A sacrifice for metal! Paul Quinn speaks out.
Yorkshire's very own loud and proud metal act 'Saxon' return with their stunning and what is claimed to be their finest album to date titled 'Sacrifice', which is released through UDR/ EMI in March 2013. The band have had some explosive albums in the past such as 'Wheels of Steel', 'Crusader', 'Denim and Leather' and in later years albums such as 'Metal Head', 'Killing Ground', 'Inner Sanctum' and now 'Sacrifice'. Produced by Biff Byford and mixed by none other than Andy Sneap (Hell/ ex Sabbat) who is also known for his work with Megadeth, Testament, Exodus and many more fine acts he has become one of the top producers/ mixers in the metal world. With Saxon about to embark on their European tour (throughout April) the band are at present touring South America as we speak, and with the world at their hands the future could not be more brighter. I managed to have a chat with my old friend Paul Quinn about the new album and what the future holds for the band. If you have not checked out their new album I suggest you do so it's a heavy album with classic Saxon riffs!!!
As I missed the last album 'Call To Arms' for an interview I'm going to start by asking you some questions about that album if you don't mind Paul. Just how successful was that album for the band compared to previous albums?
"Well I can't honestly say because it takes a long time for the royalty statements to come through so we don't really pay much attention to that side of the business. The tour however, was a great success and I think we toured for the whole year from what I can remember."
I was trying to get a hold of you guys about that album, the title track I thought should of been released as a charity single 'Call To Arms' because I thought it would of been going to a good cause for the 'Action for Heroes' I think it is called. A great opportunity for the band to raise some money for the soldiers of this country past and present. I mean the lyrics were just awesome, so powerful and strong it really could of raised the bands profile too. Didn't you ever think of releasing that as a single for charity?
We do some work for charities and to be honest Jason, that's a great question, we never thought about that it's a shame you didn't get the messages to us before hand we could of helped. In retrospect we didn't want to jump on the bandwagon on another way even if it would of been very helpful for a good cause."
In the past the band have recorded at Gem studios in Lincolnshire (UK), what actually happened to that studio? Was it ripped down?
"Well the owner decided that there wasn't enough work for him so he thought it was more cost effective for him to close down."
Just how many albums did you record at Gem Studios?
"Well as far as I remember it was just the one album which was 'Lion Heart', and most of the time it was just demo material and after which we decided to bring mobile studios which are really small these days now that digital has taken a new hold. We did that with Charlie Bauerfeind as our producer."
As the band have just released their new album 'Sacrifice' which is one of the finest albums to date, there were some manufacturing problems with it, which helped the album back by a few weeks, what was the problem?
"Well it was EMI Polish plant which had some impressing that is all I know I am afraid. Unfortunately somebody noticed this before it was released and put the album on the internet before it's release date."
When we met in December for the video shoot for 'Sacrifice' the album was also recorded at the same building LS Live, how long did it take to record the new album? Also who's idea was it to record the album at the studio too? Did you ever think of recording anywhere else in the UK or Europe for the new album?
"Well it would of been Biff's idea to record it there, and I can't remember how we met the guys at the studio. They did open there arms to the band and for us to record the album there, but it wasn't a studio as such it was actually a sound proof room which was part of a lighting company which had a massive room which you could have a gig in there and they do have bands rehearsing there before a tour. Well we wanted to record the album in England as we are a British band and we feel more comfortable recording on home soil. In other respects we wanted to have a modern sound as we have now and I think we have succeed. (ED: I think you have Judas Priest have kept their traditional sound and moved on with the times and for both bands it really works well, congratulations!!) Well there's quite a lot of Blues based musicians such as Glen Tipton (Judas Priest, and myself and then you get to the 80's guitarist like Eddie Van Halen and it is rather hard for the younger generation to get into the more relaxed Blue style of music."
When you recorded the new album at L.S. Live how much of your own gear did you bring in to record the album considering it was an empty room with no sound board etc...?Was it recorded digitally or analog?
"Well you could not bring in analog because there wouldn't of been enough space as you would have to be good at lifting heavy stuff, so it was all digital recording equipment. (ED: What would you prefer, digital or analog?) Well digital is almost as good as analog was, and you can make it react not so quickly which is called sag in amplifiers. It cost such a lot to find somewhere which has the lot, it's so expensive."
I guess you have your own studio at home, what does it have?
"Yes I do have my own studio, it's a digital and it is portable and I just set it up when I need it, Nigel has a studio similar and we often write at Nigel's studio."
So how long did it take to record 'Sacrifice' album? Also was pre-production recorded elsewhere from L.S. Live?
"Well pre-production was done at the same studio we did 'Call To Arms' and we did also a little at L.S. Live but mainly at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire. (Ed: Lincolnshire seems to be the place where Saxon record most of their albums, why is that?) Well we record there because you really don't have much of a social life there, and besides there is such a bad mobile phone signal there that you can't call anybody and you have to walk a mile to get a decent signal. We had made albums in cities before but there is so much happening that you can't concentrate on what you are doing. The album took about roughly about a couple of months and we don't take a long time recording albums or writing an album so it took about 3 months to write and record."
So what songs from the album did you demo 1st?
"I think one of the 1st songs was 'Made in Belfast' which was the main song but we did make a start on the song 'Sacrifice' because Nibbs had played us that riff earlier on."
I have noticed that the bands music has become more Power Metal influenced, do the influences come from Nibbs with him been more into that sort of stuff or do the ideas come the the band in general?
