TONY MILES GV1 INTERVIEW FOR IRON MAIDEN LEGACY PROJECT OCTOBER 2015 - Iron Maiden fan site Legacy Project fans of Iron Maiden

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Tony Miles GV1 lead guitarist formerly TUSH
LEGACY PROJECT:  When did you start playing guitar?
TONY MILES:  I was 15 when I got my first guitar but it had taken me nearly a year to convince my folks it was a good idea. They thought I’d lose interest after a couple of weeks…….. No chance!

LEGACY PROJECT:  Which bands inspired you?
TONY MILES:  In the earliest days it was the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Free, Chicago, Humble Pie, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Santana and loads of others. Seeing the film Woodstock in 1970 really opened my eyes to what was possible.  The late 60’s and early 70’s had true innovators and pioneers.

LP:  What guitarists influenced you?
TM:  Mostly players from the bands that inspired me but guys like Jimi Hendrix, Steve Marriott, Peter Frampton, Paul Kossoff, Duane Allman etc had the kind of sounds I liked.
To me, the best players were and still are, the ones you can clearly identify from their style.

LP:  How did you join Tush?
TM:  It started with a call from a friend who followed the band.  Tush were originally a trio but wanted to augment their line-up to get a bigger sound.
My friend got me the audition and it was really easy to fit in.  The singer/guitarist, George Junor, became something of a mentor to me, I learned a hell of lot from just listening to him.
Tony Miles in Tush guitarist for GV1 and Gibraltar

LP:  Phil Collen is a great guitarist what was it like playing alongside him?
TM:  Phil had a very different style to George and it meant I had to adapt to suit.  Phil was something of a precocious talent in those days, technically very proficient but lacking subtlety i.e. not knowing when to hold back and when to let it rip.  After he joined Def Leppard, it was Mutt Lange who polished him into the player you hear today.  As a character Phil was always very easy to get on with, a lot of fun and a great sense of humour.  We met up a couple of years ago and he’s still the same great guy but even more so.  Guitarists just starting out would do well to look to him as a role model, not just in the way he plays but also the way he lives his life.

Tony Miles Tush Lead guitarist, Gibraltar GV1
Tony Miles, Micky Tickton, Fred Ball and Phil Collen
 Spreadeagle Public House 1978.

LP:  What are your favourite memories of your time in Tush?
TM:  Three occasions come to mind. 
The first time we appeared at the Marquee Club, a stage I’d long desired to play on.  Playing at the Nashville, supporting Shanghai, it was the biggest crowd I’d played in front of up to then…..scary stuff.  
And finally, Tush’s final gig in London, where one of Phil’s mates had placed a pyro on the stage and randomly set it off while I was virtually standing on top of it.  While I experienced a heart-stopping moment, the rest of the band (Phil, Micky and Freddie Ball) were busy p**sing themselves laughing.

LP:  Did you play in any bands before Tush?
TM:  Mainly school bands, a lot of messing about but nothing serious.

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LP:  What was your first guitar if acoustic please list the first electric one as well?
TM:  A nylon-strung acoustic was my first guitar and my first self-taught riff was ‘25 or 6 to 4’ by Chicago.  But it’s very difficult to play songs like ‘Purple Haze’ with any authority on such an instrument so a number of months later I managed to convince my folks to get me a second-hand Hofner Colorama.  Not the best guitar in the world but it looked great to me and more importantly, it was an electric guitar!  A year later I bought my first serious guitar, a brand new 1974 Fender Stratocaster.

LP:  What guitars, amp and cab did you use in Gibraltar?
TM:  I had a sunburst Gibson Les Paul Custom, two Marshall amps and two Orange 4x12 cabs……plus a wah pedal.

LP:  Do you still play guitar?  If so, what ones and what amplification do you use?
TM:  I’ve got a couple of Les Pauls, a black Custom and a Junior.  I’ve also got a Strat I’ve had from new since 1989.  My other favourite is a custom- built Coley Coronet, it’s a replica of a 1962 Epiphone Coronet, the guitar Steve Marriott played in early Humble Pie.

One of Tony Miles current guitars being played in recent rehearsals for Legacy Project gig
Tony Miles guitar GV1 Gibraltar
Tony Miles Gv1, Gibraltar lead guitarist at rehearsal
LP:  Did you attend any Iron Maiden or V1 gigs with Dennis Willcock as the vocalist?
TM:  No, not with Dennis Willcock as their singer.  My first sight of him was when he turned up to audition for what was to eventually become Gibraltar.  He didn’t have to sing a note to pass though, he swaggered into the hall with this big attitude, mass of curly hair and a pimped-up 1969 Ford Mustang parked outside.

LP:  What venues did you use to play in Gibraltar?
TM:  Mainly the Ruskin Arms but we played at various pub venues around East and North London.

LP:  What was your favourite venue to play and why?
TM:  With Gibraltar it had to be the Ruskin, simply because it had a great atmosphere but to get that you had to work hard to win the biker crowd over, it didn’t come automatically.  Also the landlord Joe Lucy was an ace bloke.

