TOLEDO STEEL is a band whose name is inspired by Spanish steel, but its music is being forged in England. The quarter carries the flame of the "old" alongside the banner of the "new". Having just released their first full-length release, Rich Rutter (vocals) was kind enough to chime in and shed some light about the band's past, present and future.
Greetings and thank you for taking the time to do this interview! Could you please start by providing a short bio for TOLEDO STEEL?
Hello and thanks for inviting us! We started the band way back sometime in late 2011 with the vision to write songs inspired by the music we were already big fans of. With the first lineup we must have spent a year or so writing material and rehearsing in preparation for our first show. After our first gig, things happened pretty quickly and we were soon playing gigs across the UK, slowly but surely establishing a name for ourselves. We’ve gone through a few lineup changes over the years, but we’ve managed to venture out further by playing quite a few shows abroad and the vision for the band remains very much the same as day one.
So, Spanish steel forged in England. How did you come up with the name?
Matt Dobson our drummer used to fence and collect medieval weaponry. Toledo in Spain used to forge swords for the military which were known to be incredibly strong. The name just seemed to fit perfectly for the hard hitting sound that we wanted as a band.
And to follow up my previous question, is any of you into Spanish or Latin American metal bands?
I’m not too familiar with any Latin American bands but we know of a few Spanish metal band of course. I know that Matt is a fan of BARON ROJO. I’ve got a LEATHER HEART album in my own personal collection and we’ve played with a couple of other Spanish bands like WITCHTOWER and STREAMER. I also remember listening to some TIERRA SANTA a while back too!
How would you describe your music to people not familiar with it?
I would describe our sound as just straight up heavy metal. We have quite a hard hitting sound I’d say, with plenty of energy! We’re certainly not a overly polished sounding band. A lot of our inspiration comes from the NWOBHM and US Power Metal movements. Throw in some 70’s classic rock too for good measure.
“No Quarter” is a couple of weeks old (at the time of this interview). I know it’s a bit early, but how are things so far with it?
So far it feels good! The feedback so far from listeners and reviewers has been mostly positive! We’ve played a few shows since the release too and it’s been great to get out there with a new set and seeing how the new tracks are received live.
After a demo and a couple of EPs since the day you started, how did it feel to work on a full-length release?
It felt like a real achievement when we finished the album. The whole process was exciting from start to finish. There’s been a few lineup changes in the band over the last couple of years so that slowed the process down unfortunately. It would have been great to have released it sooner but all the hard work and persistence paid off and we got there eventually.
Could you share a few comments about the recordings and overall production process?
We only tracked the drums and vocals in the studio and all the guitars were done in our own time. Studio time isn’t cheap and we had the option of getting all the guitars recorded elsewhere for free and with less time restraints. We then re-amped the guitars at the studio. We utilised the studio to get the best possible result when tracking drums and vocals though. A outside opinion is always good and the guy we recorded with really pushed myself and Matt to get the best results we could. With the production we didn’t want it to sound overly polished or too modern but at the same time we didn’t want it to sound like it was recorded in 1984! We wanted a balance between the two and I think we achieved that.
If someone goes through the tracklist for “No Quarter”, will see there’s a bit of diversity when it comes to lyrical themes. What’s your main source of inspiration when it comes to lyrics?
I think that no matter what the main lyrical theme is for a song, the way you are feeling at that moment in time comes through in your choice of words etc. All of the songs on the album are rooted in reality. We didn’t go down the fantasy route at all really. Personal feelings about the world and how it impacts your own life and thoughts are always a good place to start. “Heavy Metal Headache” is actually about suffering with Tinnitus which I unfortunately have and “When the Night Draws In” is simply about recurring bad dreams and how personal worries can seem so much worse at night. Something most of us can relate too at some point. A track like “Sight of the Sniper” was inspired by a film though.
Are there any promotional events planned for “No Quarter”?
We played our album release show a few weeks back in London which was tied in with the Frost and Fire Festival. We played the official after show party and it was great fun. A really good turnout too and a great atmosphere. We’ve got plenty of shows lined up for the rest of the year in the UK. There’s no festivals or overseas dates lined up just yet for the rest of this year but we’ll of course be planning more of those shows for next year.
What’s the end goal for TOLEDO STEEL? Any big dreams you’d like to share with our readers?
Well we can’t see the end just yet, we’re just getting started! We want to play as many different places as possible and continue to write and record new music. To get on some bigger tours and festivals would of course be great too, we could gain so much more exposure from that which would no doubt push us forward as a band.
What do you think people seek in a band like TOLEDO STEEL? Does the fact you hail from the country that gave birth to NWOBHM affects the way people set their expectations for you or other fellow bands?
I definitely think that hailing from the country that spawned so many great metal bands goes in our favour. The strong connection with the past is already there and gives that extra bit of authenticity. Maybe people’s expectations are slightly higher because of this, I think so.
People, and as a result heavy metal bands, seem to have rekindled their love for “classic” (or “traditional”) heavy metal. Why do you think this is happening? Would you credit this to nostalgia or something else?
There is definitely a lot of nostalgia within Rock and Heavy Metal that’s for sure! A lot of the veteran bands wrote and recorded great songs, then add in strong identities and iconic live shows and you have bands that are essentially timeless. It was inevitable that the sound of modern metal would maybe grow tiresome to some or simply not appeal at all. People then look back to what came before and potentially get turned on to the more traditional approach to heavier music. There also just seems to be a real buzz about anything considered “retro” and the 70’s/80’s was when rock ruled the radio.
Are there any new bands you’d suggest to people interested in classic heavy metal?
Any of the other bands signed up to our record label (Dissonance Productions) is a good start! So that’s bands like SEVEN SISTERS, ELIMINATOR, PRIMITAI, AMULET and NEURONSPOILER! There’s also of course tons of great bands from Europe and further afield. Bands like ENFORCER, STALLION, STRIKER and CAULDRON. That’s just a few of the more obvious choices for me but there’s loads more, I could write a long list!
How can people come in touch with you, get your album, etc.?
The best way to get in touch with us is either through our official Facebook page or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our album can be bought directly from us at toledosteelshop.bigcartel.com. It’s also on Amazon of course and various other online outlets. For those who don’t buy CD’s anymore it can also be listened to on Spotify and digitally downloaded on Bandcamp etc.
If there’s something you’d like to add, now is the time…
I’d like to mention how important it is for everybody out there who loves rock and heavy metal to follow the newer scene of bands coming through! They are the future of the genre and if you want to still be able to enjoy new albums and live shows, you gotta support them. There might not be another IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST or BLACK SABBATH but that doesn’t mean that there still can’t be great bands, writing great music and playing exciting shows. Keep that flame burning and don’t get to stuck in a era from the past!
That’s all from me and the Forgotten Scroll folks! Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview. Last words are on you!
Ok well cheers to everyone who’s supported us so far, wether that be buying merch from us, coming to shows or even sharing our content online to help promote TOLEDO STEEL. Thank you and hopefully we’ll be able to play a show near you all soon!