Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Saxons’ Biff Byford Interview: It’s Just Within Us to Create New Music

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

By: Rob Cavuoto

One of the leading bands of the ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ movement, Saxon, has just released their 19th studio CD, Call to Arms, and is currently touring U.S. in support of this latest release. As evidenced by such ass-kickers as “Hammer of the Gods” and “Call to Arms,” the group hasn’t lost their grip on composing hard-hitting yet anthemic heavy metal with their latest offering.

Comprised of members Biff Byford (vocals), Doug Scarratt (guitar), Paul Quinn (guitar), Nibbs Carter (bass), Nigel Glockler (drums), Saxon is responsible for penning some of the 1980′s most enduring metal anthems, including “Wheels of Steel,” “Strong Arm of the Law,” “Motorcycle Man,” “Princess of the Night,” and “Never Surrender,” and along with the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, helped breath life back into a metal scene that many had left for dead at the time.

It’s been 35 years since Saxon was originally up and running and the group can still easily hold their own.

I was fortunate enough to sit with Biff Byford in NYC and chat about the new CD and what it was like to ride the British invasion of metal.

Biff ByfordBiff Byford


Rob Cavuoto: The thing that I love about your new CD, Call to Arms, is how you managed to recapture your sound and vibe from ‘80s. What was your secret?

Biff Byford: We have a good team in place on this CD. The drums were recorded straight with no samples. All the guitar songs were organic. We went back to a more working-class sound. We intended to get back to our roots and got into that mindset from the beginning.

Rob: It seems with this new release there is resurgence in Saxon. Do you agree?

Biff Byford: Definitely, there is a fantastic vibe out now with for us with Call to Arms.

Rob: Many bands from the ‘80s have given up on making new CDs and just go out as nostalgia acts. Why do you continue to make and release new music?

Biff Byford: We are still climbing mountains because they are there. It’s just within us to create new music and we are fortunate enough to do so. To write songs, put them out, and have people still find them relevant is exciting is a great feeling.

Rob: Tell me about the significance of the CD’s title and artwork?

Biff Byford: We originally had all the song titles and once we finalized them we could have used any of them as a CD title. I really liked “Call to Arms,” and it goes with the flavor of that song with the First World War. It’s also a rallying cry to our fans as well. It works on two levels.

Rob: You voice is every bit as good as it was back in the ‘80s, your still a powerhouse. What do you attribute that to?

Biff Byford: I stopped smoking a while ago so I’m sure that helped. I guess I didn’t abuse myself as a young man with liquor and drugs. We were too poor for those things, so that might have worked in my favor.

Rob: In the ‘80s Saxon was riding the crest of the British invasion of the metal scene. Looking back how important was it to be involved in that?

Biff Byford: It was massive. The metal scene is growing again, where many people who were young back then want to relive it now and the new young fans like the sound of it. They want to know how it all started and who influenced who.

Rob: Denim & Leather and Power and the Gloryreally spoke to me as a metal fan as well as a guitar player. Do you think it still speaks to kids nowadays?

Biff Byford: I think they do. The young fans in our audience are really getting off on them as well as the fans that have been with us since the beginning. Songs like “Power and the Glory” as well as the songs off Call to Armswere written to be performed live. People forgot that a lot of bands from our genera wrote songs for live shows and then went back and recorded them.

I think bands have moved away from that with huge productions and a million guitar overdubs. So we went back to that way of thinking. Take “Crusaders,” the production wasn’t as great as it could have been, but the actual song is a monster with over a million hits on You Tube. It was our biggest selling CD and when people hear it live it takes on a completely different meaning.

Rob: How do you keep yourself satisfied with touring after all these years? So many bands get tired of it at this point, but Saxon keeps going. How do you keep something that’s so “old hat” fresh?

Biff Byford: We have a good chemistry in the band and we play quite aggressively. We aren’t just standing up there. That keeps you on the edge and we are quite adrenalized on stage. We are playing all the big hits and always changing the set list a bit to keep it fresh. We are playing five new songs off Call to Arms. We also play a couple of songs also off Power and the Glorysince that was such a big LP here in the states.

Rob: I read that Spinal Tap was based on Saxon, is that true?

Biff Byford: I don’t think it was totally based on Saxon. We’d have to be a big band to have it based off of us. The bass player in Spinal Tap modeled himself off Steve Dawson, I think that is connection. Steve is also a bit of a Spinal Tap type of character.

I think the old members in the band are trying to drum that up since they are planning to release a book. I personally think the movie was based on a lot of different bands.

Rob: Can you give me a great Spinal Tap moment?

Biff Byford: The first one that comes to mind is the time we were shooting a video with a lot of models in Spain. The truck that we were traveling would pull to the gig, and would back up to the back of the stage. Then, the doors would open and we would burst out onto the stage.

Unfortunately someone put something in front of the doors and we got stuck and couldn’t get out. There we are in the back of this truck thrashing about trying to get out. The audience could see the truck wobbling and thrashing about.

