Copyrights Iron Maiden Holdings © 1997
MARK: You have always been a man with a burning ambition. Initially, your motivation rested with your passion for football, where you were paving your way for a career with West Ham. However your motivation was redirected towards a love of music. At what point and why did you finally decide to peruse a career in music.
STEVE: There wasn't really a crossover or anything like that, because I was training at West Ham when I was 14, and I gave up on the idea of being a footballer when I was 15. I didn't actually start playing the bass guitar until I was 17, which is quite a late age to start. So it wasn't as if I gave up football to play music. I didn't really decide to try to become a musician until I was 19 and had been playing for a couple of years and formed Maiden. And then thought that I would love to do this if possible. I kept my day job as a draughtsman so I was semi-pro for a few years and it wasn't until about 3 or 4 years after forming Maiden that I thought that there was a real possibility of turning professional.
MARK: Your initial musical experiences were with bands such as 'Smiler' and 'Gypsies Kiss', and I understand that the other members of these bands were a little older and more experienced than yourself. Then you moved on and formed your own band, but you must have gained some knowledge and experience from the other band members. What would you say was the most important thing that you learned from playing in these bands.
STEVE: The main thing was that I just wanted to get out and play live. So I joined 'Smiler' when I was about 17 or 18. The guitarists were twin brothers aged about 26, and I remember thinking at the time about how old I thought they were, which was quite funny at the time. But I just wanted to get the experience of playing live, that was the main thing for me. And actually just seeing how a band works and gets things together. That's what I was able to do with 'Smiler' because they were already gigging around the circuit, when I replaced the original bass player. What was also good was the fact that I had to learn a whole new set of mainly covers with a couple of originals and to have the opportunity to play with other really good musicians.
MARK: As the founding member of Iron Maiden, you have seen all the highs and lows that the band have gone through. During the initial stages of forming the band, was there any time that you wanted to give up the whole dream of a career in music and move on to something else. If so, what had happened to make you feel this way.
STEVE: No, I never really thought about giving up. I suppose I prepared for it in the way I carried on with my job as long as possible, and made sure that I got all my qualifications as an architectural draughtsman. Because I knew that it would be very tough to get anywhere, and I thought that as long as I do everything I can to make it, and if it didn't work out - I can live with that. And if I don't make it, at least I know I can still fall back on my previous job. There were obviously a few setbacks along the way, but you just have to get over them, and don't give up. I think that as long as you are happy that you have done everything possible to make it, you can sleep at night with the knowledge that you've done your best. It must be terrible for anyone who thinks they have gone as far as possible and gives up, only to find that the band they were in goes on to make it.
MARK: The name 'Rod Smallwood' is synonymous with Iron Maiden. He was ultimately was the person who helped you get your record deal with EMI. We have heard songs about the infamous Rod on various 'B' sides and has appeared in tour programmes and some official video clips. But to take you back to the start of your relationship with this man, what made you decide that he was the right man to manage the band.
STEVE: Basically he was a very forthright character and you could tell from the first time of meeting him that he had a lot of go in him and was very forceful. I knew that he had previous experience with Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel and a few other bands. And I just thought that he was the right sort of character to go in and beat up record companies, and he still does just that. He's never really changed, he is very bombastic and that's just what you need in a manager. I remember the first time we met him, he came down to see us, and we didn't actually play! Before the gig, I had a big argument with the manager of the venue and also the agent, because our fans who were traveling from East London hadn't arrived yet and they wanted us to go on and play. In the end I told them to poke the gig and although it was the first time I had met Rod and he didn't realize what was going on, he admired our character and the fact that we stood up for what we thought was right. So we got on famously right from the start. He is totally 100% behind Maiden always has been and always will be.
MARK: Your first album released in 1980 went straight in to chart at no.4. How nervous were you at the release of this album and could you foresee it's success.
STEVE: We knew that it was selling quite well and we knew that it would get into the charts, but we didn't expect it to enter at such a high position. We had just done a tour supporting Judas Priest in the UK, and we had already done a couple of major tours of our own before that, not in massive venues, but we had done a lot of gigs and built up a following and there was definitely a buzz going around about the band. And so we knew we were going to do quite well. The single 'Running Free' had also charted well at no.33. We thought that the album would enter the top 20 or 30 so to go in at no.4 was incredible. It went on to go gold soon after, firstly in Japan but the UK followed on shortly after, and did amazingly well worldwide.
