INTERVJU: Biff Byford från Saxon

Saxon spelade på Skogsröjet och vi passade på att ta oss ett litet snack med legendariske Biff.  En gnutta nytt om kommande albumet “Thunderbolt”, men även lite om hans skoltid och hur han upptäckte sin sångröst:

“I used to sing in the factories where I worked because it was really fucking loud, so I could sing at full volume and just sing any old crap that came into my head. I think I found my voice in the weaving sheds of England. It´s a good quote that. It´s a good one.”


Any more news you can tell us regarding ”Thunderbolt”? Last time we talked you mentioned the possibility of using something from Lemmy on the track “They played rock and roll”?

Yeah, something of one of his sayings yeah, that would be cool. We´re still planning to do that. I can´t really tell you anymore. (laughs) I´ve already told you enough. We´re finishing it in September.

How many songs altogether? 10, 12?

Well, we´re going for quality and not quantity. It could be 10, I think. I will tell you this. We´ve rerecorded a version of “Back on the streets” (Innocence is no excuse, 1985) and it´s gonna be in a film, like a comedy/horror film. We might put that on the album as a bonus with a video that they´re gonna do for us, so that might be cool. It depends on when the film comes out. We´re thinking of something like… if you´ve got a code and then the film came out, you could activate it and get the video. You can do that now. (laughs) We´re thinking about maybe that, you know.

I love that song and it´s always been a personal favorite.

Yeah, it´s a great song and we haven´t done it for years and they´ve asked us to play it at their wrap party, so we might do that and have a bit of fun. We are quite busy. That album was quite big in Sweden and probably the biggest in Sweden than anywhere.

That tour was my first show. I remember I lost my tourbook in the crowd.

Aaah, but you can get them online.

I know, but they´re expensive.

They are expensive, yes, and especially that one.

Way back when you started out singing, what singers did you look up to?

I used to be a bass player and I was just doing backing vocals, but I liked a lot of the American singers. I just like singers generally and they don´t have to be rock singers. I quite liked the early Uriah Heep and Led Zeppelin stuff and I quite liked Glenn Hughes´ work with Trapeze. I liked that style he was singing back then. A few of those type of guys, you know. I liked a few American bands as well. I liked Mountain. Then two guys could sing, Felix Pappalardi (1939-1983) and Leslie West. ZZ Top I liked. From those, I learned how to write… it´s important to write a great hook lyric and a melody and I think I learnt it off those guys.

How old were you when you discovered that you could sing?

I would say 16-17. I was playing in a little band.

Did you ever take professional singing lessons?

No. I used to sing in the factories where I worked because it was really fucking loud, so I could sing at full volume and just sing any old crap that came into my head. I think I found my voice in the weaving sheds of England. It´s a good quote that. It´s a good one. I like that one. (laughs)

Since I´m a teacher, I kinda wonder how you were in school?

I was a pretty quiet guy at school. I had my moments, if you know what I mean, but I didn´t really bother much really until the last year and then I was pretty god actually. I was topping music, history and geography, but I was fucking probably bottom in maths. A lot of it is down to the teachers and the maths teacher was particularly brutal, but the other guys were very interesting and would engage you and I got a feeling for history then, and for music. The guy used to bring in electric guitars for us to try them, so he was a pretty forward thinking guy. I sang in the choir.

How long did you stay in school?

I went until I was 16, so for the last two years I think I was pretty alright at school.

Did you ever wish you´d stayed in school and gotten a higher education?

I don´t think so, no, because my son is a musician now and he´s been to some great schools and he´s the same as me. Couldn´t give a shit, just wants to play music. There´s no point unless you´re academic and that´s what you wanna do. My daughter might be a teacher. I don´t really think she wants to be a teacher, but she´s really good at it. We´ll see. He (son) got the bug and he doesn´t wanna do anything else, that´s the problem.

What was it about history that interested you?

It´s really interesting if somebody´s telling you and engaging you in it. We would go on field trips to where the battles were and stuff. In England you can live for 100 years and still not see everything.

You´ve toured the US so many times. Do you see that the country has changed throughout those years?

In many ways it has, but it´s still… it´s a brilliant place, especially for rock and roll. I lived there for a few years and people are really nice, but there´s this undercurrent of… at 21 you can drink, but you can join the army at 17. There´s conflicting things there, you know what I mean? I don´t think that has changed much, but it is what it is. It´s a huge huge country and it´s a powerhouse. The people are proud to live there, just like we are here. I like America. It´s changed a bit… I mean… it´s changed from the 80´s because in the 80´s it was all rock and roll radio. There are a few still out there, but mostly it´s Top 40 now or sort of classic rock where they just play the hits, which is fine. We get played quite a bit. There´s not a lot of stations where you can go and visit. Every town had a radio station in the 80´s.

Did you live there in the 80´s?

Yeah and I had an American wife back then. We lived in upstate New York.

Did you ever think you´d stay there?

Not really. We´re like Vikings aren´t we, the English? We go off and settle places and the come back. It´s in our blood really, same as it´s in the Scandinavian blood.

Do you miss those days in the 80´s?

Nah, I don´t really miss the days because things have moved on. We´re not a band that´s stuck in the 80´s like some bands are and they´ve got a lot of regrets. We don´t have any regrets. You only have to listen to our albums how they´ve changed over the years and progressed. So no, we don´t miss those days. In some ways they were fantastic and in other ways it´s better now.

Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen

Foto: Therés Stephansdotter Björk