Savage Master is a great example of a band that I very well could have missed had I even blinked just once. Flying way below the radar, the band was brought to my attention when they were tapped as the opening act for Christian Mistress’ 2015 North American tour. I watch a few YouTube clips and kind of was ready to laugh them off until I saw them live for myself. The power, the energy, and the spirits of NWOBHM bands of old possessed this band they made me fan instantly.
This year, Savage Master will release their second album, With Whips and Chains. These days, Savage Master is starting to become a bigger blip on the radar as word of mouth spreads about this Louisville based quintet. I recently had the opportunity to speak with lead vocalist Stacey Savage who was as sweet and kind as can be (unlike her prowling stage presence). We talked about the band’s plans for 2016, the influences of the band, and just what it was that inspired their visual image.
Hey there Stacey. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview! I really appreciate.
Absolutely. No problem at all, Don.
Savage Master recently did a show supporting Grim Reaper. I have to ask how that was?
Oh it was great. We played in Indianapolis with them and then we played in Louisville where we’re from. Both shows were just awesome. It was a really good time. The people were really into it and I was just having a great time watching Grim Reaper play. They sounded great and they’re really nice guys. When we played here in Louisville, Steve actually asked me to come up on stage and sing “See You In Hell” with them. That was really, really awesome. It was amazing.
So what was it like sharing the stage with a NWOBHM legend that is such an inspiration to you?
It was just amazing and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I just kept replaying it in my head and watching the video of it. I was just really blown away. I would’ve never expected that.
I was so psyched when I heard the big news about Savage Master teaming up with Holy Grail to do some dates. I did the most insane happy dance you have ever seen.
[laughs] That’s awesome. I can’t wait for that tour. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Right now we’re getting ready to go over to Europe first so right now we’ve got a lot on our plate before we get to that tour. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
This is Savage Master’s first European tour. What are you looking forward to going into this tour?
I’m really looking forward to playing Keep It True Festival. People are constantly telling me that the metal scene is much stronger in Europe, especially in Germany. We’re actually playing a few shows in Germany after Keep It True so I’m really looking forward to seeing the fans there. I just hear that every there is so passionate and that they have a good time. I can’t wait to see the scene there. Of course I want to eat the food and see the landscapes while I’m there.
Is there any particular cuisine that you are looking forward to indulging in?
I’m really not sure yet. I guess I’m just going to go and see what presents itself.
Yeah, just don’t be one of those “I’m eating at a McDonald’s in Germany” kind of person.
[laughs] Oh no. I couldn’t do it. I try not to even eat that here. Sometimes when you’re on the road you get desperate but when we’re in Germany, I’m not going to be eating at McDonald’s [laughs].
I first heard of you guys on the Christian Mistress tour last year. Did that tour open up some doors to bring you in some new fans?
Yeah, I think it did. Probably a lot of people had a similar experience to what you had. Maybe they came to see Christian Mistress or High Spirits and didn’t know about us because we’re a younger band. Hopefully they liked us and had the same kind or reaction that you had.
One of the things I love about Savage Master is that much like bands such as Christian Mistress, Electric Citizen, and say Blood Ceremony, you have managed to dodge the “female fronted metal” genre tag. Does that kind of drive you nuts when you see bands billing themselves as that or being called that?
Well, I don’t know. It’s kind of complicated [laughs]. Sometimes I feel like when I’m listening to music I’m in the mood to hear a female fronted metal band but at the same time, I don’t want to go out and present myself that way because for me, I feel like, I just want to be a musician. I don’t necessarily feel like I have to fit some kind of certain genre tag. I feel like people mean well by it but at the same time, maybe it can be limiting. I don’t want to be told, “Hey, you’re good for a female fronted band.” I’d rather be told that this is a good band [laughs]. I hope that people are seeing it more open mindedly.
Do you feel that bands like you guys are striving to show that there is no need for that kind of a tag and that metal is just metal no matter what?
Yeah, I think in a way. I definitely want to support other female fronted bands but at the same time, just being a good band is enough.
You guys are from, of all places, Louisville, KY. That’s the last place I think of when I think of metal. How hard is it being a metal band in Kentucky?
[laughs] Well, we’re lucky. Everyone here really supports us. We do well whenever we play here. We always have a packed show but I think that we want the scene to get better here. It is growing though. I want more bands to pop up and I want the scene to grow stronger and become a part of the bigger scene. Here, you kind of have to like everything because there’s just much of any one style of metal here.
Where did the visual concept for Savage Master come from?
We basically got it from the Mario Bava film Black Sunday where Barbara Steele plays this witch who has control over all of these executioners. I’m kind of like her character and I control my henchmen and make them play this music [laughs]. That’s where we got that idea from.
What I loved about the visual aspect of the band is that even in a small venue it has an impact. Have you guys ever thought of expanding upon it to make the show a bit bigger?
Oh we definitely have. We always want to get bigger and better and we want to put on a bigger show. We hope that we can gather the resources to do that in the future. We just want to keep it getting bigger.
I could totally see you guys expanding on the live show as it already has this kind of Alice Cooper element to it already.
