BLAZE BAYLEY – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Maybe Dead On The Side Of The Road ... But Metal Goes On Forever”
August 8, 2017, a year ago
There aren’t many metal stories more inspiring than that of Blaze Bayley. Beginning with crack metal heroes Wolfsbane, Bayley went on to make two records with Iron Maiden before getting sent back to the minors... a realm he travels with pride, in metal communion directly with his own fans, who he addresses with military precision and a high level of respect that is mutual, if not returned ten-fold. The vocals are legion, rich and experience-deep, and the writing of utmost quality, across eight-ish records of post-Virtual XI solo material—Bruce Dickinson, no slouch with the solo records himself, must surely be proud.
And so here we sit, two records into an elegant pure metal trilogy under the umbrella of Infinite Entanglement, on the verge of what will be Blaze’s greatest North American touring cycle yet.
“Well, what I’m able to do for the first time,” explains Bayley, pumped for the upcoming intensive month in Canada and the US, “is bring my own band with me, that I’ve played with on the Infinite Entanglement album and the new album, Endure And Survive. They’ve done four tours with me across Europe, and now this is the first chance I’ve been able to take them to the rest of the world. So I’m very, very excited about that. We’re all coming over, and it will be a set with a couple of my songs from the Maiden era, a Wolfsbane song and some of my solo stuff, but of course material from the two new albums, from Infinite Entanglement and this year’s Endure And Survive. I’m very excited about it.”
Essentially Blaze—in the tradition of Ritchie Blackmore swallowing up Elf back in 1975!—has absorbed a band called Absolva, and the synergy between the two solitudes has produced a package of pure metal might between the eyes, but also o’ertop, a sound that is very British, oddly, the mélange of musics across the two Infinite Entanglement instalments sounding like a cross between Maiden, mainland power metal and Skyclad.
“They were a support band once, years and years ago, and we got along and we kind of kept in touch,” says Blaze. “And then Chris Appleton, the guitarist, I was doing my acoustic show, and he said, ‘Well, if you ever want to do anything full metal, or do some writing...’ And I got in the mood to do another full metal album, and we got together and wrote some songs and it started to work out. And then I wanted to do my greatest hits tour, my Soundtracks Of My Life, and then I had a Silicon Messiah anniversary tour that I wanted to do, and I re-released Silicon Messiah on vinyl and CD, and did a proper tour to go with it and the guys did that.”
“We just kind of built a rapport there,” continues Blaze. “And the material that we came up with when we started writing the new album, Infinite Entanglement, I thought was really good, and I just wanted to keep it together after that. And it’s worked really, really well. It’s so nice to work with the same people. I’ve really enjoyed over the last few years working with a lot of different musicians, but it’s nice to be in a situation where we’re taking the same show everywhere in the world, all the places that we played. There’s a real strength to that, because there’s a kind of telepathy to what you do if you go long enough. And I think that’s where the real, real emotions and the passion can come out. You’re much less worried about getting things right and more focused on the performance of making it come to life.”
As for the band’s regal brand of conceptual music, so incredibly suitable to Bayley’s Shakespearean voice and precise enunciation using that rich tool, Bayley figures, “It’s just metal. Well, I don’t even think of it as metal; to be honest, I think of it as music. It just comes out. I am metal. So anything I do, it just turns out that way. It’s not by choice. I make music and it turns out metal. So that’s the classification if you want to put one—it’s metal.”
“And metal has the values of the traditional British heavy metal, of being a machine. Rock ‘n’ roll is maybe dead on the side of the road, choking on a sandwich and a bottle of Jack Daniels at age 27, but metal goes on forever, as a machine. And that’s the difference, I suppose. Where maybe the rock ‘n’ roll guys want to have a party at the end of each show and see what available women there are, in metal, we are trying to perform each show to the absolute best of our ability and look forward to the next show. The reason that I do what I do is because I love to sing. And the most precious thing to me is to be able to sing well for fans that support me. I’m completely independent. There’s no big record label. I am the record label: Blaze Bayley Recordings. I’m absolutely tiny, but every record that I make is my own and they all belong to me. Everything I’ve done since Iron Maiden, apart from one thing, is all my own. So I’m very, very lucky to be in the situation that I’m completely independent. And the reason that I’m able to do that is because I have the support of so many loyal fans in different parts of the world that pre-order my albums and come and see me on tour. They make it possible for me to live my dream of being a professional heavy metal singer.”
Along with the likes of perennial crowd favourite “The Clansman,” Blaze promises that for those who show up on this tour, “We’ll also be doing ‘Virus,’ which is a single from the Best Of The Beast album. Fantastic artwork. Never done live. We’ve never played that song live and Iron Maiden have never played that song live, to my knowledge. And it’s a song that I wrote with Steve (Harris, Iron Maiden bassist) and the rest of the guys. Everybody had an input on that song. So I’ve done my own arrangement of ‘Virus’ and I play that song everywhere on this tour. And so far it’s going down really well. And the really fun thing about it is, people recognize it. Almost everybody has the song ‘Virus,’ every hardcore fan, but they never heard it live before. And you see the kind of realization on people’s faces: I recognize it, but I don’t know why I recognize it. Because I’ve never heard it live.”
And then after celebrating with his growing North American base some of the best traditional power metal being written and recorded today, it’s back to punching the clock, again, with a sense of pride that is as inspirational as Blaze’s life of many challenges.
“What I did was, I said, right, I want to do three albums, because this is a story that is in three parts,” explains Bayley in closing. “It is the beginning, the journey and the conclusion. So, I want each one to come out on or around March 1st. So, first of March, 2016, first of March 2017 and first of March 2018. So I am a working class, ordinary person that is used to going to work, doing my work and finishing my work. And I have very poor respect for people who say, ‘Well, when I feel it’s done, when I’m in the mood...’ I don’t like that. All the fun part, the inspiration and the writing the songs, you’ve got to catch those moments, but making the album and getting it all together—that’s work, and it’s working hard and getting it done. And I am the record company, so I set my own deadlines. When you are on someone else’s label, they tell you when your album can come out. It doesn’t matter who you are. ‘Well, sorry, your album can’t come out that week because Elton John’s releasing that week.’ So given that I am Blaze Bayley Recordings, if I say it comes out on March 1st, 2018, so it does.”
(Photo by: Terje Johansen)