Included here for this week’s instalment is a little bio of Nigel Glockler and his tenure with one of my favourite bands of all time , followed by an interview with the long time drummer…………..May I present SAXON!
Nigel Glockler really brings the Heavy Metal Thunder with his thunderous drum beats resonating around the arena as Saxon rules the stage. Born in Hove, East Sussex, England, Nigel began his professional music career as a member of the UK unit Krakatoa. He then joined singer/actress Toyah Wilcox’s band later in the year of 1980. Things really fell into place for Nigel Glockler in 1981 when, then drummer and original founding member, Pete Gill of Saxon suffered a hand injury. Glockler was originally hired as a temporary fill-in while Gill waited out doctor enforced rest. Gill in the mean time accepted an offer to join Lemmy’s Motorhead, making way for Glockler to be inducted into the Saxon ranks on a full-time basis. The bass player from Glockler’s first band, Krakatoa happened to be Saxon’s manager at the time. Nigel was under pressure right from the get-go. Saxon was about to embark on their huge tour in support of the successful Denim & Leather record when they recruited him to replace Pete Gill. He was challenged with the immense task of learning the entire set in only a day and a half in preparation for the first show!! Obviously he persevered, they toured heavily in the UK and even made a historic return appearance at the legendary Monsters of Rock Festival in Donnington, being the first band to do so.
Into The Labyrinth was unleashed in 2009 and continued the sound and success of Inner Sanctum. This strong release comes 30 years after their self titled, rather quirky début album hit shelves.
MEISTER: Your first band was called Krakatoa?
NIGEL: Yes, that was my first professional band. Around that time – mid seventies – I was doing the usual stuff, playing in local bands – in fact I had been doing so while still at school – but the band I was in at that time, Bel Air, had decided to split up and we were booked to play our last gig at a pub in Brighton, our home town – The Alhambra, now sadly demolished – however we were double booked with a band from London so we let them play as they’d travelled down. While watching them a guy came over, asked my name, and said there were some people at the bar who wanted to talk to me – turned out it was a couple of guys from Krakatoa who we all knew were a proper pro band. They asked if I’d be interested in having a jam with them as they needed a new drummer – the end result was that I joined them and we spent nearly three years gigging around the UK until the New Wave thing killed us as we couldn’t get a record deal, even though we were selling out small theatres and Town Hall gigs – we did a pile of demos with a producer called Robin Black, who worked with Jethro Tull, Sabbath etc, all to no avail! Incidentally, the keyboard player was Hans Zimmer, who does loads of film soundtrack work! And the guitarist, Roger Adams, is a co-writer with me on a lot of TV music that i do here in my studio at home.
MEISTER: Is there any connection with the Saxon song of the same name from 1985?
NIGEL: No not really – it was just a subject that we were interested in – maybe the Krakatoa band name came up in conversation but I really can’t remember. Actually, I think it’s a great track!
MEISTER: And from there you joined Toyah Wilcox? Who is that and what style of music did that band play?
NIGEL: That came a bit later on – after the Krakatoa thing fell apart, I got myself involved in doing sessions – through this I met various record company people and was asked to audition for a New Wave band called After The Fire, who had a few big hits during this period – a friend of mine was playing with a guy called Bruce Woolley who had himself been involved with Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn – together they wrote Video Killed The Radio Star, Clean, Clean, and others – Geoff and Trevor broke away and formed the Buggles while Bruce formed his own band and released an album under the moniker of Bruce Woolley And The Camera Club – Thomas Dolby was on keys – anyway, they asked me if I’d like to have a blast with them as a warm up for my audition, and little did I know their plan was to audition me for their band, which I duly joined. But an A and R guy at CBS, who Bruce was signed to, screwed us up for the second album, by putting us with a producer we didn’t want and the end result was a binned album – a great pity because the songs were great but the production was dire and we took the fall as CBS wouldn’t put any more finance into rerecording the record. So it was back to session work and it was through this that I was asked to play on a Toyah release – she’d had three albums out and was changing the band around for her new single. We recorded this and went on tour, after which we wrote and recorded her next album which was very successful, and toured again to totally sold out venues. Musically, I guess it’s quite arty pop music – Toyah, incidentally, is married to Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame.
