Saxon is one of the old guard bands in the NWOBHM, still going strong, touring and putting out material. For this reason, these veterans after a sad and weak covers album “Inspirations” (2021), present a new work entitled “Carpe Diem” which means “live in the moment” and surely Saxon is doing it today. “Carpe Diem” has a duration of approximately 45 minutes that is divided into 10 songs and is available under the Silver Lining Music label, a cover that is not very pretty, but musically it complies with delivering his best work of the last 22 years. On the occasion of this release, we were able to interview its legendary vocalist Biff Byford who talks to us about this latest album and other topics related to music.
Para leer la entrevista en español: Entrevista a Saxon
Metallerium: Welcome to Metallerium website Mr. Biff Byford! We want to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions about the band, the new album “Carpe Diem” and other things about the Metal scene. It is an honor for us. First of all, how have you been? How has the band been during these complicated times?
Saxon: Hi Metallerium! We’ve kept busy at the studio and now the live scene, especially in the UK, seems to be getting back on its feet after Covid, so we are doing well… all things considering.
Metallerium: You released “Carpe Diem” on February 4th. How are you feeling about this release in comparison with the times when you released your first studio album?
Saxon: It’s hard to compare really. It was a different time then, the music industry was different, and everything was different. Carpe Diem was a difficult album because of all the conditions surrounding the band and the pandemic.
Metallerium: How are you feeling with fans and media reaction until now?
Saxon: Really pleased with the reaction overall, we’re getting great reviews and fans seem to love the album, we are very proud of what we have achieved.
Metallerium: When did you begin to work on this new album? How was the experience of composing and recording an album in the middle of this pandemic?
Saxon: We started writing the album in 2019, our original plan was to release it in 2020 and go on the road to promote it. Nigel was able to record the drums in Germany before all the lockdowns happened… Guitars were done later at Andy Sneap’s studio… I couldn’t sing for months after my heart operation, talking was difficult too and when Covid hit, we decided to postpone the release of the album till we could tour again. I guess that gave me and the band the extra time to work more on the songs. It’s a very intense album, it was a difficult period for the band, for everyone really.
Metallerium: Also, why did you choose “Carpe Diem” as the album's name?
Saxon: It came from a trip I took with my wife after being at the hospital, we went to see the Hadrian Wall here in the north of England, there is still some of the original wall left and they restored some parts. They have this quote everywhere “Carpe Diem”, apparently, it’s what the Romans used to say when greeting one another… and I thought “that’s a very powerful thing to say… Seize the day! Live to the fullest”. I felt it was quite appropriate as the album title.
Metallerium: I listened to the album and I like it a lot! How can you keep your voice after more than 40 years with the band?
Saxon: What works for me is keeping my voice trained, it’s like a muscle and just like any other muscle, it needs training and care. If you don’t make it work, you lose it.
Metallerium: In addition to the previous question. What is the key to preserving the energy in your compositions?
Saxon: We try to put a lot of energy into the music, we’ve always been a bit edgy that way and when we're writing, we're trying to write songs that are exciting to listen to but also that bring excitement to the fans when played live.
Metallerium: What are your plans after releasing the album? Are there chances for going on a tour? What do you think about streaming shows as an alternative when touring is not possible?
Saxon: We’re going to be quite busy this year, there are a lot of European festivals and then we’re on the road with the “Seize the Day World Tour” promoting the album. We hope, like everyone really, to be able to do it all with the pandemic and all.
Metallerium: After more than 40 years with the band and more than 20 studio albums. How do you choose the setlist when you have to go on a tour? I am curious, can you remember most of your songs? Is there any song you are tired of playing?
Saxon: It’s really difficult to choose, especially if it’s not our headline shows. We recently did the 40th Anniversary shows in the UK, which we had to reschedule several times since 2019, where we played as many of the classics spanning 40 years...it’s tough. When we’re supporting a new album, it’s about 50/50 new and old material, but we’re switching things around here and there, to keep it exciting for the fans.
Metallerium: As an experienced musician. Do you still have time to listen to new bands or music? How do you see the Metal scene nowadays?
Saxon: It’s different now because there are a lot of different genres and subgenres these days, all different types of metal which we didn’t have back in the days. I like a lot of the more modern stuff. I think it’s cool to still have young guys starting a band, trying something new, bringing something together, and maybe getting a million people following them... I think that’s great!
Metallerium: Nowadays, we can still find young bands with the NWOBHM sound. What do you think about the legacy and impact that bands like Saxon have until now in young bands?
Saxon: Yeah, we played a big part in starting the NWOBHM movement, it traveled around the world and is still quite influential these days; that’s some good legacy for Saxon
Metallerium: In all these years, you have seen and experienced how the music industry changed. What do you think about the importance of digital platforms in the music industry now?
Saxon: I think it's good for young bands with younger audiences; it was a very messy change for the industry when the digital came about, but we have to have both: physical and streaming. A lot of Saxon fans prefer to buy the physical product, as they do with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and other bands.
Metallerium: On the other side there are some contradictions, on one side we have people that focus more on singles than complete albums and on the other side we can see that people are buying more vinyls as physical editions of albums. What do you think about it? And what can we do in order to encourage people to listen to complete albums instead of just singles?
Saxon: People love vinyl! It’s got a different sound really; I think a lot of people still appreciate the needle to vinyl. For us, it’s about the album, but you have to write very good songs, an album packed with great songs.
Metallerium: Before we finish. Any memories you want to share from your tours in Latin America? Have you had the chance to listen to bands from this part of the world?
Saxon: We always had an insanely great time playing there! We hope to be back soon!
Metallerium: Is there anything you want to say to your fans in Latin America?
Saxon: See you on the road and remember: Seize the Day!... & Never Surrender either!
Metallerium: Again, thanks a lot for your time, and congratulations on the album! all the best to you and Saxon!
Saxon: We’re really pleased with the way the album turned out and very proud of all the great comments and reviews! Thank you for your time and keep the faith!