NI ROCKS Interview with BLAZE BAYLEY
Blaze Bayley releases a new album called “Endure and Survive” in March and kicks off a lengthy European tour in The Diamond Rock Club on 18th February. I spoke to the former Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden singer via Skype on 7th February – this 40 minute interview along with 3 tracks from his new album will be broadcast once the album is available for airplay. In the meantime we have about 13 minutes of the interview, plus a couple of tracks from Blaze’s previous release “Infinite Entanglement”, a Wolfsbane track and something from his Iron Maiden days on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 10th February.
You can listen to that Show via the On Demand Player now - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/hosts/ni-rocks-friday-rock-show.html
The Show that was uploaded on 9th Feb.
The full interview will be uploaded in a few weeks.
NI ROCKS – Blaze, thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions for Rock Radio NI. I wanted to talk first of all about the new album which is due for release next month. It’s the second part of a trilogy that started with “Infinite Entanglement” last year. What is the concept behind the trilogy and where does this album take it to?
BLAZE – The concept behind the trilogy is based on a story that I’m writing – a science fiction story – about a man who does not know if he is human. The first album is called “Infinite Entanglement” and the idea comes from the quantum entanglement which exists between two electrons that know exactly where they are and what position they are in, no matter how far apart that they are. They know what the other one is doing and they move instantaneously in relation to the other electron; whether they be next to each other or on the other side of the universe. And I found this idea absolutely intriguing and I wondered what would happen if that was used to describe relationships between people, because we are all made of electrons and particles and bits of quantum. So the idea is that this man does not know if he is human and he gradually discovers that he has a machine body. His consciousness has been transferred into a machine body and he has to decide if he is human or not. That’s the story of the first album. The journey that he is on, is of a thousand years, to the nearest planet that may support human life which was discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. That’s the first album.
This album is much, much darker because he has been subjected to brain-washing and they make him do really evil, horrible things in his sleep; that he thinks are nightmares or dreams that he is having, but it is actually something real that he has done. This is the story of part two – it’s the end of a thousand years. It’s much darker than part one and part three is in my head at the moment – in a few notes and in a few songs that we’re working on already, that we didn’t use for this one, that will be part of part three.
So, it’s a science fiction concept, but one of the ideas is colonisation; colonialism and the idea that you can go and just land on somebody’s country or continent or planet and say, because I am more powerful than you and I have better weapons, this is now mine. It’s the story of the Aboriginals in Australia, some of the Polynesian Islands where an entire race of people were wiped out by flu that sailors had immunity to, and diseases like that. It’s the story of the native Americans that were trampled on; it’s the story of the conquistadors. That’s the essence, the metaphor of the story; but putting humanity, just like the rich west of Queen Victoria and the trading companies of the time, into that kind of context really. I feel it is something that could happen quite easily, as corporations gain power and there are private space missions, private space holidays and things. There will also be a darker side to that. What about people who want to pay - if we can find the technology to get to this new planet, why not make it our own? Just like, if we the compass and the longitude and the routes to get to the “New World”, why don’t we make it our own!
That’s the concept behind it, but essentially it’s a human story about someone trying to decide, even though he doesn’t have a body as such, is he human because he feels human and thinks like a human. That’s it! And so far, all of my fans, who know me anyway for my science fiction, from my early albums; from “Silicon Messiah” and “Tenth Dimension” which were in a concept style; everybody has loved the first album, and the songs and the way that it has come over. Loads of people are waiting for the second one, so I have an excitement and expectation that I’ve done really good work with the guys and we’ve got some great songs and great music. But I’m also very nervous because so many people liked “Infinite Entanglement” and liked the songs so much; will they like this one as much, because it’s darker and maybe they won’t enjoy it as much? It’s a double edged sword I suppose.
NI ROCKS – It’s due out then on 3rd March?
BLAZE – Yes, if you pre-ordered it though, you’ll get it much sooner than that. General release is 3rd March – that’s when you’ll get it on iTunes, Spotify and all those places. That is when it’ll have limited availability in the shops – the ones that are left!
NI ROCKS – And part 3 of the trilogy, when do think that will be? Some time next year?
BLAZE – It will be 1st March next year, or around that date. I said that if I was going to do the trilogy then what I would do is do one each year and have it come out on the 1st March. It’s a lot of work and there’s not much time. We have to look at our days and think could we use that as a writing day, instead of a day off and things like that. I didn’t want to do it otherwise, as these things can just go on – “it doesn’t feel right” or something like that and I just hate those excuses. If you have the idea, and call yourself a song-writer, then part of it is the creativity and the idea and the rest of it is hard work, skill and passion that should take you the rest of the way. That’s what we’ve done – we’ve managed to do that. I’m a working class man – I come from a working class back-ground, where you turn up for work on time, work for 8 to 10 hours or whatever it is, then go home. You do your job while you’re there, and that’s what we try to do. Our days can stretch from 8 hours to 24 hours sometimes, depending on what you’re doing. We’ll start rehearsing at 10 in the morning and get home from rehearsals at about 8 o’clock at night; then start listening through the songs we did at rehearsal and still be up at 2am in the morning! That’s how it goes sometimes. You just never know. I didn’t want something that people were going to have to wait around for and I felt fairly confident that the story, or my idea of the story, is strong enough to it.
