SAXON's BIFF BYFORD: 'We're Just As Well-Known As IRON MAIDEN; We're Just Not As Successful'
November 14, 2023
In a new interview with El Cuartel Del Metal, Biff Byford was asked for his opinion on some fans' assertion that SAXON is a vastly underrated band. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think they get confused with successful. Nobody can be bigger than IRON MAIDEN in the metal scene, especially in South America. They do football stadiums there with, like, Ed Sheeran or something, or Taylor Swift. So just because they're that big doesn't mean to say that we're underrated. It just means that we're not that big. It's as simple as that."
He continued: "Somebody always has to be the most successful. And IRON MAIDEN are it. And that's the fact of life. And we love IRON MAIDEN. We know the guys really well. And they've done a fantastic job keeping their career up there. We're just as well-known as IRON MAIDEN. We're just not as successful. That's a simple truth."
Byford went on to say that he isn't concerned about the fact that SAXON isn't a bigger band. "It doesn't make any difference," he said. "It's not a big deal. If we come to Argentina and play in front of 3,000, 4,000 people, we don't think, 'Oh, we should be playing in front of, like, 50,000.' We don't have that mentality. We just come down there and play for our fans who are into the music, who follow our career and buy our albums, watch our videos. And that's what we're into, really."
Back in 2017, Byford was asked by Canadian rock journalist Mitch Lafon why he thinks SAXON never managed to reach the same commercial heights in the 1980s as a band like IRON MAIDEN. Biff said: "I just think that they had a fantastic team around them — and still do have, actually — and I think that made the extra… made it a bit better. I don't think they were surrounded by 'yes men,' if you know what I'm saying, where I think we were surrounded a little bit by fawning 'yes men,' and we lost our way a little bit in the way that we wrote songs and the way we recorded songs. It would have been better if we had stayed with a winning team, if you know what I mean. That's the sort of thing I mean. It's not particularly anything to do with musically or fashion or anything. It's just a matter of… I think they had the right team at the right place at the right time. They really went for it in America, and we sort of probably went about fifty percent for America. You have to remember that we were probably bigger in Europe at that time. It's just how it goes, really. It's just the luck of the draw, as they say."
Byford was also asked why he thinks SAXON had a particularly hard time breaking the American market. He responded: "You're asking the wrong person. I don't know. I mean, we certainly had the songs: 'Power & The Glory', 'Wheels Of Steel', 'Strong Arm Of The Law', 'Princess Of The Night', 'Denim And Leather'… I just think it was the record company and the general team that surrounded us. There's no reason why SAXON shouldn't have been a multi-platinum [band] in America — no reason whatsoever, apart from probably our own naiveté."
He continued: "'Power & The Glory'  was high in the [American] charts, and 'Crusader'  was as well. We just didn't manage to get to the platinum club; that's all. It's as simple as that. But that doesn't mean to say that we don't have a lot of fans in America. I mean, this tour that we're doing now [with UFO], we've just done three and a half thousand people on the West Coast, and it's fantastic. So we have a lot of fans out there, and we have a growing fan base of younger fans as well, so it's great, really. We don't have any regrets."
SAXON recently entered the studio to begin recording its new album for a tentative early 2024 release.
Earlier in the year, SAXON guitarist Paul Quinn announced that he was stepping back from touring with the band. As a result of his decision, SAXON canceled its April 2023 South American tour as well as the appearance at the Monsters Of Rock cruise. Quinn has since been replaced on the road by DIAMOND HEAD's Brian Tatler.
Brian has already joined fellow guitarist Doug Scarratt, drummer Nigel Glockler, bassist Tim "Nibbs" Carter and Byford for several European shows but will continue to be a member of DIAMOND HEAD.
SAXON's latest release, "More Inspirations", arrived in March via Silver Lining Music. Following the release of "Inspirations" in 2021, "More Inspirations" is the second "deep dish" serving of the influences which have fed SAXON's immensely successful 40-plus-year career.
Produced by Biff, with Seb Byford helping record the music alongside mixing engineer Jacky Lehmann, "More Inspirations" includes takes on RAINBOW, ZZ TOP and CREAM, as well as "Razamanaz" by NAZARETH, THE WHO's "Substitute", and URIAH HEEP's "Gypsy".
Byford and Quinn are the sole remaining original members in SAXON's current lineup.
Originally from South Yorkshire, England, SAXON has gone on to sell about 23 million albums and has produced such classic songs as "Denim And Leather", "Princess Of The Night", "Wheels Of Steel" and "Power And Glory".
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