SAXON Frontman: ‘I Like Writing Music, Not Rehashing Old Stuff’

Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden’s Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with vocalist Biff Byford of British heavy metal legends SAXON. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metalshrine: Did you produce [the new SAXON album, “Sacrifice”] and Andy Sneap mixed it?

Biff: Yeah, I produced it myself and Andy mixed it. It’s a vindication of my production.

Metalshrine: Right. It was never the plan for Andy to produce it?

Biff: No, no, never. It was me producing. Andy‘s a great mix engineer anyway, and I know he works a bit more with ACCEPT, but not with SAXON. He might produce the next album. Who knows? Nothing’s carved in stone. I just wanted to do it myself this time. I’ve co-produced a lot of albums and I just wanted to do it myself.

Metalshrine: I read that you were kind of thinking of perhaps doing a solo album. Is that a serious idea?

Biff: Well, it’s just me thinking of what to do next, really. It depends on the rest of the guys. We’re gonna be touring pretty hard this year and we worked really hard on the album last year. I don’t want to sort of drag the band into another album really quickly so… You know, I’m always working, so it’s no big deal for me to write ten songs and if they will end up on the next SAXON album or on some other project, I don’t know.

Metalshrine: You also said that you kinda wanted to get that “747” and “Wheels Of Steel” kinda sound?

Biff: Well, I just suggested that that’s maybe the type of songs I would go to write on. Not really a sound, but a song style, because we’ve become quite heavy in the last ten or twelve years, so it might be nice to go back and be more melodic rock.

Metalshrine: I was thinking that bands like KISS and VAN HALEN have both gone for more of that vintage sound. Is that something you’d consider?

Biff: Probably not. [laughs] I like writing music, not rehashing old stuff. We do re-record stuff, but that’s mostly for fun really and for fans. For our fans to listen to our songs in different formats, really. With this album, I wanted to bring the power of our sound. I didn’t want the album to be overproduced in terms of slick harmonies and choirs and keyboards. I wanted it to be an intense SAXON experience. A couple of songs are more thrashy rock — you know what I mean? — like “Motorcycle Man” and “To Hell And Back Again”. More sort of thrashy music, really.

Metalshrine: My first thought after listening to it was that it’s really heavy.

Biff: Yeah and I brought back a live element to the album and live we’re very heavy. There’s no ballad on this album either. We don’t really have a relaxing track, if you know what I mean. On the last album, we had a couple of slow songs on there, but this one there’s no real let-up. It’s just full-on.

Metalshrine: After all these years and all the albums, you’re voice is still pretty amazing live. Other singers who’s been doing it for just as long are struggling with their voices. How do you keep your voice in shape?

Biff: I don’t really. To tell you the truth, I don’t really keep it in shape. For a start, I don’t drink spirits because that can really burn your throat. If I get shitfaced and I tend to go shitfaced on wine or something like that… and I stopped smoking some 20-odd years ago and I don’t really do anything. I’m just aware of that I have a voice and I suppose that helps.

Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.

“Sacrifice” (song) video:

“Sacrifice” EPK (Electronic Press Kit):