Blaze Bayley - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Dom Daley   
Friday, 26 February 2010 19:30

blazeWith a new album to push and a year jam-packed full of dates covering large parts of the globe, Blaze Bayley was happy to shoot the breeze with Über Röck and have a chat with us about all parts of his incredible rock journey.

 

Hi Blaze - Firstly, seeing as you're heading out on tour, would you say you prepare any differently now than you did when you first started say with Wolfsbane?

 

I'd say it's more about timing it right these days. I like to prepare as much as possible with as much rehearsing as we can but something always goes wrong.  In Wolfsbane we were kinda lucky because we had our own rehearsal room in Tamworth and we were all unemployed so the band came first, but with this band it's a lot busier and, like I say, timing comes into it. We also live far apart as well but we do try to plan our rehearsals. Like I'd say we usually need about a week to rehearse and get a set in some order but for this tour we planned for that week but out of the week we managed to get um, 1 day ha ha. Which these days is about normal so we try and use our time like at sound checks and stuff. Saying that, a lot of the songs have been used on other tours so it's not that bad really. There are only about 5 or 6 new tunes that need to find their feet and it's them we concentrate on mainly.


You're doing a decent sized UK tour this stint as well as pretty much being on the road for the next six months so plenty of sound checks?

 

Yeah, that's right/ We'll only put them in when we feel comfortable with the new songs and weblaze3 like to change the set every night anyway but I'd like to get to a point in the tour where every new song will be comfortable somewhere in the set and we can play everything off this album by the end of this current tour.


What about other eras of your career getting played in the set?

 

Yes, there'll be Maiden tracks in there but not Wolfsbane because, as you know, occasionally we do some dates and it just makes sense to, you know, every couple of years play those songs. So if you want to hear those songs then come along and see us!


When you book a tour these days will you and the Blaze Bayley band have a say in where you tour rather than leave it to a manager or tour promoter?

 

Yeah, I do initially have a big say but obviously my manager gets involved in the bookings and that side is a lot of work.


Is there anywhere you particularly like going, say South America or places you've not been before?

Pretty much anywhere really. We had a great time in Brazil last year; it was a difficult tour with a lot of travel and changes in times and stuff but the fans were incredible. We also went to Greece for the first time last year and that was incredible. Really, with this band we haven't done consistent touring which we want to put right this time - it's always been a couple of weeks here and a couple there but never like a solid block so really we decided to take it back to the roots of the 80's ethic where bands just toured off the back of an album and got a following and played live and if they were good would go back and that's what we're doing now with this album and tour. We're really going to go anywhere and everywhere. I know we're not going to get on mainstream TV or radio so we have to do it in other ways and that's what this band is going to do. We don't care how small the venues are or where they are as long as we can keep the ticket price cheap and still afford to play, then we'll do it. There's blaze2nothing better than proper touring and we like it.  I've always tried to do the whole of the UK and I think I've done that. Everywhere that has a club we are going there; right across Europe - Germany, France, Spain, Scandinavia, we're gonna do it this year and maybe next.


What about places you've not been before, like you mentioned Greece last year?

 

OH yeah, I'd love to go to New Zealand and Australia and we've not done North America as this band so that's another one we're looking at. I'd also love to do India as well as some of the countries in South America - we've already booked in countries for this year like Peru and Chile which we've not done. The whole thing about the 'Promise And Terror' tour is we're spending the whole year touring our arses off and going to as many places as we can and we're going to work our arses off going for this album and we're adding dates on all the time - every day there seems to be another date put in which is great and what we want.


It's fast approaching festival season, is that a merry-go-round you'd like to get on as it's a chance to play a shorter set to a lot of people who might not be familiar with your music?

 

Yeah, I enjoy just playing live so if we can fit some in then of course. Having the shorter set can sometimes be a bit lazy but they can also be a lot of fun; like you say it's different trying to get people into your music when they're not really there to see you, which is a challenge I like.


IF we could go back slightly to the Wolfsbane tour you just did before Christmas with the Quireboys - was it weird to be doing it again after 20 years?

 

It was really, really good. It was hard to believe that it's been 20 years since we originally did that tour. Spike has hardly changed at all. His warm up in the dressing room is fuckin' hilarious man - you hear this noise, it's like someone clearing their throat and we were outside thinkingblazespike someone has bronchitis with some pneumonia thrown in and I'd say "Hey Spike, you alright mate?" and he'd go (puts on Geordie accent) "Your alreet Blaze it's just Spike doing me warm up ha ha ha just finished!" and we'd all fall about laughing - he's fucking hilarious that guy!


