An Interview with
on 17th June 2009 by Glenn Milligan
Glenn: Hiya Blaze, how ya doing mate?
Blaze: Alright, how ya doin, is that Glenn?
Glenn: It is yeah.
Blaze: I’m alright, how are ya?
Glenn: Pretty Good Dude. What made you decide to put a concept album together?
Blaze: Well it’s not really a concept – it’s just a theme. We didn’t really think about it. We just.. all the ideas that we had seemed to go together and it just ended up being that way. Once we looked at the songs we had, we thought, ‘Hang on, if we put them in this order they are gonna tell a story and that was it. So from the start when we jammed through ‘The Man Who Would Not Die’ – the first rehearsals and then I had the lyrics to ‘Blackmailer’ which was pretty keen on and from some ideas that Nico came up with as well then it turned out to be to be a theme mainly about someone who wanted revenge and retribution – someone who had up until that time just tried to live and hadn’t really fought too much and it was ‘well sometimes you gotta fight and sometimes you gotta get your f*ck*n’ own back’ and that’s why.
We’d all lived in different ways and different things had happened to us all and so it starts off telling the story of someone who realises they have to fight back and not be what other people say and not be.. other people aren’t gonna decide who you are or the way you live or what your fate is – so that’s the start of it and in the end ‘The Serpent Hearted Man’ is the story of ‘I accept now what has happened to me, I am not gonna let myself be ruled by my past but I’m not gonna but I’m not gonna igmore it, I’m gonna say, ‘This is the day that I live today and this is where I start from and each new day is a new place to start and I’m not gonna be dragged back into the past but also I’m not gonna forget it’.
So it is quite a personal story in a lot of ways because I had to work a few jobs while I was trying to get things together and while we were trying to get our own record together and make the album and all of this and no record deal or anything like that so I was working in a factory for a while and certainly a part of that was an inspiration for ‘Robot’ and also part of the inspiration for ‘Waiting For My Life To Begin’ because for a while I wasn’t a singer in a band trying to get a band together and trying to make it I was just a factory worker. Not trivialising that but I was a factory worker who used to be in a band. Then I worked in a shop. I was a shopworker who used to be in a band and that was my life and then as I had the chance to make a comeback and get a band together then obviously I wrote about those experiences and what they meant to me. I think you know, it’s the same for a lot of people and you’re not unique or special in that way that have been through that. Loads of people work jobs that they don’t like while they dream of doing something else.
Glenn: Oh definitely.
Blaze: Not everybody gets the luxury and the privilege that we have in the bands but you can actually eek out a living from what we want to do and what we are good at. So that’s not the same for everybody and we don’t all have those choices and sometimes, you know, we are just stuck and when you are stuck it’s difficult to see a way out and all of those feelings and all of those reflections are in the lyrics of the album really.
Glenn: It’s pretty amazing that because a lot of guys who have been like big stars in their day, they are like ‘I’m not gonna do a normal job I am....’ but you’ve gotta make ends meet haven’t you so...
Blaze: Yeah I suppose for me it was about not selling out because if I worked... for me working a regular job of being a regular person then I wasn’t betraying my past. I wasn’t saying, “Well people used to think of me as a credible artist, as someone who really stood by what he said but now I’m playing covers pretending to be somebody else”. So I could have done that and I could have been quite successful and made enough money singing other peoples songs or just singing Iron Maiden songs but I refused to do that. If I couldn’t do it on my own terms or I couldn’t do it properly then there were too many people and too many fans that thought enough of me. I thought, ‘No, I’d rather not do it.’ If I can’t do my best and I can’t do it on my own terms, I’m just not gonna do it and that’s why I ended up working a regular job because to me selling out was singing covers or singing somebody else’s songs or just making my name – just going out singing my Iron Maiden catalogue or that was it. So I decided, ‘No I just can’t do it’. That really would be suicide for me so I worked a job and tried and I kept hoping and luckily I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to make a comeback.
Glenn: I mean because you’ve done that and kept out the way until you’ve been ready to do it, people or journalists or fans or whatever, they can’t turn round to you and say, “He’s a has been and he’s just doing it to coin the cash”. You’ve been doing your job to bring in the money which is brilliant really.
Glenn: Where did the title of the album come from? Was it because you wanted to be the man who wouldn’t die and wanted to come back or was that through various other members of the band that came up with it?
Blaze: It’s just from... the way that we work as a band and I mean we’ve started this band from scratch really – started from nothing but basically this time I knew I had to change the name to Blaze Bayley because nobody knew who Blaze was and they thought... and if you Google ‘Blaze’ you get a thousand things and nothing to do with the singer from Iron Maiden or Wolfsbane. You Google ‘Blaze Bayley’ you get wikipedia and you see me and you see what I’m doing and what I’ve done. So I knew that from speaking to fans – I met so many fans that didn’t know who Blaze was but they knew Blaze Bayley and they used to say, “What are you doing?” and I said, “Well I’ve made 4 albums since I left ‘Maiden”, and they said, “We didn’t know that. So I knew there was something wrong. When we started getting the band together I said to everybody before,
“Right well this is how I want it to be and this is the idea is I want everybody to share in the music. The most important thing is the best idea is the one that makes it onto the album – the strongest idea and every song has to have its own identity. We’re not chasing the charts, we’re not trying to be commercial but what we are trying to do is create songs that live themselves and when the idea comes up we have to follow that idea and give it its own life and follow it where it takes us – be that into a 10 minute song or a 2 minute song – wherever that feels natural and where the emotional connection is – that’s what we have to follow. We can’t try and mould it – we have to find out where it becomes its own shape and its own identity”,
And we all got behind that idea and so I had a title – well it was just a line that I had been interested in for a while, ‘The Man Who Would Not Die’ because I really liked the idea that you had a choice. There is a choice that ‘The Man Who Wouldn’t Die’ isn’t someone who is invulnerable; it’s not someone who is unbreakable – ‘The Man Who Would Not Die’ is someone who is broken and smashed and breathing his last breath but still will not die. So it’s not someone who is invincible. It’s someone whose strength and spirit says “No, I refuse to go”.
