Nigel Glockler is probably best known of his long career as a drummer for legendary NWOBHM band Saxon. Nigel did his first tour with the band in 1981 as a temporary member when original drummer Pete Gill damaged his hand just days before starting a huge tour. Nigel soon became a permanent member and in the early 1982 Saxon released their highly acclaimed live album “THE EAGLE HAS LANDED” , which is still one of the best live albums ever released. At that point Saxon was on the top of their game. The line up which consisted of vocalist Biff Byford, guitarists Paul Quinn and Graham Olivier, bassist Steve Dawson and Nigel, released three classic albums: “POWER AND GLORY”, “CRUSADER” and “INNOCENCE IS NO EXCUSE” before problems started. In 1986 Dawson left the band and only one year later Nigel decided to leave himself and join the shortlived”supergroup” GTR. After various projects and recordings with such artists as Fastway, Nigel decided to re join Saxon in 1989 and together they did several albums and tours before health problems forced him to again leave the band in 1997. Since leaving Nigel hasn’t been able to play drums in many years but after a long rehabilitation and much training he got back working again and in 2004 he got up on stage and did a few songs as a special quest for Saxon at Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. That show was going to be the last show for Fritz Rainbow, who had replaced Nigel 1997, and at that point Jorg Michael (Stratovarius, ex- Running Wild) became the new drummer for Saxon. The band released the album “LIONHEART” in 2004 but in the middle of the tour Jorg announced that he was going to leave after the tour and re -join his old band Stratovarius. At this point the band decided to contact Nigel and ask him to rejoin band permanently. After some thinking and training Nigel decided to accept an invitation and give it a try.
I met Nigel last December in Stockholm right before Saxon show in Swedenrock festival annual kickoff event and here are the results of our discussion…
TRANSCRIPTION BY DUKE
SAXON line up 2006
THE RETURN AND WACKEN SHOW 2004
Well first of all congratulations for you being back in the band after eight years break!
Thank you very much, it´s been great. I am really enjoying it.
How everything has been going so far?
Excellent! Physically I think I´m playing better than ever. I think the break did me good, because if I´m playing for too long I start getting a bit bored. Not with the music, but with my own playing and with the forced break that I had, I went away from drums for a little while. I was doing keyboards for writing and stuff and then coming back to playing the songs, it´s refreshing again.
You did a couple of tracks with Saxon at the Wacken show in 2004. That was your first time playing live for a long time. How it was to play again in the front of 50 000 or something people?
I was very nervous. I hadn´t played with the band live since –98. I had written with them, I went up to the studio for the writing sessions for “KILLING GROUND”, so I was playing drums in the rehearsal studio but not live. So Wacken was like “Whoa!” But it went great!
Jorg Michael also played a couple of songs at Wacken with the band. When Jörg then joined the band, do you know if it was clear right from the beginning that he was going to stay one year only?
I don´t know. The first time I came across him it was through Geoff Downes again. It was years before. I was doing a session with Geoff after the GTR thing and it was for this English girl and it later turned out that she was Jörg´s wife. We were in Germany and she walked in with Jörg. I was going “What are you two doing together?” “Oh, this is my wife.” As soon as Fritz was gone, I recommended Jörg, but the management had decided that at the same time. I don´t know what the situation was since I wasn´t there, if he was gonna stay forever or what. But when we knew he was going, Biff said “Come on, come back!” and I said “I gotta think about it”. I wanted to make sure it was really what I wanted to do. A couple of months went by and I just told them to leave me alone with all these things going through my brain. Initially I thought that I could at least come back for these 80s gigs. He rang me up from Spain and said, “Well, are you gonna come back?” and I just said “OK, sure”, no excitement in the voice or anything. So he said “Really? For the 80s shows?” “No, I´m back for good.” “Brilliant!” Apparently they were doing some gigs with Deep Purple in Spain and he went into the soundcheck and said “Oh, by the way, Nigel´s coming back”, just completely deadpan, no emotion, just “Nigel´s back”. Nibbs rang me the next day. Actually, the first people I rang up were Lemmy, Mikkey and Phil because they had always been like “Go on back, go on back!” Nibbs rang me the next morning, the I rang Doug in his hotel room and Paul rang me in the evening. It was just great.
