Interviewed by Kevin Thompson for Artist Magazine
Bruce, you joined Iron Maiden in September of '81, just after the Killers tour...
Bruce: Yes, it was after Paul Di'Anno had left the band. The rest of the band members had welcomed me by locking me in a rehearsal studio so I could learn the set, and then we were off to Italy in October for my first live work with Iron Maiden.
What was the first band you were in?
Bruce: My first excuse for a band was while I was at school. I had a pair of bongos. We did "Smoke on the Water," and I used to beat the crap out of those bongos because we didn't have a drum kit. The band realized that the singer couldn't sing, so I got the job (mainly to stop the noise of the bongos)! We played in each other's bedrooms, annoying our mums and dads.
How did you come about joining Samson?
Bruce: I saw an ad in a local paper wanting a singer for recording. Together, we put down a song called "Dracula" and called the band Shots. I was then working as the social secretary at the college, and Manfred Mann's Earth Band was going to play, so I put Shots down to play, and that's when the guys from Samson heard me sing.
Which do you prefer, touring or recording?
Dave: I enjoy both, but touring is more fun, and I get off better when I'm playing to a live audience.
I hear that one of your guitars belonged to Paul Kossof. How did you come about owning it?
Dave: I bought it from an ad in the papers. [Other than that, I have] three Fender Stratocasters and an Ibanez Destroyer I picked up on tour.
Which is your favorite guitar?
Adrian: My Les Paul.
And your favorite Maiden song?
Steve: "Phantom of the Opera" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue".
What about non-Maiden tracks?
Steve: "Love to Love" by UFO.
What's the venue you like playing the most?
Steve: Any industrial area in Britain.
It seems that the band doesn't have so much a "sound" – an "Iron Maiden sound" – but rather a style which has developed as each member has become more comfortable with his role. On the new album, Piece of Mind, there seems to be more emphasis from each individual member.
Steve: Well, on the Killers album, Adrian was very new and it really wasn't until he'd been with the band about a year-and-a-half that he really felt he was a full member. He always had been, but he never really seemed to accept that it was happening. [Perhaps] because he went from a local band in the East End to Iron Maiden, which, even at the time, was quite a big act. It took him quite a while to settle in, and it also took both he and Dave a long time to get the right guitar sounds. Even on the last tour, which was the second world tour, they were still changing equipment at various intervals to get the sound they were looking for... because they're both perfectionists when it comes to sound. Then, Bruce came in and he really did fine things for the band too. As the tour progressed last year, we just gelled more and more as a band. And I think on this album, because Bruce has been with the band awhile and also was very involved with the writing, he's more relaxed. So the vocal performance is tremendous. He's so quick in the studio because his ear for pitch is so good; he just gets up there and bang, it retains a great live feel. The other really big difference is the new drummer, Nicko, because his drumming is some of the best rock drumming there is. His feel is magic. Nicko toured with us when he played with the French band Trust in 1981 and '82. So he's been on the road with us. Trust and Iron Maiden have always been big friends anyway, and personality-wise there was no problem. He was actually born about a mile and a half from me, and he's just a couple of years older than I am. His drumming, I think, has given us a different dimension. It's tougher, and his timing is perfect. He's a total rock drummer; he's got a great feel and he hits it real hard. So the whole thing's grow up. Every album's improved both in term of production and musicianship. I think now it's really becoming what Iron Maiden is all about, and we expect it's going to develop even more from here.
What influence has producer Martin Birch had on Maiden?
Steve: The reason we use Martin is that he puts down the sound that we want, the way we like it. And we think the first three albums were really leading up to this one in terms of quality. In general, bands are being given producers that make the music for them and, in some cases, even co-write it. With Martin, that's not the case at all and never has been. What Martin has always added with us is his expertise in the studio and his great ability at recording our sounds. We've only just come to this point in our drum and guitar sounds, which are exceptional now; it's just a team growing up together. Martin's also become aware, obviously, with the experience of working with us, of the way we want to proceed. The suggestions going both ways are very fluid, so Martin's very much a part of the band in the studio.
With the World Piece tour underway, what's left on the itinerary?
Adrian: After the US, we end up in Canada on October 16, then we go to France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria and Yugoslavia. We're quite willing to keep coming over and touring because it's the touring that we enjoy most. You can't play 180 concerts a year all around the world unless you really enjoy the gigging and the travel.
This interview is taken from The Iron Maiden Commentary