Becky Baldwin / The Future With Fury And Mercyful Fate

It’s been a while since I last caught up with Becky Baldwin, and as you will know, a lot of things have happened. Tonight, she’s back home in Birmingham, having spent the weekend in South Wales checking out Stompbox Studios with her band, Fury.

“I was in Stompbox studios with Todd Campbell recording a Fury single,” Becky Baldwin told MetalTalk’s Paul Hutchings. “We were just trying it out ahead of the recording of the album, just to see if it was the kind of place we wanted to be.”

Having spent time on the road with PCATBS in the autumn of 2023, there’s obviously that link between the bands. Becky explains a bit more. “We started to think about changing our approach to the recording. We really loved the sound of the last couple of albums, but some people have said we sound different. Very different live than we do on the recording. So, we were thinking maybe we should try something different to freshen up the sound a bit more.

“When we heard that Todd had a studio, we thought that would probably be a good place to start because we are getting on with them well, and their latest album [Kings Of The Asylum] sounds great. We thought we would give it a go.”

2024 promises some exciting times for Fury and Becky.
2024 promises some exciting times for Fury and Becky.

2024 promises some exciting times for Fury and for Becky then. As we chat, I remind Becky that our last interview was just post her second stint with Mercyful Fate, so it would be good to recap with all that happened in 2023.

“I’ll cast my mind back,” she laughs. Having had the time with Mercyful Fate and then coming back to playing again with Fury, I wondered if and how Becky was staying in touch with the band.

“We just spent so much time together,” she says, “and so it was kind of weird to go from the transition of seeing them every day to only interacting with them if someone reaches out. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people, especially people that I don’t have any current business with. Most of my friends are people that I end up working with because there’s that constant planning to meet again.

“So yeah, I guess it did go quiet for a while. There was the occasional interaction, especially online and stuff. But we didn’t keep in touch that much, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to push or force anything. I didn’t want to pretend I was in this in-group of people when the chances were that by the next tour, I was not going to be there. So, I just let it go naturally. Occasionally, I would speak to them and then send a message. But there wasn’t very much contact there.”

Fury - Bloodstock Festival 2023.
Fury – Bloodstock Festival 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

We had discussed in our last interview that Becky had naturally experienced a period of post-tour blues. We expanded on that a little during our conversation and explored the challenges of the return to normality. “There were times that I had that feeling,” she says, “especially when things weren’t going to plan back home. We had a lot when I came back from the first tour. The van broke down, and we had lots of trouble getting it back on the road. We got it on the road, but it broke down again.

“I got rid of it. I’m deciding that van ownership is not for me. I don’t want to be a van owner anymore. This year is going to be quieter for Fury, so it makes sense. It’s frustrating that things like that were happening, or it was getting hard to complete a run of dates. I’m trying to book shows for Fury, and the venues aren’t getting back to me. I’m thinking, why can’t you just like answer a simple e-mail? Those kinds of moments.

“I was thinking, God, it was so great when my only job was playing bass. None of the other stuff. And I really missed playing at that level. Even if it’s different now, what happened was real, and if it could happen then, you know. But I kept thinking that with all the work I had done up to that moment, the online presence, the touring experience, there’s no reason why it can’t happen again.”

Becky Baldwin says she was frustrated. “A lot of people were saying to me that surely someone’s spotted you by now, and they’ll be scooping you up into a massive international touring band, and you’ll be off. And I’m like, well, no, that hasn’t happened.

“So, maybe I didn’t want to expect it myself. So I wasn’t thinking about it, and I was wishing people wouldn’t bring it up. I was thinking maybe I didn’t make a good enough impression or something like how you think of all these negatives. But yeah, I tried to be optimistic about it. That was a crazy thing to happen in my life. So, it stands to reason that something even crazier than that could happen.”