So I had that idea and then
we were just jamming in rehearsals and Nico had just this crazy idea
and Larry is the double –bass demon and it just came together
in about 5 minutes and we had most of the song there. The chorus just
came and it was, ‘F*ck*ng Hell – Where did that come from?”,
and then I sat down with the lyrics and Nico and I went through the
lyrics and I had most of them and we just went down and put them together
and it just told that story - a bitterness and a resentment and a refusal
to give up because people said you should. “Oh you should give
up now”, “Oh well you’re no good so you haven’t
got a record deal”.
Well who the f*ck are you to say whether I’m good or not since you never bough one of my albums, since you never paid for one of my songs, since you never came to one of my concerts but now you’ve dropped me from your record label which is losing money and supports loads of acts but they’re absolutely crap – then who the hell are you to say if I’m good or not when there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of fans who listen to my music and say, “This is a really credible artist”, so that was where that came from. That came up not long after we’d done ‘Serpent Hearted Man’ so that was it and that goes into ‘Blackmailer’ on the album which is a completely true story about SPV. Basically the Boss of SPV was very proud of the fact that he’d been in the business such a long time and built his label up and everything and he shook my hand and said, “Yes we will support you, yes we will give you money for tour support”, I said, “Well I’m planning to do 150 shows with a stage set this year and take it everywhere” and he said, “Yes we’ll support you”, and then I paid for it all and they never gave me a penny and then he said, “Oh we only have the license for Europe and to give you the next part – the next advance which is in the contract, we want the license for the whole world”, and basically until I said “Yes” they wouldn’t give me any money. Of course by this time I was practically ruined because of paying for a tour, thinking, ‘because I trusted someone’. So that was it – so he did blackmail me, they blackmailed me – they lied to me, they cheated to me and that was it really. So that’s it – You stole the rest of the world from me. They stole the licenses for the rest of the world for which if I’d sold those licenses for my album – even at a few hundred quid each, there were enough countries there to keep me going. But they stole and I couldn’t do that then – so that was it – they blackmailed me and they strangled me. So those lyrics are completely about that situation.
‘Smile Back At Death’ is loosely based around the events in the film ‘Gladiator’ because Nicholas and I had a very strong affinity with that character and his refusal not to die. He had to go through the darkness and then all he lived for was revenge was to say, “Right my existence is valid and worthwhile because of my loved ones”, and that really meant something to us. So we worked very closely together on the lyrics for that and the whole band worked wit the music and everything. That’s a song that we’re very, very proud of because we feel that what we wanted from the song he gave us because he had a very strong identity, has a huge strong theme and it tells a story in the sound of the vocal let alone the lyrics. Vocally we managed to get the emotion of, “Yep – I am lost and I am alone but also I’m angry and I’m vengeful”, and we’re really, really proud of that. When we were mixing that with Jase Edwards, that was one of the songs where, you know, you get those rare moments in the studio where you look at each other and smile and laugh and that was one of the songs. Like, “F*ck*n’ Hell I can’t believe it’s actually worked”. It was such a ... it seems so pretentious and I think that is where we were going as well even if it feels like at times it may be pretentious – if this is where it’s leading to this big story then we have to go with it. We can’t feel, ‘Oh we can’t do this because people might think that...” Well if it feels right – that’s where we have to go with it and we’re all so proud of that and now that’s one of my absolute favorite songs to sing live.
Glenn: Right got ya – sounds great. I am surprised nobody has picked you up on a label or is it more that fact that you don’t wanna go down that line of being screwed by a label again so you thought you’d do it yourself?
Blaze: Well, you know, there is this myth which young bands are sold – particularly now and we hear it on X-Factor and we hear it on Orange Unsigned and all of this and you’ll get signed and you’ll have a million pound record deal – you get signed. And What does it mean to be signed? Well I’ve been on four different record labels, maybe 5. I’ve been on major labels and I’ve been on small labels and what it means to be signed is that someone else will completely set the agenda for you and as an artist – that’s if you consider yourself an artist then your choices will be limited and your thoughts and feelings will not be taken into consideration. One of the interesting things was we’d managed to get most of the band together and we hadn’t got a record deal and Nick and I were talking one day – we were watching Orange Unsigned or one of those programmes and they were all just going, “Yes well maybe we’ll get signed”, they’re all goin’ and Nick turned to me and said, “What’s the big deal about getting signed? What’s the big deal about having someone tell you what to do?” I just reflected on everything that had happened to me since I started the Blaze band and got on SPV and I thought, ‘You know, that’s it – it’s just not worth it’ because they didn’t understand the music. They didn’t know why people liked me. They had no clue what it was to be an artist and live your life for something beyond yourself and to be prepared to give something beyond. They had no idea of that.