Yeah, sometimes I do have all these ideas of different things to do with it but it’s kind of a matter of making it happen and having a stage big enough to do it [laughs]. Sometimes venues won’t even let you use a fog machine so you just have to work with it.
For a band that has this kind of “gimmick” or theme, the songs and the performances are so strong on their own. Have you ever thought of doing shows without the costumes or do you just plan to keep growing on the image?
Nah, we definitely plan to keep it up. I guess we’re kind of an older school of thought where we like a lot of classic metal bands where it used to be about the music and the show. They used to be hand in hand. At some point, people just stopped doing the visual element and then it got to a point where the visual element is looked at with skepticism. I feel like back in the 70’s and 80’s, it was like they were putting on a gimmick, it was like, they were putting on a show and the music still had to be good. That’s how I feel about it. The music, first of all, has to be good but we want to put on a show too. We want the full package. We want things to go back to when it was a show and the music was great too.
The new album, With Whips and Chains is such a great album. Now that you’ve had some time to sit with it, are you happy with it or are there things you wish you would’ve done differently?
I’m still really happy with it. I think it’s definitely a progression from our first album, Mask of the Devil. I think we got the right line up and I feel like the songs are more fun to sing and perform. I still really like it a lot. It’s really strange when you record and album and you hear your own voice. I think, at first, you’re happy about what you did but there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to get near it [laughs]. Like, the sound of your own voice can be terrifying but you get used to it in time and then you can actually listen to it more for what it is from an outside perspective.
Savage Master is about to hit the road in support of “With Whips and Chains.” What songs are you most looking forward to playing live off of the new album.
We’ve played a few shows now with the new material but I really like, “Looking For a Sacrifice.” That’s a really fun one to play. That’s one the crowd gets into. “Ready to Sin” is another really fun one and the title track.
I’d really love to hear “The Path of the Necromancer.” That’s a great song.
I need to get my tambourine skills down before we can do that one live [laughs].
Hell, I’ll just get up there and play tambourine for you. Maybe I can be a guest henchman!
[laughs] OK. We’ll see what we can do.
I hear a lot of the classic NWOBHM influences in Savage Master like Venom and especially Grim Reaper. Who else do you credit as some of your biggest influences?
Well, a lot of the NWOBHM bands for sure but also bands like W.A.S.P, Piledriver, I really love Acid, Warlock. We are always listening to music and we just keep getting more and more influences.
Aside from the European tour and the US run with Holy Grail, is there anything else going on in 2016 that you’re really excited about?
We’re going to do some more touring after the Holy Grail tour. We just haven’t got the dates lined up quite yet. I’m just excited to go out, live on the road, and pretty much play shows every day. I love to see new places and meet fans. I’d really much rather be doing that than sitting at home [laughs].
How hard is it to be the only female trapped inside of a van with a bunch of sweaty, gross guys? How do you keep your sanity?
[laughs] Well, luckily we all pretty much have the same mentality. We joke around like 13 year old boys. I think that when you’re in the van for more than a few hours you just start to lose your mind anyways. We get along really well. We just joke around a lot and listen to music.
Stacey, what was it that got you in doing metal music in the first place?
Well, I grew up listening to classic rock because my parents listened to it. When I was in high school, a friend of mine let me borrow some CDs. I always wanted to sing and I just kind of latched on it and knew that it was what I wanted to do with my life.
What was the first band you were ever in?
This is actually my first band [laughs]. I never did it before this.
If Savage Master could tour with any band, who would it be and why?
Oh man [laughs]. I think Judas Priest would be the ultimate. I mean, you just can’t beat Halford.
If you could do a duet with any metal singer alive or dead, who would it be?
[laughs] I think I’ve got to stick with Rob Halford on this one. That Judas Priest material, I listen to and sing along with that so much. It’s just some of my favorite stuff. I would love to sing with him. It would be amazing. I’d probably want to do some of the earlier material. Stuff like “Heroes End.” I also like some of their early ballads. “Dreamer Deceiver” would be really powerful and fun to do.
What is your favorite metal album of all time?
Oh gosh [laughs]. I don’t know that I can pick just one but right now I’d have to say Rainbow Rising. I love that album.
What is the most un-metal thing about you?
Well, I like a lot of 50’s and 60’s music.
When you’re listening to the radio or your albums, what song do you just have to sing along with no matter how badly off key you are?
A lot of times when we’re on tour, we’re listening to the radio on the road. I’m supposed to be saving my voice for the shows but it’s really hard not to sing. I’m actually a big fan of Black Oak Arkansas and that’s probably something my band mates don’t like to hear me singing along with [laughs].
I want you to finish this sentence: If I wasn’t a musician, I would be ___________.
I think I’d be an artist. I’d spend a lot more time focusing on drawing and painting. I really love doing that.
Finally, Stacey, is there anything you’d like to send out to the fans and readers who are reading this?
Yeah, I just want to say that I look forward to meeting as many fans as possible on the road and stay true to what you want to do.
Stacey, thank you so much for doing this interview. It was great to talk to you!
Thank you, Don. No problem at all.
For more on Savage Master, head on over to https://www.facebook.com/savagemaster666