MARK: Paul Di'Anno only lasted two albums with Maiden and is said to have led too much of a rock'n'roll lifestyle. Could you see earlier, even before The Soundhouse Tapes, that Paul was going to be a problem. If so, why didn't you straighten him out before it came to a head in 1981.
STEVE: Easier said than done! We knew we had all sorts of problems with Paul, with his attitude really, even before we got signed up. In actual fact when Rod first came in as manager he asked me if there was anybody in the band that's got problems with attitude or are we going to have any problems in the foreseeable future with anybody. And Paul, lovely guy that he is, I had to say to Rod that we may have problems with him but it's hard to say. We hoped that with success Paul would get stronger or better in certain departments. Unfortunately it proved to be the other way round, so it's just one of those things. It's a shame because I thought that Paul was really talented. Some people seem to have a problem in dealing with success. Once the ball started rolling, we were so busy with album - tour - album -tour - interviews and such, we just had to work our arses off. Some people can deal with the end result, but don't like the work involved in getting there. So I really think that the change had to happen. We didn't really want to change at that time because we were starting to really break big all over the world and the departure of Paul was a big blow really. But we didn't really have much choice, and if we had stayed with him I think that maybe the band would have fallen apart.
MARK: Now to Bruce's resignation. A lot of controversy has existed within the press about how your relationship with Bruce took a turn for the worse after he explained that he was leaving after the next tour. This is where the press, I believe, ran wild, publishing supposed petty remarks from the Maiden camp and Bruce about each other. Thus could you please clarify this situation now, where your words will not be distorted and put out of context, so all of us Maiden fans can lay this debacle to rest.
STEVE: Well the worst thing about it was the timing - just before a tour. I think that we had an idea that he might go at some point in the future, but not that soon. Basically we were doing the Fear of the Dark tour in 2 parts, as we had always planned to do, so that I could mix the Real Live One album in between the break. In that time Bruce went off to LA to do a solo album, which we all knew about and didn't have a problem with. I don't know if when he was there, he got a touch of 'LA-itis' or whether people were telling him could do this , that or the other. I think that maybe thought he could do better by going off on his own. He came back and told us about 3 weeks before the start of the 2nd part of the that he was leaving. The tour was already booked. We weren't gutted with the fact he was leaving because we sort of expected it, but it was the timing because we really wanted to do the tour. He agreed to do the tour and we thought that he would put everything into it and go out with a bang. But he didn't do that. I felt that he really let the fans down and that he let the rest of the band down after so many years of being a member. I didn't expect him to go out and have passion in his performance, but I certainly did expect him to sing. And there were some nights where just did not perform, and at the end of the day we all sort of lost respect for him in that sense. As far as the press goes, Bruce has since leaving the band, and also at that time, made certain derogatory comments or remarks. We just tried to be gentlemanly about it and tried to keep out of it really, we didn't want to get involved. There have been times since he left the band that he has done interviews around the world, and we have then done interviews for the same magazines afterwards and have been told about what he has been saying, but we still did not want to get involved. I think that he has done himself a lot of harm by saying these things because that's not what the Maiden fans want to hear. As far as we were concerned, he left the band and we got on and dealt with it. We got someone else, carried on and we are really enjoying what we're doing and that's the main thing. If you think about it, he's been out of the band for 4 years now, we are very happy about the situation now, and I think maybe a lot happier than he is, I don't know. But yes, we did have a bit of a 'falling out', but I think it's only to be expected with the way he reacted to his decision to quit.
MARK: You took some time to come up with a new frontman. Obviously Maiden was due for a break, and you did have a lot of audition tapes to go through, but were you nervous at all that you had had too long a break as there was two and a half years between Fear of the Dark and The X Factor.
STEVE: Well we really wanted to come out with another album as soon as possible. The thing is that with the other changes of band members in the past, there has always been someone there waiting to come in, and we've been very lucky in that respect. For example, when Adrian left, Janick came down a week later, tried out and it worked out great, and we just carried on and went onto the studio straight away. But if it hadn't worked out, I suppose we would have had to have gone in and recorded the album with just Davey doing both guitar parts, which is possible. But with a singer it's different. You can't just go in and do an album. Also we wanted the person who came in to feel part of the band and be involved in the writing. So it took quite a long time to actually go through all the tapes that were sent in, get a shortlist, and audition. So once we decided on Blaze, it was a question of writing the album and then recording. The recording took a long time, about a year, which was not down to Blaze, but because we done nearly a double albums worth of material. Also the fact that we were working with a new producer all added up to the album taking a long time to make. It was a lot longer than we wanted, but we knew it was very important to take our time and get it right, so that when we go out we can be confident of being the best we can be which is what we always try to do. There's no point in rushing something like that. As far as we're concerned we did a really strong album, went out and did a really strong tour and we were happy with it so now it's a question of going in and doing another album. We've got an album and tour with Blaze under our belts and it's worked out great. Part of the worry when you've got a new member is that you never know if they are going to work out personally, but Blaze has worked out brilliant. I've got to be honest, he is a lot more fun to work with. He's one of the lads.