At which point did you know for sure that you would be permanently back in the band?
It was funny really because I did the Wacken thing and it was great. I got there a day early because we were going to rehearse and it was all big hugs. I had been asked before when Fritz was in the band, some time after “METALHEAD”. I said no no no. I wrote with them for “KILLING GROUND” and did the Wacken thing, but nothing was set when I flew home. Then Biff asked me to come and play in London for the 25th anniversary thing and that was it. Biff said “We have a special friend coming up” and he didn´t even mention my name. I had some friends up in the balcony and the whole balcony started chanting “Nigel, Nigel, Nigel!” When I walked on stage, I was just crying, I couldn´t believe it. Biff turned around, looked at me as if to say “Told you!” It was then I started thinking “Hmm… maybe”. Then we found out that Jörg was going to go back to Stratovarius.
Live in Wacken 2004
That Wacken show was the last Saxon show where Fritz Rainbow played. Do you have any idea know what happened to Fritz and why he left?
I have no idea?
Did you know him as a person?
Actually, I only met him at Wacken.
You never met him in the studio?
Do you know if he never took any part of the writing process?
I don´t think so. For “KILLING GROUND”, no, because I was there for the writing, I co-wrote “Killing ground” and “Dragon´s Lair” with the band. I don´t know later on, maybe he was?
How about album “HEAVY METAL THUNDER” which came out at 2002. What do you think of those Saxon classics re -makes?
I think it´s good.
Well, I don’t personally like some of the drumming on that album…
I couldn´t possibly comment! I cannot comment on other people´s drumming “laughs”!
THE EARLY DAYS…
Let´s go back to the early years in your career. In the late 70’s, you had a band with Bernie Torme?
I did an album with him, yeah. That was in 81 I think? I did the album “TURN OUT THE LIGHTS”.
Who else played in the band then?
Bernie sang, I think Colin Townes from Gillan played some of the keyboards, Phil Spalding was on bass, because at the time he was in Toyah but he used to be with Bernie before Toyah.
And right after that you joined Saxon?
Well, it was a year, yeah. The first tour for me was for “DENIM AND LEATHER”.
Do you know what happened to original drummer, Pete Gill? Why did he left or was he possibly been kicked out?
The reason why he didn´t do the tour was that I think he did something to his ligament in his finger. Basically the band´s management rang me up three days before the tour was starting. I was doing sessions with Bernie Torme so I could learn things really quick. So I said ok and the first gig was in my home town… and I´d bought tickets for it!
Did you know the the guys of Saxon before you joined the band?
How much did you play the old songs like Pete Gill had done before?
Initially I did. Some licks I had to stick with and gradually I could put my own things in. Pete Gill´s style and my style were completely different anyway. Obviously the basic beat is the same, you have to play it the same, but the more familiar I became with the sond I started putting my own sound in.
How much you did writing for the band in the early days?
Oh, we wrote all of it together, the whole thing.
Your first Saxon album was “POWER AND THE GLORY”?
It was the first studio album, but I did the live album “EAGLE HAS LANDED “before that.
What is your personal favorite track from that album?
I don´t know… “Nightmare” was a great song to write because it started off with Biff and me jamming in the rehearsal studio.
There´s also a promo video made for that song and in my opinion it´s horrible! “laughs” What do you think about that video?
Oh, I totally agree with you 100 percent! I hate the video for “Power and the glory” as well, I can´t look at it. What were these directors on about? I just got the Motley Crue DVD and they´re saying the same thing. They did “Looks that kill”, what is THAT all about? They said the same thing, “What the hell was that all about?” I think the same, but you just let these directors go with it. I don´t know what these guys were thinking of?
The next Saxon album was “CRUSADER”, which is one the best Saxon albums ever. Was it like that at that point you changed your record label from Carrere to EMI..?
No, we were still on Carrere for that one, “INNOCENCE FOR NO EXCUSE” was the first one on EMI.
“CRUSADER” Live in U.S
Anyway, after you released “CRUSADER” you did big tours the US with bands like Motley Crue and Iron Maiden. What memories do you have from that time?
