Home Interviews Rich Rutter from Toledo Steel talks to Metal Planet Music ahead of their new album release, The First Strike of Steel, a compilation of their early works

Rich Rutter from Toledo Steel talks to Metal Planet Music ahead of their new album release, The First Strike of Steel, a compilation of their early works

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Rich Rutter from Toledo Steel talks to Metal Planet Music ahead of their new album release, The First Strike of Steel, a compilation of their early works..

Hi Rich. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Toledo Steel

We started in 2011 with the idea of creating music that we were fans of for years. We played her first show in 2012, gigging on the local scene and we recorded our first EP in 2013, called Toledo Steel. Then we started touring in Europe, going to some of the festivals and things like that. It’s been like a domino effect over the years, doing more things for us establishing ourselves on this scene and getting a reputation.

Tell us how you came about the name Toledo Steel.

People think that we have some Spanish connection or that one of our members is Spanish, but that’s not the case. It’s because our drummer Matt is really into fencing and he’s collects a lot of mediaeval weaponry. It turns out that Toledo is where they used to forge an awful lot of the swords going back hundreds of years and obviously being a heavy metal band it seemed quite appropriate to be named after steel that was used to forge weapons.

Toledo Steel has been around for many years now and your style is still good old-fashioned 80s in your face heavy metal. Is this what you want to be forever?

It’s hard to say and we will see how things progress as time goes on. When we started, that was exactly what we wanted to do. I think we are still very much the same band but with slightly different influences that are creeping in especially with some of the new material because we all like different stuff as well, not just fast heavy metal. Our sound has evolved a little bit but we won’t stray too far from what we love doing in the first place because we have built a fan base upon our sound and we don’t want to alienate our fans by straying to far from what they like to hear from us.

Your album, The First Strike of Steel – The Early Years Anthology,l has just been released.

That’s actually a compilation of our first two previous EPs repackaged. Our first three track EP (Toledo Steel) was recorded in 2013 and the second six track EP (Zero Hour) in 2015. At the time we had them independently pressed and over the years we’ve managed to shift most of those at shows and selling online etc. When we signed with Dissonance Productions after we put out our first album with them, they knew about our EPs and it’s why they signed us. They wanted to acquire the rights to those and put them out as one product and obviously we agreed to that. We got some new art-work that  was really fitting as when we did the EPS, the artwork was not exactly what we wanted and we had the chance to re- work that it into a better package.

I think the cover of the new album is really fantastic.The artwork is really amazing I love it!

Thank you very much for that!  thank you it’s really cool it’s an original oil painting and the guy we had do it is Italian called Vivio Josto and he did our first album as well. It’s kind of cover that if I saw it on an album, I would have picked it up straight away because it’s just up my street.

We actually had a different name in the beginning we were going to call it the Forging of Steel  as obviously that was kind of fitting because it was like how we were forging the band’s sound and coming up at these tracks. It turned that out there was another band at the time releasing an album with a similar title so we couldn’t do that. Well, we could have really but we didn’t want to be called out for nicking somebody else’s ideas even though it was a fairly obvious title in a way.

Who is the main writer on your albums.  I’m a sucker for bass and Children of the Sun is one of my favourite track but there is a seriously nifty riffs in Speed Killer

We have no kind of set way of how we write songs. Sometimes it starts from a guitar riff and that inspires a lyrical theme and we go from there. It could be the complete opposite and some tracks on this compilation and it started with a lyrical theme and a chorus melody. But more often than not, it stems from the guitar.

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What’s your favourite song to perform, the one song that will get you going if you’re having a bad day

I always enjoy Speed Killer. Maybe because it’s the first track we wrote as a band so I’m a bit sentimental about it but also because I think it’s got a catchy chorus and the fun track for me to sing through. Our drummer Matt is sick to death of playing it because it’s not really that exciting to play it through!

Are you going to challenge and then to get him to do something more exciting to keep him going? 

He tends to like all the faster stuff and even when we’re writing he wants really fast songs! The last five songs we wrote were really fast so I think maybe we have to mix it up a bit!

It’s been a bitter sweet 2019 for you. You got to end the year with a tour but then your 2020 spring tour had to be cancelled now because of Corona.

The whole situation is frustrating of course. From my band’s perspective, it’s slightly annoying because we had some shows booked outside of the country and the shows were cancelled. We lost out on the money for all of that and the flights as well. It’s the same for every band right now but on a personal level, we are all doing fine. Like everybody else we can’t wait for things to get back to normal so much

Are you going to try and reschedule for this year or are you going to turn 2021 into your 10th anniversary tour?

We had a bunch of shows planned for October but we had to postpone those until next year and some of our 2020 shows will be rescheduled for next year.  We’re not really sure what’s going to happen at the moment. I do wonder when things are going to calm down and when we will be able to have gigs or go to gigs and it could be a long time.  I have seen bands announcing tours or rescheduling gigs for the end of summer or into winter this year but nobody knows yet if that will be able to happen.  I try to be positive but this could be wishful thinking.  I have seen online that some countries have had drive-in concerts where people sit in their cars.  I’m not sure if it’s actually happened yet but at least the idea is being thrown about and it’s really cool that there have been some attempts to try and get gigs going in some kind of form.  I don’t know if I would like that to drive in concert in my car – it could be kind of crap!

What gigs had you been really looking forward to? Were there new places on the schedule?

For me, the ones I was looking forward to the most was going to Greece for a three show run and one of those was going to be a festival. Spain as well.  We were doing 3 shows over there with a really good Spanish band even though we haven’t played with them before and we were going to three different cities. It’s frustrating that we can’t do those because they were the ones we were the ones we were looking forward to the most not just for the playing but always the actual trip. It’s always a good laugh and seeing all these new places.

Speaking of your tour,  are there any mishaps or mischief that you get up to while you’re away or is it all wheatgrass sweetness and light?

It’s always a lot of fun from start to finish really because we are a weird bunch of jokers! There was this one time where we went all the way over to the Netherlands or Belgium to play a few shows and we brought a whole box of CD’s obviously for sale. But when we got there all we had were the empty CD cases because we had forgotten to put the discs into them!  We had taken out the discs because we have found a better way to distribute them that was much cheaper but we forgot to put the discs back into the cases before we left.  A bit of a Spinal Tap moment!

Do you have more of a reliance now on digital downloads as opposed to purchase of actual CDs?

It’s not really an issue. A lot of people like to physically own copies it’s not changed too much.

I’m sure plenty of bigger bands who used to selling vast quantities would notice a difference but being a smaller independent band for so long I wouldn’t say I’ve noticed much of a difference at all

This album is a compilation of your EPs which you were touring this year so what is coming next or what’s your ambition

Well, we’ve just literally finished recording a full album! Hopefully it will be released before the end of the year provided everything stays on schedule given what is going on with corona. We have focused a lot on melody, keeping to our theme and writing catchy choruses that people will easily be able to sing along to. Anyone who liked our previous albums will really like this one as well we hope!  We want to continue doing the same kind of thing, releasing more albums, paying more shows, going to new places and play live as much as we can.

With everything going on at the minute, how are you finding things? Are you and the rest of the band able to zoom in for rehearsals and things like that?

Rehearsals have pretty much stopped for the moment but obviously we’re all friends and we chat together all of the time.  We are keeping in contact with each other, which is very important and we are all doing just fine!

Rich, thanks so much for your time this evening. It’s been a pleasure!

Check out Toledo Steel’s discography on their website! http://www.toledosteel.co.uk/music.html

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