Nigel Glockler – I’m more nervous playing people in front of 100 people than Wacken

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Saxon has just released another awesome album, so an interview with the band is a no-brainer. On the other side of the line we’ve got Nigel Glockler, the drummer, who played with the band since the earl ‘80s. Funny, witty and great to talk to he is talking about “Carpe Diem”, the new songs, tells the classic story how he first joined, throws in a couple of Spinal Tap moments and he shares a great memory from Greece, that you actually watch on the video below. Interview: Yiannis Dolas

Rockpages.gr: So “Carpe Diem”, seize the day. What are the things that you feel that you have to seize the day for yourself and for the band?

Nigel Glockler:  Life in general. You know, I mean, you have to live life to the full and make yourself happy and people around you happy. Just (do) what makes you feel good and, you know, with the pandemic thing going on… It’s sort of… you only get one chance at this, so make the most of it. As far as we know, you only get one.

Rockpages.gr: Yeah, that’s true. Actually, I have the feeling that this album is better than the last couple of albums or so. What do you think?

Nigel Glockler: Yeah, I actually I tend to agree with you, yeah, it’s a little bit more old school guitar riffing… I think, you know, the people, if they loved the last couple of albums, they’ll they’ll love this one. I mean, there’s some great songs on there, you know? But again, there’s a couple of sort of things that are maybe a little bit more old school, for instance “The Pilgrimage”. It’s great for me because the drumming is a lot slower (laughs). Well, I can kind of relax a bit on that one, you know?

Rockpages.gr: I think that the most classic Saxon songs are the mid-tempo ones, and maybe it’s the signature of the band. Songs like “Crusader”, for example, which is such an epic as far as the content, of course, and as far as the music. “Remember The Fallen” as well, from this one and “The Pilgrimage”. So is it more difficult to write songs like that or the faster ones are more difficult?

Nigel Glocker: No, I don’t think either of those. You know, Saxon, when they started out they had a lot of fast songs. Like “Backs To The Wall”which is probably one of my favorite songs to play, because it’s so crazy, but there’s lots of different sections in there, so it sort of stops and starts and then half time. And so it’s interesting. It’s not just like 1… 2… 3… Go! And the last one at the end makes the tea… (laughs) Or the last one gets the beer… I think it’s all pretty much important.

When we’re writing a lot of the times, people bring bits in to where we’re rehearsing and we play around with them,we experiment. I think the most important thing for any song is the groove. That’s the most important thing. So, you could end up, maybe with a riff. I’m not saying this is what happened, but someone could have bought in the riff for “Pilgrimage” and say “No, this is fast”. So you try it fast and then you suddenly go, “No, let’s slow it down and see what happens”. And that’s how it works. You experiment, you know? But, I know what you mean, songs like “Chasing The Bullet”, which is sort of mid-tempo stuff and “Dogs Of War” and things like that. Those were some of my favorite songs.

Rockpages.gr: I wish you played that stuff again at some point.

Nigel Glockler: Definitely, we played “Dogs of War” in Hammersmith. So we played in Manchester on Friday and we played “Dogs of War” and then we went straight into “Solid Ball Of Rock”. So it was a long groove session, you know?

Rockpages.gr: Well, now that you say that, I was going to mention that album because I think it was one of the 2 albums, in my opinion, that marked a resurrection of the band.

Nigel Gloclker: Yes, definitely.

Rockpages.gr: And the other one was “Unleash the Beast”. What’s your opinion about it?

Nigel Glockler: Yeah, I think so. Definitely “Solid Ball Of Rock” because, you know, the grunge thing hit. But yeah, “Solid Ball”l was a fresh thing. We recorded it in Germany with a different producer. So, it was all a new experience. It was Nibbs’ first album with us. And it was a resurrection because it was sort of fresh and I think we’d signed to Virgin for it, Virgin Records. So, the whole thing was exciting, and I think it comes out in the songs that were written then. Yeah, they’re all killer. No fillers on that one.

Rockpages.gr: “Unleash the Beast” is one of my favorite albums. I think it’s an album where you tried some different different stuff both playing wise and as far the compositions are concerned. It was more modern.

Nigel Glockler: I think that it was in our heads to make it more modern and it was the first album with Doug on it. So again, as I always say, you get a new member in the band and the sound is going to breathe a new life into a band. When you get a new member, it doesn’t matter who it is, it can be the bass player, the drummer, the guitarist… It always breathed a new life into it because there’s someone different there.

Rockpages.gr: Would you say that adding fresh blood, let’s say, to a band wich is older can give this fresh breathe of life?

Nigel Glockler: Yeah, I think it does. I mean, look at Richie Faulkner joining Judas Priest. There’s the classic example for you. Of course, they’re all really excited again with him and it’s going great. Not that there was anything wrong with KK. I mean, KK was a great guitarist. But again, you know, Richie was, as you say, different blood coming in.

