“What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.”
Look no further than Blaze Bayley for proof of the above statement. The man was dogged and pummelled by a legion of metal media folks and fans during his five year stint as Bruce Dickinson’s replacement in Iron Maiden, had to re-start his music career from scratch when he was given the boot in ‘98, endured numerous line-up changes within his own band Blaze, all the while being (allegedly) ripped off by his record label before finally striking out as an independent artist. As if that wasn’t enough, Bayley was dealt a blow in 2008 that should have crushed him for good; the sudden death of his wife. Rather than disappearing from the spotlight to grieve and soul search he continued the push forward for the first official Blaze Bayley album, The Man Who Would Not Die (released 2008), taking his band on the road for the better part of a year before getting down to making a new record. The end result is nothing short of staggering given the circumstances surrounding it. It’s fair to say no Blaze Bayley fan will go away disappointed.
Promise And Terror is Bayley’s second album under his own name and as an independent artist. Between 2000 and 2004 he released three studio records and one live album under the Blaze moniker via SPV, a relationship that slowly but surely destroyed Bayley’s belief in the almighty record company.
“I started my own label a few years ago, which made people think ‘Well, I guess he can’t get a record deal.’ The truth is I’m absolutely sick of the mainstream music business and the way they look at things. I started out because I wanted to sing and write my own songs, I wanted to play lots of gig anywhere I could and live on a tour bus. That was my reason for getting into making music. Nothing in the mainstream business seems to be about that. It’s all hype; it’s ‘Advertise this record, advertise this band, say they’re the best thing ever and let’s try to con some people into buying this album.’ Then they put the band on tour in venues that they couldn’t fill or afford to do if they didn’t have money from the advertising. It’s all complete nonsense to me.”
“We’re a real band, real musicians that play 100% live for audiences that want us there,” Bayley continues. “There’s no hype involved. We’re not saying we’re the greatest band in the world; that’s for the fans to decide. It’s up to the fans to say that we’re worthy of their support. We’re not conning anybody, we’re saying ‘This is the way of life we have chosen and this is what we dream of doing. The reactions that we’ve gotten so far for Promise And Terror, I can’t believe it. You’re always so nervous when you put out a new album. You do your best to pack everything into an album but then you have to let it go, and you just don’t know if people are going to like it or not. So far the reaction has been really positive and that’s absolutely fantastic.”
Promise And Terror has the benefit of distribution in Europe and North America through Plastic Head and Candlelight respectively. The Man Who Would Not Die was as low key as it gets, with band and management forced to do all the legwork in order to let people know the record even existed. Perseverance, a gruelling tour schedule and positive word of mouth enabled Bayley and his bandmates to get through what were some painfully lean times.
“We made a lot of compromises with the last album because of the circumstances,” Bayley admits. “We were absolutely broke. We made the album in different places, we had hardly any money to spend on it so it didn’t come out when we wanted it to. We had to put it out, we had to go on tour and we had to make the best of the situation. We didn’t have a lot of press behind it, we didn’t have a big coordinated tour to go with it, but we kept going and going, telling people to please listen to The Man Who Would Not Die because it was the best work we’d ever done.”
“We tried to play every small venue we could, offering the cheapest ticket prices we could to give people the chance to come and see us so we could prove we’re a live band and what they were hearing on the album was real. We did all that with The Man Who Would Not Die, and now we have a new manager, we’ve got a record company together, and this is the first time where we’re bringing out an album and starting a tour at the same time. The Man Who Would Not Die got us to this point and we just hope that those fans who have given us so much support and encouragement will enjoy the new album and continue to support us. We’re off to a great start.”
“A lot of people didn’t know that the Blaze Bayley band existed, so The Man Who Would Not Die was us saying ‘Right, here we are!’ I’m hoping that with the tour dates we’ve got planned for Promise And Terror that people will see we’re serious about this. Hopefully they’ll think we’re worth listening to.”
Sadly, on September 23rd, 2008 Bayley’s wife Debbie passed away after suffering a stroke. Promise And Terror is a tribute to her and everything she’d worked towards as the band’s manager and Bayley’s partner. He calls the album an emotional journey and lays bare his soul in the songs for anyone willing to take the time and listen. Hands down some of his finest work ever.
“My wife saved my life, so I had to carry on for her,” he says. “Before she died she said that if anything ever happened – which we never thought it would – she wanted me to carry on. In the unbelievable circumstances that she was gone I had no choice but to do as she asked. She was the manager of the band, she put the band together, auditioned drummers with me, everything, so I knew I had to do this for her. Otherwise everything she worked for would have been for nothing.”
“The last four songs on the album tell a story of love, tragedy and expectation,” he adds, getting to the heart of the record. “It’s an emotional journey. It starts with ‘Time To Dare’ which reflects the title of the album. That song is about asking yourself if you’ve dreamt about the path that you want to take in life. Have you looked at your life and said ‘This is what I want to do…’ with the idea that your life will be fulfilled? That’s the promise. The terror is the uncertainty, leaving everything behind, sacrificing everything for the promise of living the life that you’ve dreamt of. Whatever sacrifice you have to make, that’s terrifying.”
“Everything on this album is very natural. Those last four songs started out as an idea when we first started talking about making the album, and we knew there was a journey there. It’s the story of someone falling in love, that love saving him and giving him a future, losing everything, and suffering in the darkness in a deep depression and finding a way to deal with it.”
“Promise And Terror was very painful to make in places because it’s totally honest. All of those lyrics are deeply personal and I don’t hide behind anything. On Silicon Messiah and Tenth Dimension I spoke my own feelings through a character that I created for the song. On Promise And Terror it’s direct; I’m talking about my own feelings and my own situation in a very honest way. I think that big change came about when I did the Blood And Belief album, and since then I’ve tried to stay with that style. The fans I meet, some of them have told me they have similar feelings and emotions too, and it’s very comforting to know other people feel the same way and that I’m not as screwed up as I thought I was (laughs). However painful it is to reveal everything about myself, that’s the benefit. It’s also satisfying to know that other people identify with this because it’s absolutely real.”