Blaze: So they stuffed me and spoilt albums and so it was “No – we’ll do it ourselves and if we only do it small, we’ll do it small”. When I went to the distributor, I went “Right, would you be interested?” and they said, “Yes, when do you wanna release it?” and I thought, “Oh God – it’s just a breath of fresh air” So my wife, my late wife managed to find a way for us to make the album and bring it out and that was it. So everything we’ve done has been on our terms we’re looking in that way but it hasn’t been an accident and I think even if... I remember some of the PR people that we had for Germany, they said, “Well we know this record label that’s taking bands on and I said, “We are a record label and we have a band”. We’re not interested in that – what could they possibly give us? What inducement could they say apart from giving us enough money to make us give up music (laughs). There’s nothing you could do really.
Glenn: Apart from giving you a few million pounds or something (I joke).
Blaze: You wanna step back into the situation where you have no chance when you bring out your album, how your fans are treated, what packaging they get, what value for money your fans have, if they’re robbed or stolen from by the record company – you have no control over that. So no thanks.
Glenn: And it always gets me that when labels release an album and then 6 months later they re-release it with an extra CD so the fans have got to go out and buy it all again and it’s just a con.
Blaze: That’s one of the common (things) as five people who are fans running a record label then you can see the financial side of it and you can also see the fan side of it and what we try and do is make sure that every single thing we do is great quality just the same as all the artist like Iron Maiden’s. Saxon and Metallica – just as good quality as theirs. But also great value so if we bring something out we don’t wanna make the fans... and take advantage of the fact that they collect stuff, make ‘em chase around and, ‘I’ve got to have every song by Blaze – that means I’ve got to have a load of albums that’s just got one different song on it’, but you know – we’re just not that sort of band. So we try really hard to make things very special if we can. So we’ve done our own DVD called ‘The Night that would not die’ and that’s from Z7 and that has one different song on it that is not from anywhere else and that is a live DVD but that song isn’t part of the live set. People have said, “Would you put that on another album”, and we said, “No – that is the only place that that will appear – you’ll never see that anywhere else.
If you have that DVD then
you will have that set and you will have this but it won’t be
on any other record or appear anywhere else because it was only for
that situation – it’s nothing else apart from that”.
So we try and stick to those things as best we can. So we did a limited
numbered run of 500 with a t-shirt – a one-off t-shirt and a one-off
wrist band. So we know anybody that comes to our show wearing that t-shirt,
we nickname them the 500 because we know there are only 500 fans in
the world with that t-shirt so that’s really f*ck*n’ cool
man. We look at each other in the band and say, “Look there’s
another of the 500”, and we know because they all paid in advance
for their DVD – they sent the money off and that was the only
reason we could make the DVD because they all paid in advance for it.
So they trusted us to make the DVD and without their support then we
wouldn’t have done it. So that we know that’s 500 very special
people that supported and believed in the band. So it’s really,
Glenn: So I suppose you do all your meet and greets and that sorta stuff?
Blaze: Well mostly what we try and do if we haven’t got to rush off anywhere then after every show then we try and sign and give some time to people bringing all the stuff that they got and that’s it. So instead of disappearing backstage, normally I try and sign straight after and it’s a thing really to give people a signature and have a photo especially when they give you so much support and so much encouragement.
Blaze: So that’s what we try and do and we always try and make ourselves available after every show. There’s no like a ‘meet and greet’ as such with us because you get the opportunity to meet us and greet us. Sometimes we have a special thing when we’re on tour where we’ll run a competition in a paper to say, ‘Hey come and hang out with the band before we go on’, but that’s rare but we always try and sign all of the time. It’s only like when we’re in places where we have to get off the stage and catch a flight to the next place...
Glenn: Yeah that makes sense.
Blaze: ...to make it to the next place but sometimes we don’t but we always try.
Glenn: I find it so degrading to fans where they say, ‘If you pay an extra few quid you can have the VIP package and meet the band and have one photo.
Blaze: It’s disgusting.
Glenn: I know – it’s like, hang on a minute – these kids have made you and you’re trying to screw ‘em for more money to meet ya. I hate that sh*t.
Blaze: We’re absolutely against that – that’s milking things.
Glenn: It’s terrible.
Blaze: It’s milking things. It’s disgusting because they already support you and you already have people’s money so why are you trying to take more money off them. Why are you trying to Cap(italise)? Shouldn’t you be trying to make new fans rather than absolutely milk every single penny out the people that give you their support.
Glenn: I know man.
Blaze: So we never do anything like that. There’s no situation – though we did have somebody from America saying, “I’d like to bring you on tour and we could charge extra to meet the band”, and we said, “No, we’re absolutely not that band – you’ve got the wrong idea if you think that – we are just not that band.” People come and see us if they buy... we sell our CD's at our shows, we sell our t-shirts there - if they buy our CD and our t-shirt – that’s it. All fans are created equal – they don’t need to pay any extra.
Glenn: Yeah – we’re British and that’s how we think.
Blaze: (Laughs) Well Yeah . We’re British Working Class and I come from a working class family – from a poor family – so that’s it – that’s how I think.
