An Interview with Larry Paterson of Alcatrazz

All images courtesy of John Lappan PR

All images courtesy of John Lappan PR

Recently, we caught up with veteran drummer, Larry Paterson of Alcatrazz. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, his origins, working Blaze Bayley, his friendship with Cozy Powell, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to learn more about Larry Paterson, you can head over to his webpage, and dig in. If you would like to learn more about Alcatrazz, the link to their webpage is here. Once you’ve checked those out, dig into this interview with Larry Paterson. Cheers.

Andrew:
Larry, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Larry:
Hi Andrew, no problem at all. It’s been a very strange period of time, hasn’t it? I’ve been playing and writing books during the lockdown, until I got the Alcatrazz call, and then it’s been full steam ahead learning tracks. 

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music?

Larry:
I don’t really know. Both my parents listened to music, Mum favoring Rock N’ Roll from Elvis and that kind of thing. There’s always been music around, particularly growing up in the 1970s in New Zealand when there was all kinds of good stuff on the radio, whether you were really aware of it or not. Then I latched on to The Beatles, The Stones, and then discovered ACϟDC. It was all gravy from that point on.

Andrew;
As a drummer, who were some of your early influences?

Larry:
I have a lot of influences. The guy that I identify as making me first want to play drums was Roger Taylor from Queen — the roll in the middle of “Fat Bottom Girls!” That was the one. But my early list of major influences would probably be Phil Rudd, Philthy Animal Taylor, Nigel Glockler, Clive Burr, Nicko McBrain, Bill Ward, Cozy Powell…it’s a long list! And they — with others — are still influences to this day.  

Andrew:
Let’s talk about recent events. You’re the new drummer for the classic Metal outfit, Alcatrazz. Take me through you joining the band.

Larry:
Well, I’ve been in touch with Alcatrazz’s manager, Giles Lavery, for years on and off. I was actually talking to him about another project when this one came up. I was in the UK at the time, and then spoke to Jimmy who was very easy to talk to about just about anything! So, I then had a list of a few songs to learn, and video myself playing to see how I got on with them. After that, it was basically up to them, and it must have worked, because here I am.

All images courtesy of John Lappan PR

Andrew:
Prior to this, you were a long-time member of Blaze Bayley‘s band, right? How did you end up working with Blaze?

Larry:
I’d been watching Blaze’s career bounce around since he had left Maiden. I was never a big Wolfsbane fan, though you could see what a great frontman he was. Anyway, the album that really caught my attention was his second solo one, The Tenth Dimension. The first one was good too, but this one was virtually perfect, and I still think it’s the best that he has his name attached to. His band at the time were just outstanding at both playing and songwriting.

Anyway, his fortunes appeared to be, shall we say, fluctuating, and I just kept an eye on his website to see what was going on. Ironically, when I found that he was auditioning drummers, the entry date to apply had already passed. I got in touch with his manager, Debbie, anyway and was told to be in a certain Birmingham rehearsal place at a certain time. It was a difficult audition actually, because you had to play a number of tracks, from memory, with no band, and Blaze staring at you with a video camera. Anyway…I must have passed the audition.  

Andrew:
Ultimately, why did you split from Blaze’s band? 

Larry:
Sometimes you just don’t fit any more with either the people in a band, what the band is doing or what it is about. If that’s the case — then it’s time to go. 

Andrew:
Going way back, you were very close with Cozy Powell. Take me through your meeting Cozy.

Larry:
I met Cozy because I was doing my scuba instructor course in Birmingham and one of the other guys on the course was Edddie Naughton. Though I didn’t know it at the time, Eddie was Cozy’s drum tech. Anyway, we got talking one day and I told him I was a drummer and all that, and he asked if I wanted to go and see ELO because he knew Bev Bevan. Well, I was pretty excited, not so much because of ELO but because Bev had drummed on the Born Again tour, one of my favourite Sabbath albums. Eddie found this funny for some reason and then suggested I go and meet a mate of his if I was such a Sabbath fan. A week or so later I roll up at Boldstart Farm with Eddie, and there is Cozy standing there! It was one of those “wobbly knees” moments! 

