Band history

Before Big Chill, there were, of course, former bands containing one or more Big Chill members.

Trailblazer - mid 1981Newport advertiser, mid 1981
Trailblazer, pictured in rehearsal, are Andrew Bassett, Stuart Wright, Mark Ellis, George Williams and Andrew Shepherd.
Rock band Trailblazer played their first concert at Lilleshall Youth Centre on Friday at a disco attended by over 100 fellow members of the Lilleshall village youth club. Initially formed in the summer of 1980 the band has now stabilised its line-up which consists of Adams' Grammar School pupils Stuart Wright (16), Andrew Shepherd (17), George Williams (16) and Andrew Bassett (16), all from Newport and singer Mark Ellis (17) who works -as a computer operator for a Telford firm. "We practise at school when we can or in one of our houses - if they can take the noise," said guitarist Andrew Bassett. "We were invited to play at the disco a few weeks ago and it went very well - thanks to Geoff Ward and Mark Pragnall, who have given us a lot of help."

Trailblazer - mid 1981Shropshire Star, mid 1982
Beacon Radio debut for rock band fivesome.
Warrior (pictured from left) are Mark Ellis, Andy Sheppard, Stuart Wright, Andrew Bassett and Andy Farrant.
Newport rock band, Warrior, appeared on Beacon Radio's 19.22 Show last night (Thursday).
Formerly Childblazer, the new line-up comprises Andrew Bassett of Highfields, Church Aston, Stuart Wright of Granville Avenue, Andy Sheppard of Wrekin Avenue, Mark Ellis of the Outwoods, and Andy Farrant of Granville Avenue.
Their radio debut came about after sending in several demo tapes to Alan Sherwin at Beacon. "We sent in loads of tapes, they listened to them and eventually decided to let us go in and record a session of three songs,'' explained guitarist Andrew Bassett, earlier this week. "We enjoyed the recording experience, but I'm not sure what will happen after the broadcast," he continued.
"Obviously, we would like a record deal, but we'll have to wait and see."
The band, who face yet another line-up change in September, following the departure of bassist Andy Sheppard and second guitarist Andy Farrant, will be helping to raise money for the town's Adams' Grammar School at a special concert on July 10.
They will be appearing with three other local bands, Remain, The Esoterics and Tangier.

Newport Advertiser, mid 1982
A Newport band, mostly made up of sixth formers from Adams Grammar School, have played on a local radio show, and are now set to play in a rock concert at the school on July 10.
The band Warrior appeared on Allan Sherwin's 1922 show last week, on Beacon Radio, and is hoping this could be the key to their further progress.
Warrior has been together in its present line up for six months. Members are Stu Wright (17), drummer; Andy Bassett (17), lead guitar; and Andy Farrant (17), second guitar — all from Newport - Mark Ellis (18), from Outwoods, near Great Chat-well, who is the singer and works for a computer firm in Telford and Andy Sheppard (18), lead guitar, from Newport. All but Mark are sixth formers at Adams Grammar.
In their concert there they will play with three other bands — Remains, the Esoterics and Tangier.

Warrior 6/1/84Newport Advertiser 6th June 1984
Woodcote gig for Newport's Warriors
Newport rock band Warrior will perform a reunion gig at Woodcote Hall tonight (Friday), treating local fans to an hour of their style of music.
Andrew Bassett (Church Aston), Stuart Wright (Newport), Roy McLeod and Mark Ellis (The Outwoods) — the local lads who form Warrior — are studying at colleges throughout the country, but this holiday they decided to get together for a New Year concert.
The band, founded under the name Trailblazer in 1981, has played at many local venues including Adams' Grammar School and Lilleshall Youth Club and in 1982, it was featured on a Beacon Radio youth programme.
The name has changed and faces have come and Gone, but Andrew and Stuart have been with the band right from its earliest days.
Their eyes are fixed on careers in the notoriously tough music world, but their feet are firmly on the ground. If they don't make it, they want something to fall back on.
Stuart said: "We are going to get our qualifications, then have a go at professional music."
Andrew and Roy are both at Wolverhampton Polytechnic, Andrew studying biology and Roy studying civil engineering. Stuart is doing computer studies at Sunderland Polytechnic and Mark is doing communications studies at a West Bromwich college.
Their special guest will be Max, of another local group called Demon Axe.

