He's been through so many ups and downs in his musical career that anyone else would have broken down and called it quits. However he is still in the biz, stronger than ever and ready to deliver his finest album up to date. Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome, Blaze Bayley, formerly of Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden and now on his own with a new band simply called Blaze. "Tenth Dimension", the band's second offering, is out already, and here is what Blaze told us about it in a phone interview done in December 2001.
MetalKings.com: OK, let's start the interview with some questions about your upcoming album. Can you tell me was it a difficult or an easy record to make?
Blaze: This is the hardest album I've ever made, because it's a concept album and all of the time I was working on 10 songs instead of working on one and finishing it. All of the songs make sense on their own, but as you get deeper into the album, you can see that lyrically and musically the songs tell a story, and they reference each other to give you some clue about what's happening in the story. That was very hard. At the same time we did the artwork and the booklet that goes with the CD and tells another side of the story as well. Because it was a whole concept, it was a really, really big undertaking and it took a lot of energy. I was nearly on the edge of a breakdown at the end of the album. Having said that, I think it is the best thing I've ever done.
MetalKings.com: You also tried some new things technically, you recorded the entire album in the digital format, is that right?
Blaze: Yeah, that's right. Last time, we recorded analogue drums and we changed studios a lot. But this time I wanted it to be in one place because it was a concept album because there was a lot of concentration and there was a lot to do writing all of the songs. We just stayed in one studio, we did everything from the drums right to the mixing and mastering in one place, which saved us a lot of time and we were able to stay focused on the music.
MetalKings.com: Can you tell me a few words about the concept of the album?
Blaze: It's a government conspiracy. It's about a scientist who's working for the government and he doesn't realize that they're making a weapon using his research. And when he finds out that they're using his research for evil, he decides to do something about it.
MetalKings.com: I've heard that you're planning to do something like a virtual single. What do you mean by that? Have you chosen a song for it?
Blaze: It's an idea at the moment. Usually when you do a single, it's just a taster of the album, but we're not really a singles band, we don't write singles, we write our songs in the context of an album. So we thought instead of like giving the fans singles in different formats to collect we would just have a virtual single. What I'm trying to say is having an MP3 on our web-site that is totally three, that you can download yourself and distribute freely to your friends or anybody who you think might like to listen to a song off the new Blaze album. So that way the fans get to hear a song… (At the moment the communication is broken. Blaze calls back in a couple of minutes.)
Blaze: Hi, it's Blaze again. The communication was disconnected, I guess it has something to do with the war in Afghanistan. (we both burst into laughter)
MetalKings.com: OK, let's go on with the questions. Can you describe the songwriting process in the band? Who comes up with the starting point for a song and how do you develop it?
Blaze: Well, there's no set way. Anybody can come up with an idea, but what we say is that it has to be really good. The most important thing for all of us is the music, and we want it to be as good as it can be. So anybody can come up with an idea and we'll start from there, but it has to be a very good idea, our standards are very high amongst ourselves. Sometimes we start with the guitars or sometimes we start with a vocal melody idea or a guitar melody idea or something like that, we don't stick to one way of doing things. All we say is that we have to make sure that this is the best that we can do.
MetalKings.com: It was recently posted on your website that "Tenth Dimension" would have a limited 2 CD edition. That second disc is said to contain a new studio track ("Living Someone Else's Life"). Does it have to do anything with the concept of the album or is it just a separate track, a sort of outtake?
Blaze: What it was that we had to go into the studio and mix the live tracks. We were actually rehearsing for the last two shows of the Silicon Messiah tour, and we came up with this song idea, and we thought… well, this is a new song that we really felt confident in, and we thought that we probably got time to record this and have it as an extra track. It wasn't a part of the album session. So that's what we did and it turned out really well. But it's a limited edition, the double CD, there's only a certain amount of those, so you need to get your order in to make sure you get one before they run out.
MetalKings.com: This limited edition also has four live tracks ("The Launch", "Futureal", "Hard As Steel", "Evolution"). Can you tell me where were they recorded and why these particular tracks?
Blaze: Well, we recorded a lot of shows on the Silicon Messiah World Tour, and we just picked out the ones that felt good to us. The two main shows were the last two, which were in Dudley and in Sweden, and there were also a gig that we did in Derby in England called the Bloodstock Festival. So we just chose which we thought were the best from those and mixed them, and that was it, really.
