Interview With Saxon’s Biff Byford On Hearing Loss And Rock ‘N’ Roll
Yorkshire-based Biff Byford is the frontman of heavy metal band Saxon who had eight UK Top 40 albums in the 1980s including four UK Top 10 albums and two Top 5 albums.
Since forming the band in 1977, Biff has been exposed to loud music, which has resulted in hearing loss but has now been fitted with Oticon More hearing aids which Biff said: “... is like turning back on the enjoyment button on life”.
I asked Biff, when did he discover his hearing was starting to deteriorate?
"Years ago before the band became successful I used to work in a weaving shed as a teenager, so you can imagine what the noise was like in there. When I was in my twenties I started to get tinnitus, then in the last year during lockdown my hearing started to get pretty bad. I decided to go to Hidden Hearing who are on most high streets.
"It is worthwhile getting your hearing tested, I have been around loud noises since I was a boy so it is not surprising really that my hearing suffered."
How long have you been wearing the Oticon More hearing aids?
"About two or three months - another bonus is my tinnitus has got so much better, it’s no way near as invasive as before. The aids have really helped reduce the severity with that. Getting the aid is like turning back on the enjoyment button on life."
What can you hear now that you couldn’t hear before?
"I can hear conversations a lot better. Before I struggled to hear what people were saying. When people were talking it was mostly a muffled sound I could hear. Now I can even hear people talking in the other room. I can hear myself breathing, my footsteps when walking, they have made such a difference.
"The good thing about these hearing aids is that they have Bluetooth so I can stream from another device straight to the hearing aids. In fact I am listening to the new Saxon album at the moment that is coming out next February.
"I don’t use the hearing aids though when on stage as we are fitted with in ear technology."
Who were the loudest bands that you have seen live?
"Motörhead were always definitely one of the loudest. Manowar were up there too with being loud. Saxon back in the day were always loud too, but we always try to make the sound level relevant to the room. These days there is far more technology involved in a live show and the sound is more controlled now than say back in the 1980’s."
Has Saxon got any live gigs coming up?
"We are all looking forward to the Bloodstock Festival in Derbyshire in mid August - and we are appearing on the Sunday. It will be the first time the band has played a live show together in two years so, yes we are looking forward to it just like the fans will be. The new album is out in February but fans can pre-order it from October.
I understand you still live in Yorkshire?
I do, I live near York - it is a great city, you have the countryside on your doorstep, the rolling hills around the Yorkshire Wolds and the coast is within easy access.
Saxon play Bloodstock Open Air Festival, Derby on Sunday 15th August and Manchester O2 Apollo on Friday 28 January 2022