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Steve Harris Interview
Johnny B: You’ve gone into writing an album so soon after finishing a tour, you were obviously up for it. Was it the fact that you had a new line up and you wanted to get into the studio and get on with it?
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STEVE HARRIS: "Oh that was part of the process of getting prepared to go into recording. One or two weeks into the tour we knew we would go in and be fresh off the tour. It was only a short tour obviously, the shortest tour we’ve ever done".
It was a good tour though.
"Yeah, It was a great vibe playing together again. and the crowds seemed to love it"
And you were all up for recording?
"Yeah. It was just getting the vibe getting together again and playing together again. We just thought we’d go straight in fresh off the tour and do a new album. We could‘ve just gone in and done an album but we thought it best to go and do some shows first. There was the Ed Hunter PC game to tour with as well. We did a completely different sort of show for that than obviously we will do for the next tour. Basically we wanted to go in the studio and add all the vibes, all the freshness of coming off a tour and playing together again."
Did you find this album any harder of easier than previous albums ?
"Well ..... this album we approached differently and we actually rehearsed for quite a while before going in and doing it. Normally we just go in and do it and rehearse the songs in the studio and we would allocate ourselves a specific period of time before that when we write the songs.. This time however we had a sort of on and off period, a sort of longer period to write. We were writing bits and pieces here and there, then going in to finish off the writing then basically rehearsing the songs at the end. Normally we just rehearse a song and then just do it as we’re going along. It’s just a different way of approaching it when we’re recording at my studio, at home, as we haven’t got a time problem there.It’s a totally different approach. The recording and the rehearsals are all one and in the same place. Whereas you can’t really go and start spending the same sort of money it would cost for the recording to just rehearse. It’s just insane to rehearse for a month in a recording studio that is costing ..... whatever a day it’s just stupid. So it just has to be a different approach. So we rehearsed the new stuff in a rehearsal room rather than in a recording studio. We rehearsed the stuff really well first so that when we went in to do the backing tracks they went down obviously a lot quicker. We’d rehearsed the songs as if we were going to play live."
Did you like that way of working ?
"Well yeah. We’ve done it that way before years ago and we enjoyed it and it worked. Either way really it works because the end result is the same in the sense that you just want to get the best performance down. It is just two different ways of doing it basically. I mean either way I like doing it, it doesn’t matter one way or the other really."
Why did you choose Belgium for your writing ?
"Well ..... Dick Bell (Maiden Production Manager) found the place and it’s just a really good place. It’s just a great place to rehearse, the people are nice and the whole atmosphere was relaxed and friendly."
What makes it a good place to rehearse ? Why was that such a great place ?
"Simple .... because it was just a really good size and sound. For me it was just a good vibe there. Like I said, the people were friendly and stuff like that and that means a lot. The facilities were good and relaxed. You could just relax and nobody knew where we were. We weren’t getting hassled by anybody and we could just go there, do a job and get on with it basically. Conversely that’s also what’s good when we rehearse at my place. I know nobody will bother us there. I know it was kinda out the way but it’s good. Yeah it was a great place".
Did you have to completely change your recording technique, seeing as how you’ve got three leading guitarists this time ?
"Well to be honest with you that’s a kind of difficult question to answer because we were using a new guy. I mean we were using a different producer, Kevin Shirley. So I don’t know if we would’ve approached it in the same way using three guitarists as two. Obviously, you have to approach it slightly differently for mixing the stuff but as to whether he would‘ve recorded it the same with two guitar players, I don’t really know. I haven’t worked with him before but I don’t think it probably would have been. After having worked with him, he’s just a straight head sort of bloke and he just goes in and gets on with it. I don’t think he would of done things much differently".
How was it working with Kevin Shirley ?
"Yeah, it was great. I mean it was really great working with him. I was a little worried about working with a different person you don’t know. I always would be because you don’t know what they’re going to be like. Obviously, you know what they’ve done work-wise and their reputation. We met him and he seemed like a nice guy. However until you get down to it you don’t know if you’re going to click with somebody or not ...... but it clicked perfectly. It’s just the way he works. It’s very similar to the way we’ve been working the last two or three albums anyway, in a lot of ways, There were some things that he was doing that we hadn’t been doing before but it was really good working like that. For instance we’d lay all the guitars down, the rhythm guitars, some over dub guitars and they would all go and record them altogether, rather than do them individually. This system worked out great. However, again I think that was because we were so well rehearsed we could do that. I think that if you weren’t as well rehearsed and you’d just gone in and done them as we usually do them, by taking each song at a time, it may have been different. It is after all just a different approach but the fact that we had rehearsed for a month beforehand meant that we could just do things like that ..... and easily. Everybody could just do their bits and it meant that we could just do it like that"
Does the producer influence an album in a way then?
