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The Lowdown: Drummer Nigel Glockler of Saxon

The Lowdown: Drummer Nigel Glockler of Saxon

"it hits you pretty hard and I started hating my job, added to the fact I hated our management so that for me was a double whammy"

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Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire May 14th, 2012.
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There are very few bands around these days that possess amount of steely determination that Saxon do. Formed in Yorkshire in the late 70’s, they rose to fame as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (or NWOBHM as it’s more often referred to) with now classic albums Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law. Although they may not have enjoyed quite as much commercial success as their peers Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, their loyal worldwide following has kept them going for over 3 decades. In that time they’ve toured the world over several times and released a staggering 19 albums, not including the 9 live albums and countless ‘best of’ compilations.

Drummer Nigel Glockler took the time to answer AltSounds’ questions about their upcoming live album/DVD Heavy Metal Thunder Live – Eagles Over Wacken, a compilation of their numerous sets at Germany’s biggest metal festival.

AltSounds: You've got a live DVD Heavy Metal Thunder out now. What's the story behind that?

Nigel Glockler: A film company was very interested in doing a historical documentary about the band and it's origins, they approached us and we agreed to do it - we thought it was about time the Saxon story up to the present time was told.

AS: What is it about Wacken that made you decide to specifically film there?

NG: The whole festival is usually filmed each year for a DVD release and it was decided to put all of our performances together in one package with live CDs of various shows released too. It's a great gig to have filmed as the have a whole variety of cameras and equipment there and the two main stages are ideal for the job, being the size they are, with all the production, lights etc. Obviously the very first Wackens aren't on there as the festival was still in its infancy back in the 90's.

AS: Are you looking forward to playing there again this year?

NG: Oh yeah! - I love it there. The atmosphere, meeting up with friends from other bands, the catering is fantastic, and the après-gig relaxation around the fire pit is the perfect chill after a long show. It goes without saying that the fans there are fantastic. The whole thing is one great experience and we all look forward to it.

AS: You've got a tour of the Europe coming up with Judas Priest. How did that come about?

NG: We did some gigs in Spain with them last summer and they asked us to do shows in Holland, Belgium and the UK with them - that's it really.

AS: You're playing Download again this year - How about filming and releasing that too?

NG: Our set at Download is really too short to be filmed and, as it's not our headlining show with our own production and lights, it's not really worth it.If we were headlining then it might be a different matter - anyway, the Wacken shows would be hard to beat!!

AS: How's the response been to your latest studio release 'Call to Arms'?

NG: Excellent! It got some really good reviews when it came out last year and the songs go down great when we play them live. We're very pleased and I think it's been our best selling album of the most recent Saxon releases.

AS: Have you been working on a new studio album yet?

NG: Funny you should ask! We're right in the middle of writing the next album and plan to go into the studio in about a month to start laying the new tracks down.

AS: You've been in the game for years now. What is the secret to your longevity?

NG: I think that there a number of reasons - we always try to be honest with our composing and not follow trends that might be peppering the music charts and magazines - obviously one might be influenced subconsciously by something one's heard at some point but we try to stay true to ourselves when writing - also, we enjoy what we do, whether it's writing, recording, or touring and playing gigs - the third reason, and one I always state, is that as long as people want our albums and continue to come to our shows, we'll keep going.

AS: With such a huge back catalogue to choose from, how do you go about putting together your set lists?

NG: That is always a nightmare ha ha! - we try to mix it up with new songs, and peoples' favourites plus other compositions that we enjoy playing. We can't play everything otherwise we'd be onstage for hours and we also can't please everyone - so apologies if we fail to play someone's favourite track! However, the main reason for touring is to highlight the most recent release so that has to take preference otherwise you just turn into a nostalgia act and there's no way we're going to do that!

AS: Have there been times when you've thought about giving up?

NG: We went through a tough time in the late 80's - I personally left the band for a couple of years but that had nothing to do with the band or its popularity. I got pissed off with our management so when I was offered a gig with GTR and playing with Steve Howe of YES, I jumped at the chance. Actually I think it helped me to start enjoying music again because when a band is on a low, it hits you pretty hard and I started hating my job, added to the fact I hated our management so that for me was a double whammy!! But give up? No way. I love music too much!

AS: Who have been your biggest influences musically throughout your career?

NG: Now that's difficult question. There are too many to list I think. I listen to a lot of different stuff, and, to be honest, always have. I'm sure each music genre has influenced me in some way throughout my career, whether playing-wise, or compostional-wise. I've actually started to get back into a lot of bands that I listened to years ago. A lot of fusion stuff like Return to Forever and Eleventh House but I've always been mainly a big prog fan - bands like early Genesis, Gentle Giant, Aphrodite's Child, PFM, etc, plus a lot of the more recent bands like Moon Safari, RPWL, Gazpacho, Nosound, Astra, and heavier stuff like Evergrey, Dream Theatre and more ambient stuff like Vangelis and even Russian Orthodox choral music!! Favourite drummers? Simon Phillips, Neil Peart, Vinny Colaiuta are the main ones but there again, there are too many drummers I admire to list here! I've started to really appreciate Charlie Watts playing too. I read Keith Richards' autobiography which in turn got me interested in listening to some of the Stone's more recent albums, and Charlie grooves!!!

WATCH // Saxon - 747 Strangers In The Night Live

AS: You've obviously influenced many bands along the way - Are there any of the younger bands that you're particularly fond of?

NG: I think I answered that in the above question but I do like The Answer a lot - they remind me of Led Zep/Bad Company!

And we had a great band support us in the US last year - Borealis - great band and a nice bunch of guys!

AS: The big 4 thrash bands Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth recently did a series of 'Big 4' shows. Would you consider doing a similar thing with the big 4 of NWOBHM - Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Saxon?

NG: That would be a superb package and I'd jump at that as I'm sure the rest of the guys would but you'd have to do it in some way that everyone played around the same length set so no-one felt like an underdog! - But yes, an exciting thought - and a tour to take all round the world!


Heavy Metal Thunder – Live – Eagles over Wacken is available in several other formats, including vinyl. The release features DVD highlights from Saxon‘s Wacken shows in 2004, 2007 and 2009 comprising 30 songs, plus a live CD from Glasgow in 2011. The British heavy metal legends perform all their unforgettable classics, from Denim & Leather and Metalhead to Heavy Metal Thunder and from Princess Of The Night to Crusader, for the 75,000 strong audience of the traditional German gathering.

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