An Interview with
Drummer of Morpheus Rising and formerly of Saxon & Oliver/Dawson Saxon
that took place early May, 2015.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: How and when did your interest in music begin and why Rock in particular?
Nigel: I really got in to music at about 13. I heard Thin Lizzy's 'Live & Dangerous' at a friends and that's how my love in rock music kind of began. Something just attracted me to it and it's still with me to this day.
Nigel: The drumming happened by accident really. A friend of mine was given a guitar, didn't know what to do with it so we took it to some local guy who could play just about everything. He had guitars, basses, keyboards and a drum kit all crammed in to this little room. He asked me if I fancied a go on anything and I said, "Yeah I'd like to give the drums a try". For whatever reason I found it pretty easy. I could knock out some beats and stuff straight away. He then had me playing along to some rock albums. Then came about 6 months of pleading with my parents to get me a drum kit.
Glenn: What led you to become a member of Saxon originally and what were your thoughts on becoming a member of the band?
Nigel: Well what happened was this. When Steve Dawson was in Saxon he saw me do a gig at Sheffield Polytechnic. After he left Saxon and decided to put another band together, he got in touch with me. I joined up with him and a guy called Steve Johnson (Guitars & Vocals) who had previously been in Statetrooper with Gary Barden. He had also worked with Phil Lynott.
This however was short lived. We did some demos for EMI and a few shows. Then the two Steve's began falling out about various stuff & it kind of fizzled out I guess. Saxon had heard the demos we had done and I got a call to see if I would like to audition for the band when Nigel Glockler left. So off I went down to Chapel Studios where they were writing songs for their next album.
I stayed there for a weekend, drumming on new material and also jamming some old Saxon tunes. After that, Biff sat me down and said the gig's yours if you want it. Of course I said yes. I was over the moon about this.
Glenn: What particular recollections do you have of recording Saxon’s album ‘Destiny’ and which songs meant the most to you and why? I really liked the cover of ‘Ride Like The Wind’ and the song ‘I Can’t Wait Anymore’.
Nigel: The coolest thing about the 'Destiny' album was where it was recorded. It was done at a place called Hookend Manor which previously belonged to Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd. It was this huge mansion with a recording studio, a really great place. We were booked in there for about 3 months to record the album. The drums were done in about 3 days, so the rest of the time I got to laze in the pool, playing snooker & lazing in the sauna. (Very Rock 'n' Roll.)
I don't like the album. EMI & the Producer were trying to make the band more commercial and radio friendly and that just isn't Saxon. Don't get me wrong, of course I enjoyed doing the album & the videos etc. and 'Ride Like The Wind' got a lot of attention. I just wish they would have let Saxon be Saxon.
Glenn: There must be so many great shows while in Saxon but which ones stand out to you during your time with the band and why?
Nigel: This is kind of an easy one this. Playing at Sheffield City Hall was everything back then, having seen all my idols like Maiden, Priest, Saxon, Leppard etc. there. That was a real buzz. Also doing Hammersmith Odeon as well.
The biggest gig I ever did with them was a festival in Benfica football stadium with Bryan Adams to 20,000 people. That was awesome.
Glenn: I must ask, what were the various members of the band like to work with – Do any particular things come to mind you would like to talk about?
Nigel: I got on well with everyone in the band. There weren't any problems and Biff (Byford) was always cool with me.
Glenn: What do you personally miss about being the drummer of Saxon and for what reasons?
Nigel: All of it really. The albums, the touring. Everything I guess.
Nigel: Well I'm pretty friendly with Nigel & his wife Gina. All the drummers that have been in Saxon have all been really good, ( I think) but all different in various ways. That's one of the cool things about all drummers but I don't think we're really similar in any way.
Glenn: Which songs proved to be the hardest to adapt to and nail down drumming for Saxon and for what reasons?
Nigel: I didn't find any of the songs hard drumming wise - just cool to play. I used to love playing a lot of the faster stuff like '20,000 Feet', 'Motorcycle Man' . Stuff like that and of course all the other classics.
