Interview With Blaze Bayley
Interview By Michael de los Muertos
In his own words, Blaze Bayley is about old-school traditional British heavy metal.
Everyone knows he cut his teeth as Bruce Dickinson's successor in Iron Maiden--arguably
the best traditional British heavy metal band of all time--but since parting with the
Irons, Blaze has been making a significant name for himself with his solo material. From
"Silicon Messiah" to his new album, "As Live As It Gets " Blaze has
been working on his own sound while still keeping within the traditions of the British
metal background that inspires him. I had the occasion to speak to Blaze just before his
live debut on U.S. shores. Here's what he had to say.
Transcription by Ice Maiden
Thanks for doing the interview with us!
You are in New Jersey right now, for the Metalfest?
Have you guys played already?
Nah, were playing tonight.
Yeah, were really excited about it. I mean, this is the first show in the US for
the band. And we are really, really excited about it.
Thats great! So, what is going through your mind as you are preparing for this
show? Was it difficult for you to get over here to play?
Well, weve had to change managers, because the old manager wasnt able to
get us a US release. So, weve got a new manager now, and hes got us the albums
out in the USA, and new live albums coming out, and our catalogue is coming out here, as
well. So, thats it, really. Theyve asked us to come out to play in New Jersey
before, but we were touring in Europe at the time and we couldnt make it. But we
said we really, really want to come over here, so that is how it has worked out for us.
So, what are your feelings on getting into the US market? There is a perception that
the US metal scene is different than it is in Europe. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Well, it seems to be a lot more driven by TV-by MTV and stuff like that. Perhaps the
real metal bands
the true metal bands
dont get as much play on the TV. I
dont think much has changed in that department. Its still the same bands
sometimes the crowds get bigger or smaller, but those bands seem to stay around,
and I think we are a British metal band, and our sound is really British. And, I mean, we
are one of those bands
we arent fashionable, we dont have videos or
anything like that really. It is all about recording albums and the music is the most
important thing to us-not being fashionable. So that is the way we think of
it, really, and I think that in Europe, perhaps in mainland Europe, well people tend to
think, That bands been around awhile, they must be worth listening to.
Whereas, in, like, the UK, they think, That bands been around awhile.
Thats really boring. I want something new. It is a bit more fashion
orientated. But, I think there are still the fans that want to listen to this music, and
we found that at our shows we get some Marilyn Manson fans, and people with Slipknot
t-shirts who are, you know, really just interested in getting into metal-anything heavy.
Which is pretty much, when I was a boy, my first cds (well, it was vinyl back then), it
was very much like that.
Well, I went to the ProgPower festival last fall and it seems like you guys would be
the type of band that would play really well to that type of crowd. And I know a lot of
European bands were very surprised at the reception they got in the US because of that.
You guys may be pleasantly surprised by the crowd response tonight.
Thatd be great. I mean, we just dont know what to expect. This is our first
show, and people know BB from Iron Maiden, but they dont really know a lot about
Blaze, the band. So it would be really interesting to see what happens.
Are you going to do any more US or Canadian tour dates?
Well, what we are hoping to do is if we go down well tonight, if people like us and if
they are into the music, then we are hoping that they will ask us back to do some more
shows. Wed love to play a lot more shows over here, but we havent had the
opportunity to do so before now because we just havent had albums out over here.
But, now weve got a deal to release our catalogue and our new live album and our
next studio album is going to be coming out over here. So, were really excited.
Wed like to make the US a part of our regular tour.
So what has been the reaction to the live action release? What kind of responses
have you gotten so far from the people who have heard it?
Oh, it has been incredible. I just cant believe it. Do you have it?
I dont have it yet-Im sorry.
Yeah, its been great. I cant believe the reaction that weve had.
Everybody that has heard it so far has really got into it. Theyve picked up on the
energy of the band and all of that, so, I think its been great! We didnt
expect anything like that response. The main reason we did the album was because even
though weve got two studio albums out, weve had great reviews all over the
internet and in the music press, but, even still, there are a lot of people who dont
know what Blaze, the band, sounds like. So, we thought, a live album
recorded a whole live set (plus a little more) cuz the main part of our recording was our
Christmas show at home in the UK. We thought, Well, that will be a real good
opportunity for fans to find out what the band is about. If you dont know what
Blaze is about, then you can listen to that live album and that is it. You can find out
that we are a live British metal band. And, hopefully, people will get into that and enjoy
So, you think the essence of the band comes across more closely on the live album
than on your studio albums?