For Good Singing – Effective Tips to Improve Your Powerhouse Vocals

Friday, January 15th, 2010

By Kyle Hoffman

Singing is a great past time that can communicate powerful emotions to large groups of people with music. The best singers however, really know how to control their voice and leave a lasting impression on the audience.

You might think of yourself as a decent singer that can hold their own in the competitive world of music, but wouldn’t you like to be better? Here are 5 fast tips for good singing that can boost your vocal reputation and have you emerge from the crowd.

1. Learn to control your soft palate.

Raising your soft palate is a way of opening up your throat to allow more air to come in, and more sound to let loose. Raise your eyebrows while you sing to feel the immediate affects of this technique.

2. Adjust your daily habits to accommodate your voice.

If you’re very serious about performing vocals, shouldn’t you do everything you can for good singing? Small things like eating less dairy, drinking more water, and getting more sleep can have such a huge impact on the quality of your voice.

3. Take constructive criticism with dignity.

Every now and then you’ll receive some criticism where someone thought you should change an aspect of your voice and you can’t fly off the handle. Make it one of your strong points to take someone else’s opinions and constructive criticism in a positive way for improvement.

4. Add variation with dynamics.

If someone were to sing an entire piece with the exact same tone and level of volume, the performance would be very boring. Mix things up and create variation by raising and lowering your volume in order to accentuate certain emotions in the song.

5. Communicate the song’s meaning.

You might have the best voice in the world, but you won’t be considered the best singer if you can’t express what the song is saying. Learn to appreciate the true intentions of the song you’re performing and showcase its emotions to your fullest.

There are a lot of great singers out there, but you can be one of them too with practice and hard work. Try out these simple but effective tips and be more confident the next time that you take the stage.

Kyle Hoffman has been a lead singer in acclaimed hardcore and rock bands for a number of years and is considered an authority figure on vocals. Learn his FREE valuable tips for vocal singing and other strategies to sing well now!

3 Tips to Keep in Mind When You Perform Publicly

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

By John Newcomb

Most people are terrified of performing in front of an audience. What we call “stage phobia” is perhaps one of the most prevalent fears that a lot of us have suffered from at one point of time (and most still continue to). We can sing, dance, act, or play a music instrument effortlessly when we are alone or in the company of a few strangers. But when we are asked to do the same in front of a large crowd, most of us tend to panic and perform well below our skill level.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation when you’ve had to play a musical instrument, sing, dance, or act before a crowd only to have your legs freeze and your body panic, you’ll find these three tips useful in delivering a great performance the next time you’re on stage:

1. Practice.

I know this sounds very redundant, but the amount of people who end up on stage without ever properly knowing their instrument (your voice, your guitar/piano/drums, or your feet if you dance) is simply amazing. If you’re singing a song, don’t just rehearse it once or twice; practice it dozens of times until it feels like second nature. The number of hours you put into your daily practice is what separates the professionals from the amateurs.

2. Never, ever back up.

If you miss or mess up a section of a song, or if your voice falters at a crucial chorus, don’t ever back up and try and correct your mistake. The first rule of performing on stage is to keep going on, no matter what. You might have seen online videos of professional musicians performing ever after slipping on stage and falling down. Being able to pick up and continue after a mistake is a key trait of professional performers, and one that you must try and pick up.

3. Don’t be obsessed with your technique.

Face it: some of your notes won’t sound that well, you will hit the wrong key at some point in your song, and your voice might falter at some point. Many times, a mistake while playing can make your performance appear more authentic and genuine. What’s important is to see how your performance appeared as a whole: was it a string of mistakes punctuated by a few bright moments, or was it the other way around? If it was the former, then you might want to concentrate more on your technique when you practice. If it was the latter, you are doing quite fine and shouldn’t obsess over how technically proficient you appear.

Essentially, the more you play in front of people, the more comfortable you will become. Don’t expect your first public performance to be a knockout. Give yourself time, and you will soon find that playing in front of others will start coming almost naturally to you.


John has been writing online for several years. His late blog is about picture scanners, and how you should go about buying a picture scanner

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MIDIS , MP3, and Lyrics

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Here is a list of various sites that provide song media to help you learn new songs.

Free Praise And Worship
This website is for YOU. We’re working together with songwriters all over the world to build a comprehensive collection of music (Sheet Music, Chord Charts, Midi, RealAudio™, Overheads) for praise and worship. All of the songs on this site are available for you to use in worship services.

HighestPraise.Com – Praise and Worship
Praise and Worship Resources, Free Praise and Worship Music

Worship Archive
Very comprehensive site with many new and contemporary song sheets with lyrics and chords

Large collection of Christian Hymns in MIDI format

Heavenly midis
Hymns, Praise & Worship, Spiritual, Kids Praise, Southern Gospel, Spirituals, Contemporary Christian Music, Special Music. Over 1000 Midi files

Lutheran Hymnal midis
Lutheran Hymnals, Christian Hymns, Sheet Music for Churches, Religious MP3’s & Midi’s These are the traditional songs of worship and praise from Lutheran Hymnals presented in midi, in mp3, in lyrics and in sheet music.

