Frank Stöver had the pleasure to interview the host of the BFBS HM Show - Tony Jasper. Read on the enjoy this interview while listening to the HM Show on this blog. Thank you Frank for this amazing interview and if you want to find out more about Frank and his website please follow the link to the Voices from the Darkside
DON'T FORGET TO CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES - THE HM SHOW ON BFBS RADIO
those of you, who are in their early to mid fourties now, will probably
remember the incredible HM SHOW on BFBS radio, which was aired every
single week between 1981 and September of 1985. The presenter of that
show was an English gentleman by the name of Tony Jasper. He introduced
underground Hardrock and Heavy Metal music to the listener way before we
had specialized magazines, the tapetrading network or the internet.
Thanks to him a lot of classic Hardrock, obscure NWOBHM, US Metal and
even early Speed Metal found its way onto the shopping lists of every
young Metal addict at the time. And countless of old fashioned
taperecorders got started every Tuesday night, in order not to miss one
single second, as soon as the wellknown voice of Tommy Vance announced
the show with the following words: "BFBS presents an hour of the very
best in Heavy Metal... this is Tony Jasper's HM Show!". Unfortunately
there's close to zero information about the HM SHOW on the internet
these days, so we decided to get in touch with Tony directly in order to
finally change that. If you check out his website
(www.jasperian.org/tony-jasper) you'll most certainly be surprised what
he's up to these days, and probably even more, when you find out how
busy he's really been over the last 30 years. So, for obvious reasons we
had to focus on the HM SHOW exclusively in the following interview.
Tony's memory wasn't always the best, but considering how specialized
some of our questions were, I think he did pretty well nevertheless. So,
hopefully we finally can deliver the answers to some of the questions
you'd never got the opportunity to ask yourself... Enjoy!
before we actually start, it would be nice if you could introduce
yourself to our readers a little bit... Please let all those briefly
know who you are, who haven't been sitting in front of their radios
Tuesdays on 10pm every single week in the early 80s already...
Jasper is the name. What can I say from there! Born in Cornwall, GB.
Various educational qualifications. More so, always been into music from
an early age."
How old are you now?
"Ancient, in the 60s world."
have you been up to prior to becoming the show's DJ? Have you already
worked for BFBS or the music business in one way or another?
was broadcasting a broad perspective of music from ELTON JOHN to
FOREIGNER to PAT BENATAR for a commercial station in the UK, and also
having various spots on BBC Radio 1 and 2. I was also a prolific writer
of music books and a contributor to many music magazines."
came up with the idea for a show on BFBS radio that was exclusively
dedicated to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal and have you personally been
involved in it from day one already?
"I heard BFBS were
looking for a Hardrock presenter, so I thought ‘go for it’. Tommy Vance
was already broadcasting in other areas for BFBS."
the fact that Heavy Metal hasn't been taken too serious yet as a
musical genre at the time, wasn't it difficult to convince the
responsible people at BFBS to agree to such a program?
"BFBS had a Rock enthusiast in their producer Carole Straker, and the squaddies and others had been requesting such a show."
nowadays there still haven't been any specialized magazines or the
internet yet, so how did you manage to promote the broadcast of the
first edition of the HM Show back then?
"BFBS, as you may now,
is for British Forces, but just like AFN, it can be picked up all over
the place. I have no idea about any publicity other than program
trailers of it coming on air."
Do you still recall when the first HM Show exactly went on air and what kind of stuff you played?
"No, I do have the demo tape somewhere. It was a mixture of hard, very hard..."
Who actually chose 'Rocket Ride' by KISS as the show's theme music?
played and played various albums looking for the right riff and the
KISS track seemed great. Tommy V agreed to announce my name."
Why didn't you stick with it and replaced it with 'Anthem' by RUSH?
now and then a producer feels a program has to have a new look and
until you just mentioned, I had already forgotten about it."
How old have you been, when you started with the show and which bands / artists were your personal faves at the time?
"30 or so... LED ZEPPELIN."
Has LED ZEPPELIN been your only fave band when you started out or did you have any other favorites as well?
"I mentioned LED ZEPPELIN because they came to mind.
When you review or play music you gain a much wider perspective of the
whole scene and unlike most you rarely then have particular favourites.
Most fans can only buy a few records, a DJ has lots and much to choose
from... You are also far more conscious of what is new and what is being
released, if all that makes sense. The overall initial feel I had was
simply that they wanted someone with a wide knowledge. Just featuring
‘Thrash’ would mean a very small audience... there are hundreds of
acts!! And sometimes when you hear them you think it's good, but then
another lot comes along and another... the mind of a DJ is not the same
as the mind of a fan. Interestingly of course some older albums are now
re-appearing at very low prices and yesterday I paid £2 for a CREED
album. Other than LED ZEPPELIN: the first album of MONTROSE (à la Sammy
Hagar), BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, AEROSMITH ("Rock In A Hard Place" album),
HEART (yes, I love those girls) and I did like MOTÖRHEAD... Lemmy is a
Did you compile the songs / bands
completely on your own that you played on each show? You often played
more than just one song off a new record, so how did you decide which
particular songs you would include in a show? Was it always your
personal album favorites?
