This year marks an amazing 25 years of Predatür and with the ongoing success of the "mean" album, this could prove to be the most special year in the bands history. To begin the year, the first live appearance is announced, Predatür are to headline The 2nd Annual Brian Pithers Memorial Benefit Concert in Reading. On Friday 25th February, the band will take the stage to kick off 2005 in style. This will indeed, be a year to remember.
But in the Beginning............
Predatür circa 1979
It all began way back in Woodley near Reading during 1976, when founder members Baz Barry and Steve Coppuck bought their first electric guitars and a Status Quo guitar/song book. They began to make the first tentative steps learning their craft. Equipment was also purchased, usually on the knock from Biggles Music, and mostly with Steve's money.
After various attempts at securing a permanent line-up, it wasn't until the arrival of guitarist John Benham from Ipsden and drummer Sam Savin that the band really began to progress.
It was a visit to Blackbushe Airport for a Drag Race meeting that inspired the band's chosen name. A car was spotted with the name 'Predator' emblazoned upon it. Not satisfied with merely copying the name a slight alteration was made to the spelling. It was partly inspired by another up and coming band, who were a major influence at that time, Motörhead. They were now known as 'Predatür'. Meanwhile, over in Farnborough, Hants, future member Mick Hughes had already began gigging with his band 'Quotations' .
After a series of rehearsals in John's Garage, Predatür played their first gig on Saturday 11th November 1978 at Woodcote Village Hall.
There was a brief spell of inactivity in 1979 as John left to join 'Cargo'. He was replaced by Roy Bell, but things didn't work out and John rejoined. Some Demo tracks were recorded, which haven't seen the light of day until very recently. Regular gigs soon followed at places such as Wokingham Rock Club. It was during this time that they began playing the legendary Target Club situated underneath the Butts Shopping Center in Reading.
The band then laid down a number of original songs at Woodcray Manor Recording Studios. At this time, the N.W.O.B.H.M. was making it's presence felt, Predatür were now an active part of this new movement.
Record attendances at The Target Club brought the attention of Kevin Heaton, owner of Quicksilver Records. The band very soon had a manager to organize gigs and promotion.
With an increased workload, Predatür were soon playing the Top Rank circuit and the Marquee Club in London. Very soon they were appearing with the likes of Slade, Samson, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Y&T, Praying Mantis and Girl. The Predatür 'Gig Rig' could often be seen taking the band from gig to gig.
The Gig Rig
With an ever increasing workload and thoughts turning to releasing a record. Despite the bands 'live' appeal, some close to the band dared to criticize the bands ability to write a 'single'. Baz's response to this was the song 'Take A Walk', basically written on the spot. It proved an instant favourite.
"Seen you here, once or twice before!"
1982 saw the recording and release of the only 'official' record release, so far. It was the highly collectable 7" single, 'Take A Walk/Seen You Here'.
The 'Take A Walk' Single
It seemed Predatür could do no wrong, with a growing fan base and the very successful 'Rockarama' 1 and 2 that were held at Reading Top Rank, they were the hottest band in town. The only major disappointment was losing a slot at the Reading Festival to local rivals Twelfth Night. Predatür would have been the first 'local' band to play Reading Festival. Original Festival T-Shirts for that year are printed with Predatür included in the line-up.
Predatür in full flow.
O By this time, The Quotations had begun to develop their own songs, deciding to change their name to Piledriver.
Mick Hughes 1981
Despite playing virtually the same venues and music as Predatür, the two bands paths never crossed. The two bands shared virtually identical influences and inspiration for Heavy Rock. Although Baz and Mick were totally unaware of each other at this point, they had both taken a keen interest in The Larry Miller Band, often attending gigs, whenever possible. Significantly, no one knew at the time, but Simon Baker would eventually be playing drums for Predatür.
Larry Miller Band: Simon Baker (far right).
For Predatür, most of the time was taken up with hard gigging, appearing with the likes of Angelwitch and other N.W.O.B.H.M bands. Although some time was spent at Woodcray Studios laying down tracks that have yet to be released.