MARK: With the release of The X Factor you proved that Maiden are far from finished, and that you had chosen a frontman that was capable of replacing, and actually 'out-doing' Bruce. But where does the band go from here. It seems people will be far more judgemental of your next offering, believing that Blaze is now fully secure within the Maiden mould. How, once again, are you going to prove those sceptics wrong.
STEVE: I think that every album we've ever done we have had to prove someone wrong. I think that you've got to go by your own yardstick and prove to yourself that you can do another album that's as good or better. You really have to go by your own feelings. If you worry too much about what other people think, or even the fans come to that, you will never get anywhere. You can't worry about what people think or like. You've got to be totally stubborn, which we've always been, and just done exactly what we've wanted to do and just enjoy it really. Don't analyze it too much I suppose is the answer. Just go in and make the best album you can at the time and you can't go far wrong really.
MARK: What has prompted you to stay with Fender Basses for all this time. Do you have an endorsement with them.
STEVE: I've used Fenders throughout my career, but not because of any deal. I have had a deal with them for the last 6 or 7 years but before that you could not get an endorsement deal with them. They did not do endorsements until some other companies started to. But I've always liked the Fenders, and I've tried loads of other basses. I quite often get offered other makes for nothing so that they can use my name. But I won't accept them unless I am actually going to use them. I don't like to say I'm using a particular guitar when I'm not, I don't really agree with that. Although I have got a few guitars, I'm not really an avid guitar collector.
MARK: You've been quoted as saying "this band will break up when it stops being fun". I seem to recall you and the band losing some self esteem (so to speak) during the No Prayer and Fear of the Dark tours. What kept you going.
STEVE: I don't remember losing any self esteem during those tours. The tours we do are very long and at some point during the tour you can get a bit down if you're unwell or whatever. Personally speaking I never get so low that I don't want to be in the band anymore. Especially when we're on tour, all I want to do is be on-stage. Sometimes the traveling etc. that goes with it can be very boring, and you miss being with your family, but at the end of the day we've been doing this for many years, and done many world tours, and I just love it. I love being on-stage. To me, that's my reward for all the hard work that goes into getting Maiden on a tour and actually being there. And being on-stage is the ultimate thing.
MARK: What's it like to be one of the only 'drug free' people in metal music. From my understanding, you have the occasional beer but don't do drugs etc. Is there any pressure to get into those areas or do people generally leave you alone.
STEVE: First of all I don't know whether I am one the only drug free people. I actually know quite a few people in the business who are drug free. I am not going to start preaching about the do's and don'ts. Ultimately it's my personal preference, I've never been into drugs and mainly I suppose that's due to my involvement in sports. So I would always rely on pure adrenaline and be in total control. I don't like the idea of not being in control. But I suppose being in a band with long hair etc. you meet people along the way who think you are either into drugs or think you should be. So you do get offered stuff. But most people in the business seem to know that I don't do drugs and they avoid me on that score. If someone offers me anything, and I refuse, they tend to get embarrassed. I don't know if that's because of their own self worry about the situation or maybe they're feeling guilty or what, I don't know. It's a similar reaction when someone offers a cigarette and you say 'I don't smoke', and they say 'oh, good for you' and they sort of feel embarrassed.
MARK: Ever since 7th Son, your lyrics have been getting progressively more serious and a lot darker. Will this trend continue.
STEVE: That's a strange question in a way, but one that I wanted to answer. I suppose when I am writing, I don't tend to look to far back at stuff that's been written before. I tend to try to look ahead. The only thing we try to do is not to be repetitive. So we are not really aware until we get questions like this that we have changed. Some people think it has been a drastic change and some don't. It's a natural progression I suppose and we don't want to be writing about the same kind of things. If I saw a particular film I really liked, or a piece of history that was interesting and I felt inclined to write about it I wouldn't have a problem with that now. I think that some of the more social issues or whatever have influenced us in the last few years because there have been various important things happening in the world which are bound to influence. And quite often it provides good writing material. It's not that we've tried consciously to be different. We just write the best songs we can and that goes for lyrics as well. We never know what we are going to write about, so it would be wrong of me to say that I'm not going to write about any particular thing anymore, because tomorrow could be the day I write about it again.