”There are all kinds of aspects in
putting together a radio show and the audience is so varied and wide.
You strive for a particular mood and choose accordingly. That said, I
basically chose what I liked, but I also was aware that there were other
tastes that had to be catered for. For fans, and real die-hard fans of
an artist or group there would be nothing better than a whole program of
just their loved artists. It is always difficult. Success I guess comes
from mixing and matching and so forth."
show always been broadcasted completely live or have you also used
programs that got recorded in their entirety at some other time before
"Each show was recorded ‘live’, but if going on holiday then we might record several."
us a little bit more about that special show in which only live tracks
got played and the confusion it caused among some of the listeners...
had this idea of assembling our own fantastic star ridden show by
taking material from ‘live’ albums, the applause, group chatter and so
forth. I stood at the back of the studio and gave the impression I was
‘live’ on stage... we did get a large mail, and mostly from people who
were disgruntled at not being ‘there’ or knowing about it! It shows how
well we did it! But we did think people might wonder how so many
mega-outfits could have been got together!"
How many of those HM Show live specials have been done in total?
"Just one, I think."
the show was on air way before CDs and mp3 files became popular, I
suppose you went for vinyl first and foremost... Did you ever have any
problems with records that didn't work for one reason or another during a
show (scratches or manufacturing errors)?
"We were lucky! In those days you spun the record back and went for it and mostly from experience managed to be ok."
you also played any tapes? I'm just asking because I remember very well
that record labels used to send out a lot of "advance tapes" of new
releases at the time as well and demos were also mostly recorded on
tapes... Did you ever play any demos by the way?
got demos... and also some from Germany. I had to engage my German
friend to hear the lyrics for there would be uproar and the show taken
off if we would broadcast four letter words! And material from the
border with Holland gave a variation that even my German friend did not
always find easy. As the show’s popularity grew record companies rushed
A German friend of yours was checking the lyrics of
the German demos? Why that? Did they sing in German or was their
English pronounciation that bad or something?
"Yes, they sang in German... and near the borders even my German friend sometimes had difficulties."
remember a show in which you said you can't play any tapes at all on
the radio because the quality of tapes just isn't good enough. So, did
that change later on?
"Can’t recall, sorry."
each show you had also included the British HM album- and
single-charts... Where did those charts come from? Was it based on sales
in record stores or something?
"From Shades, a great London shop of the time and by taking out best selling material from the trade listings."
did you get all the information from that you mentioned in the news
section of the shows? Did record labels and / or bands supply you
directly or was it also through magazines like Kerrang, Metal Forces and
"To a degree, but also from ringing around."
had quite an impressive list of guests on the show over the years...
Please name a couple of the most interesting ones for us.
had so many. COVERDALE, GILLAN, NUGENT, PLANT, JOAN JETT, SAXON, IRON
MAIDEN, OZZY... so many... On another occasion I interviewed SABBATH at
their hotel and the tape machine just jammed and would not budge, and
this when we were just talking about the occult!"
you also done interviews on the phone or at other locations as well
(maybe due to schedule problems), that got used in the program at some
"A few. You have to have a few ready for use in case a guest doesn’t arrive or doesn’t arrive on time."
Do you have any good or bad memories on certain guests? Some funny stories you could share with our readers?
"Cannot recall any bad moments or funny moments."
actually pretty surprised about that, because I remember that there was
always quite a lot of laughing when bands were in the studio...
come and things go. I guess we all got on together but that doesn’t
create a particular moment, as when the tape ground to a halt with
SABBATH. I had some very good studio times with groups and artists, but
cannot recall other than playing through many tapes and I do not have
the time for it at present."
The musical variety in
the show was always pretty big and the charts sometimes even included
stuff like MARILLION, PAT BENATAR and so on... So, did you get any
negative response on that? I mean, the show was called the HEAVY METAL
SHOW and from narrow minded people Metal was supposed to be just the
heavy stuff, wasn't it?
"Some. I think we only ever played one
track by MARILLION. I like gutsy leather clad Rock women! We did play
some synth Rock e.g. BALANCE. Sometimes you find a Rock outfit with a
really heavy take. And ZEPPELN and others also record tender cuts."
remember that you weren't able to play W.A.S.P.'s 'Animal (Fuck Like A
Beast)' single because of its lyrical content at the time... Was
censorship on BFBS radio a serious problem?
