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Steve Harris and Blaze Bayley Interview
DO YOU AGREE WITH THE VIEW THAT THE LAST TWO MAIDEN STUDIO ALBUMS WEREN\'T THE BAND AT THEIR BEST, PERHAPS BRUCE WASN\'T 100% INTO THE BAND, AND THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE PARTED WAYS AFTER THE SUCCESS OF \"SEVENTH SON...\" AND FOUND A NEW SINGER THEN?
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BLAZE: \"No because I wouldnīt have got the gig. So everythingīs worked out just fine.\"
STEVE: \"At the time of No Prayer... I felt it was more weird than Fear of..., because thatīs when he had his first solo album out. I thought if he was going to jump ship it would have been then. And I actually asked him then if he didnīt want to be in the band anymore, and he said he really did. But I felt on No Prayer... and the live performances that maybe he wasnīt as into it as he had been. On Fear Of..., funnily enough, I felt like he was back into it a lot more. But than again itīs all opinions. Get 10 punters, and half will say one thing and half another. No Prayer..., I wouldnīt say is our strongest album, but then again I wouldnīt say itīs our weakest album either.
WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL REACTION TO BRUCE WANTING TO LEAVE?
STEVE: \"I was shocked at the timing. I wasnīt shocked that he was going, because I suppose for a couple of years I thought he might jump ship anyway. The fact that he seemd to be back into it at Fear Of..., it was only when we had a six week break that something happened. I was mixing the live stuff, and we always knew that weīd go back out and release the live stuff at the end of the tour. Three weeks before the second part of the tour, he decided to go, so we changed our plans and brought out the live albums a lot earlier.
HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT PLAYING THAT FINAL TOUR WITH A SINGER WHO WAS GOING TO QUIT?
STEVE: \"Being honest, it was very difficult, because none of us really wanted to go and play on a tour with someone who didnīt want to be there. But then the ticket sales were great and we didnīt want to let the fans down, and we thought it was the best thing to do. Heīd already said heīd go out whith a bang. We knew it was going to be hard, we knew it wouldnīt be easy, but we said \"Fuck it\", weīll just go out and try and enjoy it as best we can.
THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A LOT OF RUMOURS THAT YOU AND BRUCE REALLY DIDNīT GET ON ATALL. WOULD YOU LIKE TO CLARIFY THE SITUATION?
STEVE: \"No itīs not true. Both of us would admit that we werenīt soul mates, but we always got on really well. The first years was the hardest with him, because I think he was trying to prove himself in the band, almost like some sort of power thing with what I did. I told him I think the singer should be the frontman and the mouthpiece on and off the stage, and I didnīt have a problem with that. After heīd settled down with the writing on ...The Beast there wasnīt a problem. Professionaly we got on great, and as people we didnīt really have any arguments either. The arguments have always been between me and Nicko. But then maybe thatīs healthier, I dunno. I would rather have a big argument with somebody, get it all out in the open and have done with it and thatīs it. Obviously thereīs a lot of stuff Bruce has said since, that he was really unhappy with this or that, and he never told us. How can you do anything about anything if you donīt know about it? You canīt compromise with each other if you donīt know what those compromises are supposed to be.\"
IS IT TRUE THAT BLAZE WAS ALWAYS YOUR IMMEDIATE CHOICE AS VOCALIST?
STEVE: \"In my eyes I felt he would be the right man, but obviously we wanted to go through and have all the auditions and everything else because we had to get the right person. If Blaze was gonna get the job he was gonna get it on merit; he couldnīt just come in on the olds pals act. Thatīs worked before - when Nicko and Janick joined, we knew īem and they came down and jammed and it was great. We could have done the same thing with Blaze, but we wanted to make sure we had the right person for the job. Not that we had any doubts about Blaze, but we had plenty of time and we had to make sure everyone was happy. And he got the job on merit.\"
BLAZE: \"I doubted myself at first, because it seemed like such a momentous thing. And if you think about what Bruce did - fantastic voice, incredible range, the songs that he sung - and about what Paul (DiīAnno) did when he was in the band, trying to follow those two geezers... So I was glad I jumped through all the hoops, because I was then sure of myself and it made me feel better.\"
HOW WEIRD WAS IT HAVING BLAZE IN THE BAND INSTEAD OF BRUCE FOR THOSE FIRST COUPLE OF MONTHS?
