Graham Finney caught up with Biff Byford ahead of the first highly anticipated Oxford gig
With a UK tour starting tomorrow evening, Safeconcerts caught up with Biff Byford, vocalist with veteran Brit metallers Saxon to talk about their forthcoming tour, the resurgence in popularity of traditional rock music and which Saxon song they would jam with Metallica on.
Graham Finney: Hi Biff, how’s it going?
Biff Byford: Good thanks, I’m in Oxford at the moment ready for the first show of the UK tour tomorrow. It’s a bit cold and grim but apart from that we’re looking forward to the tour starting.
Graham Finney: How did your European dates go?
Biff Byford: They went really well. Most of the dates were sold out and that was our second time in Europe this year so we’re really pleased with how it went. We were playing 1600-3000 capacity venues on in Europe so we were happy with how it went.
Graham Finney: And what can UK fans expect from the shows?
Biff Byford: Full on rock n’ roll. It will be a proper rock show. There will be some old songs, some new song and some songs we haven’t played in a while. There will be something for everything on this tour.
Graham Finney: You’re doing Denim And Leather in full in London I believe?
Biff Byford: Yeah, it’s only twenty eight minutes long so it isn’t a big deal and we’re doing most of the songs anyway so it’s only like we’ll be doing four extra songs from the album anyway.
Graham Finney: How come you’re only doing it on the London show?
Biff Byford: Well, to be honest, we put it out to people about doing it on the tour and most people weren’t that bothered. It’s the 30th anniversary of the album this year and this will be the last chance we’ll have to do it so we thought why not. We’ve already done it in Sweden and Japan.
Graham Finney: 30 year anniversary? That’s some achievement, as is nineteen studio albums. What has been your proudest moment to date?
Biff Byford: The first three or four albums were great and we had a great time on those albums but, over the years we’ve had a lot of high points and, at the same time, some low point. As for high points, the new album has been received really well and we’re really happy with the way that’s been going I think it has been our most successful album in quite a while which we’re really pleased with.
Graham Finney: What do you put that success down to?
Biff Byford: I don’t know really but maybe it is down to us having a new production, a new team working with us and the fact that we’ve gone back to our older style. Kind of less is more.
Graham Finney: What do you get out of the band these days? There can’t be much you haven’t done?
Biff Byford: The live shows are what keeps it exciting. Putting out new albums is great but you can’t beat playing the songs live and it is always great to get a new generation of fans.
Graham Finney: Talking of new fans, one of the experiences which stuck in my mind was during your set at Download a few years ago when the front row seemed to be full of young fans who knew all the songs…
Biff Byford: Yeah, we’re getting a lot of that but it goes in full cycle and there is nothing like getting a new generation of younger fans.
Graham Finney: With the likes of Alter Bridge selling out Wembley Arena, it seems like traditional rock and metal is in a good place at the moment?
Biff Byford: Definitely, like you said, with the new fans coming through and radio stations and magazines covering a lot more traditional rock music, it does seem like it is in a good place. Also, more people are listening to less indie music in favour of traditional rock bands like Alter Bridge and even more flamboyant stuff like Steel Panther is doing well.
Graham Finney: Okay Biff, we’re running out of time, just to finish, can you tell us about your trip to San Fransisco to join Metallica onstage at their 30th Anniversary celebrations?
Biff Byford: Yeah, that was good. I got a phone call from Lars asking if I’d come over and do a song. They paid for me a nice seat on the plane so I could rest and take it easy. I flew over there, played the show, caught up with a lot of friends and flew back. It was great to be part of that.
Graham Finney: You’ve jammed with Metallica before, are you guys good friends?
Biff Byford: We keep in touch yeah, we’re both in busy bands so we don’t speak every day but we do catch up whenever we can and I’d definitely like to do something with them again.
Graham Finney: If you could return the favour and get James Hetfield to jam on a Saxon song which would it be?
Biff Byford: Well, I’d have to let him choose but I think he’d have to do something like Princess Of The Night or Motorcycle Man, you know, one of our thrashier songs.
Graham Finney: Okay Biff, thanks for your time. Just to finish, what have you got planned for 2012?
Biff Byford: We’ve got quite a bit planned. Obviously writing new songs is one of the things we’ll be doing but we’ve also been offered some film soundtracks so we’re going to be writing songs for those. We also be looking at doing some shows and we’re lining up some festival appearances as well. It’ll be a busy year for us but not too busy.
Graham Finney: Excellent, thanks for your time and have a great tour.
Biff Byford: Thanks, good chatting to you.