Producer Tom Allom: From Sabbath to Priest:

By Jeb Wright

Tom Allom has turned the knobs on some of the best heavy metal and hard rock albums ever to be produced.  One of his first jobs in the studio was with an unknown band called Black Sabbath. 

After producing the iconic Pat Travers live album Go For What You Know, Allom was called in by Judas Priest to mix their live album Unleashed in the East, which lead to a working relationship with the Metal Gods that is still going on today. Allom was very involved in both the filming and recording of Judas Priest’s new concert film Epitaph.

In the interview that follows, Allom takes us on a journey from stumbling into the music business, to becoming one of the most sought after producers of the 1980’s.  We discuss many of his finest moments, including Sabbath and Priest, but also the work he did with Def Leppard and Krokus. 

Allom is proud to be a member of the Priest family and is excited about their new release.  He also is fond of his place in Metal History and shares a few behind the scenes stories from the good old days, including breaking Ringo Starr’s milk bottles and dragging an axe down the street, all in the name of rock and roll.

Jeb:  Priest Epitaph is a stunning audio and visual film.  They did good!  

Tom: They really did and they have sort of a new lease on life with a new guitar player.  Richie Faulkner is really good.  As a guitar player, he is in a really high league.  Glenn [Tipton] was saying to me, “I had better sharpen myself up a bit.”  I said, “Why don’t you just let him play all the fast bits?”  We had a bit of a laugh at that.  They work really well together.  They are writing now and I hear that he has fit in really well with their writing style. 

Jeb:  What was the last Judas Priest project you worked on before Epitaph?

Tom: I mixed British Steel Live but we didn’t film that.  With Epitaph, we did the whole thing.  Before, British Steel Live, we mixed a bunch of stuff they had done over the years and it went out as A Touch of Evil LiveRichie Kayvan and I did both of that.  Before that, we did Rising in the East in Budokan. 

They keep calling me when they have live things.  This one, Epitaph, was much more special.  Richie and I started a small partnership with some people that we know who do film.  We put together the whole package, including the filming of this one.  We have a company called Breakaway Productions, which is specifically for recording and filming live concerts.  It is nice work if you can get it and it is fun. 

With Blu-ray and Hi Def, for the time being, it is a little bit beyond most people’s capabilities to download, so there is a little bit of life in Blu-ray. 

If we can build a big enough portfolio of this type of stuff, then there is probably a TV company that would want to put out a series.  Epitaph featured a great stage show with wonderful lighting.  The band always sounds wonderful live, so there was no problem there.

Jeb:  What are the challenges of filming a concert?

Tom: It is easier than it used to be.  Martin Walker, our soundman, is fantastic.  As a safety, we recorded a show in Germany two weeks earlier.  Martin is so meticulous with his microphone placements that we were able to edit between shows without being able to hear the difference, which is down to him. 

Okay, so the snare drum sound is going to change a little bit, but we were able to edit between guitars, which is amazing.  We actually really didn’t hardly need to do that; there were just a few things, here and there, or maybe we stole something from the other show. 

You know, you expect that in a two and a half hour performance, as nobody can do a perfect show.  That is why you have the safety show, as there will be things, here and there, that went wrong. 

We recorded it all on ProTools.  You can actually record it all on a laptop if you want.  That side of it is a lot easier than it used to be.

This was a challenge for us because it was the first big production where we filmed it, as well as recorded the sound.  It was a great way to launch the company, with the Priest.  It is a great thing to have in the portfolio.  We will be putting up a website soon and will have a little bit of background about it. 

Jeb:  When I used to see ‘Produced by Tom Allom’ on an album, then I knew I was going to like it.

Tom: That is very flattering of you to say.  It was so different back then.  You didn’t have the luxury of things like ProTools, where you can fine tune and correct everything.  You can go back to it and it is exactly the way it was before. 

