Interview: Ivana Sataić
Blaze Bayley, to heavy metal population best known for his two albums he recorded with Iron Maiden, promotes his fifth studio album “Promise And Terror” touring in Europe. As part of Blaze Bayley tour he comes to Croatia, on April 29th in Zagreb and in Split on April 30th 2010 so we took the opportunity to talk to Blaze about the album and visit to Croatia.
VENIA: I’d like to start with your recently released album Promise And Terror. It is obvious the album is very personal. What can you tell about the creation of the songs and how would you introduce it to audience?
BLAZE: Well, so far the reaction from the fans around U.K. where we started the tour has been really, really good and everybody seems to know the new songs and it goes really well so we’re really looking forward to bring the new songs from “Promise And Terror” to Croatia and play for Croatian fans. The way we did the album.we all stayed at my house and when we started the writing we shared all our ideas and problems together. We used a small practice room kit and small four track recording device and we worked all our ideas on that. When we thought we had enough we went to our rehearsal room and played with the full drums and everything loud and we rehearsed the songs as if they were live. So we put them into the order we thought they would appear at the album and we rehearsed them in that order just like we would rehearse a live set. And we did some more re-arranging there and then we recorded the drums in studio in Birmingham and all of the other recording we did at home. We had Jase Edwards as producer and he came and set up the studio at my house and he recorded all of guitars and also all of my vocals were recorded at home. So it was quite a different album and so far it turned out well. I really think we captured the feel and the vibe of the band. We are live band; it’s an album that’s filled with raw emotion. It comes in two parts, during the writing process four of the songs became linked together, lyrically and musically and we thought they should fit together on the album. They tell stories; they are concept of my personal story and what happened to me over last couple of years. Most four songs tell that story from start to finish and the other songs on the album in the first part are probably what you did expect from Blaze Bayley band. They are about different characters in history, different stories that inspires us, we have one song about Galileo and Spanish inquisition, he is scared because he would be burned alive for what he believes because it is against the church and we have the song about Siege of Leningrad in the second World War and story of Shostakovich writing the 7th symphony. And we have song about breaking the word’s speed record on the motorcycle. The man who did it was called Burt Munro and he was over 60 years of age when he broke the world record and everybody said he was too old to do it and his motorcycle was too old but he defied everybody and reached the world record. So that’s the two parts of the album. And we were just writing our own thing on this album. We are not really interested in what other bands are doing, what’s in the charge or anything like that. We had our ideas and we just tried to make our ideas make sense in the best music we can possible do. Each song tells a story and, hopefully, when fans listen to Promise And Terror album they may listen with open minds and see it is an album filled with emotion and heart and we hope that the enjoy and support it.
VENIA: Since you are on tour in that way in touch with your fans and since the emotions on the album are feelings of frustration, love and grief. How the fans accepted these issues and how they identify with lyrics?
BLAZE: We are on tour since 1st of February and it’s been really good so far. We’re playing very small venues and what we wanted to do was try to play as many small places as we could to keep the ticket price as low as possible for the fans because we don’t get the mainstream television or mainstream radio so for us we think that fans are the most important thing about heavy metal. And the fans of heavy metal decide who the bands are that are successful and might keep the top. So we wanted to go to as many towns and cities across Europe and in Croatia that we possible could and we got two gigs in Croatia, on 29th of April in Zagreb and 30th of April in Split and we are really excited about coming back to Croatia to play those concerts. We are really, really looking forward to it as I got much of support and encouragement from the fans in Croatia, it’s been absolutely fantastic to me so I’m really, really looking forward to come back with the new album Promise And Terror.
VENIA: When it comes to album I also need to ask you about the artwork. Who did it and, although everyone will experience it in its own way, what is its message?
BLAZE: We had a couple of different artists to give us ideas about the story behind the title. And the man who did the artwork for our last album The Man Who Would Not Die, Philippe, he’s from Columbia, came with the idea from the front cover. And then I worked closely with him, explaining what the meaning was of the each song so we had a different illustration for each song and what the front cover means is that you have certainty even in a storm. The character on the front cover of the album is on the rock and that rock represents the certainty of the life that he has. But he is surrounded by a storm so that life that he has is very uncomfortable. That’s the meaning of the front cover and it is linked to the song Time To Dare. When you look to the song Time To Dare then the illustration goes with that, shows that the character form the front cover has the courage to leave that rock and try to find his own path. When you look at the back of the CD you see there is no one there and the storm has passed. That’s the conclusion of the story; that the character has found his way into safer place. And what Promise And Terror means – it comes from dreams, that you can dream of something, you can dream of a different life, you can dream of life that you want to be a complete human being and you are a complete human being when your soul is happy and you’re doing something that you are good at. But if you want to live that life, if you want to follow that dream then you have to give up of the life you have. So the promise is the dream of the future, future that is good and whole when you feel complete, when you achieved your destiny. And the terror is leaving the life that you have, every certainty, every thing that you know in your life now. You have to leave all that behind. That’s the Promise And Terror and when you listen to the album then you think of the song Time To Dare, it’s about that dream, it’s how you feel when you have that dream, about things that you can’t explain, feelings that you can’t explain that makes you move from this shallow place to leave this shallow life and find a place where you don’t know what is gonna happen but I wouldn’t try to achieve that dream if I don’t believe that dream is my path. That is what album Promise And Terror is about. To use all of your potential and stay who you are and live the life you’re happy with.
VENIA: Your music is in a tight battle or the life of your own choice. On this album is the song 1663 devoted to Galileo and his trial for heresy. Is it yet another message about the importance of life free of modern standards and norms or there is some hidden message as it is devoted to father of modern astrology?