MEISTER: And from there you found your way to Saxon. How did that all come about?
NIGEL: The bass player from Krakatoa had become one of Saxon’s managers and rang me up asking if I’d help them out for the Denim And Leather tour as Pete Gill had damaged his hand/fingers.
MEISTER: I read somewhere that it was a very quick thing when you joined Saxon, having only a day and a half to learn the entire set of music for the start of the Denim & Leather tour?
NIGEL: Yep – I had a blow with them on Sunday and the tour was starting on Wednesday, in my home town I might add – I was a fan of the band and had bought tickets to see the show!! I really had two days to learn nineteen songs in – we moved to the Brighton Centre on the Monday – they were doing pre-production rehearsals there – and I hammered through the songs, making notes as I went. The show went OK actually – think I screwed one thing up but nobody seemed to notice!! After a few more gigs I ended up joining them.
MEISTER: Another thing that I have read somewhere was that you fell off of the stage one night on your first tour in the U.S.A.?
NIGEL: No, that wasn’t on the first tour and I didn’t actually fall off the stage either – that happened during a US tour with Iron Maiden – I jumped down the stairs at the end of our show and landed on a large coil of cable hidden under a carpet resulting in my ankle going over and, according to the doctors at the nearby hospital, nearly ripping the ligaments clean off – they said I was lucky as I was nearly at the point where I’d never walk again. The result was my left leg being in a cast for a couple of weeks, and having to use crutches to and from the stage each night. That was quite an eventful tour as one night I set my drum riser on fire during my solo!
MEISTER: What was it like working with a legend like Elton John? I understand that if you can listen closely you can hear him swearing as he cut his finger on one of the piano keys during the recording, but I myself have never heard it.
NIGEL: I’ve never heard that one either! But Elton was great, as was his band – became good mates with his drummer Charlie Morgan. Elton would come in with outrageous clothes on under a raincoat – multi-coloured beach shirts and matching shorts!! – different every day. He and his band would spend hours in our studio instead of theirs next door, grooving along to our tracks. A funny story was that it was the first World Cup football tournament since the Falklands War (I think!) – so there’s about twenty or so Brits eating dinner in the dining area of the studio – us, some of our crew, and Elton’s guys and crew – and this guy walks in to see his mate serving at the bar and he’s wearing a complete Argentinian football strip – as one we all turned to look at him and glared and he didn’t stay long!!!!
MEISTER: I hear that there were some wild stories during that recording session (Rock the Nations), like Paul ramming his BMW into a tram? What happened? Was he OK?
NIGEL: That happened much later in Vienna during the recording of Forever Free. Yep, he was fine!! I guess he thought the tram could and would swerve – of course it couldn’t and it didn’t!!! Rock The Nations was quite a sedate album to make compared to some!!
MEISTER: How does the creative process happen for a Saxon song or album? I see that some albums, like Innocence Is No Excuse for example, was mainly written by Biff and Dawson where as other albums are more group collaborations, why the difference?
NIGEL: We were going through a lot of litigation with Carrere records at that time, and not touring because of it so, because Biff and Steve lived near each other, they just got together whilst we were off the road – once we got together in the studio some other songs were written.
MEISTER: You co-wrote the song Requiem (We Will Remember) for 1991’s Solid Ball of Rock record. One of my favourite Saxon tracks, tell me about the song.
NIGEL: We just decided to do a track dedicated to all the musicians that had passed on up to that time – that’s about it really – a lot of them had influenced us individually during our formative years of learning our instruments etc.
MEISTER: In 1987 you took a brief Hiatus from Saxon to join the “super group” GTR. What led to that move and where did GTR go?
NIGEL: I was really pissed off at Saxon’s management so wanted to leave and then I got a call, whilst in the US, from GTR’s management offering me the gig – I’d been recommended by Phil Spalding, the bassist, who I’d been in Toyah with. We started recording the second album but things obviously weren’t right within the band – Steve Hackett had left and there was a lot of tension around so it all imploded after a while – which is a great shame as I think that album, had we finished it, would have been superb. Someone has got hold of the unfinished tapes, demo’s etc, and released them, and, I have to say, it sounds awful, but, had we been able to complete it, a great album would have been the result. I then went on to do some playing on Steve Howe’s next album and another one he was involved with. Also, through GTR I met Geoff Downes and hence played on the Asia album ‘Aqua’.
