When asked if he thinks that his two IRON MAIDEN records [1995’s The X Factor and 1998’s Virtual XI] have stood the test of time, he responded:
“I do. Yeah, I do think they’ve lasted and one of the reasons I think they’ve lasted, for many of the hardcore fans, they weren’t very popular. For some people, the first MAIDEN record is The X Factor or Virtual XI. And I am the first MAIDEN singer, and those people have absolutely no problem with me or with those albums. And they love them … but for other fans, ‘oh thank God Bruce‘s back.’
“Bruce [Dickinson] has come back and they’ve done some other albums, and some people go: “I’m so bored, that the only albums I haven’t listen to a hundred or a thousand times are The X Factor or Virtual XI and there actually is some good music on these.’ And then, bringing back the anniversary editions of The X Factor or Virtual XI, a lot of new fans who never heard of me go ‘Bruce sounds different on this record.’
“And then they go ‘who the hell is Blaze Bayley?’ Well, he was there in the middle. ‘But I thought it was the legend Paul and then Bruce.’ But Bruce left and then he came back. But there are two albums in the middle. So people go on this voyage of discovery find out that I actually have 11 albums out solo. And I think most of them turned out pretty well.”
He also talked about the possibility of Bruce Dickinson redoing MAIDEN records he sang on it:
“To be honest, I don’t think Bruce would be interested at all in doing that, because knowing him as I do – and I’ve known him for many years. I knew him before MAIDEN and he’s been so kind to me and help me with my solo career and many things afterwards.
“Those albums are what they are. They just stand as they are. The only thing that you would do is maybe do a live version. It’s ridiculous, because there was nothing missing when we wrote those albums. There was nothing written for The X Factor, it was right. Nothing’s written. ‘I don’t care who writes it or who does the songs, they just have to be great songs.’ And that’s what Steve [Harris] said at the start to me. We got together and we wrote these songs and I had a book full of lyrics to try with different music and stuff.
“When they originally found Bruce, you had this absolutely fantastic, legendary voice. To hear someone who hit the whole mark, heavy metal singing the best it can be, you go listen to Dickinson. And that’s what heavy metal singing is. He’s got the fantastic range, great interpretation, he can be soft and loud. It’s incredible what Bruce can do. A wonderful, wonderful singer.
“But we come from different places vocally and emotionally. My interpretation always comes from darkness. Always comes from a struggle to fight off the darkness, to get through the storm, to come to the other side, to look for the blue sky, to wait for the full moon to guide you out of the night to a different place. That’s where my vocalization comes from. And my interpretation of the songs comes from a different place.
“So when you are more relaxed as a music fan, a MAIDEN fan, then you start to appreciate the difference. It’s a different way of looking at it. To be honest, a lot of people still hate me for my era of Iron MAIDEN. I don’t think it’s a good thing.”
This May, Bayley told filmmaker Daniel Sarkissian that it was an “absolute” shock to leave IRON MAIDEN:
“It was a shock to leave IRON MAIDEN — it was an absolute shock, he said. But CD sales were gone; there was no interest in the band; things were going down; and they wanted a reunion — the record company wanted a reunion. At that time, DEEP PURPLE had a reunion. So Bruce [Dickinson] had to come back. The odd thing is Bruce is such a lovely, lovely bloke, and he’s always been very supportive of my career.
“We met before MAIDEN — I knew him before I was involved in MAIDEN — and after, he’s been very kind to me. But it was a difference. It was like any big thing that you lose — it’s grief, it’s an adjustment to make — but playing to smaller audiences, that’s not an adjustment, because I’ve always been doing it, because I love to sing. And so if I’m performing, it doesn’t matter to me if it’s a few hundred people or thousands of people. So, that’s a different thing — that’s not a shock.
“The shock is that you’re not in the job that you were with. But that’s the same for anybody. It doesn’t matter that it’s IRON MAIDEN, and not IRON MAIDEN. It can be in a job for driving a bus, it can be a job working in a factory that you really love, making cars — it can be any job — that if you lose that job and that future and that way of life that you enjoyed, you’re gonna be upset about it.”