NI ROCKS – Where did you record the album and who worked with you in regard to writing and recording?
BLAZE – I’m the producer of the album and Chris Appleton is the co-producer on this one. I’ve taken on the song writing and the arranging of the songs, what goes where, while Chris is more in the studio, making sure that the exact recording of the drums is done right, and the exact recording of the guitars and bass is done right. We’ve recorded in Birmingham, at a studio called Robannas, and that’s where I recorded the last album and it turned out really well. When people request guest vocals, that’s where I record them. Depending on traffic it is 20minutes or half an hour from home, so I can go home every night. That is a really big advantage as I suffer from depression and have mental health problems. I like to go to work and come back from work, not to be locked away. So I find that really, really helps me. It’s nice to be able to get up for work in the morning, and no matter how late it is, come home at night, even though I’ll still do a bit more work. So it’s Robannas Studio in Birmingham – we do the rehearsals there; it’s a big studio with a lot of different rooms. All sorts of bands rehearse there, from students and young people to people doing blues or stuff like that and established bands like Napalm Death. When all the rehearsals are done and we’re absolutely confident that we could play those songs; if we had to do a gig, we could just about get through those songs. Then we move everything upstairs into the studio and we set up and start recording. It seems to work for us that way.
NI ROCKS – You’ve been working with the guys from Absolva now for a few years. How did that first come about?
BLAZE – I’d been looking for a reliable support band at one point, away back, and they thought they could do a good support slot for me. They thought my audience would appreciate them. Somebody didn’t turn up one night or actually said they couldn’t do part of the tour, and I said could we get those Absolva guys in – they were Fury UK at the time – and we did and we became friends. They were on time, they worked hard, were well rehearsed and played well on the night. They got off on time, they didn’t get in the way of the fans or anything like that. So, when I was looking for a band to back me I asked them if they’d like to have a go at it and they did. We did my ‘best of” tour – the “Soundtracks of My Live” tour – and things worked out really, really well. So I said would you like to collaborate on the next album, and that is what we started doing and it has worked very well. The good thing is that at the end of the tour they go and do their Absolva stuff and I go home and recover or start writing my next thing or work on my book, then get together for the next rehearsals for what is next. It works very well like that.
NI ROCKS – Did that influence the move to Rocksector Management a few years ago?
BLAZE – I’m not actually with Rocksector Management. Mark Appleton is actually my manager, it’s not Rocksector Management. He is Rocksector Management, but Mark is my manager. I’m not signed to Rocksector Management at all; it’s a different deal for me. Mark is Rocksector Management, but for me he is my manager. That’s how it works.
NI ROCKS – And your record label is Blaze Bayley Recording – is that correct?
BLAZE – Yes, Blaze Bayley Recording – all my own label, all my own thing. The way it works is that he manages to keep me busy. He does all my bookings for me, with Chris Appleton. We keep it as a very small, tight team. We tend to do everything ourselves. I’ve been in the music business for so many years, and been with so many big labels, big agents, big management etc. What I’ve learnt is that if you want it the way that you want it, then you’ve got to do it yourself. Because I’m not interested in getting bigger. I need someone to take on board that I’ve an artistic vision of where I want to be, how I want to perform, the venues I want to go to and that doesn’t involve becoming a megastar. I’m not interested. I’ve been in one of the most important heavy metal bands in the world and played in front of 85,000 people or 10,000 people every night, everywhere.
But I’m not interested in doing that now. What I want to do is have shows where I can reach out and touch my audience, where I can meet my fans afterwards and do a free meet and greet and say thank-you to everybody. Where I can do the music that I want to do and people can get close enough to actually see and hear me do it! You don’t have to look at me through a pair of binoculars and say I can’t quite see his face on the big tele-screen. That’s what I want to do and when I spoke to Mark Appleton I said I’m not interested in getting big, I just want to play the venues I play now, but I want to try to get them full, and keep playing this style of venue. He said he thought that was possible and that he could do that. The tour is up to about 70 shows all over, with the venues varying from 100 people capacity to 1,000. So I’m able to get close to people, to sign stuff and meet my fans after every single concert, unless I’m ill or I’ve got to catch a plane or something. That’s something I always like to do.
