Published: 13:00, 05 February 2017
You should grab life while you can, they say, because you never get another chance.
But a band of aging rockers has discovered that sometimes lightning can strike twice.
Back in 1985, five friends from Kent got together to play heavy rock. Their band Blackmayne was compared to Iron Maiden and they found themselves instantly popular.
They were snapped up by Ebony Records and signed to a five-album deal, but then things immediately started to go wrong.
Guitarist Phil McDermott, who bought his first Washburn guitar in Maidstone in 1979, said: “There was myself, Julian Sackett on bass, Tim Cooke on vocals, Richard Matthews on guitar and Andy Terry on drums.
“The album offer came almost as soon as we started. We had only played a handful of engagements in Kent pubs. But then for various reasons, including a fire that destroyed the album’s artwork, there was a long delay after the recording session before the album actually came out.
“By the time it did, about eight months later, we had already broken up.”
Mr McDemott said: “Julian and I for some reason fell out with Richard, and our singer Tim Cooke suddenly announced he was off to Australia.
“I was like, what?
“When the record company asked us to do gigs to promote the album, we had to say, ‘sorry, too late’.”
Blackmayne also had to turn down the offer of a tour of Belgium.
Mr McDermott said: “I think we were just too young to realise what we had. I was 21 and doing all the paperwork, because we didn’t have a manager, and I got pretty fed up with it.
“Looking back, it’s astonishing! We didn’t know how lucky we were.
“Most bands spend years trying and failing to get a record deal and here we were with an album coming out. We had broken through the biggest door and we just threw it away through naivety and inexperience.”
The boys split up and in the intervening years have spread out across the country – though Tim Cooke ended up in Scotland rather than Australia.
Mr McDermott, who now lives in Longfield, went into a career in IT, though he continued to play guitar as a hobby: performing at Earls and the Druids Arms, both in Maidstone’s Earl Street. He is currently with punk bands The Straps and The Gonads.
But step forward more than 30 years and suddenly Blackmayne are back in demand.
Mr McDermott said: “Despite the problems, our album had actually sold quite well. Obviously someone somewhere had paid attention, because suddenly last January I had two record companies ringing me up asking if we wanted to do another album. The very same week, we had an invitation to play at a festival in Sheffield.
“To this day, I don’t know what suddenly sparked their interest after all that time.”
The net result is Blackmayne have reformed with just Mr McDermott and Julian Sackett from the original line-up. Tim Cooke has been replaced by Jay Duke, Richard Matthews has been replaced by Scott Edwards. Pete Davies and Mark Aldam are taking it in turns to fill in for drummer Andy Terry.
Eat Metal Records is about to re-release their original album digitally remastered and with additional bonus tracks written by the band.
Mr McDermott said: “We’ve already been invited to two festivals for 2017, but what we really want to do is play the Ramblin Man festival in Maidstone.
“Meanwhile we’re going to be playing in Kent again this month – 30 years after we last did it.”
Blackmayne are playing at The Red Lion in Crete Hall Road, Northfleet, on Tuesday, February 21.
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