British heavy metal vocalist Blaze Bayley, who fronted IRON MAIDEN more than 20 years ago, spoke to Metal Pilgrim about how the rise of grunge in the early 1990s forced most hard rock bands off the radio and MTV, with album and tour sales plummeting. Addressing the cyclical nature of trends, he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "For a few of is, metal never went away. And we didn't want grunge. I think largely the journalists said [about grunge], 'This is the next big thing.' "When I was in WOLFSBANE, we are happy-go-lucky guys, trying to be positive and enjoying life. Grunge comes, they're all looking at their shoes, they're miserable, they're suicidal — the opposite of WOLFSBANE, and the opposite of a lot of bands at the time. "The people that really loved this music carried on," he continued. "There's something about it. And grunge had its place, but it didn't last — those bands didn't really last. I think it's a difference in values. "Metal isn't really getting bigger. It's just slowly going out and we refuse to let metal go. And when you see metal live and you see a band that believes and plays well, it's irresistible. It is the devil's music — we know that because it's completely irresistible and you'll do anything to hear more of it. "Metal is something that grips you in a certain way," Blaze added. "It transcends fashion. If things go in circles… Well, I've been unpopular and unfashionable for most of the 35 years that I've been going, but I'm still going. So I'm trying not to be popular and not to be fashionable, and then my music, my brand of metal will just keep going. And every so often, every 10 years, there'll be a little bump where people go, 'Oh, Blaze Bayley,' and then then I'll just be where I was before. "The most important thing, man, is that it comes from the heart. There's something about metal that absorbs me, transforms me [and] takes me out of the normal world and away from everyday problems. "When it's great, to me, when it's done well by masters, then metal is absolutely the best music. When it's done badly by people who just take every cliché and don't do anything original, it's the worst music. And this is the curse that we have in heavy metal — it can be the best and it can be the worst, and sometimes it can be on the same album." The 58-year-old Bayley, who was born in Birmingham, recorded two studio albums with IRON MAIDEN — the aforementioned "The X Factor" and "Virtual XI" — before Bruce Dickinson returned to the group. The MAIDEN albums he appeared on sold considerably less than the band's prior releases and were their lowest-charting titles in the group's home country since 1981's "Killers". Since leaving IRON MAIDEN in 1999, Bayley has released a number of albums, including several under the moniker BLAZE and more than a handful under his own name. He also appeared on 2012's "Wolfsbane Saves The World", the first album of new material by WOLFSBANE since the group's self-titled 1994 effort. Blaze's latest solo album, "War Within Me", came out in April 2021. All songs were written and produced by Blaze and guitarist Christopher Appleton.

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