"He influences the sound obviously of course, to a certain degree. If we were doing sounds that he didn’t like he would say so. But yeah, he influences the sounds, the way you record, he’s the engineer as well. He doesn’t influence you in the writing of it. The right songs are already arranged and written beforehand anyway, so he doesn’t influence you like that. He might have odd ideas, it’s the same with other producers we’ve worked with like Martin Birch. It’s the same type of thing ..... they may have odd ideas but as to whether we used them or not is another thing. It depends as to whether you liked them or not. It’s not a situation ...... Well Maiden has never been the situation, where someone comes in and starts dictating what kind of sort of songs we write."
It is so important to get the right sort of person then ?
"Yeah, it’s important to get someone in that wants to get the right sort of performance out of you. You don’t want someone that wants to just change the songs around. We knew that he wasn’t that type of guy or we wouldn’t have entertained him."
You knew that from his reputation?
"Not really because he’s capable of doing that if need be and I should imagine there are some band’s that may need that approach. Some bands need that, or want that. We don’t want that and he knew our reputation also. He knew that we wouldn’t be wanting that and that’s fine and it worked out great."
So would you work with Kevin Shirley again?
"Oh definitely yeah. We really enjoyed working with him and we had good fun doing it."
Johnny B : Yeah he seemed a good fun guy in the studio!
Steve Harris : "Yeah he is. When you’re stuck in the studio for all that time together you need to have fun. What I mean is that I’m the one that’s in the studio with him every day, day in and day out. I am there more so than the others so I need to get on with him. We got on really well together. It is so important to have a good working relationship. I imagine that there can’t be anything worse than going into a studio if you don’t like the person that you’re working with. We were really lucky because we all got on really well with him and we would definitely work with him again."
After doing a couple of albums at Barnyard studios would it automatically have been a change to go anywhere else ?
"We did Fear of the Dark, X Factor and Virtual 11 and we also did a bit of No Prayer there, although it wasn’t properly in the studio, as we did it in the mobile studio. We also mixed a couple of live albums there as well. So we did quite a bit of stuff there and we just felt like it was time to go somewhere else really. It’s the same as in the 80’s when we did three albums in Compass Point in the Bahamas. We did the recording there and then went and mixed the stuff in New York, at Electric Lady studios. We did that for three albums and it felt good to go somewhere else. So we did some other stuff, like Somewhere In Time at Wisseloord Studios Holland. Who knows whether we’ll go back to that one or somewhere else. I mean I really like the latest studio, the studio was great. Great environment to work in and really enjoyable. professional people there.
Was it well equipped there ?
"Yeah fantastic. Very well equipped The people were really well on the button with professionalism and totally together. I was very impressed with the studio. I would work there again definitely. Whether we’ll do that next time round who knows, that’s not something we’re thinking about yet. Whatever we decide now will probably change in a few weeks anyway ..... such is the nature of the Beast."
Normally there’s a good theme running through the album!
"I am glad you asked this because it may clear up a few misconceptions before we get asked this on tour for the millionth time. Some people do think the albums are like concept albums when they are not. That’s usually because of the artwork and the strong imagery that we use. What with the booklets and graphics and everything else and stuff like that. People get that impression. I say it with every album it’s the way it is, it’s a pretty simple approach and we try and get together the best collection of songs as best we can at any given time .... and you go with that. I mean you might look at it a year later and go back and think ‘Oh we could have done this or we could have done that’. You may think we could have second guessed this or that and we could have written a better song than that one. However at the time you’re enthusiastic about your stuff and you think that’s the best that you can come out with ..... at that time ...... you just HAVE to go with it. I don’t think you should look back over your shoulder at all, that’s always been our attitude. So that’s something that’s never changed in that respect. I mean that goes for with whatever the line up is, that’s always been the attitude. I hope that clears it up. We write the best collection of songs we can at the time and everything else fits around them .... not the other way around."
So when you were working away from your own Barnyard studios, did you work on one song till it was finished or did you do a bit of each, seeing as you were now working to a time limit ?
