Graham Oliver was an original member of Saxon, who were
a leading light in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). He played
on the classic Saxon albums, leaving in the early 90s. First off he
formed Son of a Bitch which then became Oliver/Dawson Saxon.
First off, congratulations on winning the right to use
the Saxon name.
Yeah right, me and Steve (Dawson original Saxon bass player) have
had the name all these years and its just one of those funny things.
We could never be arsed to do anything about it, we think live and let live.
You get broad shoulders and just let it bounce off. We have had so much
propaganda, its just unstoppable.
Internet will have fuelled the rumours as well over the two
It has yeah, anything you can think of has been levelled at us. All me and
Steve want to do is play music, nothing more, nothing less. We have got a
right to play music we wrote. One of the reasons Saxon got success through
punk and adversity, we just got our heads down and carried on. Thats
what stuff we are made of and thats what people should realise thats
what kind of metal we are made of. It was all about openness and accountability.
Id got nothing then so the first gig I got after that was an open air
concert about six weeks later and Aidan (O/D Saxon guitarist) came and played
for me. Me son played drums and I got a friend of mine to sing and play bass.
He knew all the songs and he plays for the Gonads, the journalist Gary
Bushells band from his punk days. He puts it together now and then
for gigs. It was really good , we played and really enjoyed it. Aidan said
hewould love to do it all the time and we gave Steve Dawson and Pete Gill
a ring. We got Thunderhead, the American vocalist living in Germany. But
you cant really have a northern working class band like Saxon with
an American singer. He were contracted to Thunderhead stuff in Japan with
other record companies and it were really an album project, so we called
it Son of a Bitch. We did a few gigs Isle of Man, couple of bike
Thunderhead went back to the US and we needed a new vocalist.
Wardi had just come back from the US where he had been on a retainer for
Slashs band. He goes way back to 84 with Slash and they are good
buddies. When they played London last year Wardi was the only one Slash allowed
in the dressing room. Wardi knew all the songs as he was at all the early
Saxon gigs. Every vocalist has gone on to do things outside their bands,
be it Bruce Dickinson, Dave Lee Roth or Rob Halford. I can just reel them
off they have all been their own band. A band like us will always
sound the same.
Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi always sound the same, they
have a certain sound or like the Van Halen brothers. You know their style
instantly. We arent capable of being anything else than who we are
and what we are. We sound classic Saxon because we are. Most of Wheels
of Steel was written before Biff joined the band as it was our live
set. All these were songs we were doing before Biff and Paul came along.
They were in a band called Coast who were very a funky band. We feel very
qualified and this trademark thing is good for us.
We have had other things to deal with and we feel very sorry for other members
of the band. For example we played in Germany in Hanover. Motorhead were
on Friday night and we were on Saturday night with Rose Tattoo. We got to
the airport at six in the morning and we get a call saying Stop, stop
the festival has gone bankrupt. Motorhead only played to 800 people
last night and had to pay x amount of thousands of dollars. We turned
round and went home. The promoter phoned back and said it was a complete
hoax call. Then I find out that this manager is also the manager of Rose
Tattoo, who went onto headline instead that night. That kind of stuff is
real shit. The music business could well do without that sort of thing.
is the sort of thing we have had to take on. We got such a hammering when
the album came out. Biff went into every magazine and the Internet, saying
they are a bunch of t***ers and I dont want to do those old songs again.
Then what does he do but go and re-record the early songs virtually
our entire live set. He keeps doin these things. He went in my local
paper and he knew that would get to me and hurt me. He said the most we would
do would be club tour of working mens clubs in south Yorkshire. But
we ended up doing Brazil, Sweden and Russia. With all this people think he
must have a massive chip on his shoulder. All he lives for is to rubbish
them lot and thats a pretty sad existence if you ask me.
Fans will make their minds up anyway.
Course they do. When we did that Ronnie James Dio tour
recently it were fantastic. We had fans coming up to John Ward after saying
I wanted to hate you mate but the band were great and you played
great. We are just doing it to have a real good time. The guy who helped
produce the DVD said he didnt know what to expect as he had heard all
these things about us. But he said we were a real band and were having fun
as it should be. We are a band and all from the same area, all having a good
time and enjoying playing the music.
Thats why we call it Oliver/Dawson Saxon to tell people who we are.
The only real Saxon would be the one with all the original members in it.
What you have got is two different things in my opinion.
