Saxon interview (09/2007)
|With:||Tim "Nibbs" Carter|
|Conducted by:||Baz Anderson (in person)|
After a quite frankly epic bus journey from wet and miserable England to scorching hot, sunny Wacken - duty called literally two minutes after I arrived at the camp site, and I was off to the press tent to catch an interview with my home-town compatriot Nibbs from the legendary Saxon. This is how it turned out.
Barry: Hello again
Nibbs: Alright Barry, how are you doing?
Barry: Quite fine thank you. So Saxon have been quite busy over the last year or so with the release of "The Inner Sanctum" and everything, and you did the Channel 4 documentary - do you want to explain what that was about for the people that didn't get to see it.
Nibbs: Well for people that didn't get to watch it, it's a collaboration with Saxon between Channel 4 and a TV company called Ten Alps Productions, which is one of Bob Geldof's ventures, and it was Harvey Goldsmith that wanted to make some series something to do with, you know, fulfilling the... potential of all sorts of entertainment schemes or theatre productions or bands, you know like us, and what he did was ask us if we wanted to do it and I was quite excited you know "that sounds like fun" and we got together with like a film crew, introduced themselves to us - and at that time we was half way through writing "The Inner Sanctum", this was last June I think it was, and they came up to wherever we were recording it and, the demos and running through pre-production and recording and we were supposed to record at the end of September or something like that, so we were pretty... we weren't ready with the album at all, we were half way through with film crews following your every move - it sounds like "oh wow! big style you, get a crew following your every move, that's really cool" but it actually gets in the way quite a bit and you know we don't have that sort of thing following us around all the time - you can't really be yourself unless you have to find like a character or something where you can carry on working with the music and be what people want you to be on TV - well people often day "just be yourself" but when people say to you "oh that was really cool, you were just arguing and taking the piss out of each other, can you do it again please?" - we didn't quite get that you know. Then it's like "oh are you being stupid or what", we don't argue for fun, it just happens, so it got in the way quite a bit actually - but what it was in the end was Harvey Goldsmith using his entrepreneurial skills to say "go and visit a stylist" or "go and see some producers that might give you an edge or a different direction or something" but in the end you know we went through like all these procedures and got together with some producers and a stylist, all that kinda thing, but if you listen to the mix we made of "...Sanctum" we made before and after there's not much difference really, the sound is different on Biff's vocals, I suppose they roughed his vocals up a bit, you know distorted it a little bit, stuff like that, but you know as far as image goes they probably made us look like we'd had a wash or something...
Barry: Did you think that Saxon needed the help at that moment after "Lionheart", or was it something to just raise a bit of interest?
Nibbs: Yeh, it was just to raise a bit of interest more than anything else, I mean in this game if nobody sees you on TV, you know if it's not a video of your latest song, or if you haven't just had a fight and knocked the singer out or we have a car crash or something like that, you know, that's the way I looked at it anyway, this guy Harvey wanted to do a TV show where he gets his face on TV and we'd have a go as well, it's part of the game really. It was a bit busy for us, we didn't completely feel comfortable about it, after a month or two after it got going we was like "oh shit, what are we doing? they are really in our faces and we just want to get our record finished" but in one way it helped, because we didn't have much time to think about what we were doing with the writing or whatever, but the thing was, you know when you're pressured and you start doing your demos really quick, that's often how it is when you start out, you know you haven't got all this money and loads of time to pay for a studio, so you do your demos as quick as possible so you can release it - so actually I think the record has been good for that with some rough attitudes...
Barry: Staying true to British heavy metal as well, because they were trying to change it to more mainstream, more commercial, pop-friendly you know, but Biff didn't want any of that, haha.
Nibbs: Yeh, if you haven't seen the documentary, then our singer Biff - he... he listened to what Harvey Goldsmith had to say, you know his opinions and stuff and if Biff didn't like it Biff would tell him straight away "fuck off" - you know "I appreciate your history and your track record, but we are who we are - work with it or piss off" you know.
Barry: So how important to you is it to keep true British heavy metal alive?
Nibbs: British heavy metal alive... it's always alive, I mean it's not one of those things were like... it hasn't got a human lifespan or anything, it just comes out of 1978, '79, '80, '81, '82, what-have-you, and there it is, you can't get rid of it, you know it's music that just stays, like if a million people around that time got into it then it just spreads through generations, it doesn't have like one generation of a lifespan, it goes on for ages. The good thing now is that you can share tracks so easily around the planet, you know it spreads, there's probably been such a surge in interest in metal because it is so easy to share tracks.
Barry: It was the early 90's where heavy metal became less and less popular and there was some less popular Saxon albums and whatever, the new one, "Lionheart", "Killing Ground" and "Metalhead" seem to have brought heavy metal back up to the forefront of people's minds.
Nibbs: I reckon it's something a bit more, something to do with the internet, that you can just share things without having to rely on any other sources - someone would tell you about a band and you just check it out straight away, get some mp3s of somebody or whatever, and then go out and buy it.
Barry: To me the new album seems darker, it seems more polished and more of a complete album all together than "Lionheart", is this how Saxon are going to progress in the future?
Nibbs: I don't know, you could probably say that we planned about 60% of that, but it's not a plan of "let make it polished" it's often time pressure or time limitations often that determine what an album will sound like, and with this one, we were a little distracted with the TV thing, I think we probably had a different mentality towards like listening to what we'd done, you know you'd listen to it "oh lets get to that, lets change that" - "actually no, leave it, let's live with it for a few more days" actually I think we became a bit more relaxed about what we were doing - I think in my opinion "Lionheart", it's just too much, it's got some great tracks on it but it goes up its own arse a little bit, too complicated, too deep, some tracks really turn out well having lots of attention put into them, like the title track "Lionheart", it's a great track, but it's a bit too posh for me.
