THE NEW ALBUM „BLOOD AND BELIEF“ SOUNDS A LOT MORE VERSATILE THAN YOUR LAST OUTPUTS IN THAT WAY, THAT YOU HAVE THE TYPICAL SIGNATURE BLAZE SONGS, BUT ALSO SONGS WHICH REMIND ME OF WOLFSBANE TOGETHER WITH SOME VERY DARK, EERIE SONGS. WAS THAT LIKE A… (interrupts) It’s not intentional! What we did was, we just got together and wanted to create something that followed the sound of the live album as closely as we could. Because when we did “As live as it gets” and we were mixing it, then we liked the sound of that album better than anything we’ve done before. So on this album I wanted to keep that kind of emotion and power in there, but write in a slightly different way, write a bit more songs that are a bit more personal. And it was a different approach to the way the writing was done on that album. The two guitarists John Slater and Steve Wray did a lot of the music. And they gave me the demos, and then I’d start working with the demos, and get in the lyrics and melodies together around some music that was already there. A lot of times in the past we’ve started with like a melody idea or something like this. So, I think it came out a lot stronger because of that. And also we tried to make sure that each song – whatever the emotion was – it stayed true to that emotion for the whole song, rather than wander off to too many places. Just trying to stay right. This song is portraying this kind of sadness, or this anger, or this darkness. So, let’s tell the story of what it’s about, rather than trying to do too many things. So, I’m really pleased with it in that way. LIKE YOU JUST SAID, THE WRITING PROCESS CHANGED THIS TIME, THAT THIS TIME JOHN AND STEVE CAME UP WITH THE IDEAS FOR THE SONGS, AND YOU WROTE THE MELODIES AND LYRICS LATER. IS THAT CORRECT, THAT THEY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SONG-WRITING THIS TIME, AND YOU CAME IN LATER? It’s a different style, it’s like Ian Gillan does it. That’s a different approach that I wanted to try this time. Because Ian Gillan, when he’s done things with Deep Purple and before with his own band, then he waits for the band to finish all the music before he does the lyrics and melodies. I wanted to try something like that approach. So I waited for rough demos and ideas of the songs and main guitar-parts and things before I started putting together the lyrics and melodies. So, I tried to fit the lyrics and melodies with the emotion of the music. And then, if I had any ideas, then I would talk to John or Steve about the arrangements. So, it worked out pretty well. It’s got a different feel on it and it’s a much harder feel, but as well as that, we’ve managed to get more melody as well. And interesting melodies, that perhaps we wouldn’t have found using another system. THE LYRICS ON THIS ALBUM ARE VERY DARK, VERY PERSONAL – AND THE MUSIC, OF COURSE, HAS TO FIT THE LYRICS. DID YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE MOST OF THE TIME OR DID YOU SOMETIMES FEEL, THAT THE MUSIC DIDN’T REALLY FIT THE LYRICS BECAUSE IT WAS TOO HAPPY OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT? What happened was, I had lots of bits and pieces and odd lines and some lyrics finished and other things. So, I sit down and I work out, which of the lyrics that I’ve got fit with the music. And sometimes I’ll say to the guys: “I’ve got something really dark or disturbing or something like that!” And then they’ll try and come up with an idea like that. I really tried to fit everything together this time. There’s lines and odd sentences that I’ve had for two years that haven’t fitted into anything I’ve done. I’d be listening to a guitar riff or something and then it would fit around that. So, that’s what I did. THE LYRICS ON THIS ALBUM ARE BRUTALLY HONEST. USUALLY YOU SING ABOUT – STILL YOURSELF – BUT IN A MORE ABSTRACT WAY. ON PREVIOUS ALBUMS YOU’VE ALWAYS PUT CHARACTERS IN FRONT OF YOU, BUT NOW IT’S DIRECTLY ABOUT YOU. YOU SING IN THE FIRST-PERSON-SINGULAR, AS WELL AS IN THE THIRD-PERSON-SINGULAR, LIKE “HIM” – BUT IT’S QUITE OBVIOUS THAT ALL OF THE LYRICS ARE ABOUT YOU. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE LYRICS TO BE THAT PERSONAL? It’s been a very difficult two years. You know, I’ve had a lot of problems. I’ve had problems with drink and drugs, my marriage broke up, I’ve had a lot of arguments with the record label. There has been a lot of problems in the band. Two guys, who I thought were gonna be there till the end, left, cause they didn’t like the music anymore or how it was going. And you know, it’s been a real struggle to get through. And I just wanted to make something really a lot more personal and explore my own emotions and the darker side of my nature. So, I decided to go that way. And a lot of times maybe I’m a bit shy about revealing too much about myself. But I think, the most important