» Blaze Bayley - Blaze Bayley
« back

Interview conducted May 12 2016
Interview published May 24 2016

"There is a choice, and we have in capitalist society, in many ways, been given the illusion of choice, whilst we have given up real choice…"

Metal Covenant got a few words with Blaze Bayley when he and his band visited Stockholm, Sweden, in support of the Infinite Entanglement album [Out digitally on March 1st and physically on March 18th.]. The Brit is more than anything an expressive and profound man who doesn't take things lightly or for granted and he shows great passion to his work. I personally think that he has been getting some undeserved hard words from time to time and if you enjoyed what he did in the early days of his solo career, I suggest that you check out the new record as well.

"Some people think it's a right to do this and some people think they deserve it."

Tobbe: Your new record, Infinite Entanglement, has a story behind it and in what way is it best described?

Blaze: It's the first album in a trilogy. The story asks a question. In the first part it asks "Am I human?". The central character doesn't know if he is human. He is on a one-way mission to the closest Kepler planet that appears to be habitable. It's a 100 years in the future and he's on a space ship and he thinks he is alone and as he travels he asks these questions. He has dreams of his former life and he asks why has he chosen this. What was it in his identity and in his spirit that made him choose to be a part of this mission?

So that's the first part of the story and it has a background of consciousness; "What is the nature of human consciousness?". In neuroscience and biology, coming from the last century up into now, there was a common thought that consciousness resided within an area of the brain and consciousness was a by-product, a feeling, that's just because of the neurons working together. Now, more widely accepted, and people are interested in it and they don't say it's rubbish, is that consciousness extends out from us. That vision is not happening in the back of our head, as a response to light, but things are actually there and we are seeing them. It is not that you go "That's happening in the back of my head.". No, the new way of looking at consciousness, that has been in Eastern philosophies for many years, is that your consciousness extends out, around you, as a sense of where you are.

So that's the deeper subtext of the album and "How do these things affect your opinion of who you are? What is it to be you? What makes you think like you do? What experiences in your life make you the person that you are? How much is given to you? How much comes from you?". These are the questions that we ask and on the album it's part of a story. The first song is called Infinite Entanglement and that sets up the trilogy and this one, the first album, is the start of the mission. We learn about the characters involved in the story and the second one goes on from there.

Tobbe: The questions is the kind of scary part of the album, I think.

Blaze: It is, but it needs that question. And it's choices as well. There is a choice, and we have in capitalist society, in many ways, been given the illusion of choice, whilst we have given up real choice, because the small choices that they give us; "Which phone we should have. Which laptop. Which TV channel we should watch", mask the real choices, "What should I do with my life? Which person should I choose as my partner? What should my role be? What is the destiny that I choose?"

Tobbe: Was it a much different approach, in comparison to your previous work, when you entered the process of writing the lyrics?

Blaze: No. What it was, was reflections of things that I had done previously. On my first album, Silicon Messiah, I explored the idea of consciousness living on a machine. Consciousness being transferred to silicon-based. And also what role and how important is human will. The sheer force of will over your circumstances and your perceived limitations. And the second solo album, Tenth Dimension, was my first attempt to tell a story. That was difficult lyrically. But on this one; it was 4 years since I'd done an original full metal album and things had happened to me and I'd just been collecting ideas and I'd just been writing things that came into my head, and seeds, that were perhaps planted a long time ago, started to come out.

And I didn't stop and I'd done a lot of acoustic work, with acoustic guitars, since the [The] King Of Metal album 4 years ago and that really made me think about tone of voice. What part of the voice elicits the emotion and then thinking if the lyric and the music and the melody come together; that is the perfect song, that is a timeless classic song, and so, that's what I looked for.

Tobbe: With a full story like this, did you have to change things back and forth in the music to make the music and the lyrics fit well together?

Blaze: I started from a different place to all my other albums. I started just with my acoustic writing partner, Michelle [Sciarrotta], and I had quite a few ideas and I knew that I wanted to get particular tone of voice, so we started on acoustic guitar, at this volume [Refers to his, at the moment, own kind of quiet tone.], just in the room, and we explored the things without having anybody around. Just the 2 of us, very intimately, talking through things. We worked 2 days, then the next week 2 days, then the songs would kind of mature.

Listen to them, come back, make adjustments, so before we were ever thinking about what drums would do, or heavy guitars, or solos, we were listening to what the tone of voice meant and what the cause behind it meant and what emotion that gave you and did it interest you? Were we still interested in that song 3 weeks later? And if we weren't, we changed it until we were. So we worked and kept working and working and working on it. And then I had some sessions also with Chris Appleton [guitar], where he came with some heavier ideas, with some more things that started from a heavy direction, and we did the same, we worked at this volume. So that's how we got it and then, as Chris developed the acoustic ideas into full metal, with the guitar, we stayed absolutely true to those ideas and it really worked.

And as we got Martin [McNee, drums] involved and the bass [Karl Schramm] involved, it was just notes of piecing it together; "This note does not fit! That note does not fit! This isn't interesting me right now, so why would anybody else be interested in it?". So that's what we would do, and to be honest, the patience that the band had with me, especially Martin, is just unbelievable, because at some times I can't vocalize the thing that I want, so they have to try and guess what I want and then when they get it, I say "Yes. That's what I wanted.".

Tobbe: It can take a while before they get it…

Blaze: It can take a while… What was good was having a pile of words. They weren't even lyrics. And I had a mind map that I drew from the central character and the connections of all the characters and what songs may appear and then, when it came to the choices, I had too many songs for the album. The idea was it'd be one big concept album, but it was too big. It wasn't one album and I sat and I looked at the song titles and it was just obvious that this is a trilogy. This is 3 albums because it's 3 parts of an important story. It's a journey. The song is a journey, the album is a journey, and they are part of the story and that's when it became the trilogy.