You sort of wanted to capture the moment, rather like a live performance.  I wish it was possible to record like that now.  The problem you run into is tape and the problem with tape is being able to find it, and when you do find it, what it costs, which is an astronomical amount. 

When I think of the astronomical amount of tapes we would end up with at the end of an album, and we’d be stuck somewhere in Spain, or the Bahamas, or somewhere.  You would end up with these massive amounts of reels that just weighed a ton.   Now, you just have a little hard drive that you can slip in your coat pocket that has enough storage on it to record, Christ knows, how many albums and videos.  It is just insane. 

Jeb: How did you get into the music business?

Tom: I stumbled into it.  I got a job as a recording engineer in a little recording studio in London.  The other engineer there knew me from a time where I did a holiday job at a studio that he had started out at.  He knew me and he knew that I was interested in tape recording and he said, “Do you want to have a crack at it?”  I said, “I’ll have a go at it.” 

It was a console that had 12 ins and four outs.  We had to persuade the boss to get a second four-track machine.  It was soon after that when we did the first Black Sabbath album. 

We did that with them using two four-tracks.  They were not in synch; we were bouncing from one to the other.  It wasn’t anywhere near as difficult to learn the ropes as it would be today in a full-fledged studio. 

At the same time, you had to learn to work with what you had.  You had to do an awful lot outside of what you had on the console.  We really didn’t have any outboard equipment.  It was really quite elementary. 

Jeb:  You had to use other means to get the sound you were trying to achieve.

Tom: Microphone placements were very important in those days.   You couldn’t use a lot of heavy EQ, as we didn’t have it.  You had to get the blend right. 

I was watching Iron Man on network TV a couple of nights ago; the movie.  At the end, the song “Iron Man” plays.  It still sounds pretty cool.  The guitar sound is not quite what I would want to do now, as it is quite thin, but it does have a real energy to it. The drums are almost dry as a bone.  I remember we only had four mic’s for the drums.  Bill Ward played in this little drum booth in the corner of the studio.  They sound so real.  They were a fantastically good band; they were so tight. 

Jeb: So you were pretty new to the job when you recorded Black Sabbath. 

Tom: I was.  I started in the fall of 1968, so I had only been there for a year, if that.  It was baptism by fire.  I had no idea who Black Sabbath was when they came in.  On the second album, we did the tracks in the same studio and then we took the tapes to Island Studios and transferred them all up to eight-track, which was Paranoid.  I suppose that was the album with “Iron Man” on it. 

When I got confronted with the original four-track tapes for the Classic Album Series I was interviewed for a couple of years ago; when I heard what was on the four-tracks compared to the final mixes, we didn’t do much in the way of overdubs.  It was still very much the basic tracks that formed the album. 

Jeb:  When you heard Black Sabbath for the first time, what was your impression? 

Tom: We captured a new sound and Rodger Bain, who was the producer, has to take credit for that.  He really did understand the way it should sound.  I had never seen the band live.  Rodger was a very intuitive producer and he never got anywhere enough credit for what he did.  There was just something about it.  I can’t say that we did this, or we did that, it just happened.  

Jeb:  How long did it take to record the first Black Sabbath album?

Tom: The first album was done in four days.  It was two sessions, from 10:00AM to 10:00PM.  Can you imagine getting Black Sabbath up at 10:00Am?  Those two sessions were for the recording.  Then, there were two sessions from 10:00Am to 6:00PM for the mixing.  After those four sessions, it was done, finished and in the can.  I think the whole record cost 500 pounds, including the photo of that lady in front of the mill.  They did quite a good return on that 500 pounds. 

Jeb:  How much longer did Paranoid take?

Tom: Paranoid didn’t take much longer, as we did the tracks the same sort of way.  I would not think the whole thing took more than ten days.  Master of Reality was the third one that I did.  They wrote that in the studio and that kind of dragged on and took a massive month [laughter].  That one was a test, as they were not really prepared like they were for the first album.  They recorded, essentially, all of the tracks on the first album beforehand.  I had done the demos when they were Earth; that was before they became Black Sabbath. 

