An interview with Jeff Baddley of Troyen

All images courtesy of Jeff Baddley/Troyan

Image courtesy of Troyen/Jeff Baddley (Jeff Baddley pictured in 1981)

Today we have Jeff Baddley with us, drummer for the British Hard Rock band Troyen! Troyen formed in the early 80s during the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” era and accomplished quite a lot in its initial three-year run which included a tour with Nightwing.

After being away for thirty-two years, Troyen is back and better than ever. In this interview, Jeff talks with us about the formation of the Troyen, the members that have come and gone, their touring and recording cycles, and everything in between.

If you would like to learn more about Troyen, head over to the band’s Facebook page here, or their Twitter page here. Dig in.

Anthony:
Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to do this with us today, it’s great to have you here. How have you been holding up these past couple of years?

Jeff:
It’s been tough but like everyone, we’ve had to adapt to the changes and restrictions. It’s been hard not being able to celebrate special occasions with friends and relatives, and it’s definitely had an impact on playing live and recording with the band.

Anthony:
What were your musical beginnings? What got you into the drums?

Jeff:
I’ve always had a passion for music. From the age of six, I started to learn the piano and got to grade seven, but soon, I realized that I wanted to be a drummer. I was always being told off by my parents for tapping out rhythms with pencils, rulers, knives forks just about anything really. My mum was a primary school teacher, and one summer holiday she brought the school snare drum home for me to use, I added coffee tins and pans and had my first kit. I got my first real kit for the following Christmas when I was twelve.

Anthony:
As a drummer, who are your influences?

Jeff:
My influences were and are people like John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Neil Peart (Rush), Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Cozy Powell (Various), Kex Goran (Magnum), Mick Tucker (Sweet), Andy Parker (UFO), and more recently Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters)

Anthony:
What led up to the formation of Troyen? What bands did you play in prior to Troyen?

Jeff:
When I was at school, I played in a few bands gigging at school functions and youth clubs, etc. In 1979/80 I was working in a bar and got chatting to one of the guys who used to come in (Dave Strathearn), and after dabbling in a show band, we decided we wanted to play what we really loved — Rock and Metal. In late 1980, I heard that one of the guys I played with at school (Steve McGuire) had a band, and they were playing locally, so Dave and I decided we’d go along. Nick Cookson (now Mannion) was also in the band. Dave and I liked what we heard, and a couple of days later I went to see Steve, and basically told him that Dave and I would make his band better. [Laughs]. So in January 1981, Troyen was formed. The original line-up consisted of Steve McGuire (guitar/vocals), Nick Mannion (guitar/vocals), Dave Strathearn (bass), and me, on Drums. Neil Treanor (lead vocals) joined the band later in the year.

Anthony:
So, it was 1981 in Britain correct when the band formed? This automatically enters you into the “new wave of British heavy metal” era, which seemingly every Hard Rock band got bundled into. What was it like entering the scene during one of the best decades for Heavy Metal?

Jeff:
We were really just a Rock band writing stuff influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin, Status Quo, Black Sabbath, Bad Company, Deep Purple, etc. but kind of got pigeon-holed into the NWOBHM thing. But yeah, it was a great time to be playing. There were plenty of venues to play, and it was easy to build a following, there was no social media then. We advertised our gig in the music press of the time like Sounds and New Musical Express. It was great meeting other bands on the road at motorway service stations in the early hours of the morning on the way home from gigs.

Anthony:
In the few short years of the band’s initial formation, what accomplishments would you say you achieved? 

Jeff:
In the time we were together we played over one hundred and thirty gigs across the UK and Europe and supported the likes of Spider, Nightwing, Girlschool, and Diamond Head amongst others. We recorded a four-track demo at Amazon Studios near Liverpool (where we met Nightwing), which was engineered by Gil Norton. When Neil joined us on lead vocals, we re-recorded the tracks. The album sold out of two runs of two hundred and fifty, and we also had the promise of a contract with Neat Records for a three-track single, and a possible LP. Rough demos for the single were done, but the band split prior to completion of the single.

