'Fast' Eddie Clarke talks Fastway's new album

Legendary guitarist revives classic metal band 
By Peter Lindblad
The Fastway lineup of 2012
Way back in 1990, Fastway released the abysmal Bad Bad Girls, the overly slick follow-up to the similarly over-produced On Target. For more than 20 years, “Fast” Eddie Clarke – clean and sober for years now after protracted and scary battles with drug and alcohol addictions – has longed to redeem the bluesy metal band he founded with UFO bassist Pete Way in 1982 after getting booted out of Motorhead. And he’s finally done it.
Eat Dog Eat, released in April, is a rousing reminder of just how tight and tough Fastway was when they recorded their screaming fireball of a self-titled debut, the rugged, energetic 1983 classic Fastway. Built with powerful, rock-solid guitar riffs and fluid, economical soloing from Clarke, plus singer Toby Jepson’s expansive howl and Matt E.’s blue-collar drumming, Eat Dog Eat is the album Fastway should have made in the ‘80s. Deeply spiritual in spots, with a surprisingly beautiful acoustic-guitar piece – don’t worry, it eventually turns electric and heavy – that comes out of nowhere, Dog Eat Dog is the early contender for comeback album of the year. Clarke discussed the record and his colorful past in a recent interview.
Listening to the new album, Fastway sounds as good as ever these days.
“Fast” Eddie Clarke: Yeah, I’m really chuffed with it. I must admit I think it’s turned out much better than I at first anticipated. We were trying to get that old-fashioned … not old-fashioned, but that old style feel to it, and it seems to have worked out. We seem to have managed it. And it was by accident, really, because we didn’t actually plan it, but that’s what we wanted. And it just seemed to happen, you know. I was using exactly the same set-up I had 25 years ago, you know, 30 years ago. I was using the same amp, the same guitar, and I’m the same sort of person, just a bit older. So I think that’s the mainstay of it that has kept it kind of honest, and then, of course, Toby comes over the top. He’s done a real good job of it I think.
He’s a really good singer, really diverse and really fits the material well.
Clarke: Yeah, well, we lumped it all together. It was kind of like one of those things where we started writing the record, right, and I mean we sat here in this little studio down in the garden here, and we sat down there … I think we had about three sessions down there. We were just so honest. It was one of those things where you just pick up the guitar and you say, “Oh, how about this one?” And he says, “Yeah, that’s great man.” And it was just one after another. And they just kept coming out. I haven’t had that since the first Fastway album or the Overkill and Bomber albums with Motorhead. You know, that thing where you’ve got so much inside you that it just falls out, you know.
I guess that’s what every musician hopes to feel.
Clarke: Oh, you dream of it. You do, because you think of things like … well, Ace of Spades is okay, but once we got to Iron Fist, we were struggling, you know, with Motorhead. And then, unfortunately, with Fastway, I mean, once we got to the second record, we were struggling. You know, I mean we got away with the second record, although I thought the production lacked on All Fired Up. Some of the songs could have been, should have been better; they should have been stronger, to match up with the first record. And of course, by the time we got to the third one, we were basket cases. The producer had taken over and the record company put strings on it. Oh, it was just dreadful that third Fastway album. I mean, I’m still paying for it (laughs).
You’ve got to go with your gut.
Clarke: Right, but we did have a bit of luck there. We followed it up with Trick or Treat, so that was kind of good, because we went back to our roots more or less. And so, I sort of thought we were coming back together on that one, but the third album was very strange – very strange record all around because we had Terry Manning from the Eliminator album, a top engineer. And he had all these ideas. He wanted to be like Mutt Lange as a record producer. So he put Fairlight drums on it, computer drums, and it all got a bit over the top. And of course, by then, it was out of my hands. Because the second record didn’t do too well, they kind of wrestled the reins from me. Another time, I was kind of bungled all then with the record company and the management having their say. All they care about is money. Well, you know what they’re like? They’re used to business. They want success at any cost, where my motto has always been: if you get success, great, but you must stick to your guns. So, it did f**k me up a bit, and that’s when I really started drinking heavily. I was drinking heavily before, but then I really started drinking heavily (laughs).
