Legendary Saxon frontman Biff Byford today launches the video for School Of Hard Knocks:https://youtu.be/8iSymWeu-ro the title track of his first ever solo album, School Of Hard Knocks, which is set for release on 21st February 2020 through Silver Lining Music.
“The title track to the album is basically biographical about my early years…” says Biff. “Have a listen to the lyrics – hope you all like it!”
With his roots firmly in The North of England, Biff has earned the right to be considered The Heavy Metal Bard Of The North and his debut album reflects the man and his personality, his loves and his musical versatility.
School Of Hard Knocks fulfils Biff Byford’s long-standing wish to explore rock ‘n’ roll a little more. The album is a personal journey highlighting his life and his passionate interests, from the history of the Middle Ages to growing up in the industrial North. A classic, masterfully constructed old-school British hard rock album, School Of Hard Knocks embraces a variety of musical genres and includes the Yorkshire folk classic Scarborough Fair, famously covered by Simon and Garfunkel. Byford and Fredrik Åkesson’s arrangement breathes new life into the legendary song.
Biff says: “With this album I’m singing about my past, of course, and about things I like, but mostly I wanted it to reflect me, my personality and my life.”
School Of Hard Knocks features Biff Byford on vocals (and a spot of four string thunder) along with Fredrik Åkesson (Opeth) on guitars, drummer Christian Lundqvist and bass player Gus Macricostas. The album also features guest appearances by Phil Campbell (Motörhead/Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons), Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire and Turilli / Lione Rhapsody), Nick Barker (Voices), Dave Kemp (Wayward Sons) and Nibbs Carter (Saxon). The album was produced by Biff Byford, recorded by Jacky Lehmann at Brighton Electric Studios in Brighton (UK) and mixed at Queen Street Studios in Stockholm (Sweden) by Mats Valentin.
School Of Hard Knocks UK tour
Byford recently announced his first ever solo tour dates. The tour begins in the UK in April 2020 with European dates to be announced later.
The show, in the form of ‘An evening with…’, will be split into two halves. The first features Biff in conversation with Don Jamieson (American comedian and star of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show) on all aspects of his life and career. After the break Biff and his band will play some new songs, covers and, maybe, a Saxon song or two.
Biff says: “It’s a show I’ve wanted to do for a long time and one which I don’t think has been done in hard rock before. It’ll be something different and a lot of fun.”
UK tour dates are:
||Islington Assembly Hall
Tickets are available from myticket.co.uk with Leeds and Aberdare tickets available from 10am today (13thDecember).
As a special bonus, fans buying tickets prior to 31st January 2020 will receive a personally signed 10”x8” photo together with entry into a draw to win one of 10 VIP Meet and Greets for each show.
About Biff Byford
As a teenager Biff played bass for a number of groups in the Barnsley area while working at a colliery during the day. One of the bands included guitarist Paul Quinn with whom Biff would form Saxon. With Biff now focusing on lead vocals, Saxon released their eponymous debut album in 1979 becoming one of the new wave of British heavy metal bands.
Saxon quickly gained popularity and scored no less than eight consecutive UK Top 40 albums and five Top 40 singles between 1980 and 1988. Wheels Of Steel (1980) reached Number 5 in the UK album chart and achieved Platinum status.
Ever popular in Europe, and particularly in Germany, Saxon continued to be at the forefront of the British heavy metal scene and returned to the UK charts with their 2007 album The Inner Sanctum. Saxon’s 2018 album Thunderbolt was their first to reach the Top 30 album chart in 30 years and became their highest charting album in Germany and Switzerland reaching the Top 10 in both countries.
School Of Hard Knocks Release date 21st February
Pre-order on CD, Vinyl, Digital formats and special D2C bundles http://hyperurl.co/SchoolOfHardKnocks
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On February 21st 2020, legendary Saxon frontman Biff Byford will step into the spotlight with his first ever solo album, School of Hard Knocks.
