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Interview conducted August 18 2018
Interview published October 11 2018

"Everything that I do always comes from facing a storm and going through darkness, because in my own life I suffer with depression."

Blaze Bayley and crew made an appearance at Sabaton Open Air and a couple of hours prior to their performance Metal Covenant got some time with the hard-working frontman.

Tobbe: As we know you put out the third and final part of the trilogy [Infinite Entanglement] this spring and what might be the next step for Blaze Bayley record-wise?

Blaze: Well, I've made a live album. I recorded it in France at the end of the tour. Something that I often wanted to do is record an album at the end, which has most of the songs from the setlist of the tour. My last DVD / live album was called Live In Prague and this one will be In France or we might call it Chez Paulette. So the next thing is that; it's a DVD and live album, done by myself, produced, and I've got a director, Rich Pembridge, to edit it, and Chris Appleton [guitar] is gonna be mixing the live album as well. So we're doing it all ourselves.

And I've just finished my acoustic album. It's 8 songs and I think 7 of those are original. One is a new interpretation of an old song that I did with [Iron] Maiden, called 2 A.M., and the rest are all new and I'm very excited about that. And I'll be on tour in November with my acoustic album. One of the songs on there was something that was written for the trilogy, but it never quite came together. It felt good, but it didn't feel good enough and as the story evolved and as the trilogy changed then it was like… We were there doing part 2 and, you know, "This doesn't fit; does it?". So instead of that, what happened was: we kept working and then we came up with a song called Eating Lies and that kind of took the place of this one. So it was planned. It didn't really move the story along. It's a nice song, so that's on the new acoustic album as well.

And, really, I'm glad that the trilogy is finished and I enjoyed this tour more than the other two tours, because on the other tours we were always thinking "What's next?", thinking about the songs, any day off that we had had to be a writing day, any long soundcheck had to be a rehearsal. You know, we were writing on the road on both tours. We'd come off the tour and we'd go straight to work, you know. On the last one I think we had 5 days off, and that was at the start, because we were so burnt from the tour, and we just kept going through right to the end of mixing.

So it's been a huge amount of work and I feel the greatest achievement of my musical career is to have this story and make it into 3 albums. For me it's the greatest achievement, because you can do an album and then you don't know what the next one is gonna be like, and with this one "It has to be a trilogy, it has to be 3 albums in 3 years and the albums must be released in March." and we just stuck to it. And every time I said to the manager "Look, I think we might need a little bit more time for this." he said "There's no time." and I'm going "But, you know, I thought I was in charge of this." and he said "Well, yeah, but you put me in charge of you and you told me that you'll have to be on time. There's no more time!".

So we just had to battle through and, you know, sometimes that's really uncomfortable, but one of the things that happens is: sometimes that pressure really gives you a different perspective on things. And the quality… If you're working on something and you think "Oh, should we? It's not quite right, but…" we'd just go "No! This is a waste of energy. We'll move on to something that works.". And each time we sat down before the album and we'd go through the story and I would be grilled by Chris Appleton: "Well, okay. If the main character, William Black, does that, what's this song about? How does that fit in? Where does that lyric fit? Who is this voice supposed to be?".

So I had to justify, which is right, and I did say to the guys in the band "You can pull me, at any time, and say 'What does this mean? Why is he doing that?'". That's part of the story, because I don't want anything to go out and then fans go "This doesn't make sense.", because I've been in that situation where things don't make sense; I don't like it. So that's what we did. The first one was the simplest one, really, 'cause we had a lot of time in advance and I had a pile of notes from my book and different ideas for lyrics. I felt like we were pushing to get that album started. But that third tour, where we didn't have to think about the next album, just really think about the songs we were doing, I could really enjoy, and it was a lot of fun.

Tobbe: Could you even add more to this story?

Blaze: At this time I don't think… There's no plans. There's no plans. You know, I really want to enjoy my acoustic album and make sure that my live album / DVD is a really good momentum for fans and past that we still have a lot of songs that we haven't played from the trilogy; big songs. So the tour carries on, the Infinite Entanglement trilogy continues into next year, with an almost completely different setlist, comprised of songs from the 3 albums, that we just didn't have chance to do. So, it goes on and I think next tour is gonna be something special, 'cause many of those songs are really big, emotional songs.

Tobbe: Could you ever play all the 3 albums in a row, live?

Blaze: I don't know. A few fans have suggested that, but I don't know. Of course, if you had enough money and enough crew it's entirely possible to do something like that, but it would be a huge undertaking and it would cost a lot of money, because you'd have to get so many people together for so much time to rehearse and get it right. And then you've got to have a really nice venue, which is big enough and acoustically very, very nice. So it would be a lot to do that, but I wouldn't rule it out. A few fans have said "Will that ever happen?". But you'd never tour with that; it would be in a theater, somewhere that we have chance to set up, if we ever did it.