It’s so refreshing talking to Becky, as there is no bullshit. She is honest and open about her feelings, and I thank her for that. I mention that I had been talking to Julian Jenkins [lead singer/guitarist with Fury] at the end of 2022, and he said that 2023 wasn’t going to be that busy a year for the band.

“Yeah, it wasn’t supposed to be,” Becky laughs. But it turned out to be one of the busiest the band had ever had, with their own tours, supporting PCATBS in Europe, several festivals including Bloodstock, and a run of shows before Christmas. What happened? I ask.

“So, the plan was only to do a few choice gigs and a two-week European Tour. Then Switzerland was offered. And we’re like, yeah, go on then. We really love playing Switzerland. Then, the Phil Campbell tour was offered. So, the two weeks we’re gonna do in Europe became five weeks in Europe, which was a big deal for us. We’ve never done a trip like that before.

“Then other things just started cropping up, and they seemed like a good idea. Bloodstock. We really weren’t expecting to get this year. We thought maybe that would be like after the next album comes out. So, it turned out to be our busiest year ever, which is weird.

“We didn’t have a new album, and we were meant to be recording the next album. So that all got delayed. I think we had about 72 – 74 gigs that year, and that’s the most we’ve ever had.”

Fury, Bloodstock 2021
Becky Baldwin, Fury. Bloodstock 2021. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

We chat about Fury and Becky’s affiliation with Bloodstock. They were called in at short notice to play in 2021, where Becky corrects me, there was the extras day, and Fury opened the Sophie Tent on the Thursday morning. “We hadn’t gigged at all since 2019 at that point,” she says.

“It was a little bit ropy. We were so happy that we were invited last summer because it meant we could do it again and make songs sound the way we really wanted them to be played. It got filmed professionally. There’s a great video of our performance doing that. We were halfway through our biggest touring year ever, so we were working like a well-oiled machine.”

If you’ve ever seen Fury at Bloodstock, they always fill the tent. I say that it’s quite amazing as they aren’t the heaviest band on the bill, but there is always a great crowd, which shows the wide appeal of the band.

Becky Baldwin explains a bit more about their love of the festival and the crowd response. “I think everyone in the band kind of marks it in the calendar,” she says. “If any other gigs get offered that weekend, it’s gonna have to be a good one to stop us going as punters.

“We really, really love Bloodstock, and yeah, I think you’re right. The turnouts were always really good, but I think it’s the kind of band that you might want to see at a festival. It’s kind of fun. You don’t need to be a super fan to enjoy the live show because it is fast and engaging, and I guess there’s enough breadth of genre and style there.

“There’s a little bit of something there for everyone. I think it always goes down well at festivals, and we always pick up a load of new fans, which is perfect for us.”

And then, we get onto what could be a great piece of research. “Someone did an interview at Bloodstock with me,” Becky says, “and they asked how many times I have played Bloodstock and who is the person that has played Bloodstock the most? They said I was probably somewhere in the top 10. My first year playing was 2012, so there’s quite a lot of the Bloodstock history that I didn’t attend. But I have played there with five different bands, something like that and more than once for some of them. It’s pretty cool.”

Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons - Kings Of The Asylum Album Launch - The Patriot, Crumlin - 7 September 2023
Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons – Kings Of The Asylum Album Launch – The Patriot, Crumlin – 7 September 2023. Photo: Paul Hutchings/MetalTalk

As tempted as I am to delve into the world of the internet and spreadsheets, I resist, and we move on to the European tour with PCATBS. It looked like it went well. “It was great,” Becky says. “I think it’s a good pairing of bands. It worked out really well for us. There were people there from the Motörhead days following Phil who liked the kind of image we have in Fury. The way I play (the sound), I don’t play like Lemmy, but the aggressive Rickenbacker sound is definitely there. I think that that kind of works well.

“Stylistically, the kind of bridge between hard rock and Heavy Metal, we’re both in that space. They were just really nice guys to talk to and really supportive. You never really know what you’re gonna get when you join another band on a tour. There’s a certain etiquette you must be very careful. But they were just supportive every night.