NI ROCKS – We’ll play a track from the new album now. Do you want to pick one and tell us something about it?
BLAZE - A good one would be “Escape Velocity”. It’s a flashback to the beginning of the story. The central character is called William Black and he is trying to forget the bad things that he has done in his life. “Escape Velocity” is 25,000 miles per hour – that’s how fast you have to go to get into orbit and leave Earth’s gravity. But also it is, if you can go fast enough, can you go faster than your thoughts. Faster than you can think. Can you leave behind your guilt and bad memories, if you could just go fast enough. Could you escape your own thoughts. So that is why it is called “Escape Velocity”. The dream that we all have being that we can fly – it taps into that and says I will fly.
NI ROCKS – You’ve a gig this coming weekend in Malta. Is that a club venue or a festival?
BLAZE – It’s a big club – I think it has about 1,000 capacity. We have some great Maltese fans coming to support us. I think there are about six bands – it’s an indoor festival that I’m doing in Malta. I’ve played there twice, or maybe even three times before. I was there with Iron Maiden the first time and I’m really excited about going back. It’s the first full metal show of the tour and we’ll have a few of the new songs from the album in the set list as well. So I’m really excited about it.
NI ROCKS – The following weekend you’re playing the Diamond Rock Club in Northern Ireland at the start of a UK tour
BLAZE – Yeah, I’m very excited about coming back to Northern Ireland. I haven’t been for a while. And what I’m also very excited about is coming back with Absolva, because I’ve never been there with them. It’s the full European set list; it’s the full band that I’ve been doing my last couple of tours with, so I’m really, really excited to come over to Northern Ireland again. And to be honest, to play outside Belfast, because the last couple of times I played in Belfast and it’s nice to get somewhere else.
NI ROCKS – The next question, you’ve already partly covered! I was reading an article from Team Rock written during the last UK tour and you were talking about the importance of the fans who come out to see you. Do you always try to find time at the end of the night to circulate for photos, signings and stuff?
BLAZE – What I do, is I say to every promoter is that I’m not doing the show unless they put time aside so that I can meet the fans. It’s a very strict thing that I do and I have to be very strict about it in some places that I play, because they just have no respect for the fans whatsoever. There was one venue in Barcelona; a really big venue and supposedly prestigious; where I’d asked what time where they closing the club, because I need at least an hour after I finish my set list to sign for my fans. Don’t worry they said, you’ll have plenty of time. I signed for five people, then security said only one item! I said that I’d never said that, and then the next thing they started pushing the fans out saying that the signing was finished! So I had to go outside the venue and did my meet and greet, and signing outside the venue. I said to my manager, never play this place again! Never – having fans treated like that, I’d never go back. I stick to that and they made us an offer for this tour and I said no, they treated the fans like shit. I’d rather play somewhere tiny that nobody knows and play to my fans on my own terms, than have people treated like this. So, yeah I always try to do it. The only times that I don’t is when I’m sick or if I have to catch a plane. If I’m catching a plane I’ll usually put a sign up saying that I’m signing before the show. And I always put it on Facebook as well. If you look at https://www.facebook.com/officialblazebayley/ then if there is any problem, or if I’m doing it before rather than after, it’ll be on Facebook.
NI ROCKS – The current tour will take you through to the end of May. Then there is a small break and then a few dates in Croatia and Serbia in July as well. Are you taking the tour further afield than Europe?
BLAZE – We should be going to the USA as well. We’re waiting on confirmation of those dates. We’ve just started working with a new agent over there. I really enjoy touring over there. Most years I go to Brazil. Last year I went to other countries in South America – I went back to Chile and I went to Argentina for the first time in many years. I’m hoping that the USA tour will go off ok. Unfortunately, I had been going to Russia regularly, but with all those problems, the agent that I use there is just not able to do anything for me. But it should end up being a proper world tour.
MUCH MORE OF THE INTERVIEW TO FOLLOW!!
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STEPHEN PEARCY – Dead Roses
WOLFSBANE – Blue Sky
BLAZE BAYLEY – A Thousand Years
Short Interview with BLAZE BAYLEY (13 minutes)
BLAZE BAYLEY – A Work of Anger
IRON MAIDEN – The Clansman
BLACK STAR RIDERS – Heavy Fire
THE ANSWER – Solas
BLACKWATER CONSPIRACY – Waiting on Hollywood
HYDROGYN – My Redemption
TRIVIUM – The Ghost That’s Haunting You
PAT MCMANUS BAND – Belfast Boy
You’ll find an interview with Chris Appleton from Jan 2015 here - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/interviews/1776-ni-rocks-interview-with-chris-appleton-absolva.html
Last Updated (Monday, 20 February 2017 19:29)