"With guitars and stuff as far as we could we were working on each track as we were going along, getting the sounds we needed. That’s what made mixing easier because we were building a track up layer by layer, one at a time really. You just do bits and pieces what ever is needed and whoever is available at the time. You just get them in to do bits and pieces and that’s how you carry on really. You get a working format going. You have to be very strict in your procedures as you only have limited time."
Do members of the band come in and say "Look I’ve got a cool riff, or do you want to hear this", or is it pretty well set before you go in ?
"Whatever work you need to do next .... you do it. You call them in and they do it. If they say they can’t come in that day because of whatever but they can come in at the end of the week, or that they are absolutely itching to get in, then you just work it it like that. What I mean to say is that we’ve all been doing this a long time so it’s not really a problem We just work it all out as you go along really. Some might say it’s a bit disorganised but it’s not really.
Where did you come up with the name "Wicker Man" for the first single ?
"I don’t know if people reading have ever seen the film. It’s a classic sort of British style of film. I like all British classics and British made films. It’s got Christopher Lee in it and it’s worth checking out, the scenes in that sum up the Wicker Man really.All that good pagan ritual stuff .... ho ho. Now I’m pigeon holing us !"
It was strong imagery in the Wicker Man, very eerie !
"Yeah definitely, we’ve always liked a bit of imagery, a bit of light and shade in our songs and a bit of atmosphere. It conjures up all sorts of things in your mind and imagery carries it even further so."
What theme will you carry into the stage show ?
"We’re still deciding what we’ll do with the stage show, we’re talking about designs and stuff. To be honest at this point in time we haven’t even got finished artwork so I wouldn’t really want to comment completely on that.
Will it be a big theatrical show again ?
"Yeah, a big show definitely. I hope it’ll be one of the biggest. Again it’s difficult to really talk about that too much without knowing what the artwork is. I mean we’ve seen some stuff but it’s not finalised."
Can we go through the idea and concept behind each track?
"It’s pretty boring !"
Well not really. It might be for you but not for the people reading this who don’t know anything about the album yet.
"There’s no concept really".
OK concepts the wrong word but there must be an idea behind the lyrics?
"No. You see the thing is when people ask you what the lyrics are, we get asked this question all the time and it’s one of the most boring and difficult questions and you can quote me on that if you want to. You just write at the time whatever you’re feeling at the time. You draw your influences from anything at the time, it could be films, books, history or circumstantial events, whatever. Or whatever you come up with out of your imagination at the time and that’s what it is. You know, people kind of read into them all sorts of things. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t. I think that’s good that they have a bit of imagination. They are thinking what they perceive about the lyrics. It is great because the lyrics are obviously strong enough that they make them think. The fact that they’re doing that and they have their own impression is a good thing. For me to exactly spell out what I was thinking (or whoever wrote those particular lyrics) at the time is wrong as far as we are concerned."
Is it pretty even the song writing, or was it just mainly you and Bruce ?
"Well you just have to look at the credits on the web and take it from that. Sometimes we just pair up or sometimes it was whoever was around at the time. Sometimes it was whoever was available for writing. Sometimes you think you might want to take a song in a certain direction with one person or another. Sometimes it’s not even like that, it’s whoever is up for doing stuff at that particular time you are working on that particular song. There’s no big deal about it."
Johnny B: The Wicker Man is a great song, it’s fast!
Steve Harris: "Yeah, I think it’s a really good single because we thought as soon as we wrote it that it could be a good single with a good catchy chorus, we’ve had a lot of really good catchy chorus’s in the past as well but what do we really know about singles? We’ve released singles in the UK but they never really get played on the radio anywhere. Maybe we’ve been releasing the wrong songs as singles ..... who knows! Even if we release the RIGHT kind of song, whatever THAT is, would it do anything anyway? I don’t think so probably. I mean I don’t think it really matters what we release as a single really. Sometimes I would just prefer to go the completely opposite way and release the bloody longest song on the album basically saying f**k you. I mean they wouldn’t play it even if it was three, four, five minutes long so they’re not going to play something that is eleven minutes long are they."
It is refreshing though that you are happy recording the songs the length they are rather than edit things down to a more "Radio Friendly" size
"We never time anything .... in fact I asked you to time the album for me yesterday and that was the first time I had any idea of the full length of the tracks. None of us really pay any attention to the length of the songs. We never have done really."
That’s excellent really don’t you think ?
