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Andy Sneap on his love of Saxon

The Hell guitarist reveals his passion for the NWOBHM heroes

Legendary metal producer Andy Sneap is about to hit the road with his band Hell, as main support to Saxon, for an impressive run of UK dates. He is also about to work with the band in the studio as they ready the follow-up to 2013’s well-received Sacrifice album. We spoke to Andy about his love of the British metal stalwarts and why Biff Byford is one of metal’s most stubborn and sarcastic protagonists…

What are you first memories of hearing Saxon?

“It was via Tommy Vance on the radio, I think, on the Friday Rock Show. He was a pioneer for Saxon and he had jingles with Biff on. But I first saw them on the Eagle Has Landed tour, back in ’83 at Derby Assembly Rooms. Cheetah, that all-girl band, were supporting. I also saw them on the Crusader tour at Sheffield City Hall, and I think Verity were supporting and Battleaxe too. Obviously they were great back then. That tour was classic… I’ve still got the program from that.”

Do you think Saxon get the recognition they deserve?

“Well, they are a bit overshadowed by Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, I guess. They were really there at the tail-end of the '70s. They were successful… they sort of got there but never broke as big as Maiden and Leppard did. Saxon had that three or four album run in the UK and Europe in the early '80s and they were seen as being a big band. They never quite made it to that bigger level in America, unfortunately… and that surprises me, really. Listen to those songs now and they’re as good as anything else from that era. Maybe the band’s image held them back. They were very much the working man’s metal band back then. Maybe it was one moustache too many for the Americans! Ha ha! But I loved them and I still love them. Those classic songs have really stood the test of time, and you can’t go wrong with those early albums in particular. Listen to Denim & Leather and Wheels Of Steel… they’re just classics, aren’t they? I really, really love No Surrender. That’s probably my favourite Saxon song. The key change into the chorus… I love that.”

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