British Heavy Metal legends Saxon unveil the first single, “The Faith Healer”, from upcoming, More Inspirations – set for release on March 24th via Silver Lining Music.
Following the release of Inspirations in 2021, More Inspirations is the second ‘deep dish’ serving of the influences which have fed the mighty Saxon’s immensely successful 40+ year career. The first single is an astonishing take on The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s “The Faith Healer”. Frontman Biff Byford comments “We used to see The Sensational Alex Harvey band play this back in the day, they started the set with it, such a fantastic song and fantastic band… big influence!”
Whether getting feral with The Animal’s “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place”, letting loose a high-octane take on Alice Cooper’s “From The Inside”, or laying down a ferocious tribute to KISS’ “Detroit Rock City”, More Inspirations is a joyous trip into the sounds which galvanised the Barnsley boys and continue to get spun on home stereos and tour buses.
Produced by vocalist/co-founder Biff Byford, with Seb Byford helping record the music alongside mixing engineer Jacky Lehmann, More Inspirations also includes enthusiastic takes on Alice Cooper, Rainbow, ZZ Top, and Cream, as well as a thunderous “Razamanaz” by Nazareth, a tasty take on The Who’s “Substitute”, and a thick groove take on Uriah Heep’s “Gypsy”. Whether this is your first dance with such classic songs, or you’ve come to see where Saxon were born, More Inspirations delivers the goods and then some.
Following the success of the Seize the World Tour 2022, Saxon will be back on the road in March 2023 for a string of European dates, with special guests German metal titans RAGE.
I caught up with drummer Nigel Glockler during the recent holiday period.
Antihero Magazine: The band have recently released a second album of covers songs-why, instead of another Saxon original album?
Nigel Glockler: We had almost finished the last studio album. And then of course the pandemic hit and the record company didn’t want to release Carpe Diem, although we hadn’t finished it by that time, but they were looking ahead, so they didn’t want to release the album without us being able to tour it.
Antihero Magazine: Yeah, sure.
Nigel Glockler: So, it was kind of a thing between us and the record company about doing a covers album as a stopgap. And then what happened was that the first one was pretty successful, so they thought, let’s do another one.
Antihero Magazine: What about the song selection? Did all the band members contribute their suggestions, or how did that come about?
Nigel Glockler: Yeah. It was a total democratic thing. Everyone put ideas in for both albums, so people put ideas in that have inspired them in the past or whatever, and can we try this? I mean, there were a few ones on both albums that never made the album. It was just like there were a lot more things we tried, but it didn’t quite suit us.
Antihero Magazine: Were there any songs that obviously your band members were familiar with, that actually when you broke it down, were actually too difficult or didn’t work with Saxon as a band?
Nigel Glockler: Yeah, I mean, we tried. There was nothing that was too difficult. It was just a case of did it feel comfortable. I mean, there was a Jethro Tull song that was mentioned and that sort of never made the cut. And there are a couple of other things, I can’t remember what they were, but I mean, we were pretty happy with the way things had turned out.
Antihero Magazine: Was it difficult to keep, retain the spirit and essence of the original tracks and at the same time modernise them and give them that Saxon sound?
Nigel Glockler: Yeah, obviously we listened to every track. Some of the tracks, we changed the arrangements a little bit, but no, generally, yeah, we just started playing. It’s us five guys. That’s the sound you get with the five of us playing together. That’s it. Yeah,
Antihero Magazine: I just read that you first joined Saxon in 1981. 42 years ago. But before Saxon, you played with Toyah. I always find that quite a surprising change of direction as you were. How did that come about?
Nigel Glockler: I was always listening to heavy rock and progressive stuff anyway. All of the Toyah band, we used to listen to all sorts of stuff when we were on tour. I mean, I remember I got Phil, our bass player, really into Rush, Moving Pictures, and that’s all he’d play for a while. So, we were listening to all sorts of stuff on the tour, the Toyah tour bus. And for me, I was always listening to heavy rock. Anyway, those sorts of drummers had been my influences. But then once the new wave thing hit, then, I mean, I just love all forms of music. Generally, I listen to everything.
Antihero Magazine: And of course, you stepped away from Saxon only for brief periods over the years. I just wondered what prompted the move in ’87 to go and join a reformed line-up of GTR. I mean, obviously, you’d been in Saxon a few years. I just wondered what prompted it, was it disillusionment with where Saxon was going? You fancied something different?
Nigel Glockler: First of all, I was unhappy with the management we had at the time. I just didn’t get on with them at all. And I don’t know, I think it was a bit of both of those things really, and a bit of fancying something different. And for myself, it was like we were touring quite a lot and it just got to a point where it was, I actually wasn’t enjoying my playing and I needed something to spark me off again.
Antihero Magazine: Is that how you felt as well? Obviously, you played with Steve Howe, you played with Asia as well. Was it still trying to find that something different or trying to rejuvenate yourself career-wise, at that point?
Nigel Glockler: Yeah, it was great as I say, playing with Steve Howe and stuff. And the Asia thing came after that because Jeff Downes was producing the GTR album. So, then he asked me to do some stuff with Asia. I did some solo stuff with Steve Howell, and no, I was enjoying that sort of thing. And then Saxon rang me up and said, would I come back? So, I had a break and I was enjoying playing again. And I mean, there was never any sort of negative thing with me and the rest of the guys in Saxon, and we’ve always kept in touch anyway. And so, I went back and said, yeah, what the hell, let’s do it again.