Ruskin Arms Iron Maiden Gibraltar V1 GV1 heavy metal rock music
LP:  What are your favourite memories of your time in Gibraltar?
TM:  A couple of occasions.  One was the first gig we played.  The original drummer Jim Lassen and I had spent the best part of two years looking for the right bass player and vocalist, we must have auditioned close to 80 people, including former Iron Maiden guitarists Tony Parsons and Bob Sawyer.  Eventually, we settled with former Tush bassist Mickey Tickton and ex-Maiden, V1 singer Dennis.  So the first gig was something of a relief to finally get going.  After Jim left the band, we used yet another ex-Maiden, Ron Matthews, to fill the drum slot.  The other occasion was yet another Ruskin gig, where Dennis had challenged the biker crowd to a custard pie fight at the next gig (we had a Saturday residency).  So loads of guys turned up the following week with paper plates, flour and shaving foam and mayhem ensued.  It was a huge laugh though, Joe Lucy took it all in good humour despite the Ruskin looking like an Xmas wonderland scene, a complete white out!

LP:  What was your favourite song to play in Gibraltar?
TM:  Probably ‘You Drive Me Crazy’. It was always our opening number and also the first song Jim and I had composed together for the band.  Dennis later added his own lyrics.

Gibraltar - You Drive Me Crazy
Dennis Willcok vocalist, Tony Miles lead guitar, Spaceward Super Sessions
LP:  What is Dennis Willcock like as a frontman?
TM:  Brilliant but unpredictable, you never know what he’s going to do or say next.  None of it is scripted or planned.  He feeds on the crowd, provoking them and looking for a reaction.  It’s all done in good humour though.

LP:  The Spaceward Supersessions was finally released with the Gibraltar demo on it how do you think the music stands up after so many years?
TM:  The reaction from people hearing it for the first time has been amazingly positive.  It’s not for me to say how it compares to today but there’s no way I’d considered anyone showing any real interest, until after I’d been contacted by a couple of Iron Maiden fans/collectors to get a copy of the recordings. That was around 5 years ago, until then no one had heard Dennis sing live other than the original audiences back in the day.

LP:  Who did the production on the Supersessions, as it is far superior to Iron Maidens Soundhouse Tapes?
TM:  The engineer for Gibraltar was Joe Bull.  The production quality, I think, had more do to with the source tapes.  I understand that the Maiden tapes were a copy (or copy of a copy), of the master tapes.  The Gibraltar tapes were taken off a cassette that was taken directly from the master.  The V1 tracks sound even better because Dennis had kept the master tape itself.

LP:  Can you remember any other songs from the Gibraltar set?
TM:  Yeah, we had ‘Crazy’, ‘Mrs Marshall’, ‘Sixteen’, ‘Sanity’, “Hedgehog’, ‘Revenge’, ‘Home’, ’Take This’, ‘We’re Rocking Again’  and also a slow blues number I can’t remember the title of.  We played a few covers from time to time, such as ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Tush’, and so on.

LP:  Were there any bands that inspired Gibraltar?
TM:  Quite a few, Humble Pie, Lonestar, Hustler, Deep Purple, ZZ Top.  Out of that lot I would say Hustler were possibly the most influential.  Both Jim and I liked their punchy, aggressive, ‘in-your-face’ style of rock.  It’s the way we envisaged Gibraltar being.

LP:  Did you play in any bands
.......after Gibraltar?
TM:  Quite a few and probably
 bands no one’s ever heard of
……such as;
Johnny Pinko
The Street Arabs
Cut Loose
Danse Macabre
Dr White and the Lil-Lets
..…and many more!

LP:  What bands do you listen to now?
TM:  Literally anything I like the sound of.  
It could be Foo Fighters
Tame Impala
Royal Blood
Faith No More
or anything else that hits my ears in the right way.
There’s so much variety of music on the internet these days, so I tend to mostly tune in to alternative rock stations and wait for what comes up next.

LP:  Who are you favourite guitarists at the moment?
TM:  I like to listen to (and learn from),  innovative players
like Tom Morello
Kim Thayil
Jeff Beck and so on.  

I’m not really into shredders, never have been.   It tends to end up like a w**king contest to see who can go at it the fastest (not that I have any experience in those kind of contests of course!! J).
As BB King, I think, once said, it’s the spaces between the notes that count!

GV1 lineup Tony Miles Tony Tinsley Dennis Willcock Barry
GV1 line-up October 2015
Tony Miles, Tony Tinsley, Dennis Willcock and Barry

LP:  You are currently writing songs for the forthcoming GV1 album, are there any in particular ones that stand out so far?
TM:  Not particularly, as they all have their own life which is different from the others.  When playing around with riffs I try to do something different to the last one.  If I ever get stuck in a rut then I’ll tune in to an internet station playing funk, soul, ambient, alternative, country, blues, or whatever, and just wait for something to click.  It could be just one tiny little sequence of notes that does the trick.  I’ll take that, play around with it to make it different and get it down on tape.  The rest of the band will then add their creative input during rehearsal and we eventually come up with something that we all want to play.

LP:  How would you describe GV1’s music?
TM:  Musos tend to struggle to describe their own music because we all like to feel we’re unique, which we are, to one degree or another of course, but if I had to put us into a category then I’d say it’s probably ‘Power Rock’.  We’re not metal, we’re not blues-rock, we’re not AOR and so on and so on.  I think it’s the only way we could play a song straight out of '70’s pub rock and follow that up with a track that has a heavy grunge influence.  To illustrate our approach further, a track I’m working on at present has an industrial feel.  We all bring our own style and influences so we would find it far too restricting to sit in only the one genre.  It’s all rock at the end of the day but played with power and attitude!

LP:  Thanks for taking the time to talk to Legacy Project, we really appreciate it Tony.

(c)copyright 2015  Legacy Project  Not to be re-printed, physically or digitally without the express written permission of the owners of Legacy Project.

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