Praise midis
Collection of Praise Midi

Songs of Praise
Songs of Praise, a unique source of original songs and plays for your church. This site was created by Elton Smith and Gilberto Barreto in 1996, but along the way dozens of other people have contributed their efforts. Each song has a midi file and music score. Many of the songs also have MP3, WMA and RealAudio files with singing.

New Hope Music
410+ Original Scripture-Based Songs & Hymns Designed for Public Worship Gatherings, Youth Ministry and Bible Memorization All FREE to Download, Copy & Share With Others ! Scripture Based Songs to sing with your congregation

Tom Lascoe’s Praise & Worship Song Center
The goal of this ministry is to provide free praise and worship music for church worship leaders, music ministers, choir directors, and anyone interested in lifting the name of Jesus Christ in song.

Music Resources for Today’s Christian Worship
Proven guitar and keyboard-based contemporary music for Christian worship in sheet music and MIDI format (either unpublished or not widely known), made available as efficiently, effectively and freely as possible – that’s the purpose of this site.

Free Music Downloads
Gracies Cafe Top Praise Song Streams

Hillsong Lyrics and Chords
Collection of lyrics to several songs

MIDI Music for Worship
This page is a resource for the use of MIDI for worship services worldwide. More and more people are discovering the use of MIDI organs, pianos, and guitar synthesizers to provide accompaniment for learning music, choir rehersals, and even for worship services in settings where musicians cannot be present. The goal of this page is to provide tips and music files to churches setting up and maintaining MIDI systems.

Calvary Chapel Worship Resources
Songs, written music, guitar aids

Your Christian Home
Here you will find guitar chords & lyrics to your favourite praise and worship songs. The archive is constantly updated with the newest songs. Worship database, articles, message boards

Orange County Worship Fellowship
A collection of praise and worship songs, includes MP3s, PowerPoint chord charts

Song: Little Tears

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Here is an instrumental song that I wanted to share with you. It features me on guitar. I hope you enjoy it.


Little Tears MP3 Download

If you want to include this song in your production click here to see how you can use this song.

Copyright 2009 The Mediatunes Project
Written by John Pape Jr. and Steven Spalsbury

3 Steps to Playing Comfortably for a Crowd

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

For many the most frightening experience in the world is performing before a live audience.   When I say of performing, such as an instrument, or singing, or acting, I mean more than just knowing how to do well at your chosen craft, I mean doing it well and in front of people. It’s the “in front of people” part that gets us every time. How many of us sing like a bird in the shower but then when people are watching we can’t carry a note. Here are three steps to help you when called on to shine.

1. Don’t neglect to practice.

Whether you sing or play an instrument practice is the key to being relaxed. The more familiar you are with what you are performing, the less anxiety you will have about messing up.

2. Don’t back up.

If you mess up in the middle, or any place in your piece, don’t back up and repeat the offending passage. Keep going. Chances are your audience didn’t even notice.

3. Try not to be critical of your technical skill.

Focus more on your overall performance. How does it sound as a whole? If you’re  playing guitar and you worry during your performance about your fingering then you’re ignoring the song and how it sounds. Worry about technicalities when you practice. Which should be often.

With time playing in front of and for other people will come much easier. You’ll be a natural. So use every opportunity to show your stuff!  Believe me it get easier to more you do it.

A Few Good Tips On Improving Singing Techniques

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

For people that sing, learning to sing well is as important as any other part of the singing process. How do we learn what a good singing technique is though? Learning correct singing techniques takes time and patience, but the first thing you must learn has nothing to do with your voice at all. It has to do with breathing.

When you speak or sing, your vocal chords can’t act on their own or they become strained and you can often lose your voice and damage your vocal chords. Therefore, when you speak or sing or do anything else involving your voice, you need to use the air from your diaphragm so as not to damage the chords.

The breath should come up from your diaphragm, glide over your vocal chords carrying with it the sounds you make so that your vocal chords aren’t strained. When speaking or singing, it needs to come from your mouth and teeth rather than your throat again, so as not to strain your throat. If you use your vocal chords correctly, you could speak or sing all day without ever having a sore throat, but if you use your throat improperly, you are sure to lose your voice quickly.

A problem that many people have is that they don’t know how to operate all the parts of the body that are involved with singing at the same time in the same order. You’re dealing with the vocal chords, your breathing, and the acoustic cavities above the vocal chords, but unless you are instructed how to use these three things your singing techniques will be all wrong. Learn how to use these parts of your body and your singing techniques will skyrocket.

Another good idea is to make sure you are relaxed when you are singing. If you are tense, it will show in your voice. When people are tense, it happens a lot in their face between their jaw and their mouth and for your voice to flow well and come out melodiously, your mouth, teeth, jaw and tongue all need to be loose. Keep tension out of your face and it will stay out of your voice.

One final point for having good singing techniques is to make sure you enunciate your words. When singing in particular, it is important to almost go overboard on enunciation to make sure your words are clear. If you follow these singing techniques, you will surely become a better singer.

About the Author

Skyler Jett is a prolific singer, songwriter and producer. He has worked with many top musicians, such as Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin. Skyler started singing in church and fell in love with jazz and R&B at an early age. Find more of tips on improving singing techniques at