MEISTER: Then you left again in 1998 due to an injury, but were still involved with the band in song writing? How did you injure yourself and how did it feel being sidelined for that time?
NIGEL: I ripped a muscle between my neck and my shoulder but didn’t notice it at first as it was probably only a tiny nick – I think it happened in Brazil whilst playing a rental kit – my kit can be set up to within a millimetre every night but that little extra stretch on a rental kit, maybe going for a china cymbal? – that’s what did it. Then we went to Sweden and it started hurting as I guess I was tearing it more and more each night. I went to chiropractors, osteopaths etc, thinking I’d done something to my neck but an eventual visit to my doctor sussed it and he said I had to stop for around five months to let the tear heal – that’s how i got into doing the TV music – and I played an intro to Metalhead and by the time they were ready to write Killing Ground, I was OK to drum, so I went up to the studio for the first writing sessions and co-wrote four tracks for that album. I also had Doug and Paul over to my studio to get formative ideas for Lionheart. All this time I was actually enjoying not being on the road and concentrating on writing at home so I wasn’t the least bit bothered about being sidelined – in fact I was very happy!
MEISTER: Your first Saxon album was The Eagle Has Landed, a live recording from the Denim & Leather tour. After your brief hiatus in 1987 you returned with the live album Rock & Roll Gypsies and then ten years later your last album was The Eagle Has Landed Part II and your return in 2005 was marked by The Eagle Has Landed Part III. Is that just co-incidence with all the live albums marking your returns to the band and is it making you superstitious about releasing live recordings?
NIGEL: Ha! – interesting! However, The Eagle Has Landed part 2 wasn’t the last one before I left – it was Unleash The Beast! – no, I’m not that superstitious although I do have a certain ritual before I go on stage – no big deal but I try to stick to it during a tour – as to what time I start getting ready, warm-up time etc.
MEISTER: So, what are the respective stories behind the departures of Steve Dawson and Graham Oliver?
NIGEL: I really think all that’s been covered before in the documentary and a lot of it is quite personal.
MEISTER: What happened with the name dispute and have you heard any of the Oliver Dawson Saxon CD?
NIGEL: Basically they were told they could use the Saxon name along with their names using a different font and of equal size – that’s it! As for the album, I’ve heard a few things.
MEISTER: Tell me about your solo album with Saxon guitarist Doug Scarratt, Mad Men & English Dogs.
NIGEL: That was Doug and I writing some stuff in the vein of music that had influenced us down the years, or stuff we really like to listen to now. It was great as we didn’t have to stick to any one genre of material – we did what we liked and what pleased us. It was done on a very low budget but it’s had some great reviews, a lot of it is being used in TV land, and I think there’s more in the pipeline – however, I might go back and revisit a couple of the tracks and play around with them when I have some time – maybe re-do some parts or take them somewhere else – ‘Snow-capped’ springs to mind here, although I’m very pleased with the version as it is. I just love playing around on keyboards!
MEISTER: I see that you are credited (along with Biff and Nibbs) on Fastway’s Bad Bad Girls CD from 1990 as very special guests. What role did you play for the band and how were they to work with?
NIGEL: Nibbs had already played on the previous Fastway album so he was booked straight away for the next one and Lea asked me to do some drum tracks – Biff did some backing vocals. Lea was very meticulous in what he wanted – we had a big joke that there were to be no big drum fills – as in the Hawaii Five-O intro – which is what we called them. Lea wanted it as straight ahead as possible. Nibbs and I did quite a bit of work for Lea after that – Paul Di’Anno, a Japanese cartoon soundtrack etc.
MEISTER: Also listed on your website are several other albums that you’ve done work on, Celtic Spirit or Paul Di’Anno for example. What are your most memorable, other than Saxon of course?
