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In the heart of the Midlands lives one of the heaviest and most varied rock stations on earth. Sophie Sparham meets the team behind Midlands Metalheads.
“It was created over a summer’s evening on a balcony with a bottle of Jack and 20 cigarettes and it was a really daft idea when I look back on it now.”
They’ve covered Download Festival and broadcast to fans all around the world, but the staff at Midlands Metalheads say that it’s the local bands that really make the station.
So it’s a causal day in Wolverhampton and all is calm, however, that’s before the Midlands Metalheads rock up at the Wetherspoons to have one of their monthly meetings. Okay, so I am overexaggerating a little bit, they’re actually quite well behaved and eat their food nicely as they take it in turns to discuss their agenda for the station.
Many of you probably wonder who or what I’m going on about. Well, the Midlands Metalheads is an online station based in the heart of, yes you’ve guessed it, the West Midlands. The station has been going for four years now and offers a wide range of shows for fans of every guitar genre.
“We cover every genre from the sixties to present day,” says Adam Till, co-owner and manager of the station. He’s not kidding, these guys have a show for everything; a few being classic rock, grunge, folk, industrial, punk and even a bit of ska. They also do online journalism, podcasts and host a wide range of events and shows.
But how did it all begin, I hear you cry. Well, the group actually started as a Facebook group many moons ago. Ozzy Maidenfield, who came up with the idea, explains more. “We started as Stafford Metalheads, one night me and Adam were talking and said let’s do something really big. I drew the picture but he filled in the colours”
Dedication to the cause: John E Smoke tattoo
“We started on the radio, on Radio Stafford doing Friday nights between 9 and 12 and it got taken over so we thought we’d go independent and set up our own radio station.”
“It was over a summers evening on a balcony with a bottle of jack and twenty cigarettes and it was a really daft idea when I look back on it now,” Adam adds, laughing.
Now the station is doing better than ever, with it photographers and reviewers covering festivals and gaining press passes to events such as Download, Hard Rock Hell, Hammer Fest and more.
However, for Midlands Metalheads, it’s about supporting the unsigned talent. “One of the drivers from earlier on was supporting our local scene, it was going to local pubs seeing the bands and there was so little support for them, so little attendances and we thought that we could make this better,” says Johnny Smoke, one of the co-managers.
Adam agrees, “The main love is for the unsigned bands, without them we’d be nothing, they deserve more credit than what they do.”
“Before we set this up we used to go to lots of the local gigs and thought we could introduce the bands and make everyone get involved with each other come together and just enjoy what is heavy metal.” Ozzy adds.
The Photographers: Left To Right; Lisa Billingham, Rob Billingham Of Billibee Creative & Rebecca Hill
The guys told me that sometimes people confuse them with a local radio station. “Please think we’re just a local station because of the name but we get listeners all over the world,” Johnny smiles, when he thinks of their German and American listeners. “We stuck with the name because this is the home of metal. Sabbath, Priest, Zeppelin, Slade… if you want to stretch it out that far!” They all laugh. “Godflesh and Napalm Death were from also from here in more recent years. This is the heaviest place in the world.”
However, what’s so amazing about this group is not its likes on Facebook, its press coverage or even its four years of success. No, what’s really amazing is that, primarily, before anything else, they do this for the sheer love of music.
“We’ve got a passion for it, it’s all self funded, we all put own money in and time and without that love it would have no meaning.” Adams states.
Ozzy completely agrees. “The whole idea is to keep music alive.”
Think you got what it takes to be part of the midlands metalheads family. We are always on the look out for DJ’s, Reviewers, Photographers, Admin Email With A Short Bio To: email@example.com
Music anorak, story collector and self-confessed sci fi and fantasy nerd, Sophie Sparham was born in Nether Heage, a small village in Derbyshire. There, surrounded by the countryside, she spent her younger years crafting ideas and daydreaming about different worlds until The Narcatoe Series was finally born. Now, living in Birmingham to pursue her career in radio and music journalism, Sophie writes whenever and wherever she can. Literally: bus stops, cafes and even the odd train.
In her debut book,Snow in Hell, she tries to challenge the boundary of fiction; mixing contemporary issues with weird creatures and even weirder situations.
One day Sophie will stop believing in monsters, until then she’ll keep making things up and writing them down. Written By Sophie Sparham