Interview with Blaze Bayley About Music, Identity, and Independence
Written by Flavia Bazzano
Powerful, fierce, unstoppable… Three ways to describe a ruthless warlord, but also three words that return to the perfection of the new single feeling of Stage of Reality. Powerful are the voices of Damiano Borgi and the guest star Blaze Bayley, fierce the deeply critical text, unstoppable the band: this is “Warlord.” Blaze Bayley (Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden) doesn’t need an introduction, yet he chose to continue his career far from the record companies, self-releasing his material. Blaze Bayley is alone against everyone, and as a warrior from the past, challenges the mighty music industry accompanied by his musicians and his fans. The important thing is to keep fighting and making music, good music, the best. What binds Stage of Reality to their guest star is a happy collaboration nourished by mutual respect and desire to create something unique.
With this interview we wanted to collect the impressions of the English singer immediately after the recording, but the meeting with the artist revealed much more than this. Beyond the character, we discovered the underground side of Blaze Bayley.
– How would you sum up the spirit of “Stage of Reality”?
Blaze Bayley: I think it’s a very forward thinking melodic band, kind of intelligent metal that’s very, very interesting.
– Do you identify with the lyrics of “Warlord”?
Blaze Bayley: I think it’s a good song, it’s something I enjoyed doing very much and when I was singing the lyrics I did think: “I wish I’d come up with the idea of doing a song about a warlord,” so it’s something I enjoyed doing very much.
– Do you think it fits with your way of singing?
Blaze Bayley: Well, Andy just said “Do your own style” and, you know, “Put yourself into the song” he gave me a lot of room for interpretation and I think it worked really well.
– Maybe you already know that the lyrics of the previous album by Stage of Reality were based on Pasolini’s “Corsair writings” and Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” whilst the new album define a sort of turning point. A new sound, a look and a mood created to reach as many people as possible instead of obscure lyrics and prog time signatures. My question, though, is this: how important is the message of a song?
Blaze Bayley: I don’t know really how important the message is. I think that is in the “eye of the beholder.” I think it is a deeply personal thing, that sometimes the lyrics of a song would connect with you at a certain point in your life, that you will be going through something or experiencing something whether that’s good or bad, a love affair or a tragedy or grief and perhaps those lyrics or that song will find you, somehow. I think it’s very much up to the individual the interpretation of the lyrics. For myself, then, I try to build a bridge between my own personal experience and the subjects that I like to write about, even if that is amusing like Falling Down or something like that, then I try to put myself in that situation. Some of my lyrics are deeply personal and I think the perfect storm is when the lyric and the melody and the music all combine to support all the same idea. And I think that’s what many songwriters like Andy and myself are always looking for.
– So it’s a matter of harmony, after all.
Blaze Bayley: It could be said harmony, you could use that word, but I think harmony really describes three parallel lines and a perfect storm for me is not parallel ideas. It is ideas that meet at a point to create something.
– You already worked with Andrea, who joined you as a guitarist. What did you think the first time you met him and how do you feel about him now, as a professional?
Blaze Bayley: Well, the first time I met him I was on rehearsal with him. I was so impressed with the tone he had and his sense of melody and the passion in his playing. It is rare to find someone who is technically so competent, but still can make the melodies come to life, that can bring passion into the sound, and he seems to have this thing between his heart and his head and his hands, this beautiful connection that makes interpretation of whatever the mood is, powerful, passionate, or sad. I really like that about him. He’s able to be very technical without losing the feeling of passion in the music.
– Andrea used also to be the heart of the band, writing all the lyrics and the music. For the upcoming album, instead, all the members of Stage of Reality worked together as peers. Do you think it is a positive thing for a band to have a creative process which lets all the musicians involved to express their personality?
Blaze Bayley: What I learnt is that it is good, when someone has a strong idea, you don’t mess about that too much. If someone has got the identity of a song in his mind you have to let them follow through on that and produce what is in their minds. Sometimes you have to just support people and sometimes is good to collaborate. I think each idea as it is born in the mind of its creator starts to form its own identity and I think this is an important thing. If Andy had a very strong idea of the sound of the band and the sound of the songs that he wanted at the start, that he followed, and now they collaborate, they are going in the same direction so everybody understands the feeling of what they want to create. In the end, I think: if you sound like every other band you’re not gonna go very far because you can listen to any band. I think Andy certainly feels he’s on a quest and he has a pride of his own identity. He’s trying to create his own sound and I think he’s doing very well.