NIGEL: Every album has it’s own memories – the Asia one was fun, and convenient, as it was done in a studio not far from where I live, and I love working with Geoff. The Tony Martin album was good fun too, and it introduced me to Revolution Studios in Cheadle Hume, near Manchester, where we ended up doing the drum tracks for Dogs Of War. Celtic Spirit was an ethnic ambient type album on which I had one co-written track. I just love writing different genres of material as well as playing on it. This is what I enjoy so much when I’m doing my TV library/film stuff – one day I can be in the mood to do something really heavy like an industrial metal track a la Rammstein – lots of riffy guitars and angry synths, and yet, the next day, I turn into Vangelis and do something ambient and dreamy!
MEISTER: Although you weren’t with the band for the first time around, what was it like playing the Monsters of Rock festival, being the first band to make a returning performance in 1982? You’re also booked on the Monsters of Rock Cruise in 2013, that’s a long standing relationship with the Monsters of Rock festivals.
NIGEL: We had to fly back after doing a show with Rainbow in Dallas – That gig was a bit of a nightmare for me personally – not on the playing – front I might add, but the management decided my tech should stay in the US and a roadie, who I’d never met, and who had never set up my kit, let alone seen it, should look after my gear – ludicrous!! – I ended up putting on a long coat over my stage gear, plus a hat, so I could set up my own drums! I was so pissed off at that! Otherwise, the gig went great and that was the biggest crowd I’d played to up to then. I’m looking forward to the cruise – I just love being on the sea!
MEISTER: Saxon is confirmed to headline the rock stage at Sweden Rock 2013 (I’m planning to make the trip from Canada) and you’ve promised to bring the “Heavy Metal Thunder” production. What is that? I’ve only seen you once in Torontolast year, a small club show and the stage presence was mesmerizing.
NIGEL: We did that show at Wacken this year – it’s a big production with gas jets, fire, loads of lights, and a levitating drum riser!!! – should be fun!!
MEISTER: That Torontoshow marked the first time in 20 years that you had played there. Why so long?
NIGEL: No-one asked us to come back – it’s all down to promoters – if we’re not asked then we can’t play there.
MEISTER: What’s it like playing a huge festival versus a club show? Which do you prefer? And with such an immense back catalogue of music, how do you guys go about deciding on the set list for your shows?
NIGEL: I find it more nerve racking playing a club – the audience is so close! I definitely prefer huge festivals. With festivals we generally do a greatest hits package as do most bands. When we’re touring an album then that takes precedence over everything – that’s why you’re there – to promote the new album. But it is so difficult to decide on a set list and, the more albums we release, the harder it gets!!
MEISTER: How was the feeling of the band during the different eras? And how does that affect the stage performances? When you started Eagle-Crusader (early 80’s)? Innocence-Solid Ball of Rock (late 80’s)? Forever Free-Unleash The Beast (mid 90’s)? Metalhead-Into The Labyrinth (2000’s) and Call To Arms-Sacrifice (2010’s).
NIGEL: When I joined the band it was on the up so to speak so the mood and camaraderie were at optimum level. Power and The Glory was a wonderful time for the band but we got brought down to earth with Crusader – we didn’t like the production but the songs were great – however, it went on to sell well so what do we know? – we felt it could have been even better. I loved ‘Rock The Nations’ – personally I prefer it to ‘Innocence’, which I felt was over-produced – it sounds like a band to me – I thought ‘Innocence’ was a little sterile. But it was the touring of ‘Nations’ that made me want to leave – I got really bad food poisoning in the US but we couldn’t afford to cancel any shows so I just had to suffer, and I hated management for that! Solid Ball was like a new birth of the band – we were still playing smaller venues but the excitement had picked up and things eventually got better with ‘Dogs Of War’ and ‘Unleash The Beast’ – by then Doug had joined the band and it was sounding fresh again as everyone was on the same wavelength. I can’t really comment on the next three albums as I generally wasn’t there but ‘Sanctum’ was a great high for me – we were all writing some great material, I’d had a long break from intense drumming and had grown to love that instrument again – and I loved the tour that followed. And that brings us up to the present – i think we’re still getting better and better as players, songwriters etc.
MEISTER: Saxon’s new album is set to drop in February, called Sacrifice and produced by Andy Sneap. What can we expect from this record? How involved in the writing process were you?