"Well you might think that but no not at all, we all have Power Metal influences and we are not stand offish at all about music, we all like music. (Ed: I guess with Nibbs been into the Thrash metal scene, we all presume it's him that brings the Power Metal to the table sort of speak). Well it doesn't always work out that way, and the Power Metal style was instigated by me on 'Dogs of War', so that proves that theory."
Just how many songs did you contribute too for the new album?
"Well the way we write is not just one person writes all the songs, so there would be an instigator and there would be one or two that would add to the songs, but sometimes it's all 5 of us that added to a song. The intro for the song 'Standing in the Queue' was me and the chorus was Doug. The intro to 'Sacrifice' was done by Nigel, who did it at home on his keyboard."
So briefly what are the songs about on the new album please?
"Well the intro 'Procession' was done by Nigel, this leads into 'Sacrifice', the title track which is about the Mayan's end of the world predictions, the end of the world in 2012 and in the early days how the would sacrifice people to the gods for wealth and survival really. Next is 'Made in Belfast', about the shipping industry were the Titanic was made, which is rather interesting as we did start that once Biff had got the title for it he then ask if we could think of anything Celtic and he had bought a mandolin and after re tuning it I found kept dropping open strings into the chords. That is an example on how you can range things and later on they were written into something better. It was a bridge that became part of the chorus. Next is 'Warriors of the Road', which is about high speed racing on a racing course. Next is 'Guardians of the Tomb', which is about the sham terracotta's warriors which is supposedly about them coming back to life to guard him. Next is 'Stand up and Fight', is about keeping the faith and carry on doing what you enjoy doing in life and taking no shit along the way, I think Biff was writing about musician's really on that one. Next is 'Walking the Steel', that is about the steeple jacks rebuilding the twin towers of New York. Next is 'Night of the Wolf', how the human fear of the hungry animal who craves on our way of life. Next is 'Wheels of Terror', that is about the fear of tank warfare , imagining the tank is coming at you and you have nowhere to hide and the wheels just keep on coming towards you. Last is 'Standing in the Queue', which is about the frustrating of waiting in a queue, it's like why is life so difficult when you have to wait before you can eat."
It was in December when you recorded the video to the single 'Sacrifice', what a great day for me (thanks for the invite) how well did the video come out? Also you did a video for the song 'Frozen Rainbow' which was awesome to hear re done. When will that video be coming out?
"Well I have not heard anything about the release for 'Frozen Rainbow' so I really can't say but we hope it will be out soon. Thanks for lending me your leather jacket for the video shoot for that song. (Ed: No worries if it makes my jacket famous haha!!) The video for 'Sacrifice' turned out really well as you will know. We had a model swinging a lamp with fire and smoke in it, like a sacrifice had been made. We think it turned out really well and if you watch it you can see why."
The band are about to go on tour, I believe a cruise ship is one of your shows, is that in Mexico or somewhere about that area? How excited are you to be playing that cruise ship and how well has the album been received by the press so far?
"Well the press and fans are really liking the fans are saying it a return to the band been back on form & we are surprised by the way the American's are liking the album. We wanted to make it over there but we didn't peruse it because we didn't think we were getting anywhere in the mid 80's but maybe we still have a chance. The press like yourself are really liking the album and it has received some positive reviews so far."
I heard the support band for the UK tour is one of Nigel's friends band called 'Redline', what do you think of their music?
"Yeah it's one of Nigel's friends. They are really good and they can be hard on You Tube and the singer is a good screamer and they sound like good musicians and that is all I know about them really."
What is happening for St Georges Day gig that will be special in Manchester UK on 23rd April?
"Well I can't answer that (laughing), it's top secret!!! I might wear a suit of Armour haha!! We could have chain mail Marshall cabinets, that would be funny!!"
What festivals do you have planned for this year? Bloodstock on the cards?
"Well so far we are playing Sweden Rock festival, Bang Your Head & Metalfest in (Germany), Hellfest (France), Graspop (Belgium), and then we have a Welsh one at the end of July called 'Steelhouse' on 27th August. No plans for for Bloodstock this year sadly."
Do you think the band will be releasing a live DVD for the album and tour?
"Well to be honest we have not thought about making a live DVD for this tour yet. We usually have a camera or 2 following us on our tours. It has been a while since we did our last live DVD, never say never!!"
On the last tour you were selling the 'Heavy metal Thunder' DVD as signed copies but it wasn't released in the shops up until late December of 2012 with different artwork, why was that and why did it take so long to be released officially?
"Well the original one was for the people who came to the concert and then the re-released one was contracted through our record company and the copy you have is collectable as it has different artwork to the later issue."
Paul how exciting is it to be still tour after all these years? Do you get home sick and tired now that you are older?
"Well it's not as bad with the way we do it because we generally only have hotels when we have days off touring so we tend to travel over night which also cuts the traveling time which also ups the partying time."
Ok Paul let's talk about the photo shoot I did for you, how did the pictures turn out for you? I hope you are pleased with them considering it was my 1st promo shoot haha!!
"Yeah they were great thanks Jason, they were used for the guitar company and also the case company I use in Hull. Doug likes them too and Nigel used one on our site with the drum stick you took of him. So all good that ends well, cheers chap!!
Well Paul, best of luck with the tour and album sales. It's always a pleasure speaking and meeting you and the band. Do you have anything to ad before we finish the interview? I will see you in Leeds for a beer and maybe a curry after the show. Take care me old duck haha!!
"Cheers Jase, thanks for the interview and the pictures and see you in Leeds. To our fans thanks for the support and we hope you like the album and check us out live".
Thanks to Paul for the phone call mate.