Anthony:
You supported Nightwing on a European tour, what was that experience like?

Jeff:
That was cool, hard work but very cool. We played thirty-plus dates in five weeks in Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Austria, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. We had great laughs and experiences like being woken up in the early hours of the morning in our tour bus by armed security because we had parked too close to an embassy in Bonn, playing football in a park in Schuttorf in Germany with members of Simple Minds, and their crew against some German guys, and playing some amazing gigs.

Image courtesy of Troyen/Jeff Baddley (Troyen pictured in 1982)

Anthony:
Let’s talk a bit about The Demo. It consisted of four songs, can you take us through the message of The Demo puts out?

Jeff:
The four tracks, “Dreams Never Lie,” “Futures Friend,” “Don’t Send Me To War,” and “Crazy Lady” were just Rock tracks about past relationships, and an anti-war message in “Don’t Send Me To War.” They were the four tracks that got the best fan reaction in the early days.

Anthony:
Shortly after, the band disbanded in 1983. Nick Mannion had left to pursue his music career. What was the reason behind the breakup?

Jeff:
Nick left the band soon after we finished the Nightwing tour due to the usual “musical differences.” You learn a lot about people when you are in a close environment for five weeks.

Anthony:
What were you and the other members up to the ensuing thirty-two years? Did you use this time to continue your musical endeavors?

Jeff:
When Troyen split, I pretty much walked away from music and ended up having a family and having a thirty-five-year career in the financial industry, you know…sensible stuff. I got back into playing again in 2008 when I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen for years when he told me a friend was starting a cover band and needed a drummer. That was just the excuse I needed to buy another kit, and get back at it, the others did similar things while playing in a few cover bands over the following years.

Anthony:
After thirty-two years, Troyen came back together. Would you say the growing reverence for British Heavy Metal influenced this reformation?

Jeff:
Yeah. I was approached via Facebook asking if I was the Jeff Baddley from Troyen, and would it be possible to get the band back together to play at Brofest, in Newcastle. This festival specialized in getting NWOBHM bands to reform, and apparently, there had been many fans asking them to get us on. Apparently, there’s a guy in Sweden who had set up a Facebook Troyen fan page. After some time, I managed to track the three other original members down, we got together for a meeting, “down at the pub,” where we decided, “Let’s do it.” Initially, we were only doing one gig, but when it was announced we were coming back, things soon took off with other festivals wanting us. In recent years, we have played at the likes of Drunken Monkey Festival, Heavy Metal Maniacs, in The Netherlands, British Steel, in France, Mearfest, Grimm Up North, HRH Xmas Rocka, at the O2, in Sheffield, Blast From The Past, in Belgium, and Giants Of Rock, in Minehead.

Anthony:
What was it like getting back into the studio together after all that time?

Jeff:
It was cool. After our first rehearsal in thirty-two years, it was like we’d never been away. We soon realized that we’d need to record something to go along with the Brofest, and subsequent gigs. At this time, Dave Strathearn realized he couldn’t commit the time, and stepped down being replaced by Karl Altdorfer, who’d was playing in a cover band with Steve McGuire and I.

Image credit: Rik’s Pics/Image courtesy of Troyen/Jeff Baddley (Blast From the Past Festival 2019 Belgium)

Anthony:
Since the reformation, you’ve not only toured around, but there’s also been some new music. Can you talk about your new music?

Jeff:
In 2015, we released a nine-track CD, Finish What You Started, that got great reviews which had the four original demo tracks on it, “Syrian Lady,” and “First Blood,” tracks which would have been on the Neat Records release, which we re-recorded, two new tracks, “Backlash,” and “Finish What You Started,” and a previously unreleased demo, “Free Wheelin.”

