Canada’s The Metal Voice recently spoke to Saxon’s frontman Biff Byford about the bands upcoming Covers album ‘Inspirations’ which will be released on March 19 2021 via Silver Lining music.
Tell us about the song selections for ‘Inspirations’
“I asked the band to pick two songs, so we made a list of songs. Some of them were really weird so we didn’t bother. I picked about five of the songs but remember we had more songs on the list than recorded. I waited until we were actually playing them live to see what they sounded like, some songs didn’t transpose. I wanted a song from (Black) Sabbath (Deep) Purple and (Led ) Zeppelin. We really didn’t want to do the easy ones on Zeppelin or Purple. The Black Sabbath one (Evil Woman) is an odd choice but I didn’t really know what to do with Sabbath, so I went with the Crow’s song (done by Black Sabbath) Evil Woman. I was born in the 50’s so the 60’s was a big time to be growing up with music. There were a lot of other bands that we could have done but I wanted the big three in there (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix).The thing with The Beatles when they played on TV for the very first time in 1963 I was like 12-13 years old , so seeing a band on TV in my living room was a big first for me so it influenced me a lot musically. Then obviously The Stones came later. I thought The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and in particular Hendrix influenced us definitely. Everyone one of the cover songs on the album has a connection to the band.”
Did you want the cover songs on Inspirations to sound like Saxon or keep them closer to the original recordings?
“We sort of changed the songs a bit but it would be a sort of travesty to mess with them a bit too much. I wanted to keep them fairly simple to the original but with a heavier sound, a heavier angle. Obviously my voice is completely different to their voices. I think my voice definitely gives it a different angle anyway. Keep it straightforward but with a powerful performance. For example the song ‘Speed King’ we played it faster than Deep Purple, just because we can.”
How long did it take to record the album and was the album put out to bridge the gap for the new studio album
“We recorded the whole album in about 17 days, it’s a very live album. I don’t think there were any overdubs on it, it’s very live. It was done in a big house in a big room like the old n days and it was just good fun. We thought the (new Saxon) album has been pushed back no one has any idea what is happening with the vaccination things or when we will be getting back to the stage. If people like it we will probably do another one next year, it’s good fun to do because there is no pressure and the songs are already written (laughs).”
Have you finished the New Saxon Studio album?
“Most of the guitars , bass and drums are done, the vocals are sort of done. I have to do all the vocals at once, so the vocals I already did we will trash them and start again. I think probably after Christmas I will do the vocals on it again. I’m also doing an album with my son Sebastian, we have written some songs together and we will be doing that pretty quickly. Our videos on Youtube are pretty popular. The album with my son will be full on rock with a band. In regards to the new Saxon Studio album they are talking 2021 as the release date but I don’t know yet the whole entertainment industry is kind of gone and forgotten as far as the government is concerned. We are all waiting to see. If the vaccine starts to work people are able to mix together then the album will come out . We don’t like putting albums out and not tour because we like to tour on the album.”
Would Saxon consider doing a Live Stream event
“People keep asking us to do it, whether we will or not we do it I don’t know. The thing is I like audiences, I like to be live if you know what I mean. We might do it , we could do it on a smaller scale like me and my son but I don’t think a full production running around on stage in front of cameras with nobody in the room really doesn’t appeal to me. But never say never.”
Are you getting the vaccination?
“I think I might be getting mine in January 2021 because obviously with my heart thing and I am at high risk. I think they already have done a quarter of a million people in the UK.”
Thoughts on the recent passing of Eddie Van Halen
“Terrible news. I saw Van Halen a few times. First time I saw them was at the Rainbow must have been 1978-79 I think they just toured with Sabbath and then they did a warm up show at the Rainbow in London, I saw that. Then I saw them again on the Tora Tora tour in Manchester. I loved the band, they were a good time rock metal band. You could not go see Van Halen and not like them actually. We did consider doing a Van Halen song I wanted to do Running with the Devil but you got to be careful. We do have an option to do another album so that might actually be a good idea. we could do a massively heavy version of ‘Running with the Devil’, make it more of a Sabbath version.”
Inspirations track list
01. Paint It Black
02. Immigrant Song
03. Paperback Writer
04. Evil Woman
05. Stone Free
07. Speed King
08. The Rocker
09. Hold The Line
10. Problem Child
11. See My Friends