Yeah-we are definitely a live band, because, years ago, when I started, that was it.
All I wanted to do was go on stage and play live. And, I think in the band our ambition is
really simple-we just want to live on the tour bus and wake up each day outside a gig.
Thats my perfect day.
On the second disc there are a couple of Iron Maiden songs. What went into picking
which songs you wanted to do and whether you were going to do them?
What happened is that weve always included a couple of Maiden songs in the live
set because Im very proud of the work I did with Iron Maiden. Im proud of the
songs that we wrote together and everything, and Ive got great memories of that
time. Just exactly the same as I do with Wolfsbane-its a part of my past. Ive
always played metal. I mean, its a part of who I am and where I am from. And a lot
of people know me from Maiden, so its the same as say, Ronny Dio playing a Sabbath
song or a Rainbow song. So, weve always included a couple of Maiden songs in the
set, but weve also primarily made it our own material from our first album and from
the second. Weve been playing Man on the Edge-weve always had that
in our set list-but a lot of fans have asked for Sign of the Cross or
Clansman. So, I ran it by the guys in the band and we had a go at Sign
of the Cross in rehearsals and it felt really, really good. So, we decided to go
ahead and do it live. And on the live album that is actually the first time we ever did
Sign of the Cross live and we wanted to do it for something different, because
there are a lot of fans from the Maiden era who come and see Blaze and we thought it would
be something different. And a couple of weeks later we got in the studio and were
listening to all the tracks, and it turned out great. It was just great. Our arrangement
is a little bit different to the Maiden version, so we decided to go ahead and put it on
There are a lot of bands that are doing concert dvds now. With your emphasis on live
performance, have you thought about doing something like that?
Yeah, we are planning a dvd. But we want to do something that we are really proud of.
Because we are fans. When we make an album, then the artwork is very important to us and
we try to make that the best that we can possibly make it, and when we are actually in the
studio we want to make that the best that we can possibly do, and the best songs that we
can, and all of that. So, when it comes to making a dvd we want it to be really good. But,
from a fans point of view, we want it to be really good value and really say
something. So, we are collecting footage at the moment so that we can have that put
together. And I think we might work on that next year. And have that as the only thing we
do. Because we dont want to do a dvd at the same time as a live album. We want to
focus on one thing. Because I really like the dvd format and weve got the ability to
mix in 5.1 and everything. So we want to take full advantage of the media when we do it to
use it in a creative way. So, when we do it we want to do it really well and do an
interesting version, because I know from the dvds Ive had of bands doing live
performances its not that special. It may as well be a video in some cases.
Well, I think that there is kind of a learning curve. That bands have really
experimented with the format and are now starting to explore what it can do. So, yeah-it
seems like you kind of view the live album as a stepping stone to that.
Yeah, I think so. The live album is
well, that is for people to have a sense of
what we are about, and, hopefully, by the time we come out with a dvd it will be something
that will be worth watching.
You guys played Wacken this last year-I know I saw you there. Can you tell us a
little bit about that experience, because Wacken is
the people that have been there
almost uniformly say that it is a really powerful experience to go there. So, Im
curious how the artists feel about it.
Weve played the Wacken festival twice now, and the first time was like the only
show that we had booked in for the Silicon Messiah Tour. It just went absolutely
fantastic-much better than we ever could have expected. They had us back last year, and it
was like two years down the line, and we had been together a long time, and weve
played a lot of shows together. And we really, really enjoyed it. It was raining on the
day, and it stopped raining just before our set. It was this huge, absolutely huge crowd,
and it just was an absolutely fantastic experience. I mean, its like a 100 different
bands, and meeting different bands and people that you know
its just a great
vibe. And a great way-I mean, if you like metal music, you are totally 100 percent
immersed in metal for a whole weekend. So, it was great fun.
So, are you guys gonna do it again? Are you going to come back?
Yeah, wed love to go back and do that.
What do you see as your place in metal?
Well, we are a British metal band and I suppose thats our place, really.
Weve been together for a couple of albums, and I think our sound is British. If
people want to hear a British metal band, then we are probably the band to check out at
the moment. We are one of the only new British metal bands who are playing our style of
Where do you think the metal scene is going in general? Do you think it is healthier
today than when you started? Or, how have you noticed a change?
