Intervju med Biff Byford i Saxon!
För någon vecka sedan ringde jag upp Biff för att snacka lite om allt möjligt. Saxon är just nu aktuella med sin "Eagles over Wacken" DVD/CD och varför då inte passa på.
Det hela visade sig dock bli aningens struligt. Jag ringde numret jag fick och ett barn svarade för att sedan lämna över luren till vad jag antar var Biffs fru. Hon gav mig Biffs mobilnummer och sa att han var i studion. Jag ringer numret bara för att få Biff be mig att ringa det andra numret. Jag lyder och ringer tillbaka på första numret, bara för att få höra att nej, jag ska ringa på hans mobil, men först ska frun ringa och se till att Biff förstår vad som gäller. Efter ytterligare någon minut kan vi då köra igång, även om Biff menade att det var fel nummer jag ringt på.
Här är samtalet, klappat och klart. Ingen lång intervju, men ändock en liten pratstund med en brittisk hårdrockslegend.
What are you up to?
Biff Byford: I´m in the studio actually, writing songs for the next album.
How far along are you?
BB: Just a couple of songs at the moment.
When you write, do you write with a guitar or…?
BB: Well, the whole band´s here so we´re all writing together. It´s just a writing session. It´s going good.
So this is probably planned for next year then?
BB: Yeah, February 2013 is the scheduled release for it. It´s a mixture of classic rock and heavy metal. That´s where we´re at, at the moment. It should be good.
Cool. Are you gonna produce it yourselves or bring someone in?
BB: We´re gonna co-produce it ourselves and we´re gonna get Andy Sneap to mix it for us. He´s a pretty cool mix engineer.
Sweet! Now you have this Wacken thing out. Three shows. Why Wacken? I´ve never been there myself. What´s so special about it?
BB: Well, it´s a great festival and it´s a little bit like a German Glastonbury, in that people just buy tickets and they don´t really give a shit who´s on. It´s just a great event really. It´s sold out before they announce any bands really and a bit unique in that respect and the atmosphere is great. It doesn´t matter if you´re a big band or a small band. As long as you´re a good band and the fans really like it.
The first show you filmed, was the initial thought to put something like this together or did that come afterwards?
BB: I think at the time… because we know the Wacken people quite well and we´ve been playing there since 1992 actually. We used different camera styles and different cranes and different cable and cameras and things, so I think it´s as much about Wacken as it is about Saxon really. It´s a celebration of the festival and the 2009 show was our 30th anniversary show and it was their 20th anniversary. They wanted to release a DVD called “20/30” and I didn´t like that. (laughs) Sounds like a lottery number, so… It´s quite unique actually. I don´t think anybody´s done it before. We´ve played there over the years and we´ve filmed everything and I suppose we just had the opportunity to do it really.
Putting a thing like this together, are you guys part of the whole editing process and looking through it all?
BB: Yeah, I´ve been quite involved with it, but it took a long time. It´s quite a big project and there´s quite a few different packages that you can get, so it´s a big job putting it all together. Takes a lot of time and effort. I think we started it over a year ago really.
Live stuff and all that. These days, are things added in the studio, like guitar parts or whatever?
BB: No, I don´t think so. I don´t remember doing anything like that to it. Obviously we´ve had some of that stuff in the can since 2004 which is quite a long time. No, I think it´s all pretty live actually. I certainly didn´t do any vocals again, that´s for sure. (laughs) I don´t think we redid anything. I don´t think there was any mistakes. The only time we ever redo anything is if there´s some really bad mistakes or an amplifier went off or sometimes you have a power cut. I think on these festival gigs there was nothing replaced.
Right. All through the years and you´ve been doing this for a long time, do you have a lot of footage lying around that you might release some day?
BB: Yeah, there is some stuff. There´s a couple of Sweden Rock Festivals we have that are pretty cool actually. Last year we recorded and the last time we played there. We like to give things away with our albums, so maybe on the next album they´ll get a free DVD, you know what I´m saying?
Like those Sweden Rock films, do you have to buy the rights for that footage?
BB: No, we let them use it on their DVD and we get the rights, that´s how it works. It´s a bit of a backward forward thing. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.
After all these years, what is it that drives you as a singer and as a band?
BB: I think, creating music really. That´s what drives us. We´re creating music in the studio, then we release the album and go on tour and we play it live. We have a great connection with our live audience and we know that our fans know that we´re coming.
During all these years, have you ever thought of doing something else?
BB: Nah. What, like fishing or something? Playing golf or something like that? No, no, no… not really.
I became a fan of Saxon when “Power and the glory” came out…
BB: Yeah, that was a great album!
And still is. One of my favorites. But when you look back on the heydays of the 80´s, do you have a favorite of yours?
BB: “Power and the glory” is a pretty great album. You can´t really go far wrong with that album. I think the first five albums were all pretty fucking strong and we were definitely in a state of grace. I think each one is as good as the other. My favorite is probably “Denim and leather”. I think that was the penultimate achievement because we did three albums really quickly and the material on those three albums are still people´s favorites today actually.
Is there one album looking back where you feel “Well, that didn´t go as planned.”?
BB: Well, “Destiny” was a bit whacky. It was our last album with EMI and that went a bit strange in places, but there´s some good songs on there. Sometime the producer is not right and takes our songs and doesn´t really have a connection with what we´re trying to do.
What was it like playing with Metallica at their 30th anniversary shows?
BB: That was great actually. It was fun. Very tiring. I flew in one day and sang and then flew straight back the next day. I had two days off while we were touring, so it was cool. I´m glad I did it. It was a great experience.
Did they pick the song?
BB: Yeah, it´s a song I´ve done before with them, the year before. They like that song and it´s a song that influenced them. It´s very thrash metally isn´t it? I suppose it´s one of the songs that started them down their thrash metal road.
Touring wise then? You´re still out touring for the latest album. The last date is in Czechoslovakia in August.
BB: Oh, we´re really touring on the DVD now, but we´re just doing festivals so it´s not really touring. Small festivals and more of a celebration of our music and the Wacken DVD. That´s what we´ll be featuring in the live shows.
So after August you´ll go into more of a writing mode for the new album?
BB: Yeah, we´ll be in the studio until July and then we´ll take a break.
Ok. When you write for an album, do you set off thinking that you´ll write 12 songs or do you just go with the flow?
BB: We just go with the flow. There are no rules. It´s just how it is really.
A final thing, have you ever been in a fight with any of the other band members?
BB: (laughs) Me and Paul have had a couple of fights over our career. I´ve known him for a long time so that happens.
Has it ever turned into fist fights?
BB: Yeah, fist fights, yeah! (laughs) When you live together so close it happens.
You´ve done all this stuff, the albums, the DVD´s, the book, the Saxon documentary… Is there anything left that you feel you have to explore or feel like doing?
BB: No, not really. We´re pretty experimental within our genre. We don´t really try to write the same song over and over. I suppose we really don´t have any preconditions to our song writing. If we end up writing something that won´t suit Saxon, we just throw it in the bin. That´s how we work.
Ok. Thank you so much Biff and I´ll let you go back the the rest of the band and write som more cool songs!
BB: Of course. See you later!