Hey Man, how are you doing?
Chris…..how are you mate?
It’s always a pleasure to talk you Mr Smith, here’s the funny thing too, as we just jump right into this, you’re actually in Winnipeg right now which is coincidence of all coincidences.
Well I’ll be there in about 5 hours Chris….I’m still in….
CJ ( Interrupting) Oh but you’re playing there tonight?
Err that’s right yeah!
How does it work, do you guys still fly from town to town?
Yep, no more tour buses for us, we’ve served our time on tour buses.
Ha-haYeah, leave that to the kids right?
It’s pretty funny though, I don’t know if you remember I’ve told you this story before? But, probably I think, 1987 when I guess you guys were in Winnipeg for the ‘Somewhere it Time’ tour, my friend found out what hotel you guys were staying in. Somehow I found myself on the right floor and started knocking on random doors, and lo and behold I knocked on yours….(laughing)
Oh really? (laughing also)
….Yes, and you answered, you had your hair ……
Was I rude? (laughing)
Actually you weren’t, considering you had some punk kid knocking at your door. You had your hair wrapped up in a towel.
Yes! And I said “Can I take a picture with you?” and you said “I’ve just got out the shower”
(laughing) And then you closed the door, and I was like, “err what does that mean? Shall I wait or what should I do?”
Do you still have moments like that on the road? Where over-zealous fans find out where you guys are staying and try and knock on your doors or………
That’s a lovely, story, it’s so innocent. The trouble is now, you get people, they find out what hotel you’re in and they’re professional autograph hunters…..
As you probably know yourself?
……And they hijack you as soon as you set foot outside, and you can tell ‘em (them) straight away because they don’t look like fans, they’ve got bags and bags of memorabilia that they want you to sign so they can sell it. And that is the thing that really ticks (annoys) most of us off, you know, because genuine fans, the kid that knocked on my door, is kind of alright, but these people spoil it for them ‘cos I won’t sign any of that stuff because they sell it on.
You’re right too, and they find out for whatever reason, what airports you’re at, what hotel you’re at……
…..And like you said…..
And they hassle you as well, and in New York they can get really offensive and rude, they’ll chase after you and start (thinks)…start harassing you. It’s a real, bit of a pain.
It’s funny because you’ll have…..
But as far as our fans go, we do get (thinks) we get fans in South America, they’ll be the most fanatical ones that ….they’ll stand outside the hotel, sometimes in their hundreds (laughs) which is mad! Obviously we can’t sign everything for them, we’ll, you know, give them a wave and that, but they’ll ……(breaks off) I remember the last time we were in El Salvador it was absolutely mobbed outside the hotel. But when I looked an hour later the police had moved them all on and there was like riot police and everything! Which just sort of…..goes to show you what it’s like down there, if a group of kids gather together they get split up straight away, no messing around.
Isn’t it amazing though, that in this day and age, you still have, you know, things have changed for music, like you said, and for rock and roll, but Iron Maiden will still incite that type of reaction from fans?
Yeah it is quite amazing really, but, like in South America, they are very passionate about (breaks off to think) it’s not a rich ……you’re average person is not rich, I mean they put great store in their soccer, their sport. They love their, they are passionate about, their sport. It’s almost like a religion and the same with music. If they think someone’s genuine they really get behind you, they are sort of, football supporters, it’s kind of …….you know, the spirit they have.
That kind of is fanatical….
I’ll say, one team down there has even got the Eddie mascot as their mascot! I think it might be Vasco Da Gama I’m not sure. But one team uses the Eddie logo on their flags for their team and everything.
Have you seen that too there’s a goal tender in NHL, I can’t remember what team, I think maybe the Vancouver Canucks, he has that……
Yep, no….. it’s …..we just played there because someone showed us it. Well someone showed one of our crew, yeah the goalie (goal keeper) and he said “This guy wears this thing (mask) and he said it was the most smelliest thing he’d ever …….. smelt (laughing)
But he had the Eddie mask yeah.