Anyway, I got to know Cozy over the months that followed and was given a job looking after Sabbath backline while they were on a break songwriting in Wales for the Forbidden album (not really a necessary job…but I loved it anyway!) All of the Sabbath guys were super-cool, and it was quite a thrill for me to say the least; I even helped Tony Iommi move home during this period. Anyway, Cozy was always great to be around, and as well as being a genuinely nice bloke, quite a drumming role model. He put me up for an audition to replace him in Peter Green’s band, which I spectacularly failed because I had arrogantly ignored my drumming weak points, and had really just jammed the songs that I liked. I apologised to Cozy for this, and he was again really cool about it. He told me that, “Sometimes, your face just doesn’t fit a band…but that’s okay. Just keep going until you find a band where it does.” I’ve never forgotten that. I was in Grenada when he died. What a waste.

All images courtesy of John Lappan PR

Andrew:
You worked very closely with Cozy’s drum tech during the recording of Black Sabbath’s Forbidden, right? How did you end up working on the record?

Larry:
Like I say, I was a “hanger-on” of Eddie’s more than anything else. I got to watch them write, and then was with Eddie and Mike (Tony’s tech) on the last days of recording in Liverpool, after which I went with Mike when he took the tapes down to London. It was almost surreal for me to be around these guys, and I’ve never forgotten it.

Andrew:
After you departed Blaze Bayley’s band, you joined Raven Lord shortly thereafter. Take me through how that went down.

Larry:
[Laughs]. It went down badly. Basically, it was a band on paper. Then I got some tracks through to record; recorded them in London; sent them through whereupon somebody hit the quantize button, and they all went mysteriously out the window. I heard the results and it sounded like somebody throwing a drum kit down the stairs. No idea how that went so badly wrong. Anyway, an excellent Swedish drummer recorded the album, and I was really annoyed to see my photo still on it. I’m not anywhere near that album — and am quite happy that way. It ultimately was not a band to be involved with!

Andrew:
Is the gig with Alcatrazz just a stint touring, or do you expect to record with the band going forward as well?

Larry:
It’s full time and we are already beginning work on new tracks. Great musicians, and really cool guys.

All images courtesy of John Lappan PR

Andrew:
What other passions do you have? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

Larry:
As well as teaching scuba diving (which I have backed off from recently), I write books and ride motorcycles. Not sure how that dovetails with music, but I guess it’s in there somewhere. I’ve written a lot of lyrics over the years, so maybe that is the book-writing part of me getting involved. I’ve done a fair bit of album and poster design work, and I paint my own motorcycles as well as engraving bits of them, so maybe that ties them together too with music. I don’t know.

I do know that when I’m riding my bike I have a revolving jukebox of music in my head; and Megadeth always makes me ride too fast!

Andrew;
As a drummer, I am sure you are aware of those classic drum battle albums. Who would be your pick to battle?

Larry:
Hmmm…that’s a difficult one. Probably Rowan Atkinson and his invisible drums (it’s on YouTube). I might be able to win that (but probably not). [Laughs].

Andrew:
In terms of gear, why types of drums, cymbals, and hardware are you using? Does your studio kit differ from your road kit?

Larry:
I use Mapex drums — usually Saturn series but also recently an Armory kit on the last tour — Paiste cymbals, Duallist drum pedals, Wincent sticks, and Aquarian heads; all carried around in Hardcase cases. I use exactly the same recording and live setups, though sometimes I use double bass drums on stage while generally always recording with one bass drum and a double pedal. The Duallist pedals are great like that; a five-minute adjustment, and you have either a double pedal or two singles.

Though there is a lot of fantastic drumming equipment out there, the gear I use is what I genuinely believe to be the best there is. 

Andrew:
Last one. What’s next on your docket? What are you looking forward to most in the pos-COVID world?

Larry:
Freedom of movement. I just want to be out there playing live with Alcatrazz more and more. The COVID pandemic has been genuinely horrible and I, as well as countless others, have lost some friends to this thing. I hope that we finally see the back of it, but we’ll just have to do our best until then.

All images courtesy of John Lappan PR

Interested in learning more about the work of Alcatrazz? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of VWMusic Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Inspired by the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, and Eddie Trunk, coupled with an immense passion for music, and a disposition for writing, freelance journalist Andrew Daly moved to found VWMusic in 2019. Over time, VWMusic has grown into a bustling music outlet harboring a staff who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles, interviews, and more. In addition to running VWMusic, Andrew is also an accomplished freelance journalist, currently writing for Copper Magazine, as well as a drummer, and lover of all things guitar.
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