Well, for me it was a totally new experience because I had never been to America before. The guys had been there, playing in support of Rush. So when we went there for the first time it was just great. The audience was brilliant, but all audiences are great everywhere. Every country has its own way of supporting a band. In America they have certain chants, in Europe they have different chants. But it was great going there and with Maiden both bands were on the verge of breaking through. But I had a problem there, I fell off the stage one evening and ended up with a plaster cast on my leg. I still kept playing though, I used to go to the stage on crutches.
How did you guys get along with Motley Cure?
Great! I particularly got along with Nikki Sixx. We had an arm punching competition during the tour, you know, where you punch the arm and try to hit the same place, and I beat him. I remember one day when I came down to the hotel, I think it was at lunchtime, and went “C´mon Nikki, where is it then?” and he just said “No no no”, so I beat him, I won that one.
Have you met Nikki lately?
No. I haven´t seen them since that tour, actually.
Tonight you are playing with the band Krokus. Have you ever played with them before?
Yeah, we played with them in America… it was with Cheap Trick. Cheap Trick, us and Krokus.
Do you remember when that was?
Oh God, 83 maybe 84… I think it was on “CRUSADER” tour. But that was the last time.
“INNOCENCE IS NOT EXCUSE”, the first EMI album, was a way more commercial album than anything you had done in the past. What do you think now afterwards, was it a career wise to change the musical direction so much?
Looking back on it, probably not, but you can always look back on things. We were under pressure all the time by the record company and the management. I think because we toured in America so much we were being influenced by MTV stuff, so I think it was a bit of both those things. Looking back on it I think maybe it was a bit… you know…?
Your clothing style at the time was very interesting too….
Let´s not even go there! Come on, Def Leppard were the same, Maiden were wearing all that stuff, it was what was going on then. Look at what David Lee Roth was wearing and everyone went “Fucking cool!” That was the time then.
The next album “ROCK THE NATION” went back in a more heavier direction?
Yeah, I actually prefer that album.
How in hell did you get Elton John to play on it?
He was in the same studio complex and his band and him were always in our studio listening to our backing tracks. They should have been in their own studio working but they were always in the control room. So we said, “Come on and work with this, wield the piano!” Why not? Bang! But I do prefer that album, the production is heavier and there was a better vibe within the band. We wrote most of the album in two days. We were told by the management, who were in America, that we had to go into the studio. I remember that I was in Wales and me and Biff and our sound guy went to this rehearsal place and set it all up and the other guys got there the next morning. We set all the stuff up, we started jamming and we wrote “Waiting for the night” that evening. I played the drums, Biff played the guitar and I think the sound guy was playing bass. We banged down the basic track, then I put keyboards on it and we quickly laid down a chorus and sang that so when the guys showed up the next day we were like “Here you go!” Just one verse and one chorus, it was great!
Nigel live 2005 in Swedenrock kickoff party in Stockholm
LINE UP CHANGES AND VARIOUS SESSIONS…
At that time, Steve Dawson left the band. Is it true that he left because of his wife?
Nooo… I think it was more vibes in the band, really.
But he didn´t leave on good terms?
He didn´t leave on good terms, no. It was a bit tense. So on the album, Biff played all the bass. Originally we were thinking about getting a session player in, a friend of mine. But we were going through rehearsals and I said to Biff, “Hey, you´re good enough”, so he played bass.
Have you talked to Steve since he left the band?
I´ve just been in contact with him over the last four months. We have an expression in British, “trying to mend bridges”, and he´s fine. I think life is too short for all this bullshit. If he comes back to us with any bullshit then, you know, but it´s ok, I can talk to him now. I don´t think there´s any bad feelings there. I said to him, “You gotta get on with what you´re doing and we´ll get on with what we´re doing”. At least we talk, have a laugh on the telephone. I´m not saying that he´s my best friend but at least we can talk.
Then you got a new bass player, Paul Johnson.
Yes. I don´t want to say anything about him.
Do you have any ideas how he ended up being in Saxon?
