The story of Scarlet begins back in 1984. Guitarist Terry Henderson records three demo songs with the ex-Love Affair-, ex-Widowmaker singer Steve Ellis. Bass and percussion are played by studio musicians. The demo goes to different record companies. Some smaller labels which have bands mainly from the NWoBHM under contract, show interest.
But one problem is that it seems to look like only a project, because there is no steady band or singer. Due to contractual reasons Steve Ellis can neither be engaged for the band, nor for a record contract.
Nevertheless, new songs are still requested and have to be recorded, and because Terry Henderson is the sole initiator behind the project, he`s the one who must first come up with the funding for further studio recordings. Once more with Steve Ellis‘ help, they work on new pieces at his home in Brighton, songs are sung in by him later. As a cost saving measure, Terry Henderson decides this time not to engage professional studio musicians. “It was a disaster”, laughing about it today, “someone recommended two Heavy Metal musicians. But they had never really heard of the fact that bass and percussion should play together, or to be more exact, they didn`t know what makes a good rhythm section.”
The recordings of 1985 are sound-wise, technically in order, but due to the imprecise playing of the rhythm section, they tend to sound rather powerless and unprofessional. With some of the songs and two of the first demo, the search was on for a record company. In 1986 a contract gets landed with a German label and Terry Henderson in London places an announcement in Melody Maker looking for musicians for a steady band.
“It was quite unbelievable that I had Steve Ellis for the demos. Widowmaker’s first album was always one of my favorite records. But it was amazing to see who responded to the announcement. John McCoy of Ian Gillan was amongst them. As an old Gillan fan, I would have had him of course with pleasure as bassist.”
Among the drummers is Andy Beirne (ex-Dirty Tricks, ex-Grand Prix). “Grand Prix never was really my thing, but I liked Dirty Tricks. I already knew their singer, Kenny Stewart and likewise Terry Horbury, but I had never met Andy before.”
(Dirty Tricks, i.e. Andy Beirne (dr), Terry Horbury (b) and John Fraser Binnie (g), had been the first line-up for Ozzy Osbourne´s new band Blizzard of Oz, before he returned to Black Sabbath).
“I visited Andy at his band rehearsal room in London. He listened to the demos and accepted, but insisted however, that I should take on Martin Connolly, the bass player in his band. He explained that they got on great and could play really well together. In the meantime, it was clear to me that a well tight rhythm section is only half the story. That`s why I had to put off John McCoy, unfortunately, but looking back, it was the right decision.”
(Martin Connolly had played with Rick Wakeman, Van Morrison, Nicko McBrain’s Drumclinic, Cheetah, as well as in a fun band with Nicko McBrain and Adrian Smith – both from Iron Maiden).
But the search for a singer turns out to be a problem:
“I could put ninety percent of the tapes I got through the announcement to one side right away. The remaining singers who I met personally didn`t turn out to be really suitable either. Nevertheless, I could still persuade Steve and his manager to join in at least on the recording. And that`s how we came to the arrangement that we were allowed to feature him as a „special guest“ and not as a steady band member, which likewise, didn`t amuse my label very much.”
In January 1987 the band comes to Germany and moves in to an old house with 13 rooms of which 6 are halfways furnished. A rehearsal room is rented in the neighborhood. Two weeks of rehearsing and one week in the studio are planned.
“That winter was so cold that we couldn`t use the rehearsal room. Even the beer bottles in the room turned to ice, froze and burst!”
Without the consent of the landlord and not in line with the original arrangement, a provisionally-furnished rehearsal space is quickly constructed in the basement of the house with a soundproofed window so that neighbours are not disturbed.
“The landlord lived right next door and I had to persuade him that there was no other option left but to rehearse in the house. But he wanted us to agree to an all-inclusive extra cost for heating and electricity. And then the heating didn`t run properly because of a blocked pipe and cold heating oil that wasn`t too fluid! This and the danger also that the water pipes and radiators could freeze, we had to pump fuel directly out of the tanks every hour and pour it by hand into the burner. This caused further tension with the landlord, and it got worse later too when he learned that his daughter was always hanging out with us.”