MetalKings.com: Let's talk about your live shows a little bit. You played at Wacken Open Air in the year 2000. How did you like it?
Blaze: That was incredible because it was the first really big show that we had done, and it was absolutely fantastic, the fans were absolutely incredible. It was awesome, we never expected such a great reaction and it was absolutely fantastic. We're going back this year, they've invited us to go back to Wacken, and we're really excited about that, we're really looking forward to it. It was such a great experience last time for the whole band that we're really excited about going back this year and playing the festival again.
MetalKings.com: Do you think that Wacken has a sort of special atmosphere? I was there in 2001 and it was so different from most of other heavy metal shows.
Blaze: Yeah, I think it does have its own atmosphere, because there's so much music and there's so much to see, it's a total metal weekend, not just one day. I think it's a really good value for money as well because you get to see so many bands, and there's a lot of bands that you would never normally see. I think it's great, it's just got a wonderful atmosphere.
MetalKings.com: Now let's speak about producers a little bit. Please tell me how you met Andy Sneap (producer of "Tenth Dimension" and "Silicon Messiah"). Do you know him from his Sabbat days or did you meet him when he was a producer already?
Blaze: We did meet when he was in his Sabbat days but he wasn't a producer then. The main reason that I got him involved is that I heard what he had done with Skinlab and Machine Head. I thought he would be really good because I really love metal guitars and I knew he could get the sound I wanted. So we worked together and he did a demo for me when I was putting the band together, and it worked out so well that we decided to go ahead and do the whole album together. And that worked out so well that we decided that it was the band that we wanted to keep and he's been with the band since the first album. It just works so well, we just stay together, and it just gets better (laughs).
MetalKings.com: Have you ever thought of producing an album yourself?
Blaze: I have done that, but I don't think that I'll be good at producing my own album. I'd like to produce somebody else's album but I'm so busy, especially this year, there's not enough time to do it, but I would really like to produce somebody else's album.
MetalKings.com: You have worked with some very famous producers such as Rick Rubin, Brenden o'Brien, Simon Efemy and Nigel Green. Working with whom did you like the most?
Blaze: I think I like Andy Sneap the best and Brendan O'Brien, because they're very much hands-on producers. They do the whole cycle from pre-production, they are the ones in charge of the desk when you're recording and mixing, so that's what I like the best. I think I prefer working with Andy, because he doesn't interfere much with the music and all his suggestions are generally common-sense. It's all about the song and doing what's best for the song.
MetalKings.com: I guess everybody who visits our site knows who Blaze Bayley is. But not much is known about the other band members. Can you tell me a couple of words about each of them?
Blaze: Well, each one has his own section on Planet Blaze (www.planetblaze.com), so you can check it out. Each one's got a little bit of history of his own on Planet Blaze, that's where one might find out more about them. But really, they were musicians that were playing in bands but they'd never made a major album, they'd never had a chance to work in a top studio with a top producer. I was looking for people who were in love with the music, who loved metal music. I didn't want people that just wanted to be rich or famous or thought it would be good fun. I wanted people who were doing it because they love this music as much as I do. That's what I looked for. The bass player, Rob Naylor, he's an absolutely excellent musician, he's got a great ear for music. He's been playing around the UK in different metal bands for the last 10 years. A great player that just never had the opportunity to make an own album. Steve Wray, the guitarist, he's been playing in different bands, but his last band broke up. He had a great demo, and that's what really made me audition him. John Slater is just a great melodic guitarist, but really heavy as well. The drummer, Jeff Singer, he had played in different bands (Kill II This among them - ed.), he had made an album before but not quite on this scale. It just worked really, really well, you know, he's a very solid drummer. We go absolutely crazy when we get on stage so we need someone behind us who is really solid, so he goes there and he tips us, when we're about to fall off the edge he just pulls us back.
MetalKings.com: The next question is about cover versions. Neither of the Blaze albums contain covers. I wonder do you play them live and what do you think of this cover mania in general?
Blaze: Well, we write original material, and, you know, I play a couple of Wolfsbane songs and a couple of Iron Maiden songs in my live set, so I don't really see any room for cover versions. But having said that, we are appearing on a Led Zeppelin tribute album next year (he means 2002 - ed.), and the song we've chosen to do is "Dazed And Confused". You have to look out for that, the dates will be on our web-site when we know what they are.
