On 9th February I went to see the magnificent Blaze Bayley band in action in Leeds. Before the gig I was lucky enough to be able to chat to the multi-talented drummer and author Larry Paterson and then Blaze Bayley himself about the band biography, At The End Of The Day, and albums new and old.
Larry was up first...
Whose idea was it to write the book in the first place?
Er, well, it was kinda my idea I suppose. I mean I spoke to Blaze, because I'd written other books on second world war history and originally I thought I'd y'know, just kinda the stupid shit that happens to you when you're a struggling musician and I thought you could probably make that into a book really; 'the absurd life of a wannabe drummer' y'know. Then, after joining Blaze's band we've had such a rollercoaster in the first year, it was just mad, and I just remember thinking, y'know, this would actually make a bloody good story and we we're chatting about it and he said "Yeah, you should write a book" and then I started it and it just seemed to make sense. I mean, there's lots of reasons for writing it, you know the stuff that's happened to us - but after being around Blaze and being in his band and getting to know him and all this kinda thing I personally believe there's a lot of misconceptions about his time in Maiden...
Yeah, definitely, I would agree with that...
Yeah, I think he's carried the can for a lot of stuff that just wasn't his doing or his fault.
Yeah, Blaze Bayley on the Virtual XI tour was the first concert I ever went to and I just seem to have this completely...skewed view of Blaze because I love the guy and everyone else seems to hate him.
Yeah, but you see that's not a skewed view, its an honest view.
Yeah, it's an honest view. Skewed compared to everyone else I mean.
Yeah, I totally understand. You know, for me, I got into maiden when Paul Di'Anno was the singer and Bruce came in and it was like 'fucking hell', y'know. Number Of The Beast came out, you know, because I'm probably older than you and I mean, I've never heard anything like it. That is always gonna be iconic Maiden, y'know; Number Of The Beast, Piece Of Mind and Powerslave is the trinity of terror, it was just perfect. But I mean he took so much shit for his time in Maiden and that's just not fair and y'know it was great talking to Steve Harris and Janick Gers about it because they basically agreed. And I mean there's always stuff you can't put in books too but I mean you 're not trying to annoy anybody. I felt that he's taken a lot of flak for something that wasn't his fault. I mean we did a radio interview the other day and in it he said a lot of fans virtually blame him for Bruce Dickinson leaving. I mean it was just... Bruce left, he walked out of his own free will. I mean I love Bruce Dickinson, he's a king you know, but he was gone so what would you rather have? Would you rather have Maiden with Blaze or would you rather have no Maiden?
That's exactly the same way I see it.
I don't under why, I mean, people just seem to like beating him over the head with it and it pisses me off 'cause he doesn't deserve it and that was another reason for writing the book.
X Factor's one of my favourite albums...well, it is my favourite album.
Yeah! Its got a lotta balls in it. For my personal taste I'm not overly keen on the production, there's not enough sort of 'crunch'. 'Cause I'm a Piece Of Mind fan, I mean you look at that and the guitars just go (insert crashing guitar noise), it needs a bit more o' that but there is some great stuff on there. We play stuff on there like Sign Of Cross and fuckin' Man On The Edge and Lord Of The Flies; its great! I mean, its proper headbanging metal, how can you go wrong?
So how long did it take to, sort of, research and write?
Erm, not long really. Erm, half of it was already written, almost. It just sorta came out. Its definitely a book of two pieces. Its like the history and then it swaps over to much more first person...
The 'Tour Diary' section...
Yeah. Which, you know its not to everyone's taste, but I kind of get a giggle out of that because I'm sort of interested in that kind of stuff myself.
I loved it. I mean I loved the history section and that. How it came and told everyone, you know, like, what's gone on...
...and then the tour diary part, it was very different, but its kinda that lighthearted...for the most part.
Oh cool! Yeah, that's kinda what I was aiming for...
It has its downsides as well but...
