Saxon Invasion at SoundCheck Hollywood

SaxonDaze1_375xThe legendary Saxon was pillaging the Los Angeles area in support of their recent Sacrifice magnum opus as well as doing press for their forthcoming Unplugged and Strung Up release on UDR Music. Prior to their show at the House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip, Saxon invaded the SoundCheck Hollywood Record Store right down the street from the venue. A meet and greet commenced, with a good number of fans waiting in line for signatures and photographs. We caught up with front man Biff Byford in the backroom at SoundCheck Hollywood for a brief chat to find out more about the upcoming adventures of Saxon, their cover of the Judas Priest classic You’ve Got Another Time Comin’, an imagined encounter with the Queen of England, and other metal topics of interest. Read on…

How has this tour been going so far and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been going great! I think a couple of the Midwest dates and Texas have been the best so far. But yeah, it’s been going really good!

When was the last time you played out here in Hollywood?
The last time we played here was on the Call To Arms Tour at the Key Club, about two years ago I think. It’s closed now – The Key Club.

unplugged1So you’ve had a busy year! You had an album come out in March. And now there’s another new one on the way entitled Unplugged and Strung Up. What gave you the idea to do this new album?
Well, we’ve been messing around with unplugged songs and orchestrated stuff for quite some time. We just compiled some songs together. We did themsort of different songs from different packages put together. So the new album is similar to that really – but a lot of extra songs on there. We’ve got Crusader with an orchestra and The Eagle Has Landed with an orchestra – and it sounds great!

How was it to revisit those songs and do different arrangements of them?
We did a couple of different arrangements, but mostly it’s just orchestrated. I mean, we re-played them and I re-sang them – it’s a slightly different sounding. But we like them – it sounds really good.

Would you like to do a tour with an entire orchestra?
I don’t know if we’d do that, but we could tour with a couple of keyboard players doing all the parts. That would be possible. So we might do that next year.

Going back in time, your cover of You’ve Got Another Time Comin’ by Judas Priest is just as good as the original. Have Judas Priest ever commented on that?
When you copy somebody’s song, it’s easier to make it a bit different or make it sound a bit more modern. But I loved the original. But I think we did it justice. And I think we maybe made the guitars a bit heavier on it there. That was recorded in 1980 or something like that – whereas we had the benefit of recording it with modern machinery. They did like it though.

saxonlive1_250xIf Biff Byford in the 80’s were to travel in a time machine and meet Biff Byford in the present day, what would he think about you now?
I don’t know about that. I would think I’ve put weight on, I’d imagine. (Laughs) He’d probably say “Woah! You’ve still got your hair!” (Much laughter)

So the Queen of England invites Saxon to do one song at a Royal Command Performance. What song would you do Her Majesty and why?
Never Surrender, that would be the one I think. Because it’s a great English sentiment – “Never Surrender.” And I’m sure she’d get off on that, because she’s not leaving, is she? She’s staying there! So that would be good.

What’s up next after this tour is over?
We basically do a rock cruise around the 25th of October and then we’re out with Motorhead in the Europe and UK.

Do you have any messages for Saxon fans out here?
Keep the faith! And thanks to everybody who came to see us in the U.S. We appreciate it! We’ve had some big crowds and some small crowds, but we just give in 100 percent anyway. It’s great! And thank you very much for buying the new album.

Saxon is:
Biff Byford – vocals
Paul Quinn – guitars
Nigel Glockler – drums
Nibbs Carter – bass
Doug Scarratt – guitars

(Interview and Biff Byford candid photo by Ken Morton – Live Photo by Jack Lue)

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