– In an interview for Team Rock you described yourself as an “underground niche artist.” Do you think about your career as a constantly changing state? Are your collaborations a way to reinvent Blaze Bayley?
Blaze Bayley: The only people that support me are my fans. Without them and their support, without fans from Italy and from the rest of Europe, I would be working in a factory like I used to. I appreciate that support and that’s why I’m underground. Also, I’d rather not make an album and not do a tour if I can’t do it well. That is very important to me, so if I can’t make the album that I want to make, and make it sound as good as I want it to sound, then if I think I can’t do that I’d rather not make an album.
– In the same interview you also said that in the five years as Iron Maiden’s singer you were “living your dream.” What’s your dream now?
Blaze Bayley: Well, I’m living my dream. It’s quite a simple dream. I dreamed to be a rock singer, singing heavy metal and touring the world and that’s what I’m doing right now. I play gigs sometimes at big festivals to fifty thousand, sixty thousand people. Sometimes I play in small rooms to two hundred people. What is important is that I sing well and that the people that come to see me and listen to me have a performance that they can remember for the best reasons.
– What would you say to your past self and, on the other hand, which advice would you give to Stage of Reality and to any underground band?
Blaze Bayley: I’d say: “Give up! It’s a cruel and harsh business full of cheats and liars. There are very few angels amongst the devils. Just don’t push for a career in music at all!” That’s the first thing I would say, but if you’re not prepared to listen to that advice, I would say: “Get a good accountant, be good at math, and try to follow the identity of your ideas. Try to be an individual, but know that being an individual and taking your own path may be the most difficult path.
While it might be that people think: “Oh, well, Sabaton is a popular band, maybe if we sounded like Sabaton…” or “Iron Maiden it’s a popular band, so let’s sound like them.” Well, there’s only a few bands that ever make it with that sound at the front of every movement. And so, I think you have to put yourself in a situation of “well, what do I really want to play?” And play it with conviction, to show people that it is your whole life and, after every sacrifice you’re prepared to make, that it still has meaning for you. I think that is the cruelty of music and most artistic forms, really. And if you want to do it, then you have to be prepared to go through immense suffering and self-sacrifice, but, more than that, you have to be prepared to push, work, and keep pushing. It’s not enough to give things up. You have to push and be serious and don’t take shortcuts with your music. In the end you’re asking people to listen to your music and then to believe in it and believe that you are a worthy artist. Well, there are thousands and thousands of artists! So anybody I work with, any new band I produce or any people I collaborate with I ask this question: “Why would anybody want to listen to you? What makes you so special that you’re worth listening to?” And if you can’t answer that question, why are you doing it? Just because you try hard doesn’t make you worth listening to.
You know, a football team that tries hard can still lose every Saturday. That doesn’t make it a great football team, does it? So, trying hard doesn’t make you a success, being a great musician, being the best guitarist in the world, does not make you a success if no one knows about you or listens to you. So, why should people listen to you? And it’s a very hard question. Because I feel sorry for you? Well, not in my book. People should listen to you because there is something in your music that is passionate and incredible that connects with their hearts. If you haven’t got that, well, please, give up.
– Will we ever see you performing live together?
Blaze Bayley: I don’t know, I’m booked for a year in advance; because I’m underground it also means I’m completely independent, I don’t have to suffer the bullshits of agents and managers and waiting for big things. I do very small things. I take very small steps, but no one can stop me because I’m so small. I’m not a part of the big picture or the big business, so if there is time and we have an opportunity, it would be so much fun to get together with Andy and the guys.
CONTACT: or Mail Submissions To:
Rock Avenue Records, USA
23055 Sherman Way #5412
West Hills, Ca. 91308
Vice President and Media Director
Rock Avenue Records, USA