I did the demos and then they came back about six months later.  When I did the demos, I was really new to the job.  Rodger Bain and I got along well. 

Jeb:  Looking back, can you believe how important those sessions were to rock music?

Tom: It is neat to be involved in something that so many people think was such an important part of music.  It really gives you a good feeling. 

Jeb:  Was it difficult to record Bill Ward?  I love his drumming on those albums, but I don’t know if Bill has ever kept a straight beat.  He does some crazy stuff on those records. 

Tom: What he and Geezer were doing together was incredible, actually.  They were a three-piece band and they were almost a jazz band, really. 

Bill was not playing a straight beat.  The other thing that blows me away, when I think about it, is how young they were.  They were twenty years old.  It is amazing.  I was only 21, or 22.  To have developed that unique style by that tender ago is incredible.  It didn’t seem that way to me then.  It did take me by surprise because I had never heard music like that because, then, nobody had.  I find it more impressive now than I did then. 

Jeb:  When were you able to go from engineer to producer?

Tom: It was gradual really.  The first band that I cut my teeth on were a band called the Strawbs.  They came into that same little studio and had me do overdubs for them. When they came into do their next album, they invited me to engineer that album.  I had left the studio and was a freelance engineer.  I got quite involved in production sort of stuff on that album.  On their next album, I got a production credit for them and it went from there. 

Jeb:  Was that Rick Wakeman’s band? They never quite got huge.

Tom: Rick left the band after the album they released just before I started working with them. 

I think the Strawbs needed a slightly more commercial edge.  The lead singer was a brilliant writer, but he had a voice that a lot of people didn’t like.  It wasn’t an easy voice to listen too.  He had a very edgy voice and it put a lot of people off. 

They had a couple of hits here in the UK.  They sold more albums in the States than they did here, simply because it is a bigger market.  A&M Records were behind them and they threw a lot behind it.  They came close to cracking America.  They were maybe one, or two, songs away from cracking in America.  They really played great music.  I did six albums with them.  It was either five, or six. 

Jeb: You did more than that with Judas Priest.

Tom: I think I only did seven studio albums with Judas Priest, but I think I have done 13, or 14, projects with them with all of the live stuff I have done. 

If someone would have said to me in 1980 that I was still going to be working with these guys in 2013, I would said, “No one is going be here then.”  For me, it was a massive pleasure to do Epitaph.  I can’t believe that I am still working with the guys. 

Jeb:  Priest is the real deal.  They are the Metal Gods.

Tom: They really are the real deal.  At the age they are at, what Rob can still do with his voice is incredible.  He may not be how we was when he was 20, but he is still incredibly powerful.  I don’t know quite what his age is, but he is into his ‘60’s and to be able to that is quite extraordinary. 

Jeb:  How did you meet Priest?

Tom: They were managed by the same people who managed the Strawbs.  It was a bit incestuous. 

The order of events were that I had done a live album with Pat Travers called Go for What You Know.  I went to the States and did that and then Priest recorded a live album in Japan with Sony. 

They needed somebody to mix it and since I had done the album with Travers, my name came forward to do that, which was Unleashed in the East.  They must have like what I did because they invited me to do British Steel

Jeb: A lot of people call that album Unleashed in the Studio because there is supposedly a lot of studio fixes on it. 

Tom: I will tell you that it was a difficult album to mix because Sony did a pretty bad job of recording it.  There was almost more vocal coming through the bass drum channel than there was bass drum.  They had a wedge monitor somewhere in the front that was bleeding into that. 

We didn’t do any musical overdubs at all in the studio because we couldn’t.  We couldn’t have done that if we wanted to because we couldn’t have matched the sounds.   I don’t know why it got that reputation.  Maybe it was too good.  We had to fix some vocals, as you do on any live albums. 