MetalKings.com: Can I ask you some questions about Wolfsbane?
MetalKings.com: The last two Wolfsbane albums ("Wolfsbane" and "Massive Noise Injection") have recently been re-released in a single package called "Lifestyles Of The Broke And Obscure"). Whose idea is that and are you satisfied with that project?
Blaze: I'm very proud of all the albums I did with Wolfsbane, but I didn't approve of the re-release. I don't think it's good at all. I think it's good value to have these two albums together, because I think they're really good albums, but nobody asked my permission, nobody asked me to approve the sleeve notes or the photos or anything. They just put it out without my consent completely, so I don't think it's anywhere near as good as it should have been, because in Wolfsbane we were the fans' band, and the most important thing for us was value for the fans. And it's the same in Blaze, you know, we want to give the fans value for money, something good, of good quality, and I don't think the new release is good quality at all, cause if I was doing it myself it would be a lot better.
MetalKings.com: What are other members of Wolfsbane doing at present?
Blaze: Well, the drummer, Steve Danger, he's actually managing a band. The guitarist, Jase Edwards, he's writing music for television, doing theme songs and stuff like that. And the bass player, Jeff Hately, he's in a band called The Jellys.
MetalKings.com: After you split with Iron Maiden, did you ever think of reuniting Wolfsbane?
Blaze: No, because I learned so much in Iron Maiden and I really wanted to take all the experience, all my lessons from Wolfsbane and all my experience in Iron Maiden and move forward, put all of that into a new project and a new album. I had so much confidence from Iron Maiden and I think that was the best thing to do, really. I didn't wanna go back. I'm very proud of my past, I'm very proud of all the records I've made, but I wanted to move forward, cause actually I have a lot to say musically.
MetalKings.com: I guest you have been asked the next question many times. What do you think about the MP3 and piracy problem?
Blaze: I don't rate them as the same thing. I look at the MP3 more like the radio, because with a band like ours there's no opportunity for people to hear us, except only on a couple of internet radio stations and one or two rock programs on the radio. People don't get to hear us before buying an album, so I think the MP3 is a good way to hear what the band is like. I think their quality is so poor compared to a CD, that if you like the band you gotta buy the CD. But I think it may be bad for the bands that aren't very good, 'cause if you've made a bad album and somebody hears an MP3 and they don't like you, then I don't think they'll buy the album. I think really it puts more pressure on the artist to come up with better material. As far as piracy goes, anybody who copies our album and passes it off as the official thing is basically stealing off us on the fans. When the fans buy the album, they expect to get the official thing, and the money that we make off our albums goes towards our tour. If we don't sell any albums, then we can't go on tour, so basically the pirates who copy the albums without a proper right and everything are stopping us going on tour, they are putting our jobs, our career in jeopardy, really. So I don't like the pirates but the MP3 at this point doesn't bother me too much. If it's only one or two songs I don't see a problem with it.
MetalKings.com: You also have some MP3 songs on the limited edition of "The Tenth Dimension" album…
Blaze: Yeah, right, if "The Tenth Dimension" is the first Blaze album that you've bought then you'll be able to hear a couple of songs from "Silicon Messiah".
MetalKings.com: Speaking about "Silicon Messiah", the Japanese and South American versions of the CD have a couple of bonus tracks. Is there a chance that they will someday be released in Europe, so it will be a little bit easier to get hold of them?
Blaze: No, but what we will be doing is selling the South American version of "Silicon Messiah" at our shows where we can, so people will be able to get it that way.
MetalKings.com: Let's speak about guest musicians. Would you like to have some famous and established musicians play something like a solo on your album? If somebody else invites you to be a guest musician on his album, would you agree?
Blaze: Yeah, I've been invited to be a guest musician on the album based on the "Macbeth" play by Shakespeare, but I've just been really busy, and so is the guy who's making the album. But yeah, I love guest musicians and guest spots and stuff like that. I wanted Dave Murray to come and play a couple of solos on "The Tenth Dimension", but he wasn't available, we couldn't get the logistics sorted out. But yeah, I love that sort of things.
MetalKings.com: Well, you mentioned "Macbeth", and I've read in magazines several times that you're a huge Shakespeare fan, is that right?
