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Blaze Bayley

The legendary ex-Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane singer returns to Croatia for two gigs in April (Zagreb, on 29th and Split on 30th of April)! After the split up of his Blaze band, Blaze Bayley formed a new band under his own name and continued making great heavy metal music, this time much darker and heavier. The first album, The Man Who Would Not Die was met with praise from fans, and now Blaze returns with excellent Promise and Terror which we already reviewed on the site. This is the interview with the legend:

You started in a hard rock/metal band Wolfsbane, could you tell us something about that period, your motivation for singing in a band and if the motivation changed since then.

I had a dream… I love metal music…I come from a poor family so I used to work as a cleaner in a hotel, in the nightshift. When I was working there I used to listen to music and metal was my favourite… so after a few years of cleaning the hotel at night I asked myself - "If I could do what I wanted to do, If I could do anything - what would I do?" I love to sing and I love metal music so I concluded I wanted to be a singer in a metal band, go on tours… and that's what happened. I started writing my own songs and looking for a band to join. In the local paper I saw an advertisement "heavy metal singer required, no experience necessary". I went for that audition and that was the start of Wolfsbane. We stayed together for a long time, until I joined Iron Maiden. It's still the same motivation now that it was then. I love to sing, write my own songs, perform on stage and that's what I do now. I feel like I'm learning all the time. I still have a lot to say musically, there are a lot of things I'd still like to do and I'm really excited about the future with the Promise and Terror album. A lot of people seem to like it so I hope we can come to Croatia, play the new material for the fans and that they'll enjoy it.

I saw the Wolfsbane band still being active and you doing a few shows with the guys. Do you plan releasing any new material?

Not this year as we're really busy with the Promise and Terror tour. Maybe some time next year. We get together when we all have free time from what we do, and we're not sure when that time for the next reunion will come. I'm sure not before 20.11.

I was really sorry to see the band Blaze split up, but you seem to have found great replacements. How did you meet today's members and how do you get along?

We share everything. One of the things I wanted to do was to change the name from Blaze to Blaze Bayley. If you google Blaze you get a hundred things, most of them porn sites or rock artists. If you google Blaze Bayley you more or less get straight to our site. That's probably why people didn't know what I was doing, so when I started making a new band I said to the guys: we're gonna share everything musically and be a band, but I really think we should call it Blaze Bayley.
The first few concerts we did we played in front of twice as many people than before when the band was Blaze, so it worked and it's been a new start for us.
It was difficult to get the band together. Before that I played with friends and everybody was committed to other projects as well and I wanted people to be exclusive to the Blaze Bayley band. I searched Myspace for a bass player and I found David Bermudez. He was in Under Threat at the time. I saw his videos and listened to his songs on Myspace and then got in touch with him. We spoke about the project; he was really interested and suggested that I got in touch with his brother Nico Bermudez who was living in Bogota at the time. I got in touch with him and we seemed to get along well. Jay Walsh, I knew him for a long time, he supported me when I was in the Blaze band…and Larry Patterson, he passed the audition. We had a really tough drum audition and he was the best one. He originally comes from New Zealand but he came here and became a British citizen because he loved heavy metal and there wasn't enough heavy metal there….So we all wrote the album together and shared the music, we worked things out together as a band. When we were writing the Promise and Terror album we all moved in to my house and worked on the practice drum kit and a little four-track machine to record our demos. When we worked out the tracks we moved to the rehearsal room with the full drum kit and rehearsed the songs like a live set so hopefully the songs on the album have that live feel and the energy that you get on a live show - that's what we were trying to get. So far it worked on our live shows; the fans that heard the album and came to our concerts were really pleased with the new songs.

One of the first things I noticed ever since the The Man Who Would Not Die was that Nicolas brought in some more technical playing into the band….