Barry: Yeh, this is Saxon's fifth time back at Wacken now, how does it feel to be back again, you must enjoy coming here.
Nibbs: Yeh, I'm happy that we're doing the Thursday because it looks like we're not being pushed as one of the main headline bands...
Barry: Saxon, Saxon, Saxon... [reading all the posters around the room with a big Saxon logo on them] it says Saxon all around
Nibbs: Yeh, but if you look say at the Wacken posters, Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, In Flames, there's a little Saxon there on the left, even though we are among all these great bands we're not being pushed as "wow, it's Saxon!"
Barry: You've got the longest set out of any of the bands at the festival though, you've got two hours.
Nibbs: Ok you got me, I'll shut up.
Nibbs: No, it feels brilliant actually, like I was talking to Nige[l], our drummer yesterday, he was saying like "oh we've only got two or three bands playing with us today, it's a shame we haven't got like In Flames or Blind Guardian playing with us - that would be great for the crowd, and I said "come on - these people have been waiting a year to come to Wacken, they've been waiting outside in the camp sites since Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and it's been pissing it down, now the suns come out and they're really waiting to party like crazy, and they're going to come in and they're just going to go wild. Doing it on the Thursday is brilliant, you get in there and... I was up until three this morning with the light guy, checking out how he's going to do the lights - he's been at it four or five weeks, just on the set, the set that we've put together, I think he want to bed at six this morning, still doing lights - it's great, it's great to be here though. It sold out already like six weeks ago or something - 'Maiden are coming next year, I think they've already sold six thousand tickets or something.
Barry: You've been in the band now pretty much as long as I have been alive, what is your favourite album that you have been on?
Nibbs: This one probably so far is turning out to be my favourite one because we was pretty relaxed about the writing, now we are touring and it's pretty chaotic... but in the end we relaxed and let it turn into a record on its own instead of trying to manufacture it ourselves, we just sort of let it develop so the record itself is a bit more true to like how we write. We've already been on tour and it's been pretty good, we've been in England already and all of those gigs were great, so I would say this record is the best for me so far.
Barry: So do you have any more plans for the future, any more tours or albums or DVDs or anything?
Nibbs: There's going to be a DVD but I can't tell you when the release date is going to be, any live gigs we've filmed over the last two years, maybe a couple of bonus tracks, stuff like that, we've not really done this sort of thing over the last fifteen years, so yeh "To Hell And Back Again" as it's going to be called. We've not been to America, we haven't been to the far east in a while so we're going to make sure we get to Japan, Korea, Australia, America, North America and then probably back into England again, and yeh a new album as well.
Barry: On the last tour you played most songs from the first four or five albums and then the last two albums, so what about the stuff in the middle?
Nibbs: Which albums are you talking about?
Barry: Albums in the middle, before "Solid Ball Of Rock", after "Crusader"
Nibbs: Oh ok, so like the late 80's... yeh, good question. "Rock The Nations", "Innocence Is No Excuse", "Destiny" - from "Destiny" we only ever played "Ride Like The Wind", that goes really well in Latin territories, places like that, countries they wonder why on earth you play there but that goes really well. I think just we put them songs every now and then in the set, "Rock The Nations" itself we like to play, we haven't done that for about four years, if you go back four years you will find we did play "Rock The Nations" and... "Broken Heroes" from "Innocence Is No Excuse" - we've just been so happy with the records we've made recently. We play songs from like the first five years and then... you might have bought one or two of the albums from the late eighties but you know we're proud of what we've been doing the last fifteen years so we ended up playing them songs - there's no special play to say like "lets revive track from '85 to '90, there's nothing like that.
Barry: Is there going to be any surprises tonight then, any special songs?
Nibbs: I hope not!
Barry: Hahaha, yeh!
Nibbs: I just want to get on stage and like... you know we've got shit loads of lights and we're really happy - and the P.A. They've been doing their best to make sure the festival area is safe for people because it has been raining a lot the last two or three weeks and it was pretty messy out there using excavators and huge tractors and they've covered the ground with like straw and wood chippings, stuff like that to make it fairly safe - as long as everybody stays pretty healthy, no injuries from the crowd - as long as everything goes normal... I'll be surprised if everything does go normal. haha.
Barry: This is my very first Wacken Open Air festival that I have been to, so do you have any tips for people like me and other people that are first time festival go-ers, especially a festival this big!
Nibbs: Yeh, go to the metal market there's some strip tease there.
Nibbs: Yeh, I mean you don't have to get overexcited about it but it's a nice distraction, and there's some good food out there, there's loads of different places to walk about - and you can buy wellington boots here...
Barry: I came prepared! [I show him I am already wearing some boots]
Nibbs: You've got your own with you! Yeh, normal festival rules apply here, be prepared for the worst - expect the best. There's karaoke all night, that's hilarious, you've got to go and watch that, you probably won't wake up next day until the evening but it's pretty funny.
Barry: Do you have any last message for the readers of Metal Storm?
Nibbs: The readers of Metal Storm? Well it's about time we were on the pages, haha... and yeh, it's a pleasure. You've got to hear what I want to say because I don't do these interviews very often - it's brilliant being in Saxon, that's one thing I'd like to say personally - because as I was saying to someone earlier, Saxon have had bad press around the mid-eighties to around the nineties and basically it's just great to be back!
Thanks a lot to Nasrin and SPV for this opportunitiy,
and of course thanks to Nibbs for his time.
Conducted and transcribed by Barry Anderson
||Posted on 17.09.2007 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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