Salvation are one of the bands to come out of Leeds music scene's most diverse and prolific periods, the early to mid 80s. We caught up with vocalist Danny Mass (DM) and guitarist Ben Farvak (BF) at Heart Café, which sits at the center of LS6 the spiritual home of many of the bands from that period.
LMS: So, how is your 30th birthday year going?
DM: Well, it's 30 years since our first live gig. We were a serious bedroom band before that. We had a big reel to reel and effects pedals, drum machine and guitars. We played for four hours and recorded what happened.
BF: We are still finding loads of early stuff on tapes. We finally released what would have been our first album last year, Clash of Dreams. It was ready to go in 1985, but didn't get released.
DM: Our first released record was in '83. If we were starting out today we would probably have been a huge Myspace type band and published loads of stuff. It was quite difficult to put a record out then.
LMS: Wasn't it a bit unusual to get a record released before playing live in those days?
DM: We were quite lucky that we had Eldritch (The Sisters of Mercy), we had Wayne (The Sisters of Mercy and The Mission), we had Simon (The March Violets). They took us into the studio to record and we released our first single, 'Girlsoul', on Andrew's Merciful Release label. It charted in the independent charts and venues contacted the band to ask us to play live.
DM: We didn't play live for two years. Some of the band really wanted to stay an experimental bedroom band. We needed a new line-up to play live so Choque came in on guitar. It was our first line-up change.
LMS: Has the band seen many changes in the 30 years?
BF: We have had 16 members, I can't think of any bands that have had more. The Three Degrees only had 15, I've checked it, so one more than the Three Degrees. The current line-up has been stable for a while now. People have been commenting about our rather impressive rhythm section with Nic Bate (bass) and Stuart Owen (drums) plus the ever excellent Paul Lavender on guitar
DM: It doesn't seem like there has been as much change as that though. It's been more of an evolution than a drastic change.
LMS: So you started out as a bedroom band, how was playing live different?
DM: We always thought that we probably weren't the best band in the world, but we just wanted to put on a good show.
BF: We were lucky that we had a following from day one. We could play anywhere and there were always enough people to make it a good show. Some of them are still with us. There are 15 to 20 people that come along after all that time.
DM: Our fans were always lively but friendly. They just come along and have a good time. We had a couple of groups of them who would appear at all the gigs, The Penguin Mosh Squad and The Deep Sea Jivers. We are not sure where the groups names came from or how they came into being, but we have always been grateful that they followed us wherever we were playing. It was quite a feat of organization as there was no internet then, just word of mouth and people hitchhiking across the country.
LMS: Much has been written about the Leeds music scene in 80s. We asked where Salvation fit within those times. How did growing up as a band in LS6 affect the band?
BF: Salvation were always a bit different, mainly because of Danny's vocal. The songs had a more melodic feel.
DM: We tried not to get sucked into the whole scene at that time. It never even had a label in those days and the 'Goth' tag came much later. We were more of a pop rock band. If we'd started in the 90s we would probably have been labeled 'Brit Pop', that was rocky with catchy tunes. We always thought we were 'Pop with Bollocks'.
LMS: You played a 30th Anniversary gig earlier this year, can you tell us about that?
DM: The 30th Anniversary gig was a big 'thank you' and a catch up at The Brudenell Social Club. We didn't just want to do a gig, we chose the Brudenell because it is a place where people want to hang around.
BF: We wanted it to be a celebration of the Leeds indie scene over 30 years.
DM: The line-up was important to us and we wanted to have an eclectic mix, that represented the Leeds indie scene over the 30 years we had been going. The Expelaires played, who predate us and were probably the first punk band in Leeds. We also had Zeitgeist Zero, who we have played with a few times and love. Interrobang also played, who feature members of Chumbawamba. Glamogoth features John Hyatt of The Three Johns fame. Of Colours are one of the newer bands in Leeds. So we really spanned the decades.
LMS: Do you follow what is going on in the Leeds music scene today?
DM: We go to gigs at the Brudenell, I'd go and see any band there because you can always find something interesting. We loved The Witch Hunt and used to go see them. One of the downsides of being old is you see a new band and instantly think 'they sound like....', so we go just go and see tribute bands at The New Roscoe as well.
LMS: So what does the rest of your 30th anniversary look like?
DM: We are playing at The Bram Stoker Film Festival in Whitby with The Fields of The Nephilim on 23rd October. We may have a little warm-up gig for that one too.
30 years on from their first live gig they are still going strong. That night they played Leeds University Tartan Bar, just around the corner from The Sisters of Mercy who were playing The Refectory. Tonight (14th October) sees them playing an early (5:45pm) intimate 'warm-up' gig, upstairs at The Fenton, curiously The Sisters of Mercy are playing just around the corner at Leeds Becketts University. All seems well in LS6...