What were you doing before Saxon?
I was in another band with our guitarist Paul Quinn, I was in a band called Coast and I was in a band called Son of a Bitch. So, yeah…pretty much before that I was playing in a blues band actually. Pretty much been into music since I was like, fifteen.
I know Saxon technically was called Son of a Bitch, where did that come from? Who named it that?
I have no idea actually. It was in the punk days when we were called Son of a Bitch, in the like late 70’s. I think we must have thought it was a bit punky so we could compete with the punk bands. It was just a name at the time.
And where did Saxon come from? What made you change the name?
When we got signed the record company said we can’t have the name, that the Americans wouldn’t like it. So we changed our name. And they came up with the name, actually.
Yeah! They came up with the name- they wanted to call us Anglo Saxon but we didn’t like that. We quite liked Saxon and there you go.
It just stuck.
Some friends of ours did the original logo, too.
Saxon is also regarded as some of the leaders in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. When did you guys first play in the US?
We played with Rush in 1981. It was our first tour, and then we played various shows around. We did the famous one at the Whiskey A Go-Go with Metallica supporting us, you know, I think that was ’81 or maybe ’82. We did quite a lot of show in ’81…we didn’t come in ’80, we were massive in Europe at that time so we concentrated on Europe. But when we came, we came about the same time Maiden did, actually.
And in general, but more focusing on the 80’s, what was more important to the band- recording and getting music out or touring?
Well in the 80’s it was really really crazy. We were in the studio all the time; we seemed to live in the studio. We liked touring better, getting out there and meeting people.
So you liked touring better, but which one do you feel was more important?
Probably the studio, at that time, was more important I think. But you know, we just liked to go out and tour, definitely.
And ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ was supposed to be released as a double live record but it was ultimately only released as a single live. Why did that happen?
Which is that…the live album?
Yeah I don’t know what happened with that. Maybe the French ran out of plastic, I don’t know what happened. It was supposed to be a double album but it ended up being a single album…I don’t know why. We were always going to release a part two, which we did later on, but it sort of never appeared for some reason. I don’t know why.
And ‘Crusader’ is said to be your first like, commercial, record. Do you feel that it’s your first commercial record?
Yeah, yeah. ‘Crusader’ was our first headline tour of America, and we had Accept supporting us and a band called Heavy Petting. So yeah, it was very successful. We did big shows. After that it sort of seemed to go a bit weird but I think that was our strongest period.
Was it written in the sense that it was going to be more commercial or was it just received that way?
I don’t think so, it’s just I think that we made a lot of records very quickly. You know, like four records in maybe two years- two and a half years. We were probably just changing a little bit and looking for different ideas, on that album there’s a mixture- there’s a ballad on there that we don’t usually play. You know at that time we hadn’t played very many ballads. ‘Crusader’, obviously, is the killer track on the album I think. But yeah, it was a little bit more commercial but not too far away I don’t think.
And I read that in the 80’s your fans kind of split a little bit because of you got a little more commercial or whatever happened.
A lot of our hardcore fans, you know, went off to be a fan of somebody else.
What was your reaction to that?
To tell you the truth we didn’t really know at the time.
That it was happening?
Yeah, that it was happening. Having said that, the album after that ‘Innocence is No Excuse’ is probably a bit more commercial, that was a big album as well. Maybe our fan base was changing with our music, but in retrospect it’s probably not a great thing. But you can never…you know, you follow a path. Doors open and close, so you don’t know where you’re gonna go. So as far as I’m concerned I felt that the albums were a little bit out of our control so in the late 90’s we took back control of the band, musically. And since then we have not really looked back. But that late 80’s period wasn’t a great time- for anybody, really, I don’t think.
You guys have got a ton of albums in your repertoire but which one stands out to you as your favorite and your least favorite?
‘Battering Ram’ is a great album. That is a great album. People are buying it, downloading it- so yeah, I think the quality of album we’ve been releasing for the last five years has been excellent. I can’t really pick one. I mean ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Call to Arms’, ‘Battering Ram’, ‘Lionheart’- they’re all great albums, really. We’ve got great songs on there, people are disappointed and we like to keep it, I like to keep it exciting. I don’t want it to be boring or laid back or self-indulgent, you know what I mean? I want it to be on the edge, I push the guys really hard.
And going back to how you have so many records, was there ever one you felt rushed writing? Because I know back in the 80’s you really had to get albums out in this amount of time when you were in record deals.
I think we felt very rushed in the first two years. We had ‘Wheels of Steel’, ‘Strong Arm of the Law’ and ‘Denim and Leather’ within a year period which you know, is very fast. It’s massively great material, so I think we sort of burnt ourselves out a bit there. But yeah, I mean they’re still great albums and they still stand the test of time.
And you’re touring the US now with UFO, and what are you planning to do after this?
We go straight back, we’ve got a few weeks off in the studio. Well not off, but off the road, finishing our new album. And then we’re straight out on festivals, so every weekend we’ve got a big festival.
In Europe, yeah. There might be plans for coming back in late September or October.
On your own?
Maybe with UFO. We like the package, people like it. The gigs are selling out, so people are coming out to see the package. It’s good. UFO are like 70’s and we’re from ’79 through the 80’s so it’s like the natural progression. I think we’re a bit edgier than UFO but I love UFO, they’re one of my favorite bands.
Were you a fan of them?
Back in the day- yeah. I still am a fan of them.
And when can we expect to hear new music from you?
2018, in January. And we’ll be starting a world tour again.