That said, when we were doing Epitaph, I saw Glenn one afternoon when we were mixing it.  He came down to the studio to say hi.  I never saw Rob, Richie, or anyone else, as we didn’t do a single overdub on that album.  Well, there were a couple of things that we had to fix, but you can do that pretty easily on ProTools. 

I will tell you one thing that is rather funny that we had to fix.  Glenn’s guitar tech handed him his guitar with his top strong tuned to D instead of E, which caused quite a problem when it came to the two-part harmony at the end of “Starbreaker.” 

Oh my God, poor Glenn.  It is a two-part harmony and he hits the first note and it is a semi-tone flat!  Luckily, technology came to our rescue there.  His tech must have felt miserable about that. 

I have been to lots of Judas Priest gigs, but this was quite an experience because I have never spent all day watching the entire crew set up the whole rig.  It was so impressive.  They are so professional and so slick.  I had the ultimate respect for them by the end of the day.  It was like clockwork.  I was trying to just stay out of their way.  I was dumbstruck by it actually.  

Jeb:  British Steel really brought Metal into the ‘80’s.  This was a new sound for Metal. 

Tom: I had made an album the previous month in the studio, which was the first Def Leppard album.  I didn’t really like the studio that much.  It was in Ringo’s house and it was an amazing house. 

We walked around and we decided to just stick the guitars in these enormous rooms.  I was worried about not being able to see each other and the communication problems.  We decided to give it a crack. 

The drums were in the hallway, inside the front door.  We put mic’s up on the landing above this huge staircase that went up.  The hallways had a marbled tiled floor, so we must have put some plywood down, or something.  It was Dave Holland’s first album with the band. 

We just stared getting these huge sounds. The guitars were just huge and we were getting these natural ambient drum sounds.  I was working with an engineer, who knew the place well, who I had done the Leppard album with. 

Glenn was very keen to not put his guitar in the studio, as it was so small and dead.  It was the same thing when we worked on the next album Point of Entry.  The studio, itself, was very difficult to get a guitar sound. 

Jeb:  Before that was Ringo’s house that was John and Yoko’s house.  That is hallowed ground. 

Tom: That’s right.  There was a passkey that got into every door and the key was called the JYL Key. 

We were mixing Point of Entry there when Lennon was killed.  We were in the White Room where they recorded the “Imagine” video.  It was a big sitting room and that is where the TV was. On TV, they were talking about all of the important people who had died that year. 

We were sitting there watching it and on comes the “Imagine” video.  Here we are watching that on TV while we are sitting in the room where it was filmed.  You just felt like you could turn around and there would be John and Yoko sitting at the white piano.  It was a bit of a choker to be honest. 

Jeb:  How much of British Steel was written before they went in to record it?

Tom: They nearly wrote the entire album in the studio; that’s a story.  It was the done, recorded, mixed and mostly written during the 28 days of February.  I had known Priest because I did the live album with them, but this was a totally different thing as we didn’t have time to breathe really. 

When it was done, I knew…I stayed up all night sort of assembling the final thing and then mastered it, then and there, that day, and then they flew me to New York and I mastered it in New York two days later.  I hadn’t really slept.  I sat through the whole album in two mastering rooms, which is pretty intense when you’ve just finished something.  I was thinking, “God, this does sound interesting; this sounds good.” 

I was honestly excited about it.  When I got to New York, CBS were really excited by it.  There was a sort of terrific buzz about it.  CBS in England were excited about it, but they didn’t stir up the record company here like they did in the States.  I think the Americans knew that they had an album on their hands that they could get really good crowds in and that is what happened. 

Jeb: On the song “Metal Gods” there are a lot of odd sound effects.

Tom: Back in those days we didn't have sophisticated samplers and I always liked to create my own sound effects using whatever materials were available.

“Metal Gods” is full of such things. The effect after the line "laser beaming hearts" was a billiard cue being swung through the air - a mike placed above and below with heavy compression. Then, I played the result backwards and joined up the forwards and backwards effect 0 and bingo.

