Rocking At Las Rageous with Saxon
Las Rageous took place over a two day period in Downtown Las Vegas, featuring the touring package of Judas Priest, Saxon, and Black Star Riders on a hard rocking Saturday night. Prior to their standout set at Las Rageous, Doug Scarratt, longtime guitarist of Saxon sat down with Highwire Daze Online for an all encompass interview. Starting with the Saxon in 1995 with the Unleash The Beast album, Scarratt’s tenure includes such masterworks as Metalhead, Lionheart, Sacrifice, Battering Ram, and the latest and greatest Thunderbolt! In this chat, Scarratt shares his thoughts of Saxon’s participation with what would be Motorhead’s final tour, recent road trips with UFO, discusses the success of the brand new Thunderbolt magnum opus, and a whole lot more! Read on as we hang out backstage with the one and only Doug Scarratt of Saxon…
How has this tour with Judas Priest been going and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s a fantastic tour. It’s such a great package. Great metal package. Black Star Riders, Saxon, Judas Priest just works.
What do you think of the first album you did with Saxon in retrospect, Unleash The Beast?
It was a great moment for me, the release of that album. Because obviously that was the first album I wrote with the guys and I was the new boy. If it hadn’t been well received, it could have not worked out so well. I still think it’s a great album, I still feel pretty proud of that record. I know a lot of people love that album. It was great for me. That was my feeling part of the band.
You are the newest member of Saxon since 1995. How did you wind up in Saxon and what were you doing prior?
I was basically a session musician. I also as friends with Nigel (Glocker) and we both live in the same town, so it was a phone call one day. We were good friends. Nigel used to come and see me play in other bands sometimes and we like the same kind of music, so it was random. He just rung me. He rung me the end of 1994 to say there’s a guitar player gig in Saxon and was I interested in trying out. That was it. That’s where it all started.
What did you think of the second album you were on, Metalhead, and that overall era for Saxon?
We weren’t as popular then. We were still kind of climbing – well we were in Europe, but we were still climbing back up again. I loved making the Metalhead album. I kind of pictured, as a move on from Dogs of War, and Unleash the Beast, I imagined Saxon getting heavier and so did Biff (Byford). So we connected pretty well with that record because we had the same idea: let’s make a slightly darker more heavier album. It was a lot of fun, really good.
How do you think Thunderbolt compares to the previous Saxon releases?
It’s difficult when you’re close to an album. Personally I think it’s fairly similar to what we’ve done before, but it seems to be more popular. I’m not really sure why, I’m very happy that it is – I think it’s a great album that’s got some great songs, but then I think the last few albums have. I don’t know whether it’s better than the others or not but I’m very happy that it’s more popular.
You have a song on there called They Played Rock and Roll dedicated to Lemmy. First, what were some of the highlights of being on that final Motorhead tour?
It was quite an emotional ride because obviously everyone knows that Lem was not well and struggling. Some nights we weren’t sure if he was going to make it or not, and it was sad because he really wanted to be on stage every day. Some days he just couldn’t do it. It was an exciting tour. It was a great tour and then there was a point at the end of the European leg where Phil got sick, and they had to move a couple of shows. Me and Paul (Quinn) were rehearsing with Motorhead, actually, for maybe covering one of the show. But it didn’t come to that in the end. I was quite happy that – they were soundchecking and Phil wasn’t back from hospital so I basically did soundcheck with him. That was a pretty cool moment for me, actually. I knew Phil was on his way back and it was just scary because everyone thought Lem might not make it and then Phil got sick – it was a crazy tour. Like, what will happen next? It was a really great tour and we were really proud to have been on what was the last ever Motorhead tour. It was important to us.
Any personal Lemmy favorite memory?
He’s just a funny guy. He made so many just – cool comments that he didn’t even think about, they just fell out of his mouth. I like the interview with Biff and Lemmy, actually, they’re both talking and Biff says to the fans “keep the faith.” Lemmy just says, “yeah you can keep mine, I’m not using it.” He was full of stuff like that. It’s sad that he’s gone. He did great. People died a lot younger than that with a lot less abuse to their bodies than he did. He’s the real deal.
You have another song on the album called Predator, have you had a chance to perform that with Johan from Amon Amarth yet?
No, actually, Nibs (Carter) has been doing his vocal – because we’ve done quite a few headline shows on this tour when we’re not doing the Priest shows. We play that song, we played it last night actually.
You also concluded a recent tour with UFO. How did that go?
It was great. It was really good. \It was a good tour. And it put both bands in front of more people, and we had fun with UFO. They’re great guys and we really love their music. It was cool.
Your side project Madmen and English Dogs with Nigel. Any chance of a sequel?
Yeah, we talk about it. We’re so busy with Saxon that there’s so little downtime to work on it, and Nigel now lives in Texas. I still live in Brighton, England. We do talk about it. We would like to do it, but if the chance comes up then we probably will but we need to find some space.
To you, what is the most underrated Saxon album?
Oh that’s difficult, I can’t really answer that. The earlier albums, I don’t know – I know them pretty well but I don’t know them that well so I don’t know their history as how popular they were. Saxon went through a period of being a bit more AOR. Which I guess some fans didn’t like but I think they’re still great songs on those albums. You can’t help but be influenced by the music that is around you and the music you like sometimes. Some people think Saxon went off the rails at that point but personally I just think they were being influenced by Rock Music that was happening at the time, and for me, that’s not a bad thing.
What’s up next for Saxon after this tour is over?
More touring. The rest of the year is pretty full. Next year I think we’re doing a 40th anniversary tour, so just more touring really.
Biff Byford – lead vocals
Paul Quinn – guitar
Doug Scarratt – guitar
Nibbs Carter – bass
Nigel Glockler – drums
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)