Saxon Drummer Nigel Glockler on Band’s 40-Year Run
One of the forerunners in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a scene that emerged in the late ‘70s, Saxon has somehow managed to persevere for nearly 40 years now. The band’s latest album, Sacrifice, features more of the band’s shredding guitars and wailing vocals. Phoning from his home in Southern England just as he was about to embark on “the longest tour we’ve done for a while,” drummer Nigel Glockler talked about Saxon’s lengthy career.
Talk about what the early days were like. The British heavy metal scene was really great when the band started.
It was all part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. There was Saxon and Iron Maiden and [Judas] Priest had been going for a few years and Def Leppard as well. Then, there were other bands like Diamond Head that came out. All the record companies jumped on the bandwagon and started signing them.
Did you feel like you were doing something different?
I wasn’t there when the band first started. The first tour I did was the Denim and Leather tour. The band had already cemented its reputation and had four albums out. I was in a new wave band and we were big. We had a lot of hit singles. The manager of Saxon used to be in the first professional band I ever played in. When [Saxon drummer] Pete Gill injured his hand, he rang up and he asked if I could help out. This was on a Sunday and the first gig was on a Wednesday in my hometown. The crazy thing is that I had bought tickets and I ended up playing the gig.
The early ‘80s must have been a great period for the band.
You left the band in 1987, right before EMI dropped the band. Did you have a sense that the group was headed down the wrong path?
I left because I didn’t like the management at the time. I thought the best thing for me to do was leave. Management was making the band do things that I didn’t like it. I got offered a gig with GTR with Steve Howe so I did that.
You came back in 1989?
Yeah, they rang me up about doing a tour and live album. It went great and the management had changed so that was fine.
Had the band’s sound changed?
I came back and then we got a new bass player and when you get new people, your sound will change in a certain ways. Each new member, either deliberately or not will inject new sound into the band. With the writing, once we started writing Solid Ball of Rock, it was a refreshed band.
Talk about the making of Sacrifice.
We started some writing sessions last year. Everyone has little things at home where they can put ideas down. Sometimes, they’ll come to my studio and we’ll get some guitar riffs together. We’ll throw it into the melting pot and see what happens. Everyone in the band writes.
To what do you attribute the band’s steadiness?
A lot of it comes down to the fact that we enjoy what we do. We enjoy the composition and making albums in the recording studio and the experimentation and we enjoy the playing live. As long as people want to see us, we’ll keep doing it. Like any band, once you stop enjoying it, there’s no point in doing it. We’re having fun and I see no changes in the near future.
Do you listen to new metal bands?
Everyone listens to all sorts of stuff. I listen to mainly prog stuff actually. I’ve been going back and listening to stuff from the early ‘70s like early Genesis with Peter Gabriel. I love Porcupine Tree but I also love Rammstein. I go right across the gamut. Everyone has different stuff they like. I think that’s good. I started listening to fusion stuff like Chick Corea and Billy Cobham. We listen to metal as well. I think the latest Black Sabbath album is great.
Who’s your favorite drummer?
Simon Phillips. He’s a great technician and he’s got great grooves. He’s a great all-arounder. Neil Peart from Rush. I love [Vinnie] Colaiuta who plays with Sting. I love the more technical drummers… Lenny White and Billy Cobham and all that kind of stuff.
Saxon has 20 studio albums now. What’s your setlist going to be like?
That’s very difficult. We’ll do the ones we think we can do justice to live. If the song is really fast in the studio, it’s a different thing. You can keep doing it until you get it right. Live you have one chance. Sometimes, the fast songs can sound frenetic and a bit of a mess. We’ve been experimenting and we’re happy with the ones we’re going to play. We might throw something in one night that we haven’t done for the rest of the tour and that keeps us fresh and makes it a bit of fun.
Upcoming 2013 Tour Dates
Montreal, QUE @ Corona Theater
Toronto, ONT @ The Phoenix
Reading, PA @ Reverb
Cleveland, OH @ Peabody’s
Dayton, OH @ McGuffy’s
Flint, MI @ Machine Shop
Joliet, IL @ Mojoe’s
Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
Dallas, TX @ House Of Blues
San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live
Houston, TX @ House Of Blues
Tempe, AZ @ Club Red
Long Beach, CA @ Gaslamp
Ramona, CA @ Ramona MainStage
Los Angeles, CA @ House Of Blues
Corona, CA @ M15
San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
Portland, OR @ Mt Tabor
Vancouver, BC @ The Venue