Rockpages.gr: Of course, I have to ask you about their decision that they changed later on, to go on as a four-piece.

Nigel Glockler: How on Earth would that happen? I mean, Judas Priest, have two guitars. No, no, no, . No! When I heard that, I thought, “Oh my God”, I think everybody thought about that. They did. I mean, you only have to read some of the comments online. They are a two-guitar band. That’s what I mean. It’d be the same with us. Yeah, we couldn’t do it. With one guitarist, I guess we could go out and probably have a great gig, but it wouldn’t be the same. Because there’s dual guitar parts, there’s different parts that both guitarists have to play, and if you’re lacking some, it’s not going to work the same.

Rockpages.gr: I know that you like progressive rock and that you love Genesis. And I think that there is a progressive kind of feeling in some of the new songs like, for example, “The Secret of Flight” from the previous one. Are you responsible for this progressive direction?

Nigel Glockler: No, no. I mean, everyone in the band listens to a lot of different stuff. None of the band listens to just metal. Um, so I think it’s just subconsciously that these things happen. I mean, it was almost like, Oh God, what was this song? “Refugee”…The beginning of “Refugee” was almost prog, because it wasn’t even four fours. It wasn’t in regular time. So it was different. All these come subconsciously. We all listen to different stuff. We’ve all got different musical tastes. Obviously, some times those tastes meet.

A lot of the time someones listens to something and then they say, “Well, did you now this?” I’ll say to Doug, “did you hear this song? And he says, “I’ve never heard that before” and then he likes it and vice versa. That’s how it works. They are influenced even if they just play. Because, whatever they’ve listened to has influenced how they play.

Rockpages.gr: Talking about your influences in playing and composing when I was listening to the “Influences” album and I got to “Paperback Writer” I thought, Is this Saxon into the Beatles? Or is Beatles into Saxon?

Nigel Glockler: But, it’s Saxon playing it, of course, you know, we’re not the Beatles. We’ll never sound like the Beatles, nobody does. I mean, I love playing that song. It was great doing that, but it’s Saxon, of course. But, now you got me thinking… maybe if I listen carefully to  some other songs from our recording session I might find some Beatles in there. And I’ll tell you why. Because Paul Quinn is a big Beatles fan. So who knows? Now you’ve got me thinking.

Rockpages.gr: Οne of your most popular songs is a cover. And I mean, “Ride Like The Wind”… What do you think about this, or did you think that Saxon should have not covered a pop song?

Nigel Glockler: It was funny. I mean, when it actually came to recording I wasn’t in the band. That was on “Destiny”. I’ve gone to GTR. But, I remember that Biff was mad about that album. There were two songs on that Christopher Cross album, that song and the other song, which was “Sailing” and he was playing them constantly on the tour bus and it was like, “Oh God, not that again”. He really got into them. So, it’s a good choice. It’s great. And you know, there’s certain countries we have to play it!

Rockpages.gr: Yeah, I remember last time you played in Greece, in 2018, you asked the audience to chose which one you were going to play and they picked “Run Like The Wind”.

Nigel Glockler: Well, there you go. That happens a lot in South America, too. So, I I love playing it. We all love playing it. It’s a great song.

Rockpages.gr: What do you remember from the day you joined the band and how you joined the band?

Nigel Glockler: I was at home at my parents’ house and the manager rang. I’d been in the band with the manager, that was my first pro band, our keyboard player was Hans Zimmer (ed, the band was called Krakatoa). Dave rang me up and said, “what are you doing?” And I said, “you know what I’m doing, I’m with Toyah”. He said, “what are you doing now?” This was Sunday, OK? And I said, “well, actually, I’m just about to have roast dinner with my mother and father. Why what’s going on?” He said that Pete Gill has hurt his hand and they’ve got a big tour starting on Wednesday. So, this was Sunday and he asked “would you do it?” And I said, “you try and use me as a last resort”. Sure, I’ll do it”. And I know what he did. He sat by his phone for half an hour and he didn’t ring anyone else, then he rang me back and said, “you’re in”. And he said, “you have to come down to London” and I said “you have to wait, I’m still having my dinner” (laughs). So, then I went there and had a blast with Saxon, and next thing you know I was playing with them in my home town on Wednesday. And just about a week after that they asked me to join permanently.

Rockpages.gr: What would you say that the were the most crucial moments in the band’s history so far?

Nigel Glockler: Crucial? I mean, it’s personal things for me. Obviously, the thing with Biff’s health. That was a very worrying time and I think, for me personally, the first time I played in America. I think that was great. Even though the tour we were on was totally wrong for us. We were playing with Molly Hatchet, whoever thought that was mad! But yeah, we did it and then we went on and played with Cheap Trick. And Triumph and then Rainbow… So, for me, that was that was great. Playing Wacken has been great for the band. There’s 75,000 people there, that’s been great. There’s so many things and it’s just been great that we’ve been able to go play to all these different countries. We are so appreciative of all the fans, because without them we wouldn’t be able to do all this stuff, so to them I say “thank you”, for liking us, buying the albums and coming to see us.

