Prior to SAXON‘s April 13 performance alongside JUDAS PRIEST in Salt Lake City, Utah, guitarist Doug Scarratt was interviewed by Yargmetal. The full conversation can be viewed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On getting the call to join the band in 1995:
Doug: “[Nigel Glockler, drummer] called me out of the blue and said there was a problem with Graham [Oliver, the group’s original guitarist]. They’d made the ‘Dogs Of War’ album and were just kicking off the tour, and they needed somebody immediately. That was that, so I set about learning — I can’t remember how many songs. A lot of songs in a very short space of time, and Nigel was already out with Biff [Byford, vocalist] doing promo for the tour, so I went to [bassist] Nibbs‘s [Carter] house and [guitarist] Paul‘s [Quinn] house and went through the songs endlessly. We had literally one day [of] rehearsal in Munich with the whole band, and that was it — we were off.”
On his influences:
Doug: “I grew up loving bands like [BLACK] SABBATH, [DEEP] PURPLE, [LED] ZEPPELIN, all the kind of obvious influences. I loved bands like SLADE and THE SWEET — all the British pop bands, T.REX. Then when I started to discover more serious music, I think my first guitar hero was probably Paul Kossoff from FREE. It was almost like discovering this new world of bands that I didn’t know existed as I moved from pop music into prog rock and early metal. It seemed to be different in that era — music wasn’t separated in genres so much as it is now.”
On whether he has any horror stories of performing live with the group:
Doug: “The only experiences like that are like in some of the more Latin countries, if the PA blows up or we can’t continue, or something goes wrong with the show and the crowd starts to riot. We’ve had to, like, get out the back door quick. Nothing we did wrong, but the crowd are just crazy because they can’t hear the band. One show we did, the PA went off in a large club, and it was just going to turn into a riot. We actually turned the monitor speakers around to face the audience and carried on. Everyone just carried on having fun. It was all cool.”
On 1997’s “Unleash The Beast”, his first studio album with the band:
Doug: “It was [a] group effort, but the song ‘Unleash The Beast’, if I remember correctly, was like a lot of [SAXON] songs — a combination of my riffs and Paul‘s riffs. I was bringing things in — I’d have an idea that might become the verse, and then Paul would have an idea that might become the chorus. I think ‘Circle Of Light’ was one of my tracks. ‘Thin Red Line’ was me and Nibbs if I remember rightly. It was pretty much a combination, but there was a lot of me there.”
On new album “Thunderbolt”:
Doug: “Nibbs wrote more material on this album and the one before, actually. There’s twenty-two studio albums now, which I’ve written or been involved in the writing of eleven of. Mostly, it’s been all of us — we all bring guitar parts into the studio and mix them together. Sometimes I’ll write a whole track; sometimes Paul will write a whole track; sometimes, it just kind of falls out. Other times, we labor over them for months and keep changing parts. The new album is more Nibbs, although there are tunes from me and Paul — probably at least four tracks on there are ours. Nibbs writes a lot of material all the time. He’s just an endless — he just plays guitar into the computer, and he has for years and years. He’s got so much good material that we hadn’t used, it seems we should be using this. It’s cool.”
On his favorite new song to play live:
Doug: “‘Nosferatu’ is fun to play. It’s quite a theatrical song. ‘Secret Of Flight’ is great as well — there’s a real energy there. Obviously, at the start of this tour, we hadn’t played any of the new songs live before, and now they’re starting to really feel comfortable. Whenever you tour a new album, it always takes a while for it all to gel and to get a feel of what songs the crowd are really into. ‘Secret Of Flight’ is going down fantastic every night.”
On the classic song he looks forward to performing each night:”
Doug: “Although we’ve played it thousands of times probably, I love ‘Power And The Glory’. It’s just such a classic rock song. It’s such a classic guitar riff as well. It’s just fun — I like it. I like everything about that song, and it reminds me of early Gary Moore-style. There’s nothing I really dread on the setlist, to be honest. The punky ones are kind of… they’re trashy, but they’re just great fun. It’s not a simple gig because we move between some fairly complex material. Some of the early material, which is, like, power/punk/metal, and they’re very different stylistically. I think when I first joined the band, I didn’t enjoy the power/punk stuff as much, but I’ve kind of gotten to like it now. There’s a good vibe with it.”
“Thunderbolt” was released on February 2 via Militia Guard (Silver Lining Music). The follow-up to 2015’s “Battering Ram” was once again helmed by producer Andy Sneap, who has previously worked with JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH, ACCEPT and TESTAMENT, among others. The disc features original artwork by longtime SAXON collaborator Paul Raymond Gregory.
SAXON is supporting JUDAS PRIEST on the North American leg of the “Firepower” tour, which kicked off on March 13 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.