Glenn: Apart from the obvious line-up change, what would you were the major differences when it came to being the drummer in Oliver/Dawson Saxon as opposed to Biff’s Saxon and why?
Nigel: Two completely different things. Obviously Saxon shows are on a much bigger level than ODS. Saxon are constantly touring & putting out new material where as Dobby & Graham concentrate on playing all the old Saxon tunes that they were a part of.
Nigel: God every band has Spinal moments but one I do remember was going for a pee at Glasgow Apollo just before going on stage with Saxon. Unfortunately, when I came out of the toilet everyone had gone. The Tour Manager had locked the dressing room with me still inside it. I had to wait for someone to realize and come and let me out. The intro tape was playing and everything.
Nigel: Well I spent about 15 years with them. Loads of laughs & stuff. Playing in the UK & in Europe, even as far as Brazil.
Nigel: Yeah, another Spinal Tap moment. I remember you doing a review of the gig if I remember rightly.
Glenn: Why did you decide to leave Oliver/Dawson Saxon and what do you miss from playing with them?
Nigel: Well after 15 years it was just time for a change really. I'm still friendly with all the guys and I go see them play when I can. It's all good. Definitely miss all the laughs though.
Nigel: Well I got an e-mail from the singer Simon to see if I would be interested in drumming for the band. He sent me some tracks to listen to and I loved the songs right from the start. The high's are doing the bands 2nd album, ‘Eximius Humanus’ & supporting Graham Bonnet in York.
Glenn: Tell us about the current kit that you have right now.
Nigel: At the moment I'm endorsed by an American drum company called 'Crush Drums'; who I have been with for over a year now and the drums are awesome. The cymbals are Turkish cymbals.
Glenn: You’ve been out of action recently due to health issues. Would you to care to tell us about it and how you are right now?
Nigel: I'm due to have an operation shortly to replace a disk at the top of my spine which has been pressing on the nerve roots which go from to the top of my spine/neck and in to my shoulder. This has been causing me all sorts of problems. It's just taken a long time for doctors to pin point what the problem was. Hopefully after the op. I'll be fixed and raring to go.
Glenn: What have you missed most about not being on the drumkit over the last few months and why?
Nigel: Missing out on doing shows. (Morpheus Rising have been using stand in drummers for the past 12 months). Just missing playing in general. It's drove me insane not being able to play.
Glenn: What was it like for you musically and mentally seeing someone else up there in stage on the kit for Morpheus Rising?
Nigel: Musically it was a bit strange watching someone else playing the songs etc but I'm just glad they have been able to get other drummers to stand in for me.
Glenn: How would you say the area of South Yorkshire as a whole has changed over the years with regard to music venues and what are your thoughts of it these days and why?
Nigel: Well I can't really comment on the South Yorkshire thing as I've been living in Nottingham for the last 6 or 7 years. What I have seen in Sheffield is that there aren't many bands playing at the City hall anymore like they used to. It's usually at the O2 Academy, whether it be in the large side or the small side of the venue. Or if they're a really big band at the Arena. (Which I'm not a big fan of anyway).
Glenn: So many people are writing or have written books about their times in various bands. What would it take for you to do the same because I am sure it would be one hell of a read with the characters you’ve work with or met over the years?
Nigel: Well Graham & Dobby have done a book which I think is due to be released soon. Biff has done a book but honestly it's not something I'm really interested in.
Glenn: What are you most looking forward to in the future and for what reasons?
Nigel: That's easy. Drumming again, without a doubt.
Glenn: What moments in the life of Nigel Durham so far would you say you are most proud of so far and why?
Nigel: All the bands I've been a part of. Recording all the albums, touring the world - everything really.
Be sure to check out the following sites:
All images have been by supplied and used by kind permission of Nigel Durham apart from the Sheaf Square, Sheffield Concert Shots that come courtesy of Bernard Froggatt