SAXON Frontman Discusses Songwriting Process

Metal-Experience.com recently conducted an interview with SAXON frontman Biff Byford. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Metal-Experience.com: Can we go back to your latest album "The Inner Sanctum" for a moment? What do you think are the main differences between "The Inner Sanctum" and "Lionheart"?

Biff: All the obvious things, really. It's obviously a different album! It's very difficult to pin down. The thing is, we're not predictable, we don't do the same thing over and over again, if you know what I mean, musically, anyway. Lyrically, I do cover the same ground a bit. You can't really tell where we're going with the different styles sometimes. I just think that "Lionheart" was a very British album and "Inner Sanctum" is not. The "Inner Sanctum" album is half rock 'n' roll and half full-on heavy metal and I think we explored that more on this album than we did on "Lionheart". I think we found a unique goal for ourselves there. It has a fresh sound but some of the songs are quite traditional.

Metal-Experience.com: How do you work when you're writing a new album?

Biff: Well, we're usually just banging things around. I have a studio and me and Paul are actually in there at the moment, we're writing songs right now for the next album.

Metal-Experience.com: What is the utmost important ingredient for a SAXON song?

Biff: The first thing we like to get, although we don't always get it, is the guitar riff, the main riff that starts the song. It's always good to have that. It might only last thirty seconds but we like a nice riff to start with! And then basically we'll work it from there, arranging and picking a format. Along the way we'll decide whether it's going to stay in the same feel or the same tempo or whether we're going to branch off and go on to other things. And then I'll be putting melodies on there and the last thing that really goes on are the lyrics.

Metal-Experience.com: How important is it to you that people listen to the lyrics?

Biff: Well, it's quite important. If you're doing a song about something that means something, you know, not just a song about driving cars fast, but something like "Red Star Falling", I think it's important that people listen but whether they do or not, I don't know. I know I don't! (laughs) I'm a vocalist and I usually just listen to the choruses and the first verse, that's it! So I'm just as bad as everybody else. It's just how people are, really. Some people really get off on the lyrics, and some people don't. I get off on writing the lyrics. If I'm doing something that's historic or if I'm writing about something that's important to me, then it matters. I spend a lot of time writing lyrics but I don't know if people actually listen to them. I think maybe people read them in the booklet. Look at some of our older songs, "Crusader", for instance, everybody knows the first verse and the chorus, but does anybody know all the verses? The chorus is usually the thing people remember best, especially with SAXON.

Metal-Experience.com: What's your opinion on the heavy metal scene these days, is there anything missing?

Biff: I think it's great at the moment, actually. Our album sales our going up, we've just been to Japan, which was fantastic and we did a sold-out festival in England. Magazines are selling more, websites are doing well. Our website is up to date now and we do a podcast now and then, you have to not be scared to show how it really is. We're really into that, into the instant thing you can do with your website. You just have to be not too bothered about looking fantastic all the time! In the real world nobody ever does, do they?!

Read the entire interview at www.metal-experience.com.

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