Tobbe: Now that you've written this story, could Blaze Bayley ever function as a serious author as well?

Blaze: Well, the whole trilogy is based on a book that I'm writing and in September and October, on the free time that I'll have, I'll be dedicated to bringing that story up to date and writing a lot more of it and I'm hoping that by the end of 2019 I will have the book ready and it will come out as a very special edition; The Infinite Entanglement trilogy as a book. I started the whole thing with a map of the characters, which I did in pencil and it all has started to fade now. And that's on a very special place in my house. It's all the relationships between all the characters; how they all fit together in different things, the back stories of each character; a little bit about that. So, that's the basis of the book.

And if you listen to the 3 albums you start to understand a little bit of the back story; of these main characters. But a huge part of the story is the Seven Saints, which only feature a tiny little bit in the album. They are the crew when the ship leaves Earth and leaves the solar system. There are 8 people on board; 7 humans, and William Black, who, at that point, thinks he's human, but he is actually a machine. So, the story of how those 7 people get onto there and how William's false story of why he is on there and why he is seeking redemption for the horrendous atrocities that he's committed in his life in the military… That forms the basis of the book.

And if you did the pre-order and you did the platinum edition pre-order, then you got a magazine with that, which is completely exclusive and chapters, rough chapters, rough work from the book is included in there, so you already have a part of that story, and all of those bits, from those magazines that were exclusive to those pre-orders, will be included in the book.

Tobbe: And how will you promote such a book?

Blaze: Well, I'm independent. I'm completely independent and I'm very, very lucky that I'm supported by the most wonderful fans. They don't even know what it is; they go "Okay, he's bringing something out, so I've got to get it." and I'm just very, very lucky. So, the first people that'll be able to get my book will be my fans. They'll be able to order it direct, online from my shop. And then we'll see what happens after that.

Tobbe: Yeah, because to me it would be very important to reach people outside heavy metal too.

Blaze: Yeah. If that story reads well and if it comes together as well as I hope it will, then I want it to be a book and a story that people who like science fiction and fiction in general would enjoy reading. In the same way that: when we did the albums, what we said was "If you don't know the story, and English isn't your first language, then you have to be able to enjoy this album as a collection of songs. Then if you become interested in the story, that's fine. But each album must stand on its own and the songs have to stand on their own.".

It has to be like that and we worked really tough on it. A decision that I took, on the first album, I said to Chris Appleton "This is the order that I think the songs should be in, but you have the final say on the order of the songs and I'm not gonna second guess that. I will fight you on it and I will try and get mine, but in the end you can have the final say on the order of the songs, because it has to make sense musically as a collection and be an interesting album.". And that's it. And I'd always try to get a different order "Well, it makes no sense if the songs are in this order for the story." and he'd go "No, musically it doesn't make sense.". And that's how we did it and I think he did a great job with that, selecting the order of the songs.

The one thing that was determined at the start was: The intro that we were doing on the tour was the intro to the first song on the first album. And the intro that we were doing on the second tour was the exit of the first album and the intro to the second album. So if you came to see the tour and then you put on the album you were hearing what we'd done on tour and the start of the set on the tour was the start of the album, which is really cool, to be able to do that.

Tobbe: And does a story from Blaze Bayley always have to contain some terrible stuff? Could you write some lighter stuff instead?

Blaze: Everything that I do always comes from facing a storm and going through darkness, because in my own life I suffer with depression. That's been a battle for me. And other problems and tragedies I've faced in my own life. So it always comes from some kind of darkness and to try and find that inner strength to deal with your battle. And sometimes you do not know how strong you are until you are tested, and there are some horrible tests that life will throw at you; some ordeals that you have to get through. And generally speaking, in my lyrics, one of the things that a lot of my long-term fans enjoy is you can go through and there will be a few songs on each album which are about picking yourself up, not giving in and just keeping going. And that's always a theme that runs through my work, as dark as things get, to try and still hold on, no matter what.

Tobbe: When you write your lyrics, how much do you want people to wonder, or even contemplate, what they are about, or even trying to guess what you mean? Or do you want the story to be completely clear, so people understand what it's about?