Reading Top Rank 31/08/81
More gigs followed, but increasing tension within the band reached a head early in 1983. This resulted in the first major personnel split. Baz and John were musically pulling in different directions, John ultimately leaving to form 'Dog Ouse'. Sam, who was fearing for his hearing, also decided to call it a day. He later returned to the gig circuit with 'Out Of The Blue'. Meanwhile, over in Farnborough, Piledriver had also imploded. Ironically, from the ashes of Piledriver, a new band The Edge formed. Drummer for The Edge was none other than future Predatür drummer Jim Roberts.
For Mick Hughes there began a period of inactivity, although he began writing songs with Ian Moss from local band Crying Shame and just jamming around. However, nothing serious materialized until 1984.
Baz not looking back.
For Predatür, there was also a period of inactivity following the departure of John and Sam. This allowed the dust to settle before the search for replacements began. Baz and Steve took time-out, to consider their options.
Jim Roberts 1983
Baz and Steve decided to continue and so began the arduous task of finding new personnel. During this period, Baz had forged a friendship with Larry Miller and could often be seen jamming at the end of a Larry Miller Band live set. It was through Larry's suggestion that a new drummer was found. Enter Jim Roberts from Farnborough band 'The Edge'. Predatür still required the 'elusive' second guitarist. What followed was almost a year of just jamming and 'hanging out'.
"My Pal Baz" on stage with Larry Miller Band (Simon Baker behind).
It wasn't until the summer of 1984 that a fourth member was found. After yet another disastrous audition. On realizing that both parties weren't compatible, the latest 'try-out' suggested a bloke he knew who was "into the music" and exactly what was required. Needless to say, after a few hasty phone calls it wasn't long before a meeting was arranged with the Ex-Quotations front man, Mick Hughes. With Mick on second guitar, a friendship/partnership with Baz was forged, that has endured to this day.
Mick, Steve, Baz & Jim 1984
Rehearsals began in earnest as gigs were being booked immediately, such was the confidence in the new line-up. Predatür had been away from the circuit for what seemed like an age and were desperate to get back out there. And so a new chapter was about to begin.
The 'Mk2' Line-up
A 'warm-up' gig was played at 'The Merry Maidens' on 13th September, where one on-looker commented, "It was like watching a dinosaur coming back to life!" The first 'official' MK2 gig took place on 11th October at the 'Target Club' in Reading. It proved to be a memorable evening. The set comprised of many old favorites and a final encore featuring special guest 'Tami'. The evening was regarded a great success with even a nod of approval from former band members John and Sam, who were also in attendance.
'The Return' Target Club October 1984
Gigs were then booked right up to the end of the year and beyond, with many as special guests with The Larry Miller Band. The Marquee, Target Club, The Greyhound in Fulham, Oxford Penny farthing, from Gravesend to Bristol, Predatür were back on the road.
For the following two years, this became the pattern. In 1985, Predatür returned to Matinee Studios and recorded what was planned to be the follow-up to 'Take A Walk'. The A side was to be a new song 'Crazy' with a revamped version of 'End Of The Road' as the flip side. However, history proves it was not to be. Without a major record deal or financial backing, the single remains unreleased.
Unperturbed, Predatür carried on regardless. It was generally felt that if commercial success was to be attained, certain compromises would have to be made, and the one thing that Predatür have consistently resisted throughout their history is, compromise. It would be fair to say that the lack of commercial progression could be put down to this unbending attitude to conform with current trends. By their own admission, they clearly belonged to a bygone age. The result being, the Eighties largely chose to commercially ignore Predatür, and they likewise, chose to ignore the Eighties. The feeling was as they say, "mutual".
By 1986 original Bass player c felt he had gone as far as he could with the band and was also looking to settle for a quieter life. And so after 10 years, Steve decided to leave the band he helped to create, back in 1976.