MARK: When the music stops being fun, (which I know we all pray never happens) what are your plans. Will you play soccer until you have a heart attack.
STEVE: Pretty much, yeah. If I don't ruin myself playing football then I suppose I'll take up something else. I also play a lot of tennis so perhaps I'll have a heart attack playing that!
MARK: I noticed that on The X Factor that you were starting to become a bit more progressive band like Dream Theatre. I also heard that the album is going to be heavy, so are you going to become more progressive or stick to being yourselves and whatever comes out is the final product.
STEVE: We have always stuck at being ourselves and try not to worry too much about what people say, think or write about us. As far as progressive goes, I have always been into that kind of music - early Genesis, Jethro Tull, Yes, ELP, Pink Floyd etc. and I am sure that those influences are bound to show through at some stage or other. I think that 7th Son was a very progressive sounding album, as were some songs on Somewhere in Time. So as far as what the next album will sound like, we just don't know. We never know until we actually get together to write the songs. As far as hearing that the next album is going to sound one way or the other, I don't know where these rumours come from. All we do is set ourselves a period of about 4 weeks to write in and then we get together to work through the songs. Hopefully after that we have enough songs to in the studio and record. But if we don't then we carry on and write some more. You have to set yourself a certain time period otherwise if you give yourself a few months you will always take a few months.
MARK: When you were starting out with Iron Maiden, did your parents object.
STEVE: No not at all. In fact when I first started in Maiden my parents were full of encouragement. They came to see the early gigs, even before Maiden, which I'm sure couldn't have been too pleasant on the ear! No, I think I've probably been very lucky with all the encouragement they gave me. I'm sure that there are plenty of young musicians out there that have had all sorts of pressure put on them about getting a proper job etc. I never really had a problem like that because I always had a decent job outside of music. That was never anything to do with parental pressure, it was a personal choice to get qualified, because being realistic, most people who try to go professional in the music industry, don't make it. So basically I just wanted something to be able to fall back on in case the band didn't make it.
PHILLIP: Would Maiden ever be interested in working with a symphony orchestra / chamber ensemble / or theatrical group to enhance the audio and visual elements of your music. This question partly relates to 'Raising Hell' which made a huge impression on me.
STEVE: Yes I would love to work with an orchestra or something like that. Maybe not in the same way that Deep Purple did in the early days, but I would really like to use real string sections on our albums. I think that there are some songs going back over the years that would have really benefitted from some sort of orchestral arrangement and made them come into their own even more than they did. But it's not really very easy to get that kind of thing together, for various reasons. I do like classical music and one of my favourite bands, Jethro Tull, had some of their songs recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and the arrangements were done by Ian Anderson, and he also played as well. I really love that album because it's got all my favourite Tull songs played in a classical manner, and I think that some Maiden songs could be done like that. Obviously something like 'Wrathchild' wouldn't work but songs like '7th Son' and 'Sign of the Cross' would.
PHILLIP: Has Iron Maiden ever been interested in working with other musicians to compose Maiden songs.
STEVE: I don't have any problem with that at all. If I thought that there was somebody that was a really strong songwriter and whose material would benefit the band, then I would definitely look at that possibility. I feel lucky in the way that we've always had strong songwriters in the band, so we haven't had to look elsewhere for material. So far no-one has come along with anything that we thought would enhance any of our stuff. But I certainly wouldn't rule it out because ultimately the lifeblood of any band is the songs, so it doesn't really matter who writes them in that respect.
PHILLIP: Is there any band interest in re-recording old Iron Maiden classics with Blaze, in particular the not so recently heard ones like Purgatory, Drifter, Strange World, Innocent Exile, and Children of the Damned.
STEVE: Yes, I would love to re-record some of the old songs. I think that there are certain songs that would sound even better with Blaze on vocals. I think that it is always the way when someone new comes in, whether it is a singer or guitarist, you always feel that you want to go and record quite a few of the earlier songs, because the band is what it is now and not how it was then, that kind of feeling. Especially when you play live, it's nice to hear the old material played by a different line up. I don't know if it's something that we would have the time to do because we are always so busy, and it is something that would take a long time to actually do. But yes it would be good to maybe do a 'Best of...' with the current line up.
PHILLIP: Have you ever considered drastically changing the usual setlist. I think that most fans wouldn't mind missing Hallowed be thy Name or Trooper if Aces High or Charlotte the Harlot or To Tame a Land were to take their place, just for example.