Lynchpin August 1984Newport Advertiser August 1984
A Newport-based rock band is on the road again with a new name and a few new faces.

Lynchpyn — formerly known as Warrior — will be playing at Newport Cricket'Club next Friday and at Market Drayton Parish Rooms on Friday, August 31.

The band is made up of five 19 and 20-year-old musicians. They are Stuart Wright and Roy McLeod, both of Newport, Andrew Bassett of Church Aston, Julian Kilgallon of Trench and Kez Taylor, of Dawley.

Stuart, Roy and Andrew are all university and polytechnic students, while Julian and Kez have already embarked on careers.

The lads are anxious to carve out stable careers before they dice with futures in the tough world of rock music. "At the moment, it's just fun," said Andrew. But the lads are fully committed to the future of the band and rehearse regularly in a local room, found for them by Newport Town Mayor, Mrs Hazel Robinson. They are grateful for her help and are now anxious to play as many venues as possible to gain experience. Anyone who would like to know more should contact Andrew on Newport ******* for charity gigs, Lynchpyn is prepared to play for expenses only. "In a couple of years' time, when we have all qualified, we will try it full tune," said Andrew, "But unless we try, we will never know."

Cincinatti 1987Kerrang (Shrapnel section), November 14th 1987
CINCINATTI play dates at Steffield Northern General Hospital November 11 (with Kalamazoo, Sheffield University December 2.

The band come from Sheffield and are pictured above (from left): Andy Bassett (guitar/backing vocals), Roy McLeod (bass/lead vocals), Stuart Wright (drums/backing vocals) and John Grainger (guitar/backing vocals). They have just completed work on a demo titled 'Dark Side', which features the following tracks: 'Dancing Like A Cat', 'Answers' and 'The Dark Side Of Your Smile'.

For further information on the band. write to: Roy McLeod, Flat *, ** Beech Hill Rd., Sheffield 10.

Metal Hammer, September 1992

Big Chill 1992

Big Chill, an exciting, fresh young band with huge potential, have won our blockbusting Young, Free & Single contest!

The runners up were USI, Andy Murray, No Mercy, Danger and Exile.

But it was Big Chill, from Sheffield, the city that gave the world Def Leppard, who most impressed our judges with their hard edged, melodic and professional sound.

The four piece, including Roy McLeod (lead vocals and bass), Jon Grainger (lead guitar, vocals), Andy Bassett (lead guitar and keyboards), and Stu Wright (drums, vocals) entered the contest launched last August by Metal Hammer together with leading metal 'n' rock label Music For Nations.

"We are a melodic rock band - getting heavier!" Jon Grainger, Big Chill.

Metal HammerBig Chill scored with a demo tape that featured two strong songs, 'Run To Survive', and Halfway To Heaven', Now they have won a record deal, free recording time, radio airplay, a track on Metal Hammer's House Of Hammer cassette series, and an appearance on the Metal Hammer Video Magazine! They will also be given radio and TV promotion by Solid Promotion (whose clients include Steve Vai and Judas Priest), Bands from all over the country flocked to enter the contest which was run in conjunction with 14 top hard rock radio stations, to find a great new British band. Each station decided on three bands chosen from the demo tapes they received, and forwarded these for a final decision by a panel of judges.

The judges were Harry Doherty (Group Editor in Chief Rock Team), Martin Hooker (managing director, MFN), and Tom Russell (Metal Hammer Video Magazine).

Music For NationsThe top prize is a record deal with Music For Nations, together with three days free recording time in a residential studio and airplay on all the participating radio rock shows.