Mick and Baz, Silks Thatcham 1986
What followed was quite a testing and interesting period. Dave Roberts from the Larry Miller Band stood in at short notice for an appearance at Hammersmith Palais. As gigs were outstanding and still being booked, rather than cancel, Predatür performed as a three-piece for a while. In true "show must go on" spirit, Baz and Mick took turns in playing Bass depending on which song featured either on lead guitar. Ex-Guitarist John Benham had become the 'live' Sound Engineer at Silks Nightclub, a regular gig, however despite seeing that the lads were still having a lot of fun, he was never tempted to strap on a guitar and join in. The 3-piece option did prove quite interesting, but was never seriously viewed as a permanent solution. Fortunately, a new Bass player did materialize and surprised more than a few people.
In the late summer of 1986, seventeen year old Karen Cooper joined Predatür. She had previously played with 'The Unlikely Lads' and now helped to run a local rehearsal complex where she forged a friendship with the band. Karen made her first appearance with Predatür on 30/08/86 at The Red Lion, Gravesend in Kent.
By 1987, Rock Music in general was in decline, some might argue that it was quite deservedly. Heavy Metal in particular, seemed to be going through it's silliest phase. The image of many bands began to overshadow the music, big hair and make-up being the order of the day. Not that Predatür could ever be accused of such self-indulgence, far from it. But as Heavy Metal went into decline so did the live scene. 1987 became the quietest year in the band's history, although there were some quite memorable nights played down in the West Country.
By the following year, all the inactivity had begun to make some band members 'restless'. Jim had begun playing with Big Guns during the gaps and Karen had decided to get back together with her old friends. She formed an all-girl band, the Hassle Free Honey's. Karen's departure was totally amicable, indeed the Honey's and Big Guns were soon found doing several support slots for Predatür. Once again, Predatür were in need of a new Bass Player.
A replacement for Karen was soon found. During the spring of 1988, Pete Knight became the new Bass Guitarist with Predatür. He had formally played with local band Strange Tales and often attended Predatür gigs, since the early days. Pete's arrival is often regarded by the rest of the band, as a 'turning point' and although there were still disappointments to come, the band gelled perfectly.
It would be fair to say that Heavy Metal had become stagnant and had begun to enter perhaps it's worst period. The 'big' band's faired the storm, but the big hair and make-up poseurs, had made the genre tired, it was the dawn of 'grunge'. For Predatür this brought a resurgence in popularity, their 'image' (or lack of it) appealed to the grunge fans and even gained some critical acclaim!
Reading Rivermead October 1988
A new level of enthusiasm within the band brought an increase in 'Live' work. A memorable highlight being the first rock concert to be held at Reading's new Rivermead Leisure Center. Predatür sharing a bill that included other top local bands Iron Heart, Burma and Loose Tourniquet. Although the gig was heavily publicized by Listen Records and Reading Chronicle, the event owned much of it's success to the hard work of Radio 210 Rock Presenter, Brian Pithers.
The nineties heralded something of a revival for the band, attracting a 'new' audience combined with the old. However, during this period of heightened activity, Drummer Jim Roberts became seriously ill and was eventually diagnosed as Diabetic. While Jim was recovering, gigs were 'put on hold' to look at what was the next step for the band. Talk soon turned to perhaps some new studio recordings.
Mick, Jim, Baz & Pete 1989
However, the early nineties are now regarded as something of mixed fortunes for the band. Ironically, during this period within the band there was also talk of a special 'Re-Union' gig where everyone who had played with the band over the years would play with their respective line-up, with a total 'free for all' Grand Finale. Tragically, 0n 12th September 1991, Ex-Predatür Guitarist John Benham died in a road accident. John was a highly respected musician and is still greatly missed by all those who knew him. Click on the image below to find the page dedicated to John.
The good news, Jim made a satisfactory recovery from his illness and plans were then made for the recording of the well overdue album. Plans were being made for the recording of the well overdue album. This finally came to fruition in the summer of 1994 at the Alley Cat Recording Complex in Reading. However, bad luck was to strike another blow when the studio and all the master tapes literally "went up in smoke". A major fire virtually destroyed the entire complex, very little survived the blaze. It was not to be.