STEVE: Well again we have to be pretty stubborn on this subject, because we have to do what we want to do really. If we start taking too much notice of what the fans think, we would be carrying out surveys which I don't think will get us anywhere. But just going by the reactions of the songs I think it would be a big mistake to drop Hallowed because it seems to be a big favourite with the fans, and also we really enjoy playing it. But if we got bored with it, we would drop it. We are lucky that we have so many songs to choose from. But on the other hand it is very difficult to chose a set because there is so much material. It is quite exciting when we are preparing for the tour when we are deciding what songs to play. There are songs obviously that Janick who has been in the band for ONLY 7 years and Nicko who has been in the band for ONLY 15 years, have never played so it can be exciting to do stuff like that. There are songs that I have written myself and I can't even remember them. It wouldn't take long to re- learn them but there are songs which I couldn't just pick up my guitar and play, so it is quite a challenge to do stuff like that.
PHILLIP: How do you feel about the Iron Maiden Tribute albums that have been released.
STEVE: I think that tribute albums and bands are a massive complement to us. The fact that whoever they may be have actually made the effort to play or record our songs is fantastic. The end result as to what the quality is like is not really an issue to me, it's just the fact that people have actually gone to a lot of trouble to record our songs. And if they had fun recording them then that's great too.
PHILLIP: Did you read the article in the magazine 'Sentinel Steel' for which you and Blaze were interviewed. If so, what are your thoughts on what Attack, Iced Earth, and notably Denis Gulbey had to say about The X Factor.
STEVE: Actually I haven't read it and I don't know much about these bands or people. I won't say I don't care because nobody really wants to be slagged off and I am presuming that's the basis of your question. So at the end of the day, we just learn to ignore it and if you believe in what you are doing then you don't worry too much about what other people think. It's always interesting to read other peoples views on what you do but you can't always expect them to be good.
JEFF: To say that Maiden fans are fanatical would be an understatement, so my question is this, where out of all the places you have toured are the most insane fans.
STEVE: Maiden fans have a reputation for being insane the world over, so it's pretty difficult to choose any particular lot of fans. But I would have to say that on the last tour, the fans in Chile were absolutely outrageous. But outrageous in a good and positive way. Their aggression and fanaticism was just unbelievable. It was pure unadulterated enjoyment, and that's what it's all about.
JEFF: In the video 'Behind the Iron Curtain' you showed concern with the poverty and oppression that existed there. Have you been back since and have things improved for their people.
STEVE: Yes we have been back a couple of times and things have changed quite a lot. As far as my opinion goes it seems to have changed for the better, but you would have to speak to the people themselves because you may find that it's debatable from their point of view. But just by speaking to a few fans, there seems to be a general feeling of improvement, but it would still take a lot longer to see a vast difference.
JEFF: Everything I've seen of you in the past has shown that you've always maintained a level headedness about you. When things get bigger than big, how do you mentally keep you feet on the ground.
STEVE: It is difficult sometimes. We are all guilty of having anxiety attacks at some time or another. There is a lot of pressure I suppose in being in the band. But having said that there is nothing else I'd rather do. That includes playing football as well, and anyone who knows me well, knows what a big statement that is. We have to keep some sort of reality about ourselves. There's 2 worlds out there. There is the rock and roll world on tour and the various people you meet etc. and then there is the world when you come home to normality. You can't let yourself get too wrapped up in the rock on the road attitude, which I've seen happen to quite a few people. If you really let it get to you it can destroy you, I've seen people that have been totally messed up, through not being able to differentiate between what they are and what people think they are.
JEFF: A while back, Stephen King wrote under a different name to see if his success was real or just luck. Do you believe that you are where you are today because of fate or that under similar circumstances you and your fellow band members would be able to do it all over again.
STEVE: Well with the sort of success that Maiden's had to date, I think that it would be very difficult to go back and recreate. But having said that I do believe that you do create your own destiny to a certain degree, but of course luck or fate does come into it. But I do think that when you get points in your career where you make key decisions, it does determine which road you go down. I always think that you can't go far wrong if you go with your gut feelings. There will always be other people with something else to say on a particular matter, and it's always good to listen and take ideas on board, but always make sure that you make your own decisions.
JEFF: The track entitled 'Mission From Arry' plainly illustrates that doing concerts and touring is not always fun and games. After all these years, do you still enjoy touring.
