On Sunday, May 29, Gardena Dogtown hosted an evening of metal, featuring two local tribute bands. The headliner, British Steal, honors the music of English metal pioneers Judas Priest, and we chatted with them about it all. When did the band form, where and why? The band was formed in September 2021 in the South Bay of Los Angeles by brothers Mark (drums) and Mike (guitar) Hanson. They had worked with Bil Meadowcroft (vocals) for several years in the successful cover band Almost Famous, but with their shared love of Priest, they knew they had to create a tribute act to the Metal Gods! The band recruited Stu Fujinami (guitar), from thrash legends Heretic, and Danny DeRosa, from Anthem Road (bass), and British Steal was born!
Can you remember when you first heard Priest’s music? We all started listening to Priest in the early ‘80s. After hearing albums like Hellbent for Leather, British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith, we knew that metal had changed forever. The bar was set high and everything that came after would be measured against that era.
What makes them so special? Rob Halford’s dynamic vocals and the dual guitar attack; their rhythm section is also solid as a rock.
Is the music hard to replicate? Some of the tunes are harder to replicate live, but we live for the challenge. With Bil’s amazing voice and our band’s musicianship, we can really dive into the Priest catalog – every song is fair game!
What makes a great tribute band? First and foremost, a great tribute act has to sound like the band they are covering exactly how the audience remembers them. No shortcuts! If you think you know Priest’s music note-for-note, just wait until you meet some of our diehard fans! They know every track from every album, live or studio, and nothing gets past them. It starts with the frontman – no surprise – and we think we have the best in the business with Bil. He can channel Rob Halford like nobody else. On stage, he sounds, acts, and resembles Halford so much that it’s hard to distinguish them! Our dual lead guitarists recreate the sound and style of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing to a shocking degree, and like the Metal Gods, our rhythm section is among the best. We pay attention to every detail and come as close as we can to representing Priest musically.
What has been your career highlight so far? We recently played a Tribute show at the Garden Amphitheater in Garden Grove to over 1,500 folks. What do you have play recently at this Gardena set? We (had) a few tricks up our sleeve, although we can’t go wrong, we’re playing Priest—the Metal Gods. What else does the band have planned in the coming months? World domination of the Tribute scene. And shows! A lot more shows. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @SoCalBritishSteal for dates.