Rockpages.gr: Sometimes in a band’s career, especially if it’s a long one like yours, you look back decades ago and you think about an album that wasn’t wasn’t very good, it wasn’t appreciated or didn’t get good reviews and everybody thought that it was bad… It sucked, or whatever, but if you go fast forward 20 or 30 years later, you see people appreciating it. In your case that’s “Destiny”, for example.

Do you think about that? I mean, do you have the feeling that may be something that you did back then wasn’t as good as it was supposed to be, but listening to it again now makes you think differently?

Nigel Glockler: Yeah, I mean, “Destiny” was actually good. For me it was “Rock The Nations”. It is a great recording. We had a great time recording, and we actually managed to write that album in ten days… from nothing. Because, the manager said, “oh, you’ve got ten days and you’re in the studio” and we’re like, “whaaaat?” But we did it.

I mean, I look back on certain things that I wish I’d played differently, from a drumming point of view. I wish I’d done that, or I wasn’t happy with the drum sound or, it was not the sort of thing you know with using Andy Sneap, for instance. He really understands the band. He knows how we should sound. Because, he’s a fan of the band, he’s listened to us, he’s seen us live, he knows the power we put out on our live show…

I sometimes wish, although a lot of people love that album, the “Crusader” album, I wish we’d been able to record that with Jeff Glixman, who did “Power & The Glory”, with less vocal harmonies on it. But, Kevin Beamish wanted all this stuff. Well, you know, you’d think that the producer knows what he’s doing… But, I would change that, because when we play it, when we play “Crusader”, the actual track live, it sounds powerful. Nothing like the album, it’s much more powerful.

But again, we had to write “Rock The Nations” really quick. But then again, sometimes if you do things quick… They’re right. Sometimes, if you spend too long on something, then you just go around in circles.

Rockpages.gr: So, from your experience, what would you say is the worst enemy of a drummer?

Nigel Glockler: The worst enemy? Oh, God! I suppose lack of sleep, when you’re on tour. I’m trying to think… Something going wrong with the equipment. Oh God! That’s a nightmare for a drummer. I remember we were playing, I think it was about 1991, a festival in Norway and it was just a one-off. So, we sort of went in, but we didn’t take my drum kit. We used gear the that was rented there. And I remember we were playing “Motorcycle Man”, the first song, and I went straight through the bass drum skin. Bang! Oh my God! So, the crew rushed on. We’re still playing the song and luckily I could use my left foot to play, you know, because I was playing double bass. They took the bass drum out with the toms on it, and then they had to put another bass drum from a different kit in the same space. It’s like… chaos!

There was another time when I was playing my kit, this was probably about 1985, and we were in a soundcheck and thank God it was a sound check and I went right around the toms and when I hit the last one the fittings sheared off and the tom just rolled across the stage in front of the guys that were playing! Wow! And the fitting just sheared off because it was bad quality, you know?

Rockpages.gr: Well, I mean, in such a long career, you must have had some Spinal Tap moments.

Nigel Glockler: Oh yeah, well, that was one, for instance.

Rockpages.gr: Are there unfulfilled dreams, desires, things that you haven’t done or you want to do again.

Nigel Glockler: I mean, I love playing the big festivals, and it’s great because I get people saying to me, “do you get nervous before a show?” I mean, I get nervous before any gig, however big or small, whatever, I’m always nervous. But, I found in the past when I ‘ve sort of been off the road and gone jamming with some friends in a pub that I’m more nervous with like 100 people in front of me, because they’re right in your face. You know, it’s like… “I can’t make a mistake, he’s watching me”, you know?

Rockpages.gr: Any memories from Greece?

Nigel Glockler: You’re in Athens, are you? Because, we used to go to a rock bar, there was a main rock bar in Athens, Revenge of Rock…The last time, we played on tour there, it was really funny because…. I was talking to the crew, and there’s just something about the drums, and I said, where’s the rest of the band? And they said, “Oh, they’ve all gone” well, everyone was going up to Revenge of Rock. So there was a guy, a friend of ours, and he said, “I’ve got a motorbike, so I’ll take you to Revenge”, and I put his helmet on, which was broken. And we went through all the traffic at night  through Athens… I was terrified! We used to love going there. They had a drink… What was it called? Watermelon? I used to love that. I remember that one time we went there, I think it was me, Doug, Doug and Nibbs, we got up and we played. I think it might have been “Ride Like The Wind”. They had a local band on, so we got up and played it. Well, that was great. I think the funny thing was, they already had a bass player, and Nibbs just picked up one of his bases, which wasn’t even plugged in. It was hilarious, you know? (pretends he is shouthing to the bar tender) “More watermelon”…