thing about this album was, that I wanted it to be completely honest and unpretentious. So, there’s only one song really, which is about a movie and that’s about “The fast and the furious”, where the guy feels like he’s only alive for that ten seconds, that the drag-racing in the street. And I kind of felt a similarity with what I do. That you feel alive when you’re on stage, for that hour or two hours. And then the rest of the time you’re just waiting for those two hours to come again. So, that was the only one really, that wasn’t direct. But everything else, there’s some kind of rooted experience, or tragedy, or challenge, that I’ve had to overcome. So, a lot of the album is exploring that. And I think, really everybody has emotions, everybody has problems, everybody has difficulties in their life. And I think in one way, if you’re completely honest about things, then perhaps it will reach out to people more. Because other people will be able to identify then, oh, I’ve had that problem like that, oh yeah, I’m not the only one that thinks I’m going crazy in that situation. So, that’s the way I looked at it really. You know, I’ve had a lot of problems and that, but we just kept going on the music, when perhaps a lot of people said, I should give up. And, I’ve just kept going and I thought; well, the best way to do it after the live album, and, you know, a lot of the vocals on there that we did, we decided to just try something a bit more easy-going, a little less regimented, and try and go a lot more for emotion and performance on this album instead of getting things perfect. It’s like, well, perfect isn’t important. What’s important is getting your personality and your emotions over. HAS THERE BEEN A MOMENT WITHIN THE PAST TWO YEARS WHERE YOU THOUGHT LIKE: “OK – MAYBE THIS IS IT! THERE’S NO WAY, I’M GONNA HAVE TO GIVE UP, BECAUSE THE SITUATION REQUIRES IT!”? Yeah, lots of times! Yeah, I wanted to give up several times. But my fans kept me going, and my friends and my manager kept me going, when I thought it was just impossible to continue, cause I had so many problems. And you know, I suppose that I’m lucky to have those people around me, and lucky to have such loyal fans who understand that it’s about the music and not the image. And I’ve managed to come through it. And we’ve come through with an album, I think it’s the most honest album that I’ve ever made. Whether it’s the best album – that’s for the fans to decide. It’s up to them to make their own round up about that. But I think, certainly it’s the most honest and unpretentious album I’ve made. So, if you wanted to know anything about, you know, Blaze the singer, or Blaze the band, then you could listen to that album, and it’s well, it’s my whole story is in the lyrics of that album. YOU HAVEN’T REGRETTED THAT? Regretted what? THAT YOU’VE BEEN THAT OPEN ABOUT GIVING SO MUCH AWAY OF YOUR PERSONAL LIFE, BECAUSE WILL PEOPLE WILL UNDERSTAND THAT… Yeah… …AND THERE ARE NO REGRETS THAT YOU’VE GIVEN TOO MUCH AWAY? Oh, once I made the decision then I realised I had to go completely 100% all the way, there’s no holding back. On the “Silicon Messiah” album I had a song called “Identity”, which was inspired by a book, but really I was using the character from the book to explore some of my own issues and problems with my own identity, in the way that my life wasn’t reconciling “Blaze Bayley on stage” to “Blaze in ordinary life”. You know, going to the supermarket to buy milk or whatever. So, I was reconciling that book, hiding behind a character really. So, I realised, once I wasn’t gonna use any characters or have any central theme to the album, then it would have to be completely honest. And I thought, well, I don’t know if I’ll ever make another album. I don’t know where it will all go, you know. I just want to make this album, I want it to be the most honest and direct thing that I can possibly do. And hopefully that’ll come across to the fans, and they’ll enjoy it. And it’ll last longer because of that. WAS THAT A PROBLEM FOR YOU THAT THE STAGE CHARACTER OF BLAZE BAYLEY DIDN’T REALLY FIT THE ORDINARY LIFE CHARACTER OF BLAZE BAYLEY? It’s the same person. But unfortunately a lot of people don’t realise that, that when you’re on stage, hyped up full of adrenaline, excited, getting your music over, you’re there with really loud metal music. And a lot of people expect you to be like that all the time, where it’s like: Well, if you lived on that much adrenaline all the time you just wouldn’t survive, so… And it’s a lot of highs and lows as well, because if you do a great gig – it doesn’t matter to how many people – but if it goes well, and you perform well, and the music goes well, then you’re on a real high. And the next day you could be doing something really mundane and crap. And it’s hard to reconcile those two things. A