Finally, after two weeks of chaos and stress, the appointment in the studio becomes very real. On the first day, after a sound check and dinner, Terry Henderson and Andy Beirne decide to have a race outside. Beirne slips and falls on the icy street so hard that fears arise that recordings might have to be postponed for weeks.
“He was bruised and grazed but above all, he was so badly injured that it was virtually impossible to go on. However, he insisted we get hold of some cold spray and try it. It was then that we recorded „Those Days Are Gone“, the track which was the most difficult for him because we had to assume that the bruises would get worse in the days ahead.”
But the real problem just begins! The record company has hired, without announcement, a producer who is introduced in the beginning merely as a sound engineer. After recording the basic tracks, he explains to the label that everything sounds „old-fashioned“, and insists on a more commercial direction with a lot of keyboard sounds – quote ´Bon Jovi´. “That was exactly the sound and music I really hated and wanted to stand up against!”
After a few days, the overdub recordings are broken off and put on ice for a few weeks. “The label stated that it was only willing to continue if I engaged our own sound engineer and at my own expense.”
Hardy Heinlin, later Henderson`s partner is soon to get the role. However, they are only allowed in the studio between 11 o’clock at night and 6 o’clock in the morning because other bands occupy the facilities during the day. The manual mixing desk must be set every night to „Scarlet Sound“ and in the morning again to the other settings just as they had been left in each case. Thus, recording the guitars and mixing the LP takes months. Any reasonable collaboration between label and band can no longer be hoped for.
“The next problem was the cover. I didn`t want a cheap, stereotyped fantasy drawing, but a real, photographed artwork. I had it specially made by a goldsmith who produced customized jewellery for bikers` clubs in Germany.”
Finally, after a long to and fro, the LP with the title „Red Alert“ appears in 1988. The label wants to sell the whole production including contracts to another record company. “Musicians from England and Germany had strongly warned me about those guys. I ended up buying the first release and I bought us out of the contracts too.”
During their collaboration in 1987/88, Terry Henderson and Hardy Heinlin decided to build their own recording studio. This new venture takes up their entire focus and „Red Alert“ lies once more on ice. At this time, Martin Connolly approaches Black Sabbath and works with them in rehearsal sessions and on the pre-production of “Headless Cross“. He is out of it again before the actual real recordings are made.
Then in 1989 things take a surprising turn:
“Through my mates in Saint Vitus, especially Wino, I got in contact with Hellhound Records. We met backstage somewhere in Switzerland. They wanted to bring out „Red Alert“, but only on the condition that we mix the record new. My only thought was ´Thank God´, because this would sure have been one of our conditions too!”
In their own, now finished, Marquee Studios, „Red Alert“ is freshly mixed and appears as LP and CD on Hellhound Records, distributed by SPV.
“Manfred Schütz, the founder and head of SPV at that time, asked me to meet him at a hotel in Munich. A great guy! He totally understood our music and said to me, I should get out of Hellhound and come directly to SPV. For years we had no label and now, so to speak, we had more than we needed.”
In Summer 1990, Henderson and Schütz meet in Hannover at SPV to negotiate a new record contract. It is intended that it should include three LP/CD productions. For Terry Henderson, there are unexpectedly high sums under discussion. The issue of the singer and the timetable stucture are likewise part of the negotiations.
“I pointed out to him that we firstly had to find a new singer, but he said that he trusted me fully in my choice and assured me that the contracts would be drawn up over the next weeks and he would send them on to be signed.”
Terry Henderson flies to London to meet the singer Colin Peel, together with Andy Beirne and Martin Connolly (the ex-Cannes, ex-Outside Edge singer received one of the rare scholarships at the legendary theatrical school, ´Lee Strasberg Institute´ in London. He played alongside Roger Daltrey (The Who) and Chesney Hawks in the film “Buddy’s Song”. Later he went on to Praying Mantis).