The whiplash after "better be the slaves" is a guitar cord being lashed against the top of a flight case. Again HEAVY compression, which is a sound effect that I have used more than once I'm ashamed to say! 

When it came to the metal marching feet, we had even more fun! Ringo's kitchen had a fine stone floor and was quite ambient. The three legs of a microphone stand with the rubber ends taken off made a great sound when you dropped them on the floor, but that didn't quite do the trick on its own. So, out came the cutlery trays! There's me on my knees with the headphones on, dropping these damn legs on the floor in time to the music. Every so often one of the legs would roll away across the kitchen and we had to do loads of drop-ins. Then I'm using the loaded cutlery trays as some kind of monstrous percussion instrument - everyone falling about laughing, but what a GREAT sound at the end of it. So sadly, we can't find the multi-tracks anywhere, so it's forever locked in the mix.

Jeb: Talk “Breaking the Law,” any cool stories?  I hope you didn't have anything to do with the video!

Tom: Same thing with the sound effects...Rob smashing milk bottles on Ringo's terrace and, no, I didn't have anything to do with the video! I seem to remember the song being written very quickly but they all were on British Steel. We were in and out of the studio in 28 days.

By the way, another cool sound effect was on "Love Bites" on Defenders. I dragged an axe down the street with a SM57 strapped to it with duct tape. Then, we triggered a noise gate in time to the track and used the result to emulate metal jaws chomping. See if you can hear it.

Jeb: Point of Entry is an album I love.  A lot of old hardcore Priest fans, however, didn’t like it. 

Tom: Point of Entry is one of my favorites, really.  I think if you asked the band they would say it was one of their favorites.  There is some great stuff on it and there are some interesting ideas on it.  The record company was prying for something more commercial and we thought “Heading Out to the Highway” was quite commercial.  The album didn’t do as well as British Steel but it set them up beautifully for the next one. 

Jeb: You recorded Point at Ibiza Studios. 

Tom: That was our first visit to Ibiza Studios. It was November 1980 and we were a bit mental in those days. I remember we rented a couple of small Renaults, or Citroens, or something, and one of the roadies always had to travel in the trunk when we made our way back from Ibiza town in the early hours and were considerably worse for wear.

We got banned from Pasha - the trendy night club. I think it was 50/50 me and Glenn. Me for blowing a plastic trumpet and pissing everyone off then being held by my feet over the back of the bar while the band poured drinks down the end of the damn thing until I practically drowned. Glenn, then, had an altercation with a German chap who objected to our behavior-stupid ass. I think he ended up smashing him in the face-good for you Glenn-and that's when the bouncers struck. Fuck Pasha anyway.

It was on that trip that KK [Downing] was run over by a car. We were crossing the road to a rural club called Jet Circus and this car came over the hill at about 60mph and the next thing you know, Kenny was up in the air and landed on his arse in the middle of the road. We all thought he was dead but he just got up, walked into the club and ordered a beer. He was pretty sore for a few days but nothing was broken by some miracle.

Jet Circus was the brainchild of a mad German guy called Danny. He came up to the studio on his large motorcycle dressed in a skin tight white leather suit. As if that wasn't enough, his flies were undone and everything was hanging out-and there was quite a lot of it I can assure you. Danny was a great character, larger than life and he had this ridiculous advert for his club playing on Ibiza radio everyday. Sadly he is no long with us-RIP you crazy guy. 

Jeb:  Screaming for Vengeance is the best album they did in my book. 

Tom: That was an amazing album. There was a six month hiatus halfway through the making of the album.  We went back and we finished the tracks in a different studio than where we had started.  We mixed it all in Coconut Grove, which is where I was living at the time.  The miracle of the Screaming album was that it was made in two halves at six month intervals while the band's management had a bust up. Not the easiest situation but it turned out ok, didn't it?

