Interview: TIM ATKINSON (LEADER OF DOWN)

Leader Of Down - Cascade Into Chaos

The brainchild of Grammy nominated former Motörhead guitarist Würzel and bass player Tim Atkinson who after forming the band Leader of Down, busied themselves in a London rehearsal studio writing dozens of tracks in preparation for recording an album.

They then recruited drummer, Steve Clarke (ex-Fastway) to join the ranks and continue preparing for the debut album Cascade Into Chaos. Würzel suggested Steve Clarke as he had worked with him before and known him as a great drummer for years. “The teeth rattling bass guitar and ear splitting double bass drums really compliment Würzel’s guitar playing”, just one comment on a Motörhead forum site.

The name Leader Of Down came from Würzel mishearing the lyrics to the Status Quo track “Down, Down”. Würzel found this extremely funny as he had been singing the wrong words “Down Down, Leader of Down” for over 30 years.

The band started recording the initial tracks for the album which included a reworking of Würzel’s solo release from the 80’s “People Say I’m Crazy” ( B side of the single “Bess”). These initial sessions also included a track that was always intended for Lemmy to sing on, as Würzel said “We think it would suit him”. This track eventually became ‘Paradise Turned Into Dust’ with Lemmy finishing his recording at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles shortly before his own passing during a very emotional session that Steve & Tim attended.

Cascade Into Chaos boasts several guest vocalists, such as Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe), but the line-up of Leader Of Down is completed by vocalist Matt Baker and guitarist Alex Ward who have slipped seamlessly into the fold.

Cascade Into Chaos is named after a phrase that Würzel and Tim used during the initial songwriting sessions, it seemed a very obvious choice and was the only title that the two of them ever really discussed.

After Würzel’s tragic death in 2011 the band continued to finish the album and enlisted the help of some friends to honour the great man.

Featuring guest appearances from Lemmy, Phil Campbell (who joined Motörhead on the same day as Würzel in 1984), Whitfield Crane (who sang on “Born to Raise Hell” with Motörhead during Würzel’s time with the band), Lee Richard (ex-Godsmack and Richards/Crane), Bruce Foxton (The Jam) and Cliff Evans (Tank).

Also contributing was Fast Eddie Clarke, who sadly passed away this year. Leader Of Down’s Steve Clarke had remained great friends with Eddie since the Fastway days and was instrumental in getting Eddie involved.

The album features blockbusting tracks with titles such as ‘Serial Killjoy’ and ‘Killing Rain’, all mixed by Motörhead Grammy winning producer Cameron Webb at Maple Studios in California.

The album is, of course, a tribute to Würzel and the other fallen Motörhead heroes. It is also the beginning for Leader Of Down who after a successful appearance at Hard Rock Hell, are embarking on a tour with Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons in November 2018 and will be very busy next year, with live shows planned.

Lemmy once shouted from the stage at Hammersmith Odeon in ‘84, shortly after Würzel and Phil Campbell joined, “Well, are we back??” We can safely say that Würzel is back, we just wish that he was still with us for the ride.

Tim Atkinson - Leader Of Down

Martin Porter caught up with  Leader Of Down founder Tim Atkinson for a chat about the band, the album and working with Wurzel

1. Hi Tim, I suppose the best place to start is when did yourself and Wurzel first begin to work on Cascade Into Chaos?

A long time ago,  late summer 2008. We used to meet twice a week at a rehearsal studio or he would come back to my house, we would write some songs from old riffs that Wurzel had knocking about and I would add my bits to it.

We did that for quite sometime and then we decided we wanted to move it forward. Wurzel suggested a friend, Steve Clarke, who had been the drummer from Fastway, who he asked to join. Steve was an amazing drummer so we started to put the songs into shape and we started recording stuff slowly and it went on from there.

2. So was a lot of it recorded here (Fairycroft House)?

Here? Three full tracks were recorded here and we did bits of about three other tracks as well.

3. Is Wurzel on every track on the album?

Yes, apart from the two Fast Eddie Clarke played, there are of course bit where other people are playing but he’s on every track but those two.

4.  With Wurzel sadly gone, are there plans when the album settles down a bit to carry on with touring and writing new material?

Yes we wrote a lot of stuff and for example the vocal melodies and lyrics are me, Wurzel never really did that! We had a lot of stuff and we worked on a lot of ideas. We were supposed to be a band, we are a band and we will carry on being a band. So the plan is we will carry on and record a second album September’ish next year.

5. Would you be just as your current four piece or would you be thinking of having guests?

Most likely a few guests, not as many as this one, but there will be some…I am sure! But we will be the four piece.

6. The up coming tour With Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons keeps the Motorhead link going. Would you like to keep that going using Motorhead members on future albums?