Were you surprised how well Wolfsbane were received on the tour?

 

Yeah I was. What was great to see was people old and young coming out to support us and some people in the t shirts from back in the day. People would say "I can still get in the t-shirt from that original tour" which was great and the good wishes were really really great - it blew us away every night.


I caught the opening night of the tour in Bristol and it was as busy for your support slot as it was for the Quireboys which doesn't always happen does it?

 

Oh man, it was a great tour and we knew it would after that opening night. Bristol was great and a perfect start to the tour. It was a really great opening night but again we hardly had any rehearsal time for that tour either so we were playing catch up on the stage. Steve hardly ever touches his drum between dates because he spends his time driving tour buses all across Europe these days and Jase does producing and some session work.


Any future plans for Wolfsbane?

 

We don't really plan it, you know, and this year is all about the Blaze Bayley band because I've made so many sacrifices to get this off the ground and this is what my late wife wanted so, for her, this year is going to be all about getting behind the album and touring that. It seems to work out every couple of years we get offers for the Howling Mad Shitheads to get together and do some shows.


Before you joined Iron Maiden you had some Christmas dates booked for Wolfsbane but they were cancelled - was there any reason for that?

 

wolfsbane_singleOh yeah that's right, I already joined Maiden then and the reason I couldn't do those dates was as simple as Rod (Smallwood) wasn't willing for those to happen. I wanted to do them but there was no way Maiden were going to allow them to go ahead it was a case of "You're in Maiden now and that's all you'll do." It's not like we were touring or recording at that point but as long as I was in Maiden that was it and I really wanted to do those dates but there you go. To be honest I thought things like that were just crap - I also wanted to do some farewell shows but there was no chance.


You recently released a book, an autobiography available through your web site which already sold out. Will it get another release and come out through the shops?

 

No, it will always get released through the web site. The way I'm doing it is it's a limited edition and the first one was very limited to just 500 copies. At the end of this tour we'll add another chapter about this year and adjust any spelling mistakes and then the second edition will come out. To be honest, I didn't expect it to do as well as it did which blew me away if I'm honest and Larry (Paterson) said that we should write the book as he thought my story was a goodblaze_book one and pretty unique so we went for it, especially the leaving Maiden part has never really been written about.


Was there anything you were asked to leave out of the book from the Maiden camp? Were they aware you were going to write about it?

 

No, not at all. I didn't leave anything out. I can tell you it's pretty honest even though it's just my feelings and thoughts from me and no-one else. The only things that I didn't really write about - not that I was asked to leave it out - was every drunken escapade or self pitying episode of my life. It's enough I think to include about the time I went through a severe depression and I had problems with drink rather than I shagged this and he smashed up that and you know blah blah blah! I don't think it's big or clever to do that, I think it's pretty fuckin' sad and, although it wasn't great when I had those problems, I didn't want to wallow or bask in the misery or self pity of those episodes. We just tried to concentrate on those episodes and say like well they happened and how I got out of that time to where I am now.


Do you think back now and remember things you perhaps didn't at the time of writing the book or your perspective has changed of how you saw a particular time?

 

No, not really. I think what I might do is before we set down to do the second edition I'll read it back and take a look at it then but I don't think I see things differently. No, it's a pretty honest account of how my time with Maiden for example panned out which I appreciate a lot of people will be interested in. If I do remember anything I'll definitely get Larry to put it in but I have thought about if there were things I forgot but I think the gist of my time is in there.


When you joined Maiden was it what you expected it to be like? You must have gone into a deal like that with eyes wide open what with them being such a big iconic band.

 

Well no not really, in fact not at all. In one way I'd already done that job with Wolfsbane you know with regards to touring, making videos and all that, so it's the same game. The best way I can put it is it's like going from playing semi pro at Tamworth Town to getting signed by Manchester United or the Villa; it's basically the same game but a totally different league and the intensity is so much greater and nothing can prepare you for that kind of thing. Once the Maiden freight train gets going you just have to hop on board and hold on, there is no getting off. You just have to see it through until it tells you to get off.


Did you have any doubts about joining Maiden, not because of your ability but the task ahead?

 

blazemaidenNo, I thought maybe the only thing was my voice was so different from Bruce's and Paul's before him that they could have gone out and found a hundred and one people who can sound like that who would have done a good job.