The management found him somewhere, I don´t know where? I just don´t want to go there. He was all right, but it was a big jump from having Steve in the band to having him. It wasn´t right, or I didn´t think it was right and once Nibbs Carter was in the band, it felt right again.
And it was about that time that you jumped off the boat?
Yes, I did that. I did some other things.
Didn´t you like the new musical course of Saxon or why did you left?
No, it wasn´t that. It was a few problems with the management and I was getting a bit pissed off, really. It was personal really and there were a few things at home and I went off with this other gig with Steve Howe, GTR, to play something different.
That band didn´t last too long?
No, we only released one album. We recorded a second album but the whole thing was very political because Steve was the only one signed to the record company. One minute they were going “We need it more commercial than the first GTR album” and the next they were “We need it more arty, like Yes”. So we did that and they went “No, we want it back they way it was!” So it was all political and what I think was happening was that you had the other Yes and Brian Lane, who used to manage the original Yes, was managing GTR with Steve Howe and he was thinking “Maybe if I get the other members of Yes together…” Suddenly Steve was dropped from the record company and we only needed another month to get the album finished. It was better than the first one, but Arista dropped him. I found that very bizarre, because when the Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, Howe album came out, it was on Arista.
In the late 80’s you also worked with Lea Hart. You did one Fastway album where he was singing, right?
Later on you have been credited for albums like Heavy Metal Superstar’s “Aciarium” and Paul Di’Annos “As Hard As Iron” and many more albums, including mostly the same songs, which all have been released by Lee. Would you tell something more about those albums?
Yeah, Lea had this funny way of working. He´d go in and just blow off three tracks and then he´d keep putting things on it. Let´s say we have one track. I put drums on it and he gets so-and-so on vocals. Then another drummer would do the same track with a different singer and he´d swap it all around and there would be different bass players… I was turning up on things, thinking “I don´t remember him singing that track”. But that´s what he kept on doing time and time again. Songs from the Fastway album would turn up somewhere else, Dennis Stratton sang on one of them. It was just crazy, I was saying “What´s he doing on?” and actually rang Lea up saying “You´re getting good milage out of this, you should pay me more session money!” He only paid me to do that album and then he was putting it on another album! I just gave up with it.
But still, you got some money from him?
Originally, yeah! For the first recording, yes, but not for anything after that. I might have to have a little work with him at some time. No, I´ll just let it go “laughs”
He’s now working mostly with Paul Di´Anno. It seems like he owns Paul Di´Anno somehow because Pauls owes him so much money or something?
Yeah, I heard that, they use different bands in different countries, which is very clever actually. But we speak to each other once in a while, we´re good friends really. But if he suddenly had an album that sold a million copies I´d be there going, “Come on…”
Saxon at 1992
BACK IN THE SADDLE AND MORE….
You re-joined Saxon in 89. Paul Johnson was gone and Nibbs Carter came in. Am I right that he has also worked with Lee Hart in the past?
Yeah, what happened was that where we used to write in a studio in Lincolnshire and Nibbs used to hang around there all the time. He was always there when we were there writing, so we knew him. He´d actually worked on the previous Fastway album that I didn´t do. So that´s how we met him and it was great again.
In 1989 you released “ROCK’ROLL GYPSIES LIVE!” and in 1990 there was another live album….
Yeah,”THE GREATEST HITS” one. Basically what had happened was that an American company had had Saxon since the “DESTINY” album and to finish the contract we had to give them a live album to get off them. After that we were without a deal for a while. So we did this huge tour, I think we did 60 gigs in England, and went to places that no one used to play. Not clubs, but proper concert halls that bands didn´t bother with. We would just go to all these places and see what happened. It was great and we just kept going. A TV station wanted to tape it for a video since it was a greatest hits live thing and we just thought “Why not?” We had been cooking for so long and for some of the songs it was the end of playing them live for the minute. We thought that if we put that out, it would buy us time to start writing and to get another deal since we needed to get something into the market. “ROCK AND ROLL GYPSIES” was the one to get rid of the deal, but they didn´t promote that very well so we needed something else out there. So we thought that a video as well, that would be good. That gave us time to be away and write, so we started on “SOLID BALL OF ROCK”.
