Saxon are nothing short of an influential institution in the realm of heavy metal, and one of the forerunners of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which simultaneously emerged with the decline of punk rock, while in fact borrowing elements of its aggression and speed, combined with the virtuosity and ear for melody that classic heavy metal acts that preceded them brought to fore. The band, which has been around in precursory forms of various sorts since 1970 was initially known as Blue Condition, and then SOB, and finally Son of a Bitch, before being renamed to Saxon in 1977. Known for their propulsive song structuring, catchy song-writing ideas and crunchy, candor-driven and inspired riffs, the integrity Saxon has displayed across their prolific career, reinventing themselves while never straying too far from the classic sound we’ve come to love is admirable, as is their longevity. Their influence across the waves of heavy metal bands that would come after them is immense, with heavyweights which came to fore with the 80’s thrash metal wave, such as Metallica and Megadeth having cited them as among their primary influences. Far from calling it quits, the band continues to strive and surge forward, continuously churning out fantastic releases.
it’s a pleasure having you on Metal Wani! How are you doing today, and what is
keeping the rest of the band occupied in the Saxon camp nowadays?
its plans to release the ‘St. George’s Day Sacrifice – Live In Manchester’ live
double CD. What was the motive behind a release of this nature, and what will
it comprise of?
them – this concert was a special one and the Patron Saint Day.
compilation ‘Unplugged and Strung Up’, which featured re-energized versions of
classic tunes by means of introducing orchestral dynamics to the compositional
structure for further dimensional value. Do you have any specific thoughts on
the motivation behind this release, and the reception it has gotten so far?
acoustic tracks as an experiment and we took it from there the orchestrated. Ideas came along from the original Crusader which we tried with orchestra.
their root sound, ‘Sacrifice’ certainly seemed like a return to the classic
sonic values of the band à la the ‘Wheels of Steel’ era, albeit more crushing
and bombastic. How did the band go about retaining the classic Saxon sound,
while still incorporating memorable, propulsive hooks and catchy riffage
without descending into a re-hash?
just playing the hits. So, we spend time trying to be original within our genre
and the team we have (Andy Sneap and Jackie Lehmann) are all on the same page as
process like for the band in general? Are there any primary song-writers
amongst the members, and do you in any way contribute to riff ideas, or is it
restricted to the conceptualization of vocal melodies and delivery?
and Nibbs. Nigel also comes up with stuff so I tend to concentrate on
arrangements melody and lyrics.
conceptualize lyrical concepts and the thematic leanings of a given song/album?
Does it occur to you when you sit in a room and confine your thoughts in a
single stream or does it flash when you travel and come across things that
might have the potential to be incorporated in a song as how you did with
‘Sacrifice’ and ‘Made in Belfast’?
our early songs and I do try to capture a feeling of that but a lot of the time
I like to do write more deeper lyrics as in Belfast after staying in a
penthouse over looking the Holland & Wolf Shop Yards. I started to write
lyrics about the people that built the great liners.
prominent guest appearances across the span of your prolific career, but the
latest one with Avantasia undoubtedly stands out the most. What was it like
working with Tobias Sammet, and what are your thoughts on Avantasia?
busy. I like the albums, I am a prog rock fan.
Movie’ is out and has opened to an overwhelming response from the fans . It tells you the journey of Saxon right from
its formative years to what it is at present featuring appearances from Lars
Ulrich, Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mickey Dee. Why has it taken close
to 40 years to make this documentary?
year catalogue such as ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’,’ ‘Stand Up and Fight’, ’All
Guns Blazing’ and ‘Never Surrender’ that are basically an ode to the ‘never
give up’ approach towards life. Your journey towards rock ‘n’ roll utopia from
South Yorkshire via Saxon is one that has seen its share of pit falls and
punctured tires. What is it that drives you to continue to pursue your musical
and creative endeavours which has resulted in the longevity of Saxon,
especially after parting ways with Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson?
stuff but my upbringing was if you don’t get out you will be here all your life
. The coal mines and weaving sheds so my ethos is to never surrender always
awarded the Metal Hammer Golden God award for best UK band over new age
sensations such as Tesseract and Black Spiders. Even with a fall in album sales
post-Destiny, Saxon is a brand of heavy metal that still stands tall and proud
among the youth who recognize the band as one of the architects of the NWOBHM and heavy metal in general thus
cementing your relevance in present day heavy metal culture. Do you think you
survived because of the phenomenon of Youtube, Internet and digital media? What
is your take on music being digitally available?
classic rock and our brand of heavy metal. Older fans are back, younger new fans are
now with us, so a regeneration of our genre has took place. Also to continue to write great albums helps.
friends with Lemmy Kilmister from the time Saxon opened for Motorhead on the
Bomber tour. Lemmy has guested on a track from your album ‘Into the Labyrinth’
and you will be joining forces to cover ‘Starstruck’ for the Ronnie James Dio
tribute. Tell us a bit more about Lemmy apart from the general public
perception of him i.e a rock n roll
legend surrounded by booze and women? Could you perhaps tell us an interesting
anecdote about Saxon and Motorhead from the Bomber years?
a hug – she thought I was Lemmy!
the only person who supported the (for a lack of a better word) canonization of
heavy metal which is quite ironic considering the fact that heavy metal is all
about freedom and vehemently opposes norms set by society and religion.
According to you, what does the religion of heavy metal preach and what are its
bit of people power to get them to vote.
general social environment growing up affect your views, and in turn, the music
of Saxon in any way? What was it like in the heart of the New Wave of British
Heavy Metal movement?
Rumours also allude that a solo
album from your side is in the works! Could you shed light on the authenticity
of all this, and if true, what can the fans expect from it?
and we have started writing the next Saxon album.
huge fan of Indian cuisine. What have you heard about the heavy metal scene in
India, and what are the prospects of Saxon playing in India any time soon?