But I mean, like I said, the last time I saw Iron Maiden, I think it was Las Vegas, just even on the concourse for the arena before the show, people were singing and chanting ‘Iron Maiden’ and it really felt like it, you know, it’s not like it’s 1986, it just never ends this, this energy that happens when Iron Maiden come to town.
It’s a different energy now, because it’s much warmer. I mean I remember in the 80s it was a much more aggressive kind of vibe. Touring with Priest and the Scorpions, the audience had a real crackle of danger about it, I think ‘cos young people were probably, well a lot of them were pretty out of it and there was a little bit of trouble here and there. But now it seems, people are a lot older, obviously, we’re not going to be around forever, we’re still rocking out pretty well, but you can feel that people are I suppose, people wonder how we can keep doing it. We are doing it at a pretty high level I think still, because we don’t play every single night. We play two or three shows a week and we try to put the same energy into it. I mean, especially Bruce, he’s pretty amazing. But, it’s a different kind of energy now, you know? I’d hate to say nostalgic because we’re still making new music which is what I think is the life blood of the band, creating new music.
Well it’s very important to Iron Maiden, plus you’re one of the bands, there’s a few like Metallica, AC/DC, when you put out a new record it’s an event. You have no problem playing, like Book of Souls for example, 5, 6 or 7 tunes from the new record. Which a lot of bands wouldn’t be able to do, but Maiden still can do that, because people are in to it.
Yeah, I mean, yeah The Book of Souls, there was a song called ‘The Red and the Black’ and I think it’s 12-13 minutes long we did, which I thought “This is not going to fly live” but people absolutely loved it, it’s got a really long instrumental section and that. But they are, it is kind of melodic so you know, there’s stuff that people can latch onto but, yeah. I also remember back a few years we played the full album in its entirety….
A Matter of Life and Death yeah
It was more of a statement that we’re not a nostalgia act, we’re not a cabaret act, this is what we are.
There were a lot of confused people on that tour that I saw (laughs)
(laughing) Yeah well, I’ll be honest, when Steve suggested doing it I didn’t think it was a very good idea, but once he’s got something in his mind, that’s it! So we stuck with it and it was probably, I think, a good thing in the long run.
I think you just hit on something interesting to me too, because since you came back, and it’s been gosh 20 odd years since you and Bruce came back…., do you guys, now that you’re older and wiser, do you give each other a little more space? Like you said, in the past you would have fought Steve for having that idea, now do you kind of just go “Well it’s Steves idea, we’ve just got to go with it and make it work?” Does it make it easier to get along in this day and age?
Yeah, I think you definitely get older and a bit wiser. You get a bit more aware of other people as you get older generally, and how they feel about things, I think it’s just a natural thing. So yes, there’s a little bit more compromising in what we do but y’know, I think we all buy into the ethos of the band. We’ve all got a much clearer idea of what it’s all about. Especially as I was out of the band for 9 years so it was almost like I came back with a different perspective. I could see it from the outsiders point of view. Whereas in the 80s it was just album, tour, album tour, there was no life outside the band, so it was difficult to get perspective.
Sure, I’ve spoken to Bruce and Steve about how Bruce got back in, cos you were jamming with Bruce at that point in time, was that always a thing? Were you guys like a package deal? How did that get presented to you, to come back to Maiden?
Ah…..Hmm….very interesting……Well Bruce approached me mid 90s and he’d written some songs with Roy Z for his first album, with Roy, actually it wasn’t his first solo album but around the ‘Accident of Birth’ time. I really liked what they were doing so I just chucked my lot in with them. I contributed a few songs, it went on from there for the next 3,4, 5 years. Then they wanted Bruce to come back, Blaze parted from the band, I was playing with Bruce, there was something in the air about me coming back. I thought I’d join for one tour or come on for half a set (laughs) I don’t know! By that time I would have, if you’d asked me 10 years before I’d have said “No I’ll probably never do it” but things change like you say, get older and wiser. I thought it might be nice just to round it off. But again Steve, he does come out with some wacky ideas that at first you think are not going to work, and so he suggested to the guys “Why don’t we have three guitarists?” You can imagine what the room was like when he said that! Probably Dave and Janick were like “What?!” (laughing) You know Lynyrd Maiden! I joined up and we went down to Portugal to write some songs and I had the song Wickerman, I had the riff and someone said, has anyone got any ideas, I started playing that and away we went, we never looked back really.
So talk about what it was like going from a two guitar band to a three guitar band when you and Bruce re-joined Iron Maiden. How was it rehearsing the parts going from a two guitar band playing the parts for Powerslave or 2 Minutes to Midnight or whatever? Was it pretty natural for you 3 guys to figure out the parts or sort of ‘you do this one, try this, try that’? Cos there are a lot of intricate three part harmonies in those songs that weren’t there when you first recorded them.
Well, put it this way, if you had 3 Yngwie Malmsteens or 3 Richie Blackmores it would have been a fight after about 5 minutes, you know, but because…Dave is one of my oldest friends, we’ve worked together for years we know the score. Janick is a lovely guy, but I have to say, Jan wasn’t going to change what he was going to play, he’s just very set in his ways. I sensed that immediately, so I started looking at different ways of doing things. I’d been playing with a drop D tuning in Bruces band so I’d got used to that, so when I first joined up we played Wrathchild and I played that in drop D tuning, and Run to the Hills was in D so again I tuned it down. So it gave it a slightly different sound, so I was bringing that in, playing lower octaves on the harmonies and that. I played a lot of stuff totally different to what I did when I was in the band before, which was quite interesting.
It’s also, like I said before, pretty professional of you, to understand that those guys had their ways of doing things and that you didn’t come back and say “OK I want to do it my way again!” You were kind of adapting right?
Well that’s kind of my personality anyway. I’m pretty good at fitting in with other people. I think that’s why the band has lasted so long, it’s because of the combination of people. In some bands, a list as long as your arm, your Deep Purples, Zeppelins …who at some point they sort of implode because of the egos involved. But we have a nice balance of personalities in the band, the right amount of extroverts and people who are prepared to compromise. That’s not to say if you feel strongly about something you shouldn’t press it a bit. I think that’s why the band, or one of the reasons the band has lasted so long.
I think too, and I’m not just saying this because you’re on the phone……there’s a real chemistry. It’s like a great soccer team or hockey team, sometimes you have a guy that the chemistry is so good, that when he leaves, even when everyone else is still there, it’s just not quite the same. There’s a definite chemistry that you bring to the band that wasn’t there when you were gone. So I think that when you came back, even thought there was another guitar player, it really kind of completed the overall package of the kind of modern era Iron Maiden.
Well, thank you very much (chuckles) I think I’m a stickler, I have this thing about tempo. I’ve had it since I joined the band and I still have it to some degree. I’m really fanatical about the tempo of songs ‘cos sometimes when we play live it absolutely takes off like a train! So I’m always the one who sticks me hand up and says “I think we should play this at the proper tempo”. I know it’s exciting and everything, but if we play it this way it’ll breathe and sound better. I wouldn’t say we’ve had arguments about it, but it’s like Two Minutes to Midnight, when we came back in the band they were playing it much too fast. I said ‘this song doesn’t work because I’ve seen you play it live, I’ve seen Fear of the Dark which sounded great but Two minutes was too fast. I said try it like this, you know, stuff like that. Little things like that make a difference and it is chemistry. And someone else is bringing something else. But that’s one of the things and I try to do.
It’s funny because even when you get a new… we got a new bass player in the band a couple of years ago, and when someone comes from outside, you don’t know you’re playing something a little bit wrong because you’ve just played it that way for the longest time!
It takes someone from the outside to say “This isn’t exactly right, are you sure you want to play it that way” so (you say) “What do you mean it’s not right?” and then you actually listen and he’s right.
Exactly, sometimes, I noticed something we did on a few of the songs we’re playing now, that I had to go back and listen to and we weren’t, or I wasn’t, playing it right (laughs) you can’t get too complacent!
Speaking of complacent and kind of being, you know, you guys are Iron Maiden taking on the world and then a few years ago (& Bruce discussed this when he was on the show) Bruce was diagnosed with tongue cancer. Then you guys didn’t know what the future of the band was. It seems since Bruce has come back that you guys are almost better than ever at being tighter on stage, more energy on stage, Bruce is giving it more on stage. Did that throw you guys for a loop, thinking that “we don’t know what’s going to happen with this band”?
Yeah, it was awful, we got a phone call just before Christmas and poor Bruce had this thing he had to deal with. But I don’t know, I just had the feeling he would come through it because he’s so positive. I’ve never really heard him, or hardly ever heard him, feel sorry for himself or been negative so that’s one of his strengths. Although I can’t possibly imagine what he went through, I thought he was going to be OK and certainly the band wasn’t the foremost thing. We just wanted him to get better and then let it take its course. If we carried on so be it. But yeah, he’s come back and he’s absolutely thrown himself into the band again, the show, a lot of the stuff he had a big hand in, a lot of the props and the show aspect, apart from the singing. He’s really brought out that theatrical side that he’s got, he’s absolutely loving it, he’s like a kid in a sweet shop! So yeah, with this set musically, the set has really got a lot of fun to play and the whole production I think has just, kind of peaked on this tour even though we’re at the veteran stage now! (Laughs) I certainly, from my point of view, I never get complacent about it, I’m always trying to push myself a bit.
When you guys are putting together the set, and it’s a great thing that Maidens done over the last 10 years or so. We mentioned about how you’ll play ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ in its entirety or you’ll do 6 songs from ‘The Book of Souls’ but then the next tour afterwards is always a ‘greatest hits’ type of a vibe. What I love about this (current) set list, (and it’s something I hate now is that you can cheat & go online to look up the set list) but you’ll see that it’s not just 80s songs, which I’d be very disappointed if it was, there’s a couple of Blaze tunes, there’s a couple of tunes, ‘For the Greater Good of God’ from ‘A Matter of Life and Death’. At this stage how do you guys put together the set and, like you said, you enjoy pushing yourself, which type of songs push you in this day and age?
We used to kind of do the set way back in the day, there’s songs you had to play, but with this it’s tied in with the video game and the different worlds that are in that. Err I say video game, it’s a computer game, showing my age really!So it’s combining all that, that was a bit of a guideline to the set. A lot of the time Steve and Bruce will get their heads together to come up with a set. Obviously Bruce has got his… you know as a singer you know what you want to sing live and songs you’re happy singing live, so in terms of the punishment on your voice and whether you could do that particular song night after night. The set works out really well, again if I really strongly object to something I’ll say so, but usually it works out great. Everyone’s got the room to express themselves, the solos are shared out, there’s audience participation, you’ve got to take all those things into consideration. I think this is one of the most enjoyable……certainly, personally I’m having a great time on stage, it’s the most fun tour I’ve ever done!
Really?! Out of all the Maiden tours this is the most fun you’ve had?
Yes. Well back in the 80s it was just mad, we were playing every single night. Partying as well, just sometimes you get on stage and you’ve just got a splitting headache (laughs). You’re playing ‘Phantom of the Opera’ at 100 miles an hour and you’re going ‘Jeez!’ But this one, musically the band is playing great. I’ll tell you another thing Chris, you probably know this yourself, the monitoring systems are so good now, you can hear what you are playing! I have in-ear monitors which makes an incredible difference. When we first started it was absolute mayhem on stage. Steve had 2000 watts of bass gear, he’s got cabinets everywhere, so you get into this thing where everyone is competing. Then Bruce joined the band and he had a huge PA system built for his voice on stage and so that was deafening, so everyone was competing with each other. But now, the sound’s so much better, you can hear what you’re doing and it’s so enjoyable.
You know it’s interesting, was it hard to get used the in-ears? I remember I was talking to Biff from Saxon , he said it took him years to get used to having the in-ear system after fighting on stage and trying to find the sweet spot, and know where you can hear yourself and suddenly it’s all clear! Was it instant acceptance from you after doing it so long off the monitors?
Well the first thing you have to do, again all of a sudden you can hear yourself really clearly, you go “Ooh that’s what I sound like” (laughs). It’s all about tweaking it and getting the sound right. All I say to my monitoring guy is “I don’t want to sound like the amps in my earhole, I want to sound like if I’m watching the show, and it’s a balance of everything. Obviously I want to hear my guitar a little bit louder, and I started off just using (it) in one ear, in my right ear and my left ear didn’t have anything in there, so I got used to it gradually and I was the only one who used them for about 10 years. Then Janick and Dave started to use them, and again they couldn’t believe why they didn’t start using them earlier. So the three of us, the three guitar players use in-ear monitors, yes. The rest of the guys have their own things. Steve doesn’t use anything at all, Nick’s got an old-fashioned kind of speaker system and Bruce has got his regular wedges. But like you say, you can get a sweet spot on stage without, but you can’t stand rooted to one spot all night!
But you can’t stand still, I’d love to stand in front of my amp and just play because then you can feel it and hear it! But you’ve got to move around and interact with the audience a bit.
That’s what I have done with in-ears too, I actually have a special earpiece made with just the left ear and there’s no piece for the right ear, because I like having the live ambience with the crowd, cos even if you mic the crowd it’s not the same right?
Yeah of course, it’s slightly different for the frontman because you need to gauge what’s going on with the audience, if you have just live album sound in your ears the audience could be not reacting and you wouldn’t know…. So yeah that’s probably a good way to go.
When you’re looking at the set list here, there’s a song like ‘Flight of Icarus’ for example, that hasn’t been played in, I don’t know, 30 odd years (And it’s funny because hard core Maiden fans will tell you “they haven’t played this since 1984 on the ‘Piece of Mind’ final show in Dortmund”) is it fun digging out those types of old songs from the past and playing them live again?
It’s great yeah, it’s really weird, some songs we haven’t played for 10 – 15 years and we go to rehearsal and just play it right off the bat, it’s amazing, it’s like muscle memory you know? But there were a few train wrecks as well! It’s amazing what you do remember, you forget how good some if the old songs are.
But even so, you said some of the songs, like ‘Sign of the Cross’ and ‘For the Greater good of God’, those are 10 minute songs that you haven’t played for a while. You probably can’t just pick up the old guitar and go right into those ones?
Erm, you’d be surprised, well I don’t know about ‘Sign of the Cross’, but yeah ‘Greater Good’. Those are probably my favourite songs to play on stage, they’re so dramatic and interesting musically. I think Steve really nailed it on those ones, the epic style of “proggy” metal writing, they’re really great live songs.
Those are the ones you really have to pay attention to what you’re doing?
Well, they have a flow to them you know. ‘Sign of the Cross’ is pretty off the wall with its Gregorian monks singing away and everything and some of the time signatures. But after a while you get in the flow of it, it gets in your blood and you just do it.
Do you ever sit back, when there’s a show going on like you said, where there’s …. it starts off with a giant plane flying above you, then it goes to Scottish clans and it goes to Gregorian monks, flame throwers and winged idols…..Do you ever sit back and think “Holy shit, this is just insane”? (laughs)
Maybe when I’m older I’ll be sitting in my armchair and reflecting on it. I guess the songs sort of evoke these feelings, they’re very dramatic, that’s the only way I can put it. They’re just great fun to play live and I think the audience gets into that as well. Certainly you do go through a lot of themes, and playing a guitar solo with a Spitfire 2 foot from your head is quite a thrill I can tell you.
It’s one of those things that Maiden is a band that can do this, and probably no other band again will be able to do the things that you do. I remember last time, when Bruce, I think it was Book of Souls, where he pulls out Eddies heart and throws it into the crowd ... and it’s like this plastic heart, only Iron Maiden could do this where you think it’s the coolest thing ever!
Yeah, it’s verging on the ridiculous isn’t it really sometimes. But as Bruce points out, now we’re even getting good reviews from Rolling Stone magazine.
Exactly! They’ve always ignored us and kind of looked down their nose at us, but now it’s like we’ve almost become acceptable….It’s a bit of fun isn’t it, if you want to go and see a band just stand in one place and just recreate the sound of their album that’s fine to, but you certainly don’t get that with us, you get a lot more show.
And that’s why it seems to me on the surface that Maiden is bigger now than you ever were?
Well I couldn’t tell you in terms of facts and figures, but it certainly feels that way yes.
I’m sure we can ask Rod, he’ll know every figure down to the last dime!
Let’s talk about, you mentioned earlier, touring with Judas Priest, your very first tour of the States. I’m not sure if it was with Priest but just talk about when you guys first came over here. What that was like?
Ah, it was incredible, it was opening up for Priest and the first show was well……We flew into LA and went to the Sunset Marquee which was like the Mecca for all English bands. When you get there it’s like… I walked into the lobby and the first person I saw was Jeff Beck (ELO)! So we stayed there for a few days, did some interviews, went down to The Rainbow Bar and Grill. Jimmy Page is sitting at the next table it’s quite incredible, there’s all these women jumping all over us! The first gig we did was in Las Vegas at The Aladdin Theatre, opening for Priest. I think I was physically sick before the show, I thought “God this is America, I’ve always dreamed about playing here”. Then after that show we were joined on the tour by a band called Humble Pie. It was us opening the show for the first 30 minutes, Humble Pie and then Priest. Humble Pie were one of my all time favourite bands, Steve Marriott was an absolute hero of mine and there he was! We looked up to these guys and then Whitesnake came into the tour, Old Whitesnake, I should say the original Whitesnake with Bernie Marsden, Mickey Moody, Coverdale obviously and Ian Paice and Jon Lord. Deep Purple were like my religion when I was 15, so there I am on a flight sitting next to Ian Paice going to a gig and we’re talking about sound , songs and music, it was just incredible, really amazing.
Did you go over pretty well right off the bat in America?
We did, we did yeah. Talking about playing live, you know, I was watching…we have Steves’ sons band, The Raven Age, out (with us). These guys are so smooth and professional, they’ve got their in-ear monitor systems, their whole system working, they’re on stage and they’re all relaxed. When we played it was like a hurricane! Quite often we didn’t have sound checks, the sound wasn’t great, we didn’t have a lot of room, we were falling over, tangling leads, it was just chaos but it was exciting. We did go over well, Steve really attacked the audience, he just had such conviction with what he was doing, he’d be right at the front from the very first song and he’d just make people get into it. It was incredible to watch really when I think back on it.
You always heard too, about Iron Maiden coming to Canada and then Winnipeg and you guys were touring with Priest and then you’re going to tour with 38 Special out of nowhere. That must have been an interesting mix with a Southern Rock band?
Yeah amazing, so 38 Special and Rainbow, they were alternating headlining. So we’d open up and it’d be 38 and then Rainbow and the next night it would be us, Rainbow and 38. They were great guys, they were just happy go lucky, very happy to be doing it. You had Donny Van Zant singing in the band, who looked exactly like Ronnie (Lane from Small Faces) which was really weird……
Who looked exactly like Johnny……
…..In fact I called him Ronnie once and felt terrible, but he didn’t say anything! They were great and then Rainbow….Ritchie Blackmore….as I said Purple were my religion, but we hardly ever saw Ritchie off stage, a very moody character living up to his reputation. Some nights he’d come on stage and start Smoke on the water, play the intro and walk off, leaving the crowd absolutely going crazy, almost rioting, but that’s what he was like.
He never gave any advice, did you ever run into him at all?
Not really no, this is the thing I wish, I was so shy then, I was only a kid really, 23-24. I just wish I could do it now because I’d love to talk to Steve Marriott more in depth. I’d love to talk to Ritchie Blackmore, I’d probably have had more confidence in myself, gone right up to him and sat him down and picked his brains, but you can’t go back in time. I actually had a few chats with Steve Marriott but he was a very intimidating character, he walked it like he talked it. He was wild onstage and off stage, he was always in trouble (laughs) he was a real character. I thought this guy’s done everything and he’s been everywhere, but in reality, he was only probably in his early 30s when we toured, I thought he was an old guy, that’s how long ago it was!
It gets to you, you’re so green and such a rookie, now you could go to Ritchie Blackmore because he would know “Oh you’re Adrian (Smith) from Iron Maiden’ everyone knows Iron Maiden. At the time you’re just another opening band in a litany of probably a dozen opening bands on that tour.
Exactly, you keep your head down, especially me, I’m pretty laidback, well I was then. Just keep pushing on you know.
I think you told me a funny story about when you met Paul McCartney, is that true?
No, he was at an EMI thing in England, I didn’t actually meet him, some of the other guys met him. Dave Murray said he spoke to Paul McCartney and the first thing Paul said was “All my kids have got pictures of Iron Maiden all over their walls” Johnny Cash said the same thing!
(interrupts) “You’re the band with the monster” (impersonating Paul McCartney) oh and Johnny Cash said the same thing?
Oh yeah he might have said that as well (laughing) Johnny Cash turned up at a sound check of ours once, I mean how bizarre is that? We were sound checking at this club (and) all of a sudden this guy walks in, in the afternoon in the back of this club, long black gunfighter coat. I’m standing there playing Wrathchild or something and then I think to myself “Bloody Hell that’s Johnny Cash”. So we finish the sound check and go back to the dressing room and in comes Johnny Cash. Loveliest guy, really great energy and he was with his band and he said to me “My grandkids love you guys” His grandchildren were fans of the band so we gave him autographs and of course I got his autograph, that was really cool as well.
How could you not? Let’s talk about quickly here as we start winding down, it’s a famous moment in rock and roll history, of the Hear ‘n Aid project and Stars, the song that Dio did for charity back when it was all about Band Aid and Live Aid. The reason why I’m asking this is I just happened to watch it the other day and you and Dave were involved.
Oh dear (sighs)
Just tell us a little bit about that, cos you guys played this really killer little melody harmony behind the chorus
Yeah (sounds doubtful!)
Where everyone else was just whacking away. What was that like, that session and how did you decide to do something melodic rather than try and do a blistering solo?
(sighs) I think we were…I can’t remember exactly, Jimmy Bain (Dio and Rainbow) got in touch with us, cos Jimmy used to take a little bit of an interest in us and we kept in touch with him a bit. He’d show up at gigs in LA and lead us astray, as you used to do (chuckles). He asked Rod (Smallwood) if any of the guys would contribute, no one else wanted to do it so Dave and I, we said yeah. To be honest I was dreading it because I never really liked that whole LA shredder scene, it was kind of intimidating because I grew up playing Rock Blues really, it wasn’t my thing, shredding and all that. These guys, let’s face it, Vivian Campbell and all, all these guys shredding away there’s no…..trying to play faster than each other and it’s like “Oh God” (sighs). So, we went in there and I said to Dave “Look why don’t we just, erm, I’ve got this guitar line” so we put that over the chorus, luckily I can think of things like that on my feet. So that got me out of trouble. It was very much an LA recording scene, it was all …….. the control room was full of groupies, there were people smoking joints, snorting blow and all sorts of things, it was like err, very decadent! I couldn’t wait to get out of there to be honest. But it’s all in a good cause I suppose.
(chuckling) Couldn’t wait to get your thing done and go out in the control room?
No, we did our parts in the control room actually, amid all this debauchery! Although I must say Ronnie Dio was a lovely guy and he was producing the session. He was straight as a judge, let’s get that right. So he directed us and I said “I’ve got this part” and he said “Oh Cool” we just put it out and I think maybe he was just relieved it wasn’t a guy going to come in and start shredding for four hours…..
It’s too much
So we did our thing and got out of there (laughs)
Vivian (Campbell. Dio, Def Leppard etc ) told me when he got the gig with Ronnie he said “Everybody was just shredding away” and he came and shredded and Dio said “What else you got?” and he (Vivian) started playing Chuck Berry blues riffs, that’s when Dio said “ Now you’re on to something, let’s hear more of that” So you’re probably right about that.
Speaking of debauchery….do you remember the night we had after we went and saw Jekyll & Hyde in New York City?
Yeah, you know what, I remember it to a point Chris, but erm (CJ laughs) I remember being in a restaurant and then going to a club or something, but I don’t remember much after that mate! I think you might have paid the bill though
We went to see Sebastian Bach, when you were in New York doing press for, I think maybe Psycho Motel? One of your solo records….
Is that right, yeah
We went and saw Jekyll & Hyde, your wife and my wife and a couple of other friends. Then after we went to Sebastians (he was star of the show). Sebastian Bach had a bar that we went to afterwards.
Oh my God!
And we proceeded to just get completely you know, off our rockers, I think at one point……
I do remember this, sorry (for interrupting), I do remember Sebastian Bach was really good, he played Jekyll and Hyde, he was amazing.
He was yeah. We ended up pouring beer on each others heads ( Oh right) and shooting ketchup in each others faces. At one point I cornered you and told you every one of the songs you’d ever written in Iron Maiden ( Oh wow) and you were like “Yes I know what songs I’ve written” (Adrian laughs) and I was like “No”
You were just re-affirming it yeah, just to make sure!
(also laughing) Exactly! Last couple of questions for you Adrian, I know you’ve been on a long tour, but you do love fishing. Do you still get the chance to go fishing on your days off once in a while?
I do, and as a matter of fact I’m looking out of my window here in Minneapolis, NO sorry! St Paul, Minnesota, and they’ve got the Mississippi outside and I was over there yesterday. I’ll be up in Calgary in a few days and I’ll go down the Bow River like I did with your buddy Dave a few years ago.
That’s right, my cousin Chad and my friend Stewy took you fishing a couple of years ago.
That’s right yeah, so I’ll be doing that and yeah, music, fishing that’s my passions.
You see that’s the cool thing, you know how it is when you have days off, if you’re just sitting around doing nothing you’re just wasting a day and it’s the worst feeling in the World. So some guys like to go golfing, some guys like to go sight-seeing, but for you to have that fishing outlet, that’s probably helped you stay sane on the road.
Yeah it’s something to do, keeps you active, gets you out there, it’s actually quite good exercise, I do a lot of walking, gets you out in the fresh air, gets you out of the hotel.
Last couple of questions……What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?
Oh I was thinking about that today, it’s probably a sturgeon. I was in Vancouver at the time and I’d never even seen a sturgeon let alone caught one. So I went up to the Fraser River, got a guide, went out in this huge jet boat and we got into these sturgeon, these things are over 100lbs. ( Wow) I was fighting the sturgeon and my arms were literally hanging off, aching and I thought “I’m not going to be able to play the show tomorrow night” (laughs)
Is that one of those things where you have to strap yourself in and then slowly reel it in over the course of an hour or two?
Well, we hooked into this thing and the guy put one of those fighting harnesses on me, he didn’t quite strap me in but you stick your rod in the harness that’s strapped to you. Then he just sat down and started rolling a cigarette, like, “Don’t rush it’s going to take a while”. I don’t think they know what’s going on those things (the fish), they’re so big they just keep going and you have to follow them.
Cos that’s what they say, the Loch Ness monster could be a giant sturgeon because it’s so big and so slow.
Yeah you never know
Last question. What is your favourite song to play on this tour?
Probably ‘Greater good of God’ I’d say, I’m enjoying that one.
God I’m enjoying that tune. It’s always a pleasure to hang out and have a chat with you, I’m glad we were able to work this out.
Alright, pleasure Chris, nice to talk to you mate
Thanks man, I’ll see you in the next couple of weeks and have fun in the Peg man, Winnipeg, great rock and roll crowds.
The Peg, yeah will do. Alright mate.
Cheers Chris nice to talk to you
Thanks Adrian. Bye
Transcribed by Bridget S-B