"Yeah, I suppose! It is normally only after the event that people say can we do an edit on this ...or that. I don’t have a problem doing an edit for a single if the song isn’t a story from beginning to end, where chopping bits out will destroy the idea. Years ago the Americans asked us to edit "Hallowed". We told them to forget it because that would have just ruined it completely. On the other hand we did an edit on "Angel and the Gambler" because that was written on the album as a long version because it was written as it was, as if it was a "Live" version. What I mean by that is it was written as how we would do it with a crowd ...... bringing it down quiet and getting the audience involved and stuff like that. So we could edit that and it wouldn’t do the song any injustice at all. What I am trying to get across is that there are certain songs you can do that with and certain songs you cannot. You couldn’t edit "Sign Of The Cross" for example, it would be ridiculous."
It’s seems amazing then that some bands purposely change album songs so that they are shorter and more designed for singles.
"Yeah it’s madness. That’s because they think it’s because they are gonna get played but they don’t get played anyway. So they have probably spoilt a good album track by limiting themselves to a particular length of track and still they don’t get played. I suppose that at the end of the day they think they are playing fair and that they are giving someone the chance, giving them the ammunition to go out there and do something. Otherwise, people turn around and say ‘hey, we couldn’t do anything with this track as you didn’t give us the right length of song’ and all that crap. It makes you then think ... okay this song could withstand an edit and it doesn’t really matter if it is edited or not. It might actually be nice to have a different version on the single to the album anyway but .... only with certain songs. That’s fine if the song can take it. We did it with "Angel and the Gambler" and stuff like that and I don’t have a problem with that."
Do you think singles are still relevant to your album market ?
Steve pauses for quite a while and then answers,
"No, not really, I don’t think they have ever been that relevant. I think their relevance is as a taster for the album, that’s what they are and should be. A little teaser for the album that’s all they have ever been for us.They have always done well in the UK as the fans go out and buy them and they get into the chart, well, hopefully anyway. They never stay there. We have never had a true hit single, in that sense, as they don’t stay there long enough. However, we have never been that bothered about that kind of thing. We just release what song we thing will be the most viable one as a taster for the album. Whether that’s of any use for anybody to go out and sell the thing as a single is another matter."
Obviously I have only just heard the album for the first time a short while ago but already I remember some of the tracks being very "Thematic" as in film theme tracks. They’re great songs.
"Thanks, but we have always done stuff like that really. There are songs that we have done in the past that could have been used on film soundtracks I think. I am really influenced by big epic film theme type music. I love that type of music."
I am specifically thinking of things like "Nomad" and " Blood Brothers" etc
"Certainly, Nomad is a fine example. It is a big "Lawrence of Arabia" type vibe. That is the sort of stuff I really like, the sort of stuff I get off on, film theme music. It is a big influence really. It always has been though, so it’s not as if we have gone off in a different direction. That is the sort of thing people ALWAYS ask us when we start writing whether or not we are gonna go off in a different direction or not. We don’t go off in any direction, we play what we feel. We don’t try and be this or that or let trends dictate to us."
People or bands who do that are just chasing their tails around half the time. You just cannot make an album worrying about what other people like. You have to like it yourself first. If they like what we have created all well and good. Thinking about it logically what else are you gonna do ? Have a survey of fans and then write a song that sounds like so and so ? Or decide to write a song that sounds like Number of the Beast 2 .... I don’t think so ! You can have the biggest survey in the world but it doesn’t prove a thing. What’s the point of having part two of anything anyway. A great song is a great song. A sequel won’t make it any better".
Can I ask about "Ghost of The Navigator" which just blew me away on first hearing.
"You can but Bruce wrote the lyrics to that one . You had better ask him.
It is just a very intriguing title though "Ghost of the Navigator"
"Yeah but when he was first warbling away with it in rehearsals we all obviously thought it must be about flying ..... but it’s not! It is in fact about ships and stuff. It fooled us as well!"
I love the way the way the beginning builds up to a manic crescendo.
"See ...... that’s what’s interesting. You obviously have picked up on that one after just one hearing. What I personally think is good about Maiden albums is that different people will all pick up on different songs from their first hearing. I think that is absolutely great. To me that shows that the album has good depth. How many albums in present times do you pick up and there are just a couple , maybe only one song that you will remember or want to hear again. Too many in my opinion. Invariably, most of the time people have different favourites of ours that they pick up on and tell us about. I think that is really good and very pleasing to the band, who have spent a lot of time and effort trying to make it as interesting as we can."