Jeb:  “Electric Eye” sounds perfect. 

Tom: Having just recently been listing to the multi-tracks of Screaming; my God, there were a lot of guitars on “The Hellion”!

There is also something great going on with the vocals and the octaves. Each part of the verse has a slightly different vocal treatment.  I remember being rather pleased with myself for getting Rob to sing octave vocals on parts of the “Electric Eye” verses- I can’t think why - it wasn't THAT inventive! That is a great track. 

Jeb: Another great one is “Bloodstone.”

Tom: That one has a great backing track that was recorded in Ibiza, then had to go into hibernation for 6 months, along with the other stuff we did there before we reconvened to finish the album. I particularly like the drum sound. We put the drums in this unfinished stone room; we did that on Point of Entry too.

Jeb: We have to mention Rob’s vocals on the title track.

Tom: Well, yes, Rob's vocal is unbelievable. I will never know how he fitted the words in at that speed and, of course, he was at the height of his powers to achieve those crazy high notes.

Jeb: The Turbo album had those funky guitars... were you for that?  It backfired.

Tom: Ah, those guitar synths! I guess they were made by Roland but I can't remember. I do however remember that they were rather uncontrollable beasts. Can't say I was a big fan of them although they worked pretty well on “Turbo Lover.” I don't think they made many friends among the Priest faithful, but hopefully all is forgiven now. 

Jeb: This one came later but I think the production on “Blood Red Skies” is great.  

Tom: What an EPIC track! Some might say slightly over-produced, but what the hell. I can remember it was a bitch to mix. Ram It Down was made at Puk Studios in Denmark. The pubs in the local town stayed open till 6am but no-one arrived to drink until midnight. I think the rural Danish community turned their days around and went to work totally loaded before leaping from their tractors and into bed for a few hours shut-eye before retuning to the pub to start the cycle again.

It was a great studio experience, but after three months in the Danish winter with hardly a minute of sunshine...ouch!  I lived in Miami at the time and I've never been so glad to get home in my life.

Jeb:  When you mix do you get to be more creative than during recording?

Tom: Obviously, that’s where you start to use your skills.  The thing about Priest was that I never really had to tell them what they ought to be playing; they kind of knew.  It was more a question of capturing the sound.  Part of that was capturing the guitar sound. 

I remember the first time I heard them onstage and I heard the massive sound of the guitars.  Part of it was getting enough low end in the guitars, but still keeping the clarity.  It was to the point to where it would mask the bass. I used to say they were the band with no bass player, as the bass kind of followed all of the parts of the guitar.  It was the fatness of the guitar sound that I liked most about those Priest albums. 

Jeb: As time went on, you left the Priest family.

Tom:  In the late 1980’s, I took myself out of the music business for a while.  When they went into do the Painkiller album I had not been in the studio for about a year.  I was doing other things in the States that, looking back, I shouldn’t have been doing. 

I was trying to be somebody that I wasn’t.  I was trying to be a real estate developer, which was a bad mistake.  Also, the music business was going through some really big changes in the late ‘80’s.  I was finding it a little bit harder to get work.  I thought that I had better try something before it all dried up.  So, they went off and made Painkiller without me, which was probably the right thing to do.  Then, Rob left the band and they made three albums with Ripper Owens. 

Rob came back and they really have not used a producer, as they do it themselves.  On Angel of Retribution they used Roy Z.  There are some really good songs on that.  I really like “Revolution” a lot.  On Rising in the East there is a great version of “Revolution.” We have “Judas Rising’ on Epitaph.  

Jeb:  Will you ever be involved with them again in the studio?

Tom: I don’t know.  They are cracking on with a new album.  I don’t think I will make another studio album with them; I would like too.  I am involved in a few other things, as well.  There is a new ProTools plug-in, which I have been involved in the development of, which has taken about four years.  It converts Stereo to 5.1 Surround Sound.  It just blows people away when they hear it.  At the moment, I want to concentrate on this live thing.  The way the bands are making a living now is by playing live.  People don’t buy product anymore. 