Glenn: How did the band get together?
Blaze: Well I had the opportunity. Somebody got in touch with me to say, “We think we could make a Blaze Bayley DVD” and it was a Polish company and they were doing a huge gig in Poland – 8 camera shoot and audio and all of this business and they said, “We really think you can do this and we’ll give you an advance for it and all of that”. I thought, ‘Well this could be the start of my comeback’ because I had not record deal – I’d just been working in the shop and by that time I was so ill with depression that I couldn’t work at all – I couldn’t do anything.
My wife was supporting me and we looked at it and thought, ‘Perhaps this could be the start of a comeback’ and I didn’t have a proper band or anything. I said, “We could maybe start with this. This could be something that could.. we could get the band together and keep it together and get things rolling again”.
So that’s what we did, so we started looking for musicians and this time what I said was, “Okay, I’m just not gonna be practical. What I’m gonna try and do is find people that I think could do the best job and people that I can get along with and people who understand what Metal is and what their view of music is – Is it their whole life? And while they’re prepared to sacrifice for that and as a musician what is their integrity and what do they believe about songwriting and about the value of the fans and everything.” So I just basically started looking on myspace because at that time everybody was putting their stuff up their and I managed to... I saw David Bermudez in a video in his band ‘Under Threat’ and I thought, ‘F*ck*n’ ‘ell – this guy can play’ and I read all his influences and listened to the music and I thought, ‘I ‘d really like to work with this guy’, and I got in touch with him and he was from Bogata, Columbia and he was living in Wisconsin in the USA and I got in touch with him and I phone him up and I said, “Right, this is what I wanna do, this is the idea of the project, you know I want it to go on – we are gonna work in advance. It should be the 1st thing we do, it should be a great springboard for us and then we are gonna put our own label together and then we are gonna try and do this and that and, you know, mainly we are gonna try and stay on tour the whole time and play anywhere that we can and that’s the way I see it going and we’ll never compromise the music and we’ll all be equal in the band”.
He said, “Yep”, he said “Yeah, I like the idea. My band’s not doing anything. I’d really like the opportunity to come along. I really think there’s something there that we could work on”, and he comes from more of a death metal background and he always thought that musically if you had a vocal like mine over some of the things that come from that death metal – some of the powerful riffs and things like that then it could be quite an interesting combination and that’s what we started doing. David and I started then. I said, “Well Dave, the next thing is we gotta find a great... a magnificent lead guitarist that’s song orientated” and he said, “Well I think my brother would be up for that”, and he said, “If you’d like to talk to him”. So Nico Bermudez was living in Bogata at that time. He’d more or less given up on the mainstream music business because he’d had similar experiences to me.
Glenn: Yeah, I was looking at his profile this afternoon.
Blaze: Yeah they made two
albums, they got nowhere just for all the same reasons that my records
didn’t get anywhere and I spoke to Nico about it and he was really
interested in doing that and so that was the core of the band that we’d
started with. Then we made the DVD and we had somebody filling in on
guitar (Rich Newport) and on drums (Rico Banderra) and then after the
DVD then we carried on and we found Lawrence Patersson. We had some
problems with visa and we couldn’t get Dave and Nick for all the
gigs that we needed so I knew Jay Walsh from ‘Four Way Kill’
because he supported the ‘Blaze’ band and I always respected
the way that he sounded different and the way he was on stage, the riffs
that he’d come up with and things like that and I thought, ‘God
this guy creatively, this guy’s really got something because he
is not following anybody, he’s not trying to be anybody but he’s
really trying to get his own identity together and put that into his
music. Anyway he came to fill in and then as we got things sorted out,
then it was just, “Well why don’t you just stay and be a
full member” and that was it. So we had a full line-up and we’ve
written the album together, had a few ideas before and we worked on
those and then Nico brought some ideas in, Dave brought some ideas in
and it all started to happen. Just such... it’s been a real struggle
to get the band together and we just say to ourselves, “Well the
album that we’ve got – we are so proud of that we think
it’s been worth it.
Glenn: I know when you mentioned ‘Columbia’ and ‘Wisconsin’ I thought, ‘Oh sh*t here we go – Immigration, Customs, Visas and all that, I bet they had a right bl**dy job.
Blaze: Yeah we have all the time – that’s a part of our band. We’ve got a song on the album, ‘Crack In The System’ and we put that song together after we were on the phone to I think it was the Norwegian Embassy for £1.50 a minute – we were on there for an hour and a half waiting to get through and then at the end of it they said, “Go and visit the website”.
We just had a fit. As musicians we just don’t fit. It’s like People say, “Well how do you live?”, and we go, “Well erm, whenever we’ve got money we buy food and whoever’s got the money they get it”. Then they go, “How’ve you managed to survive in Finland for 2 months with no money”, and we go, “Well because we’re musicians because people believe in our band and support us to try and help us get somewhere to get..”. But they said, “Well nobody’s like that”, and NICO’s goin, “Well we are like that – here I am and that’s what I’ve done and I haven’t got any money and I haven’t had any money and these people have supported me and fed me and made sure I had a roof over my head while I’m trying to get this visa sorted out”. So we have all of these problems and our touring – everything we constantly have to think three steps ahead. ‘Right, when are gonna tour?, right have we got enough time to get the visas?, Where do we have to get the visas from? How long will the passports be away?’, so it’s just constant. To do the tour that we’ve just done all around Europe and everything, it’s been a lot of work to sort everything out.
