Former IRON MAIDEN vocalist Blaze Bayley has praised his predecessor and successor, Bruce Dickinson, saying "he is the sound of heavy metal singing." Bayley replaced Dickinson in MAIDEN in 1994 and recorded two studio albums with the band, 1995's "The X Factor" and 1998's "Virtual XI", both of which sold considerably less than the band's prior releases and were their lowest-charting titles in the group's home country since 1981's "Killers". Bayley was dismissed from MAIDEN in early 1999 to make way for Dickinson as well as returning guitarist Adrian Smith.
In a recent interview with Brazil's Headbangers News, Bayley was asked whether there was anything he would have changed during his tenure with MAIDEN. "The only thing I would change, really, is when we did 'Lightning Strikes Twice' [from 'Virtual XI'], we didn't rehearse it too much before recording it," he said (see video below). "Then, when I performed it live, I found I hadn't left room to breathe, so it was difficult. In my setlist now, I asked the fans to help sing 'Lightning Strikes Twice'. But, really, it's your favorite band. It's the new singer for many, many fans. They don't want that change. They want the old singer. In metal, we like it when we get into a band. We don't really want them to change. I think I want my bands to stay more or less the same, just do different songs in exactly the same style. I think that is how we are as metal fans. So, it was very difficult for some people to accept me as the new singer and I understand some people, particularly in Brazil have open hearts and go, 'Okay. It's a new guy. Let's see. Maybe he's good.' In Brazil, the fans gave me a chance and I really feel that they took me to their hearts and supported me and it was a wonderful experience. Since that first tour of Brazil with Monsters Of Rock and our first huge concert in São Paulo, Brazil has been in my heart.
"Some people, of course, hated that change," he continued. "And they hated me just because I was new. And that's okay. And a lot of those people still hate me and for all those people who hate, there are some people that 'The X Factor' is their first. 'Virtual XI' is their first album with MAIDEN. They love those songs and I am their favorite singer of IRON MAIDEN. So, it's a balance, really.
"It's a privilege and an honor for me to have been part of IRON MAIDEN, to write songs with the band, to tour with the band and to still be thought of very fondly by thousands of IRON MAIDEN fans around the world. Go back every so often and listen to my MAIDEN albums and so many fans have said to me, ''The X Factor' saved my life.' Because that's the album they were listening to when they had the big torment in their life. And that's a very humbling thing."
Bayley was then asked what he thought of Dickinson's interpretations of his own songs. MAIDEN has been playing a handful of Bayley-era cuts over the years, most recently "Sign Of The Cross" and "The Clansman".
"That's fantastic," said Blaze. "Bruce is a wonderful singer. He does a magnificent job. He is the sound of heavy metal singing. If you could only have one singer to say what heavy metal singing is, it has to be Bruce Dickinson, though there are hundreds of great metal singers through the years. He is the absolute legend. His interpretation of those songs is absolutely fantastic."
In April, Blaze will release "Live In Czech", a live album and DVD recorded last fall at the Melodka venue in Brno, Czech Republic. The theme of the tour followed on from Blaze's "Infinite Entanglement" trilogy of albums and the setlist particularly featured some of the more epic songs from the trilogy which hadn't previously been included in concert setlists. The set also contained a selection of songs from his albums with IRON MAIDEN during the 1990s.
In September, Blaze plans to reissue his 2002 album "Tenth Dimension" with new packaging and upgraded artwork. There will also be a vinyl version for the first time. To go with that reissue, Blaze will embark on a European tour in September-November, featuring a "Tenth Dimension" setlist.
Since leaving IRON MAIDEN in 1999, Bayley has released a number of albums, including three under the moniker BLAZE and six under his own name. He also appeared on 2012's "Wolfsbane Saves The World", the first album of new material by WOLFSBANE since the group's self-titled 1994 effort.