By 1995, the MK4 line-up had played their final gigs. Jim had recently started a family, Pete decided to move west, both Baz and Mick were looking for a 'new' challenge which ultimately became 'RAIN'. During this period, Baz kept busy guesting with Tami Dark's Aviator and occasional appearances with Mungo Jerry. Mick remained quite inactive although he did make a 'guest' appearance with another Reading band ASYLUM, for the Vent album, on track nine The Flag.
ASYLUM: The Vent Album
After an experiment with several line-ups, Baz and Mick finally joined forces with Simon Baker (drums) and Dave Roberts (Bass), who were actually 'first choice' originally. RAIN proved popular with some truly quite stunning performances throughout it's existence. Sadly in October 2001, local Rock Radio presenter Brian Pithers unexpectedly passed away. A page in his memory has been created, please click here to take you to it. By 2002, both Baz and Mick were often asked about a possible Predatür reformation and combined with a hankering for something they had been missing, talk of an actual reformation finally began.
Midway through 2002 Glen Potter, a long time mate and bass stalwart on the Reading scene, picked up on the rumour that the band might be reforming and promptly volunteered his services while attending a RAIN gig. First choice for drums was naturally Simon Baker, but at that time Simon had other commitments. Very early jam sessions even saw a brief reunion with ex-drummer Jim Roberts, but nothing serious developed. Mick then came up with the idea of inviting his old chum Trevor Collins from QUOTATIONS days, for a jam. Initial results were encouraging but due to heavy work load, Trev could not possibly commit to full time status and reluctantly stepped down. However, Trev's contribution in getting the ball rolling was invaluable. Fortunately, Simon Baker had been listening to some recent Predatür rehearsal tapes and was tempted enough to "give it a go". Little did he know that this was exactly the kind of 'gig' he had been looking for!
Finally, there was a secure line-up and with Simon now on board, there was rapid progress. Old standards were dusted down and some 'new' material began to emerge. The new line-up made their first 'live' appearance at the annual "FILL YOUR HEAD WITH ROCK" FESTIVAL 2003 in May, but didn't appear in their home town until October at The Rising Sun in Reading. Needless to say, a riotous evening was had by all. This was swiftly followed by the first 'official' gig at The Roebuck Hotel, which was an even better performance. With the band still finding their feet, they put in a as hard a hitting show as you would expect, even if we are now over twenty years on!
And so a new chapter has opened for the band and judging by the gigs played so far, the general consensus appears to be either, "better than ever" or "just like old times". Either way, Predatür were about to enter into what could prove to be the most exciting period of the band's history, even if the band themselves didn't realise it.
As it turns out, 2004 is the 20th anniversary of Baz and Mick teaming up together. The year kicked off with a show in February at the Rivermead Leisure Center performing once again alongside Iron Heart, who had also recently reformed.
Predatür line-up for The Reading Evening Post to promote the Gig.
Mick and Glen on stage at Rivermead Photo: Alex Cooke
After their triumphant return at the Rivermead Leisure Complex in Reading on Friday 20th February 2004, the band then pondered their next move. The itself gig raised over £2000 (after deductions) for the two charities. It was also an evening where a few 'old' faces were seen. Among those spotted throughout the evening were Steve Coppuck and Sam Savin from the original line-up and Pete Knight from the Mk 4 Band.
The month of March was a relatively quiet month for the band, although it was particularly momentous for one Predatür member. In late March, Baz had something to celebrate himself as he finally became a parent for the first time.
BAZ: Who's the Daddy?
In April, Mick was pleased to discover that in one review of the Rivermead gig he was not only the star, but he had also been crowned "Long Haired Dude Of The Month" for March. For all you lovers of such things, take a peek at www.longhairedmen.co.uk.
Mick: The Long-haired Dude of the Month!
During the months that followed the triumphant return at Rivermead, a succession of 'low-key' gigs soon followed, but work mainly focused on rehearsing 'newer' material. An appearance at the Reading Lion's MAG Rally was one of the highlights of the summer that also cemented the band's welcome return to the 'live' scene. Thoughts eventually turned to finally producing the first official album. With this in mind, four days at Park Studio were booked for late July.