Some of it I'd actually written previously for myself, just sort of pissing about, writing just for fun. And um, yeah, I dunno, I showed it to people and it made them laugh and y'know I think if you can just make them laugh... y'know its funny, some of the stuff that happens. And also some of its just horrible, I mean, what happened to Debbie and all. You know, but yeah its a book of two pieces. The longest bit was actually just getting in touch with everybody for the research side of it. Y'know, I mean talking to guys in Maiden and all of Blaze's former band members I mean everybody's been very very cool, you know, they were great. I mean, I loved talking to everyone; all the guys that used to be in Blaze, y'know. But it didn't take that long to put together. It was a bit scrappy because we were out on tour and I was doing bits and pieces. Anna [Di Laurenzio Blaze Bayley Manager], she edited it did a fantastic job. Even though she did a fantastic job there's still some typos that slipped through my fault, not hers. Because its a self-produced book and we did it ourselves and a lot of people think, well, that because its not good enough to be published and that's not really the case. I've got published books, you know. We just, this band likes to do things itself. I dunno why, we're just suckers for punishment (laughs)!
Are there any plans to make it more generally available? Maybe go to a publisher or different languages maybe?
Yeah, I mean we've got people talking to us. There's a guy in Germany and a guy in Italy, um, and I mean I've got quite a few publishers I know and there's sort of, I dunno, we're thinking about possibly putting it out there and try and get it in shops but there's something, I mean we only printed 500 copies. We're gonna reprint it, update it, reprint it. Fix the typos My fault, again. Erm, but it is quite nice knowing that the people who actually buy it have to I'm not saying its nice to know we make it difficult for people but it means they've come to use to get it. You're actually interested in it in the first place so you've found it and got it and bought it so you know its kind of, it sounds a bit stupid, but its going to the right people, you know what I mean?
You see that if you look at the Blaze Bayley forum really...
Yeah, you know, its nice to hear people talk about it and not... not in an egotistical way, just sorta think some of the things that are in there, particularly stuff about Maiden which is always sort of a raw subject in some ways, y'know, with some people, and I can see that some people have gone "Oh is that what happened?" and you think oh good, because I wanted you to think about that, you know. Its important to me. (laughs)
Yeah I agree with that. I think its a story that needed telling because Maiden have always been very, er, quiet about it.
Yeah and Blaze. I mean Blaze is, y'know, he's got nothing but respect for Maiden, so do I...
I think everyone has respect for Maiden but you know...
How can you not? But you know, he doesn't have to take that shit form people...
No, he doesn't need blaming for things that weren't his fault...
No, no exactly. And you know when he was sort of, er, giving me the ins and outs of it and all this stuff he he wasn't sort of bitching or moaning, he was just telling it like it was and I thought that's what I wanted in the book. I didn't wanna write a propaganda book, you know. Sort of everbody was gay, everybody was happy, everybody was fine and you know, no bands're like that, you know. Its like a family and families fight and argue and all this kinda thing but nor did I wanna sorta...I'm not interested in digging dirt and all that rubbish but it was kinda, I was hoping to let people say what the y wanted to say. Its like some of Blaze's old band members, you know, the reason they left and you sort of think, you know, they were pissed off. Well, let em say it! If you got something to say, say it. That's the reality of it and there's nothing wrong with that. I'd rather read that and sort of get a feeling that you're getting something that's actually true. Some band biographies, you know, are so sycophantic, you know, that's the problem. Oh everything they did was wonderful and you feel like, 'yeah, not really... Not always!'
So you normally write submarine books and you've got, is it ten?
Er yeah that's right, yeah.
How different was it to write a book like this about people you know, about more current events?