Glenn: I bet.
Blaze: But then again we just keep reminding ourselves, ‘Well every time we turn up to a little gig in the middle of nowhere that’s somewhere in Europe then we have such a fantastic reaction and people are so glad to see us and really appreciate our music and then you think, ‘Well it’s worth it if something seems to happen’. Somewhere I think people seem to be ready for a band that is not pretentious and does it for the music and on their own terms.
Glenn: Yeah – that’s cool. Talking about gigs, where’s been your favourite gigs you’ve played so far with the new band?
Blaze: It’s varied really. We did a huge gig in Sweden called ‘SwedenRock’ and I had the opportunity to play there before and we headlined the second stage...
Blaze: ...and we had a huge crowd to play for. So that was.. that was absolutely fantastic and the other one of my favourites was one of the smallest gigs on the whole tour. We played a tiny room underneath a brewery in Chambery, Mont Blank and it was a capacity of like 80 people.
Blaze: It was just the bar underneath the factory. It’s a brewery – they make beer and there was no other place for us to play and a fan had organized that we go there and there was no stage or anything – just a bit of a PA and a couple of lights and it was packed with people. It was just absolutely a fantastic experience to be in everybody’s face and everybody being a part of the gig that it was really, really cool. I hadn’t done anything in France for ages and I’d had problems with the old management and all of this and I had to cancel gigs in France and all of that and we went there and it was the first time for years and it was just fantastic. So you just don’t know. For us every gig is important so it doesn’t matter if you’re on a big stage or on a small stage. The important thing is that we do our absolute best and try and connect with people and say, “Look we believe in this music and this is a part of us and we want you to see that and we want you to be involved in it”. So far most places on the tour, people seem to understand that.
Glenn: Excellent. How was the gig at the Victoria Inn at Coalville. I wanted to come down for that but I was ill.
Blaze: I think it was alright. It seemed to go ok. You’ll have to ask the people that were there really. I just did my best. So yeah – it seemed to go OK.
Glenn: Yeah. Which songs are down well the most from the new album?
Blaze: Well I think we started playing a lot of different ones and we’ve changed the set around quite a bit but I think ‘Robot’ and ‘Man Who Would Not Die’ and also ‘Voices From The Past’. People seem to really listen to those songs and get involved with them. What we are gonna try and do in November is we’re gonna try and play a set where we play everything from the new album and try and record it. To kind of say, “This is where we are with all of that before we move onto the next album”, so I’m quite looking forward to that because I don’t know whether we’ll dot the songs around a regular set or play them one after the other or whatever but that’s something that we’re looking forward to doing in November.
Glenn: Excellent. Do you find that when you play a gig you get some fans shouting for (Iron) Maiden songs and you think, ‘Oh god, here we go again’?
Blaze: Well we played.. well we started off in Brazil because it was the first. I’d been there before but it didn’t go well and I treated it like the 1st time I went there. We played a lot of Maiden songs in the set alongside the new songs and then places where I have been before and people have seen me a lot and they know me, then we play a lot less Maiden. So I think we’ve probably got 3 Maiden songs in the set at the moment and the rest of it is mostly new and Blaze stuff and that seems to go ok. In the UK and parts of Europe where people know us, people seem to understand and listen to the new album and that’s obviously what we’re trying to get people into and establish ourselves as a band and go, “This is the Blaze Bayley Band, this is how we sound, we’re gonna be making other albums and this is gonna be the lineup that does those albums. That seems to be going ok. There are... it’s interesting that some people shout for a Maiden song and then other people will shout for something off a Blaze album. So that’s really quite interesting and I think in the UK there are a lot of people that have had Blaze albums but haven’t necessarily come to see us before and that’s quite satisfying.
Glenn: Yeah I remember seeing you a good few years since – maybe about 2001 or something and it’s when you’d got John Slater in the band. You were supporting Helloween at Rock City in Nottingham.
Blaze: Yeah great tour that.
Glenn: Yeah – you were just absolutely buzzing, running around on the sides of the stage and really throwing it together and I thought your set was more entertaining than Helloween’s altogether.
Blaze: Oh well that’s good then isn’t it.
Glenn: Yeah that was a great gig that was. What would you say the highlights were recording the album ‘The Man Who Would Not Die’?
Blaze: I dunno. The album nearly didn’t get made. It’s been a disaster from start to finish to be honest. It’s been... we set out with the best of intentions with some great songs and we’d done our rehearsals and then we’ve had technical problems all the way through the recording of the album and in the end it was so bad we got in touch with Jase Edwards who used to be with Wolfsbane and now he runs his own little studio and mobile recording business. I said, “Look can you help me with this because it’s just... we’ve set a release date – we just can’t make it because it’s a mess. The whole recording has got really messed up”. We took it to him and he started putting everything back together for us and then we started fixing parts and finishing parts with him and being like 14/15 days he’d turned it from a mess that sounded nothing like the songs we rehearsed into something that sounded really exciting and great and sounded like an album full of songs and it was just incredible. We almost had given up, we were ‘Oh no, how we gonna do this?’, there was a sense of real doom within the band and then he managed to pull that together for us and it was great. But even up to the last minute we delivered the master to the distributor ready to get pressed and everything and we had a barbeque, “Oh it’s finally done, it’s finally done”. Then the next morning we had, “No we need a new master because this one’s got certain things missing off it”, and we we’re, “What! Oh ya joking?” and then we had to do it that all on that day because otherwise it wouldn’t make the release date we’d set ‘em. Oh it was just absolute madness man. So the highlight of the whole thing was seeing it in HMV.
