden signing copies of the first album in the shop and Samson signing copies of 'Head On', the funniest thing was seeing Thunderstick running across Ilford Broadway scaring the shit out of all the old ladies! But yeah, we owned everything, we used to get demos sent too, some great tapes which I still have. On the odd occasion we would get bands show up too. I remember Metal Mirror turning up and personally handing us copies of their 'Rock 'N' Roll Ain't Gonna Leave Us' single, a few weeks later they were back and played live. Great Times!"
Destroya themself did not appear too often live on stage: "With the first line-up? Maybe a handful at the most. The second line-up with Rick Tiley and Paul Playle maybe a dozen or so, again not that many. Brian got busy, he decided to take a job with a very well-known merchandising company selling t-shirts etc. at gigs in Europe and then in the Stat's, where he resides to this day. Paul was getting more into his keyboards and Moogs and in the end played with Beki Bondage, which was a real shame because he was a great guitarist." Destroya did not'share a stage with any other band that Paul Di'Anno's lot. Andy Gregory: "Only Di'anno really, as I've already mentioned. Myself and Brian went on with Deep Machine once with our cardboard guitars, headbanging along to their encore 'Deep Machine'. In fact, Brian made a habit of this as he was one of the Eddies on the Maiden 'Live At The Rainbow' video, clinging to a fire extinguisher! It was hard then, to support bands, as the headliner didn't want'support bands to blow 'em off, it was a nightmare to get decent gigs. I remember seeing Desolation Angels blow Diamond Head one night and that'sean Harris had the real arsehole with the promoter saying that Desolation Angels should have never supported them!"
In 1983, Destroya recored a 4-track demo, which makes up the material on the High Roller 12" EP. This was not all they had on tape though, as Andy explains: "No, we had another three or four songs I reckon. We hired this portable recording studio, a t'scam I think, and recorded it in a few hours. I only wished that we had gone into a proper recording studio, but it was recorded live and then the vocals went over the top, ain't bad, seeing as none of us knew what we were doing! I just remember hanging a few mics up over the drums, going down the pub, then coming back to record the vocals! We then got about a hundred cassett's copied and sold them at the gigs!"
There is also a live recording from 1982, which somehow found its way to the public. Andy Gregory would have preferred that it had rather not: "The 'Live At The Ruskin Arms' tape, I think the PA guy recorded it, but the quality is poor which is a shame because it's got'some good stuff on that. I think the tape I have is about a tenth generation copy. It has ten tracks, we used to open and finish with 'Destroya', it has just the one cover and that was 'Polar Nights' by the Scorpions, which went back to back with an instrumental called 'Tyburn'. It's also got 'Daughter Of Death', which became 'Stay With Me', probably one of the weaker songs." Brian Moore adds regarding the choice of cover tunes on the infamous live tape: "Yeah, the Scorpions/Uli Jon Roth track 'Polar Nights' and a version of Deep Machine's 'Demon Preacher' called 'Wicked Sinna'."
As mentioned earlier, Destroya never released a vinyl when they were active. The end came far too early: "The original line-up with Kev and Terry split in around late 1981/early '82. Then Rick Tiley and Paul Playle joined from a band called Rampant who had just'split, so we wrote some new stuff, and within about three weeks were back down the Ruskin gigging. This is the line-up that's on the High Roller EP, it's a shame we didn't record any of the stuff we wrote together, but Paul didn't want to. Paul went onto join Beki Bondage and the Bombshells, Texas and Praying Mant's."
Destroya was reformed in 1994 though. Andy Gregory takes up the story: "Myself and Rick reformed Destroya in late 1994, we had our own warehouse to rehearse and store gear in, which was great.
We were lucky in finding two great guitarists, Pete Ashley and Tazz (Kieran Ball) as well as Dave Dobbs on bass. We played a lot, again the Ruskin, the Standard, a lot of gigs in South London too, at one point two a week."
Matthias Mader

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