That album was like a new and fresh beginning for the band, am I right?
Yes, definitely! That was really fresh and like… great!
“FOREVER FREE” came out in 1994. What kind of opinions about you have about that album because in my opinion even there are some really good songs on it but the production is really weak?
I was too a little bit disappointed with the production of “FOREVER FREE”. The next album “DOGS OF WAR” was a grungier sort of thing, we were trying to introduce a more heavy feel to everything.
At that time you did some sessions with other bands and one of those was ASIA. How did that thing come about then?
How did that come about? Because Geoff Downes was producing the GTR album, so he asked if I could come and do the drums on the Asia album and they recorded it in my hometown, so it took me five minutes to get there.
You just did that one album “AQUA” with them?
With ASIA? Yeah.
You also played on a solo album by Tony Martin (ex- Black Sabbath), how did that come about?
Well, it´s always down to who you have worked with beforehand. The album was produced by Nick Tauber, who used to produce Toyah, so he rang me up and asked if I would do the Tony Martin album. I said ok and we drove up to Manchester on the night. It was really funny, we were driving up to Manchester and that was when Freddie Mercury was very ill. I said I didn´t think he was going to last much longer and he died that very night. That was very strange.
Did you know Tony Martin from before?
No, I´d never met him in person before but we got along great straight away.
He was then temporary out of Sabbath?
Yes. That was when they did “DEHUMANIZER” with Ronnie. I think it was 91. Yeah, it was in November when we recorded.
After release of “DOGS OF WAR” in 1995 you had another line up change. I think it must have been a big loss for you when Graham Olivier quit?
Graham was actually fired because we had a big problem with him. So he had to go. I´m not going to say any more, it´s like a band thing.
Like you had with Steve?
A bit more actually, a different sort of things. He was… no, I don´t wanna go into it. It was just a situation where we had no choice. He had to go.
Saxon live at Sweden 2005
OLIVIER/DAWSON SAXON, LEAVING THE BAND AGAIN, NEW ALBUM AND OTHER STUFF…
I have to ask about Steve and Graham and their Olivier/Dawson Saxon..?
Oh, the Oliver/Dawson Saxon? The initial thing was that they were going out with the name Son of a Bitch, which was the original Saxon. Then they got a little bit naughty because they started calling themselves Saxon. I think they did a gig in Belgium and people had traveled from Germany and Holland to get there, thinking it was us. And it wasn´t, so that was a bit naughty. The classic one was from a motorcycle festival somewhere in England where it said “Saxon – The early years. Featuring Graham Oliver and Nigel Glocker!” I was like “WHAT?!” and I got hold of the promoter and said I had nothing to do with this. That was a bit naughty.
Are those things solved now?
Yeah, I think they are. It wasn´t a case of winning, it was a case of them realizing what they had to do. I guess you could say we won or it was a compromise. We said they can use Oliver/Dawson Saxon but Oliver, Dawson and Saxon has to be of the same size and you cannot use the logo for saxon, you have to use a different one. That´s fine, but if they renege on it, trouble again. I don´t know what they´re doing, but as I said, I spoke to Steve and we were fine. We were having a laugh and sometimes I ring him up just to see how he is. Between me and Steve, I don´t know about Graham, but between me and Steve there´s no animosity at all. If he came down to my hometown, we´d go out and have a few beers. But if they started mucking around again, then there´d be trouble again. I don´t think they will and good luck to them.
Ok. Anyway when Graham was gone then your current guitarist Doug Scarrat stepped in.
Yeah. I knew Doug from before. He lived just around the corner from me at home, so I knew him anyway. We were thinking about who we were going to get and I asked Dough and he said “OK, I´ll try”. A friend of ours who had a house in Sussex let us use it, this huge big house. He let us use his living room and his girlfriend had a drum kit so I could just sit down on it and bash something out and Biff came down and Paul did, so it was just us. We tried Doug out, let him blast through a couple of things, and it was great. “OK, you´re in, pal!”
You released your third live album within seven years called “THE EAGLE HAS LANDED II”. Well, do you think that it was a necessary release…?