Glenn: Do you find that some songs are harder to put together than others or do you think a lot of them just come naturally and you just use them if them if they are natural?
Blaze: I think yeah. Some things go together quickly is what I would say, the way with our style and the way that we write then somethings go together really quickly like ‘Robot’ and ‘Man Who Would Not Die’ and then other songs take a lot more to put together before they’re more complex and they have different places to go and different stories to tell so something like ‘While You Were Gone’ or ‘Voices From The Past’ that has somewhere to go and a story to tell and in the music – not just with the lyric and with the vocal melody. So those ones take more time to put together but we generally always try and follow the way we feel. So we give it a certain amount of time and if we don’t feel that it’s happening then we’ll move on to something else or we’ll just rest it and say, “Well maybe we’ll come back to this next year or something and work on something else”
Glenn: Awesome. How do you keep your vocals in trim so well because they’ve not faltered at all in all these years?
Blaze: Well I mean, I think one of the reasons is that I haven’t done that much touring. I haven’t toured at the level that I wanted to. When I was in Iron Maiden, you know that’s going back over ten years now then we had really long tours with long sets for 9 months at a time and you have to really be careful and live quite a monastic way – not drink too much and try and get a few rested - all of that business. I did those things and I’ve never really abused my vocals much and I’ve always tried to stay away from drinking and I’ve never done cocaine or any of those drugs because in the end it’ll make you talk too much or you won’t feel that you’re straining your voice and they are really destructive things for your voice so I’ve always tried to be careful in those ways. I just try to be conscious of having good technique.
Over the years I haven’t gone, “This is my voice and this is the way I sound and that’s it”. I’ve gone, “Okay, how can I improve my technique? How can I last longer? How can I improve my register? How can I find the told that I need to give the emotional deliver that I want and how can I make that consistent?”. So I have worked on my technique, had odd vocal lessons and training to pick up different tips from people of how to make your voice last and I’ve tried to take care of it and sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not there 100%. I’m just err, I suppose I’m lucky in a way and we always try and write the songs in a register that is comfortable as well so we try not to push the vocal somewhere that it doesn’t wanna go because the way that I feel is the real emotion of the voice is what we try and do with our music and our songs and that’s not in the higher registers, that’s in the middle registers and lower registers where you are saying, “I am sad, I am angry”, you know, “I am lost”. Those are all feelings that you can portray in a kind of soulful way in lower registers.
So when we are writing, we
always try and make sure that we’re not spending too much time
in those higher registers and make sure that we are spending time in
a range where it’s comfortable but also that you can really say
something. I suppose it’s that combination really though you can’t
take it for granted. Every night I’m nervous (thinking) ‘Will
it be there ?’ and the irony of it is sometimes I can’t
speak before the show because my voice is so tired but I just about
manage to get through the songs and make the songs sound recognizable.
It’s been quite a difficult tour in that way but I suppose the
fans seem to appreciate the fact that even if I faulter occasionally
here and there, they know that I’m doing my best and I’m
trying to put over the emotion of the song. I don’t think anybody
comes to see Blaze Bayley to see a perfect vocal performance. I think
people come to see the songs performed in a way that’s real.
Glenn: Yeah and at the end of the day we are all human and we can’t go 24/7 all the time can we so everyone’s got to appreciate that.
Glenn: What would you say you are most proud of so far?
Blaze: I think really, just managing to keep the band together for as long as we have – that’s the thing. I’ve carried on. My wife wanted me to carry on my music if anything happened to her so I managed to carry on and we’ve managed to keep the band together. We have a great album which I’m really, really proud of but I think anybody that’s been in a band or tried to do their own business or anything – to manage to keep a group of people together and manage to keep the band together – I think that’s the biggest achievement. That’s the hardest thing for any band.
Blaze: Just once you get your vibe and once you get your groove – just to keep it together is the toughest thing. I think that’s the thing that I’m most proud of.
Glenn: Do you ever see much or in communication much with guys who were in Blaze like John Slater?
Blaze: No, no but they’ve all contributed towards the book. We’re bringing out a book later in the year and they’ve all contributed towards that book so I’m glad about that and I think those years and that line-up, I think we did some absolutely fantastic work. We did some great songs together, we played some really great shows and there’s nothing that we did really that we can’t be proud of. Where we had the choices then we did our best and where things didn’t go well for us, I think really it was about the business side of it and not really about the music and the band. So I think we all understand that and, you know, as circumstances, it’s not ideal for everybody. Things can’t always work out for everybody – so that’s it. We all have our pasts to follow and it’s not always easy and I think we did some great stuff and we had a good sound and we worked.. we worked well and we got some albums that any one of us in the band could those albums on and go, “Look what I did”.
Glenn: Yeah exactly. What do you think to the state of the music business at the moment.
