A Chat With STEVE Dobby DAWSON of Oliver/Dawson Saxon (Interview)

Steve "Dobby" Dawson

Hello, Steve! Thanks for taking your time to talk to us and let’s get straight to the questions!

As far as I can understand SOB began life back in 1972 and took the name from a Free song called “Tons of Sobs”. Is that correct?  

YES THAT’S RIGHT

The original line-up consisted of Steve “Dobby” Dawson on bass, Graham Oliver on guitar, Steve Firth on vocals and drummer Al Dodd. How was the relationship at this early stage with the band Coast that had Biff Byford and Paul Quinn in the line-up? Was there a rivalry between the two?

OUR DRUMMER WAS DAVID BRADLEY, A SCHOOL FRIEND OF MINE. AL DODD WAS THE DRUMMER WITH COAST. YES THEIR WAS A RIVALRY BETWEEN THE BANDS BUT THAT’S NORMAL ALL OVER THE WORLD.

What was the reason for Al and Steve to leave SOB at that point?

AFTER DAVID BRADLEY, WE HAD AFEW DRUMMERS, JOHN HART, A GUY CALLED COWLEY, HE ONLY PLAYED ONE SHOW, AND JOHN WALKER. DAVID BRADLEY AND STEVE FIRTH DID NOT LEAVE AT THE SAME TIME. DAVID BRADLEY LEFT FIRST AND THEN STEVE FIRTH LATER, BOTH LEFT SO THEY COULD WORK 9 TO 5 JOBS.

Around 1975 the two bands merged into SOB. How did it come to be that the band name evolved to be Son of a Bitch?

WELL, OUR BAND WAS CALLED “SOB” SO WE JUST WENT WITH SON OF A BITCH TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE.

I’ve got a question on the legendary Tapestry sessions in 1975. How many songs were actually recorded during these sessions? Are there any unreleased songs from those sessions?

I THINK WE DID 4 SONGS, “STILL FIT TO BOOGIE” x2. “GLAD TO BE ALIVE”, AND “FREEWAY”. I ATTACH A PICTURE OF THE ORIGINAL DEMO. THERE ARE NO UNRELEASED SONGS.

Just before releasing the debut album Son of a Bitch changed the name to Saxon. What were the reasons for this?

BECAUSE CARRERE RECORDS DID NOT LIKE SON OF A BITCH.

Steve Dobby Dawson
Dobby points out the direction. Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook page

Speaking on the debut album, from what I have read the label was not 100% satisfied with the way they sounded and opted to use the original demos for part of the album. Which songs from the album sessions got scrapped and demos used instead?

FROZEN RAINBOW. STALLIONS OF THE HIGHWAY. BACKS TO THE WALL AND OTHERS IN PARTS

At that time, were you aware of the other bands making their way and later formed what was called the NWOBHM?

ONLY IRON MAIDEN. SAMSON. VARDIS. ANGELWITCH.

The breakthrough came with Wheels of Steel album in 1980 and things got on from there. Fast forward to 1996 and both of you guys were no longer in Saxon. Tell us how Son of a Bitch was reborn in 1996!

I GOT A CALL FROM GRAHAM, AND PETE GILL AND WE JUST THOUGHT LETS PLAY AGAIN AND HAD A RECORD COMPANY, HENGEST RECORDS, WHO WOULD SIGN THE BAND AND RELEASE THE RECORD.

How did the Ted Bullet become part of Son of a Bitch? Were you familiar with his work with Thunderhead?

GRAHAM HAD DONE A TOUR WITH THUNDERHEAD WHEN HE WAS IN SAXON, AND TED HAD A FANTASTIC VOICE SO HE FITTED IN WELL.

In 1996 the comleteley awesome album Victim You was released. In retrospect how was the recording process? Did Ted take part in the songwriting or were all songs written already when he came into the picture?

WE RECORDED THE ALBUM AT REVOLUTION STUDIOS IN MANCHESTER WITH ANDY MCFERSON WHO HAD BEEN WORKING WITH THE WHO. WE ALL WROTE THE SONGS TOGETHER IN A STUDIO IN BOLTON ON DEARNE NEAR WHERE WE LIVE, AND WE STILL REHEARSE THEIR NOW.