STEVE: Yeah I still love being on tour, I still love playing on stage otherwise I wouldn't do it anymore. It's always been the ultimate thing. I enjoy recording but nowhere near as much as being on stage. As far as that argument goes, we have looked back many times and laughed about it, because it's pretty funny, but at the time it was pretty serious. Disagreements are bound to happen but it has never come to blows between members. I think that it would be the beginning of the end if a serious fight occurred. But for sure I've always been a firm believer of getting the cards on the table and having a discussion or argument and getting it over and done with. To me that's the healthy way of dealing with problems rather than bottling them up. However, that sort of thing doesn't happen very often and we all get on really well. If you are going to be on tour for a year at a time I think you have to be able to get on with your fellow band members.
CHRIS: I have recorded 1 album and it nearly killed me. How do you handle it.
STEVE: Good question. Well, the last album nearly killed me because it took far too long. I must admit, although it sounds crazy because I've got the studio at my house, but I don't actually love being in the studio as much as people think I do. Obviously there are parts of being in the studio which are really exhilarating and there are parts which are really bloody boring because of the amount of time which is spent in there. Ultimately because we are trying to make the best possible album that we can so we do have to spend whatever time is necessary in the studio. So obviously it does get to you sometimes when you've put in all the effort and time to come up with the best piece of work you can at that time, and then a journalist can come along and write it off within one sentence. And that's quite hard to take sometimes.
CHRIS: I began listening to your music in 1983 and it has progressed over the years. But it has never followed mainstream or popular (in America) changes. So is it more of a challenge to remain successful.
STEVE: It was a challenge in the first place to go to the States and break through to the level that we did, without getting much help at all from radio or TV. And that's what's made us very proud of Maiden's success everywhere but particularly in the States because it is such a vast country. It was very very difficult to break through with just touring, but we did, so I am very proud of that. As far as the music trends or fashions go, we have never and will never pander to the US market just to be more successful. They either accept us or they don't, simple as that.
CHRIS: Do you prefer your raw sound of the 80's or the more produced sound of the 90's
STEVE: I don't really see that there's 2 sort of categories as you've put it. I think that the band have naturally progressed to how we sound now. Obviously we have gained more experience along the way and that affects the way we do things. I am very very proud of the all the albums we've done. Having said that, it's important not to look too far back, and just concentrate on being as good as you can for the next album. Quite often people say to me 'what's your best album' and I say the next one!
CHRIS: I believe that you are married and have children. Is it difficult to carry on because I gave up performing when I had kids.
STEVE: I think it really depends on your situation. No 2 peoples circumstances are the same. But yes it is difficult. Especially in the early days when we were doing long tours because we couldn't afford to bring our families out with us. It wasn't very practical either because we were all on one bus. But the last 3 or 4 world tours that we've done I have travelled on my own bus and some people have interpreted that as if I don't get on with the rest of the band. But the main reason is to keep my sanity and to be able to keep my family together. I do have them with me as much as possible and it means that we can stay together and go off and do what we want to do without it bothering the rest of the band. Obviously the success that we've had has enabled me to do that.
ALAN: How difficult was it to get used to Nicko's style after years of playing with Clive.
STEVE: It was no problem getting used to his style of playing. It was more a question of getting used to his craziness! Maybe I'm biased but I just think that he's an unbelievable drummer. So it was a real challenge to play with him and I think that he sees it as a challenge too with all the time changes that are thrown at him. Even now, he still freaks out at some of the stuff he's asked to do, but he is always up to it. What more can you say - he's a great drummer.
ALAN: When you write, what comes first, the music or the lyrics.
STEVE: Usually the music comes first, then the melody, at least that's the way I generally write. Then I would write the lyrics around the melody line, and sometimes that can be restricting because you might have to manouevre the words around to fit as they can sometimes be written to the syllable. It can be frustrating sometimes to have to change words to fit the melody as you might have to substitute a key word for something else that doesn't have quite the same meaning. There are occasions though where I do write the lyrics first and then put the music to it but usually it's the other way around. The rest of the band tend to write the same way pretty much.
PATRICK: Out of all the Maiden artwork, why did you choose the Trooper for a tattoo.
STEVE: Two reasons really. Firstly I just love the artwork and I really wanted a tattoo of Eddie on my arm, because he epitomizes what Maiden are. And also so that I could have the Union Jack flag, as I am very patriotic. So having that tattoo meant that I could kill two birds with one stone.
PATRICK: Where do all the stage props go after the tours are finished.