I think Grunge and Nirvana really split the scene. And I think its been in
recovery ever since. I think at one time, on Mtv the rotation-you could be watching a
Motley Crue video and then a Whitney Houston video or something like that. But that
doesnt happen any more. Everything has been segmented into this specific kind of
music. So, you dont get to see as many different things as you used to. And I think
that when Grunge came our, and became fashionable and everything, that really hurt Metal.
The more aggressive Metal bands and things like this. I think it has never really gone
away, and it is slowly coming back now. I think now it is almost OK-with bands like Sum41
and Slipknot, now it is OK to like an older band like Iron Maiden and still like a new
band. So, I think it is absolutely starting to change now, to the point where if it is
heavy, then its OK-it doesnt matter what particular label it has, you can
So, how do you feel about the fact that metal is kind of splintered-we have the
death metal, power metal, and those types that seem to be very separate from each other,
yet you seem to be talking about them coming together in more of a common ground. Is that
how you feel about it?
Yeah, that seems to be what is happening. We are a British metal band and I think the
format and everything we are in, we hang out and are in the same hotels as the death metal
guys, and the grungy bands and all of this. We actually get together. There really is no
division between the bands. Nobody in the bands thinks that, Well, I cant like
your music because Im in this kind of band. Everybody just gets along and
checks each other out. Thats what I really enjoy about festival shows-you get to
meet a lot of other bands and see people that you normally wouldnt see in a short
space of time.
Tell us a little bit about your creative process, about how you come up with songs.
What are your inspirations? Not necessarily what are your musical influences, but what
gets you thinking about how you are going to put your songs together and how you are going
to do them?
Well, Ive always been a big science fiction fan, and always have been from a very
young age. That has really started to come through with my writing when I started the
Silicon Messiah album. When I started writing, the ideas were based all around futuristic
and science fictions things, around different books and movies. That has stayed with me,
really-I find that a big inspiration. I like big themes as well. So, on the Silicon
Messiah album we had the big theme of computers taking over the world, and we tried in as
many places as we could to get the music and the lyrics sitting together and reflecting
each other. So, it was a lot stronger. And when we went to Tenth Dimension, that album was
a whole concept. I wrote a short story for that album, and it is about the government
stealing a scientists discovery and using it as a weapon of mass destruction. And it
is about the way that he starts to realize this and question his values and what he has
been doing. And he tries to get his discovery back from the government.
Do you have any science fiction writers or books that you take a lot of inspiration
Yeah, I like Philip K. Dick-hes really out there.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Yeah. Exactly. That is a great book. And on the first album I wrote the song
Identity placed around sort of what Id read in that book and some of my
own experiences. So, I think he is a really good writer, and Robert Hanline as well.
Do you have some nonmetal music influences? Like classical?
I listen to quite a bit of classical music. And I like a bit of soul, as well. But I
wouldnt really call that an influence as much as for a laid back mood. But I really
like female voices, so I like artists like Kate Bush and Susan Vega and stuff like that.
When Im chilling out I like to hear that. I really like female voices and the
texture of a female voice. So that is the kind of thing I listen to in a mellow mood. But,
basically, my favorite type of music is metal, so when I need to pick myself up or have
something that reflects my mood, then I always choose something metal.
How does the creative process of creating song for Blaze differ from other bands
youve been in. From Wolfsbane or even from Maiden? Is there a different process that
you go through than you did with a different group of people?
Yeah, I think it is always different. I mean, the basic chemistry and relationship
between the individuals is a big part of the writing process. I dont think I
understood that before. But in Maiden we wrote in a much different way than we did to
Wolfsbane. And what Ive done with my band is that weve got together and in the
first album, I had a lot of ideas already done, but in the Tenth Dimension album it was
really a collaboration and a real band effort. Basically, whatever is good-it doesnt
matter who has written it or whatever-the best stuff goes on the album. And that is it,
really. That is the way we like to look at it.
Hypothetically, what if some sort of metal supergroup with an allstart line-up
wanted you to join them. Would you?
It would depend for how long, really. It has been a lot to get the band Blaze together,
and Im just really proud of all the music we have written together and everything
that weve done. So, I dont think that Id do that on a long-term basis.
Id probably do that to try to further my own career with my band, Blaze.
