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Steve harris Interview
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Dancing with the fans
By Chris Alo
Issue: May '04
The resurgence or second coming in Iron Maidenís popularity was kick started a few years ago. Longtime vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith rejoined the band for the immensely popular reunion tour of the US and Europe in 1999. After recharging their batteries on the road, they quickly went into the studio and recorded ďBrave New WorldĒ, which was an instant hit before blazing across the concert trail yet again. 2003 saw the band do another massive world tour and then release their new album, the fantastic ďDance of DeathĒ. Bassist and founding member of the band, Steve Harris has truly masterminded the veteran act and is responsible for much of their success. Rock Brigade Magazine had the chance to speak with Steve regarding their new album and the latest activities in the Iron Maiden camp.
RB - What are the differences between recording Brave New World and Dance of Death?
STEVE HARRIS - It is quite different really, but it is difficult to be analytical really. We went on and made the album as we always do. I think album is a little more darker and a little more theatrical maybe. The stage show will reflect that also. As to why, Iím not sure (laughs). We donít do anything up front really. We allow ourselves a 6 week writing period and thatís all we do. We donít write on the road, so we just go in with new, fresh ideas. Itís difficult because itís not like we said, letís make a darker album or letís do something different. We did it in a different studio and a different city and maybe that influenced us somewhat.
RB - So when you did the Give Me Ed tour, the album was already done?
HARRIS - Yeah we had written it November of 2002. We recorded it from January 2003 until April 2003. Then we started touring in May and went out all summer and the album was released later on. It was a bit strange for us to go out and tour without having an album out. But we did lots of summer festivals. The whole experience was different for us because we normally do an album and then a few weeks later we go on tour behind the album.
RB - How was it working Kevin Shirley again? Youíve worked with him quite a bit now, whatís it like working with him as opposed to Martin Birch?
HARRIS - Working with Kevin again in the studio was great. Second time around was better because we didnít have to go through the BS of having to get to know each other. We knew what each other wanted. With Martin Birch there were a lot of similarities. They both have great sense of humor. Their overall professionalism was about the same, really.
RB - The band decided to tour less with the new album. What happens if touring less means youíll have less records sales?
HARRIS - We never really thought about that one (laughs).I think we just come to a stage where weíve been touring for 25 years with each tour lasting at least 9 or 10 months. We just decided that we wanted tours now to be quality over quantity. Being realistic weíre not getting any younger and you just need to pace yourself I suppose. Plus if we tour for say 4 or 5 months instead of 9 or 10 we can carry on longer. We can play in the summer. Winter tours are more difficult. Everyone gets sick in the winter. Bruce got sick and we had to cancel and then reschedule 4 shows.
RB - Were there be another live album and or live DVD recorded on this tour?
HARRIS - We recorded a lot of the shows in Europe and we done all the video stuff in Europe as well. Quite possibly yes. At the end of the day it probably be me editing the damn thing again! I did the edited Maiden England 88, Maiden Donnington and the Rock In Rio as well. With Rock In Rio I wanted someone else to do it because I have particular editing style, I wanted someone else to do it, but it didnít work out that way (laughs). I carried on and did it. Afterwards I was pretty burned out. Someone had to do it, so I did it.
RB - Iron Maiden is playing six new songs each night on this new tour. What do you say to some of your fans who say that is too much?
HARRIS - Tell them to piss off; weíre not a human jukebox (laughs). I think itís important that you play the new material. And every album we do a new tour and we always play at least six new songs, so I donít know what they are trying to say. If you look back at the history of what weíve done that itís always been the case. Itís a challenging set for us and itís a challenging set for them.
RB - Fans were happy with Eddies Archive and Visions of the Beast. Will there be sequels?
HARRIS - We have no plans for that at the moment. But that kind of relates to other question really. Letís face it if the fans want to listen to the old songs they can always put those things on, canít they?
RB - Your bass style is a main ingredient in the Maiden sound, but some say that it is almost as if you are a rhythm guitarist?
HARRIS - At times, yeah. I play a lot of bass chords and stuff. I donít really know. Iím not too analytical about my own playing, I just write the songs. Iím more concerned with whatís good for the song then with what Iím playing. Which is probably why Iíve been playing less of a role lately because thatís the way the song writing has been. Thatís whatís needed. The songwriting always depends on whatís needed or not needed.
RB - Other than right now, what is your personal favorite era of the band?
HARRIS - Oh I thought you said error (laughs). Oh I donít know really. I really loved the show that we did on the Somewhere In Time tour. I think that was probably the best show or spectacle that we ever did. Although this one is pretty good. I think the walk on Eddie from Somewhere In Time was the best one that we ever did.
RB - I remember reading that you came very close to playing professional football in the UK instead of music. Any regrets?
HARRIS - Not really because my career would have ended many years ago. With rock and roll you can carry on for quite a bit longer. I think I chose the right career. I think I made the right choice, but I didnít really start the band till after I was done with that. I started very late.
RB - Maiden took influence from many great classic hard rock bands like UFO and Deep Purple. How do you feel that so many younger bands from Arch Enemy to Sum 41 cite Maiden now as a major influence?
HARRIS - Yeah I can only take it as a compliment really. What can I say? I think itís a good thing.
RB - Werenít you going to tour with Sum 41?
HARRIS - Yeah we asked them. Somebody talked to their manager about doing some summer festivals in Europe. At one point they were supposed to do some with us, but it didnít happen. That would have been good, one of my sons is a big fan, so he would have been happy about that. It would have been nice, but maybe some time in the future.
RB - 2004 marks the 25ht Anniversary of the first Iron Maiden album. Any celebration plans?
HARRIS - No not really, but we tend to work around the anniversary of when the band first started. But Iím sure something will come up. Weíll take some time off when this tour is done. And then we will probably do some shows next summer in 2005.
RB - What more is there for Iron Maiden to accomplish?
HARRIS - Iím sure thereís lots more things for us to do. Thereís still a few albums left to do.