Blaze: Yeah, that's right. I just think that the depth of the stories and the language and the characters is so deep. And his language, too, it's so rich. I've read several Shakespeare plays and I've been to the theatre, there's only a couple of Shakespeare plays I haven't seen performed on the stage. I really enjoy Shakespeare. I see his works as a kind of metal of theatre, the heavy metal of theatre, that Shakespeare.
MetalKings.com: I know that you are writing a book yourself. What is it about and when is it going to be published?
Blaze: It's gonna be all the truth about the split from Iron Maiden and also about the crazy things that we did in Wolfsbane and all of that. It's gonna take a while, at present I'm only doing like a page a day, but I'm not planning to put that out until the middle of 2003.
MetalKings.com: Have you ever thought about acting in a play or in a movie?
Blaze: Well… (pause) I don't really think I would be a very good actor, I'm more of a singer. I think I'm too over-the-top to be a good actor, but if I could get a part with not many words to remember, then yeah, I would have a go.
MetalKings.com: If your life had turned out in a different way in the past and you hadn't become a musician, what would you like to be?
Blaze: I think if I wasn't a musician, I would like to be an engineer or an inventor, because I have all these crazy ideas and obviously I'm a very creative person. I'm really interested in machines and how things work, so I think if I wasn't a singer and I could choose who I would have done instead I think I would have been an engineer. But if I hadn't been a singer, I wouldn't be striving to become one really. I think that now if I could choose an alternate life, if I had known how difficult it was going to be to get here from where I was then I probably wouldn't have tried, cause it's almost impossible to make it playing this kind of music. I've just been very, very lucky, and I worked hard and I managed to get to where I am, but… yeah, that's it really.
MetalKings.com: Is there anything that you want to change in your past?
Blaze: Yeah, there are a couple of things I would change, a couple of mistakes that I made, but it's mostly when I've been drunk I've made those mistakes. I don't drink that much now, so I shouldn't be making them again. We all make mistakes, there are a couple of things that I would do differently, but not in my music. I'm really proud of everything I've done from Wolfsbane to the two Iron Maiden albums and the tours. I would have loved to go to Russia with Iron Maiden, I never had that opportunity, but I'm hoping to come to Russia with Blaze. I've had so much support and encouragement from all of the Maiden fans with my new band, it's been absolutely incredible, so I wouldn't change anything about that. I think I wouldn't have spent so much money on hi-fi equipment, because I haven't been home that much to enjoy it.
MetalKings.com: Another very trivial question: what are you listening to these days? What are your favorite bands, favorite albums?
Blaze: My favorite new album is the Cult album ("Beyond Good And Evil"), I really like that, and I've been listening to a lot of Rage Against The Machine and the Swedish band called In Flames, and I've been listening to the Savatage album and Blind Guardian as well.
MetalKings.com: So you mostly listen to metal, right?
Blaze: Yeah. I listen to a lot of classical music on the radio.
MetalKings.com: You know, some musicians I've talked with say that they don't listen to the kind of music they perform themselves…
Blaze: I think that on tour it's probably true. When you're playing two hours of metal music every night, it's getting a bit too much, but when I'm at home, then I listen to metal.
MetalKings.com: I think our time is about to expire, but I would like to ask a question about Iron Maiden. Were you in any way involved in putting together the "Best Of The Beast" compilation?
Blaze: Yeah, we had the say in the photos and obviously I'm singing on a couple of songs (I get an impression that the answer means much more than what is actually said - ed.). And in our live set, we (Blaze - ed.) played "Virus" at the last two shows, and it went on really, really well. I'm very proud I was a part of "Best Of The Beast".
MetalKings.com: So you weren't putting together the tracklist? Who did it then?
Blaze: I was the one who went forward to make sure "Fear Of The Dark" was on there.
MetalKings.com: OK, we hope to see you in Russia one day with Blaze, "The Tenth Dimension" is the first album you've been involved in that is going to be released here officially. Do you have anything to say to your Russian fans?
Blaze: I just hope that people will enjoy the new album, and we're trying really, really hard to get to Russia this year on the Tenth Dimension World Tour. I'd like to thank all the fans for the support and encouragement they gave me with Iron Maiden and the support of fans with the new band. I hope people enjoy the album.
MetalKings.com: Well, that's it really. Thank you for taking time and calling me and thank you for putting out great music. Good luck with your band!
Blaze: OK. Thank you!
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