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105 posts
Reg: 11/9-10
Posted: 2011-04-11 23:49
Hello... Steve Watts here ...

I don't remember what was more shocking...hearing of the untimely death of Demon composer and guitarist Mal Spooner, or the sight of the huge Barbie-pink penis I had just finished painting on my friend Lynn's living-room wall.

I was temporarily staying at Lynn's flat after spending a few weeks crashing out on Steve Parry-Thomas' settee. I'd finally left home after another gruelling fight with my Dad and this time, the split lip I'd received after being punched in the mouth had finally sent me packing. In return for board and lodgings, I'd agreed to decorate Lynn's flat (the shocking pink was her idea...though I have to confess, the phallus was mine, and my idea of a joke - albeit, a rather adolescent one: it also took her weeks of sanding to finally get rid of it! Sorry Lynn!).

So...I'm decorating for my lodgings in between the recording sessions of the new Demon album "British Standard Approved", when Steve P.T and Mark Grady turn up at Lynn's flat to tell me the bad news. The last thing I remember is sticking a hastily scrawled note to the still-wet tip of this enormous pink phallus and rushing off to Leek to be with Dave Hill and Mal's family.

I'd always felt very close to Mal. I felt a bond between us I didn't feel with other members of the band regardless of our nineteen year age gap. Perhaps it was purely creative, or perhaps I reminded Mal of himself in an earlier age; or perhaps he represented the older brother or father figure I sorely needed, I don't know, but both he and his wife Sue (along with Dave and family), accepted me into their respective houses. Sitting in Sues' living room on the day of the funeral (she even had the grace to offer me a couch to sleep on for the night to which I kindly refused) was a sobering experience.

That night I went back home and sat just staring at the walls for days...better the devil you know eh?

Mal had been battling with illness for a long time, and by the time I joined the band, when he emptied his pockets it often looked like some pharmaceutical company was having a clear-out.

However, we carried on with the recording of BSA regardless.

Originally in two parts, 'Prelude: 1st Class' and 'Re-Entry: 2nd Class', the opening track of the album was originally entirely instrumental except for accompanying scripted dialogue and sound effects, which were meant to represent the passengers aboard the Titanic. The dialogue in fact contained actual quotes heard on deck when the ship hit the iceberg and was slowly sinking, as recollected by survivors of the catastrophe.

This though is where any similarity ends (unless of course you wish to use Atlantic Records dropping us from their label after they heard the hastily recorded demo we recorded and sent to them as an analogy).

The dialogue recording was hilarious. Even with the serious subject matter it was impossible to keep a straight face. Take after take quickly degenerated into farce until Dave had to give up any hope of us sticking to the original script. On the original vinyl recording, Gavin Sutherland of 'Sutherland Brothers and Quiver' fame (we recorded the demo for Atlantic in their home studio), can clearly be heard asking me if I'd like "another boy vicar ?" and later states, "fuck me vicar!" to which I cheekily reply, "What again!"

At this point you can hear the sound of Mal, John Wright and the rest of us breaking down in hysterics.

The final tour-de-force was the moment when Gavin and Mal got their scripted lines completely mixed-up...

"Oh dear - I've left ma' wife in the cabin"...

"I've left me wife"...

"I've left me spectacles!"...

It's also Mal who can be heard quoting "We're dressed for the occasion - we'll go down like gentlemen" in his best posh English accent, just before the white-noise "whoosh" leads into 'Re-Entry' and John and Gavin's superb triplet rhythm section.

Originally with no vocals, Dave and Mal hastily composed new lyrics and vocal lines over one evening for 'Re-entry', the general consensus being, that the opening of the album was far too long as an instrumental. The vocals were added in the next recording session, the whole track being eventually re-named 'First Class'. The sinister, "A first class ticket to the other side" vocal section in it's poly-rhythmic 3/4//4/4 groove is one of my favourites on any Demon recording and a brilliant testimony to both Dave and Mal's writing skills.

The recording session for the second BSA song "Cold In The Air", will haunt me forever. Originally composed for guitar, it was later decided that we should take a different approach and I should arrange it pretty much entirely for synthesizers.

Until re-listening to British Standard Approved recently, I hadn't fully appreciated just how dominated the album is by keyboards, the guitars when used, often taking a decidedly, back-seat position. Even the bass-guitar is very often replaced by synthesizers. Over-all, I think this gives the album a weird feeling of space and ethereality... a strange timelessness that is difficult to pin-down, regardless of some of the now dated, often clichéd 1980's keyboard sounds. It certainly isn't the same band that produced "The Plague", and it's a million miles away from the demonic-rock of the first two albums.

In fact it was at this stage, during BSA's recording, that a huge debate began with regards to changing the bands name. I have to say that I was all for it. In these post-modern times, I don't think the name "Demon" would really matter - in fact the irony would probably be well accepted... but back in 1984, this was a matter of grave concern (pun intended); a band called Demon with a heavy-metal background was expected to be a heavy-metal band, and woe betide you otherwise. Unlike now, back then I'm afraid to say, I was rather embarrassed by the name, considering it something of a hindrance and a throw-back to the past.

Anyway...the past won out.

Apart from the obvious challenges a new band name would have presented, "Cold In The Air" was a real personal challenge. Not only did I have to re-arrange and transpose Mal's guitar part, but it was also my first solo synthesizer arrangement for Demon.

So...I'm sitting in Stockport's Strawberry Recording Studio's main control room with Dave Hill (and the not too enthusiastic and slightly ominous recording engineer Chris Nagle), just about to start the session, when Dave suddenly receives an emergency telephone call saying that Mal has been rushed into hospital.