Do you think that was why they chose you then, maybe to take Maiden somewhere different? Maybe go left of centre rather than more of the same?

 

Yeah possibly that was the case. When I spoke to Steve he pretty much said that he liked my voice and that was what he was looking for, to do something different so I was surprised about that. But I loved it and being able to write songs for 'The X Factor' album and work with those guys was fantastic and working closely with someone like Steve was great and I think I learnt so much at that time. I guess it was a lot more intense than I was expecting it to be but as many stupid and ridiculous things happen on tours of that scale as they do on the level I'm currently touring at. You still turn up and there's no time to sound check or the hotel has cocked up the reservation, you know same shit ha ha ha! It's different but the same if that makes sense. The saddest thing about the whole episode - it was only in the UK it was a big deal - was that the fans were sort of not able to meet the band for signings and stuff but in a lot of countries it was great. That's one of the good things about this level of touring is you get to meet the fans which is great. I did do a Maiden convention once and that was good - it was like one of those Starblazemaiden2 Trek things, you had people turning up dressed like Eddie and knew the most fine details about you which was mind blowing at times but in a really nice way.


For the 'Ed Hunter' compilation they asked the Maiden fan club to vote for their 20 favourite Maiden songs and two of your songs were in that - 'Man On The Edge' and 'Futureal' - so the hardcore support accepted the change?

 

Oh right, I didn't know that. That's fantastic - that's really great, thanks for that, brilliant.


When you consider how many songs Maiden have, to get two out of the Top 20 is really something...

 

It is, yeah. I genuinely didn't know that. That's made my day that has. I still do those in the set now.


Staying with Maiden for a moment, I think it's coming up to some sort of anniversary for the band soon - 30 years maybe? If there was a gig at Wembley or something to celebrate the whole of Maiden and Paul, Bruce and yourself were asked to do a few shows would that be something that would interest you?

 

Well,  funny you should ask about that - we were talking about that earlier and it is the 30th year coming up so it would be a lot of fun and, yeah, of course it would be great but I'm not blaze-pic2sure it would happen; maybe Paul wouldn't want to do it but I suppose money talks and if enough was offered then anyone would consider it - you'd be daft not to.


If it did happen and you were asked to perform three songs at this gig what would you choose? You can take them from any era of the band - what would you go for?

 

I think I'd have to do the ones from my time in the band and maybe the ones we do in Blaze Bayley like 'Clansman', 'Man On The Edge', 'Futureal', 'Lord Of The Flies' maybe....

When you were in Maiden were there any of the old songs you didn't like to perform for one reason or another?

 

No, not really. There were a few I always wanted to do like 'Wasted Years' but I couldn't do it in the Maiden tuning and they wouldn't change it. I've done a few unplugged shows and done a few of the tricky ones in a tuning that suits my voice and really enjoyed it. I remember my wife (god rest her soul) saying it was really excellent and much better than how Bruce sang them (oh thanks babe as Blaze has a cheeky grin) but, um, that was one I always wanted to do.


Did you ever get them to try things like that in different tunings in rehearsals or soundchecks?

 

Yeah we did but when it came down to it they weren't prepared to change the tuning for a song here or there; that's how they worked which was a shame. My register was lower and darker than Bruce's but, there you go, that's singers for you. Unfortunately you can't change your vocal tuning like a guitar, ha ha!


Do you keep in touch with any of the Maiden crowd?

 

Yeah, I do. I still speak with Steve and go down and see him. I went to Twickenham last year and we might record at Steve's studio for the next album which would be great.


You had Jase (Edwards - Blaze's former Wolfsbane bandmate) do the production on this one.....

 

Yeah, he engineered the last one and was keen to produce this one and he did such a great job. I think it was great for all of us to have someone who understood the music that was sort of an outsider who we could bounce ideas off and he could decide things as well. There were no politics in this and if it was right for the record he'd have his say and we'd go with that, there weren't any silly things going on with egos or anything like that. We don't do that in this band, we just trust each other but for little disagreements of someone wanting it to sound like that and another thinking it should be like this it was then left to Jase to settle that and take a decision as to what was best for the record, which was great. Also for me it was great because I could concentrate on my own performance because I trust Jase to do what was right for the record which was fantastic and I think it's worked.


Was it easier using Jase then as someone you trust so much?