Then things went silent and there was no follow-up to that stunning album. What happened to that version of the band?

WE DID A TOUR OF SOUTH AMERICA, BY THIS TIME PETE GILL HAD LEFT THE BAND AND WE HAD NIGEL DURHAM ON DRUMS. ON THAT TOUR, TED WAS IN A BAD PLACE DRINKING HEAVY AND GRAHAM AND ME SAID ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH AND WE PARTED COMPANY WITH TED.

What is Ted doing nowadays? Are any of you still in contact with him?

I DONT KNOW, I SPOKE TO HIM A FEW YEARS AGO AND HE WAS LIVING IN LONDON AND HAD A FAMILY AND NOT IN THE MUSIC BIZ

The Son of a Bitch moniker was scrapped a few years later and replaced by the Saxon name. Why was this done?

AFTER A LONG AND BITTER LEGAL DISPUTE OVER WHO HAD THE RIGHT TO USE THE NAME SAXON THE COURT RULED THAT WE COULD USE THE NAME OLIVER DAWSON SAXON SUBJECT TO CERTAIN CONDITIONS

The Diamond and Nuggets collection contains three fantastic outtakes from The Power and the Glory sessions. It makes me wonder why they were not included on the original album which held only 8 songs?

IT WAS THE DECISION OF THE BANDS MANAGER NIGEL THOMAS. I DID NOT AGREE WITH THIS, SO A GREAT SONG LIKE “TURN OUT THE LIGHTS” DID NOT MAKE IT.

The obvious question, are there other unreleased studio outtakes from the other album sessions that remain in the vault? The remasters do not contain any of those…..

EMI HAS INCLUDED SOME UNREALESED TRACKS AND OUTTAKES ON THIER LATEST RELEASES. WE HAVE LOTS OF STUFF, LIVE STUFF, AND DEMOS BUT SOME ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH QUALITY, BUT IM SURE SOME WILL SURFACE IN THE FUTURE.

Things went silent on the album front for many years until 2012. Why did it take so long to get another album of original music out?

MONEY. WE DID NOT HAVE A RECORD COMPANY, THAT WOULD PAY FOR A NEW RECORD. THE MUSIC BIZ HAS CHANGED A LOT AND IT’S DIFFICULT FOR COMPANIES TO MAKE MONEY NOW, BECAUSE OF ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING.

New vocalist was John Ward (ex-Big Guns). Tell us a bit about how he became part of the band!

I PUT AN ADVERT IN KERRANG MAG AND HE CAME TO THE AUDITION AND HE FITTED IN WITH US.

Recently long time guitarist Haydn Conway left the band. Can you give us some insight on why he is no longer part of the band?

HAYDN LEFT BECAUSE OF A MEDICAL CONDITION.

How did your current lead vocalist Bri Shaughnessy become part of the band?

GRAHAM RECOMMENDED HIM, AND WHEN WE GOT TOGETHER, HE WAS PERFECT AND FITTED IN GREAT, AND I WISH WE HAD MET HIM MUCH EARLIER. HE’S A GREAT BLOKE AND A FANTASTIC SINGER.

Is there another studio album in the works?

YES, WE HAVE WROTE LOTS OF SONGS AND HAVE AN OFFER TO RECORD WHEN WE ARE READY LATER THIS YEAR.

What are the plans for the near future?

WE HAVE A BUSY 2017 OF FESTIVALS AND SHOWS ALL OVER EUROPE AND UK, AND AN OFFER OF SOME USA SHOWS AND A NEW ALBUM.

Is it hard to put together a setlist for a show with so many great songs to choose from? Is it easy to introduce new material to your fans through live shows? What’s your take on that?

WELL, IT DEPENDS ON HOW LONG WE CAN PLAY. ON FESTIVALS TIME IS TIGHT SO WE JUST DO THE GREATEST HITS, BUT ON OUR OWN SHOWS WE PLAY FOR LONGER. SO THAT MEANS WE CAN PLAY NEW STUFF FROM MOTORBIKER AND MORE SAXON SONGS.

Well, thanks a lot, Steve “Dobby” Dawson for taking your time to answer my questions. I hope to catch you live again soon. Looking forward to the new album that is in the works!

BUY Diamonds & Nuggets here!

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