Desolation Angels was formed in early 1981 by childhood friends and twin guitarists Robin Brancher and Keith Sharp.
We recruited drummer John Graham from our previous band to pursue a heavier direction, soon to be joined by another old school friend Joe Larner on bass. An ad was placed in Melody Maker for a vocalist and the line-up was completed when Dave Wall auditioned. Being based in the East End of London, we set about writing, rehearsing and building up a local following. During 1981 we put together a couple of rough demos but at that time our main passion was playing live. We soon built up a reputation as a live act on the pub and club circuit. In those days we spent more money putting on a decent show with a huge P.A and lights, than we received from playing.
A few drummers also came and went, but the band really started coming together when Brett Robertson joined in 1982. We recorded our first single 'Valhalla / Boadicea' at a studio in Cheltenham, which was produced by Mike Fisher who used to organise our P.A. at gigs. By now we were putting our own tours together around the country and the following years were spent constantly gigging. We upgraded our old van to a converted coach which became our home from home.
By 1984 we were approached by Bullit Records to sign with them to record our debut album. After playing a couple of shows in Belgium we went into Thameside Studios in Rotherhithe, London. Not having much experience of recording, things started to go wrong when Bullit went bust while we were in the studio. We wanted to pull the plug on the whole thing but we were under contract to finish. The studio set-up did not suit some members of the band, and this led to Brett's departure. A couple more drummers passed through, but we got back on track when Adam Palfrey filled the drum stool, only for us to be dealt another blow when long-time bassist Joe Larner decided he had had enough.
Our love of the music and sheer determination kept us going through these dark days, and eventually we found a new bassist in Dave Scutt, who shared our enthusiasm. After recording a five-song demo at Impulse Studios in Worcester we embarked on tours in England, Scotland and Wales. One of these shows brought us together with promoter John Feely who gave us the opportunity to travel to the U.S.A. Our last gig in England was at the world-famous Marquee Club in London in October 1987.
Once based in Los Angeles, with John Feely established as our manager, we began to realise that we were in for some hard work, starting over again in a new country. We spent much of the time building up our fan club and playing just a few shows on the Sunset Strip around Hollywood, but later we played live in some neighbouring states and began recording songs in a number of studios. We eventually settled at Silvercloud Studios, Burbank, CA to record a self-financed album 'While the Flame Still Burns', which we planned to sell to our fans by mail-order. During this time, the stress told on the band, and the cracks began to grow, and sadly Adam departed. This time we recruited a young American drummer called Sam Wilmore, who we had to tame before we completed the album and get back on the live circuit.
We went on to entertain the troops at air bases before the first Gulf War in 1991, and then embarked on our final U.S. tour across the southern states, reaching as far as the east coast of Florida. By now the only time we came together was when it counted on stage, but even then the pressures of living together for six years were taking their toll. We were hoping to secure a major record deal, but it was not to be, and by the winter of 1991/92 half the band returned to England, and Dave Scutt decided to quit. We replaced Dave Wall with a new singer, Lee Addison, and chose to re-record the album; we parted company with John Feely and based ourselves back in England, but even the return of Dave Scutt did not stop us from pulling in different musical directions, and we finally split in May, 1994.
Despite all these twists and knock-backs, these years remain the best of my life. There is no better buzz than the sound of a crowd singing along to a song you have written. The low points have to be parting with some great guys we have shared times together on and off stage.
Recently we were approached by Richard Walker of the Miskatonic foundation with the idea of compiling a boxed set of the history of the band, including the demos, live gigs and an unreleased album. It captures the different stages through the band's career, from the earliest demos to the excitement of the live shows.