Coney Hatch Mark Four Decades of Hard Rock With New Live Album: Exclusive Interview
Coney Hatch toured with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest back in the '80s, humorously receiving a face full of cat food from the former band. Along the way, the Canadian hard rockers quickly earned a reputation for using more than their share of amplification.
In fact, their Wikipedia page makes specific reference to their “ear-damagingly loud live shows.” Cofounding bassist and singer Andy Curran acknowledges that it’s truth in advertising, crediting soundmen who would “pin people to the back wall with sheer volume.”
Curran says “part of the reason they did that was because you had four knuckleheads up onstage – starting with me [using] two 300-watt Ampeg SVT bass amps.” In an interview with UCR, he says Coney Hatch also boasted “two guitar players with Hiwatt and Marshall stacks, and a drummer that hit as hard and loud as he could 24/7.”
After nearly four decades, they've toned things down volume-wise. But Coney Hatch are still wearing their history of aural assault as a “badge of honor”: The stage introduction on their new live album, Live From the El Mocambo, proudly welcomes “the loudest band in Toronto, Coney Hatch.”
The tone for this fierce, 70-minute collection is set with an opening rendition of “We Got the Night,” from Coney Hatch's 1982 self-titled debut. Live From the El Mocambo then gives fair representation to all four albums in the group’s catalog, creating a worthy keepsake for fans who have followed their entire career and a suitable introductory overview for the less familiar.
Listen Coney Hatch's Original Version of 'We Got the Night'
For Curran, Live From the El Mocambo captures the original concept he had for Coney Hatch. “The vision was very much an Aerosmith-type sounding band. It’s kind of like Rolling Stones-meets-hard-rock,” he says. “I loved that about Aerosmith when they came up. They weren’t polished; they were rough and tumble.”
Coney Hatch included production by Kim Mitchell, a founding member of the Canadian band Max Webster who had a low-charting '80s solo single called “Go for Soda.” Curran said Mitchell instinctively understood what they were going for. “He told me that the thing he loved about Coney Hatch, when you go see our band live, that’s what it is,” Curran says. “It’s four on the floor, meat and potatoes, two guitars, bass, drums, two vocalists. It’s kind of like AC/DC: What you see is what you get.”
Recorded at the legendary Toronto venue, Live at the El Mocambo stays true to that same vision. “There’s no auto-tuning; there’s no samples. It’s four guys, bass, two guitars, drums, two vocalists,” Curran says. “I think it really represents the band well. When you come and see us live, that’s what we sound like.”
It's been that way since Coney Hatch shared the stage with Judas Priest all those years ago on the metal legends' world tour for Screaming for Vengeance and then hit the road with Iron Maiden, who were supporting the equally metal-horns-ready Piece of Mind.
Coney Hatch formed an instant alliance with Iron Maiden, who rolled out the red carpet by offering them as many backstage passes as they needed. It was a move that eventually backfired, however, as the Coney Hatch camp threw epic parties “with the prettiest women we could find,” Curran says.
Maiden’s invited guests began drifting down the hall to Coney Hatch's postshow festivities, and discipline was swiftly delivered. “It got to the point where the guys in Iron Maiden said, ‘You guys, that’s it. No more backstage passes for you! You’re basically stealing all of our thunder. All of our guests are coming and partying with you guys, not with us,’” Curran recalls with a chuckle. “We got slapped on the hand on that.”
Watch Coney Hatch Perform 'Blown Away'
Still, those friendships remain: Maiden's Steve Harris tapped Coney Hatch in recent years to open for his side group British Lion. Harris also had the last laugh as Coney Hatch's stint on the Piece of Mind tour was coming to a close.
Curran's guard was up, as he was well aware that the end of tours often bring last-minute pranks: “They’re going to unplug your amps or they’re going to take strings off of your guitars. You just have to be on high alert.” Ultimately, Coney Hatch decided to “fight fire with fire,” he says.
“The very last show of the tour was in St. Louis, Mo. We thought it would be great to go out and buy some whipped cream, some pie plates and some cat food and make some pies,” Curran recalls. “We were going to go onstage and pie each member of Iron Maiden with a cat-food whipped cream pie. We had them all made in our dressing room.”
Coney Hatch’s tour manager learned of their plans and shut it all down. As it turns out, however, he had an ulterior motive that went into motion as soon as Curran and his bandmates took the stage in St. Louis.
“He goes right to Iron Maiden and tells all of the members, ‘This is what the boys were going to do to you,’” Curran says. “They immediately get all of the pies and halfway through our show, come out and pie all of us. We’re covered in our own crap that we made for them. They did get us back and we couldn’t get them, but they got us big time and we were covered in cat food. All of our guitars, it was a mess.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Curran adds. “It was a Spinal Tap moment.”