John Parks of Legendary Rock Interviews recently conducted an interview with vocalist Biff Byford of British heavy metal veterans SAXON. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Legendary Rock Interviews: You have been on a real creative tear lately, with the last couple albums being some of the best-reviewed and -received work you've ever done. Is it at all possible that some of that court battle over the band name somehow reinvigorated you or added something, passion-wise or aggression-wise, to your approach these days?
Biff: Ummmm…. I suppose maybe it did before. I suppose we wanted to unleash the beast and be sure that the last album was great and all that. I suppose it does push you a little bit further, but not really now at this point. We just like writing albums and we wanna keep making albums that people like. Our style of music is pretty unique to SAXON; we don't really sound like anyone else.
Legendary Rock Interviews: "Call To Arms" was a really nice return to form and really rallied the fanbase, including here in the States. Was it hard to set out to top that with "Sacrifice"?
Biff: Yeah, it was actually. "Call To Arms" was a great album, a great collection of songs, but I wanted to come at "Sacrifice" from a little bit of a different angle. I wanted it to be a little heavier and more from the heart rather than the head, so, yeah, it was a task but there's certainly a lot of passion in these songs. I worked quite hard with our guitarist on the choruses and melodies and the twin-guitar parts. I think because I was producing the album, I was in a little bit more control and felt I could take the band into more of a live direction. We really worked on the songs in terms of how they sound when we're playing as opposed to just working on them to make them sound good in the studio.
Legendary Rock Interviews: I think you are almost a little unassuming or humble. Lots of bands put out albums as an excuse to tour or fulfill a contract but this is just a complete album of great, no-bullshit songs. Was there anything left on the table other than what made it to the bonus tracks and special editions?
Biff: Yeah, there are a few things that are on my home studio, some songs we didn't use that might surface on the next album, but nothing really complete or finished in any way. Mostly a lot of ideas, you know. It didn't take too much time to find the ten songs which made the record. The guys were jamming around and I was playing bass on a few of the sessions and I waited a little to do the melodies and lyrics; I just had some basic ideas about the songtitles. When we'd go to rehearse, I would really work hard with the guys to come up with melodic choruses, which is really what "Sacrifice" is: a lot of heavy riffs with very melodic choruses. That's really a trademark SAXON thing.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Was it a challenge to work on these re-recordings for the bonus tracks? "Crusader" and "Just Let Me Rock" are pretty well-known songs, but I think this version of "Just Let Me Rock" is much better than the original.
Biff: Yeah. The original version of "Just Let Me Rock" was during a really weird time for the band really. The whole MTV era changed everything, and I think things were a bit lighter then, but the new version proves it's still a cool song. The lyrics are great and it's about our old manager ripping us off, so I think it deserves the heavier treatment. [laughs] The original sounded like some kind of groovy rock song and this is much more to the point. The orchestration on "Crusader" is pretty interesting. I think we may do that with "Dallas 1pm" as well.
Read the entire interview at Legendary Rock Interviews.