Blaze: I think in the trilogy the story is fairly clear. I may be wrong, you know. When we played in Sweden on the tour, then one of my fans asked me a question about the story. He said "I can't sleep, because I really need to know what this means and I need to know what this sound is, because I feel I'm going mad." and I explained it; it's tap-dancing, and in my story William Black has a daughter and you hear a sound on the first album, this little tapping, and it's tap-dancing, and that song, that section of music, is called The Dreams Of William Black, so you hear it in a dream.

And on the second album there's a song called Blood and that starts with a dream, because he's looking back at terrible things that he's done and remembers these things. And it's also on the third album in a place and he's like "What's this tapping?" and I explained it to him and "Aah, that would make sense.". So I would like to think that the songs make sense. For me, lyrically, I really enjoy writing about true stories, and movies, and books, as well as my own original ideas. I just want my lyrics to be the best, that I can do, and I want to look at my lyrics when I've forgotten them and they're a couple of years old and read back and go "That's a bloody good lyric.".

That's the feeling that I want to have. And my fans and their opinion is so important to me that on the first two albums of my Infinite Entanglement I refused to send any journalist a copy of the album to review, until the fans who pre-ordered the album had their copy, and when they had their copy, then I could send it to the journalists, because the only opinion that was worth anything to me was the people that actually supported me and bought the album. If they were disappointed, if they didn't think it was the best, that would be very concerning, but if someone who was given the album for free, and doesn't really know who I am or where I'm coming from or anything, give it a bad review, that's really just worth nothing to me.

So what happened was, then on the third one, I spoke to some fans about the situation and they said "We think it's okay now. Of course you need to promote it." and stuff like that, and what was surprising, and it was really cool, is that people didn't treat it as one album; they treated it as the 3 albums together, which of course, if you would just do one it would be out of context and you wouldn't have the full impact of what it is, because each one relates so intimately to the other.

Tobbe: If you look back at when you set out to do this story, did the story become exactly as you envisioned it in the beginning?

Blaze: It moved around a little bit, but it's still true to that first map that I did, with him at the center and the relationships between people. Yeah, it's still true to that.

Tobbe: So what were your thoughts the first time you got the idea to do this project or started with that map?

Blaze: Well, I was supposed to be doing the sleeve notes for my best of album [Soundtracks Of My Life, 2013] and I had this idea, because one of the bonus tracks that we'd come up with, with a friend of mine called Rick Plester, was Eating Children, which is about the sun, our sun, which is a yellow dwarf at the moment. Stars die in different ways, some goes supernova, some will just expand, and our sun will turn into a red giant and that will be so massive that it will actually consume all of the planets in the solar system. All of the planets in the solar system are formed from debris from the formation of the sun, so in effect, metaphorically for me, the sun would eat its own children and I really enjoyed that if you didn't know that that's what it's about you'd hear this chorus, Eating Children.

And then I started to think that people as rich as the late Steve Jobs, as Elon Musk, as the queen of England and Bill Gates will be able to afford a spaceship. And with all of the information coming from Hubble Space Telescope and what we will get from Euclid when that goes up in 2021, then it will be a pretty good bet what planet will support life. And if you can afford it you'll be able to book a ticket on that ship, and they won't be asking any heavy metal singers to go on that journey.

So that started the whole idea and of course in quantum physics, which I've been interested in, the idea of entanglement is so bizarre, but for me as a writer so romantic. That two particles, two electrons, are related to each other and always know, directly, beyond the speed of light, instantaneously they know what the other one is doing and what his position is. Electrons are in atoms and we're made of atoms and particles, we're filled with electrons, and surely, if you are deeply consumed on love for another person and they are for you, if you share this deep emotional bond, then why wouldn't you be able to sense what that person you love is feeling? If, across the universe, as a theory goes, the electrons know, then why wouldn't the people know?

And that's the basis, that's the entanglement in my story. Is William Black and the professor being connected in a very unusual way, but being connected, and him trying to understand if that connection is real and her trying to say "It is real." without words that he can see; without any physical manifestation?

Tobbe: You were working with Tim "Ripper" Owens and Geoff Tate a couple of years ago and Paul Dianno before that and will we ever see Blaze Bayley do such stuff in the future?

Blaze: The thing is… what's happened is people have become so interested in what I'm doing that I've got more and more busy and I've just got less and less time for other projects. I have a Wolfsbane reunion every year; we try to do that every December. And everything else, really, is difficult to schedule the time for. It was a lot of fun to work with Tim and Geoff. Geoff is a great singer, a lovely person, and Tim is an absolutely fantastic vocalist; I think one of the best vocalists in heavy metal, ever. He has an incredible personality; wonderful guy to be around. Paul Dianno is a really funny guy; we had many great times on tour together. But I'm getting so busy now that it's very difficult to fit in any outside work at all.

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