STEVE: \"I wasnīt odd at all. The worst time was when we didnīt have a singer, when we were auditioning. It was weird, very strange. It wasn\'t a unit anymore. Then when Blaze joined it was like we were a band agin. Whenever weīve had a changeover in the band itīs been very quick and non to painful. This was different and weird. It took me back to when it was just me and Dave and Doug Sampson, and we had no singer and we were rehearsing.\"
BLAZE: \"It was weird for me, certainly the first couple of months...\"
STEVE: \"Was it, you never told us (laughs)\"
BLAZE:\"No, I mean we were getting on and that, but Iīd been in a band for so long Iīd kind of lost my identity. Because you had Bruce, ex-singer of Iron Maiden, Blaze ex-singer of Wolfsbane, but not the new singer of Iron Maiden because I hadnīt been in the band long enough to be accepted by the fans.\"
STEVE: \"It didnīt feel like that for me.\"
BLAZE: \"Well you were still in the same band.\"
WERE YOU AWARE OF THE PERCEIVED SIMILARITIES BETWEEN BLAZE AND BRUCE?
STEVE: \"Oh yeah. I mean even when he jammed on one song on the No Prayer... tour - all the joking about them looking a bit alike and stuff. It was all good fun and banter. Yeah, we were aware of it but we weren\'t going to let that put us off, because I donīt think heīs that much like Bruce. But second-wise and voice wise, theyīre different.\"
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE STATE OF HEAVY METAL TODAY?
STEVE: \"Umm, well I think itīs obviously changing. Thereīs a lot of alternative stuff and this and the other, grunge and everything else... But the more different things there are happening is, I think, healthy. The only thing I found is that some of it is more vogue-based, in a sense that itīs become more of a fashion statement for bands, which I think is worrying. Rock music is about the music, and not a fashion statement. Iīm not going to go out and wearing what people are wearing now, because it wouldnīt feel right. Itīd feel stupid.\"
WHAT DO YOU TO THE ACCUSATION THAT MAIDEN ARE NO LONGER RELEVANT?
BLAZE: \"Itīs the same thing as when they started. Then it was punk and disco, and now itīs Green Day and techno!\"
STEVE: Apart from a two year-period around 83/84, when maybe we were deemed as being cool, weīve never been a cool, hip band, before or after that. We do what we do and you can take us or leave us.\"
DESPITE THE SNEERING REACTION OF SOME OF TODAYīS YOUNGER BANDS TO THE MORE ESTABLISHED ACTS, J MASCIS OF DINOSAUR JR RECENTLY REVEALED THAT HEīS A MAIDEN FAN, AND WHEN OVER HERE RECENTLY HE WANTED TO GO AND SEE THE BAND BUT NO-ONE AT HIS RECORD COMPANY BELIEVED HE WANTED TO. IS YOUR INFLUENCE ON BANDS ACKNOWLEDGED ENOUGH?
STEVE: \"I think a lot of people are into the band or have been into the band, but because the way things are with fasion and that, theyīre probably afraid to say so. Whatever, I donīt really know if thatīs the case. What I find weird is that we never had an attitude to older bands when we were young. It was never \"Weīre not gonna get on tour with them because theyīre not cool\" or any of that bullshit, and yet itīs a lot of that, and not just with us. And itīs fucking bullshit. In the early we played with bands like 38special, whoīre nothing like us, but we had a real laugh. And I think some bands now are gonna disappear up their own arse if theyīre not careful by turning down tours because itīs not cool.\"
HOW NERVOUS ARE YOU OF THE RECEPTION \"THE X-FACTOR\" WILL GET, OR DONīT YOU WORRY ABOUT THINGS LIKE THAT ANYMORE?
STEVE: \"I always worry about how people are going to react to our albums. Probably more so with this one than any of the others because itīs so important. But I always worry, always will do. The time that you get that big-headed that you think \"Oh weīre gonna sell so many albums\" well thatīs the time to give up, I suppose. Youīve always got to be worried. If someone writes some bullshit about you in the paper, slags your album off, which to be honest has never happened to us, weīve always been pretty lucky with the press but nobody likes to be slagged off. You can say you donīt care, but you do really. Obviously you want to be liked, and you spend a long time putting your heart and soul into an album and you want it to be appreciated. But then again you canīt expect everyone out there to like Iron Maiden. If everybody liked the same thing itīd be boring, wouldnīt it?\"
YOUīVE OBVIOUSLY HAD A GOOD RUN UP TO NOW WITH PLENTY OF CRITICAL AND COMMERCIAL SOURCIAL SUCCES, BUT HOW LONG CAN MAIDEN GO ON?
BLAZE: \"Itīs a new start\"
STEVE: \"Iīve said this time and time again: as long as weīre still enjoying it as long as the people are still there. Bruce once said he didnīt want to play a gig at Guildford Civic Hall. Fuck it, Iīll play in Guildford Civic Hall. Iīll even play a pub in Guildford, it doesnīt bother me at all. As long as weīre playing to people, then Iīll olay. Obviously the more people the better, but thatīs not what really matters. Itīs whether youīre enjoying yourself. I mean, how bad? Touring around the world, having a great time, playing to loads of people. Itīs terrible, innit! Well someoneīs gotta do it!