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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.