Interview conducted August 06 2015
Interview published September 22 2015
When beloved heavy metallers Saxon
returned to Getaway Rock in Sweden this summer, Metal Covenant arranged
a meeting with the band's charismatic frontman, Biff Byford.
Winding down with a well-deserved glass of wine after another successful
gig with a storming response from the audience, the Englishman was in
a merry mood. As both Biff and I wanted to watch Status Quo's performance,
we kept it relatively short but an enjoyable chat was had.
Mozzy: You played quite early (at 17.30)
today; you sounded a bit bothered by that.
Biff: No, it was good, the crowd was great. I
was winding the promoter up (laughs).
Mozzy: But it was earlier than usual for
Biff: Well, we play at all times really. I was
just winding the people up.
It was another quality gig. People often call Saxon one of the most reliable
Biff: Well, we are live - just like Quo (Status
Quo, performing during our interview so we can hear them through an
open window.). There's no click track of reinforcements with Saxon;
what you get is that every show is different.
Mozzy: The band work very hard onstage as
well of course. I think it would take a serious technical problem or something
for a Saxon show to be bad.
Biff: Yeah, I think so. And the crowds are really
with us, you know. They love us. Tonight it took just two or three songs
and then it was great.
Mozzy: Yes, from Power And The Glory and
onwards, I think.
Biff: Yeah, I think so.
Mozzy: And your voice is always impressive,
it never fades.
Biff: Yeah it was very good today, my voice.
It was fading a little bit after my scream in Heavy Metal Thunder, but
it was good.
Mozzy: You have a new album coming out.
I saw the video for the title track, and that track was a bit more muscular,
a bit more metal.
Biff: Well yeah, but it's still melodic. It's
more into our heavier side like Heavy Metal Thunder or 20000 Feet. It
is Saxon, but the album is more focused. But yeah, maybe a bit more
rock and metal. But I think it's very catchy though, so in that respect
it's maybe a bit more rock ´n´roll as well, you know.
Mozzy: Do you try to change the sound just
a bit with each album, compared to the last one?
Biff: We don't like to be predictable. We like
to move not too far away but still not be predictable. Just a bit dangerous,
Mozzy: The last couple of albums have been
really strong. You are one of the old bands that still produce great albums.
Biff: Yeah, we do. We do work hard at it as well.
Mozzy: In today's business, you must tour
more because of income and so on.
Biff: Yeah. And we're more popular now than we
were ten years ago, so we do tour a lot. Plus we get offered a lot of
Mozzy: Do you enjoy it? And is it hard sometimes
Biff: Yeah it's good fun. We had fun today,
the crowd was great and the sun was shining, it wasn't fucking raining
What about being away from family and those things?
Biff: Well, festivals are not too bad. When
you're doing a long tour, it's crap. I just had three days at home;
we did two shows in Sweden last week and then I went home for three
days. Tomorrow we're headlining in Oulu, Finland (at the Jalometalli
festival) and then we're going to Germany the next day.
Mozzy: I come from Northen Sweden, and in
1999 you played up in Sundsvall. Your bus skidded off the road then, do
you remember that?
Biff: Right! It nearly crashed, that's right.
We were very lucky actually, because it was very steep.
Mozzy: We saw a bus on the side of the road
on our way to the gig, and it was actually your bus!
Biff: Yeah. We played the gig though.
Mozzy: Yes, I remember it well, a great
night. But in those days, metal was not really as popular.
Biff: Well, we were keeping the flag flying.
Mozzy: Yeah, you certainly were.
Biff: Us and Maiden and a few other people,
through the bad times.
Mozzy: Were you confident that things would
turn around, like they did?
Biff: I think so. We kept playing and writing
great songs and hung on.
Mozzy: Another scary thing happened recently,
with Nigel (Glockler, drums, who had to have brain surgery). That must
have been frightening.
Biff: Yeah it was quite frightening. More for
him, obviously. He has come back really strong though, his drumming
Mozzy: Does something like that make you
reflect on your own health?
Biff: You always look at your own mortality
when close friends or family die or are sick. It's natural.
You released an album with The Scintilla Project, was that fun?
Biff: Yeah, it was great fun! I just got to
sing on that and concentrate on performing on the album. I didn't really
write any songs although I changed some lyrics here and there. Mostly,
it was all written so I just changed a few things. I really liked it,
yeah, and people who have heard the album liked it. It's more prog,
the newer prog obviously.
Mozzy: Is this something you wanted to do
before as well; do a side project?
Biff: I don't do a lot of projects, but I liked
that one. And my friend (Lionel Hicks) was the drummer.
Mozzy: To go back to touring, you have obviously
been around the world to loads of different places, but are there some
territories you haven't been to and would like to go to?
Biff: We've never been to China. And we haven't
been to New Zealand, or India yet.
Mozzy: India is huge for metal it seems.
Biff: Yeah, we have been asked but it has never
really worked out.
Mozzy: So there are still territories to
Biff: Yeah, we would like to conquer them (smiles).
Mozzy: I think that's pretty much all I
had. I guess you're busy as well, are you leaving Sweden tonight?
Biff: Ok, cool! No we're leaving tomorrow morning,
early. It's is the same thing; we have to go to bed, or stay up drinking.
You either stay up drinking or you go to bed, there's no in between
Mozzy: (laughs). Thank you very much!
Biff: Thank you!
also: review of the
gig the same day