V1 play rock music with passion and pride. The band, led by vocalist Dennis Willcock who was the original vocalist in Iron Maiden were formed after he left the band and started again with his new project who are still going strong today. Despite their storied career, the bands debut album Armageddon: End Of The Beginning has only recently been released and we had a chat with Dennis to hear all about it, the bands live shows, his time with Iron Maiden, the perils of the music industry and why V1 are not heavy metal!
Can you tell us a bit about the history of V1 and how you got together?
V1 was started after Terry Wapram and I left Iron Maiden in 1978 due to differing musical tastes from the Iron Maiden metal theme. We played many gigs including several residency slots including Ruskin Arms and The Bandwagon to name but a few and through 1979 we had a substantial following. We had acquired Management and Recording Deals but we never saw the fruits of these due to the financial disagreement between the 2 parties!
How did you come up with the bands name?
I had an interest in WW1 & WW2 history and the German V1 rocket struck a note with me so we used that name! No political beliefs or anything like that just 2 letters for easy recognition….V1, U2, XTC…etc.!
You have recently released your debut album Armageddon: End Of The Beginning. Can you tell us s but about the album and it’s sound?
The album is a recording in the 2017 era of material we played in 1978 but never had a deal to release it. with the exception of one track Don’t Cause A Scene all the others are from the early days of playing as V1! The genre of the album is what we call POWER ROCK…we are not Heavy Metal never were, never will be, so we do take a bit of a slating in Heavy Metal press and reviews but we have no problem with that! All other reviews are very positive and support what we are trying to do, just play good original power rock music. End of story!
How did the recording of the album go?
Extremely well in recording but extensive post production work by Pete Lyons, our superb producer was well worth the effort though as shown in the final album.
You recorded your first demo back in 1978 but it wasn’t released until 201 with your split with Gibraltar. Why did it take so long for it to come out?
I left the industry completely in 1979 and concentrated on my career in Graphic Design to enable a much more stable base in having a family/property/career as the music industry at that time left a lot to be desired for me! I was informed in 2014 that various recordings of V1 and Gibraltar were getting played and also my involvement in Iron Maiden was being questioned. It was suggested that I got onto social media like Facebook to prove I existed, as it was assumed I was dead or not to be found. Then an approach was made by HR records to release a short run CD/Vinyl of both bands and the rest is history from then on. Hence the period of 40+ years of non involvement!
You have links with Gibraltar, would the two bands ever work together again?
No, the links have died for various reasons and I believe Gibraltar is no longer in existence which is a shame!
What other bands would you like to do a split release with?
None really, V1 is an original project that needs no connection with any other band and that includes Iron Maiden!
How has your music been received so far?
Very positive by music lovers but not exactly great by a minority of Heavy Metal magazines, to be expected! We are definitely not heavy metal, but we are well chuffed by the responses so it was right to record and release it!
How did your recent gig supporting Lionheart and Airrace go?
Amazingly well, we definitely held our own and got several amazing gig reviews of us, better than we expected and we did play our boots off so all well there! New audience for us as well!
Did you play the new album in full?
No as third band and support our allowed time was quite restrictive and stage allocation was small but it worked!
You had a few new members playing with you that night. How did they do?
Amazing after only three workouts..we are very fussy in new member selection but Jamie and Fabio hit it! They are without doubt a credit to the band!
Have V1 got any more live dates coming up?
It’s being sorted as we speak, the hard part of the scenario but there will be many in 2018 I can assure you!
You were the original lead singer in Iron Maiden. Do you have fond memories of your time with the band?
Of course but V1 tries to stand on it’s own merits and not on the Iron Maiden bus, we are different, original and as I said before not Heavy Metal! Possibly one day I will get a book together as a few others have done, warts and all. Very few people know the real story as a lot of perceived crap as been written from one persons perspective only, never from my view and 90% of Iron Maiden fans were not there or even born in 1976/78 and have no idea of how it was run, how can they!
What were some of your memories with Maiden?
Many funny memories and lots of info to destroy the fairytale dream, but as I said perhaps a book is in order!
Did you keep in contact with the guys from the band over the years?
I only know two members personally, but no, and am not interested to be truthful!
What was it like being at the forefront of the NWOBHM scene?
No idea really, when I was doing it NWOBHM was still to be originated!
It must have been exciting to be part of such a new scene. Did you take it all in at the time?
We just performed as a band, albeit with pyros, theatrics and lighting, unknown on the pub circuit but we had it!
What did you make of the next wave of bands who took inspiration from the NWOBHM like Metallica and Slayer?
Did not relate as I had no connection to music when they were around so couldn’t say!
Were you ever a fan of punk at all as that was emerging at around the same time?
How do you feel about the state of heavy metal nowadays?
Over rated and shite, too many tribute bands and nothing really creative or different, it’s very easy to take the metal mantle but most acts leave a lot to be desired in my opinion…but it works for them and that is OK by me, the record I only like one Heavy Metal band if they are indeed Heavy Metal is Rammstein!
What are your opinions on social media for bands and how the music industry has evolved over the years?
Absolute crap and totally destructive! Everyone records and releases albums these days, so good for them but please make something that is not a complete rip off of someone else if that is possible!
What have been some of the undisputed highlights of your career?
Forming V1 out of Iron Maiden and playing for a year before Steve Harris got it together and got the lucky break, we, sad to say, did not but heyho that’s life. Out of the music scene there are many highlights!