Tony Heare of Midlands Metalheads Radio‘s “The Breakfast Show” conducted an interview with frontman Biff Byford of British metal legends SAXON during a recent stop on their European tour with DIAMOND HEAD and ROCK GODDESS. You can listen to the entire chat via the SoundCloud widget below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether the bands SAXON started out with like DEF LEPPARD, IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST didn’t want to all be associated in the same genre:
Biff: “They came from the same period. PRIEST and MOTÖRHEAD were around a lot longer before that, more of a ’76/’77 band, but yeah, it all started then. PRIEST and MOTÖRHEAD in particular, helped the NWOBHM thing because they were pretty big. We toured with MAIDEN and MAIDEN toured with PRIEST, so it sort of brought it on a bit for the newer bands of the ’80s, really.”
On how SAXON ended up signing with French label Carrere for their early albums:
Biff: “Money, really. We were going to sign to EMI. The people who were at EMI, left to start a new company in England that was owned by a French company, so that’s what we did. MAIDEN got signed by EMI a few months after that. Yeah, it was okay.”
On whether SAXON “lost its way” during the mid-to-late ’80s:
Biff: “Well, we signed with EMI, didn’t we? I think everybody lost their way a bit around that time, actually. We were a bit burned out, to tell you the truth. We had done a lot of albums very quickly and done a lot of tours as well. I think we should, in retrospect, we probably should have had a break. We were a bit knackered, I think, and the chemistry of the band wasn’t that great.”
On whether the band’s new “Thunderbolt” studio album is the best they’ve released so far:
Biff: “I haven’t actually said it. Everybody says it this time. I don’t really know if it’s our best album. There’s a lot of great songs on it, put it that way. To tell you the truth, I’ve been so close to it with [producer] Andy [Sneap]. We took a long time to make it. We were making it in between tours, so it wasn’t done in one big lump, if you know what I mean. The way we write, every song is a separate project, every song is an album in itself, so, that’s what we do, that’s what I strive for when arranging and writing melodies. I don’t connect one song with another, if you know what I mean. I don’t think, ‘This one will go nicely after this song.’ We write the songs, we record them, then we put the list together. At that point there, it’s when we decide what songs go on or off. For instance, the ‘Roadies’ Song’, wasn’t going to be on the album because stylistically, it was a little bit different, but the way I did this track listing, it worked out.”
On whether SAXON allowed their record company to hear any “Thunderbolt” songs while they were being recorded:
Biff: “No, the record company didn’t hear it until it was finished. Our manager didn’t either. We kept it really close to us, just in the inner sanctum people. Our family heard it, but nobody else. Andy didn’t play it to JUDAS PRIEST before they started their album, that’s what he told me and he didn’t play any JUDAS PRIEST songs to us. We were doing our albums at the same time, or not quite, we finished ours, basically, there was a few bits and pieces. It’s a good time, this year is great for British metal.”
On whether he listens to any new, up-and-coming British metal bands:
Biff: “I listen to TYLER BRYANT [& THE SHAKEDOWN] and GRETA VON FLEET, bands like that. I’ve heard them. It’s good stuff; they’re great bands. There’s nothing wrong with the bands. I just want to hear something that’s a bit different, a bit unique. I want to hear a new British thing coming out. I keep telling my son and his band that, ‘Look, there’s no point in being like this or being like that. You have to be unique. You can have your influences and different things in there that give it some flavor.’ These days, a lot of young bands are indie bands and they’re not that rock-y. They’re a bit staring at your feet, singing to young girls. We need something; it doesn’t have to be a guitar virtuoso. Tyler Bryant is a great guitarist, obviously. It just has to be something that gets people out of their seats, that really kicks it and sounds British, not like the nu metal thing. SLIPKNOT are brilliant, but you can’t have a thousand SLIPKNOTs.”
“Thunderbolt” was released on February 2 via Militia Guard (Silver Lining Music). The disc features original artwork by longtime SAXON collaborator Paul Raymond Gregory.