Saxon - Interview

Although lately we already had a fantastic interview with Biff Byford on MetalBite, I took the chance to chat with Nigel Glockler, their long-time drummer, once again. With Biff the focus was more on the music, Nigel and I talked more about some general Saxon topics and also about him. I guess this has become a very private interview in a way but  it was very interesting and we had much much fun doing this. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I did doing it!


Hi Nigel, nice to see you again! I hope everything's fine with you and the dinosaur?

Yes, all fine here, thanks!

How was the South American tour?

It was great, we did three weeks in South America. We played 4 shows in Brazil, and then we went to Argentina, then to Chile and to Columbia. And after that we did three shows in Mexico.

..and the last two shows you had Covid…

Yeah (laughs). When you're on the road you have to be so careful nowadays and with Covid it's going up again everywhere. I put a mask on all the time and even in Chile, they all were crazy to get their autographs and pictures – I don't know how they found that stuff out but they knew what flights were on, which hotels we were at, everything. So it wasn't like you put your arm around someone and take a picture, now it was you stand there and I stand here and once I had Covid I said, sorry I'm not taking my mask off for your own good.

Your new album "Hell, Fire and Damnation" was just released - what are your expectations?

We've had some great reviews for it. I'm very pleased with that. I think Andy Sneap has done a great job again with the production. It got some great sounds. I'm really happy with the album and the same with is the great reviews. It's great that people like it, that's just what it is all about.

So there will be some chart entries you think?

That would be nice, yeah (laughs).

So, what really happened in Roswell, Mr. Mulder?

Who knows! Are they ever gonna prove anything? It was just an interesting thing to write about, I guess.

Haha, yeah. For me as an X-Files fan this was a pretty cool title. So what do you think personally? I mean these days there are a lot of so-called disclosures and the UAPs are quite often in the media…

I don't know. I mean on one hand I think why should we be the only beings out here. The other thing is you see all these sort of camera shots from US fighter planes with these lights buzzing everywhere… There is a place here in Texas, I can't remember the name of it, but it is somewhere out in the desert and it's a well-known thing. There are some floating lights and they go to see them. I mean what the hell is that? I don't know.

So it's some kind of UFO hotspot?

Yeah, I don't know. I mean, look at the Area 51. We don't know what's going on there. Do they have an alien ship in there like in "Independence Day" (laughs)? All we've got to hope is that they're friendly, haha!! We don't want anything like in the book "War Of The Worlds", we don't need any of that like an invasion. It always reminds me of that Star Trek movie "First Contact" where they first meet the Vulcans. That's brilliant, haha!

So you're also into Star Trek?

Yes. Apparently they're working on a script for Star Trek 4. A lot of the actors have agreed to do it. And I love "Strange New Worlds". It's great. It's really good, the graphic is amazing. All the captions have their own thing, like Kirk says "take us out", Picard is like "make it so". Pike's one is "kick it" (laughs). And there is a scene where the guy that plays Spock is in the Captain's chair and they sort of look around him, waiting for him to say something and he just says "oh, make it go!" (laughs). It's brilliant.

You have a broad spectrum of historical topics – wouldn't have it been smarter just to focus on one or two topics because this hopping from The Battle Of Hastings in 1066 to French Revolution in 1789 and a lot of other stories like the Radio Luxembourg might be a little bit challenging for the people who are interested in the lyrics?

I mean the radio song is more a basic rock song really. It's a kind of  historical thing but not so much. But I know Biff likes writing about history. We got into that and for the last album we had songs like 'Pilgrimage' and stuff like that. We like historical stuff. It's whatever moves Biff when he is doing his lyrics. I think sometimes as well the music stirs him to make him think of something like that. Maybe the next album won't have so much history, who knows?

Biff said in the interview with Vladimir that he thinks that 'Madame Guillotine' has a pretty cool Alice Cooper-ish chorus – so is the title a little tribute to him? I mean he gets decapitated on stage and he chose his (female) name also to shock his parents….

I saw Alice Cooper actually on the Alice tour where he got hung (laughs). It was with the original band, it was great. But no, I think it's not a tribute to him. I think 'Madame Guillotine' is probably one of Biffs finest lyrics and probably my favorite song on the album. I love the groove of it and everything about it. What I find interesting is that Biff's singing it from he is Madame Guillotine. So it's Madame Guillotine singing to you, that's what I like about it. It's not like someone singing about her. It's an own personality.

When I read the album title announcement my first thought was that you checked my musical recommendations and go more into the black metal style, haha!! What is the intention behind that?

Haha, it's just the constant battle between good and evil. It's not, I bet you were sort of thinking of some death metal and every track is gonna be a 100 mph on the double bass. Quite finally enough the album is more groove-oriented than the previous two, actually. It has a lot more mid-tempo stuff which I actually like.

So this is the biggest difference to the previous albums, you'd say?

Yeah, I would say that definitely. From the rhythm section it's more groove-oriented. There's a couple of tracks that's rather on fire still with a 200 mph kick-drum but that's what we're known for anyway. But we're also known for straight-ahead rock. I love watching people in the audience when we play a song that night like 'Dogs Of War' which is a groove thing when the heads are going. I love watching it, it's great!

Although I also loved "Carpe Diem", but there were a lot of average reviews which I couldn't understand.

