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Blaze Bayley Interview
At this time, the album isn’t completely finished yet ! Did you accident delay the recording ?
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No, not at all. Well, maybe a bit because we had to find something else to do while I couldn’t sing. The accident has been terrifying and I’m a bit scarred psychologically. I think that everybody involved in a severe accident needs some time to recover. Let me tell you this : when I got out of the hospital, I wanted to check my Triumph and I noticed that the counter was stuck on 666.6 ! I then knew that my destiny was tied to Maiden ! [laughs]
When you started recording with the band, did you notice differences compared to your Wolfsbane experience ?
Oh yes, it’s really different ! I’ve been completely puzzled by certain things. The first came up during a talk with Steve when I asked him when we’d start recording demos. He answered : "What demos ? We never do any demos, we rehearse in the studio instead. All we do is play until we feel it’s good and then we record". Many times, it didn’t work but it didn’t matter. I felt like a real idiot, but when the recording was over, I had the feeling to have recorded a demo with all the qualities of a finished product. It was incredible, and sometimes we would stop the song right there because we didn’t know how to end it. This way, we kept the freshness and the spontaneity, and we got something really magical. Each song took us three or four days, but in the end, we knew it has something unique. This way to work was new for me, but I got used to it. It’s part of making our ideas progress, and we found a new identity for the band. I’m only one of the musicians, but the vocals are so important. It was not the album that was taking shape but the new personality of the band. A new picture came into focus.
Have you been a Maiden fan ?
Yes, but not a fanatic one. I had two albums of the band and I had listened to everything they had done. I was a fan just as any other rock fan, just as I am a Metallica fan. I really enjoyed everything the band has done until Seventh Son.
How would you compare the old songs to the new ones ?
First of all, the vocals are different and this changes a lot of things. When Paul DiAnno was in the band, he had a, and still has, a powerful and unique voice. When Bruce arrived, he brought a lyrical and theatrical style. It was still Iron Maiden, but in a different way : it was a powerful and heavy music but also very melodic. Today is a new step and even a rebirth for the band which redefines it. It’s just like a snake which casts its skin : it doesn’t lose what makes it a snake. The other members feel the same way : my coming was more than just having a new musician. Iron Maiden do so little compromise that it’s exceptional to be able to work without eating shit. With Wolfsbane, I did five albums, and we had to it some because nobody understood what we were. In the beginning, Maiden has shown a lot of courage and it bears fruit today, just like Metallica. It’s not because grunge or punk is popular today that we have to do the same thing. We must have a personal approach, enjoy ourselves and that should be enough.
What did you really contribute to the recordings ?
My approach has been completely different to Bruce’s. I must say that he was a fabulous singer ; he has brought a lot to Maiden both as composer and singer. I never dreamt of replacing him and I just tried to stay myself. I has to bring my own identity and temper, write my own music. Before I started working on the album, I asked Steve if he wished to have a global direction. He told me : "No, no, let’s go and see how it works. Let’s start writing and the album will take shape." And what a shape ! I co-wrote five tracks and wrote some others by myself. I’d say that I worked on eight or ten tracks. We have recorded seventeen tracks, of which we will only keep a dozen. We had some problems with the choir we used on one of the songs [Sign of the Cross] : they took away the rights they had given us in the first place. It’s an 11-minute epic track which should be our first single. We hadn’t planned to release a single because Iron Maiden is about albums, but the record company asked us to do so. Whichever song we choose, it will not be played on the radio, because our name conveys something that radio people hate.
It’s strange. The band has proved its potential in this field.
Yes, some time ago and how brilliantly ! Especially when the band dethroned Cliff Richard and his Christmas single with Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter [#1 on New Year’s Day in 1991].
Do you think that the public will be receptive this time, and aren’t there any worries within Maiden ?
We can’t deny it, but once again, everyone in the band sees this as a new start. What the band went through with Bruce and what I went through with Wolfsbane wasn’t really pleasant. Now, here are five people happy to be in a band trying to play the music they like. Take away all the show business and the gold records : what’s left is five guys having fun writing and playing music together. After all, music is what matters. It always helped me before I had this opportunity. Now, I suggest ideas which may seem to go in a different direction, but they are accepted because this band is opened to everything. And Steve is such a positive composer, who writes so many songs, especially on this album, his best up to now I think, that it pushes you to transcend yourself and sing the best you can. Some of Steve’s songs are so good that you hardly believe it. On this album, you can feel that the music is played by guys who enjoy what they’re doing without any compromise. There’s no anxiety but there is excitement, because we’re trying something new. Even singing the old songs is exciting because they’re so hard to sing. I saw Bruce play one night in a club in Dudley [close to Birmingham], not too far from where I live. I talked a bit with him and he told me that these songs were really hard for him too. So, I’m not worried.
Is your voice different on this new Maiden album ?
I’ve changed a lot since Wolfsbane, my voice is much more powerful now. The way I was singing before was letting the sounds out without trying to control them. No, I didn’t take any singing lessons, no practice or anything. I already had power and aggression, but my personality is more visible now, with more intensity and emotion, I only came close to this before, but with Maiden everything came naturally. I think that Steve has found this unexpected skill thanks to his songs, because I had been unable to do so when I was writing alone.
The way the tour has been organised, starting with South Africa for the first time, allows you to get ready for Europe, where the impact is crucial. Is this deliberate ?
Yes, it’s a new band, a new formation. We have to know each other better, get used to each other’s presence. We’re going to South Africa because no one in the band has been there before, and this will be totally new for us. It gives me some time to get into Maiden’s show.
Do you know what you will bring to band on stage ?
No, not yet. We’re at an early stage and we haven’t started to rehearse yet. It will be completely different from what I’ve done in the past or from what Bruce was doing. I don’t really feel different from fans who go see AC/DC or Metallica and know exactly what to expect. I try to see my future performance from the audience point of view. I ask myself : "What do you expect from this show ?" and I give it to the fans. I have some ideas and I’ve met with the production people to try an adequate sound system. I don’t want to use front speakers and I’d rather have them suspended around the stage, for a simple reason : the sound is less muddy and gives you a better distance. It’s useful for low frequency sounds which take more time to come from the stage. If you suspend the speakers, you get a more consistent sound than when they’re next to you. We’re getting ready for a great show.
Have you met Eddie ?
No. Eddie took some holiday in Hell. He’s still in the band but doesn’t take part in the recordings. We’ll see what happens, but I think people will talk about it : in my opinion, this is the best Maiden album cover in a long time, and it sums up the situation of the band. New look, new band and everything that goes with it. This might sound weird but it all comes down to this : the music is what matters. If people listen and trust us, they will get everything they wished for.