“Once we were about three gigs in, we managed to have a chat, a beer after the show, and get to know everyone. By half a week in, we were all good friends, I think.

“Obviously, we’ve recorded with Todd this weekend, and we probably will be doing more recordings with him in the next couple of months. I’ve got Phil Campbell on WhatsApp because he doesn’t use social media much. But he does use WhatsApp, and we exchange some messages. They’re all just like real cool.”

I can’t say any more about PCATBS apart from endorsing what Becky Baldwin said. They are indeed a great bunch with a legendary guitarist.

Mercyful Fate Announce New Bass Player Becky Baldwin: A new chapter begins with the talented musician joining the band and preparing for new album.
Mercyful Fate Announce New Bass Player Becky Baldwin: A new chapter begins with the talented musician joining the band and preparing for new album.

We then moved on to the main reason for this interview, and that is the situation with Mercyful Fate. Becky was already booked to go back to South America in the spring for some shows this year. “I think that I was offered those shows back in October,” she explains. “It was on the Phil Campbell tour when I got the message through, and I was like, yes, I’m going back. I get to see all my friends again.”

At this point, I interject to confirm that Becky has now got the hard carry case for the bass. She confirms that she has indeed, and we move on! The news broke that Joey Vera was leaving Mercyful Fate. I ask Becky if she was already in the loop.

“I had heard that they were in discussions about what was going on with their bass player role,” she says, “because, for them, it was three trips in a row that Joey wasn’t able to do. So they were starting to think, okay, there’s an album that needs to be written and finished and recorded. It would be great to have the same bass player when we tour the album, and the bass player will commit to all dates.

“Joey is very committed to his role in Armored Saint. He’s a very key part of the band. He couldn’t really commit to that, whereas I was willing to prioritise Mercyful Fate. I didn’t know until just before Christmas. I was sitting on the news for quite a few weeks before there was the announcement.”

Mercyful Fate, Bloodstock 2022
Mercyful Fate, Bloodstock 2022. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

We move onto the huge groundswell of support that erupted when Joey was announced as leaving. I don’t think, in all my years, I’ve seen such a positive response on a global scale. How did Becky feel about it?

“It was pretty amazing, to be fair. I really expected that with the first announcement, there would be some backlash where people would think it right. Not just because it’s a woman taking the role, but also someone younger who wasn’t around when those first albums were released.

“The last Mercyful Fate album was released in 1999. I was eight years old. I didn’t get into Mercyful Fate until way after they had stopped touring for a long time. So, for me, Bloodstock was such a big thing because I was seeing them for the first time on their first UK date in so many years after I’ve been a fan since a teenager.

“It was really surprising to me that there would be so much support. But then, I guess, being chronically online, these kinds of things happen because a lot of people from different parts of the world know me and have been following my story. They’ve been following my bass videos since I started posting them years ago. Also, seeing me, as you have, in lots of different bands, they feel more connected to me in that way.

“They don’t just see me on stage. Most of them haven’t seen me on stage at all, but they still feel a part of the journey, I guess because I am quite happy to share my story. I share videos of my progress. I’m honest about how things are going, and I don’t really gloss over things that are a struggle.

“I’m happy to talk about things like that, so they feel like they’re part of the journey and that it’s kind of deserved, which is it is really nice that they kind of agree.”

Becky Baldwin, bassist for Mercyful Fate in 2022. Interview
Becky Baldwin: The fans “were going insane at that second” Mexican festival. Photo: Mario Rubio

Becky is a fantastic musician, dedicated to her art and not afraid of putting in the hard graft. But she is clear that there is also that element of luck. “There are so many bands out there that keep trying, and they don’t get lucky. It’s about keep on taking those chances. I guess the luck was in the first tour, being in the social media algorithm.