Yeah, it was very different. Yeah, very very different. The one sort of thing that I did sort of take from the experience of writing about U-Boats is you interview these people that lived through stuff that I can't even imagine and it gives you a sense of humility and it makes you realise that when you pass this story on what you're saying is important to somebody so get it right. And that sorta thing carried over because its a biography. You know, in a way my U-Boat books are biographies, or many biographies of certain people and some of these guys are still alive or their families are alive and if I write a load of crap about them then I, you know, deserve never to get published again. And I felt the same with that, you know. I wasn't interested in saying anything that wasn't, you know, what people wanted to say and that couldn't be sort of, defended, if you like. You know what I mean? That's how it is, that's what happened. So that was kinda similar but a totally different sort of research discipline and all that kinda stuff. I mean some of it, like second half of it, just kinda spills out.
I think you could tell that when you read it, you've got this bit that's sort of researched properly...
Yeah the historical bit. (both laugh)
...and then you've got your tour diary which is a bit more... I think it, it sort of helps you to understand the Blaze Bayley band a bit more, sort of see what they put up with in day to day life.
Oh nice one. Yeah hopefully it makes people smile a bit, you know, because some of its so funny.
I think my favourite bit was er, I think it was Dave and the Guinness can...
The Guinness can! (laughs) Yeah, it was one of those things, you know that's why you wanna tell the story because you shoulda been there, man, its just standing there and "Ooooops!" (laughs)
So have you got any favourites from that part of the book?
Yeah! Well, that's one actually, I like that but I really liked the one where we went to Italy and there were these two immigration guys and one guy who had thios plastic he looked like a member of Devo with like this plastic hair and we're just standing and trying not laugh. And there's this other guy giving Jay shit and and just the look on Jay's face is "What? You silly old bastard what're you talking about?" (laughs). Its just one of those sorta snapshots I've always got in my mind. I'll remember that forever, but yeah there's a few of those yeah.
The Ryanair description...
Yeah, I don't like them. Don't think they're that keen on me anymore either! (both laugh)
Not after reading the book!
[Larry leaves and Blaze enters]
Carrying on from where Larry left off. Larry said it was his idea to write the book, were you completely on board from the beginning?
Erm, yeah, well it was my idea really. Erm, I said to Larry I think there's a book in this because the story is so big. Larry's idea was to write a book about me and my idea was, well, I think it should be more about the band because everybody's story is so interesting - all the different places that we come from - and a couple of weeks later he said "Oh, I've started that book". So that's how it went. He wants to take credit for it all but its not, its my idea.
Yeah, the five members come from different continents...
Was there anything that you were uncomfortable including in the book?
Um, no, I thought it should be as honest as possible. There's a couple of things that didn't make it in there that didn't need to be in there about some of the episodes I had when I was depressed. Erm, but, I think its better to be honest, you know? I'm not ashamed of anything I've done. We all make stupid mistakes and do stupid things. I'm just as bad as anybody else from that point of view.
What was it like reading the opinions of ex-band members?
It was alright. You know I was expecting to come out a lot worse to be honest, so I thought everybody was really generous. I thought they'd have painted me to be much more of an...of an ogre. You know? So, yeah, it wasn't too bad at all.
I think one of the most interesting parts for me, you know, I was expecting to be really into the Maiden side of it, but it was actually the Blaze and the conversion to the Blaze Bayley band when Timo came on the scene. I know a lot of the guys in the band at the time said they could smell a rat, so to speak. Would you say that was a fair assessment?
No, I had a couple of chances where, when really I should have gone 'no, we should stop now because you haven't done what you said you were gonna do. I had a couple of clues but he was such a persuasive person, I mean he could talk his way out of anything, he could lie his way out of anything. So that's what it was like. You can't believe that you can get taken in by a confidence trickster, none of us do. We all think we're much wiser, but we all can be. They say the right things and then, yeah, we all...we all wanna believe that dream and er, you know, it was wrong from the start and we didn't have our defences up really. So, that's why we never stopped it before it was too late. But, er, the signs were there at different parts and, yeah, it ended up being some of the most uncomfortable experiences of our... in the band, and we just looked crap. You know, when we did the DVD, Alive in Poland, we had no crew. At all. The equipment wasn't organised properly, it was just crap.