The North of England is everything you saw in Game of Thrones and more. It is the true heart of England, the region where its soul resides, and Biff Byford has earned the right to be considered its true heavy metal bard.
Biff takes on not just tales and stories from his heart and soul, but also investigates the Middle Ages and Medieval history amongst other subjects.
“I’m singing about my past of course and about things I like, but mostly I wanted it to reflect me, my personality and my life,” says Biff. “Song-wise it’s more diverse and not just focused on heavy metal. I wanted it to be a slice of the music I like, from metal, to rock ‘n’ roll. I’m a guy who’s just as happy listening to Metallica or Judy Garland, because as long as it’s great and entertains me, then what more do I need?”
An aural Byford storybook highlighting his life and passionate interests, School of Hard Knocks is in all senses a classic, masterfully-constructed old school British hard rock album.
From the spoken word introduction of ‘Inquisitor’ with its stoic, poetic take on the Spanish Inquisition to the autobiographical, old-school ‘Wheels of Steel’ era thrust of ‘Welcome to the Show’ and ‘School of Hard Knocks’, you’ll get to know Byford supremely well over the 11 tracks which comprise the album.
“One of my favourite is ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, which is quite ‘prog metal’ and I love that,” says Biff “I’m a big prog rock fan and was a huge fan of Yes back in the day and being a musician-bass-player myself, the musicianship in bands like that really caught me. There’s a version of ‘Throw Down the Sword’ by Wishbone Ash, and the reason I did that was because it was the first song I ever heard that was anything to do with history in the sense of battles and war, and was really the thing which started me on the road to writing historically-driven songs.”
There is also a wonderful version of the Simon & Garfunkel classic ‘Scarborough Fair’, with Byford and Fredrik Åkesson (from Opeth) creating a new arrangement which gives the legend new life.
“It’s a traditional medieval song, and the story goes that Paul Simon happened to hear somebody playing it in Whitby, which is just down the road from Scarborough,” laughs Biff, “But I wanted something which represented Yorkshire and it is a Yorkshire folk song, so we tried a new arrangement which made it a little heavier, and it works really well.”
School of Hard Knocks was produced by Biff Byford, recorded by Jacky Lehmann at Brighton Electric Studios in Brighton (UK) and mixed at Queen Street Studios in Stockholm (Sweden) by Mats Valentin. The album features guest appearances by Phil Campbell (Motörhead/Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons), Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire and Turilli / Lione Rhapsody), Nick Barker (Voices), Dave Kemp (Wayward Sons) and Nibbs Carter (Saxon).
On School of Hard Knocks, Byford worked with Fredrik Åkesson (Opeth) on guitars, Christian Lundqvist on drums and Gus Macricostas on bass (Biff himself played a spot of four string thunder too!).
Biff is also planning some live shows next year, events which will continue the theme of breaking new ground: “I’m going to do a ‘words-and-music’ tour in small venues,” he states proudly, “the first part will be me in conversation with the audience about anything really, from heart attacks to sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, old times, new times, friends, enemies and whatever anyone wants to chat about… Then bringing out a band and playing some new songs, covers and maybe end with a Saxon song or two. I’m still working out the details, but it’s a show I’ve wanted to do for a long time and one which I don’t think has been done in hard rock before. It’ll be something different and a lot of fun.”
School of Hard Knocks not only achieves the goal of providing full bore entertainment, it fulfils a long-standing Biff Byford’s wish to explore rock ‘n’ roll a little more.
“It’s been great to break new ground, explore new territories and work with some old friends,” concludes Biff,“and having waited so long to make this album, I have to say, I am delighted with it! It has a whole range of styles, from the ridiculously heavy to ballads, and it is certainly my album.”
Available to pre-order from October 25 on CD, Vinyl, Digital formats and special D2C bundles.
Watch/Listen to the first single, Welcome to the Show
Pre-orders available from October 25