You have "Fallen Angel" and "Mercenary".which to me are typical brilliant fast Maiden songs. Then you have the thematic "Nomad" and "The Thin Line between Love and Hate" Yet you then have "Brave New World" and "Dream of Mirrors" which are so different again.
"Obviously, that shows the depth I was talking about. It is difficult however to analyse it all. Obviously it is a new fresh album and whether they are different or not different who knows. Only time will tell. Everyone is gonna have a different opinion. Rod likes ones you don’t and Laz might like ones neither of you do. You have come out and said certain things about what you are hearing and feeling about this album but when I talk to the next person they might have a completely different opinion. They might say ... that one sounds the same as this one ..... or this one sounds like the one a few albums ago .... or this one way influenced by that song. It is totally amazing the different reactions I will get over the next few months. That just the way things are. I think you can worry too much about other peoples opinions. Obviously I want everyone to like it but it is just impossible. That’s what makes us all human ...... well some of us !"
I think that shows what a good band and a good album it is. It is not just a couple of good songs and the rest is a pile of cack.
"Exactly. I have always said it ......... Songs are the Lifeblood of any band. That really is half the battle, well most of the battle really, having good songs is what will see you through. Songs and lyrics are sometimes about moods and how you are feeling at the time."
You should have written a song after the Villa match.
"Yeah I should have but we wouldn’t have been allowed to play it. The lyrics would be banned. I might pen it anyway and give a copy to Coxie. (Steve Cox, Iron Maiden’s Tour manager)."
How about Blood Brothers ?
"It mentions about life after death, getting in touch with the "Other side". It touches on the Dark Side of your thoughts. It is also about feeling ashamed about what is happening in the world. It is about all these horrific things going on and people read about it in the paper but they just turn the page over .... and the horror is ..... well muted. I am not saying it’s forgotten because it might be on their minds but there’s not really a lot they can do about it. It just kind of gets put to one side and we hope somebody somewhere takes control and guides those who can do something about it. The lyrics are about all sorts of things. There is a lot of elements to it".
Steve seems to be deeply affected by the thoughts running through his head on this subject. He seems slightly reticent to show that his lyrics are sometimes very deeply embedded in his own thoughts and they are of an extremely caring nature for the environment that his kids will grow up in. He pauses what seems a long while when he suddenly carries on.
"Basically it is saying that we are all made up of blood and tissue and there is good and bad in the world, some people are unlucky in life .... things like that all rolled up into one. You are right it is very thematic though. I have always wanted to include orchestral type sounds on our stuff and we have used that sort of sound on keyboards before. This time however it was slightly different as Kevin (Shirley) knew this guy in New York who does that kind of thing and layers it up. We sent him a tape. I put down on the tape the kind of things I wanted and I was amazed that he came back and did exactly what I wanted. That in itself was very unusual!"
Who was this keyboard guy ?
"It was a guy called Geoff Bova. He is a guy that just sits there in his room surrounded by all different keys and sounds and he then takes them and layers them up. The layered version sounds really like an orchestra. I was really pleased with that. I was actually so pleased with how it turned out because I was a bit tentative when I sent out the tape to him, as I wondered what on earth he was going to come up. I was just hoping he’d do what I wanted him to do. I was a little worried in case he went completely over the top but he actually came up with exactly what i wanted so I was well pleased. I had a vision of the direction I wanted to take the song in and the work he did fitted in great. I was very pleased."
Did he do any work on the "Nomad" ?
"Yeah, He did a little bit on the middle section and again he did exactly what i wanted him to do. The rest of the "Nomad" .... believe it or not ..... I actually played the keyboards.The main reason for that is because I know what I want and I know the timings I need. I could get Michael (Kenney) to do it but I think by the time he has sat there and learnt it and the timings .... I might as well do it myself and save time and get exactly what I want."
How will you do that Live ?
"Michael Kenney will do it because I won’t! I have done my bit ! To be honest a lot of it’s not that difficult. I am not any master keyboard player by any means of the imagination. It will be slightly harder for him because if I go and mess it up in the studio I just go and record it again. Michael has to go and learn it thoroughly but it shouldn’t be that hard as I am not an accomplished keyboard player by any stretch of the imagination. Everyone MUST remember that it really is used as an effect for enhancing the song."