I was left alone, with a battery of keyboards, including my brand-spanking new Yamaha DX7 and Stockport's answer to the Grim Reaper, to replace Mal's guitar and re-arrange and record the track: a very strange experience given the circumstances.

A few days later - Mal was dead.

I spent a huge amount of time working on British Standard Approved: programming, composing, arranging all the keyboard parts, as well as often arranging additional band sections. It was quite an experience, and apart from perhaps "Taking The World By Storm", BSA remains my favourite Demon album, indeed perhaps one my favourite albums of all time.

Dave and Mal's writing and the bands performances are superb, the lyrics wonderfully poignant, and the concept thought - provoking and philosophically rich in context. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey mixed with the current political context and your about half - way there. This particular song with its mixture of bleak sadness and tentative hope is a particularly emotional roller-coaster ride for me as frankly is the entire album.

I still wish to this day that this work could have been appreciated by Mal, and I still mourn the fact that he never got the chance to fully hear this magnum opus in it's final state and that I never had the chance to work with him again. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

Mal ... I hope you're out there somewhere voyaging in real first class and I hope with all my heart, that you feel I've managed to do your work justice. British Standard Approved remains an important legacy and I consider myself extremely lucky to have been invited to take part and to be given so much responsibility in the creation of this wonderful album.

Thank you.

I'd like to think that your spirit lives on, not just in this recording but in many later Demon songs.

In fact, as Mal bequeathed a briefcase containing tapes full of riffs and song ideas for Demon to Dave Hill after his death...I'm pretty much sure it does.

May it continue to do so.

I've uploaded "First Class" and "Cold In The Air" to YouTube at...


and a brand new DDR song, "Never Before (Once Again)" which I hope you will enjoy at:


I will be including original pre-Demon demo's, photographs, music - scores, lyrics and other memorabilia, in the future Demon Archive Room accessible only via the DDR.com. Central Control Panel.

Also - you might like to visit on Facebook at:


or Twitter at...


You might also like to take a look at the DDR band biography room, under construction at:



Steve Watts - D.D.R.com. 11 : 04 : 2011

Next Transmission: 11 : 05 : 2011

[Edited 2011-05-04 19:50]

Sweden, Örebro
261 posts
Age: 51 years
Reg: 2/5-06
Posted: 2011-04-13 11:08   » Website
I just love these stories behind it all(there's so much more..than jus a song).
Makes me longing may the 11:th.

Big Thank You, Steve!!!


Steve Watts
93 posts
Reg: 11/11-10
Posted: 2011-04-27 16:43   » Website
Hi Hakan...

Thank you for your comments, I'm really glad your enjoying my blogs re the old-Demon days; I can't quite guarantee that all the information is 100% accurate, but I've done my best considering the time gone by and my ageing memory!

Talking of which...if memory does serve me correctly, I think I owe you a signed copy of Demon's first single "Liar", which I promised to send to you many years ago at a gig somewhere! If this is correct, (I definitely remember I promised it to someone and I'm pretty sure it's you), then please accept my apologies and secondly, if you mail me your address I will send it on to you forthwith.

The single is signed by myself; Dave Hill; Johnny Waterhouse and someone else? (I can't read the signature!) - it's in good 'nick for it's age as well.

Anyhow...until May the 11th then...

Best for now... Steve Watts
» mail me

Sweden, Örebro
261 posts
Age: 51 years
Reg: 2/5-06
Posted: 2011-05-03 11:32   » Website
Hi Steve.
Sorry, I forgot to respond to your message Embarassed
Unfortunately it's not me you promised the disc, so I will not claim it.
So you'll have to save it until the right one reveal himselfSmile

Steve Watts
93 posts
Reg: 11/11-10
Posted: 2011-05-04 20:01   » Website
Oh! Sorry about that!....but...you have given me an idea!... Idea Twisted Evil

Ps: Sorry that the Leek gig has been cancelled?! I have to say, that pulling a show for a recording session is a new one on me...
[Edited 2011-05-04 20:02]

746 posts
Reg: 5/5-06
Posted: 2011-05-05 08:47
but...you have given me an idea!...

Don't tell me, a DemonDudesRevenge prize!? Smile Rolling Eyes

I have to say, that pulling a show for a recording session is a new one on me...

Should be the other way around if anything!!

Steve Watts
93 posts
Reg: 11/11-10
Posted: 2011-05-05 19:15   » Website
Actually I was thinking about selling it on eBay! Very Happy

105 posts
Reg: 11/9-10
Posted: 2011-08-11 21:42

105 posts
Reg: 11/9-10
Posted: 2011-08-11 22:03

Demon:Dudes Revenge
70 posts
Reg: 11/11-11
Posted: 2011-11-11 20:57   » Website   » Email
Norrköping, Sverige
7 posts
Reg: 20/8-12
Posted: 2012-08-20 11:10
It's been so many years since my older brother borrowed BSA from a friend of his. My brother never "got" it, by I did, really. I've had it on vinyl, on CD and now on Spotify. And i keep listening to it really often, specially on late party nights when I just HAVE to play some of the best music in the world to my girlfriend .)

It's a fantastic piece of music, and many thanks to everyone who was involved making it!

And hi Jimbo, after being neighbours for a year and half we finally got to sit down and have a chat!

28 posts
Age: 46 years
Reg: 14/2-07
Posted: 2012-08-29 18:16   » Email
Welcome to the forum Lars! I noticed that I hadn't written anything for ages myself...hrrm Gotta make amends on that! Very Happy

Great to see you too brother!
[Edited 2012-08-29 18:16]

Sweden, Örebro
261 posts
Age: 51 years
Reg: 2/5-06
Posted: 2012-08-30 13:38   » Website
Ooh, Peking is all over!!!

Välkommen Lasse o tillbaka JimmySmile
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