Ginger Nuts of Horror
Ginger Nuts of Horror is proud to host an exclusive interview with Blaze Bayley, the man tasked with the impossible, who in their right mind would consider being the singer to replace Bruce Dickinson in Iron Maiden? Well Blaze did, read on for an enlightening interview with the man himself.
GNoH: First of all. Thank you for taking the time to read and answer these questions. It means a great deal to me personally and I am sure the many readers that visit the site will be interested in what you have to say.
Let’s go back in time and could you tell us a little about the auditioning process for the job with Iron Maiden? How did it come about and what songs did you sing with the band during the audition?
Blaze Bayley: Wrath child, Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden, Heaven can wait, Trooper, Hallowed be thy name, Afraid to shoot strangers, Clairvoyant and 2 more classics were the songs I had to sing at the audition. It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed being the lead singer of Iron Maiden for that hour. I never thought I would get the job because my voice is so different to Bruce Dickinson's. After the first audition, I was very surprised to be asked back for a second audition, which was in the studio recording my voice, so they could see how I handled myself when I was recording. After that, it was a few weeks before I got the call to confirm I was the new singer. I was very surprised and those times with Iron Maiden are precious memories.
GNoH: Were there multiple auditions and what other vocalists did you know of who also auditioned for the role?
BB: Dougie White auditioned, who is now singing with Michael Shenker.
GNoH: When you were notified that you had got the gig, how long was it before work began on The X Factor and how different was it recording with the Maiden guys rather than Wolfsbane?
BB: It was about 2 months before we got together to start writing new material. Steve Harris said to me: I don't care who writes the songs or comes up with the music, it just has to be great. It was very different writing with Maiden compared to Wolfsbane on one level, because when I was with Maiden, everything was done at an acoustic level. The voice was always the loudest thing in the room, focusing on the vocal melodies and arrangements. I had managed to put together a book of lyrics that I could choose from, so I would try to match the lyrics to the musical ideas that Jannick, Steve & Dave came up with. I especially enjoyed singing the songs that Steve Harris had written because it has explored areas of my voice that I had never used before, it was a wonderful feeling. he changed the way that I approach singing and I am a different singer now to the man I was before I joined Iron Maiden.
GNoH: The X Factor, to me, was a very dark album. Everything from the cover art to the songs included. Was it intended to be a darker album or was it just a natural progression due to circumstances surrounding the departure of Bruce Dickinson? Or, was it something that you felt you brought to the band?
BB: Nothing was contrived or organised before the writing, it was just what was naturally happening to people at the time. That was reflected in the music and the lyrics we came up with. It was a dark time for Maiden because many people thought they would not survive after Bruce left. So I think everyone in the band was nervous about the unknown, and that stretched them. I had never doubted that Maiden would survive, and when Steve Harris came into the studio with all of the music and lyrics for ‘Sign of the Cross’, I knew there was going to be something very special about the album. Perhaps not what people expected. For me it seemed like a natural idea for Eddie to go from an illustration to become a real life character on the front cover, made from flesh and bone.
GNoH: I remember seeing Maiden in Manchester on The X Factor tour. One thing that really impressed me about the show was not only the enthusiasm shown by the band, but also yourself. I remember you were smiling throughout the whole gig and the band was incredibly tight sounding. What are some of your best memories from this tour?
BB: The Manchester show was a really good one. The UK tour was 5 shows and when we got to Brixton, you could really tell that nobody had forgotten Iron Maiden and people really wanted the band to continue without Bruce. I have great memories of the X-factor tour but the thing that stands out the most is the generosity & kindness of the fans. So many fans gave me a chance and offered me their support and encouragement. It is always the negative fans that get the most attention but most of the fans were positive and I thank them for the support they gave me at the time.
GNoH: I was coming to the end of high school back in 1995 and ‘The X Factor’ was one of the albums that really resonated with me. I really didn’t know what I was going to do with my life after school. I liked how some of the songs were inspired by dark movies: ‘Apocalypse Now’ for ‘Edge of Darkness’ and ‘Falling Down’ for ‘Man on the Edge’, but the real highlight of the album for me was Sign of the Cross (a perfect track to open the album with). Eleven minutes of classic, epic Maiden. What are some of your personal favourites from ‘The X Factor’ and why?
BB: ‘Sign of the Cross’ is a favourite of mine, it is huge and great to sing. ‘Man on the Edge’ was chosen as a single and that was fantastic for me as I was a co-writer for that and wrote all the lyrics. ‘Look for the Truth’ we never played live but it is one that I play sometimes in my own live set, I really enjoy doing that one. ‘Judgement of Heaven’ is something that is close to my heart as well.
GNoH: I have always thought it would be great for a one-off Maiden gig with all three singers! You, Bruce and Paul DI’anno, sharing the same stage, belting out the classics. It will probably never happen, but would you be interested if the opportunity presented itself?
BB: Yes, absolutely. I think it is a great idea for a one off gig for the hardcore fans. The 3 terrors together on one stage.
GNoH: I have followed your career since Maiden. ‘Silicon Messiah’ is a personal favourite of mine as is ‘The Man who would not Die’. What can we expect to see and hear from Blaze Bayley in 2016 and beyond?
BB: I have just recorded an album called ‘Infinite Entanglement’. It comes out on the 1st of March. I'll be doing 65 shows around Europe to promote the album. It is the first of 3 albums which follow the same concept.
GNoH: Blaze. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. We at Ginger Nuts wish you nothing but the best. Rock on! \m/
BB: Please check out my website and my facebookpage I am completely independent and supported only by my fans and my family.
Check out Adrian's review of The X-Factor here