Interview with Saxon’s BIFF BYFORD: “We should have been the opening act [The Big 4]”
Examiner.com’s Justin Tedaldi hooked it up with Saxon frontman Biff Byford about their upcoming album, promoting heavy metal as a religion, the Big 4, and Elton John. Portions of that interview can be seen below.
Also, while I’ve got the content space available to do as well as the fact that I dig the hell out of Saxon and Ruthless, please note that Saxon will be headlining at The Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana, CA on October 2, 2011. Saxon will be heavily supported by RUTHLESS and ANGER AS ART. Check out the promo flyer below. Now, onto the interview…
Q: Tell us about the new album [Call to Arms]
BB: It’s a great collection of songs and we’ve got a special liking to it. It’s gotten fantastic reviews around the planet, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that people like it and that our old fans will buy it and new fans will want to buy it as well. That would be great.
Q: After 30 years in heavy metal, how do you stay inspired when recording a new album?
BB: It’s just coming up with a great guitar hook and a great vocal melody, hoping that people will like what we do, really. It’s a bit of a gamble, making albums, because you never know who’s going to like it.
Q: As a veteran of the scene, does it get harder or easier to tour with the live shows?
BB: I think it’s actually hard, but it’s always hard touring. You speak to any touring band that tours the world, it’s the hours—flying to L.A. or flying to Singapore, playing in London. It’s always hard work traveling the world, but we always feel like we’re doing something important.
Q: How about playing onstage? Does it get more comfortable as time goes on?
BB: In some parts of the world. For instance, in America, down in Texas, we probably [play for] five, six thousand people, but then in certain towns in the world, it’s more like 900 people. So that’s never changed for us; we’re just as happy in front of 95,000 in Germany as we are in front of 200 people in New York, you know? As long as they’re into it, we’re happy.
Q: We had the Big 4 here in New York this month…
BB: We should have been the opening act.
Q: I wanted to ask you about that. If there was a British Big 4, who else would you like to play with?
BB: We just did these dates in Spain; everybody called it the Big 3. It was Judas Priest. Motorhead, and Saxon. And we did about fifteen, twenty thousand people a night. So that was a great tour for the fans.
Q: You’ve expressed interest in promoting heavy metal as a religion. What does heavy metal to you personally?
BB: To me, heavy metal is the way you play music and the way it sounds. There’s a lot of bands that play heavy music, but to me it’s about the way you play and the attitude…that’s heavy metal for me.
Q: It continues to endure while other trends come and go. The fans are really dedicated.
BB: More than any genre, they’re loyal for a long, long time. They take their children along, and they’re fans as well.
Q: Recently, veteran metal acts like Scorpions and Judas Priest have announced their plans to retire, at least from touring. What are your thoughts on this?
BB: I don’t know why [Priest is] retiring, I don’t understand…I think they’re making a new album to see how it goes. If they do an album like Painkiller or something else [like that], I think they’d change their tune.
Q: In 1986, Saxon recorded the song Party Til You Puke with Sir Elton John…
Q: How did that happen?
BB: He was in the same studio complex in Holland, and the producer, Gary Lyons, had done two of Elton John’s albums, so he asked him to play on [our] album, and we thought it would be quite a bit of a laugh if he recorded on Party Til You Puke, which ended up being a heavy rock tune…it was good, actually; he quite enjoyed it.