Antihero Magazine: Have you ever had any desire to maybe create another band, like a solo project, something similar to what Biff has done, maybe in a different musical style or genre from Saxon?
Nigel Glockler: Well, I do quite a lot of sessions, so that keeps me busy playing with various people. So that keeps me occupied. And the other thing I do is I write music for television and stuff, just background music for documentaries and stuff like that. So …
Antihero Magazine: Unfortunately, from several different medical reasons you’ve had to take time out away from Saxon, have incidents like those caused you to readjust your lifestyle, thinking and work ethic?
Nigel Glockler: No. Well, the only first one, obviously, was when I ripped a muscle between my neck and my shoulder. That was just the case of I had to take time out to let it heal. That was, that’s the end, that’s the be all and end of it really. And it was during that period that I started doing the television music while I was at home. Writing stuff for that. The other thing was the burst brain aneurysm. That sort of … In a way, yes. It got to a point where you think, I’m not burning the candle at both ends when I’m on tour. I’m there basically to do a job, and that’s to play drums to the best of my ability for the people in the audience. And I don’t ever want to let them down. So, I think, right, I want to stay fresh for every gig and do the best I can.
Antihero Magazine: Unfortunately, in recent weeks, Paul Quinn has announced that he’s retiring from touring. Was that news something that surprised the rest of the band members, or was it something that you talked about with Paul previously?
Nigel Glockler: No, I know he’d been struggling a bit with the amount of touring we do. So, we totally respect that he wants to do this, but for the rest of us, no, it’s business as usual. It’s very sad. But at the same time, it’s very exciting that we’re still moving forward.
Antihero Magazine: And then even more recently, it was announced that Brian Tatler would be taking over and covering Paul’s guitar work in the live shows. Obviously, Brian is somebody that you’ve known for years. Was there any sort of audition process? Was it always going to be Brian? Did he come to you and say, I’d like to do this, or did you approach him for Saxon?
Nigel Glockler: What happened, sometime last year I think Paul was ill or something had gone off, so there was a chance that he might not be available for, I think it was a festival or a couple of festivals. So, Brian and Diamond Head had toured with us. We’d done a lot of work with them, and basically Brian offered to stand in and learn the set, in case Paul couldn’t do it. So, he was two thirds of the way there. So, when this latest thing happened, he was the logical choice. Plus, that he’s a really nice guy, he’s a great guitarist. And we wanted someone from our sort of era, the new wave of British heavy metal. And because of Saxon, Anglo-Saxon, the sort of history of the band, he had to be English. British.
Antihero Magazine: How do you view your career as a member of Saxon? Is there something that stands out? Was it a particular album, the band maybe coming back with Inner Sanctum or was it for you personally when you got back out and were able to play live again?
Nigel Glockler: Oh yeah. I mean, getting back out and playing live again was great after that pandemic thing. I think the first show we did, well, the first festival we did was Bloodstock. And having not played a festival for a couple of years, I was quite frightened. Well, not frightened, but I was pretty nervous actually. I think we all were. Because we hadn’t done it for a while, but it went down great. It was just brilliant. It was just so great to get back out touring and playing live again. It was great.
Antihero Magazine: And also, for you personally, given what you went through health-wise as well.
Nigel Glockler: Yeah. The health thing was before that. That was … When was that? End of 2014, that’s when I had the aneurysm thing. So, I was only away for what, January, February, March, four months, and that was it. And then went back out again, which funnily enough, because I invited the surgeon that operated on me to the next time we played in Newcastle, he said, “You’re a freak being able to get back into it so quickly.”
Antihero Magazine: Just a final one. I’m sure you’ve done many of these over the years, interviews, if the roles were reversed, is there anybody who’s personally inspired you or motivated you, that you would like to sit down and interview if you could?
Nigel Glockler: Oh God. I’d say one of the main drummers that influenced me, say, during the late sixties, early seventies, was Bill Ward. More so than John Bonham actually. But no, I wouldn’t want to interview him. I mean, it was great. I actually met him in California because we were both at this awards ceremony thing. So, we had a really nice chat, and it was just such an honour to meet him. It was great. And we had a good laugh.
Antihero Magazine: How do you explain the enduring popularity of Saxon and both heavy metal as a musical genre? I saw you in Blackburn recently on the recent tour, and I was surprised that quite a cross-section of the audience ages, all singing along to the Saxon songs, both modern and old.
Nigel Glockler: Yeah, I know. It’s amazing. It’s really good for us, I think if we constantly get a turnover of fans. So, a lot of the times when we’re touring, up front are the youngsters, and it’s hilarious. They know the words better than we do when they’re singing along. But wherever we are in the UK or in Europe, there are always the youngsters at the front. Yeah. And it’s great.
Antihero Magazine: That’s brilliant. Thank you very much for chatting with me. Enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend. You never seem to take a break.
Nigel Glockler: No, I’m having a break, and I’m going to have a good beer tonight. I’ll tell you.
Antihero Magazine: Thank you very much. Thank you very much again, Nigel.
Nigel Glockler: You have a great weekend too. Okay. And see you next time we tour.
Antihero Magazine: You will indeed. Thank you very much. Cheers.