PlanetMosh’s Miley Stevens caught up with Saxon‘s legendary frontman Biff Byford ahead of an exciting new release called Eagles and Dragons – due to be out on 18th March 2016.
Miley: So Biff, you’re due to release a nine part vinyl box set called Eagles and Dragons?
Biff: Yeah, it’s a nine part vinyl box set, just been signing some posters too.
M: So what made you come to choose which of the albums you wanted to feature in this box set?
B: Well it’s all the albums from 1991-2009, so it’s quite a good set because everybody knows the 80s stuff. Its nice to see the later stuff in a package. Its an exclusive, it’s never going to be done again. Quite a nice collector’s piece too, I suppose. Yeah, I like it, I like the idea. The artwork is always great on vinyl too. They’re oil painted too, so the bigger the artwork, the better they look on a larger vinyl case too.
M: So what made you go back to use Paul Raymond Gregory? He’s worked extensively with you over the years.
B: He has, yeah – well I came up with the idea of an exclusive cover from him – just a one off, so it’s quite special for the artwork too. We’re only doing a few thousand of these, it’s nice to have something exclusive that’s never going to be seen – or sold again.
M: What does this release mean to you as a band?
B: It reflects what was a dark period for British metal. We came through it quite well with these albums, by writing great songs and always pushing forward. They helped us through those dark times – with the whole grunge thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love that movement but it took the limelight away from bands line Saxon, Iron Maiden and Motorhead at that time.
M: You’re very special in the fact that bands like you who were big in the 80s are still going strong now. I saw you last summer at MetalDays in Slovenia, and you absolutely killed it.
B: Yeah, well we’re still promoting our last studio album, Battering Ram. We’re starting to write some new songs in the next few weeks and should be touring the Battering Ram album later in the year.
M: What made you choose to release this box set as one lump as opposed to releasing these albums on vinyl individually?
B: Well it was the record company’s idea to begin with – to release it as a box set. At £70-80, it’s quite good value as a box set as well as being nice for those collectors out there. Everything’s digitally remastered, but we’ve done it this way because everything released prior to the albums in this box set were with EMI, this box set features everything that we’ve done with DMG (Demon Music Group).
M: This release feels like it’s a bit more personal. You know, to the fans with love from Saxon. Every one of the boxsets are individually numbered by hand, a lot of care has gone into this.
B: Yeah, you could say that. I’ve put a lot of work into this, it was my idea to do the cover with Paul. It’s nice because sometimes record companies just release things without you even know it’s happening and we feel really included too.
M: What do you want to the fans to take away with them when they buy this boxset?
B: It’s a collector’s piece, really. Like I say, we’re never going to do this again – it’s a one off. For those people into vinyl, this is one of the boxsets to have. We can’t say we’ve done it and it’s very exciting.
M: It’s quite an interesting trend, how vinyl is coming back, don’t you think?
B: Vinyl’s good for the fans, because it’s unique in the fact that it can be used and played as well as being decorative and artistic. you can put them in frames, you see a lot of people in the 80s putting album covers in frames and displaying them.
M: There is a big sense of nostalgia with this release. Those listening to you in the 80s on vinyl are now able to do that again with your newer releases. That’s quite special in itself. It’s like having the old Saxon back.
B: A little bit, I was never a fan of vinyl myself. Not a fan of the huge decks spinning around. I’m more of a portable music fan myself but I do like the way it has moving parts and it’s something physical to hold.
M: Is there anything you’d like to add before I leave you this evening?
B: No, other than I’m very much looking forward to this release, and seeing everybody at Download and all the other festivals this summer. We’ll be back on tour this autumn too.