Have you got anything special planned for next years
have a tour planned with Girlschool and Tygers of Pan Tang a 25th
anniversary of the NWOBHM. Few shows in France and a few festivals booked
You have a new DVD out?
have no big record backing. We have Angel Air here in the UK with a good
guy Peter. It has all our experience in it and Ive really enjoyed this
one. It has a good vibe.
Angel Air released your End of an Era album
Yeah, I was just talking to him one day and I said I
would love to do something on my own. I recorded at a local youth club and
they has just has the latest Pro Tools stuff installed but didnt know
how to use it. I suggested my guitar tech who has worked with Mike Tramp
from White Lion. He set it all up and we recorded it from
We did a few shows in Rome with the drummer Rick Lee from Ten Years After.
I had 700 people in under my own name. It made me feel good that I could
pull so many people in under my name.
The new album has a working title of Hell Is Not For Angels.
Its in the true Saxon tradition of storytelling about the Hells
Angels code of silence and the recent trial in Scarborough. One of the
Hells Angels could have cleared his name but he kept his code of silence.
The lawyer, Steve Smith, managed to get him off and wrote a book about it.
Theres some fantastic sings on this album. Really powerful and some
classic rock sounds.
Which songs do you like performing best
like Dallas a good put together song. Even Randy Rhoads like
the song for the composition and solos. Sometimes a lot of notes says nothing.
Less notes means more sometimes. I like doing Rocking Again,
Heavy Metal Thunder and others. We want fans to chose songs for
the set list on the website. Different countries want different songs. South
America were mad for Ride Like The Wind. Nowhere else really
does and Nigel Durham who drummed on the original hates doing that one
What have been your musical
I first started Iommi and Jimi Hendrix. I wanted to play a SG like Iommi.
We toured with Black Sabbath in 81 with Dio singing.
Are there any bands youd like to tour
would love to do a tour with AC/DC, Manowar and Def Leppard. We had Ozzy
supporting us when he started out. Motley Crue met us in their earlier days.
were backstage with us when Ozzy came in for a bit of moral support just
after Randy Rhoads was killed. He was unconsolable really.
We have seen a massive musical from the 70s with Heavy Metal Kids and
the Clash. When we first went to America it was all Molly Hatchet type bands,
then glam like Cinderella and Motley Crue, then Steve Vai.
Going back to an earlier point, I saw Deep Purple recently
and you coould tell the band was really enjoying it. Is there anything you
want to achieve with Oliver/Dawson Saxon or do you just want to go out and
have a good time?
just want to really enjoy and be a band. Early Saxon was a band, we all chipped
in. The whole teamwork made it great. We had an image and a singer looking
like David Lee Roth with bleeched blond hair. The management were trying
to make us into something we werent. It went against us Iron
Maiden stuck to their guns and overtook us. Its not a compromise everyone
has a say, thats why its so good now. Its just teamwork
on every front. It just happens.
We had a top 10 album in Germany with Solid Ball of Rock. That
was when we had just got back with Nigel Glocker. That was teamwork
Do you ever see yourself and Steve getting back together
and Steve havent got a problem. But youve got a guy who is running
everything with everyone else on wages. If you get the original band back
together you have all things being equal and have too much too loose. It
would be a great time to do an album if Kiss, Black Sabbath, Deep
Purple can do it why not us? Only time will tell I guess.
Message for your fans
people who came and saw us on the Dio tour really made us feel welcome.
Its hard to be the euphoria in words. It seems as though fans are rocking
again. I said keep turning out to live gigs, champion your bands. Thats
the reason we wrote Denim and Leather. Wherever you go in the
world heavy rock fans are all the same. Rock has longevity. People say jazz
has but you wouldnt get 50,000 people at Donnington to see George Melly
would you? I would like to thank the fans for the last twenty-five years.
We will just keep going. Its nice when people like yourselves give
us the platform to talk to the fans.
I would like to say to the German fans that we would love to play there.
The only reason we are being stopped from playing there is that we must be
taking money from someone else. It should be about the music not the money.
great kids out there in Germany and we are just dying to play for them. One
of the nicest things was the Dio tour in Portsmouth when Ronnie invited us
on for Rainbow in the Dark. The only other guitarist he has invited
on stage before was Rudolf Schenker from the Scorpions on an American tour
last year. I was really glad to share a stage with him in 2002. For me it
just gets better and better with the fans. I just wish we could thank each
of them individually. Totally a fantastic experience.