An Interview with Biff Byford of Saxon

An Interview with Bill Byford of Saxon (1)

With internationally known Yorkshire actor Brian Blessed OBE opening the new Saxon album, Hell, Fire and Damnation, the bar is set quite high. Naturally, the Yorkshire band do not let anyone down, with an album full of trademark melodic rock songs, the likes of which have held the band in high regard in heavy metal circles since they became successful in the early ‘80s as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene.

As the band prepare to step on to the Leeds Arena stage as support to Judas Priest, Graham Clark talks to singer Biff Byford…

How did you decide on the album title Hell, Fire and Damnation?
I have had the title of the album in the book I keep with all my possible albums titles in there and was just waiting for a good guitar riff to come along. The title comes from a saying that my dad used to say when he got upset. I suppose it is a northern saying, though my wife, who is from the Midlands told me that her dad used to say the same thing to her when he too got upset.

The album feels a lot heavier than the last one – was that a conscious decision?
The album has quite an eighties sound to it but we didn’t try to make it sound heavier, it wasn’t a conscious decision. We always try to make an album that we will like as well as the fans.

An Interview with Bill Byford of Saxon (2)Brian Tatler from Diamond Head is now in the band, how did that happen?
Paul Quinn who has been in the band since we started decided that he had enough of doing the big gigs. We do a two hour set, and that and all the travelling was getting to him. He has played on quite a few tracks on the new record and I’m sure that in the future he will get up on stage with us and play a few songs, maybe on the forthcoming tour. With Brian we have known him since the eighties, like Paul he is a bit of a guitar legend. We didn’t intend for Brian to write on the album, he brought a few ideas to the band and they sound great on the album. I think the album is a magical one and we are all very proud of it. We all still very motivated: some people expect us to fail, though that is something that is not going to happen.

Are you looking forward to the forthcoming tour with Uriah Heep and Judas Priest?
Definitely! I think it is a great package for the fans – so much music to enjoy. I was a fan of Uriah Heep back in the day – the band have such a great legacy. All of us have new albums out too so that will be exciting too. We will be on stage for over an hour playing tracks off the new album plus the classics. Priest get the close the show so they will be on stage longer.

Have you always been interested in history?
It’s seems to fit well into the heavy metal format, if you read some of the lyrics on the new album I suppose it sounds like a bit of a history lesson. There is a lot of inspiration from history on the album, song titles such as ‘1066’, ‘There’s Something in Roswell’ and ‘Witches of Salem’ are all directly about events from the past.

Have you heard about the new venue, Bradford Live?
It sounds exciting having heard and read about Bradford Live. St George’s Hall in the city was our old stomping grounds though the prospect of having a 4,000 seater venue in Bradford sounds perfect. Maybe on our tour we will play there, I am sure that the venue will soon get established on the touring circuit. The venue will be good for the city.

Judas Priest, Saxon and Uriah Heep play Leeds First Direct Arena on March 13th – tickets here
image: Ned Wakeman

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