STEVE: Well I've got a few of them here at my place, but there's not enough room for all of them that's for sure. A lot of them are stored at our warehouse. Pretty soon though we may be thinking of having a competition with them as prizes. Some of them are so huge I don't know what people would do with them, other than stick them on top of their house or put them in the garden. It has been known for people to actually build Eddie's on their houses, so who knows? It is difficult to know what to do with them but we've kept most of them with a view to maybe using most of them in a stage set, perhaps on the final tour, but that won't be for a long time yet.
PATRICK: What is it like going from touring stadiums in the 80's to playing in smaller venues now.
STEVE: Well I presume that question comes from someone living in America, because in the rest of the world we still do play in stadiums and arenas. Part of the reason we played smaller places in the States on the last tour was because we did not know if we still had a strong following due to the music scene out there. So really we were just testing the water, and found that the water was really quite hot! We still had a loyal following so next time round we will be playing larger venues again. It could have been the other way round and we might not have had a following anymore. But we sold over 250,000 albums there, and although it's not as many as before, it proved that the loyal, hardcore of fans are still there and we can build from that again. So we will take it from there and is nice to know that we still have that following.
JON: I have a video of the show you did in Santiago, Chile in 1996 in which you get into a furious screaming match with a member of the crowd. What happened.
STEVE: That was not a particularly nice incident and it's a shame that this happened because the gig was absolutely incredible. The fans were fantastic, they really were unbelievable. But there were one or two arseholes in the crowd that were spitting at us. And we personally feel that it is the most degenerate thing that anyone could do to someone else. The worst thing is you never see who has done it. You know it comes from a certain area but it is very difficult to actually pinpoint the culprit. And when we stop the gig, the people involved always turn out to be wimps because they never own up to it. So it's very frustrating because we don't go on stage to be spat at and I don't understand why people pay money to come to the show to see you and end up doing that. Other than that the gig was absolutely unbelievable and was actually one of the best on the whole tour. Unfortunately one or two arseholes spoilt it.
JON: Do you feel that the record companies have let you down and not supported you in the way they should.
STEVE: Well we've been signed to EMI worldwide since the first album and we have not really had any complaints with them. But in North America we have been signed to various labels, the first few albums we were with Capitol, then we went to Epic, and back to Capitol and now we are with CMC. And CMC seem to be doing a good job in a very difficult envoironment at the moment, so we are pleased with them. Over the years we have been very disappointed with the record companies in the States and that they have not given us the push that they should have done. But we don't really have any complaints with the rest of the world where we are supported very strongly by the record company.
MARCEL: What kind of things annoy you most about fans.
STEVE: Well I think that the time to worry is when fans don't come up to you anymore. A lot of celebrities get annoyed when people ask for autographs and stuff like that, but we've never been like that. I suppose at times when I am eating a meal in a public place and fans want autographs it gets pretty annoying. Or if they track you down to your hotel and call you up at 7 o'clock in the morning, which has happened. I don't know how they do it but when they do phone that early just to tell me how 'awesome' they think I am, I suppose the answer is 'not at this time in the morning I'm not!'
MARK: Do you miss the large arena shows in the USA circa Powerslave /Somewhere in Time days, or do you enjoy playing the smaller venues.
STEVE: I suppose over the years we have played almost every venue there is to play, from small to medium to huge. We enjoy playing all of them. We did play smaller places on the last tour in the States but for the rest of the world, we still played the bigger venues. We sold out every show in the States and I still enjoyed playing the smaller places. I enjoy playing anywhere and it's not as if I don't think that we are valid if we are not playing in arenas or the like. To me, I play because I enjoy it and it's not the amount of people that are there it's the fact that the fans that are there are totally into what we are doing.
BKJ: Bootlegs are illegal, but if you met a fan owning plenty of them for his own fanatical Iron Maiden reasons, what would you say to him.
STEVE: Well I'd probably ask if I could see the collection and maybe buy a couple off him! I can't be hypocritical here because I collect them myself. Quite often I get given them by fans, and although I shouldn't really say this, I also collect bootlegs of other bands. But I do really think that if a real hardcore fan wants to collect everything about a particular band, they know what they are getting into. I think that they know that the quality isn't necessarily going to be that good, and just treat them as collectors pieces. So I don't really have a problem with that.
BKJ: Do you still go to watch West Ham matches.
STEVE: Yes I do go whenever I can. I have seen about 8 games this season and I don't know if it's a coincidence or not but they haven't lost any of the games I've seen. They've been playing well and managed to stay in the Premiership, so 'up the Irons!'
MICHAEL: Who was the most over the top fan that you've seen.