BLAZE: The message is very simple. It’s that there are some times in the world when one person can be right and everyone else is wrong. And sometimes no matter what it takes you have to stay behind your beliefs. Sometimes you’re right and everyone else is wrong. It’s a rare thing but sometimes you’re out of time, you’re out of place, you’re right but you’re on the wrong place. And that’s the message of the song. These things can happen to you. And Galileo has saved his own life with lies about his convictions and his beliefs. And he is strong Catholic, he believes in a Church and he believes all his knowledge and these entire things has been given to him by God and that the Church is wrong because these are the facts and God wouldn’t show him if it wasn’t the facts. So that’s it. And the deeper meaning of it is that sometimes we don’t know when we have to trust ourselves and sometimes we have to do things that are very uncomfortable to save our own lives.
VENIA: After all this years in music, is it hard for you to find new challenges, to continue to work with music and keep in the same time quality and quantity?
BLAZE: No it’s not because now I put my own record label and everybody in the band shares the record label so we put music that we want. We have the artwork that we want, music that we want; nobody tells us if our songs are good enough for the album. We do exactly what we want. When I left Iron Maiden I wanted to come to Croatia on tour but they said it’s not worth to go in Croatia, the money is not good enough. So they stopped me going to Croatia. And now I have my own record deal and a new manager and now we can come to Croatia and play concerts. For me that’s important and that’s the big difference. Now I can play more shows and make more albums, write songs and I have much more freedom now then I had in the past. And that’s really good feeling because I still feel I have my best album inside me ready to write and I’m really looking forward to come to Croatia and play the best shows I’ve ever played there.
VENIA: How would you describe the evolution of your music over the years?
BLAZE: I think it’s confident. The band that I have now is very confident, we don’t really care what other bands are doing, we know what we like and we write songs together and the important thing is the idea and telling the story of the song which. Once when we have an idea what the bands song should be like the one of Galileo about the fear of being wrong and burned to death, when we reach the story we believe in, reach the story of losing everything that you ever loved like in Letting Go Of The World then those stories has to develop. I think it’s more selfish to use our own identities. I think it’s more selfish then it was before. Everyone in the band is a lot more confident so we don’t give a fuck about everybody else or what everybody else is doing, we don’t care about haircuts or style or trousers or making a glamorous videos. We don’t give a fuck of any of like that. The most important thing to all of us in this band is fans and playing live for fans. And wherever we can afford to go in Europe, in the world and if the fans are there we don’t care how small gig it’s gonna be, we want to go. We think that the most important thing in heavy metal is the fans of heavy metal, not the record company or not the video and not the hair styles. So for us the most important thing is being ourselves and to play our music for the fans.
VENIA: You have fronted one of the greatest British bands, Wolfbane and, we cannot not to mention this once again, you’ve recorded two albums with Iron Maiden. Now when you’ve released your fifth album when you count all this, what would you name as your greatest success?
BLAZE: I think Promise And Terror is my greatest success. Because from all the problems and everything what happened as a band we’ve managed to stay together and to do this what we consider as important thing in the world. And so far the fans are really got into it and the understood what we are doing so I think really Promise And Terror album is my biggest success so far. On the first day it was sold more than twice then the last album. We did more pre-orders then with the last album and so far it is sold more than The Man Who Would Not Die album, the live album and the Man Who Would Not Die album studio album together. That’s the biggest success so far because we did it all on our own, we had a lot of help from fans and friends but didn’t have any help from big record company or bands and anybody like that it so I think that’s the big success.
VENIA: If you look back, if you could change something on your music path would you do something differently?
BLAZE: Yes I would. I had a lot of money when I left Iron Maiden and I wish I had my own tour bus then. That is the only thing I would change.
VENIA: Are there still some bands you’d take as a challenge to work or tour with?
BLAZE: Yes, we’d like to support Iron Maiden, Metallica or AC/DC, any of those big bands.
VENIA: How do you see UK’s rock scene today? It seems there are some new metal bands from UK finding their way like for example Bullet For My Valentine. In your opinion, how the scene develop in UK and generally in Europe?
BLAZE: I think it’s changing. When I started the Blaze Band after I left Iron Maiden guitar solos were very popular and my style of singing was not so popular. But now it seems that the style of music we play is coming back the style of music that we play. We have a lot of guitar solos, we have harmony guitars, melody guitars and we make sure that our lyrics make sense and make sure that they are interesting to the listeners. We are very involved in our music and I think now there are lot of metal bands who started with the same kind of values that gives to music the real quality and I think that’s the really good thing.
VENIA: In April you’re coming to Croatia to play two shows, in Zagreb and Split. As you’ve been here before what is your opinion about the country and the audience here? What do you expect and what the audience can expect?
BLAZE: Oh, I loved it. We had a fantastic time there. I still have friends in Croatia from the first visit to Split. It was absolutely really great so I’m really excited to come back and see the fans of Croatia again. Well, we play the longest set that we can, we still play some old Iron Maiden songs in the set and we play a lot of new material from Promise And Terror album.
VENIA: In the end, is there something you’d like to tell to your Croatian fans?
BLAZE: Thanks to all fans of Croatia for believing in me for so long, thanks to every single fan for support and the belief they give me and I’m really exiting about bringing the band to Croatia and I can’t wait to see you and play this songs for you. Huge, huge thank you to make this gigs possible for us to come to Croatia. Thank you very much indeed.
VENIA: Thank you for your time for Venia-Mag. See you in Zagreb!