Omega's Apple recently published an exclusive email interview with Blaze Bayley drummer Lawrence Paterson, conducted by Robert Gray. Topics of discussion included his book "Blaze Bayley: At The End Of The Day", as well as frontman Blaze Bayley's tenures in Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden and Blaze. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Omega's Apple: How did you come to write 'At the End of the Day'? Why did you feel Blaze Bayley Cook's story would be a compelling one?
Lawrence Paterson: It was strange really. I'd toyed with the idea of writing my own book about the stupid things that have happened to this particular struggling drummer over the years, but wasn't sure if anybody would find it interesting or funny. Spinal Tap would look like a serious work of art compared to the reality. But after joining Blaze Bayley, the idea just kind of fell into place on its own. I'd followed Blaze's career since he left Maiden and was both surprised and dismayed by the apparent lack of recognition of what I felt were top grade metal albums. Ironically, this mirrored the feeling that I would get when I looked at Bruce Dickinson's solo metal albums. After joining the band I saw that the history was such a tangle that some things actually started to make sense. And the things that have happened to this band and all of its members are so ridiculous that you couldn't make it up. So it seemed like a good idea to write the story. I also feel that there are many misconceptions about Blaze's time in Maiden and now, ten years on, that it's time to start putting the record straight or at least straighter than it has been.
Personally, how would you critique Iron Maiden's Blaze Bayley era (1994-1999)? His time with the band is somewhat overlooked in favour of Bruce Dickinson's and Paul Di'Anno's tenures with Iron Maiden, though do you feel the material Bayley cut with Maiden is underrated?
I think that Blaze has taken a great deal of unfair criticism for his period in Maiden. I feel that there are several factors for this. First of all, Di'Anno features on the two albums that began it all. 'Iron Maiden' (1980) and 'Killers' (1981) are iconic and really ignited the flames that would follow and see Maiden justifiably head on a meteoric trajectory upwards. Then, of course, you have what is to me an unbroken run of excellence that culminated in 'Live After Death' (1985). The first three albums with Dickinson were to me at the time and still are genre-defining slabs of metal. They'll always be among my favourites and I believe that there are thousands of other people that feel the same. They were the glory days of metal and every band were releasing blockbusters: Maiden, Priest, AC/DC, Motrhead etc. etc every album was brilliant to me at the time and they still are. However, by the time that Blaze joined Maiden they had lost a certain something in my eyes. I never really liked the two preceding albums and felt that the crunch and bite that Maiden had had, had largely disappeared. Ironically, 'The X Factor' actually was a return to a darker feel than either of the two albums before it. But, I believe that one of the fundamental flaws with it is the production. The guitars are very weak and the drums lack the depth and solidity that fans of Nicko (like myself) loved. It wasn't the first album to lack that heaviness but it was possibly the most obvious. When you consider that the band was releasing an album with a new vocalist you would think that there would be more appreciation of the need to blow people's heads off with the sound. But it just isn't there.
However, there are better songs on that album than the preceding two in my opinion. There are also some very lukewarm ones too, but if you listen to Blood On The World's Hands for example and picture it with the guitar and drum sound from 'Piece Of Mind' (1983) you can see that the ingredients are there for some class-A metal. Plus, I believe that Adrian Smith is the secret weapon in Maiden's arsenal and he was missing from the two albums that Blaze is on. 'Virtual XI' (1998) sounds hurried. There are actually some performances on there that surprise people for their apparent lack of precision, especially from a band like Maiden. Epics like The Clansman would have benefited from good production, as is apparent on the 'Rio' DVD (2002). But Blaze's vocals are excellent. Then the infamous Angel And The Gambler would have benefited from rehearsal when the band would have discovered (like they did on tour) that even they get bored and lost trying to play the whole thing. How would the people listening to the CD feel? And those keyboards should have been lost in a mysterious accident in the studio.
So I think Blaze has carried the can for a lot of bad decisions made by an excellent band that was going through a hard time when metal was out of vogue. Blaze has been blamed for the cancellation of American dates, which may or may not have been the case, but it certainly didn't help his acceptance by the more dubious fans.
All just my opinion as a hardcore Maiden fan and metalhead.
Read the entire interview at Omega's Apple.