part of me wishes, well, I wish I could be on tour all the time, and in that bubble being on the bus and everything, and not having to do with reality. And then sometimes, reality just comes up, and it’s like a sledgehammer on your brain. WAS IT REALITY OR THE BUSINESS THAT SCREWED YOU UP FOR THAT TIME? Well, I think, I’ve had a lot of problems because Sanctuary management – it’s clear to me now – really didn’t want me to be a success. They wanted me to go away, to fail, to disappear, to give up. Because what I think is, if I was a success they would see that, that would be an embarrassment to them. Why is this guy successful now that he’s not in Iron Maiden anymore? And I think, they would’ve been embarrassed about that. So, I think, Sanctuary management really tried to put a lot of things in my way, or do just enough to keep me going, but not enough really to make it a success. And I think, that’s been a lot of the problem. And now I’m completely away from Sanctuary management, and I’ve got nothing to do with any of the Iron Maiden management. You know, I’m still friends with the guys in the band and all of that. But I think, that’s a large reason. A lot of people know Blaze Bayley from Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane, but still… there’s so many fans that don’t know that I’ve got my own band together . I’ve got three studio albums and a love album, they just don’t know about it. I speak to fans all the time: “Oh, it’s Blaze from Iron Maiden! What are you doing right now?!” I mean, that’s really soul-destroying. So, I have to blame somebody for that. I’ve been doing my best, I’ve been gone on tour as much as I can. So, I have to blame Sanctuary management really for not giving me that opportunity. And, you know, I’ve had a lot of struggles with the record company as well. So, I think, the combination of those two factors, they just meant that, really, it doesn’t matter how good of an album you make: if people don’t know that you’ve got an album out, or they don’t know that you’re on tour, then it just doesn’t matter. If they don’t get to see you, in metal music there’s not so much hype as there is in pop and mainstream music business. So, you make fans, I believe, while you’re going and playing well and putting the music first. And I really don’t think, I’ve had the opportunity to do that as much as I wanted.
IN THE SONG “LIFE AND DEATH” YOU’RE TRYING TO GIVE HELP TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING THROUGH SIMILAR SITUATIONS. AT LEAST THAT’S THE FEELING I GET WHEN I LISTEN TO LINES SUCH AS “REMEMBER, IF YOU’RE FALLING DOWN, THERE’S ALWAYS A WAY TO GET UP; IF YOU GROW WEAK, YOU WILL ALWAYS GROW STRONG!” WAS THAT, LIKE, TO GIVE THE FANS SOMETHING LIKE A LIGHT AT THE HORIZON? It’s just talking to myself really. We’ve been through so many bleak, dark times. I’ve been on the edge of suicide sometimes in the last five years. And, it’s really like reminding yourself of your values and say: well, maybe everybody goes through those dark places, and everybody feels hopeless at some point in their life. And really, if you believe in something, it has to be life and death. If you do something half-measures or you’re not completely convinced about what you’re doing, then you’re not gonna do anything well. So, that’s it. It’s like: Well, if you’re gonna do it, it has to be life and death. It has to be the most important thing, like: not doing it has to be like being dead. So, that’s where the lyric from that song comes from. So – is it life and death to you?! Because it has to be, because you have to believe in it that strong, it’s the exclusion of everything else. So, yeah, that’s what that one is about. It’s a kind of reminding yourself of… as impossible as things are, most times there is a way to get through, if you can just be objective about it. And sometimes through sheer force of will, just to keep going. THE LAST SONG “SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE” BASICALLY SUMS UP THE WHOLE ALBUM, THAT’S THE IMPRESSION I HAD. IT’S LIKE THE SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE, THE SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR LIFE. AND THERE’S A LINE IN THERE IN WHICH YOU SAY, LIKE: “WHEN YOU LOOK BACK, WHEN YOU WATCH THE MOVIE OF YOUR LIFE, YOU ALWAYS REALISE THE MISTAKES AND TRAGEDIES IN THERE.” WHAT MISTAKES AND TRAGEDIES HAVE YOU REALISED WHEN YOU LOOK BACK ON THE PAST, LIKE, ON YOUR LIFE? Yeah, well, I have loads of regrets. When I was in Wolfsbane in the latter days and I was drinking a lot, and I was a real arsehole, and in relation-ships that I had, you know. I was really selfish, I was materialistic, just a bit of an arsehole a lot of the time. I’ve got different values to what I had then. But I think the important thing is trying to learn from the mistakes you make. So, then