I think it works great. I think the whole mix is great.It is very deep and full. I love the way everything shoots all around you and from speaker to speaker without sounding effect laden.
"Good, that’s where Kevin comes into his own.He is a superb mixing man without a doubt. That is just another reason why we wanted to use him.I learnt a few little tricks from him.His expertise is great and we knew we wanted someone really competent. With three lead guitar players we knew it was gonna be tricky to say the least."
He did brilliant then because some of the guitar sections are superb.
"Yeah the solos are, they really are. However when you are trying to cram it all in with three guitars, rhythm guitars, drums and stuff, it is very hard. There is a hell of a lot going on. It really is not easy to do. We have always tried to have albums where there is a whole lot of stuff going on"
Dream of Mirrors ..... can you explain the thinking behind that track ?
"Well .... It is about the dark side of things. It’s about people’s thoughts and how they suffer from dreams and nightmares and all sorts. That was the main influence and source of materialI think dreams are so intriguing and you never really have an answer for them so therefore it is endless. I feel there are more songs than pictures about that sort of thing and I find it a fascinating subject."
Johnny B: It starts fast and then goes to a slow dreamlike sequence which you imagine in black and white because of the clever lyrics.
Steve Harris: "Nine times out ten we will already have a melody, a really strong melody and we will write the lyrics to the melody. That’s how we do things usually. So then we are trying to fit a lyric to a melody that may have already created a mood. You then have to write something that will suit that, you can’t really write something that won’t suit that song. That is where lyrically I get my inspiration from, the vibe and the mood of the song."
I thought it was a great song to follow "The Mercenary" which is a real fast blockbuster of a song.
"When we pan an album out we try and have light and shade in your album. We had "Blood Brothers" which is a quiet at the beginning and end. We thought that "Mercenary" will bring the tempo back up again. We then thought that "Dream of Mirrors" which has those quiet sequences near the beginning will slow the pace again.
Is there a reasoning behind "The Mercenary".
"Yeah but it really is about a bounty hunter. We named it "The Mercenary" purely because we didn’t want to call it "The Bounty Hunter".
What about the "Fallen Angel" ?
"Age old thing really..It is all about Good Versus Evil.To me the whole song is musically influenced by "Thin Lizzy". It has that celtic vibe to it at the beginning that is very "Lizzy". I think the song is very .... well not commercial ... but the chorus hook is very catchy.
I loved the whole thing about "The Nomad", the long guitarfests, the epic feel of the whole track, the orchestral bit, the stirring lyrics I thought it is a highlight of the album.
"Thanks ..... lets hope everyone else thinks so. We called it "The Nomad" as it has that whole Arabian vibe to it ."The Nomad" summed up the whole feel and vibe of the song. The theme of the music was great and this is what I was talking about before, where the vibe of the music sends us in the right direction for the lyrics.It was definitely one of those sort of tracks. The vibe was very middle eastern and that is what inspired the lyrics. We were all thinking of the desert and stuff."
Then we have the track "Silent Planet" which if you were looking for that "taster" you described earlier surely this is commercially friendly ?
"Well ... it definitely has a catchy chorus, well two choruses really. It has a chorus and a sub chorus really. It had a feel about it when we were recording like when we did "The Evil That Men Do". That had a strong bridge, which could have been a chorus and then you hit the real chorus which takes you even higher. Bruce wrote the lyrics for that one."
Was it based on the film ?
"Don’t think so. Again it sets off quiet and builds up to violent ending. We love doing that type of stuff."
"The Thin Line Between Love and Hate" .... that’s got to be one of the longest Maiden titles in years hasn’t it. ?
Again Steve laughs out loud
"Yeah ... "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was pretty long. Again the song has lots of different moods in it. The bits in the middle and the end are real favourites of mine. They really have a great moody feel to them. There was a different direction for some of the writing. Some of it was new for us as we wanted to try a few new and different things."
"Despite what some
people say and again it really depends on who you are talking to, some people say we are not different enough. Other people say we are too different from our last albums .... we don’t really analyse it but I think there is quite a lot of different stuff going on here.