Jeb:  You have to tell me how you got involved in making On through the Night with Def Leppard.

Tom: I was there dad.  They were very young.  Joe [Elliott] might have been 21 and he was the old guy in the band. 

I went to Sheffield and I listened to their songs; they had some really great songs.  We did that album in two weeks before Christmas and two weeks after Christmas.  It was finished by mid-January.  I had about a ten day break and then I went back into the same studio to produce British Steel

They were great guys to work with and they were such a great band.  I went to see them live before I did the album.  They were opening up for AC/DC in Birmingham.  They were fantastic and they were so young and vigorous. 

They were mad Pat Travers fans too.  That guitar player that got kicked out, Pete Willis, even looked like Travers.  Travers was his hero.  They were such good players and they were so tight.  It is a really good album.  They went straight out on tour after the album opening up for bands like AC/DC, Judas Priest and Ted Nugent. 

I was almost moving to America at that stage.  Somebody called me up and said, “I’ve been past three records stores and I’ve seen that Def Leppard album in the front window of each store.” 

You know, it did pretty well, that album, really.  It didn’t do what Pyromania and Hysteria did, but it helped them along.  It was really good fun to make that album.  They were nice guys to work with.  

I suppose I thought I would be getting the next album with them, but they had other ideas.  Of course, they went with Mutt Lange, which didn’t turn out to be such a bad idea.  It worked for them, didn’t it? 

Jeb:   You also produced Headhunter by Krokus.

Tom: That is a good album.  I tell you what; check out the guitar sound on that album.  It is still one of my favorite albums that I’ve ever made.  I think I made it immediately after Screaming for Vengeance.  I remember doing a radio edit for Screaming while I was working with Krokus. 

Rob actually came along and sang some background vocals on that album.  The song is “Ready to Burn.”  Goodness, gracious that is a good album and they were a great band. 

The criticism I had of that band when I went to see them live was that they sounded a lot like AC/DC.  They had a drummer that really made it sound like AC/DC.  When they got their new drummer, who was a guy who I worked with on an album I produced with Whitford/St. Holmes named Steve Pace, he was a more flamboyant drummer and he really took it away from that AC/DC, four on the floor, thing, though there is still some of that too.  Marc Storace was a real character…an insane character.  I haven’t seen them since really. 

Jeb: They just put an album out and it is really good. 

Tom: I would love to see them. 

Jeb: Marc is a friend of mine.  I can give him your email. 

Tom: Would you mind? Be a link to him for me.  I would love to see him.  He was a great character and what a voice.  I go to Switzerland a couple of times a year, as I am very good friends with a family that I know from my time in Italy and they like to go on vacation there.  Please give him my contact information as I would love to hear from him. 

Jeb:  You made a good album with Whitford/St Holmes but it could have been great. 

Tom: Looking back on it, I don’t think we had the material really.  Looking back on it, I think that is, marginally, my fault.  I just thought, “Oh, this is Brad Whitford, everyone is going to buy this.”  I should have gone into it a bit deeper.  Derek is a great singer and a great guitarist, actually. 

Jeb:  Last one: How did you get nicknamed The Colonel? 

Tom: That was Leppard.  They named me that after Colonel Tom Parker.  They started calling me that [laughter].  I was there father figure, I guess. 

When I was in Sheffield, in pre-production, I invited them to dinner.  I said, “Let’s go get a curry tonight.”  There was this sort of stunned silence in the room.  We went to this Indian restaurant and I bought them all dinner.  It wasn’t until later on that I found out that I was the first person in the record industry that had ever taken them out to dinner, anywhere. 

They were still living with their mums and dads [laughter].  They had not been taken out to dinner as a band…even the label had not taken them to dinner.  They were signed by Cliff Bernstein and Peter Mensch and they were in the States.  So, I became the Colonel.