it’s a lesson to not make the same mistake twice. So, that song is all about that. It is about: everybody is the same, we all look back and think: “Oh… if only I didn’t do that! If only I didn’t get drunk that night! If only I hadn’t done that, maybe things would have turned out different!” But, you can beat yourself up about that all the time, and in reality the only way to go forward is to go: Well, that happened! So, if you don’t want to feel like that again, then don’t let that happen again! I’m trying to look at things now like: well, if you look back, then look at your life, and see a lesson that you’ve learned. And hopefully those lessons will mean, that you don’t make the same mistake over and over again. A FEW SONGS ARE MORE OR LESS DIRECTLY ABOUT THE PRESS, ESPECIALLY THE FIRST SONG “ALIVE” IS ABOUT THE PRESS AND HOW THEY’VE BEEN BASHING YOU THROUGHOUT THE PAST YEARS. WAS THAT YOUR SONG TO PAY THEM BACK? Well, it’s the British press mainly. I’ve had a lot of great support from all across Europe. And, especially in Germany, people have actually listened to the album first, and before they’ve made a decision. Where I think in Britain, they just see the name, and they just make their mind up, what it’s gonna be about. And it was really hurtful on the first album. We knew someone who was working at Kerrang magazine. The guy who reviewed our album, he really slated it and slagged it off –and he hadn’t listened to it! And it’s like, well, that’s just bad! There’s one guy, ever since I started, he’s had the knives out, and he’s always been trying to get me and always slags me off. It was quite an aggressive riff Steve and John came up with. And the particular song, it kept changing and changing. It had different titles. With thy lyrics there was a general idea of what it was about, but it wasn’t until we actually went in to finish to do the final vocals. It was actually all done with the melody and everything. It just came totally together, that’s why it’s called “Alive”. Because this particular journalist obviously just wants me to go away and die, and wants my career to be over and all of that. And he obviously hates the fact that I am still doing it. That – despite all the problems and changes and things – I’m still out there singing metal music. He just completely hates it. And he hated the fact that I was in Iron Maiden, cause it was his favourite band. So, as soon as he could slag me off after that, then he did. Yeah, and it’s my payback. It just made me saying: Well, yeah, it’s a really bad day for you, because I’m still alive. You know, it’s like: “Argh, shit! He’s still going!” He’s powerless to do anything about it. Because, at the end of the day it’s the fans that decide. The fans buy the records, the fans buy the t-shirts, the fans keep you on tour. They’re the ones that buy the concert tickets. They’re the reason why you make records. I don’t give a shit about reviews as long as they’ve listened to the album. If they are gonna review it, and it’s honest. But I don’t really give a shit what they say about me, or about the band, or about the music. Because the only opinion I care about is the fan’s! Cause without them I wouldn’t be making music. There would be nobody to make music for. YOU’VE BEEN IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS FOR MORE THAN 15 YEARS NOW. AND THINGS LIKE THAT DO CHANGE A PERSON, I BELIEVE. IN WHAT WAY HAS IT CHANGED YOUR WAYS? HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR ETHICS AND YOUR MORALS? IN HOW FAR HAS IT CHANGED YOU? A lot of the values of the music business are out of date. Because they come from the 60s and 70s, when the music business was starting to become global and record companies were starting to become multi-national. Going into the 80s, when everybody went, you know, and it was share prices and all of this. I think, record companies , they were built and they were formed – and most of their values were formed – in a time before the internet. And, you know, after the internet, it’s like going right back in time, because now we have the internet, now the power becomes to the individual. Because it’s a personal computer, that’s what a PC is, so it’s personal to everybody. So, if you want to find out something, you haven’t got to wait to be told about it. If you’re interested in metal, you go on the internet and find out about it. If you’re interested in Blaze, you can go and visit “planetblaze”. That’s where I think, things are really changing. And now, I believed so much about: Oh, things have to be done on a big scale, and you can’t do this, because it costs this much and that much. Where all I wanted to ever do, was to live on a tour bus, and go and play shows. Whether they’re as big as this room or as big as a theatre or a festival, just go and play my music and do the best I