Well, yes. The arrangements are a lot more intricate and guitars are more involved. It's not as simple as, for example, Blood and Belief album was. But we really just try to do what we feel. We fit the vocals and all the instruments together and try to create a feeling, an emotion; whether that's revenge or being aggressive or being positive…in each song we try to create a musical journey and I think that's it. We don't try to be like anybody else, we just wanna be ourselves and play the music we wanna do and do it to the best of our abilities. Hopefully the people that come to see us with an open mind will see that we're genuine and that the Blaze Bayley band is worthy of their support.

Can you tell us something more about the lyrics and if there's a concept behind the album.

The CD has a lot of sleeve notes and it explains a lot about recording and all the lyrics of the album. The album comes in two parts. The last four songs fit together musically and lyrically and they tell a story, it's not really a concept, it's my personal story. The first part is more of what you would expect from a Blaze Bayley band - stories and songs about things that inspire us. For example, one of the songs is called City of Bones; it's about the city of Leningrad in the Second World War, the siege and brave troops and inhabitants who fought there and Dmitri Shostakovich writing his Seventh Symphony during the siege. Another song (God of Speed) is about breaking the world speed record with a motorcycle. It was set by Burt Munro. He was from New Zealand and was 65 years of age when he broke the world record. Everybody said he was too old, his motorcycle was too old, it was too dangerous, he wouldn't be able to do it…. and in the end it was one of the longest standing world speed records ever for a motorcycle.
So there in the first part of the album we got different ideas and then the second part tells the story - we never set out for that, it's just how it happened.
So far the fans that heard the album enjoy the fact that some of it is more technical and complicated, some of it is more raw, some very emotional, some very simple….it seems to appeal to fans of bands like Iron Maiden or early Metallica…

It's a very dark album…

Yes, it does explore darkness, the darker side of the human soul and negative things that happen to us. The message of the album, if there is a message, is essentially positive, something like: live each day for each day, the best you can and just find your own way to survive in life. Life is difficult and chaotic, it's not easy. Surviving and getting along in life isn't easy so finding your own way of surviving is important, however impossible it seems at the time. You can find a way to survive and that's the message! Comfortable in Darkness is the last song on the album and that's the final message of the album: you don't think you can find a way through the most terrible things that happened to you in life, but if you trust yourself then perhaps there will be a way to get through that.

What are the bands you grew up on and what do you like listening to today?

I still listen to Slayer, Manowar…I still listen to Iron Maiden. I really like Heaven and Hell…. I think metal is changing again. We had the grunge era where people were scared to play guitar solos and now it seems we're going back to the traditional metal roots. The music we play has a lot of solos, melodic guitar parts, twin guitars, big drum fills and more intricate patterns…and then sometimes it's very simple or very dramatic. It's all there to tell the stories we want to tell musically and lyrically….I think a few years ago the music we play now was very unfashionable but now things might be changing and people are giving us a chance. For us it's not just about making a record, it's not just the tour - for us it's our whole life, it's the way we live, it's what we live for. If we didn't play music we'd just be failures and we're very, very lucky to be able to do this the way we do. We know it's the fans that make it all possible. I've had a great support from the fans in Croatia, a lot of them believed in me even in the dark times and I'm really grateful for that! A big thank you to all those who supported me; we can't wait to get to Croatia and play live!

What do you think of guitar oriented music, for example Yngwie Malmsteen?

I've listened to his early albums because I really liked the vocals. I think Marching Out is probably my favourite Yngwie's album and I Am a Viking one of his favourite songs.

You already played in Croatia once, in Split. So how did you like it here and what do you expect from the upcoming gigs?

It was great, I made some friends there. There's one I still keep in touch with. I'm really excited about coming back and doing those two shows in Zagreb and Split, seeing Croatian fans again, and I really hope they'll like the Promise and Terror album.

Any final thoughts for metal fans in Croatia?

A huge thank you to all the fans who supported me and believed in me and came to see me on my last trip to Croatia. I can't wait to come back and I'm really excited about the shows! I hope we'll all have a great time and that fans will enjoy our show!

deda // 06/04/2010

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