I remember watching that DVD for the first time and the whole way it was filmed was great. And your performance was brilliant.
Yeah my performance was really good, but we were desperately let down by the management, because we didn't have any crew or any kind of back up at all so it was just pathetic.
At least you've rectified that now with The Night That Will Not Die.
Yeah. Yeah, that's just our own; its a very small DVD, but its about this band, this line-up, playing songs from that tour so that's... we just wanted to do something very different to Alive in Poland. I think its worked, you know.
So the next chapter of the book would obviously be Promise & Terror. How do you think its been for the band? Has it been a happier time?
Its just carried on being tough really. You know, one of the things is, as chaotic as its been, things for Promise & Terror were more organised. Things have been pretty desperate but they were more organised. We did have more time together as a band to write the album than we did for The Man Who Would Not Die. We, as pushed as we were for time in rehearsal, we did have more time as a band in rehearsal than we did for The Man Who Would Not Die and for us that's crucial. One of the things that we always want to do is take our songs from a quiet environment where we've been writing them and then play them in the order we think they may be on the album and then see how they feel - so rehearse them as a live set, see how it ties together, and we made a lot of changes at that stage which we didn't have that opportunity as much with The Man Who Would Not Die so things in that way I think benefited Promise and Terror. And the writing came from a different place, some ideas have been around a bit longer and all of that and there was a kind of shorthand to the way we did things so, I think its been more of a full band experience and I hope we can have more of that in the future where we spend more time in the writing and rehearsing process and less time in the recording process. You know, we don't really experiment that much in the studio. The songs for us are written and put together before they get to be recorded and we're just trying to capture a good performance. Whereas some bands they experiment and that is part of the creative process, for some artists its in the studio but that's a tiny part for us. We're trying to captre the force and the passion of what we do live as much as we can.
Yeah, you're live performances are always 100%, or 110% probably.
Well, yeah, that's what we try and do.
Trying to capture that on a studio album I can imagine is very difficult but you seem to have accomplished it with The Man Who Would Not Die and now Promise & Terror has gone on from that. Certainly one of my favourite albums from any of your periods anyway.
In the book it was mentioned that there was a lot of material that was written during the time with Christan, Luca and Daniel in the band. Have you used any of this?
Yeah, but only the bits that I did, you know. Some of the lyrics, just odd bits of lyrics and odd melodies. I had an idea then to do a song about Galileo and we never finished it but when we started Promise & Terror there were a couple of ideas and I thought maybe I'll try those Galileo lyrics and it worked really well and erm, yeah, so there were a couple of things but nothing major. You know, there was nothing finished and I've just gone, 'Oh we'll use that for my album'.
You also the Tenth Dimension and the extra bits that you weren't able to put in and you were a little annoyed at that.
Yeah, there was a lot with Tenth Dimension I was forced to compromise. Musically I was totally happy with it, but it is a concept album and it is about, er, the concept is a story about a scientist and his journey as he discovers something that could be beneficial to humanity or can be used as a weapon against humanity. So that never really came over, even though I had the parts recorded so I think I'd like to just add those parts in and do some more notes to the artwork 'cause the artwork had to be rushed in the end. I don't think anybody else could really understand the concept of trying to connect psychology and time travel and the journey through the soul. You know, its too much in the background and I thought...I'd done a lot more with it, you know, I'd written a story with the main character of William Black being the scientist making this discovery and then finding out that the people he was working for were in fact the government and they were gonna use this to blackmail humanity. More or less get anybody to do anything they wanted and use it as complete control of the human race. So I thought that was a great idea that somebody discovers the essence of the human soul. That there is a human soul. That there is an afterlife. We do pass over to somewhere and someone has found a way to trap that essence of man's soul and there is no eternity because your soul is trapped and you don't go into a higher consciousness or anything like that. Its the perfect blackmail for anybody so anybody who would have that technology to blackmail would be able to blackmail anybody else. If the Chinese had it they would be able to blackmail everyone in Japan and say well we show you the technology, here's the human spirit, here's how we measured it and this is how we can collect it and stop it going into the next life so you'll be trapped in a terrible, permanent, purgatory. I thought it was a great concept.
