An Interview With Blaze Bayley

An Interview With Blaze Bayley

Blaze Bayley sorely misses his fans. Worldwide events have sidelined the former Iron Maiden frontman, and just about everyone else, too, for more than a year. But Bayley admits, it hasn’t all been bad.

“It’s one of the few times where I haven’t had to pick up my bag, check my passport, and then spend hours walking around an airport,” Bayley said. “Or worse still, running across an airport because the connections that the travel agent makes are literally impossible to do. I don’t want to run across an airport that’s got armed police in it. I look crazy. Who are they gonna stop? The person that’s just walking normal? Or the heavy metal guy with a bag on his shoulder running as fast as he can? It’s obvious who is gonna get shot!”

The pandemic certainly hasn’t dampened Bayley’s sense of humor or his productivity, and the heavy metal veteran beamed about his new album, “War Within Me,” on a recent Zoom call. The album marks his 11th full metal studio effort and the first since his wildly ambitious “Infinite Entanglement” trilogy. It’s heavy, melodic, and uncompromising power metal, and Bayley and co-writer/guitarist Chris Appleton had a specific goal in mind when writing sessions began in 2020.

“I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something positive,’ ” Bayley said. “People have been waiting two years for my next studio album, and they’re gonna take me and put me in their head. They’re gonna take me into their car, and I’ll be living in their car with them. They’re gonna take me into their bedroom and put me on their hi-fi. So when I get there, what am I gonna say to my fans that have supported me loyally and kept me going through the most difficult times? What am I gonna say to them in these difficult times? It has to be good. It has to be uplifting. It has to give each person the feeling that if they think things are hopeless, there is hope. If they feel weak and under siege and they can’t carry on, they can find the strength to carry on. And that’s what I wanted to do.”

Blaze chatted at length about “War Within Me” (available now at, how his writing relationship with Appleton has evolved, and what’s next in navigating live shows post-pandemic. Here are the highlights.

It was a relief not having to write around a concept like with his “Infinite Entanglement” trilogy.
“My trilogy, ‘Infinite Entanglement,’ is my greatest achievement in music. It seems impossible now looking back on it. We did three albums in three years with three tours, each one with quality and a very high standard of songwriting. It was 34 songs linked together. One story about a man who does not know if he is human, and then is betrayed, and then seeks redemption for his own past sins. And all of this has to fit together. Before every album, there was a meeting about the story. Who is this? What character is this? What happens here? Why are we doing this? Then we come to ‘War Within Me,’ and it’s, ‘Well, we’ve got to come up with 10 very good songs. And they don’t have to be connected?’ (Shouting) Yeahhhh!!!”

Bayley and Appleton employ the “100 listens” rule.
“We have this thing when we write called ‘the 100 listens.’ If you are the fan, then over time, you may listen to that album 100 times if it’s good. So it has to be worth listening to 100 times, and that’s where we start from. If after 5 times you listen to the song, and you go, ‘I’m a bit bored,’ you’ve got to do something about it. We knew we needed a positive album. We came back from South America at the end of February 2020. Coronavirus was just in Europe. In March we did Burr Fest which was one of the last live gigs to happen in Europe. After that I’m thinking to myself, ‘I know so many of my fans on a first-name basis, and I’ve done a free meet-and-greet at every Blaze Bayley concert up until now, and people tell me their stories and say ‘This song meant a lot to me,’ and ‘This album meant a lot to me.’ Every detail was, ‘We’ve got to leave a positive message.’ When you listen to this album, if you’re a Blaze Bayley fan, you get to the end, and you’ve got to be like, ‘Oh, thank goodness! I’ve got my Blaze album. I can last with this for another year. Thank goodness it’s good! Oh, I feel much better!’ That’s what I was going for.”

The fans, as always, inspired Bayley on “War Within Me”
“I could see the faces of my fans in my mind. One of the last songs we did was ‘War Within Me,’ which is the first single. It was a demo that Chris had already did himself — drums, bass, guitars, but no vocal melodies or lyrics. So I just lived with that for a while. The internal dialogue and dilemmas that I go through, and I’m sure so many of us go through especially in these times, that became the lyric that is ‘War Within Me.’ The negative and self-destructive thoughts and the responsibility to take control of your own happiness, to take control of your life and stand up and continue this battle between these two. Who will prevail? And will your better self be the one that you’re able to present to the world, or will the self-destructive, negative side of you be the one that drinks themself into oblivion and obscurity and stays in bed?”

Bayley says he’s “a real asshole to work with.”
“I know I’m a difficult person to work with. And Chris is patient. I know I push him to his limits sometimes. And we’re looking at each other across the room, and if we had guns, we would probably use them. But in the end, we’re just throwing something at each other. I know when he leaves the studio, I know he’s just going, ‘Oh thank goodness I’m out of there away from that jerk.’ But the thing that keeps us together is we won’t stop. I think that is something that’s unusual with writers. We won’t stop. We will go round and round and try every chord with every lyric and every rhythm. If we can’t find what we feel is the best solution, we’ll just keep going. As we’ve worked together, we’ve kind of developed a short hand and dialogue. If he knows I’m gonna hate something, he doesn’t suggest it. And if I have an idea that’s not the sort of thing where he’s not gonna sound like Chris Appleton, I don’t suggest it.

The new album was written on an acoustic guitar.
“We come to this album, and overall we’ve written nearly 50 songs together. We come to the ‘War Within Me’ album, and Chris says, ‘Shall we do all of the writing on this old acoustic guitar?’ I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ So we get out my old acoustic guitar. Every riff, every chord, the solos, everything is done on this old acoustic. It’s just a battered old acoustic guitar, and we do our demos like that. So what we have is the song. Basically, if it doesn’t mean anything and it can’t be done acoustically, is it worth it? When we got everything to a standard that we like acoustically, we start to see how we can metallize it, and how we use the tools available to us creatively. It’s a narrow path in heavy metal. How do we use these tools to make it worth listening to 100 times. I’m infuriating and awful, and Chris manages to get through that. In the end, we’ve come up with something that we’re both incredibly proud of.
I’m very lucky to work with Chris.”

He loves his fans, but don’t ask Blaze for a selfie when he’s sleeping — especially at the airport.
“I don’t miss sleeping on the floor in the airport waiting for the checkout to open because there’a s problem with flights or the weather. I think we were on our way to Finland, and everything got messed up. We’re at the airport, and the checking desk opens in five hours. It’s 1 a.m. You’re on the floor in the airport. And then somebody comes up to me, ‘Blaze! Blaze! Can I have a selfie?’ I’m asleep! You want a selfie! And what are your friends gonna say? Why are you taking a photo of an ugly guy sleeping on an airport floor. ‘Oh, it’s Blaze Bayley!’ ‘Are you sure?’ I don’t miss any of that. But I miss my fans. I miss singing. I’m really busy right now, and I’m very lucky. Most people that have heard the new album, most have said they think it’s a good album. I’ve had great comments from my fans. I feel really grateful that I’ve had that kind of support. My fans are the ones that have made it possible to make a new studio album. It could have been much worse, and I am still very privileged to be a full-time heavy metal singer, and I’m completely independent and supported by my fans. They’ve made it possible for me to make this album that I’m so proud of.”

Travel issues aside, he’s looking forward to getting back on tour.
“My manager is really good. He’s conservative in one way. We don’t like to announce things that get canceled. We know fans travel to see me, so we’re very careful about that. So if something is announced, that’s because my manager thinks there’s a very strong possibility it will go ahead.”

Bayley has a number of dates booked beginning with a handful of festival appearances in July and August and a lengthy tour of England in the fall. For dates and ticket information, visit

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