STEVE: Well there has been quite a few over the years. I don't think that I could name one but we have got some pretty serious fans and you don't get any more serious than Iron Maiden fans. One particular guy who stands out who travelled all over the world to see us. In fact there are a few fans that do that and these are not wealthy people so it makes it all the more outstanding. It's the ultimate compliment and I take my hat off to them.
JUSTIN: How does it affect the band when a member leaves and is then replaced.
STEVE: That's a good question, especially for us as we've had so many changes over the years. But really you just have to be positive and get on with it. If someone doesn't want to be in the band anymore for whatever reason. There is no point worrying about the reason why. If someone isn't totally into the band anymore then it's best that they leave at the first convenient moment, so that we can get on and find a replacement. The biggest thing we are concerned about, other than their capabilities obviously, is that they fit in personally with the other members. I think that we've been very lucky on that score. Whenever new people have come into the band they have always got on well with everybody. There was only one or two people in the very early days where we just didn't get on, but on the whole it's not been a problem. And I'm not going to mention any names!
GARETT: Iron Maiden have always inspired an almost fanatical devotion amongst your fans that is missing from most other bands. How would you explain that.
STEVE: Well maybe this is a question for the other fans really. I don't really know why our fans are so devoted to us. I suppose it could be down to the fact that we've always cared very much for our fans and obviously that begins with our music being the best quality that we can come up with at any given time. We always give our best performance on stage and we try to give the fans a good deal all the time. I don't know if they are the reasons, so I would need you to tell me. Any fans out there that would like to comment on that, I would welcome the input.
RODRIGO: Even doing long and exhausting tours, do you guys feel excited at every gig or sometimes do you get bored and tired of it.
STEVE: I would say that at every gig we are so vibed up that we just want to get on and play. But there are obviously times when you do get very tired or ill. But playing on stage creates so much adrenaline, that even though I've felt totally like shit before the gig, by the time we've played 2 or 3 songs, I feel great for the rest of the show, and about 2 hours after I feel terrible again. Who needs drugs when you've got adrenaline? There are obviously one or two occasions when the adrenaline doesn't work but I can count those gigs on one hand and I think that reflects the high standards that we put on ourselves.
RODRIGO: Recently the band has played in places like Israel, South Africa, Chile, Brazil and Argentina, which are not normally included in other big bands tour schedules. What are the differences between playing in these places compared with Europe and Japan taking into account the crowd, new experiences and cultures.
STEVE: Well once you get inside a concert venue, a lot of times you wouldn't know where you were, because the Maiden fans are fanatical the world over. But of course being in different countries and experiencing different cultures, from a very personal point of view, it's great to be able to visit all these places and take in all the things that go with being on the road and in another country. Ultimately we try to play as many new places that we can, primarily to play our shows for the Maiden fans worldwide, but from a purely selfish point of view, it's great to be able to travel to the different locations. I know we have fans in places like China and India and I would love to play there. There are also places that I would just like to visit anyway, but to be able to go there and be paid to play is just fantastic. It's the best job in the world mate!
BRYAN: If the band was to split, what would you do.
STEVE: I'd probably sulk for quite a while. But seriously, I don't know. People think that we have lots of time off between tours etc. and they say 'what do you do with yourself, don't you get bored?' Well I think you could ask Steve Lazarus that. He would tell you that there are not enough hours in the day to do the things we want to do or need to do. Obviously if we are in the studio for 6 months and on tour for a year, that's an 18 month cycle and when we get home we just try to catch up on doing the normal things, and try to cram them into the 2 or 3 months we might get off before we go back into the studio again. And like now, we are back in the studio again and I've run out of time to do all the things I wanted to do. So basically, if the band was to split I would be able to pursue all my sporting interests more, and my photography. There is always something to keep me occupied even without spending time with my 4 children.
BRYAN: Did the tour with Wolfsbane influence your decision to bring Blaze into the band.
STEVE: Yes very much so, because we saw how good he was on-stage, and we knew that he had a very strong voice. One of the biggest factors for me was that when he was warming backstage, in a stairway or in a toilet or whatever, his voice sounded very much like it would suit Maiden. Even more so than when he was actually performing with Wolfsbane. But the fact that he was so enthusiastic and had a good charisma on stage was also very important. Obviously we got to know him as a person as well. So yes it turned out to be very important that we did that tour. Who knows, if it hadn't happened he may not have got the job. But deep down I think he still would have got the job on merit anyway because of his vocal qualities, but the tour certainly did help.