BIFF BYFORD (SAXON): ‘A good riff doesn’t miss’

Biff Byford (FOTO: Metal Wani)
Biff Byford (FOTO: Metal Wani)

Saxon is a group that started its career at the same time as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. Created a bunch of genre standards, but for some reason never reached the same popularity. During the recent covid pandemic, the band finished their 23rd studio album. The album, Carpe Diem is set to release in February, 2022. We were given an exclusive early listening opportunity, and you all will be pleased with the first-class heavy metal weld. The band’s singer and lead songwriter, Biff Byford joined us to discuss band’s new album, Roman conquests and much more.

ROCKER.SI: Hello. How are you?

BIFF BYFORD: Good. Everything is fine.

ROCKER.SI: Excellent. Given that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, the following question seems appropriate. How do you take care of your psychophysical condition? Rob Halford and yourself both turned 70 this year, and your voices still sound great. Do you have a secret recipe?

BIFF BYFORD: It’s hard to talk about any secret recipe. The voice is a muscle that needs training and care. If you don’t train it, you lose it. I think working in the studio is what’s keeping us alive. Due to the pandemic and the smaller number of concerts, we became a studio band once again. Exactly like at the beginning of our career, it’s interesting how history repeats itself. It’s definitely not the same as concerts, but it has worked. Many people are not so lucky, they haven’t been able to do what makes them happy during the lockdowns, nor could they work normally.

ROCKER.SI: In addition to the position of singer of the group, you also occupy the position of the main lyricist. How do you usually start writing? What is the difference between a “Saxon” and a “regular” song?

BIFF BYFORD: A song intended for a band usually starts with a guitar riff. I love that the latter fits the song’s title and my current mood. I think we’ve come back to that lately. We give the riff more importance. I think we managed to create a quality product with the new album. Especially given the current situation and the fact that we have been around for more than four decades.

ROCKER.SI: Paul Stanley (Kiss) recently stated that the new music of old performers is not interesting. I could say the exact opposite for you, as you deliver a new album every 2-3 years. In addition, here is your last year’s solo album and project Heavy Water. What’s keeping you so creative?

BIFF BYFORD: I love to create without limiting myself. I don’t think there’s a topic I wouldn’t tackle. You could say there are no rational limits in rock and metal music.

ROCKER.SI: Your answer leads to the new single ‘Carpe Diem (Seize The Day)’, which was released at the beginning of November. The single is announcing your 23rd studio album of the same name (pre-orders). Are you happy with the response?

BIFF BYFORD: As for the album as a whole, only a few heard it so far. And everyone liked it (laughs). The same goes for the single. The responses are good. With a good text and riff, you can’t miss!

ROCKER.SI: You shot part of the video on the remains of Hadrian’s Wall, which is the defensive wall. It was built in 122 AD by the Roman emperor, Hadrian. We have something similar in Slovenia. In Hrušica, there is a former fortress of Ad Pirum. It was one of the most important points in the defense system of Claustra Alpium Iuliarum, have you ever seen it?

BIFF BYFORD: No, but it sounds interesting. An idea for the next time we visit you. When you start digging into Roman history, you find that they were everywhere (laughs). Egypt, Great Britain, continental Europe… A truly great empire.

ROCKER.SI: One of the biggest in the history of mankind.

BIFF BYFORD: It’s true, and one of the most influential. Especially for our part of the world.

ROCKER.SI: The title Carpe Diem can be interpreted in several ways.

BIFF BYFORD: That’s right. It’s about something positive. A wonderful motto that sounds great in Latin (laughs). That you have to enjoy every moment because you never know what the future holds.

ROCKER.SI: Can you tell us an anecdote from the recording?

BIFF BYFORD: Basically not much, as we recorded a large part of the record separately. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, a good two years ago, we had some practices. The rest was done seperately. Part of the team went to Andy [Sneap], I recorded the vocals together with my son Seb, and the drums came from Germany. I think it’s a special album, as we had a lot more time available this time (laughs).

ROCKER.SI: As at Firepower (2018), Andy Sneap did a great job again.

BIFF BYFORD: I think Judas Priest will review the album and start figuring out how to improve it (laughs). I’m kidding. We are good mates with the guys from Priest. They are a great band.

ROCKER.SI: What is your favorite song from the new album?

BIFF BYFORD: Good question. I would find it hard to pick a favorite because I like everything. Especially the title track and ‘Age of Steam.’ I have revisited the album a few days ago. It doesn’t seem to have any bad songs. Choosing a favorite song is usually related to your current mood. If I like calm songs, I’ll choose ‘The Pilgrimage,’ otherwise something like ‘Supernova.’

ROCKER.SI: Did you use all the songs?

BIFF BYFORD: We had a few songs left that we will revisit at some point. I think about three or four songs.

ROCKER.SI: Let’s talk about the Denim and Leather album, which is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. How do you look at it today? Would you change anything?

BIFF BYFORD: I think it was and still is a very important album. One of the most famous albums from our catalog.

ROCKER.SI: Do you have any special celebrations planned for the anniversary?

BIFF BYFORD: We are planning some concerts in January, which will revolve around it. The anniversary will also not be forgotten at the other shows.

ROCKER.SI: Are you planning to release any extended editions?

BIFF BYFORD: Our archives are empty. We are not a band who creates 20 songs from which we choose the best ones to use on the album. We write 10 or 12 songs, and that’s it.

ROCKER.SI: How is Pete Gill doing these days?

BIFF BYFORD: I have no idea. We haven’t spoken to him in years. He was a great drummer, which is all I can tell you. As a bit of rock trivia, I can tell you that Pete drummed on Denim and Leather, but did not participate during the writing sessions as he was ill.

ROCKER.SI: Biff, it was a great honor. Do you have any final thoughts?

BIFF BYFORD: I’m glad you liked the album. Given that people liked our first single, I conclude that it will be the same with the record as whole. I can’t wait to get back on the road!