The recording took place at Park Studio Bracknell in Berkshire with renowned Engineer Damon Sawyer at the helm. It was to be a self-produced effort, scheduled for release in early Autumn 2004. On the morning of Friday 23rd July 2004, Predatür began four frantic days of recording in an attempt to capture the spirit of their 'live' performance. Ten tracks were laid down, including one which was only worked on quite literally only days before the actual sessions began. This particular song is now being regarded by many as the high-point of the album. It is of course track nine, Some You Win. Although the album was recorded in four days, what then followed was several sessions of late-night mixing, with the final mastering session concluding as dawn rose, Tuesday 21st September. After several discussions and hilarious ideas, it was unanimously agreed, the album was to be simply titled, "mean".
Next stop was the long-awaited gig at Heywood Civic Centre near Manchester, with Top Quo Tribute Band State Of Quo. However, despite the efforts of everyone involved, the ticket sales were not as predicted and the evening was almost a disappointment. For Predatür, after a long journey, many hours stuck in traffic, a mad dash through the centre of Manchester and a soundcheck that was quite literally 'shocking' (ask Baz), the band could have been forgiven for just giving up. This of course is not The Predatür way and the boys made a great effort for those others, who had also traveled many miles too.
Predatür backstage at Heywood Photo: Sue Williams
Despite the disappointing attendance, those who did make it through the dreadful Manchester traffic delays did have a great night. Also, "mean" was on sale for the first time and sold in very respectable quantities. As a result of this, within days, news of the performance and new album spread like wildfire, as those who had picked up a copy began spreading the word. With nine tracks of pure Predatür boogie, "mean" was definitely a hit. By the end of the year, from Norway to New Zealand, there would be at least one copy of "mean" on every continent.
This year marks an amazing 25 years of Predatür and with the ongoing success of the "mean" album, this could prove to be the most special year in the bands history. To begin the year, the first live appearance, Predatür made a headline appearance at the 2nd Annual Brian Pithers Memorial Benefit Concert at the Rivermead Leisure Complex in Reading. Predatür were joined once more by School For The Gifted, Exit Ten and Malefice. The gig took place on Friday 25th February and the band kicked off 2005 in style. The set list included the entire "mean" album except Movin' On, but did include old favourite Over The Top and vintage Quo's Is It Really Me? / Gotta Go Home. It was a special night for everyone, especially the French and German fans who had travelled many miles to see the band, most for the first time. A great evening was had by everyone and after the show the band retreated to the bar of the local Holiday Inn that had been taken over temporarily by the loyal supporters. The band mingled with new French, German and UK fans alike to mark a very memorable night for all. The first gig of the year had been a resounding success with ticket sales exceeding the previous record..
Further success was also achieved, as First Time from the "mean" album became the band's first Number One on the AiiRadio Top 40 Chart.
However things were unexpectedly put on hold as guitarist Mick Hughes suffered a double bereavement with the loss of both his parents within a month prior to the Rivermead gig. Few people were aware of the circumstances, but those close to the band knew of the difficult time that Mick experienced during the first half of this year. The band understandably, closed ranks.
This was soon followed by the confirmation that Predatür were to play in prime spot on the Friday night at this year's Zwarte Cross Festival in Holland. An extra date was soon added for the following night in north Holland, Dutch fans would certainly see plenty of Predatür during one weekend in July.
Smaller gigs were booked to keep everyone on their toes including a memorable and fun night one Friday night in the sleepy village of Bozeat in Northamptonshire where two 'new' songs were aired for those lucky enough to have been there. Judging by the reaction to the new material, the 'follow up' to "mean" should not disappoint. There was also a presentation made by Micky Spectrum of AiiRadio to the band of mounted certificates indicating Predatür's entry into the AiiRadio 'Hall Of Fame' for First Time being a consecutive Number One for 3 weeks.
Next stop Derby and then ZWARTE CROSS 2005!
To be continued.....