They get on with each other straight away and want to begin with writing songs, rehearsing and recording in the studio that same year. SPV assure them again that it will all go as planned and that the contracts will be in the post in a few days. As a result, the flights and studio get booked from October to December. Henderson proceeds to Greece to rest and to work on the new songs.
On his return he is met full on with the anticlimax! The A+R boss of SPV´s sub-label which should bring out the band, gets really awkward. She feels in the conversations and agreements that she is being bowled over. When she hears that Scarlet have a new singer, she demands new demo recordings at the expense of the band so that she can make a clearer decision.
“I called a friend of mine who was working at this time with SPV. He explained to me that I was the victim of a private feud which was going on between Schütz and this woman, and through the Scarlet project, things had actually escalated and reached new dimensions, and that I should just better forget it. After earlier experiences, it was then clear to me that if things start off in such a way, we would be better off not to get mixed up in the whole affair.”
In spite of high debts incurred from the first Scarlet production and the building of the studio, Terry Henderson sticks to the plan and pushes on with recordings.
His own Marquee studios, besides 4 recording studios, contain a large 3-roomed flat in the same complex where the musicians can be lodged. Recording takes place in one of the larger recording rooms.
“The original plan was that we rehearse and work 2 – 3 weeks on the new songs. Then there was the idea of working on an individual song and to record it straight afterwards. In addition, we had to double up with the equipment. That meant two drumkits, two guitar amps etc. If a song got to the point of feeling good, we went into the main recording rooms where everything was set up and ready for recording. Martin and me didn`t wear headphones because there was a really loud P.A. system standing in the main room which I had rented especially for the occassion. Only Andy in the drumroom had to play with headphones on. This way meant that we were getting the maximum ´live´ feeling.”
In the course of the first six months, 1991, the production is mixed.
“Since we had to make some money with the studio we could only use it when there were no bookings. And there were many too!” There was also a growing number of contacts to Indie labels through bookings at Marquee Studios.
“Through collaborations with these labels I got to know the business side of the music industry much better and I was making a lot of new contacts. Besides, since the SPV thing, I had the American Robert Lyng as manager and advisor (author of “Musik und Moneten” (Music and Money) and “Die Praxis in Musikbusiness” (The Way of Music Business). He had also already drawn up contracts with my musicians and with me as their producer. What I learned after numerous private talks with him, and through our collaboration with the labels, was that my first notions of having my own label was a real possibility. However, I would have needed a lot of capital, a sizeable distribution network and also a music publisher.”
A publishing company for Scarlet is soon found with L.M.P. Hamburg, but the founding of an own label is purely still only a thought, and tapes still get sent on to record companies. But this changes in 1992. The legendary US band Blue Cheer books the Marquee studios to mix their LP „Dining With The Sharks“ which was recorded in England. As a result, Hardy Heinlin is engaged as a mixing desk expert in the coming tour with Blue Cheer, Mountain and The Outlaws and Terry Henderson lands the role as tour manager.
“On this tour, plans for founding an own label begin to take shape, because Dickie Peterson (Blue Cheer), Hughie Thomasson (The Outlaws) and Leslie West (Mountain) were really interested in my idea and wanted to come on the label.”
After the European tour of April to May in 1992, the label is founded under the name „New Sceneland Records“. Sales and distribution is taken on by the SPV competitor, Semaphore.
“Unfortunately, I couldn`t get Blue Cheer out of their old contract. Their label threatened me and Dickie Peterson with legal proceedings if we co-operated. We still met though over the years now and then finally, shortly before his death. “
Hughie Thomasson splits the Outlaws and goes to Lynyrd Skynyrd. “I met him with Skynyrd backstage too, but today he is also no longer among us.”