Well, I guess you can't please everyone all the time. The people that reviewed it preferred all that fast stuff, who knows. For me, all bias aside, it's a great album. And this one's a good follow-on from it.

So what would you say are the three strongest and the three weakest albums over the 46 years the band already exists?

Oh God, that's hard for me to say. I can only really go on how I feel about these sort of albums. A lot of people still love Power And The Glory. Productionwise with Jeff Glixman, that was a great album and for me it's got a special place in my heart because it was my first studio album with the band. So I felt I had a lot to prove to the fans, taking over from Pete Gill. So that's a very important album for me. Another album I love is Sacrifice. I think a lot of it has to do with the vibe when we were actually doing the album. We were having a great time, all the circumstances round – it sort of sticks in your memory which is a great thing. For me personally, Forever Free wasn't a particularly happy album around that time. Also the production could have been better. But people like the tracks on it and when we play any tracks from that live, they're still as powerful as anything else. It's like comparing the production of Crusader to Power And The Glory. I mean Power And The Glory smokes Crusader productionwise, I think. People have said that it's not as heavy as Power And The Glory but then again, when we play a song like Crusader, that is as heavy as anything when we do it live.

Early spring you are going on tour together with Uriah Heep and Judas Priest in Europe. Whom are you looking forward to meeting more?

Both! I said in another interview that Heep was the third ever gig I went to. I think it was either on the "Demons And Wizards" or "The Magician's Birthday" tour. I loved it. I bought their first album when it came out and I bought all the albums. As soon as they brought an album out I had it. I love them!

And you're going on tour with Uriah Heep in the USA.

Yes, it's going to be a co-headlining thing in some cities. When they're stronger, they're headlining, in other cities when we're stronger, we headline. The thing is that we're going to play the same length sets. About opening bands, I don't know. At the moment it seems that it's just gonna be us two but I can imagine there probably can be some local bands on in front I guess. I don't know, we have to see. I'm really looking forward to that because we've known them for a long time and they're great guys.

Can we expect some surprises concerning the set list?

You just have to wait and see! People are asking me what are you going to play and I always say "I'm not gonna tell you!". It's a surprise. I find it really annoying actually with social media someone who comes to the first gig puts the set list up. There is no surprise for people. It was the last tour where we had a section where we had a choice of three or four songs. Biff would say to the audience which one they want to hear and the one which got the loudest cheer we played. Sometimes we played all three of them. But we have to think again with this, particularly with Priest because both bands have limited time. So we gotta play some songs that people expect and we've gotta play some songs from the new album and then we'll see what just fits in. We're not sort of against changing things up in the middle of the set so who knows?

Is there a song that you would like to play live but haven't done for eons?

Not that we're gonna play it but the song I always used to enjoy playing was 'Iron Wheels'. I mean, there's a lot. Sometimes it's really refreshing to bring something else to the vault. We might play around with the arrangement a little bit but now that we have got Brian in the band as well we cannot inflict some kind of "you gotta learn these 40 songs"! (laughs).

Haha, I remember talking to Phil Demmel who told me that when he had to play with Slayer on their final tour he had to learn all the songs within one week.

The same thing happened to me when I first joined Saxon. I went and had a blast with them on a Sunday. Because I was doing a lot of sessions that time they thought I could learn things quickly. So the first time I played with them was that Sunday at the rehearsal place and the first gig was on Wednesday. Haha!! I took a lot of notes and so I had basically two days to learn the whole setting. It was a nightmare. I had this book alongside on a little table with a light on it constantly looking at it. The initial thing was I was gonna be with them for a week just to help them out. They had this other drummer that auditioned for them and the idea was that I would do the week and he would sit behind me and learn the songs while I was playing them. So he'd have another week to play them. After the first gig they sent him off (laughs). The manager said: "No, don ́t bother, but we're gonna keep Nigel". Not that I knew about it, I was wondering where he was. So we continued the tour and then Biff threw my book away (laughs).

Last question is a very personal one – you had a brain aneurysm 10 years ago, is everything still fine with that?

Yeah, everything's cool. I mean that brain aneurysm was a very frightening thing at that time. The actual surgeon told Gina, my wife, to prepare for the worst, that I might not come out of there alive. But I feel very lucky. We've discussed this. Gina is in the candle business and she did this candle for cool heavy metal drummer and which has this picture of me on the box from "Crusader" days. The thing we decided was that the actress, Emilia Clarke from "Game Of Thrones" who also had a brain aneurysm and started a charity, would get all the proceeds to go to her charity, too because she had the same thing as me. So there's a little bug – buy a Nigel candle, come on (laughs)!! But I was very lucky. I had to have two operations and in the end they went through my skull. They tried to do it through the vein but they couldn't get to the thing. I invited the surgeon next time we were in the town to come to the gig. So he came down and said to me that I was a freak because he was expecting that if I survived first of all, it would take me 18 months to two years before I could play drums again. I was back on tour again within three or four months. So it's no lasting thing, thank God.

The last words are yours!

We're really looking forward to this tour and to Priest. We love Priest. Go out and buy the new album, you'll love it, just with that name (laughs). Get what Michael said, we're not gonna sound like some Norwegian black metal band and as I always say – thank you to all the fans because it's you that put us where we are! We never forget that, we always appreciate that. Thank you!

Entered: 3/6/2024 4:21:03 PM

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