Blaze: Well I think what’s happening is things are changing slowly and for artists who are prepared to make the effort to take care of the business as well and find out those details, I think it’s going to be a different world. One of the things that we can say is if you look at Download and other festivals that people still wanna see live bands, they wanna go to live music events. I’ve done more shows so far since this year than I have in all of the years with the Blaze band and all my other albums. I’ve toured so far and I still have shows to do – the UK Tour isn’t over yet. So that means that people still wanna see live music. So the people that are really gonna be affected by this are bands like Metallica and U2 and Madonna and all of those artists who are dependant on charts – then they’re gonna suffer and the car ponies that will suffer will be all of the big companies that are chart orientated because when I was on a big label then all of the salesmen that took your record to the shop, they were all paid on a commission that if your record got into the charts – the higher the position they got in the charts – the better their commission was.
Of course that doesn’t make sense to me because I’m not a f*ck*n’ chart band. So I’m not writing pop songs. I’m not trying to get in the charts. I’m not trying to get to number 1, I’m trying to play in front of fans at gigs. I’m trying to have the loyalty and support of fans that will keep me going. I’m not trying to get in the charts and be fashionable – I don’t give a f*ck about that – that doesn’t work for bands like us. But now we have internet. Now 10 years ago if you said, “I’ve brought my own album out on my own label”, people would have gone, “Oh it’s not gonna be as good as them is it if that’s the only thing they could do”. Now they’ll go, “Oh okay, anybody can make and album, anybody can do that”, they’ll listen to it and it sounds just as good as everybody else. Yeah from now it’s a different world from what it was 10 years ago and we feel in our band that, ‘Well we’re on the crest of the wave – we are on the cutting edge of the music business’, because we actually go out play shows, sell CD’s and T-shirts to fans and we are directly in contact with the fans. So we know what’s happening – people come and see us and they buy our CD’s and we know why they like our CD’s, we know why they like our music because we don’t try and make things for people to like. We just do what we feel between us so...
Glenn: Well that comes across.
Blaze: Yeah and we’re on tour.
Blaze: And when I was with SPV and they said, “We don’t think touring sells CD’s”.
Blaze: It’s unbelievable isn’t it?
Glenn: Yeah (I laugh).
Blaze: Absolutely and that’s true – that’s the truth, that’s the absolute truth and here I am now with my band. We are a tiny, little tiny cult band that few people know about and we go out and we’re playing just about every weekend or every week somewhere in Europe or South America and people come to our shows and buy our CD’s. So how is that then and we manage to just about get through and pay ourselves and just about make a living from our music. So then that’s what’s happening isn’t it?
Blaze: If we can do that then there’s gonna be a lot of other bands who start looking at their releases and their schedules and the amount of money that the record company takes off the fans and go, “Well if we had that money, we could have a bigger booklet and we could have a proper tour bus and, you know, we’d actually be able to get somewhere. So I think yeah the music business has changed and I think it’s gonna be in the hands.. There’s a lot of wave – it’s just like the punk days. It’s just like when ‘Virgin’ started. So that’s how I think it is now. Our attitude in our band’s probably is more in common with the punk bands of the 70’s than it does of any other bands of the 90’s.
Glenn: Do you have any plans of doing any gigs in the Sheffield area – up in South Yorkshire?
Blaze: Yeah yeah we will. I’m not sure when we’ll be there. We still have some UK dates left but the closest I think is the SOS Festival in Manchester and then it’ll be next February when we start the UK Tour to go with the new albums. So we’ll be doing it and then next year we’ll be trying to play all the places that we didn’t get to this year – we’ll try and do those next year.
Glenn: I’ve got a quick question from a buddy of mine in Florida – he lives Cape Coral and he was asking if you would possibly be playing in the (United) States?
Blaze: Yeah we are planning that and we’re not sure when it will be but we’ve had an offer in that might take us to Southern California and so.. I know that’s a long way from Florida but we’re definitely trying to fit that in. Whether we can fit that in around visas and everything this year we don’t know but the next World Tour starts in February next year and we’re hoping to visit the States then. We are going to be going to South America in May of next year so we hope around that time that we’ll be able to get to the States for a few shows.
Glenn: Oh that’s good.
Blaze: It’s somewhere
that we’d like to tour but not extensively but we’d like
to get there every year if we possibly can. That would be great for
Glenn: Do you find that your fans can appreciate you different in different areas like from one country to another you get a different type of fan – like male to females – does it vary a lot?
Blaze: I don’t know because we started this part of the tour in January in Brazil and the reaction that we got was absolutely great. People were a bit quieter on the new songs because they didn’t know them. They were going crazy on the Maiden ones and some people knew some of the Blaze songs and everything and then as we’ve gone round Europe then it’s been the same. Some places have been... we haven’t had many people there but they’ve really enjoyed it and other places we’ve had a lot of people and it’s gone crazy. So we keep saying, “Oh it can’t be the same as Brazil”, and everywhere we’ve been it’s been absolutely great. I think what you’ll notice is that the German crowd and the British crowd are a bit more reserved but they like to.. if they haven’t seen you before, they’ll watch you the first few numbers to say, “Well I’ve heard about ‘em but I wanna see for myself”.
