British heavy metal vocalist Blaze Bayley (IRON MAIDEN, WOLFSBANE) was recently interviewed by Belfast Metal. The complete conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On "The Redemption Of William Black", the recently released conclusion of his "Infinite Entanglement" trilogy:
Blaze: "We had a big success with 'Endure And Survive' [the trilogy's second chapter] — fans really liked that album — but it put us under a lot of pressure, really, for part three, because a lot of fans said, 'Part two, we like it even more than part one,' so the natural thing was they wanted part three to be even better. But we were never trying to make things better — we were always trying to tell the story. Part one of 'Infinite Entanglement' is about a man who wakes up in a machine body. His consciousness has been put into a machine body, and he doesn't know. He wakes up and has to decide, 'Am I human? What is it to be human? Do thinking and feeling as a human qualify you as a human, or do you have to have flesh and blood?' He decides eventually that he is human, and he's on a one-way trip to the other side of the galaxy to go to a new world, and it is that journey of 1,000 years and leaving behind everything he's done that forms the basis of the first part of the story. The second part, 'Endure And Survive', is enduring that journey of 1,000 years, 100 lifetimes. Then, at the end of it, the powers that be decide that they don't want him or any normal person to ever touch that world. You have to be genetically perfect to touch that world. Then on this album, we find out why, because the main bad guy, he's a self-appointed, delusional God character that has found a way to transfer consciousness into different bodies, and so giving immortality to those who he deems are worthy, but by the same time, on this new world, to prepare this new world for these genetically perfect humans, all indigenous intelligent life must be eradicated. William Black has a very dark past; that's why he was selected for this mission in the first place. It is that that he seeks redemption for. In the end, he believes that it is possible to change, and in the end, he looks at the circumstances he's in with these people who have accepted him and taken him as their own, as a brother, without knowing his name, and he looks at them, and they face annihilation, and he looks back in his own past at the terrible atrocities he committed in his military days, and he thinks about what's happening to these people, and his redemption is he decides to defend those people against the colonization of the genetically perfect humans."
On what inspired him to write the story detailed in the trilogy:
Blaze: "The main inspiration for me was the Conquistadors, and the ugliness of the early colonizations, which we live with now because we have to embrace and deal with what those great-grandfathers, what that royalty, what those politicians did when they went to Africa and stole people and treated them less than human. They became slaves. It was that analogy and the idea that someone arrives in your home and says, 'Your home is now the domain of King George, and you are now a subject of King George,' but I actually live here myself. I don't know King George, don't want him. It has nothing to do with me. That is irrelevant, because now we're telling you by force. It is the consequences and the ripples of that that we live with in the current physical climate as we're taught to be afraid of immigration and strangers. Brexit has come out out of a kind of xenophobia in a way, and when you actually go out, as I'm fortunate to do, on tour in different countries and meet many, many fans [for whom] English is not their first language, and we find a way to communicate — we love this music — it's like, 'Well, this is what we should all be communicating about. We should be thinking about the things that bring us together, not about the separateness.' We shouldn't be trying to possess other people; we shouldn't be trying to rule other peoples' lives. We should be allowed to live in the harmony that we did. This is the basis of my story, that in one way, you have these indigenous people with their religions of the mother earth, and being grateful and living in harmony, and in the other way, you have the colonists to dominate and rule nature, as we have through human history."
On having his own record label:
Blaze: "I had to wait a long time for the licenses to run out and to get all the licenses for my albums back that I'd started after IRON MAIDEN. When I did get those licenses back, I went to a distributor and said, 'I started my own label. Would you be prepared to work with me?' They said, 'Okay, we'll do it.' I have ten albums since I left IRON MAIDEN, and for me, that's a real achievement. These three ['Infinite Entanglement'] albums, which I believe would have been impossible on a major label, I've been able to do, and the biggest reason is because I've had so much support from fans around the world and people who have pre-ordered my albums without hearing a note, or even knowing if I was genuine or not. I'm very, very lucky to have had that support, and I think it says something about music and art that perhaps — and I'm not saying that I'm any good, but perhaps that when things have a spirit and the passion and we can relate to them as people, then perhaps they do have a certain amount of life that we enjoy and we can be touched by them, and perhaps that's the investment that we make."
On the enduring appeal of heavy metal:
Blaze: "There are no big [new] heavy metal bands. There are million-pound deals anymore. Heavy metal isn't the most popular music in the world anymore. It's not like the '80s, when it was on TV in the daytime. That's the difference. [But] we do have a core; we're not disappearing. Heavy metal isn't disappearing, and it is a genre, and when it's done well, it is this incredibly powerful thing that really takes you out of yourself, and that's what I like about it. We are full of clichés and we are full of cheesiness, and I admit that, but what we do, when we do it right, we take these bits of cheesiness, we take these clichés, and we go, 'Do you know what? We'll just put that in there,' and that's the thing where everybody, they won't go, 'Oh, it's cheesy.' They'll go, 'Oh, I love it!' We love that, and that's part of it which I hope will never, ever change from metal. There's bits where you get interested. There are some bands that have intelligent lyrics that want to make you think a bit, and there are some bands who are a bit more, 'It's all a big party, and that's what we're doing, so if you come to see us, it's party time.' I think we all have those different parts, and metal is vast in that — rock and metal, and I'm very glad to be a small part of it."
On not offering meet-and-greet VIP packages:
Blaze: "Every Blaze Bayley show, there is a free meet-and-greet after the show, sometimes before, unless I'm ill or have to catch a plane or something like that, or the promoter messes up, because I think, for me personally, I just want to be able to say the smallest thank you to the people that make it possible for me to live my dream."
"The Redemption Of William Black", Bayley's 10th solo album, was released on March 2. It was co-written with Chris Appleton of fellow British metal band ABSOLVA. Chris, who also co-produces the album, is lead guitarist and backing vocalist in Blaze's band for recording and touring, together with his ABSOLVA bandmates Martin McNee (drums) and Karl Schramm (bass and backing vocals).
Special guests on the album include FOZZY singer Chris Jericho, also of WWE fame, for whom Blaze has specially created a character within the "Infinite Entanglement" story. Also, on choir duty is Luke Appleton (ICED EARTH bassist and ABSOLVA rhythm guitarist), as well as Michelle Sciarrotta (choir/voice actor), Jo Robinson (choir), Mel Adams (choir), Liz Owen (backing vocals/choir), Aine Brewer (voice actor) and Rob Toogood (choir/voice actor).