“Sometimes, it doesn’t show my videos to people who do follow me. But at one moment, one of my videos came in front of Hank Sherman and that was lucky. It was lucky they thought of me in that moment of who are we gonna ask? And it was lucky that the timings worked out. That Joey was busy in the first place.

“That was lucky for me. I think he wanted to do that too. So, it’s not as lucky for him. But you know the fact that these things all aligned, yeah, that’s luck.”

Becky Baldwin, Rob Halford and King Diamond, Mexico.
Becky Baldwin, Rob Halford and King Diamond, Mexico. Photo: Becky Baldwin

Conscious that I always run out of Zoom time when I chat with Becky, we move on to the actual plans for Mercyful Fate and the album. Becky fills me in. “Those dates in South America are just in April. The album is still kind of being demoed. I’ve listened to the demos, and they sound great.

“They’re very old school, but we are working on another single. One of the new singles was performed live on the tour, so we’ll be finishing that up, possibly also another one. But I’m not sure when that’s going to come out.

“Hopefully, this year, we will get at least one single out, but the album will probably be the following year [2025]. Then there’ll be a big tour of Europe, America, and South America. So, there’s still quite a lot of time. But there isn’t a lot of Mercyful Fate work for me to get on with now. It’s just kind of catching up with the demos because it’s all new to me.

“In the meantime, I’ll work on Fury stuff where I can over the next year or two until we’ve got the big Mercyful Fate tour. But everything’s planned well in advance. Everything’s scheduled as it needs to be. It means that I can manage the Fury schedule as well. And because I’m in charge of the Fury schedule, that makes things easy.”

For someone like Becky, being overly busy is preferable to being quiet, so this is good for her. “I don’t do well when I don’t have something to work towards. Even in the studio, when we’re recording stuff, I always need something to do. I’m only needed to record for an hour of the two-day session. So, I’m on my laptop, designing some new merch.

“I must do this and that, otherwise, I will just wind everyone up with relentless questioning and planning. I always take my laptop with me and keep myself busy.”

Becky Baldwin, Fury. Photo: Paul Hutchings
Becky Baldwin, Fury. Photo: Paul HutchingsPhoto: Paul Hutchings

As we wrap up, I ask Becky Baldwin about her recent visit to Anaheim and the latest NAAM show, which you will have seen covered in MetalTalk in some depth. Becky is happy to tell me about it. “It was great. The last time I went to it was in 2020, just before the lockdown, so it was nice to be back with things back to normal.

“I was excited to come back. For me, it’s more about networking and getting to meet these people, keeping in people’s minds my attempt to stay relevant. A lot of people do it for all the gear. I find that element of it very difficult because I’m not obsessed with gear. I love the gear I have, and that’s great. I hate overcomplicating things. I hate having too many things because I’m terrible with hoarding.

“If I get given something, I will keep it forever, and I won’t be able to let go of it. But it was great. I got a quick photo of Geezer Butler. He signed my book, and he’s my favourite musician ever. So that was great. I met Devin Townsend again. Some of the guys from Testament, Alex Skolnick and Steve DiGiorgio, were great. And Joey Vera was there for a couple of days. I got to speak to him, which was really nice. He was really positive and supportive about the whole thing.”

If you see the photo of Becky and Joey, they look like old friends. We have a quick check-in about Becky’s partner, Luke Appleton, who has a busy time of his own. There’s a new Blaze Bayley album coming out, and he’s got Absolva and, of course, the Luke Appleton Trio as well. “Yes, there’s loads of touring. In fact, in the first four months of this year, he’s been home about seven days,” Becky says, “but it’s great because that means I get to keep this space how I want it.”

It’s always a joy to catch up with Becky Baldwin. I often don’t get to speak to her at Fury shows as she is always deep in conversation with their fans. It’s evident that the smile is fully on her face now, and with more work to keep her occupied, including more social media and Patreon stuff, 2024 will be anything but quiet.

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