And, as we got closer to finishing the songs, after the main pre-production rehearsals, that's when I said to Chris Appleton "Tell me, as an album, forgetting the story, because I'm really locked into the story and I'm emotionally invested in the story, what order you will have the songs in, if they are just songs.". And so that was it and we argued back and forth and so the final order is one that we agreed on, but it's not the one that I wanted. It's the one that we agreed on, because that makes the most sense as an album, because at the start we said "It has to make sense, if you don't know the story.". If English isn't your first language, you should be able to enjoy it as songs on an album. That's how it should be, so that was where we compromised.

So in the sleeve notes to the album I say that, "This is not the order of the story.". It's just like flashbacks and flash forward, just like in your favorite TV series. It's just like that. And as you get to the end of album 3 and you look at the song titles, then you will go "Aha! That happened then, and that happened then!", I hope. If you're still interested. You know, you might have given up and halfway through album 2 you might go "No. I've had enough! The guy is gone. He's out there.", you know.

Tobbe: Even if you had a different approach to this record, do you sometimes look back at your previous work in order to find like inspiration and energy?

Blaze: Yes. What we did was Chris and I would look at Silicon Messiah and we'd go "We want it to be as good as this." and that's one of the main things. We said it all the way through and when we came to the recording and the mixing, we constantly listened to Silicon Messiah to get the sound. "Does this sound as good as Silicon Messiah?", because that's one of the ultimate favorites, of anything done, for my fans.

So we went "Is this as good as Silicon Messiah? Does it sound as good as Silicon Messiah?". Not sound the same. It can't sound the same, because it's Chris Appleton on guitar, it's Karl Schramm, it's Martin McNee on the drum. It can't sound exactly the same. It's different. But as a spirit it can sound as strong and acoustically and technically it can sound as good. So that's what we searched for. So we constantly were looking "Is this as good as that? Is this as good as this? Are we in the right place?" and if it wasn't, we pushed harder.

Tobbe: You're on the road from late February until early August and isn't it just too massive to be out almost constantly?

Blaze: I don't stop there. I keep going. It's the same journey I feel that the character is on. We're in a van and, you know, that's our spaceship, to be honest. That's it. That's our spaceship. But yeah, it is too much, but this trilogy has ignited a passion in me that I feel I have to finish. Not an album, not a tour. I have to get to the end of 3 albums, of 3 tours. I have to do this.

I have to tell the story and anything I've done in the past, no matter what people think of it, will mean nothing, if this isn't finished, and so I have to finish it. I have to pursue it. And if I don't give it every moment that I have, then it won't be as good as it can be, and if it's as good as it can be, then, on its own, beyond the name of Blaze Bayley, it will leave as a great piece of work. I want to feel, myself, that I've done everything to make this trilogy and this story have its own life and meaning beyond the tour and beyond the recording, so in the heart of my fans, they will hold the story dear and they will see themselves, some part of themselves, some part of their darkness, some part of the triumph in their life reflected somewhere in that trilogy.

And at the end of the trilogy, the book comes, which has all of the lyrics. All of the dialogue from the actors comes from the book. It's based on the book, so when you get to the 3rd album and you get the book and you have the box set of it all, you can read the book as well and it will all be connected and that should be the finishing touch.

Tobbe: When you have this intense touring schedule, is it possible to stay healthy?

Blaze: No, it's not possible. You can't look at it like that. It's not just possible. What we do is; we don't skimp on lunch and we try to find a reasonable restaurant. We don't go to posh restaurants, but we're as guilty as anybody else of enjoying McDonald's. You know, we allow ourselves 3, I think, a week. Something like that. But it is impossible to stay healthy. I also have vitamins with me and I always make sure that I do that. I have done a lot of medication as well, in case my voice is getting tired. It is very difficult to stay healthy.

Tobbe: And, again, with all this intense touring, are you sometimes worried that your voice will deteriorate?

Blaze: Well, there's 2 sides to it. Because I'm working all the time, my voice is at a certain level. Yes, it does get tired, but I try to be very careful that I'm not damaging my voice, but it gets to a certain level. Like 5 years ago, when I wasn't touring much and all of that, then my voice wouldn't be so good. It would get good out of the tour, but it wouldn't stay strong over the year. So now I just have to be careful that I don't overdo it, but generally I like to be singing more, because I love to sing. That's the main reason beyond anything. I love to sing.

Tobbe: Yes, that's a big part of your life and has always been, or at least for over 30 years, as a professional.

Blaze: Yeah, and I remember the times, you know, when I had to work a job and I couldn't sing. You know, I remember those times, so whenever it gets tough I try and remember those jobs that I had in between when, you know, I was changing to do my own record deal, when I was the only one in the band. You know, after Blood & Belief, I was the only one in the band. "I know a band! I'm the only one in it.", you know, so.

Tobbe: That's called being solo.

Blaze: Yeah. How come I didn't think about it like that? [Laughs] Now, I think of myself as solo and I have these great guys around me and all of that, so I'm very, very lucky. And also, I feel that it's a privilege to do this. Some people think it's a right to do this and some people think they deserve it. For me, I look at it as a privilege. You know, I get fed up, but we all do. We get niggly and stuff like that and say "Oh, fuck it all. I don't wanna get up this morning.".

Well, nobody does for a regular fucking job, so at least you're doing a job you like. You can't say, you know, "Oh God, I've only had 2 hours of sleep and I'm going to play in Stockholm, in Sweden. A wonderful city with beautiful women and fantastic heavy metal fans and all of that.". I think it's a privilege and it's something that I don't trivialize, you know. It's not just another gig for me. Every gig is important.

Related links: