An Interview with Blaze (USA/96)

Interview with Blaze Bayley of Iron Maiden 2/15/96 by Sumit Chandra This interview was made possible by the kind assistance of Mazur Public Relations, Concrete Management, and WKNC-FM in Raleigh, NC. It is the 1st of 3 installments that includes this interview, a tour report for the time period of 2/19/96 through 2/27/96, and an interview with Steve Harris.

Q: How have things been going on the US portion of the tour?

A: Very good. We've received good reactions and the shows have been well attended. It's been a mix of both new fans and older fans that have been into the band for some time. We're also playing venues that we haven't played before, and we're having an excellent time thus far.

Q: The X-Factor took a long time to record in comparison to other Iron Maiden albums, in fact it took over an year to finish the album. Can you comment on some of the factors surrounding this, and how that's impacted the overall sound of the album.

A: One component of it was that nothing was written for the album before I joined the band. So one thing was we waited to write the material until I had joined the band, and we took our times and wrote the best songs we could. Then when we got to recording, we went for a vibe thing where we were trying to make sure that each track had a mood and feel of it's own, and we put in the time to insure that this happened. Another factor was that this was the first album Steve Harris had produced with Nigel Green. We also had some technical difficulties along the way that cost us a couple of weeks. Additionally, we recorded over 80 minutes of music for the album, and when you go through the mixing process, it adds additional time to the effort. Also, we had a new sound now with the new singer. Overall, it was the first album that we had done together as a band, and we wanted to take the time to make it as right as it could be. So we kept on pushing to make it the best we could, and we're all happy with the result.

Q: You've contributed to the song writing effort from the get go with Iron Maiden which is unlike when for example, Bruce Dickinson joined the band. Can you talk a little bit about how the song writing process works for you, and how it works when you're collaborating with other members of the band?

A: Basically I like to collaborate with other people. Generally, I've got an idea for a lyric or melody that I want to get across. You bring this idea to everybody and see how it works out. Janick also does the same thing as far as bringing ideas to the group. When Steve gets an idea, then he likes to get the whole thing finished and then bring it to rehearsal and work on the arrangements. That's great and it's really enjoyable to sing those songs, because they have a really unique feel that only Steve can get, and it brings out a part of my voice that I would normally not get to.

Q: So this has definitely helped you as a vocalist?

A: I've learned a lot and my voice has really improved, and it needed to for the album. And this is the longest I've ever been on tour. They said the tour would last 9 months, and I don't think I've ever been on tour for more than 9 weeks before.

Q: So that's almost a pregnancy then?

A: (laughing) Yeah, you're right there! It is a pregnancy, and God knows what the child will be like at the end of it all.

Q: Talk about the age difference within the band, with you being a bit younger than the rest in comparison. How has that impacted the dynamics within the group and the overall sound?

A: It's difficult for me to say that, cause obviously it's how everybody else reacts to me, but what's great for me is that everybody is laid back. There's so much experience in the band, and everyone has done so much together. So it's great to have that kind of experience to fall back on. You get to use all your enthusiasm, the show comes first, and nobody gets worried or wound up about things. If you've got a problem then you go ahead and solve it, or if you're in a situation then you go ahead and make the best of it. It's great cause everybody can just relax and concentrate on the music, and that's the most important thing at the end of the day. As far as me being a bit younger, and everyone else being a bit older, a lot of places that we've played, it's the first time I've played there. It's really exciting and I'm really enjoying being on tour. I didn't think that I would get to this stage of the tour and still be thinking that "I'm really looking forward to tonight". It still feels like we're in the first week of the tour, though we're a few months in now. We started in September, and even now when we go on, it's like "Oh God, I hope we get this one right and there's no problems with the sound, etc." It's really great, and every night is exciting and the fans that we play to give us so much encouragement. Everywhere we go, it's just incredible. It's just a really great time, except for a few times between gigs, when you've got to go to the next city, and things go slightly wrong.

Q: Talk about the themes addressed on the X-Factor. Most of it is pretty dark and gloomy. Can you talk about what type of atmosphere contributed to that being the major theme the album ended up having?

A: I think it was what going on around all of us I suppose. There was a lot of changes for everybody in their lives and I think it was just coincidence that things worked out that way. Certainly there was big change for me to go from Wolfesbane into a major band like Maiden and do an album that a lot of people were going to buy. Also, everybody was going through a bit of soul searching at the time, as far as what was happening in music, and what was going to happen to the band with a new singer, and how it was all going to work out. There was also a lot of things on the TV, like the war in the former Yugoslavia. It was a time when everybody felt that we were going to dig in and make this record happen. I think we all drew on the dark sides within ourselves and the dark side of the human spirit, and used that dark energy in a positive way. In that way it's worked out really well. It is a record that takes a couple of listens really, you've got to give it time, because it's a long record, and it's a bit darker, which makes it a little bit more difficult to get into, rather than if there were a couple of lighter numbers to break things up. It's pretty intense and moody really for the most part.

Q: You're now associated with CMC International, and you've also re-released the old albums with bonus discs. Can you talk a little bit about the label switch and the reason for the re-releases of the albums.

A: Maiden were out of a deal and CMC really wanted Maiden to go with them. I think they've stuck with what Heavy Rock is all about. They're not trying to get the bands to write commercial hits, or trying to get the bands to tone down or soften up in anyway. And it's good to be with a label that's like that. They're very enthusiastic about the band and the new record, so that's been a really good move. The main reason for bringing out the back catalog with all the b-sides is so that everything is on the same standard of quality, and everything's been remastered for release on CD.

Q: It also turns out to be a good deal for the fans in that they get basically more music for the same price or even less.

A: It's especially a good deal for the fans who've originally got the music on cassette and have either worn it out or lost it.

Q: The next Maiden single is "Lord of the Flies", and the b-sides are "My Generation" (the Who song) and "Doctor Doctor" (the UFO song). Can you talk a little bit about where the band gets ideas for the cover songs they do?

A: I used to do "My Generation" with Wolfesbane, so I knew that one which made it fairly easy. We just strolled through Steve's record collection, as the studio is on the side of his house, and just looked to see what we knew, and then took some time in the studio and knocked them out. So it was a bit of fun really. I don't know what we'll do next time, but I'll try to think of some interesting ones before we get there and see if we can have a go at them.

Q: Are there any other songs from the X-Factor sessions that have still not appeared on the b-sides of the singles that we might see down the road?

A: I'm not sure if we've used them all. I know that the Japanese one has everything on it in a double CD set, including Judgment Day, Justice of the Peace, I live my Way. Those are also on the b-sides of the Man on the Edge singles in the UK.

Q: What are some of the support acts that you have had on the current tour, and how does the band go about choosing these?

A: We had a couple of local bands at the start of the tour, and then we had My Dying Bride through most of Europe. Then after Christmas we had a band called Dirty Deeds. They're really good and they're doing an album now which they're financing themselves, and then they're going to try and get a deal with it. It's really who's around and could use the exposure, and wouldn't normally get a chance to play in front of those people, and can actually afford to do it as well, because it's really expensive to go on tour. My Dying Bride was good because they're kind of a doomy band, and they've got a lot of melody and quite a unique sound. In North America, we have Fear Factory. Fear Factory is really an exciting kind of paradox because you have two bands who are both heavy, they're a bit sharper while Maiden is a bit more majestic. I think the two bands show well against each other, I think some things that Maiden have got, Fear Factory has got and vice versa, so it's a pretty good package with two different bands that makes for a good night out.

Q: Can you give an overview of where the band has been on the current tour, what is still left, and if there is any possibility of Iron Maiden appearing at some of the summer festivals in Europe, and maybe Donington?

A: I don't know about Donington. I don't know if we are or not, I don't even know if there is going to be a Donington festival, you probably know as much about that as I do. I think there might be a possibility of doing some of the dates in the summer festivals in Europe. I'd love to do that because I've never done any of those festivals apart from Aardshock quite a few years ago, opening up for Queensryche. It would be great if we could get some of those. So far on this tour, we started off in Israel, then South Africa. In Europe, we started off in Athens, and did Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Spain, Italy, France, and basically went all over. Then we did the UK and we finished with our last date in Europe at Nottingham Rock City which is the longest running club in the UK that still plays hard rock. We thought it'd be a great time and it was crammed and absolutely packed, and it was great. Then we came to Canada, and all the shows were sold out. Playing in Quebec and Montreal was fantastic, I can still remember a little bit of French. So far the US shows have been great as well. It's gone really well, and we're having a great time. Seems to be a lot of new fans at the shows as well as people that have supported the band for a long-time. Really Maiden are underground. There's no Headbanger's Ball, and Maiden's not really on the mainstream radio, so the best place to find out about Maiden is at a concert, which is what it's all about. Taking things a step further into the future, the most interactive form of entertainment that you'll be getting will be going to a rock show, and Maiden are the kind of band that say come and watch us and see how good we are, and just encourages everyone to have a good time and enjoy the music together.

Q: How would you describe your stage presence to someone that is preparing to go see the band? Also, what can we expect overall.

A: I don't know, it's kind of difficult to describe. I think we just tend to go flat out and I just get carried away with the music really. I'm just the same as anybody else, the music is the most important thing, I love being in the band and singing the music, and being on stage with the huge sounding guitars, bass, and drums behind me. It's just fantastic and I get wrapped up and involved in that. I run about as much as I can without going out of tune (laughing), and getting out of breath and singing flat.

Q: Most of the general public associates glamour with being on the road as a rock band. Could you comment on some of the harsh realities of it. For example, how your days off are packed with interviews and other commitments.

A: (laughing) Day off! Wrong! In-store in Paris. Day off! Wrong! Interviews all day. Day off! Wrong! MTV Most Wanted Live in Europe. You don't really know what's coming up, you can plan a little bit, but there's always things going on. Another challenge in some European countries is that things close at 3pm after lunch, and you can't get hot food until 730pm. If we're going on about 9, then we like to finish eating by 6, so we have time for our dinner to go down. We like to get in one hot meal a day, and all you can get between 3pm and 730 is a toasted sandwich, so we end up trolling through the streets of the city for a McDonalds or a KFC or any other junk food place that is open and will serve us some hot food, no matter what it is. That's one of the harsh realities. I brought my girlfriend out, after we did Hungary, for a few days, and she was looking forward to coming out for a few days with me, and at the end of it, she was going "I'm so tired and I just want to go home" (laughing) because we were driving over all these roads in Eastern Europe through the mountains, etc. It was quite mad. But it's quite fun, we have a great time, and we just laugh when things go wrong, instead of getting fed up about it or moaning, because that won't make it any better.

Q: You've played all over the world, and there are associated cultural differences. Can you talk about the differences in the audience reactions that stick out in your mind?

A: In Greece they were unexpectedly mad, it was great, we had the number one album in Greece while we were playing there, and it was just awesomely fantastic. In France, it just feels like you're in the coolest band ever. Maiden are really well thought of in France. The French are the loudest singers, especially on Fear of the Dark. It's interesting in that we play about the same set everywhere, and different places react differently to different portions of the set. The Germans are very polite and laid-back, but go crazy at the end. The Spanish are crazy all the way through and a bit flat at the end. Everywhere we've been, its been quite brilliant.

Q: What are the band's immediate plans as far as singles, videos, etc.?

A: Lord of the Flies has just come out and we just finished doing a video for that, which was done by the Dead Sea in Israel. We still have a long way to go with the tour. After the US, we have a few days off, before we go to Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. And then we're looking at Hong Kong and Southeast Asia as well. We're also trying to get a gig in India, but that doesn't look like it'll work out on this tour. We wanna try to go everywhere. The only thing that stops us is the government not wanting Maiden, or if the promoters aren't really there. This is the first time that Maiden has been in Romania, Bulgaria, Israel, and South Africa. It doesn't look like India will work out on this tour, but perhaps on the next tour we can do India and China and places like that. We're also trying to get a concert in Hong Kong before 1997. The tour is supposed to end in May, but I don't know. It's gone really well, and a lot of fans like the band and the new record, and a lot of fans have come to see us, and everybody wants to talk to us. It's been really great, and who knows maybe it'll never end!

Q: The band has created a homepage on the internet, and you keep a diary for the tour. How does the band plan to use the internet in the future?

A: I've got a write-up for this piece of the tour, and I try to keep that updated when I get some free time on the tour. I've posted the write-up for the German tour that I did. We would like to keep it updated on a regular basis, so we can keep the fans updated on news. It's definitely the early days for the band using the 'net', and something that we've just gotten into. I think we definitely are looking to expand our scope and involvement in the future.

Q: Is there any truth to the rumor about an X-Factor CD-ROM?

A: I don't know, there's some CD-ROM idea floating about, but I'm not quite sure what's happening there.

Q: Have you had a chance to play football with the Iron Maiden XI? Would you care to comment on your football prowess in comparison to the other members of the band?

A: On this tour I haven't with all the schedules and commitments, but I did when I was with Wolfesbane. As far as my football prowess, (laughing) it's rubbish. I make a much better singer than a football player.

Q: What is your favorite football team, and what is your favorite beer, and have you been able to get a consistent supply on the tour?

A: Aston Villa. Guinness or Murphy, or most black beer. I don't drink much beer on tour, you just can't, your voice just goes. To me, the most miserable feeling in the world is when you're on stage and thinking "Oh my God, it's so difficult to sing this bit, if only I hadn't had those extra beers". I love playing, and singing live. I really love drinking beer, but I don't love it as much as playing live, and singing the songs, and the feeling I get when we're doing really well and the fans are really enjoying it.

Q: Where do you see yourself and the band in the year 2000 and 10 to 15 years down the road?

A: In the year 2000, fashions will have changed so much, that we'll be on top of the charts across the world with some incredible heavy rock song that we've written. Heavy rock is slightly decadent, and because the end of the century always attracts decadence, no matter which century it is. It is ideally suited for Maiden, and the soundtrack for the next century, may as well be Iron Maiden to kick it off. The whole vibe that we get from this album is that it's a good record, and a good first step, and hopefully we'll be making a lot of records, and enjoying ourselves playing live around the world and in the studio. That's where I see it going!

An Interview with Steve and Blaze


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.


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.


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.


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."


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."


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."


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."


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."


STEVE: "Bollocks!"

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."


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."


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?"


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!

An Interview with Steve about Songs

Interview by John Stix

JOHN: Iron Maiden got its first real push forward with the song Prowler.

STEVE: Prowler is a very special song for us. When we made the Soundhouse Tapes we took the actual tape to Neal Kay who was a d.j. in north London. He used to have a heavy metal chart which was compiled from record requests and printed in the music magazine "Sounds". Prowler got to be number one just from the requests for the demo tape. That's why we had the tape made into a record, because so many kids were asking us how they could get hold of the derno tapes.

JOHN: Is there a big difference between the version on the record and the original on the tape?

STEVE: Oh yeah, there's quite a difference. The Soundhouse Tapes were the very first thing we recorded. It was just a demo. It only cost us about $400 to make the whole thing. It really wasn't great quality.

JOHN: Was Prowler composed in pieces and put together?

STEVE: That's pretty much the style of a lot of our songs.

JOHN: Are parts conceived for a specific song or could you possibly switch sections with other songs?

STEVE: A lot of songs were written in different sections that could possibly have been used in other songs.

JOHN: Remember Tomorrow also has one of your favorite devices. I'm thinking of the slow start that builds up.

STEVE: That song is an old stage favorite. The crowd's used to really be into that one. Paul Di'anno wrote the lyrics to it. I wrote the music. Actually I played him the parts I had and he worked it out. There's a lot of feeling in that song. Mind you I think any song should be filled with feeling. But on the slow parts of this one I think there is that extra measure.

JOHN: Running Free also has a signature with the bass riff up front.

STEVE: I think the songs sound a bit different because they are written an the bass.

JOHN: Do you start with a melody and fill in with the chords?

STEVE: It depends on the song. Some I write with a main bass riff and work out the melody on top of it. Some songs begin with a strong melody iine and I work out the music behind it. I pretty much work everything out on the bass, the actual riffs and the harmonies. Running Free came together when I put a riff to the main drum beat by Doug Sampson. He was the drummer on the Soundhouse Tapes.

JOHN: The harmony riffs sound very structured and almost classical.

STEVE: Sometimes maybe. Mainly they are little melodies which have harmonies put to them. The part in the middle I worked up from a bunch of bits I wrote.

JOHN: It's certainly not based on the blues.

STEVE: I was never really into the blues. Dave (Murray) is into the blues. I was into blues influenced bands like Free.

JOHN: There's no improv in this song.

STEVE: We thought we'd try and do something a bit different. Most songs have a guitar solo in the middle. We've always tried to do things a little differently. We thought instead of a guitar solo we'd have a guitar break which would consist of guitar runs and harmonies.

JOHN: Next up is Phantom of the Opera.

STEVE: That's a very long song that was done in sections. The middle part was totally separate but it fit in very well. It felt right to go from the slow part into the middle section.

JOHN: Transylvania.

STEVE: The initial idea on this one was to have Iyrics. It originally had a melody line for the vocal, but when we played it, it sounded so good as na instrumental that we never bothered to write lyrics for it.

JOHN: Strange World.

STEVE: It's one of the only sort of slow songs we've done. But it's got a lot of feeling. It used to be a stage favorite. Dave really enjoyed playing the solo in this one. We may bring it back in the future.

JOHN: Santuary is a straight ahead rock and roller.

STEVE: It was released as a single in England, but it wasn't on the British album. It was done at the same time as the first album, but we didn't release a single in the states, so we thought we'd add an extra track on the album. It's a rockin' number. We still play it.

JOHN: Next up is the famous Charlotte the Harlot.

STEVE: That's really Dave's song. I would have been proud to say that I'd written it. I like playing it live because it was something a bit different than I would write.

JOHN: Iron Maiden.

STEVE: As long as I can remember we've closed our set with this song. It's quite simple. The bass line is fairly straight forward as is the drumming. But the guitar is over the top with harmony, and the bass is descending behind it. I think this makes it pretty special.

JOHN: In parts it almost sounded like a Chris Squire line.

STEVE: I take that as a compliment because he's one of my favorite bass players.

JOHN: What would you point to as the highlights of the first album?

STEVE: I'd say Phantom of the Opera and Iron Maiden. Phantom is one of the best pieces I've ever written, and certainly one of the most enjoyable to play. It's got all of these intricate guitar lines which keep it interesting. Then there's that slow middle part which creates quite a good mood. It's also got the fast heavy parts which are really rockin'. And it's also got areas for crowd participation. It pretty much covers all the bases for the band. It was also a good example of what I wanted to get across.

JOHN: The second album, Killers, begins with the instrumental intro, Ides of March.

STEVE: We used to play that through the P.A. before we went on. Then we went right into Wrathchild. Wrathchild was originally recorded on an album called Metal for Muthas along with Sanctuary. That was before we had a record contract. The version on this record is pretty different. A lot of people asked us why we didn't put it on the first album. But we felt because it was on Metal for Muthas we didn't want to put it on the first album. By the time we did Killers we weren't happy with that version so we wanted to record it properly.

JOHN: That's the first song you've done with guitar fills around the vocals.

STEVE: That was from Adrian. Originally they weren't there, but when Adrian joined the band he decided to put them in.

JOHN: Murders in the Rue Morgue has some harmonics on the bass. That's a twist.

STEVE: That was a bit of an experiment. I'd never played harmonics on the bass much before that. But with the mood of the intro, it felt really natural to play those harmonics. We wanted to create a mood and then come in and hit people across the head with it. The vocal melody is pretty much the same as the riff. That's to give them both more power.

JOHN: Another Life.

STEVE: I really enjoy the harmony parts on this one, and the intro fills by Dave were really good.

JOHN: Genghis Khan is the second instrumental on Killers. The sharp break in the B section is like shifting gears without a clutch.

STEVE: That freaked out our producer as well. It was sort of a change at right angles. We really liked that element of surprise. This was another song where there could have been a vocal melody on top, but it felt good as an instrumental. A vocal would have cluttered it up. Originally it was written to depict the feeling and sound of Genghis Khan's army going into battle.

JOHN: Again there are no solos.

STEVE: It wasn't a conscious thing, but it worked out that way. It felt better not to have any guitar solos on this track.

JOHN: Innocent Exile has another one of those intros which have nothing to do with the body of the song.

STEVE: That was one of the very first Iron Maiden songs. It was an old stage favorite, but we haven't played it in a while. That opening bass riff was originally played on the guitar. It was written on the bass for the guitar. The bass was originally playing crashing chords behind it. Then we switched it around.

JOHN: Drifter.

STEVE: That's a song we still do live. Now we bring it down to a beat and get crowd participation with a sing-a-long. We recorded it live as a B side for one of the British singles. The slow section in there is one of Dave's blues things. The different parts in this song really flowed together. It wasn't a song that was done in separate sections. On this one pretty much knew what I wanted.

JOHN: Killers has a bass intro with a lot of dynamics. Then it breaks into heavy rock that pushes like a train.

STEVE: Paul wrote the Iyrics to that one. It felt really natural for him to scream at the start of the song. Some people may be wonder about this one if they have a copy of our video. We did a half hour video about three years ago, before the album came out. The lyrics on the video are totally different than what came out on the album. We weren't happy with them, but they exist in their original form on that video.

JOHN: Twilight Zone.

STEVE: That was a single in England that wasn't on the British album. We put it on as an extra track over here. Dave came up with the riff for this one. I wrote the melody line and the lyrics. But the main riff was Dave's.

JOHN: Purgatory.

STEVE: That 's quite an old song. In a slightly different form it was originally called Floating. Then we changed the lyrics and a couple of bits in the middle section.

JOHN: Do you have any bright moments on the Killers?

STEVE: The title cut and Murders in the Rue Morgue. The first album really sounded like a first album. With Killers we started to sound more like Maiden. It was the first album where we felt some satisfaction as far as the sound of the album. Those two songs stand out because they are great live favorites.

JOHN: That brings us to The Number of the Beast.

STEVE: Invaders felt like a great rock 'n' roll opener. Funny enough we've never played it live. This song was an extension of another song called Invasion, which was the B side of the single Women in Uniform. It's like an invasion of Britain. Children of the Damned is next on the album. It's based on the film of the same name. The mood was sort of like Remember Tomorrow.

JOHN: What's the story behind 22, Acacia Avenue?

STEVE: It's an extension of Charlotte the Harlot. This is where she's living in London's East End.

JOHN: Is there a real Charlotte?

STEVE: Sort of. We should have mentioned the Prisoner before 22. The opening for that song is from the actual Prisoner TV series with Patrick McGoohan. Adrian took the solo on that one and it's one of his favorites. It's a very strong live number, although we don't play it in the set now.

JOHN: Side two opens with the title track, inspired in part by the movie Omen II.

STEVE: Basically that song is about a dream. It's not about Devil worship.

JOHN: It builds nicely to a great scream.

STEVE: The idea was to get a blood curdling scream like the one on Won't Get Fooled Again. It worked quite well.

JOHN: Run to the Hills was a single wasn't it?

STEVE: ln England. This song is about the American Indians. It's written from both sides of the picture. The first part is from the site of the Indians. The second part is from the side of the soldiers. I wanted to try and get the feeling of galloping horses. But when you play this one, be carefuI not to let it run away from you.

JOHN: Gangland.

STEVE: That's by Adrian and Clive. The intro is very much a drum thing which Clive got together. It's probably a bit jazz influenced and a bit different than things we'd done before. But the basic riff is very much a rocker. It's a very good song, but one we've never done live.

JOHN: Hallowed be Thy Name.

STEVE: That's one of my favorite songs and still one we play live. We're trying to create a mood with the build up of the song. The classical guitar-like opening was Dave building the mood, with bells in the background. It's about someone with only a few hours left to live. In concert the end part of this one takes off. Dave takes the first solo and then Adrian.

JOHN: And highlights on The Number of the Beast?

STEVE: Hallowed be Thy Name, 22, Acacia Avenue and the title tune.

JOHN: The opening number on Piece of Mind is Where Eagles Dare. Was that taken from the movie title?


JOHN: There's an instrumental section in there that sounds like a machine gun.

STEVE: It's supposed to sound like a machine gun. It's not very loud in the mix, but we wanted it that way so people who listened to it a couple of times would say "what's that?" That song was done in two takes.

JOHN: Revelation.

STEVE: That's Bruce's. To me it's sort of a heavy version of the Wishbone Ash feel.

JOHN: The end of the intro reminded me of Jethro Tull.

STEVE: Bruce and myself are very big Tull fans. We recorded Cross Eyed Mary as a B side for The Trooper single in England. Revelation comes together more live. That tends to be like that with us. Usually the numbers are better live than on record. That has to do with the feel of the songs. Most of them were written to be played on the stage. They're not really for therecording studio.

JOHN: At the same time you're not really thrilled with your live EP, Maiden Japan.

STEVE: It was okay for the time.

JOHN: Flight of Icarus.

STEVE: It's a really good song but we much prefer it live. We tend to play it a little bit faster live. Looking back on it now, we feel we could have played it at the faster speed on the album. This little extra touch gives it a bit more fire. If you're counting solos, this is Dave.

JOHN: Die with your Boots on.

STEVE: Adrian and Bruce came up with the main riff. Bruce came up with the Iyrics. I came up with the chord sequence behind the verse and the cross section that goes into the main chorus. This is another personal favorite of mine.

JOHN: And it has more chords than riffs.

STEVE: Which I suppose might make it strange as to why I really like it that much. It's a very powerful number live. I get off on the aggression of it.

JOHN: Which war is the Trooper based on?

STEVE: The Crimean War with the British against the Russians. The opening is meant to try and recreate the galloping horses in the charge of the light brigade. It's na atmospheric song.

JOHN: Can you tell me the backwards message that comes at the end of this song?

STEVE: We put it on so people could find out for themselves. I don't want to say what it says. Basically it's an answer to the religious freaks for giving us such a hard time on the Number of the Beast.

JOHN: What's the story behind Still Life?

STEVE: It's basically the story of a guy who is drawn like a magnet to a pool of water. He sees faces in the lake. He has nightmares about it and in the end he jumps in and takes his lady with him. It's a very enjoyable number to play because there's a lot going on. Again we're creating a mood and coming in with a very heavy guitar sound. Adrian takes the first solo. After his solo there is a really tight bass and drums staccato part which goes right across the top of the riff. I like that part a lot.

JOHN: Quest for Fire is obviously after the movie of the same name. Sun and Steel is a bit more obscure in its origin.

STEVE: Bruce wrote the lyrics to that. It's basically about a Japanese guy who builds himself up to peak fitness and wants to kill himself hari kari style. I think it would be a good live song but we have never plaved it on stage as of yet.

JOHN: To Tame a Land makes you out as a fan of the book Dune.

STEVE: Very much so. This is the best song I've ever written. I was really pleased with Phantom, but now I have to say this is the best.

JOHN: Aside from To Tame a Land what other songs stand out on Piece of Mind?

STEVE: The Trooper and Die with your Boots on. Both are very good live numbers, and in the case of the Trooper because we managed to capture the right mood for the song.

Interview with Steve on US tour 1996

Interview by Sumit Chandra

Q: The new album is a very different album for the band, obviously with the new singer. Can you talk about the album and the overall atmosphere around it.

A: When Blaze first joined, he asked us if there was any particular direction we wanted to go in. We said no, we never really have any direction, we just write the best songs we can at the time. When we started writing the songs, it was very natural, and we didn't really have any specific topics or anything. We never do. Whenever we do a new album, we really have no idea what we're going to write about. We have little bits of musical ideas that we stick on tape and then forget about, until we pull them out when it's time to do an album. When we're on the road, we don't get much of a chance to do anything, except for sleep on days off and things like that. We don't write on the road. So therefore, it's quite exciting when we do a new album, cause we never know what we're going to do. That's part of the fun of it. We don't know what the topics or the songs are going to be. It's very fresh and exciting, especially working with a new guy, and it worked so well, it was so natural writing songs with him. It was almost as if he'd been in the band for ages.

Q: Is there anything in the atmosphere that ends up giving the album a certain theme. For example, Seventh Son.

A: Not really, it happened with Seventh Son because we decided to do a concept album. A lot of people when they see the artwork and the way the album is put together, they think it's a concept with some of the other albums we've done. Like Fear of the Dark, has quite a few mentions of the word fear throughout the album, but it wasn't a conscious thing, it was just something that happened. We realized it ourselves afterwards. It wasn't intentional. It's just a collection of short stories, and that's all it is. Some of the stories might be fiction, some might be from books and films, and some might be current affairs, it could be anything. You don't know what you're going to write until you write it, so you can't really analyze it.

Q: Talk a bit about the tour. I know you've been a few places that you haven't been to before.

A: Yeah, we went to Israel, and we went to South Africa. We thought it was really important to go somewhere where none of us had been, so it would be fresh to all of us, rather than going somewhere the rest of us had been and Blaze hadn't. We thought it was important to share the same sort of new experience, with a new member in the band. Then we also played in places like Romania, and Bulgaria, which we hadn't done before. So it's always a new challenge.

Q: When I talked to Blaze, he mentioned that you guys had actually looked into the possibility of playing in India, but it didn't look like it would happen this time around.

A: That's right. At the moment they're trying to put it together for sometime in the summer. I've always wanted to play in India, and I've always wanted to play in China, and places like that, just places we've never played before. I know that some of my favorite bands have played India a long time ago, and we've never got around to playing it for one reason or another. I've always wanted to go there, even as a tourist. Janick's been to Goa, but none of us has ever really had a chance to go there.

Q: I've had the chance to follow the tour for the past week or so, and I wanted to get the performers perspective on the proceedings. For example, the show in Harrisburg PA was probably not all it could have been from a security perspective. For example, the Fear Factory bassist was involuntarily pulled into the crowd, and someone got on the stage while Maiden was on, and I remember watching you assist in pushing that individual away.

A: To be honest with you, I got a bit annoyed because, if someone gets on stage, that doesn't really bother me that much, as long as they don't cause any damage or stuff like that. What happened was that he bashed straight into my guitar and turned my guitar off, and that really annoyed me, because it was right at the end of the set on "The Trooper". You try to play up there, and if someone does something like that, than it's a bit off-putting. To be honest with you, I was not in a bit of mood that night anyway, and wasn't really enjoying the gig very much because we had a few other technical problems. Probably on another night, I wouldn't have taken it too much to heart. That kind of capped it all for me, it was a bit of a nightmare, that gig as far as I was concerned.

Q: I still thought it was a pretty good show overall, with the band in fine form.

A: Sometimes when we think we've had a shit gig, you come off stage and there's lots of people there, and they've really enjoyed it. The impression out front is always quite different than what it is on stage, and we are professional in the sense that we are really consistent, and even when we think we've had a bad gig, by other people's standards it's still quite good, I suppose. But you do get nights like that, not too often, thank God!

Q: Talk a little bit about playing the USA. This is the first time in four years that Maiden has toured the States. It is a huge country with a big market, and the US as a country tends to be more trend-following as far as the mainstream. If I'm looking at it from Maiden's perspective, it's obviously a big task you guys have to undertake, and the return on the investment is not as much as it would've been in years past. What are your impressions about that?

A: We don't look at it as a monetary thing. We come over here, and we want to be a popular band again over here, but not to the point we have to change anything. We're not going to compromise. Our attitudes are the same as they were in '81 when we first came over here. We just have to come over, and slap you lot about, and hope that they're going to accept what we are, cause we're not gonna change. We're pretty stubborn as far as that goes. In the rest of world, we've been touring since September, and in most of the countries it's been sold out and we're doing big gigs. Over here, if they can't get into it, or if they don't want to be in metal, then what can you do. We didn't even know if we would sell these types of gigs out. We didn't know what to expect. We heard stories about how Iron Maiden was going down, and it wasn't in fashion anymore. So we've come over here, and we've been selling these gigs out, which is great, but to be totally honest, it's a bit disappointing, because we'd all like to play to more people, but it's not a monetary thing, it's just the fact that we've played to a lot more people in the past. The problem over here is that it's difficult to generate new, young fans, and because we're playing clubs now, quite often you have to be 18 or 21 to get in. So the new young fans sometimes can't get in anyway. So it's difficult to gauge whether we're getting new young fans or not. We've just got to come over here and do this tour and hopefully it'll go up from there, but if it doesn't, so be it, cause we're not going to change, and we're not going to start trying to write hit singles or any of that bullshit.

Q: So it's quite similar to the 70's when punk was fashionable and Maiden would not compromise their sound in order to get a record deal.

A: Yeah, it's very similar in the way when we first came over. Now we know we have a hard-core following, so we know we can do a certain amount, but we didn't even know that was going to be the case until we got here. So at least the hard-core fans are still around.

Q: As far as the rest of the X-Factour is concerned, where else do you guys plan to go?

A: We're hoping to play Chile this time around, which we weren't allowed to last time. As I said, I'd love to play China, but I don't think that'll happen this time around, so we need to start laying down a bit of groundwork for that. Sometimes it can take years to play some place, for example it took us 10 years to play Moscow, which we played on the last tour, and we also played Argentina and Uruguay for the first time on the last tour as well. There's lots of new places really. Hopefully we're going to be playing Hong Kong and Bangkok as well. I think Bangkok has just been confirmed as far as I know, which is great. We're still waiting on Hong Kong. Even if we can't play Hong Kong, I'd like to go there as a tourist before it changes in 1997. Also, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand are already confirmed as well.

Q: Can you talk about any future releases that are in the works? and can you comment on the rumor of na Iron Maiden CD-ROM?

A: The "Lord of the Flies" single is the only one at the moment, and it has covers of "Doctor Doctor" by UFO, and "My Generation" by the Who as b-sides. As far as the CD-ROM is concerned, we've been talking about doing something like that, but I don't think it's going to happen just yet, we need to get our arses in gear for that sort of thing. Also, I really want to start getting into the internet, and doing stuff on a day by day basis or a week by week basis, just to keep people aware of how things are going.

Q: I think you're one of the very few people who would be an authority on this. You're the founder of the band and you've gone through all the lineup changes dating back from the early days, and through the changes during the album producing years. Being a band and touring as rigorously as Maiden have, the band becomes a family type of atmosphere and the lineup changes can be analogous to family breakups, which can be a bit difficult and unsettling. Can you comment on that and the will of Maiden to proceed onward.

A: The thing is that at the end of the day, you've got to have 5 people that really want to be there. That's the bottom line, and it sounds simple, but it doesn't always work out that way, and that's why people come and go. Either they're not happy with us, or we're not happy with them, or both. It's pointless keeping somebody in the band that just stays there because it's a good wage. There's no point in doing that. At the end of the day you've got to get on with it. The only thing is when you do have a change, you've got to make sure it's a positive change. We've always looked very positively on any change that we've had with the band. That's the only way you can look at it really. That way when someone new comes into the band, they bring in new energy, and so on. I think because of the changes, it's probably one reason why we've been able to carry on for so long. We enjoy what we do, and still things are fresh and exciting. I don't know, it's difficult to say, because obviously the changes have happened anyway. I think they've been changes for the better, and certainly as far as the band morale is concerned. People can debate till the cows come home about what lineup was better, but at this time we feel that what we're doing now is better than anything that we've done, especially the live shows.

Q: I agree, I don't think I've ever seen the band as energetic, and as happy as I've seen them on this tour during the past week.

A: Not to blow our own trumpet, but I don't think there's too many bands that could have survived the changes we've gone through. To come through as strong as we have, and it's proved on this tour, that throughout the world, the album sales, and the ticket sales, and the reactions to the album and the live shows, it's been fantastic. I'm really pleased and proud, because it's not an easy thing to go through changes like that. What's been fantastic is the support of the fans, they've been so loyal and so into it, and above all they've been so open-minded, which has been great. They've accepted Blaze, and acknowledged that there's been a change, but Maiden carries on and they're into it. It's great!

Q: Talking a bit more about yourself, you've been in the band for the longest time, and have contributed the most material. You've written quite a few classics. How do you react to the concept of being recognized as a great songwriter.

A: It's nice when people say stuff like that, because it's obviously very good to be appreciated, and that's what the ultimate thing is. But first and foremost, you've got to write for yourself, and you've got to be stubborn and make sure that you're liking what you're doing, and hopefully people like it, so for so many people to say things like that, it's great. But as I said, you can't analyze it, and you can't start sitting back and thinking about the why's, or otherwise you'd never write another song. If you start thinking that you've written a song that someone else considers a classic, then it's downhill from there. So I try not to think about it all, and just try to write the best songs I can at a given time. And I try to make sure that I'm not treading on old ground, or things that I've done before, and yet at the same time try not to be so different that it's gonna kind of alienates things. I just try and write what I feel at the time, which is probably more difficult than you might think at times. There's pressure, when you get an album that's been successful, then there's pressure there, but I try not to let that get to me, or otherwise you end up writing "Run to the Hills Part II" and that kind of thing. That's not what we want to do, so you just try and write the best songs you can at the time.

Q: Looking 4-5 years down the road, and even beyond that. Maiden has a pretty good track record, so it's probably a fair bet that you guys will still be around for a while still. What type of vision do you have for the band?

A: It's hard to say, I guess we'll stop when we're not enjoying it anymore, but we're still enjoying it very much at the moment. It's hard to say, I suppose 2001 probably sounds like a good time to end, but I don't know, we might get to 2001 and think "No, we're not stopping yet". Who knows, it's hard to say.

Q: Talk a little bit about as you grow older and associated family obligations and other obligations outside the band, and how that impacts things.

A: You just try to maneuver around things. I used to take my kids on the road with me when they were younger and school was not na issue, now I have to arrange it around school holidays, so you're kind of restricted to things like that. That is the hardest part for me of being on the road. I love being on the road, but the hardest part for me is being away from the kids,which isn't easy. On the European tour it's not that bad, because on the days off, I can just go home, and spend the night, so it's only a matter of a day or two when I don't get to see my kids. Obviously, whenever I get the chance, I have them come out on the road with me. But now that we're in the States, I had the kids come on the road with me for about 10 days during Holiday, and I had to take them home cause they're on my passport, and I'm divorced, so I had to take them home from New York after the Philly show, and fly straight back out the next day, and play Baltimore the same night. So it kind of makes things tough, and to me the hardest part is to be away from the family. I still do what I do, and everything kind of has to fit around that really. A big difference I suppose is that I've got a studio at home now, and that was one of the prime reasons for having a studio at home in the first place, so I can spend more time at home. I'm the one in the band who spends the most time in the studio anyway, I'm there everyday, so making albums abroad is not something I want to do anymore. I spend enough time abroad when I'm touring anyway, and I didn't want to be spending the rest of time while I'm recording away as well. That really would have given me little time to spend with my kids. People change as time goes by, and your priorities do change. To me, the kids come before anything, and some of the fans might not agree with that, but that's the right reason. If it came down to it, there's no comparison as far as I'm concerned. The kids come before everything, and if I had to give up Maiden because of my kids, then I'd do it. But having said that, there really isn't that problem, because I can work around it and can get around it. My kids love me being in Maiden anyway. They love being on the road, and being in the tourbus and stuff.

Q: Do they enjoy having the Piece of Mind Eddie head in the backyard?

A: Yeah, they don't take a lot of notice of it really. They've grown up with it. So, I suppose they sort of take it for granted in a way. Sometimes when they come home from school, they ask me to sign na autograph for friends or things like that. I think they get a bit of a buzz out of it, but they don't really make a big fuss about it.