"Four letter words and so forth are rarely tolerated anywhere, as also similar words... occasionally they get through."
which point of time in your life did you discover religion and when did
you become a preacher? Has your general opinion on Rock and Metal (and
its often Satanic imagery) changed ever since?
"From a young
age... 13/14... part of a group initially. Satanic stuff is a very small
part of Hardrock and Metal. I did not play it. I did play an occasional
track from a Christian Metal outfit. Those bands often go that way in
an effort to bring people into another perspective."
But you did play stuff like VENOM, SLAYER, MERCYFUL FATE etc. on your show. Did you ever regret that?
don’t recall, but if I played material then it’s also because as a DJ
you sometimes do play a genre of music what you may not like but the
Have you enjoyed any bands from the Speed and Thrash Metal scene yourself?
as such, but I like the energy and like I said, you sometimes know you
have to play some groups that the listeners like and may be charting and
Did you lose interest in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal when all those type of bands appeared on the scene?
”No, not really. There is so much out there."
you aware of the fact that the HM Show helped quite a lot of people of
my age to discover all the great new bands and albums back then? In
Germany, for example, we only got tiny little bits of information about
Heavy Metal from teeny magazines at the time, because there simply was
no other source of information around (fanzines and tapetrading started a
”Sounds great. I wish I could still compile and broadcast. I listened to so many albums and tapes."
HM Show certainly has stood the test of time and you can still listen
to it with the same amount of joy as in the early 80s. People still seem
to appreciate it after all those years as there's even mp3 files of
some of the shows available on the internet today (you can check out a
couple of shows here). Are you aware of that? Have you kept recordings
of all the shows yourself?
"I wasn't aware of it, but that's great! I have many program tapes, then recorded on cassette and do sometimes play them."
Do you still listen to any heavier music these days?
"Occasionally and I did sell a lot of Rock the other day but still have lots of Hardrock vinyl of my favourite stuff."
Could you describe the BFBS studio, that the HM Show was aired from, a little bit?
"Just a studio as any other, with decks, etc. Can be miced for guests etc."
How many people were working with you on the show? Are you still
in contact with them or do you know what they're up to these days?
"The producer and sound engineer, but I have no idea."
How many shows were broadcasted in total and what was the reason
that the show wasn't continued? When was the last show broadcasted
exactly and what did BFBS replace it with?
"I have no idea, but at guess a few hundred. I don’t think BFBS replaced
it. Unfortunately there were financial cutbacks and BFBS was moving
into television. Also some saw it as a minority. Now... you have to
remember BFBS, such as my show, had thousands of listeners across much
of the world but BFBS, as AFN, is really for service people and Britain
has been running down its bases, especially in Germany."
Do you know if there's any statistics available from the HM
Show, like when each show was broadcasted, which songs / artists got
played, how many shows went on air in total over the years, which guests
were on the show and so on?
"No. I probably have some running orders somewhere but I never filed
anything and it's doubtful after so many years if BFBS kept them when
they moved away from where I recorded."
Have you ever met any of your die hard listeners in person? I,
for example, got to meet "Freaky" from Hamburg quite a few times back in
the 80s, because you once mentioned our Fan Club (the official
Roadrunner Records Fan Club "Metal Warriors") and we wrote to each other
because of that...
"Lots of letters, but only a few in person other than Freaky, whom I well remember."
Where did your closing slogan "And don't forget to change your clothes..." come from? Any funny story connected to that maybe?
"It just came into my head... usually I ended with some Thrash and I
thought I bet there’s some sweat ‘out there!’, so I said what I said and
it stuck and to many I became ‘change your clothes Jasper!’"
Do people still contact you about the HM Show these days?
Being a preacher, did you have any kind of mixed feelings when
you noticed that this interview was supposed to be for a website
entitled VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE?
Ok Tony, that's all for now. Thanks for taking the time and all
the best for you and all your activities. The closing words are yours!
"Flattered to be remembered! Thanks. Sorry not to be more precise
occasionally - it is some time ago, and without some research or playing
through tapes it is not always easy to remember. You can have a good
time with groups or artists without anything taking place that is
memorable in some ways. If I were to sit around with say my old producer
and sound guy I am sure we would suddenly be full of stories. Honestly
when weekly you are hearing many many records, spending hours balancing
the output... getting variety... and then again and again, it is rather
different from saying I love this and that band and know everything
about that band. I doubt to if there are many consistent people in the
world! A lot has happened in (believe it or not) around 20 years since
the last HM SHOW... I have no idea what I chose then... I have cupboards
full of mags, program outlines, several thousand records and so on...
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