The same goes for the ex-Outlaws and later Skynyrd bassist, Ean Evans.
Mountain’s LPs from the 70`s, as well as new productions, turn out to be too expensive to be able to put them on a small newcomer label. The label releases, besides the Scarlet CD which appears at the end of 1992 under the title „Ship Of Fools“, its own productions and takes on others for sales and distribution.
In 1992, the renowned London music scene photographer Ron Reid is hired for a 3-day-long promotional photo-shoot. Reid is known for his work with John Lennon and as the long-standing, house photographer of the London Marquee club.
“He was the one who turned me into a vegetarian in those 3 days, and I`ve stayed one ever since!”
Back in Germany at the end of 1992, the painstaking work with the label begins. In spite of strong support from Limb Schnoor (L.M.P. Hamburg) and good record reviews, a more or less professional job cannot be realised because of too little funding. On top of that, a studio move and new building are on the cards.
A glimmer of hope comes unexpectedly in June 1993, which looking back, turns out to be Scarlet`s last surge.
“Edel Records just wanted one of our songs „Ship Of Fools“ for their „Best of Metal Hammer – The Ballads“ volume. However, for me the song isn`t ´finished´. It is sound-technically ´overloaded´ and connected only with bad memories. I tried to persuade them to take „Sarah“ instead, but they wanted „Ship“, and who is going to say ´no´ to such a chance when they can feature with Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Gary Moore and more recent bands together on one album!”
Even though Terry Henderson calls the tour with the Outlaws, Blue Cheer and Mountain the best time of his life, the first doubts arise during the tour as to whether he is really cut out for the life of a musician.
At this time, Hardy Heinlin starts programming flight simulation software.
The building of the new studio, which takes one and a half years to complete, and devours gigantic sums of capital, is still kept on. A year after its opening, it gets shut down – it`s over. Heinlin and Henderson, after years of hassle and annoyance with managers, record companies, the everyday dealings with musicians and labels, clients to the studio, they find it hard to claim anything positive from the music business.
“When Hardy’s flight simulation software commercially rocketed, he devoted himself to it completely. It was like a long-desired release to freedom. Unfortunately, with me it lasted one more year until I could let go. Then I teamed up with him.”
The Marquee studios and Scarlet are a history. Terry Henderson devotes himself, as well as to the software company, to the art and crafts trade. But in one of his warehouses, the Revox mastering machine from the old studio days has still been standing there for 15 years.
“A few years ago, I unearthed the thing. It was coated with a thick layer of nicotine and I put in an old Scarlet-master tape. It almost knocked me out! For nearly 20 years now I`ve been accustomed to listening to only digital mixed CDs. In those days, we recorded the mix in parallel; purely digitally and purely analogue at the same time. These analogue tapes had considerably more dynamics and clearly also in the stereo picture, a wider sound, and all in all they were just pleasantly warmer. Because the Revox didn`t run well and made a few clunks and clicks here and there, we digitalized almost all tapes, but only however with 16-bit converters. Today there are of course quite different possibilities. Everything you hear here as a free download comes from this conversion process. Unfortunately, you can hear some of the noise. In „Sarah“ a channel is distorted for a short time and then it clicks in at the final chorus. It was at that point that the dear machine packed in completely!”
Years pass in which Terry Henderson refrains from publishing on the internet. The old legal agreements and possible discussions with record companies and publishing companies, as well as the some of the fears raised by his former co-musicians could have something to do with preventing him from doing it.
Meanwhile he sees things with calm and composure: “These days you can get everything on YouTube and there are many sites, even somewhere far away in Russia, where you can download everything against payment. Nobody from the early days has reacted to it yet and I can be glad about that. But it makes more sense to me though, to have your own informative site, a good choice in songs, and with a better sound. And, above all, everything as a free download. The commercial side of music doesn`t interest me any more. What`s on my mind today can be read at www.vehonis.de. Perhaps there are some rock fans who want to support me with this project.”