Would you like to do a tour with Paul DiAnno?
Ive met Paul, actually. We got together when I was doing a UK tour. I dont
know, really-I wouldnt see the point in it. Would you?
Well, not really. Actually it is a question that my editor had, and Im not
sure what he meant by that.
I wouldnt see the point of that. Were from different eras. I mean, when
Bruce Dickinson was in the band, then people used to say that they wanted DiAnno back. And
it was the same for me-when I was in the band, they always wanted Dickinson back. So, we
both had the same thing, really, and when I met Paul for the first time I was bitterly
disappointed because he said that he didnt like metal! So, I thought, Damn, I
thought you were there at the forefront. At the forefront of the New Wave of British Heavy
Metal. And now you are telling me that you dont like heavy metal?!? I thought
that was really, really disappointing.
Yeah, I can see how that would be pretty shocking. It is coming through that the
identity of the band is really a British metal band. What does that mean to you? I mean,
obviously there is the long tradition of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and that,
itself, has kind of evolved to a new concept. So how do you see the evolution of British
metal, I guess?
Well, we certainly have a contemporary edge to what we are doing. The nature of the
main writers in the band all have different influences within metal. But, I think we are a
British flavor-we have that very strong two lead guitars, with a strong lead vocal. That
is the sound that we have and what we always work from. We always think in terms of two
guitars and with a vocal, and we are thinking about power and energy and excitement, but
we still want to have the melody and the emotion in the song. That is where we come from
as a British metal band.
Do you still listen to a whole lot of the NWOBHM from 20, 25 years ago?
Oh, I listen to everything. If it is a good song, its a good song. Just as much
as I love Reign in Blood from Slayer-it is still as good as British
Steel. The tough thing is that production values have moved on and technology has
moved on so much that modern records sound quite a bit better now than old songs. But I
think the stuff that really stands the test of time is all of the early Sabbath stuff.
That could come out today and it would still wound contemporary. With the way the sounds
are arranged and everything. I think Rainbow, as well, and Deep Purple, that stuff
is-however they produced that-was in such a way that you could bring that out now and it
would be like, Wow! Listen to this new style of production.
What have you been listening to over the last few days, as far as metal goes?
Last night I was getting drunk to Status Quo. Fozzy was on. So, that was quite a riot
cuz I know all the guys from Fozzy as well because Andy Sneap is actually in that band and
he produces my albums. So that was a lot of fun and we had a great time last night. So,
that is what I have been listening to. And, apart from that, Ive been listening to
the live album, my live album As Metal As it Gets, trying to make sure that I get all the
lyrics right! Whenever I get nervous I forget the words, so I really have to try to remain
calm before a show. Im really nervous about the show tonight because it is the first
show in the US that we have ever done, so I dont know what to expect so Im
just trying to remain calm.
When you go on stage do you think about these sorts of larger concerns? You know,
like this is the first show, or are you just thinking on sort of the ground level about
putting out the best show?
Well, anytime it is the first one, I always get nervous. The first one of anything,
Im always nervous about that. But when we boil it right now, its about doing
each song the best that we can. Once we get through those first two songs then we are
pretty much settled in and the adrenalin just takes over. But I always just try to settle
in. If I just sing my first two songs well, then, generally speaking, Im going to do
well for the whole show. So I really try to concentrate and get those first two songs
right. So, well see how it goes! Hopefully people will like us, and get into it, and
we wont have any technical problems and well be able to do what we do!
Is there anything else youd like to say to American or Canadian fans?
Well, just check our website (planetblaze.com)-the main reason we have that site is to
try to keep something as up-to-date as well can.
It is a great site.
Thank you very much. As soon as we get any news, and it is confirmed, and it is
absolutely the truth, then we try to put it up on our site. So, it is a great place to get
the up-to-date truth from us. So, if we have any problems it is straight on the site. So,
we hope people enjoy the live album, and hopefully we will be back this year with some
Great! Well, best of luck tonight, my personal prediction is that you will have a
great show. Typically, the European bands that come over, their first show is surprising
in a positive way. Just seeing that from ProgPower last year there were several bands that
came over for the first time and they were all pretty surprised at the intensity of the
reaction. Hopefully you will have the same experience.
Great-yeah, that sounds good. I hope so.
Anything else you want to cover?
Well, thanks for talking
Band Website: www.planetblaze.com