could and enjoy it. And I think, what’s happened to me over the last couple of years, is the realisation that before I had a record deal, I played more concerts and shows in the year before I had a record deal, than I did after I had a record deal. And it’s like, when you start looking back, and you think: how could that be possible, and how does that work? And you think about what’s important, and look at your values. And it’s like: well, you know, a lot of things about the music business, it’s… maybe it’s fucked up. And maybe it’s a new time, maybe it’s time for bands like myself and smaller bands to kind of say: we’ll find a different way to do things. And I think, that’s what’s happening. I don’t know, if there will be a future, but I think that’s what’s happening. A lot of the music business is geared up to stop you doing things, and make things seem impossible, unless you’re spending thousands and thousands and thousands of euros on promotion and hype, and lots and lots of adverts, and videos, and this that and the other. To me, all of that money I would rather spend on a tour bus and diesel – and just drive to gigs and play in people’s towns. That’s it! We haven’t got any videos, I don’t really give a shit about that. Apart from fans that don’t get the chance to see us, I don’t care about that. If you say, well, here’s a choice: you’ve got 75.000,- €, you can have a video or a tour. It’s like, well, yeah – I’ll go on tour! Because every single fan that I played to on that tour will understand directly what the music’s about. So, yeah, that’s the way I look at it. But certainly, I’ve been disillusioned by the music business. It’s a very uncomfortable alliance, because it’s music and business. And I think they are right angles. And in some ways they cross, and it’s almost like: well, no-one gets what they deserve, they just get what they get. That’s the way it looks to me now. The important thing to me is: as long as I can make the music that I want to make, and keep the standard of the recording, and the quality of the recording, and everything I do up to the standard that I want it to be, then I’ll be happy with that. So, we’ll see what happens this year. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS YOU’VE USED THE WORDS “BASTARDS” AND “FUCK” ON AN ALBUM – COMMENT ON THAT PLEASE… It’s people that are jealous of you just because you refused to conform to what they think is the right way to do things. So, people are always: “Oh, you can’t do that! Oooohhh no, you can’t do it – it’s impossible!” And they will hate it, because if you do something different, and you don’ want to live by the rules that they live by, then it’s like: Who do you think you are?! So, it’s basically, the lyric of that song, the “Will to win” is about looking at yourself and asking yourself the question: What did you want? And find it within yourself, the will to do it, and just ignoring those people. Because, a lot of times they’re jealous, because they never took a risk. So, that’s why they’re bastards, and they hate you for what… just because you have a dream, and want to do something, they hate you for it. And I’ve come across a lot of people like that in my life. So, a lot of the album, a lot of the lyrics is just me talking in some ways. So, that’s it: those bastards they hate you, for what you want to be – so fuck them! You know, they just don’t matter, they’re completely unimportant. Their opinion is completely unimportant to your life. You’ve gotta live your life, so that you can be happy with yourself, not to make other people happy. And that’s what’s that’s about, the “Will to win”. LAST QUESTION: THE DARKNESS – DO YOU THINK THEY’RE GOOD OR BAD FOR METAL? Yeah, I love The Darkness, they’re great for metal. They’re a complete antidote to all the dance music in the charts. Anybody who is playing real guitars, and having screaming vocals, has got to be good! That’s it! It’s good fun, when I put on the TV, and it’s all these different dance things, and crap, and nu metal, and Christ knows what. And then The Darkness come on, it’s just every time I smile. It doesn’t matter how low I feel, I just have to laugh and smile. It just looks, as if they’re absolutely loving it, and they don’t give a shit, and I love that attitude. I just really, really love that attitude. And they can play their instruments as well. So, it’s like – yeah – I love them! I think they’re great. I think, it’s perfect at this time in music for someone who looks like they really don’t give a shit what anybody else thinks. And they’re playing real rock music with guitars and big drums. I think it’s great. I don’t think, you have to like them, but I think it’s great, that they’re out there. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE INTERVIEW!
This Interview was recorded on March 7th 2004 in Bochum