One of the earliest titles in the Roadrunner catalog, the Danish band Witch Cross's 1984 debut (and only) album, Fit For Fight, has been reissued by Hells Headbangers. It's a terrific example of early '80s European metal, with riffs that will thrill fans of Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate alike (and recorded by Erik Lund, the same engineer who worked on Fate's Melissa and Don't Break the Oath), as well as half-awesome/half-goofy song titles like "Night Flight to Tokyo," "Face of a Clown," "Axe Dance" and "Alien Savage." Check out the video for "Rockin' the Night Away" above!
We reached out to guitarist Mike Kock for an interview about the band's early days, the making of Fit For Fight (and its awesome cover art), and why they broke up.
Tell me the early history of the band - how did the group come together?
The band came together after another band I, Jan [Normark, bass] and Alex [Nyborg Madsen, vocals] were playing in, called Blood Eagle. The new band had a more Satanic image and the name Witch Cross was inspired by the occult and bands like Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. The first line up was a four-piece, but soon we realized we needed a second guitarist, as we wanted to sound more like Iron Maiden and Saxon. The band recorded a single in '81 and the album Fit For Fight was released in 1984.
How did Witch Cross get signed to Roadrunner?
We had the record out on a small Danish label and they shopped around to get us an international release, and Roadrunner was the best label for us.
Your style is sort of power metal with just a little bit of thrash in it - who were you listening to at the time, and who inspired your songwriting and the vocals?
The main influences were Saxon, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but we did listen to a lot of different stuff like Angel Witch, Thin Lizzy, Anvil and all the NWOBHM bands. We never set out to sound like someone else, but I guess all the bands we listened to then made their mark on our music.
The cover art is insane. How did that illustration come together? Was it the band's idea or the illustrator's? Does it have anything to do with any of the album's lyrical subject matter ("Killer Dogs," maybe)?
It was created by the other guitarist, Cole Hamilton, and I think it was just a album cover without to much thought put into it; we all thought it looked cool, and he did a great job on the artwork. The bat/dragon was also used in the band's logo, as the W is sharped like a bat.
Did you do a lot of touring? Who were the biggest bands you played with at the time?
It was hard to get gigs in Denmark back then, and we did a few small tours - one which took us to Holland/Germany in 1985 and another small tour of Denmark. We also played a few festivals. We played Roskilde, which was great for us, and a few gigs together with Pretty Maids, Evil and a few other Danish bands. We supported Accept, which was awesome!
Was the record made quickly? What were the sessions like?
The record was made in 10 days; the band paid for the recording and for the producer, who got us a good deal in a high-end studio in Copenhagen. We were very rehearsed and all the recordings were finished within a week, then we spend three days mixing. It was great to be working in a studio, and I think we got a great product from all the hard work we put in.
Why did the band break up?
The band split up after a few personnel changes, and me and Alex wanted to try something else. Also the scene in Denmark was not moving in the right direction, so we called it a day. The bass player, Jan, carried on with the band for another year or so, but the core of the band split in late 1985.
Thanks for the support for Witch Cross, we are working on a new album which we will have mixed by Chris Tsangarides and hope to have ready in early 2013. for more info about Witch Cross go to www.witchcross.dk.