Well, you know, if the record company wants it, we have to go with this stuff. People were writing to the record company and they wanted it. But I like it, I think the band was playing really well, I like it as an album, definitely.
1997 and the release of “UNLEASH THE BEAST” which was probably your heaviest album so far. When you recorded it did you know that it was going to be your last album with the band, I mean did you had any healthy problems during the recording of the album?
No, not at all. The medical thing came about later when we were touring. We went to Brazil, I think we did three shows in Brazil just as a one-off thing. When you go somewhere like that, a drumkit to take abroad costs a fortune. So I rang up a drum company over there. “Can you supply a kit?” Yeah, that was fine, but my kit can be set up by the millimeter the same every night so it was slightly different. I was stretching for something and I didn´t feel it but obviously I pulled a muscle. I didn´t feel much, just a little bit of pain and thought I had just done something. Then we came over here to Sweden actually and I was playing and tearing it more and more and more like a piece of raw steak. When I was on my back in the bus I was like “God almighty!” but when I was playing, it was fine. Then we did some English shows and I went to see a chiropractor who did his crap and then the other one, an osteopath, I´d try anything. Nothing was happening so in the end I thought I´d just see my normal doctor. So he said “Does that hurt?” and I went “YEEEEES!” so he said, “You´ve ripped a muscle so you´ve got to stop playing for four or five months”. I wasn´t allowed to play at all. The band obviously had to go with other people, but I thought I could at least write and do some keyboards so I got a little studio together at home. I didn´t think it was fair to suddenly come back. Fritz was then in the band and I didn´t think it was right to come back and go “Bye-bye Fritz!” So I just did my thing.
I heard that you already have plans for the next Saxon album?
Yeah. We´ve had a couple of weeks, just getting some ideas in order. We were due to go to America but there was problem with the visas. It was such a drag, hoping for getting these bloody visas to come in. It was very short notice to let the fans know, but we just hoped that if we kept on waiting, then maybe they would arrive at the late minute. When they didn´t, instead of wasting time we started getting some ideas for the next album together and in the new year we will really start.
Do you know anything about the musical direction of the new album? Is it going to be more like 80’s stuff or stuff like what band did on their latest “LIONHEART” album?
I don´t know, there´s no plan. What comes out, comes out. You can´t really plan it, I just want it to be fucking great!
Have you seen the Saxon DVD “CHRONICLES”?
Yeah, I mean, I haven´t watched it all. But it´s good fun, it´s all right. I can´t really comment on it, even though I´m not on much of it I don´t like watching myself. For instance if we do a promo video I´m not at home watching it all the time, it´s more like “That´s done – next!”
So you don´t watch “Nightmare” all the time?
Oh God, if that comes on it´s “Fast forward – next!” Or if there are other people around “Quick, look over there! Gone.” I felt such an idiot on that, I really did. What the hell am I doing sitting on the floor with one drum? It´s great for guitarists but what am I supposed to do with one drum ? “laughs”
Well our time seems to be running out soon but have you ever played with Saxon in Finland? I can’t remember that??
Yeah, on the “POWER AND THE GLORY” tour. We did several gigs then, Helsinki and some ski resort up in the north… God, I was so drunk there! Tell you what was great though, there was a sauna in the dressing room. I came off stage and went straight in the sauna. I love saunas. But you have a strange thing, you hit each other with twigs, don´t you in Finland? I don´t know about that, I think in England we would go “Hello?”
It does make your blood move…
I´m sure it does! I don´t even wanna go there! But I think we should go to Finland again, but it´s all down to promoters wanting us to go there.
I heard from one Finnish promoter that you are asking too much money now?
That’s rubbish! “laughs”
Ok I believe you Nigel. Thanks for your time and hope to see you in Finland someday?
I think we’ll. Thank you!!
SPECIAL THANX TO SWEDENROCK PEOPLE FOR PHOTOPASS AND FOR SUSAN KVERH FROM PLAYGORUND MUSIC TO GET THIS INTERVIEW DONE !!!!
SAXON LIVE PICTURES FROM SWEDENROCK KICKOFF PARTY DECEMBER 2005 IN STOCKHOLM BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