Saxon’s long-standing drummer Nigel Glockler is a man plenty of musical experience, having rocked the world with his group for 35 years. Aside from Saxon, the drummer has worked with numerous musicians and projects throughout his career. Some claim Saxon were the inspiration for the Spinal Tap rockumentary and over the years the band themselves have had more than their fair share of bizarre moments, none more so than Nigel himself who has battled injuries and life-threatening illness, yet is still occupying the drum kit.
Saxon‘s 22nd studio album, “Thunderbolt”, was released on February 2 via Militia Guard (Silver Lining Music). The band was the primary support act for Judas Priest‘s “Firepower” tour, which kicked off on March 13 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and will wrapped up a few days ago on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas. Sonic Perspectives contributor Rodrigo Altaf spoke with Nigel about the band, the tour routine, and several other topics.
Since 2007, Saxon seems to be experiencing a “second wave” of success, a resurgence to call it in a way; with tickets and album sales higher than in the 90’s and 2000’s. To what factors do you attribute this rise in popularity?
I think we have been picking up younger fans – people who are discovering metal, maybe the newer bands- and they want to check out who influenced those bands. And our older fans are a very loyal bunch – they’ve never gone away & stuck with us through thick & thin. And sheer persistence – as the song says “Never Surrender”
Saxon have been in the musical scene for more than 40 years. I’m sure you guys have had many difficulties throughout this time as the music industry nowadays is nowhere near as it was in the late seventies. What do you think drives bands like Saxon to keep moving forward despite the shortcomings?
We love what we do, we feel we still have something to contribute and as long as the fans are happy to have new music and come out when we tour then we will continue to do it.
“Thunderbolt” is an album with classic Saxon elements – the eagle, songs about motors etc. but it also features some new themes, such as the song about Nosferatu, Sniper and Predator. What was different during the writing process for this album, and what went down as usual?
Hmmm – well I would say that is was pretty much the same as our other albums – we all come in with ideas/riffs, etc – then we sit down and decide which ones will be fleshed out to go on the album. Biff did a lot of writing with Nibbs on Thunderbolt and he always has lyric ideas in his head, just a matter of deciding what music will work with which idea.
You’ve been working with Andy Sneap as producer since the Sacrifice album in 2013. How much influence does he usually have in the end result of an album – sonically and from a composition standpoint?
Andy has a big impact sonically, as he also does the engineering. He will make some suggestions on what songs we end up using and arrangements – he has a great ear and the fact that he is just such a big music fan helps – but as far as composing goes that stays within band.
The tour with Judas Priest and Black Star Riders has just finished in the US. How has the fan’s reaction been so far?
The tour went extremely well, and there were a lot of sold out shows – it’s a great package for the fans, so it just goes to show you metal is far from dead, ha ha!
Do you get a chance to play and jam with the guys in the other bands while on tour, or is the day-to-day so rushed that you rarely get to play except while on stage?
Unfortunately we don’t get a chance to play together, as you say, the day to day is so rushed. Which is a drag, it’d be great fun to do something like that.
Do you have a “concert day” routine that you like to follow?
The usual routine is wake up, breakfast, hang about till sound check, then dinner and my pre-gig power nap. I also like to keep the booze to a minimum and get to bed earlier – these long tours can be a killer so I really like to take care myself – can’t have a man go down and disappoint the fans!
What advice would you give to a group of young musicians starting a metal band today?
Practice, play every gig you can – dive, pub, whatever- to help build up your fan base. And be appreciative to everyone who books you, comes to your gigs, buys your CD’s etc – they are the ones that will be there for you on the way up as well as in the lean times!
You worked with Steve Howe and Steve Hackett in GTR briefly in the late 80’s. What was that like, and what do you think contributed for the non continuation of the band?
They are both brilliant guitarists – everyone in the band were fantastic musicians. I think there were so many outside factors and other projects they had going on that it was hard to stick to just one. I’d love to revisit that sometime if they were up to it.
You also left Saxon for a longer period of time in the 2000’s. What were the reasons then and what propelled you to return?
I ripped muscles between the neck & shoulder so I had to take time off for it to heal; by the time that was done Fritz had joined and I didn’t feel right in saying “Okay – I’m back so you need to leave now” type thing- nothing more than that really. But I was still composing with the band, even though I wasn’t actually playing. As far as coming back it’s pretty much as simple as they asked me, ha ha!
Do you listen to newer metal bands, and if so, which ones?
I have to be honest and say most of what I listen to at home would be more progressive rock. But of the “newer” bands I would say the one that has just grabbed me by the throat is Clutch (although they aren’t technically a new band) – great musicians, songs – they are the real deal. And I love Evergrey.
Which one would you say it has been your favorite Saxon album and why?
Well, I happen to like all of the albums I’ve done with the band but if I was forced to choose I would say it has to be “Power and The Glory” – my first studio album with the band so it’s got a special place in my heart.
At this point in your career, how do you view your own musical legacy? Does it fill you with what could be called a sense of pride?
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to play on some great albums, with many brilliant musicians so I’m proud of that – but more than anything I think I am honored by the many messages and notes I get from other drummers who’ve complimented my work or others have cited me as an inspiration to them.
Musically speaking what’s still in Nigel Glockler bucket’s list?
Well, Saxon of course but there are other projects in the works – you’ll just have to keep an eye out!
Are there any places that Saxon hasn’t played yet where you’d like to go?
A few come to mind- Iceland, New Zealand. And of course anyplace that is warm with a beach!