Gerry Kelly was involved in the legendary Soundhouse - the
birthplace some say of the NWOBHM. They hold an annual reunion.
What is your involvement in the music business?
Living in North West London about two minutes away from the best
known Rock club at the time, The Bandwagon (The Heavy Metal
Soundhouse) it turned a 16 year old boy into a big Hard Rock fan. It
also afforded me the chance to meet some of the major stars at the
time; Priest, Motorhead, Sammy Hagar, Rainbow, Ted Nugent who all
came to the club for Pa's. Also the place bore witness to the birth
of Iron Maiden so it was a bit like your drinking pals making good. I
had friends within the business so got to lig backstage at places
like Hammersmith Odeon, Reading and Donnigton etc - I suppose that's
where I got the industry bug.
I spent the next ten years though doing
a 'proper job' with the most exciting part of the week was getting
Sounds on a Thursday, and spending most of my nights at the Marquee
and various other rock clubs. Then I got my break in music and spent
seven years working for a major record label (Warner Music) in sales
In 1997 I joined a large independant - Koch
International - now known as RSK Entertainment after a lengthy
management buy out. I'm the UK Label and product Manager for
the new company and look after our third party labels and releases,
labels which include SPV, MTM, and Century Media; all great
classic/melodic and contemporary metal labels, a bit of 'home from
home' for me really. Although my labor of love at the moment is
dragging (in)famous metal dj Neal Kay out of retirement every year
and organising our Soundhouse Reunions.
Which bands/artists do you enjoy listening to most?
Depends on the mood - for nostalgia moods (and after drinking
a lot) it's got to be UFO (been a major fan since first seeing them
live in 1976) - Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, Purple, Zep, Journey etc -
basically bands that despite the passing of years still sound great.
Also still listen to loads of Black Sabbath, who imo invented that
over used term 'Heavy Metal'.
For prog moments - It Bites and Spock's Beard and quieter moments -
the wonderful Steely Dan.
Any newer bands out there worth a listen in your opinion?
Definitely! despite what people think there's quality out there
if you look around. Bands like Feeder, RHCP, Puddle Of Mud,
Audioslave etc are keeping the hard rock flag flying. We've put out
great albums recently from the likes of Lacuna Coil, All Systems Go,
Magnum and Motorhead.
Although I do tend to, like most end up playing older stuff.
What do you think of the current state of the live rock music scene
in the UK?
Very healthy, I get to go to a lot of shows and see it for myself.
Classic rock shows this year from the likes of Dio and the legends of
Rock events have been brilliant, but also newer acts like The Datsuns
and The Darkness are ripping up a storm on the live scene. Although
not quite the "grey pound" theory, it certainly seems like more and
more 30 and 40 year olds are coming out to shows yearning for a bit
You are heavily involved in the Soundhouse reunion. How did last
year's Reunion go? Plans for this year?
Last years reunion was a tremendous success, we sold out about 3 weeks
before the event and had to turn loads of people away, we got a load
of coverage in Classic Rock magazine which helped enormously.
We now have a great website which not only covers the yearly events,
but also gives a comprehensive history in story form of the original
club that went to make up, what we consider to be a big influence on
the uk metal scene.
This years event was another great success with over 400 hundred
people attending. What we are trying to do is not just put on a night
of Classic Rock and Metal, but also bring people together who
attended all those great London based clubs around the late 70's and
80's with a state of the art sound and light system and a
profesional Rock dj in Neal Kay.
What were the highlights of the Soundhouse days and the birth of the NWOBHM?
There were many, but it's a bit like that phrase "if you remembered
it, you weren't really there!" it certainly had it exesses! Although
we were at it's centre, it's only now that you come to appreciate
it. The best bit's of course were seeing the rise of Iron Maiden from
supporting the likes of Angel Witch and Samson playing to crowds of
about 75 people, to seeing them in a relatively short period of time
playing arenas and stadiums around the world to thousands of people.
We were also responsible - when we did the Soundhouse shows at The
Music Machine in Camden - for giving first London headline dates for
the likes of Def Leppard and Diamond Head. Also it was great having
the press coverage that promoted the club as a mecca for rock fans at
the time, because what we did as a collective, and especially Neal
Kay was to give a platform for newer bands to play their demos and
debut recordings we were the first do really do this IE to create the
UK's first pro-active Rock club and venue.
Who are your musical heroes and why?
Led Zeppelin, The Stones and then, further down the evolutionary
scale, while growing up Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, and UFO. Of course,
they're like the struggling third division football team who let you
down most Saturdays but demonstrate blinding form once in a blue
moon... marvellous, jumpers for goalposts, etc. Though I do think
it's time for Schenker to retire and open a sports shop or pub or
something. Maybe not a pub.
Any ambitions to fufill (music related or otherwise)?
Yes of course. It's my aim firstly to help RSK Entertainment
establish themselves as a major force in the Industry and as a record
company that promotes good classic, and contemporary rock and metal.
Also to make our Soundhouse reunions bigger and better each year. We
are already making plans for the 2003 reunion which we have some
great ideas to make it more spectacular and in some cases funnier!
there are always going to be people that take the metal scene far too
seriously, I certainly don't and am fully aware that with some of the
great stuff that's been done down the years, there has also been some
absurd Spinal Tap style moments that we've all had to endure.
Interview © 2003