Our Storm Child EP was released in July 2017, with Andy Stephenson on bass following Karl’s departure, and our A New Dawn EP featuring Steve Haslam on guitar after Nick left for health reasons, and Mark Nortley on bass replacing Andy was released in July 2019. In October 2019, we signed with Classic Metal Records to globally release Anthology 1981-2019. High Roller Records released a double-issue vinyl version in November 2020, Syrian Lady The Troyen Anthology Part 1 1981-1982 & Nightmare: The Troyen Anthology Part 2 2014 -2019. In 2021, with our current lineup, Steve McGuire (Guitar), Steve Haslam (Guitar), Mark Nortley (Bass), me on drums, and new recruit, Mark Walling, on vocals we recorded and released a new album Falling Off The Edge Of Forever released on Classic Metal Records, in Autumn 2021, our bands 40th Anniversary year.

Whenever new members join the band, they bring with them their own style and influences. The new album embraces the influences of all five members, the traditional Classic Rock influences of Jeff and Steve McGuire, and the 80s Metal influences of Steve Haslam, and the two Mark’s. This gives us the heaviest sound we’ve had with this being our strongest line-up.

Anthony:
Now for some easy ones! What equipment do you play with live vs. in the studio?

Jeff:
I’m a bit of a dinosaur in that I love big kits, influenced by Neil Peart and Niko McBain, unlike current more minimalist setups. I currently play Remo drums, not everyone’s cup of tea, but I stumbled across them in 2008 and fell in love with the sound. I’ve amassed a black 10 piece kit with 7 rack-mounted toms, 6”,8”.10”,12”,13”,14”,15” and a 16” floor tom, a 22” kick drum, and a custom-built Jeff Baddley Diamond Series Signature Troyen 14”x7” Snare Drum by ONE On ONE Drums in Sweden, and Sabian Pro cymbals. I get to use my snare all the time, but when we play festivals, they generally have one kit all the drummers use. The guys use various guitars by PRS, Gordon Smith, Jackson, Charvel, and Ibanez. Mark uses Warwick and Fender basses.

Anthony:
Who are some of your favorite artists? Do you collect any music on vinyl, cassettes, tapes, CDs, etc.?

Jeff:
If I’m honest, I don’t go out of my way to listen to a lot of music. Is that weird for a musician? If I hear something I like, I’ll look for more by the same artist. I used to have a large vinyl collection but sold it in the early 90s. I’ve since replaced a lot on CD, bands like Rush, UFO, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. My eldest son bought me a record player last year, so I could play our High Roller releases…maybe I’ll get into vinyl again?

Image courtesy of Troyen/Jeff Baddley (The current lineup of Troyen)

Anthony:
Do you have any other passions outside of music?

Jeff:
I play a little golf when I get time, but my main passion is my family. I have three great kids, and four awesome grandchildren, who think grandad being a Rock Star is cool. [Laughs].

Anthony:
Where have been some of your favorite places you’ve gotten to play at?

Jeff:
Over the years, I’ve played some awesome venues large and small. The festival gigs are probably the most memorable because of the crowd size, but the best was probably the Brofest gig, in Newcastle. It was our first gig for thirty-two years, the place was packed, and there were people that pushed against the barrier at the front, who weren’t born in 1981/82 singing along with every word. That was a great ego kick.

Anthony:
Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to do this with us today. What does the future of Troyen look like?

Jeff:
Thanks so much for interviewing me, I really appreciate it. It’s uncertain times globally, but we have UK festival dates booked for 2022 (COVID allowing), and we will hopefully be playing in Germany, France, and Spain. We are always writing and working on new material, so further releases will follow, but not till 2023. We have always said we will play for as long as people want to hear us…..long may that continue, you’re never too old to rock.

Image courtesy of Troyen/Jeff Baddley (Jeff’s current drum kit)

Interested in learning more about Troyen? Check out the link below:

All images courtesy of Jeff Baddley/Troyan

Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/a-m-radio-archives/

About Post Author

Anthony Montalbano

Anthony Montalbano grew up in New York and North Carolina. Anthony is a baker by day and a contributor to the Vinyl Writer cause by night. With a passion for podcasts, Pop Punk, video games, and more, Anthony brings a unique and fresh perspective to the team. Anthony's column is a catch-all for the things he loves most, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
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