Big Chill showed professionalism at all levels, from production to performance, down to the colour graphics on their cassette inlay and band logo design. But it was their imaginative arrangements, notably on the ode to big city life 'Run To Survive' with its wailing sirens and rainfall effects that made the band's efforts a particular pleasure to listen to. They formed in late 1987 when they were first called Cincinnati and by 1989 were touring major rock venues, supporting lan Gillan and Wolfsbane. In early 1990 they changed their name to Big Chill and recorded a seven track demo which has sold well throughout Yorkshire. Says guitarist Jon Grainger:

"We were ecstatic when we . heard we'd won! We started the band as Cincinnati and got a good following around Sheffield and the Midlands, then we ran out of money. Unless you are a name band, you just can't get gigs. We decided to play working men's clubs so we could finance Big Chill. We saved a lot of money to pay for recording sessions and we've sold over 800 copies of our cassette album 'Run To Survive'."

Although they had to play cover versions as Cincinnati, they have earned valuable experience playing to tough audiences. They also hire out halls and play their own Big Chill gigs. "We always pack 'em out," says Jon.

The band reproduce its more complex recordings live by using a Simmons drum kit and a sampling machine for the special effects.

"We all sing and do all the backing vocals live. We have also done our own videos of 'Run To Survive' and 'Skin Deep' which were made by Jon Wilford the producer who made the Def leppard TV documentary 'Rock Of Ages'. Jon is a personal friend of ours and he came and saw the band a few times. He shot 'Run To Survive' in black and white, all mean and moody, and we did 'Skin Deep' in colour. Those tracks were recorded a year ago and we have got a load of new stuff we haven't had enough money to record in a studio. Winning the competition will really help! We've got songs we consider to be far superior to the winning tracks. We are a melodic rock band, but our new stuff is getting heavier, and more guitar orientated. We have our own individual sound and if it was marketed properly we could get into the charts and sell a lot of records. We just need a break. We can compete with the best of 'em."

Updated 22nd January 2000

Big Chill 1992Sheffield Star, 12th September 1992
Contest win proves big break for patient band
Rock success coming nicely to the boil at last for Big Chill
By David Dunn
THINGS are hotting up at last for Sheffield rockers Big Chill.
After five years reaching for success, the four boys from Broomhill are preparing to release their debut album on the back of winning a top new act contest.
Rock label Music For Nations offered the chance to record a single as the prize, but talent scouts were so knocked out with what they heard they told the band to do a whole album.
Now the band hopes for the same massive success as another city group who used to drink in their local the South Seas — Def Leppard.
Despite waiting so long to put something on to vinyl, vocalist and bassist Roy McLeod says the album Halfway To Heaven took just three weeks to record.
"It would be fair to say that we have paid our dues in patience — we must have played close on 500 gigs around the country," he said.
"The competition was run by rock magazine Metal Hammer and the label to find the best unsigned British rock band — that's a nice title to win."
Cover photos for the record, released on September 28, were shot in Rivelin, Ladybower and Tinsley.
Big Chill — who grabbed the limelight on the ITV Telethon when they played Queen's We Are The Champions with Leeds United — share the Music For Nations label with Doncaster rocker John Parr.
If you cannot wait for the LP then you can catch them playing tracks from it on Wednesday at Intake Sports and Social Club, Mansfield Road, Sheffield.

Updated 25th January 2010

After uploading some old VHS videos to YouTube, I wanted to close off the history of the band. In late 1992 I recall having a conversation with the guys and one of them, Andy, I think, said in a very matter of fact way that we weren't going to make it.This hit me like a hammer and soon after, with financial pressures mounting (I had nowhere to live and no money for a rental deposit), I was forced into leaving Sheffield for good, moving back in with my parents in Telford. My CV reads that the band split in December 1992, which is probably around when we played our last gig. Big Chill and our dreams of being professional musicians died unceremoniously in 1992.

Aside from Martin Sommers' wedding August 10th 1996 (when Big Chill performed for the last time), I have never played drums with a band again. Though I rarely see them more than once or twice a year, Andy, Roy and John are, and will always be my closest friends. The memories of our time in Cincinatti and then Big Chill remain some of my fondest and though with the benefit of hindsight, I'd certainly do some things differently, I have absolutely no regrets about going 'professional' and 'having a go' with the band.

Stuart Wright, 2010.