Anything is a possibility, it depends on what people are doing, when and what we want to do. I would like Phil to play but it’s difficult to say we will see what people are doing at that time.

7. Not to put words in your mouth but you don’t really want to just market yourselves as a Motorhead spin off band as things move forward?

No, the thing is I’ve said many a time I’ve been a Motorhead fan since I was nine and they are a band that I love dearly. Although we have never intended to be a Motorhead spin off or anything like that, because we don’t really sound like them although there are elements, but no one can really sound like Lemmy.

With something that’s had Wurzel involved there is going to be a Motorhead element but are not suddenly change direction and sound like Rush, not that there’s anything wrong with Rush!

8. Motorhead is obvious but what are the band’s other influences?

If you look at Wurzel influences he loved Rory Gallagher so there will be a lot of things that flavoured it from his influences. Steve loves all the jazz rock side of things,  so he plays in that certain way a kind of unique style so there will be elements of that. I, as in the way I play on this record at least, am not trying to sound like Lemmy deliberately and on Paradise Turned Into Dust where I am playing at the same time as Lemmy, it would have sounded silly the two of us doing the same thing or with the same tone it would be stupid.

Lemmy was unique in his own way and I would never have tried to play like that, so there are all sorts of influences that go into it and hopefully you get to have your own sound. Influences come into it and there have been loads over the years

9. I saw you on Facebook with the guy who remastered The Beatles albums?

Sean Magee! Abbey Road Studios, he mastered the album, we recorded at various studios around the World. Whitfield Crane his stuff was done in San Francisco, Lemmy’s was in Los Angeles, Bruce Foxton was in England. We did it in a lot of Studios but it was all mixed in California by Cameron Webb who is Motorhead’s producer, then it was mastered at Abbey Road Studios, London by Sean Magee who has done loads of stuff, The Beatles, Rush, Iron Maiden,The Rolling Stones, he’s done some massive stuff.. he was great.

Tim Atkinson - Lemmy

10. The first single ‘Paradise Turned Into Dust  Ft. Lemmy’, when will that be released?

Tomorrow! (10th Sep 2018) The video will be released on Youtube, you can stream from Spotify, Itunes and the others sources tomorrow when the videos out. The video was in part filmed here with me on the sofa and projector and is cut with memories and scenes of the songs recording….

On That one, if you want to get the history the guitar, bass and drums were tracked here at Fairycroft House, Saffron Walden. It was the first song that me and Wurzel wrote, it was the first song me, Wurzel and Steve ever played.

When we got it recorded, it was always hoped and intended that Lemmy would sing on it. When we went through the process and it was recorded it was given to Lemmy on a CD so he can listen to it, he agreed to do it and then over the years sadly Wurzel passed away and Lemmy was ill and it took a long time to finish. Steve Clarke who had known Lemmy for donkeys’ years helped push that one and get it over the line. Lemmy finally did it probably ten or eleven months before he died.

11. It must have been amazing to work with your heroes?

When you are working with people you have admired for years and years, it is a weird experience and a some of the working with heroes’ part of it disappears because your actually trying to achieve a piece of work. Wurzel was a great friend of mine and it’s quite emotional now it’s finished, he’s all over it yet he’s not here, Lemmy the same thing and Eddie Clarke, it’s an emotional thing.

12. It must be pretty hard and daunting to put out something that is so personal and has taken so much time and hard work spent on it?

We want people to like it, we hope they do, we have done a great job. I think it shows Wurzel really on top form. We spent a long time on it, it’s the best it can be, that’s what we wanted to achieve and hopefully people like it.

13 Is there any more Wurzel stuff unused that might appear later?

Bits and pieces, they may appear on the second album, nothing with Lemmy.

14. New material with Lemmy must be a hotcake. I can imagine there may be a clamour for new Lemmy material?

I hope so, this is him reuniting with Wurzel. Lemmy plays bass and sings, I play bass as well, Steve Clarke is on fire, and I think it’s lovely to reunite them after all them years, they were fantastic mates.

On the track ‘Children Of The Disease’, Phil Campbell is playing with Wurzel, and as they used to do in Motorhead one starts a solo the other finishes it or they’d swap. That was a special thing for me it was almost bringing the four piece line up together again.

Leader Of Down

Leader Of Down – Cascade Into Chaos  Cleopatra Records [Release date 28.09.18]


Throughout September 2018 Get Ready to ROCK! Radio celebrated the station’s 10th anniversary and a two-hour special reflected a decade of broadcasting. “10 years in the making” features archive interviews with Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Todd Rundgren, Graham Bonnet, David Coverdale, John Wetton and Bob Catley.

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