Shortly before embarking on a wide Greek Tour, the former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley talked to Metal Invader about his new record, his favorite Iron Maiden moments as also the problems with the band and how much he is looking forward to play again in our country and meet the fans.
Hi Blaze, how are you? You’re ready for the Greek tour I guess…
Hello Giorgos, I’m good and No!
No, you’re not ready?
No, we still got to go to Sweden. I’m in Finland right now and it’s the last date of the Finnish tour and we have an unplugged show tonight in a special place called Mäntyharju where we play every year and it’s like a second home to me and we have two nights at this venue and tonight’s a special set with songs we don’t do often, so we have to do many rehearsals of those songs. After this then it’s Sweden and after Sweden we will be ready to go to Greece and we will be very excited about coming there.
Is there any unplugged show planned for Greece?
The new disc ‘Endure and Survive’ follows on thematically from ‘Infinite Entanglement’ as it is a kind of a part 2 or something. So we have to wait for another new album next year to close the trilogy?
Yes, it’s a trilogy, the first is called “Infinite Entanglement” and it is the first part of this story, that begins with leaving earth looking for a new world discovered by a telescope and the journey is 1000 years in a spaceship and about a man that doesn’t know if he is a human and has the excitement of going to a new place with no regrets or history to leave behind, but the bitter sadness of leaving everything he has ever known. “Endure and Survive” is all about what happened on that 1000 year journey and the secrets we learn in the story that he has a machine body, his human consciousness has been downloaded in the machine body. The album is the story about why this happened to him and try to get rid of him before he reaches the new planet and try to kill him before he enters the new world. I’m working on part 3 right now on free time during tour and I jump on new ideas. The next album will come out March 1, 2018. I didn’t want to do a trilogy but one album a year; it’s a lot of intense work. I am the record label; I schedule the release, the recording and so. It seems to be working and my fans like the story and the new songs on part 2, everybody is looking forward to the third part.
What you expect from the new album and mostly from this trilogy? Is this one of your best moments on your career?
I think so, because I think that my voice now is better than has ever been, it’s more controlled and it’s more mature. I have had many experiences and that is shown on my voice. I translate the ideas I have on the lyrics, the music and the performance. I feel that I’m doing my best vocal performance this period of my life and my fans agree.
You said you’re more independent now, in 2015 you released 8 live albums via your own label, is this a reason that you feel more independent now?
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
That’s weird as Blaze Bayley Recordings is the label that released these 8 live official bootlegs… Anyway… Let’s go back in time, could you tell us a little about the auditioning process for the job with Iron Maiden? How did it came up and what songs did you sing with the band during the audition?
It’s 10 of the songs that were mainly featured on the setlist back then: ‘Number of the Beast’, ‘Trooper, ‘Hallowed be thy Name’, ‘Fear of the Dark’, ‘Afraid to Shoot Strangers’, ‘The Clairvoyant’, ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Wrathchild’, that’s all I remember right now. We worked on those together and that was it, and I thought that this is the experience of a lifetime, but I thought that my voice was different and I wouldn’t be able to make it because I’m not like Bruce Dickinson. I just enjoyed the experience as I loved the songs anyway, I was a fan from many years ago since I started getting into metal.
Were there multiple auditions and what other vocalists did you know of who also auditioned for the role?
All auditions were done separately and they were looking for something specific. They wouldn’t hold an audition actually, only if you were a strong possibility. There were 10 different guys who send tapes and demos and all of us were like this could be the next singer of the band.
After the auditions, I think there was a 2 month period to record X Factor?
That’s completely wrong. It took us a year to record the ‘X Factor’.
The X Factor, to me, was a very dark album. Was it intended to be that way 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?
It was a difficult time for everyone so I think it was a natural thing. Nothing is planned in Maiden, everything is done with emotions and passions. Nobody says we’re gonna write a happy or a dark album. With Bruce leaving, he said horrible things at the time at interview about the band, Steve and the fans and all magazines were calling out as we were making it so it was a difficult time for Steve Harris especially. I think the song “Sign of the Cross” is full of judgment. It was a change for my life too, from being to Wolfsbane to a legendary band. That reflected in the songs that I wrote. It was the start of a progressive Iron Maiden era, that’s not planned, that’s just a natural evolution. I don’t think Maiden are gonna write another ‘Wrathchild’ or ‘Trooper’ again, their newer albums are fantastic as well, ‘Paschendale’ or ‘Blood Brothers’ for example. And I think that in some years from now those songs are going to be as legendary and remembered as ‘Trooper’ or ‘Hallowed be thy Name’.
Same question for the ‘Virtual XI’. What are some of your personal favorites from ‘Virtual XI’ and why? ‘Virtual XI’ is not a bad album but everyone’s talking for ‘ X Factor’.
The problem with ‘Virtual XI’ was that we didn’t have much time for rehearsals. “Angel and the Gambler” for example is much preferred on the video version and I think that with “Don’t look to the Eyes of a Stranger” is the same, if we had more rehearsal would have been much shorter and there would be a big difference. Those 2 are not long, they feel just right. I like less angel and the gambler and I do a version of it sometimes in my acoustic sets, but in my big favorites are ‘Sign Of The Cross’ and ‘Futureal’.
Are you playing any songs from ‘Virtual XI’ in any of your upcoming Greek dates?
Yes probably ‘The clansman’ and ‘Futureal’. It depends on the support band. ‘Cause the support band normally takes a lot of time, so we have to do a shorter set list. And I do a free greet and meet for my fans after the show so I have to leave time for that. So what often happens is support band playing more than they supposed to and that means that I can’t play as many songs I could on my live set. If the support bands play shorter I can play more songs.
I think it would be great idea an all star Maiden tour with all three singers! You, Bruce and Paul DI’anno, sharing the same stage. It will probably never happen, but would you be interested if the opportunity presented itself?
Yeah it would be really great and really fun for the fans. It would be a fan thing for one or two shows and every singer playing his era songs. But this would never really happen ever!
Is ‘Endure and Survive’ available on vinyl too?
It will be available for our fans in October but we couldn’t bring them, on our merchandise in the Greek Tour as it a heavy thing to carry on tour.
When is the Wolfsbane reunion tour beginning?
We start on 15th of December only in the U.K. and goes to 24th of December. Unfortunately it is not so easy to find dates for a European tour…
The closing is yours. Any message to your fans here?
A huge ‘thank you’ to all of my Greek fans that waited so long for us to come back to Greece. I’ve been trying to come back here for so many years. It is such a long time since we’ve played here in a festival in Crete so please come to meet me after every show. I will wait for you to sign your albums, take photos etc. We will have the time; we play in so many shows in so many towns. That’s my gift, ‘my thank you’ in all of my Greek fans. I’m waiting for all of you to come to this totally free meet and greet session. Hope to see you all there! Thank you very much for this interview!