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Blaze Bayley Interview
[Sumit] This is your second time in the USA with Iron Maiden. How is the reaction this time around different this time around than last time?
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[Blaze] It’s great, it’s a lot better this time around because we were able to bring the whole show with us. It’s the same show that we took around Europe in the first part of the tour. So far, everywhere we’ve played in the States and Canada, it’s been a great turnout, a lot more than people expected! It’s great to play bigger venues over here. For me, it’s my first time playing larger venues. The only other time I played over here was when Wolfsbane was supporting Overkill. It’s great for the fans to be able to come and see Iron Maiden the way it’s intended to be, with the dramatic songs and the large production. For me personally, I’m a much better singer now than I was on the last tour. I didn’t really know the tools that I needed to do the job on the last tour. I was just going out there and trying to sing the best that I could. On this tour, I’ve got a whole new monitor system and guy that takes care of it for me. I also know my voice a lot better, and my capabilities. I know how to take care of my voice better. I’m a lot more confident than I was before, instead of worrying about how the fans will react to me, I’m thinking more about how the fans react to us. There’s a few people in the states that haven’t seen the band with me and are curious about what the band’s gonna be like, but I think most people just come to see Iron Maiden.
[Sumit] Talk a bit about your approach to lyric writing
[Blaze] I like movies a lot and often in movies you’ll get what you see on the surface and then there’s another meaning or metaphor hidden beneath. For example on Virtual XI, the song ‘Two Worlds Collide’, it’s about the extinction of the human race due to an object coming from outer space, and by sheer coincidence there’s two movies, ‘Armageddon’, ‘Deep Impact’ that talk about the same thing. Two Worlds also is about cultures clashing, in our travels we get to see many cultures and see how different cultures clashing. An example of that is our last visit to Argentina where I saw the memorial to the soldiers that died in the Falklands War. It’s a Latin culture, the people are really friendly, it was very sobering.
[Sumit] You’re a big fan of video games. Talk about how you got into them, which ones you like and
tell us about Ed Hunter.
[Blaze] What drew me to video games, was arcade machines when I was a kid. It started with Space Invaders, and it was a very, very simple game. From those days, it’s matured with the technology. We see much more memory and graphics in very small packages, and I’ve really got ten hooked. I’ve got everything, Super Famicom, Nintendo, and Super Nintendo. I’ve also got Playstation, Nintendo 64, and PC. I’ve played games on all those formats, but I keep going back to Playstation because they have some interesting games. Resident Evil is one that I’m playing at the moment. I’ve nearly finished one-half of the game. I also just got Tekken 3 which is really cool. I know what I like and from a creative point of view, I can appreciate what it takes to make a good video game. You’ve got to strike a balance between learning and sheer frustration, so you get a little better each time. That’s what we’ve tried to do with Ed Hunter. When the band wanted to do a video game, I started working with the company that was doing it. I came up with the idea of turning each album cover into a level of the game. The company decided to make it a shooting game like Time Crisis, so that’s what we’ve done. It’s got Iron Maiden music as background, and should be hopefully coming out later in the year.
[Sumit] How does it feel to be in Iron Maiden with the professional management and the other elements of a world class band.
[Blaze] It’s the whole package that’s working together, including the record company, the management, but it has to start with the music. That has to be the driving force behind it all. If you start focusing away from the music, and start thinking about image, and acceptability, that’s when you start losing it. One of the good things about Maiden management is that they really believe in the band. You’ve got to argue sometimes about what you want to do, but then you reach an agreement and move on. An example of this was Sign of the Cross which is a long and challenging song. The band had the strength and conviction to stick to their guns, and that puts you in the right place. My experiences in my old band, we never went in one direction, we never argued enough for what we wanted, and that led us wrong. What gives me a unique perspective about Maiden is that I was a fan of the band before and I really respected the band as a fan. When I joined the band, I didn’t want to change anything, I knew it was just about the music. I really liked the fact that the band is always focused on the music. The music is rooted in a sound, but within that there’s loads of room to experiment with different song formats, melodies, and all different kinds of things. That’s great for me!
[Sumit] It must be more rewarding to work in this type of an environment.
[Blaze] I suppose so. Yes, what happens to me is that I took some things too seriously and I didn’t realize other things were important. In this business, all your important conversations happen without realizing it. In a corporation you typically have meetings to make decisions, while here things happen more spontaneously, and you can make decisions in the car, or on the way to a hotel room, etc. So you have to be constantly aware of what’s going on to make sure that no one sells you out.
[Sumit] I’ve heard that you have an interest in doing some of the older songs that may not have been played for a few years.
[Blaze] I like a lot of the stuff that Paul did. At the start of this tour, we did Murders in the Rue Morgue. We found that it didn’t go down as well as Lord of the Flies. On the European tours, we have a lot of newer fans who first saw the band with me, and the first record they got was the X-Factor. You’d think that everyone would know all the old songs, but that’s not necessarily true. As fans get into the music, they tend to buy the record that’s around at the time, and that generally tends to be their favorite album. So we do have fans who’s favorite album is the X-Factor or Fear of the Dark.
[Sumit] What happened with the guy’s in Wolfsbane?
[Blaze] We just broke up. The guitarist has a home studio. The bass player is playing in a band called ‘The Jellies’, and the drummer is with a local band at the moment, that’s trying to get a deal.
[Sumit] Talk about how you’re feeling
[Blaze] On the last tour, I was rooted to a spot for the important bits of the vocals due to the monitors. I couldn’t move around much. Now I have a different monitor system that allows me to move around more and gives me a much better sound on stage. Also, on this tour I got the Management to give me 2 full days of production, so I could really try out everything. Additionally, this time around we had 3 weeks rehearsal instead of 8 days. So, on this tour I’m a lot more prepared, and I have much better sound on stage, which enables me to deliver a better performance.