Hi Blaze, how are you doing?
I am just trying to recover from my trip to Brazil. It was absolutely fantastic we did about 15 shows all over Brazil and we had some great attendance and some really, really good shows, it was one of my favourite tours.
We had Mondays and Tuesdays off to explore and then we did four or five shows in a row, it was really good.
Have you ever played in the Middle East before?
Yes I started my professional career in music in Dubai. When I was in Wolfsbane we were hired as the house band for a hotel and we played in the pub inside the hotel, I think it was called the Red Lion. So yeah, we saved up all the money from that, we were out there for about a month and that is what we made our first demo tape with. We bought studio time and after that we managed to get an agent in the UK. Going and doing that gig in Dubai for that month, that was my first time that I had been away from home for a long time, I had to leave my job, that was the big thing, we said ‘right, we will go professional now’.
I was really excited when the booking came through for Dubai because I have a lot of memories of going there.
Which have been your favourite albums that you have been involved in in Wolfsbane, Iron Maiden or your solo career?
In Wolfsbane one of the albums that we did was called All Hell Breaking Loose and I have great memories of that one because we made it at a studio called Roundhouse near Camden in London and AC/DC had recorded part of their Highway to Hell album, one of the classic DC albums, but also while we were there The Queen had recorded part of Bohemian Rhapsody there. So there was a really great vibe and we had to have a battle with the record company to get the artwork we wanted. We only had like three days to make it, I think we had two whole days rehearsal then we had a days recording and then a day of mixing, so it was really really quick.
Which of the songs that you have written would you say you are most proud of?
I have a couple of highlights, I think one is from my Silicon Messiah album, which is called Stare at the Sun, which one fan said to me once; ‘it is the most perfect heavy metal song ever written’, I think that is quite bold,. I didn’t say that the fan did. I think that song feels really complete, I think if you shortened it or take things out it just didn’t make sense, so it just ended up being as long as it was to tell the story.
On my new CD I have a song called One More Step which I am very proud of as well, which is about trying to find courage when you don’t have anything.
Tell me a bit about your Russian Holiday EP.
It is an acoustic EP and its my vocals obviously, then classical guitar by Thomas Zwijsen and some of the songs I wanted to do again because I feel that my voice now is the best that it has ever sounded and I really wanted to record in a different way and so we decided to go ahead and make this classical EP. One of the songs is a brand new song, which is Russian Holiday and that was inspired by a trip to Russia and I was very homesick at the time and missing my family.
Some of the other ones are ones that I have done again from my career that I really wanted to sing again with the voice that I have now, so one is from the X Factor album called Sign of the Cross – because it is such a long time since I was in Iron Maiden and made the X Factor album that my voice has changed quite a lot and I really wanted to get a version of me singing this song which is really powerful with the voice that I have now.
I hope you enjoy it. If you want to listen to it and I hope the fans out there enjoy the songs that we are going to do. (grab yourself a copy here.)
Do you take any home comforts or family pictures with you on tour?
Well, on my laptop I have a file marked ‘Family’ and I have photos of my family and I put them on my phone as well, so I always have plenty of photos of my family. My daughter is 17 months old now, so what I did, because I missed her, I took a pair of her socks and put them in my bag so if I got a bit desperate I had a pair of my daughters socks as a little remembrance of her. It was a lot easier being away this time because we had Wi-Fi and Skype and we could actually see each other a couple of times, so that was good, but then when I went away to Russia, she was only five months old and I had already been away for a long time for the Kings of Metal album so it was very difficult to be away and that is what the song was about.
It was a horrible, horrible trip, every time I went away then she did not recognise me when I went back and I had to start all over again.
Regarding the song Como Estas Amigo I remember reading about how it is a message to those who lost their lives in the Falklands war, was this event a significant influence on you when you were young and did it spark a desire to become a musician and speak out against politicians?
Really it affected me in later life, my friend from school was in the Marines and he was killed in the Falklands, but it was actually a trip to Argentina that really inspired it because the hotel I was staying in was near the main square where the memorial was for the dead of the Falklands, and the people there were so lovely you couldn’t believe there had been a war with them. so that was what inspired it really, going and seeing the memorial from the soldiers from both sides of the conflict. It was a very political conflict. So that is what inspired the song and we do that in our acoustic set as well and it goes down really well and went down fantastically in Brazil.
Do you see any parallels with unjust conflict as a whole and the way it emboldens people in some cases to turn to music as an outlet for expression?
I am not very political in my music. The message that I am trying to get across is to try and be self-reliant and to help yourself and find the strength in yourself to make the best of your own world and change your own world personally. I am not very political in that way, but I have written several songs about war and about conflicts because it is such a deep emotional thing.
Can you share with us a couple of songs you will be playing on the set list?
We will be playing The Clansman, Como Estas Amigos, and from the X Factor we will be doing Sign of the Cross maybe, and Man on the Edge, and then from my own albums we will be doing Meant to Be and of course Russian Holiday from the EP. Most of the songs we have on the Russian Holiday EP will be played live.
What are you most looking forward to about coming back to Dubai?
I am a proper singer now, the first time I was there I was learning and it has changed so much, you see things on TV about how it has changed so I am really looking forward to seeing it up close and personal myself compared to when I was there the first time at that hotel. I am really excited and I don’t know what the fans are going to be like, I just don’t know, so I am really really excited about meeting the fans and I will be doing a special signing for everyone after the concert so anyone who has any of my Iron Maiden or Wolfsbane or any of my solo albums, they can bring it along and I will sign it after the concert.
I am really excited about coming to Dubai, I cant wait to meet the fans there and am really, really looking forward to the gig.
For more information on the event please click here.