So the other band members didn't agree with you?
I don't think they could understand it. That was it, so I don't think they could understand it. But everyone in this band is well behind concepts and stuff like that so I think I'll just make some extra notes and all that and just explain the concept a bit more so anybody who comes to us and gets that album it may be that the first album they get will be The Man Who Would Not Die or Promise & Terror will be the first albums they get so when they get the catalogue and they go back then when they hear the concept the they're gonna know what it was about.
Erm, the latter stages of the book are Larry's tour diary, so to speak. Is there any favourite memory you have of touring with the Blaze Bayley band?
Well, its just all been crazy really. I suppose my favourite bit, or the bit that I look back and laugh about the most is Brazil because nobody else had been to Brazil before and I had and I knew how chaotic and mad it was A Brazilian ten minutes can last for an afternoon. So yeah that was the funniest part, because everybody was really positive and they thought I was quite negative, but I was just realistic. I was like, yeah, the fans are great, but its really difficult because its absolutely chaotic, you know, to do a gig there so that was really funny.
There's a lot of different perceptions of your Maiden legacy that come out in the book as well from Blaze members who thought it was great at first, you know, helping to get a record deal, but afterwards they were a bit wary of it and also Janick Gers saying you should make the most of it. What's your opinion on that?
Before I was in Iron Maiden they were my favourite band and if you ever leave Iron Maiden you're always gonna be considered an ex-member so I played to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, my voice is on millions of albums so for me its just obvious you've got to use that. I was very proud of it, I didn't want to rubbish my past, I'm very proud of everything I've done so it was ten years ago now, its a long time and things have moved on. But yeah its something that I'm very proud of. For me its the most important heavy metal band in the world, its the only serious heavy metal band left. Judas Priest keep falling apart and you never know what they're gonna come out with next. Metallica seem to have changed direction completely from where they started and there doesn't seem to be any relation between the recent album and the first and second album, I think you would think it was a different band if you didn't know better. But Maiden, you can see a direct link from the first album to the last album and that's really important. There's a direct link between the first album and the most recent album.
I agree with you on that, but I think there's still this negative view of your time in Maiden and this book goes a little way towards addressing that and telling people what actually happened. This is the real story from your view. You never say anything negative about Maiden and I think that's one of the things I like most about it, you know? The first concert I ever saw was you fronting Maiden on the Virtual XI tour and the memory has stick with me as one of the best concerts I've ever been to so when I hear people talking crap about your time in Maiden I tend to feel a bit...
Well, its silly really. A lot of fans, and its crazy but it really happened, they were so upset at Bruce leaving that they blamed me for it. I was then a scapegoat...I was like "well, we'll blame him". Its ridiculous but that's what happened, you know. Some fans have that attitude. But that's it, its an emotional thing, you know. Your favourite singer leaves your favourite band, how are you supposed to feel? Like you've been rejected. You believed in that band, you thought they were gods, they were everything to you and then one of them leaves and says "no, its not that good, I don't like it." And you love it and you've made supporting that band a part of your life, how are you supposed to feel about that. I don't think Bruce, you'd have to talk to him about it, but I don't think he thought about that before he made his decision, whatever prompted him to leave. I can see, having been in Iron Maiden even for a short time, its a very, very intense environment so I could see how that could get to you after a long while.
Think that's everything really. Thanks again, that was brilliant.
Ok! Good luck with your article.
Good luck with the show tonight!
And so I went back to the gig area and was blown away by a phenomenal performance from the band.
Thanks to Blaze's manager, Anna Di Laurenzio for setting up the interview, to Blaze and Larry for being talkative and helping me through my first ever face to face interview (bag of nerves is an understatement!) and to the whole Blaze Bayley band for a great evening of metal!