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Interview: Blaze Bayley

Rock Stars...

Vocalist Blaze Bayley first came to light in Wolfsbane, a British metal band who had success in the 80’s and early 90’s. He then joined Iron Maiden , recording two albums with them before leaving in 1998. He has since started his own band, Blaze, who have so far released two studio albums and have just released a double live CD ‘As Live As It Gets’ via SPV.

Blaze Bayley

You’ve just released a live album this week. Why a live album?

Well many people know Blaze Bayley the singer, but they may not be familiar with Blaze the band and I thought a live album was the best way to show people what its all about.

How hard as it been to get the band (Blaze) exposure? Has it been like starting from scratch?

Lot of people don’t really know what I’ve been doing. There is a small percentage of hardcore fans from the Wolfsbane and Maiden days who follow Blaze, but many don’t know about Blaze the band. We have never had a world wide release before. I am hoping we can show people what we’ve been up to.

How did you come up with the Led Zeppelin cover ‘Dazed and Confused’ on the live CD?

That’s my favourite Led Zeppelin song, the way the vocals go with the guitar. We recorded it foe a Led Zeppelin tribute album. It came out pretty well in the studio. We were playing a hometown show, with people in the audience who had seen us a few times before. We wanted to do something a bit different, so we chose this and it came over well in rehearsals. It was so much better than the studio version that we decided to put it on the album.

You’ve done two albums now with Blaze. How has each of them been received? Have you noticed your fan base building at all?

It’s gone great really. We’ve had great reviews everywhere, the first album was in the shadow of Maiden. With this live album hopefully people will start to see me as an artist in my own right.

You’re playing the UK’s Bloodstock festival this year?

Yeah it’s good. The people who run the festival will do it because they love the music and want to put together a festival of good bands, music that they like rather than being in it for the money. That’s the best reason, because good or bad, it will always survive when you are doing it for the music.

What would be your long term aim with the band?

We are doing a few summer festivals. We want to get some of the sound and intensity and excitement of the live album into the studio, then I think we could do something really special. I think it’s the fans really who made the live album. They gave us such a great reaction on the night, giving us the vibe and inspiring us to do the performance. It’s an album by the fans, rather than for the fans.

What are your strongest countries in terms of fanbase, apart from obviously the UK?

The rest of Europe really. It’s very strong in Sweden and France, really good places for us. It’s just building really.

What was the highlight of the Wolfsbane days?

Looking right back when we had our own transit van. The year or so before we were signed, we were going round the UK, playing original material and playing to sold out places, albeit small places. Looking back that was probably the highlight before we went onto albums and then supported Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Guns ‘N’ Roses and we went on to see the world. I think the early days, there is a lot of crap that goes along with a record deal that isn’t really about the music.

How did Wolfsbabe call it a day? Was it just because you had been invited to join Iron Maiden?

That was it really, we didn’t have a proper record deal and it was getting increasingly harder to write new material as we all had different influences. I was offered the job in Iron Maiden and the Wolfsbane manager at the time said if you’ve got the chance go for it, as it won’t come along again. I really learnt a lot and being in Iron Maiden was a great experience. It certainly improved my writing and singing, it gave me the confidence really to start my own band.

When you recorded your first album with Iron Maiden how did it feel? How did the fans take to you?

It was a bit daunting but once we started writing things got a lot easier. Thinking about what we were going to do was a lot harder than doing it. We had a lot of ideas. The first couple of sessions were very nerve racking but once we’d got songs like ‘Man On the Edge’ underway it was a lot of fun as I really loved the music. I had great support and encouragement from fans all over the world. We started the first tour in Israel. That was a great buzz singing ‘Number of the Beast’ in Bethlehem.

What was the highlight of your Maiden days?

I think ‘Sign of the Cross’ was one of my favourates and ‘Fear of the Dark’ was just a huge song live. It was just fantastic.

When you left Iron Maiden did you leave because Bruce (Dickinson) was rejoining or was it because you’d gone as far as you could with the band?

They just wanted to do something else totally different. They just wanted to go in a different direction and after I’d left they got Bruce back. I don’t really know the full story. It was good as I got so much more confidence in myself musically.

Who have been the biggest musical influences?

Ronnie James Dio in Black Sabbath and Rainbow, the late Bon Scott because so much of his personality was in his vocal and that’s the sort of vocals that I like. It doesn’t matter to me whether a singer is perfect or technical. I really like to hear the character in someone’s voice.

Any bands you would like to work/tour with?

I think going out with Slayer would be fun or anybody really, we just like to get in front of a crowd.

The UK dates, you’re doing are smaller venues? Is it like starting from scratch again?

It’s our selfish reasons only, we want to do a couple of shows to try a few new songs and we just want to get out and play with the new album. It’s getting us ready for the summer festivals like Bloodstock.

Will the set list keep roughly to that on the live CD?

Pretty close to that I think. We really enjoyed playing those songs. ‘Sign of the Cross’ came out well.

Have you got a new studio album in the pipeline or is this year mainly touring the live album?

We’ve got these UK dates and the festival appearances. In between we will be getting ideas together and writing, trying to get things a lot more based around the live record’s sound. I love the sound and I think it’s the best record I’ve been involved in. The vocals on there are some of the favourate I have ever done.

Blaze Bayley

Andy Sneap helped out on the live album, will you be using him on the new album?

Hopefully if he’s available. I like to get something close to the sound of the live album.

What do you think of the state of the UK rock scene? More straight ahead metal bands seem to be doing well. Is it better than, say, five years ago?

I think so. There’s less prejudice now. You can like Slipknot and Blaze or Sum 41 and Blaze. If you like it and the music’s good, rather than is it cool? We are probably one of the most unfashionable bands in the UK and we don’t give a f***. We love the music.

Any plans to tour the States?

We played our first ever US show in New Jersey about three weeks ago and it was great. The crowd loved it and gave us such a warm welcome. People drove hundreds of miles to see us. For our first show there it was absolutely fantastic.

What’s the most unusual request you’ve had from a fan?

I don’t know really. There’s lots of mental nutters out there (laughs). When you’re a bit younger you’re less self-conscious and you ask stupid things. A lady asked me to sign her car and another to sign her arms so she can have it tattooed.

Do you think you’re bringing in young fans? ‘Classic Rock’ magazine recently made the point that a band like Def Leppard has no fans under 35.

Seems to be we get younger fans. People come along, not knowing what to expect and really get into it. It’s a classic British metal sound but with a contemporary edge to it.

Any other bands you’ve been listening to or recommend?

European bands like Blind Guardian and Iced Earth from the US.

What do you enjoy doing outside of music?

I’ve got a mountain bike and with a couple of friends we’ve got a little group together called Planet Blaze Endurance. We do 24 hour mountain bike events.

Message for your fans?

Thanks for all the support and encouragement. Keep checking at for tour dates and what’s happening and hopefully will enjoy the album.

Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie

Album review


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