I don’t really think that people should try and pigeon hole us. It’s not just this album, over all the albums we have had new stuff going on all the time. We write from the heart and how we feel at the time. We are all changing all the time and experiencing different and new things so that obviously affects how we write and play. All those people who say we just play one type of thing have obviously never listened to one of our albums properly. I really think that Maiden albums are something that you have to listen to a few times to appreciate it. Our albums are not instant stuff. One or two of choruses maybe but there is a hell of a lot of instrumental stuff. We hope that there is a little bit more to our albums that make them thought provoking. They are not something that you can take in instantly ....well not the whole album anyway. It doesn’t matter who the artist is sometimes you have to persevere a little bit and some people can’t be bothered with that. The attention span of some people is .... well ..... pretty minute to say the least!"
I felt the album was a lot rockier this time ... or was that just me ?
"It is your perception of it. This is probably gonna be the first released interview about this album and we are gonna get asked this question so many times so don’t feel bad about asking it. However .... I’ll give you the answer I probably will give all of them .... people perceive things in different ways.
Some people are going to say it’s a rockier album. Some are gonna say it’s a more progressive album, some will even say it’s more commercial. It will amaze us as always with what perceptions people will come up with. The answer to all of them is .. GREAT! Get out of it what you want but don’t go pigeon holing us. Listen to it a few times and then see if your original perception is the same."
Are there any songs that you finished off that didn’t make the album ?
"No, not at all. We don’t work that way. We write and then work on whatever we need. We never write say twenty songs and then just use ten, we would never do that."
I guess it is all steam ahead now. The albums finished so I guess it is off to mastering, shoot a video and off on tour.
"Sounds scary but yeah, that’s basically our lives mapped out. We master the album and then after a few weeks of promotion, where we pair off and go off doing press all around the world, we rehearse. We have to go out and do the press stuff so that we give the album a good opportunity to do well. It allows all the record company and our guys to go out and promote the thing properly.
People will not know it’s there unless we put the ground work in promoting it. We can never take things for granted. We have a pretty hardcore following but you cannot just expect people to cough up, hard earned cash for something they have not heard about. The groundwork is important so you have to go out and do that sort of thing.Now we go and rehearse the tour and do the best show we can.
What will be nice about this tour is that we are going out based on a new album. It was kind of hard for me on the last tour to go out and play a set where we didn’t have any new songs. It was great on one hand for us all to get back together and for it to go so well but I found it particularly difficult myself. That’s because I like to go out on tour with new stuff.I like to have the conviction in new material and give an impression like that.
I am looking forward to this tour more. I really am ..... purely for that reason. I love to see the crowds reactions to new songs. I think it is a great challenge to go out and play new stuff.."
But don’t the fans love to see you come and play your greatest songs ?
"Yeah, of course. They want to hear old stuff as well but it is really nice to go and play new stuff. You can look at it from another way. If we DON’T go and play brand new stuff how will any of the new songs ever become great live songs. Everyone seems to have a different song they like to us playing live. Some like Run To The Hills, others love Fear Of The Dark. How would they know that these are great songs live if we had never had the faith in our convictions to play new stuff, on previous tours.
I think it is challenging and sometimes I even think it’s quite brave of us to play the amount of new stuff that we do.Whenever we go out on tour with a new album we always play at least 6 new songs. A lot of people don’t do that. They are scared of reactions so they only play one new song. They are worried about people bitching about new material but I think it just shows a lack of confidence in their new product. I have always wondered at that myself .... I think it is a bit strange. If they think they have written a good new album ....go out and play it to the fans .... that’s the only way you will find out if it really is any good."
Are you going to play any places that you have never played before?
Oh yeah .... there are places already lined up and hopefully there will be more. We are playing Estonia, Ukraine and places like that. I always like playing new places it is a challenge. It is still a challenge to go back and play at places you have played before because you still have to go and prove yourself all over again. Hopefully, the fans will leave thinking you were even better than the last time they saw you. Having said that I really like to go to new places to see crowds reactions and obviously ..... as a tourist. I finds it refreshing to go to new places.
Will you get to more places than you did on the Ed Hunter tour?
"Oh yeah, Ed Hunter was a very short tour. It was really only a couple of dozen shows, which is nothing for us really. This will be quite a long tour. Not as long as some of the previous long tours purely because we are doing a festival tour. With the festivals you can play one show and reach the same amount of people as you would reach with five or six shows. This is different because it is a summer tour. If we do a winter tour then obviously we cannot play festivals so we do a longer tour to make up for it."
Well I wish you all the best for the tour and the new album. I think the new album has a real depth to it. I absolutely love some of the new tracks and cannot wait to be jumping up and down with the crowds to "Navigator".
Thanks. See you all there ..... somewhere !