Blaze: But that’s about it. We’ve just been really, really lucky everywhere we’ve been that people have decided to come and listen to us themselves. A lot of people have come to see us for the first time and they’ve gone, “Well I’ll check them out and see what I think of ‘em”, and then people have come with an open mind and perhaps have only known the stuff from Maiden and they’ve listened to our new stuff and so far it seems to have gone pretty well. So we keep pinching ourselves and hopefully it’ll continue.
Glenn: Excellent. It sounds good. So what are you looking forward to? More gigs and meeting everyone, selling more CD’s and t-shirts and having a great time?
Blaze: Yeah mainly we’re just.. we’re planning now. We’ve got a few ideas towards the next studio album and we’re not as busy now with touring. We have odd gigs, festivals over the Summer and in-between times then we’ll be writing and doing odd bits and pieces and then we should be in the studio in September/October. We should be then making the new album so we’re all looking forward to that though – we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like. But yeah, those are the plans and we have a few odd shows in November and hopefully our first trip to Greece as a headliner. Then we start then we start the next World Tour in February and hopefully Sheffield will be on that.
Glenn: That’s brilliant. That’ll be good to see you. What other hobbies and interests do you have apart from the music side is it all really concentrated on the music?
Blaze: I ride my motorbike yeah. We got a little, a few of my friends we’ve all got motorcycles and one of the things we do that’s nothing to do with work is to go out on our motorcycles and I’ve a mountain bike as well and I try and ride that when I haven’t got many gigs to keep myself fit’ish. So that’s it yeah. Outside of music obviously I love films so we always... cause I share a house with David & Nico and we’re always buying DVD’s and watching films and stuff like that – 3 single blokes together – yeah. But mostly my interest outside the band if I wanna get away and not having nothing to do with work or anything like that, nothing to do with music then, you know, I go out with my friends on our bikes. Well I’ll look what dates I am free and I’ll then text everybody, “Right fancy a run that day or that day and..”, and whoever’s off because we don’t all work regular hours so we can get quite a few of us out on a Monday afternoon or something like that. So it’s a kind of checking the weather and stuff – so that’s it. Cleaning my motorbike, going out on my motorbike – that’s what I do to get myself not thinking of music.
Glenn: Yeah. What gave you the idea of writing the book?
Blaze: Well I’ve threatened to do it for years and then Lawrence the drummer, he’s actually a published author and I said, “The way that we got this band together, there has to be a book in it”, and he said, “Yeah – I think there is”, and he said, “You know what, I’m gonna write it”.
Glenn: Nice One.
Blaze: And so he’s working on that book now and he has quite a bit more to do to it but it’s in progress and he’s writing that book and he’s gonna bring it out and it’s gonna be the story of Blaze Bayley but also the story of all the guys in the band and how all of us have got to this point to be in this band, make this album and do this tour. So it’s my story but also the story of everybody else. So hopefully people will find that interesting. It’ll be good and band, you know, it’s like I’m absolutely not an angel or a saint so hopefully there will be a lot of things in there that people didn’t know and some truths that need to be told. So we hope that people will like it and that’s due out hopefully in September and the 1st place it’ll be available from will be our online store at BlazeBayley.net and then if it does okay then we might take it to a publisher and put it in the shops as well.
Glenn: I’m looking forward to reading it to be honest with you because I like reading autobiographies etc. I was actually gonna ask you if you ever considered writing an autobiography but this is like as near as you can get somewhat.
Blaze: Yeah it is because it’s my whole life and it’s everybody else’s so we’re hoping it’ll be quite a thick book.
Blaze: So it’ll be out a while before anybody gets chance to write a review about it because they won’t have chance to finish it.
Glenn: Yeah. What do you most miss about the heyday of the 80’s, the mid 80’s or later on?
Blaze: Probably that I was able to drink a lot more and get over a hangover quickly.
( We Laugh)
You know, it was crazy times then man, crazy times when we started Wolfsbane in 1984 and it was crazy times. Motley Crue was at the height and all of that business so it mad times, absolutely mad times. Yeah – a lot of fun and I look back now and I think, ‘Yeah some of it was a lot of fun and some of it I was a f*ck*n’ *rs*h*l*’ and if I could look... if I could go back and if this man could go and tell that young man some of the pitfalls to avoid then that young man would say, “F*ck off, I’ll do it my own way”.
Glenn: Yeah. The thing about it you can’t do that without experiencing then learning by your mistakes.
Glenn: The things that you did then, keep them in mind and not do them all do or not do them all again.
Blaze: Yeah that’s it. It’s a mistake the 1st time and it’s a lesson. If you do it a second time then that’s a big mistake. If you do it a third time – that’s f*ck*ng stupidity.
Glenn: Yeah that makes sense. That’s great – that’s cool. Right I’m gonna let you get off Blaze but it’s been absolutely great talking to you.
Blaze: Alright yeah – well good luck with your article and thanks for having me on your site. I’d just like to say a huge thank you to all of the fans that have given me so much support and encouragement over the last few years and really hope they get a chance to see us and enjoy our shows.
Glenn: Excellent. You take care and have a good rest of the night.
Blaze: Alright then, cheers then Glenn.
Glenn: Take care mate.
Blaze: Alright cheers.
Glenn: Thanks Man. Bye.
A big thank you to Anna Di Laurenzio, Blaze's Manager, Agent, Tour Manager & PR for setting up the Interview and of course to the man himself,
from Blaze Bayley's Collection or by Triple A Image