NIGEL: Everyone was very involved writing-wise – as I’ve said, there has to be a starting point for each song, be it a riff, or keyboard idea, a drum pattern, melody, title, or whatever, and I personally think this album’s a killer – but that’s just my humble opinion! Andy’s done a wonderful job on it – I was determined that there should be no samples on the kit – I didn’t want it to sound euro-metal like so many other bands – I love the fact that I can hear the softest snare ghost note but the mix still tears your head off!
MEISTER: What’s it like releasing a recording in this day and age of downloading and I-tunes? Do you think that hard copy will eventually disappear? What do you think about the resurgence in vinyl?
NIGEL: As we all know, record sales have gone down and I think a lot of bands now make their living from playing live as opposed to album sales. I think the downloading thing is a great idea – as long as it’s from legal sites – everyone’s got to earn a living and music is ours so I don’t think it’s too much to ask for people to pay something for a track. Also, I might just want one or two tracks but not the whole album so that’s great too! Re hard copies disappearing, it might happen but I hope not – sure, the convenience of having everything on an iPod etc is wonderful – gets rid of clutter in the house – but I love the fact that, if I want, I can look at a cover and see who played what on what track – for example, with Steely Dan, I can look up instantly who played a certain guitar solo and not have to go on line to find it – it’s right there in my hands. I have a few vinyl releases but I’m not really that technical minded where I want to compare CD with vinyl – I just want to hear the music, the melodies etc and not piss about wondering if the bass response on the vinyl is better than the CD As long as it’s a great production it’ll sound fine. But I do miss the artwork on albums – Disraeli Gears by Cream is, and always will be my favourite album cover – also Wheels Of Fire – I love all that bubble writing, the loud vibrant colours – total psychedelia – brilliant!!!
MEISTER: When I get home from work I usually open a beer and kick back with my favourite tunes on. Do you ever listen to your music like that?
NIGEL: I like to listen to music in the car, particularly on a long journey, but even just going to the market enables me to listen to new albums etc. My wife and I have quite different musical tastes, although she loves what I do, but she hates a lot of the prog stuff I listen to so the car is my very own listening domain!!
MEISTER: Lastly, what are your favourite Saxon recordings, albums and songs?
NIGEL: That’s a hard one – I have favourite tracks on each album, for instance, ‘Battalions of Steel’ off ‘Labyrinth’ – I think as whole albums, it’s got to be the new one, ‘Sacrifice’ and “Inner Sanctum” that do it for me!
To catch up on your cruise reading check out the previous volumes of Meister‘s “Views of the Cruise” with the links below:
*****The Monsters of Rock: The Lost Weekend Cruise is now sold out, but you still may be able to find a cabin on this rock & roll party boat through Facebook’s find a cabinmate page. Check it out and join me aboard the MSC Poesia in March 2013*****
*****If you can’t join us on the voyage, but still want to catch some of the bands live in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas as cruise bands roll into town and play gigs before and after the voyage. Here’s a few that I know about so far:
March 13th – Faster Pussycat is playing in Cape Coral at the Dixie Roadhouse. THIS SHOW IS UNCONFIRMED AS YET! (It was my plan to attend this show, but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s a “go” or not)
March 13th – L.A. Guns will be at Dirty Harry‘s in Daytona for Daytona Bikeweek.
March 14th – has a packed bill for the Rockerz Gone “Wild” Pool Party at the Days Inn Bahia Cabana along with L.A. Guns, Bang Tango, Ted Poley, Glitter Boys, Pretty Little Suicide and recently announced Liberty Lush (who are currently touring with L.A. Guns). Tickets are still available for the pool party with this link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FFNRDHYN887MY
March 15th – L.A. Guns takes the stage at Jake’s Tavern in Sarasota
March 15th – Bang Tango is at The State Theatre in St. Petersburg
March 15th – Queensryche plays The Ritz Ybor in Tampa.
March 22nd – sees Bang Tango in Jacksonville at Brewster’s Pit & Pub
March 22nd – has Queensryche playing H.O.B. in Lake Buena Vista Florida.*****
*****Watch for next week’s “Views of the Cruise” as I explore the music of my esteemed countrymen joining me aboard the MSC Poesia in Volume #6*****