 

Oh, definitely - he did a fantastic job and he's really good at it. I think I'd definitely use him wolfsbanecoveragain. It's maybe not as aggressive but darker which is great. So yeah, I'll definitely use him again and I think he's going to be a big star as a producer. He will be able to do in a few short years what Andy Sneap does and he'll be in big demand.

 

Have you ever watched the footage of the infamous Chile spitting incident?

 

Yeah, actually local TV filmed the whole show. The footage on youtube is actually out of context really but from the start there were about six people spitting at us. You don't really see the whole thing but you can just about notice Dave Murray stands back and Maiden always stood right on the lip of the stage, always have been right in the fan's faces, but this time Dave is stood back. I went over by Dave and noticed why he was stood back. This gig was the first time Maiden had ever been to Chile and the place was fucking mad and Maiden were banned from the country for allegedly being Satanists so by the time it was relaxed the legend of Maiden was massive and it was scary. Anyway the support band were a local band called Heroes de Salensia and they were big but we got the call when they went on stage that there was 45 minutes til stage time and then a knock on the door to tell us that there was a change of plan and we were going on in 10 because the support band had been bottled off. The crowd were just mental; the poor singer had a bottle on his head and I felt terrible but they just wanted Maiden. I've gotta say that the scream when we hit the stage, of all the gigs I've ever done, nothing will ever come close to that. After 20K kids inside a sports hall just blew the roof off the place - the hairs on my arms are up just thinking about it - it was all set to be a storming night. We were on fire and we started and it was normally one song after the other and it wasn't until the end of 'The Trooper' before I got a chance to talk to the audience and then it happened. What  a bunch of cunts there were twenty thousand there and these cunts were spoiling it for everyone else. I was absolutely tamping I was ready to jump in and have it with them but, anyway, the fans sorted them out. After that was sorted it was possibly the best gig I've ever done in my young life - it was an incredible evening, that's for sure.


Do you find a noticeable difference from continent to continent even though metal fans, you would think are the same across the globe?

 

1ablazeOh yes, no doubt about it there is a difference - even town to town can be different. Sometimes you think you've not gone down well but after the show there are loads wanting stuff signed who thought it was a great show and others where the audience is noticably older or some towns where they're noticeably younger. The Germans are a tough nut to crack, a bit like the English whereas in Spain they seem up for a party and it's like "let's have it!" Also France just love to sing along and sometimes it's off putting but nice when these songs you've written and there are all these people shouting the words back at you - it's ever so nice. In South America they even sing the guitar melodies back at you in a wall of noise, fucking amazing and the Welsh always give it up. But there is a difference and it can be split. Japan is mad and America is weird - it's like you have to say "motherfucker" five times before they know you're onstage but in Japan they go mental but don't push in to the front and will stand politely and respectfully and if you're speaking they wait until you finish before going nuts - it's incredible really.


Once this tour finishes..

 

It won't, it's going on forever I think ha ha ha!!!


What are the plans after this load of dates are fulfilled?

 

This is Part One then we'll come back after March, do the festivals and back here in the winter, so hopefully another 30 shows maybe. We'll play anywhere, we won't just go to where we're told we'll go where the fans are. It's not about trousers and haircuts anymore and for a touring band it's great. We don't worry about Radio 1 or Top Of The Pops type things, there's a great big world out there that is ready for a band like this to turn up and play a show. The only wayblazelive we'll not go back somewhere is if we were badly treated or the promoter hasn't done their job and the sound is shit because we don't want people to remember seeing us and have a bad time through no fault of our own. So yeah, we'll consider anything really.


One last thing before you get ready to go onstage, Blaze. What do you do in your time off? Are there any hobbies we'd be surprised at like knitting or you are a keen flower arranger?

 

Ha ha, no. I have an old Yamaha Vtwin. I sold my Z1300 so I look at the weather and text my mates so we can go off on the bikes and I love mountain biking which I haven't done for a few years now but, yeah, I love that type of thing.

 


So there you have it, what a diamond bloke Mr Bayley is. Happy to talk about his time in Iron Maiden, one of the world's biggest heavy metal bands that hold a very exclusive number of singers. He's been there and done it and went on to rock the crowd for a couple of hours and leave the fans in no doubt that he still can deliver the goods with a band that seemed tight and enjoyed powering their way through a set of both old and new songs to the delight of the masses who all seemed to be decked out in Blaze shirts both old and new.

 

Check out www.blazebayley.net