Blaze Bayley Says ‘Grunge Was Trying to Kill’ Iron Maiden
Bayley fronted Maiden from 1994-99, during grunge’s mainstream height. The singer recalled one particular performance that hammered home the chasm between fans of the two genres.
“We played Seattle at the height of grunge, and it was one of the most awful gigs I've ever done,” Bayley explained during an interview on the Crowcast podcast. “You had these people looking at us like we were some kind of dinosaur, and they were going, 'Why aren't they dead yet?' And then you've got a few rows at the front going, 'Maiden! Yes!' It's just unbelievable.”
Historically, the grunge phenomenon is often cited as a major seismic shift in rock, when mainstream popularity turned away from the metal and glam rock acts that had dominated the ‘80s. To that end, Bayley believed the two albums he released with Iron Maiden - 1995’s The X Factor and 1998’s Virtual XI - suffered due to changes in the popular trends.
“We were at war with grunge. Grunge was trying to kill us,” Bayley noted. “That's the war that we had with The X Factor and Virtual XI. We were fucking fighting for the very existence of real heavy metal. And where are they now? Metal is forever, 'cause it's in the heart of fans. I'm sorry, but grunge, it was fashionable."
Outside of his five years in Iron Maiden, Bayley has enjoyed a long run as the singer of Wolfsbane, as well as a successful solo career. His latest album, War Within Me, is due in April. Bayley believes his own longevity stands in stark contrast to grunge’s “fashionable” peak.
“The best thing about what I do is it's not fashionable - I'm always unpopular, and that's why I've lasted so long,” he explained. “If everybody liked me, it would be the kiss of death for my career."