Tell me about “Leave the Light On.”
Clarke: We had one in the bag, which was “Leave the Light On,” which was brilliant. We didn’t have any vocals for it, we didn’t have any lead parts, but we just had the backing track, which was the riff and everything. And we played it, and we said, “That’s not bad, is it?” So we stuck a vocal on it. I did some guitar parts and we livened it up, and it turned out to be one of the best tracks on the album. Yeah, but the one we chose, we said, “Which one should we leave off? Let’s leave that one off.” Funny thing is, the first Fastway album, if we’d had 11 songs, the one we would have left off would have been … “Say What You Will.” Yeah, can you believe that?
“Leave the Light On” really sounds like classic Fastway.
The nice thing about that was, when Toby did the vocal, I said, “Oh, this is really starting to sound great.” And then I put the guitars on it, it was like, “Oh, wow!” It was one of those. It was like (snaps fingers three times) … a revelation, because we went up to the studio for just a couple of days to do the mixing and put the guitars and vocals on. It was one of those where you’re doing it, and you’re thinking, “I think we’ve got a real big one here.” (laughs) It’s was just, “Whoa, we really have something here.” And it’s all overshadowed, because of course, the other ten tracks by then had become old hat, because we’d listened to them for 12 months … well, it was about eight months actually. But it took so long to get a record deal. It’s tough out there, isn’t it?
Talk about a couple other tracks on the new record: “Deliver Me” and I think “Dead and Gone” is a different one for you.
Well, “Deliver Me” was kind of the first one out of the bag. We’d come up with that riff and we were sitting there, and I said to the other two, “I’ve got this riff, and I kind of see it a bit like this,” and I started playing it, and so … because we were in the studio, we put the drums down … using that program you get, we put a little drum thing together and stuck it down. And [Toby] was so taken with it, he said, “Man, I’ve got to sing on this.” So, he started singing almost immediately. Before we knew it, in a couple of hours, we had a really good sounding, sort of Zeppelin-esque riff going on. Brilliant, you know? And I think that was one of the sort of catalysts for the rest of the stuff, because you get one groove on you and it inspires you to do more, you know, and dig a bit deeper. But then, after we’d got all that, Toby had this idea. He said, “I’ve got this sort of acoustic thing I’ve been mulling around. He said, ‘I’ve called it ‘Dead and Gone’ for now.” And I said, “Well go on. Let’s have a listen.” Well, he played it, and actually, I said, “I love it.” It’s nice and simple. It’s acoustic. I’ve never had acoustic. I said, “As long as we put something on the other end of it …” (laughs) We can’t have an acoustic track on the album because I don’t like acoustic … well, I’ve never had an acoustic track on a “Fast” Eddie album. Can you imagine Motorhead … although, I think Motorhead did do an acoustic blues on one of their more recent albums. We always said acoustic songs and love songs are a definite no-no. And so we developed the idea of two verses and got the choruses sorted out. Then, I said look, why don’t we save it up there, and then we’ll go into this. And I just went straight into this riff, and whack! That’ll do. And we just built it from there, and it was a bit like “Say You Will” [from the first Fastway album] really because we needed something for the heavy bit. And for me, as you say, it’s an unusual track because it’s a bit of a departure, but it’s a big departure from what I’ve ever done before that. So, it checks the box for me. The list is getting about this big (laughs). I should stop before I start. (laughs)
Looking back on the album, what is it you like most about it?
I like the ease with which it came together and the enjoyment. We really didn’t have any real stress involved. It was a real enjoyable experience, and of course, I haven’t been in the studio for 20 years.


  1. AnonymousJune 18, 2012

    A great album. It stands up with the first Fastway and also All Fired Up (which I think is also a very good album). Great to hear Eddie finally sounding like Eddie! Welcome back!!

  2. Couldn't agree more, Anonymous. I hope they'll come to America on tour.