Sourse: Hard Rock Magazine (France) – 21 Interviewed by Nelly Saupiquet
At the end of the massive world tour, Iron Maiden were only waiting for Live After Death to be released to take a breather and enjoy a 6-month "big sleep"... And even now, as their break is definitely over, the adventure carries on from town to town, from Nassau to Paris, and from Paris to Amsterdam, for it is time for act seven to begin...
With the gruelling schedule that rule bands' lives from New Year's Day to New Year's Eve, a break is bound to occur one day. Glory has its drawbacks... Despite the band's name, reprensenting power and resistance, Iron Maiden have experienced it like any other other band. Since the beginnings, the band has been taken in a whilwind of records and tours, with everything happing probably too fast. The World Slavery Tour wore the Maiden out and she collapsed for about six months, making the musicians happy and re-acquainted with the meaning of the word "holydays", a meaning that had somehow been lost during the past four years. During six months, they enjoyed a diffirent kind of good times, full of "maidenettes", friendly jams, smoky pubs, old friends, and morning lie-ins. But all things end one day and the Iron Maiden wasn't going to rust after these 6 months of inactivity.
No, and that's a good thing for us. So here is a crop of good news from the boys.
The Iron Maiden is back together again. The seventh battle is underway and all the preparations have been made. Everyone is ready once again for victory, may it be Gold, or even Platinum...
With a thunderous roar, the shadow of the Maiden has risen again, stronger and more powerful than ever. Armed with decibels sharper than Freddy Krueger's claws, the band is now ready to tear our eardrums out and make us shiver with pleasure.
In this modern world of unlimited communication, it is quite obvious that Paris and Nassau (Bahamas) are only one step away from each other. From the Bahamas to Amsterdam, the place were diamonds are carved, the step is the same. Hard Rock Magazine took that step with you and brings you the most faithful servant of the Iron Maiden: Mr. Bruce Dickinson himself!
So, what have you done in the few months following the release of Live After Death?
Something we'd all been dreaming of and whose meaning had been almost forgotten in almost four years: we took a break. We took a well-deserved six-month break. We needed time to recuperate after the tour. We'll never tour again so intensively!
When you're "on holiday", do you sometimes jam in small clubs, using false names?
Yes, we do it at times, but rarely using a false name. For fun, and to make their mates from Hackney happy, Adrian and Nicko started a little band and played once or twice at the Marquee. I saw them play, they're really good.
Adrian and Dave sometimes play with their old mates from Urchin, and I sometimes jam with old acquaintances, but none of it is really serious. By the way, only Steve never does anything! I think he's busy enough with his daughter and his wife...
You recently were awarded in New York a Gold Record for the sales of Live After Death in the UK. Honestly, how many such awards have you received so far?
I don't know the exact figure, but counting Platinum, Gold and Silver records, I think we have over 60 of them.
Iron Maiden Ltd: A Good Organisation
You're already working since January on the new album. Isn't that a bit soon? Are there times when you feel that you have to make concessions to your record company or to your management?
No, not at all. The band have always been free to express themselves right from the beginning. We chose and decide without any constraint. And this is valid for everything that's related to Iron Maiden: from the choice of the opening band to that of the date we start recording, and it also includes the merchandising, the covers, the tour dates, etc. We finance every album ourselves and we bring the finished product to EMI who then take over, while keeping us in the loop. This way, there's no oppressing control of the record company.
Can you go through the different steps you've taken to make the new album?
Unlike what we usually do, we didn't write anything while on the road, and we've had a 6-month break. For the previous albums, at least one of us was writing stuff while on tour but, as we never took any holiday, we'd arrive in the studio in a state of excitement, with the right number of songs for the release of a record. This time, however, there's been some innovation! When we got together in Jersey at the beginning of January, we were all slumped! Absolutely everyone had written songs, and I don't mean only the music, but the lyrics too. Let's see... I had at least nine songs, so had Adrian, but Steve was the worst: he had written so many songs that he could have filled up the album by himself! After much choosing and clearing up, we have now only nine left, but they're absolutely superb... Here, in the Bahamas, we have already recorded all the backing tracks. We might record some more, but it depends on how much time we've got... We'll be ready by Easter, then we'll go to Holland to record the guitars, the vocals, and to mix. Everything should be finished by May... At one point, we talked about finishing the album in New York, but we decided to "re-europeanise" ourselves a bit.
Out of the question to get back to work!
What are exactly the motives that pushed you not to finish this album in the Bahamas, like you used to do, and why did you choose Holland and not England, or any other European country?
Adrian, Dave and myself weren't too hot to go back to the Bahamas. We already recorded two albums there, and we didn't like the idea of going back there. It's difficult to explain... It was like "going back to work" after a holiday, a kind of routine. And here, in the Bahamas, life is too laid-back, you're more inclined to nap in a deck-chair than to go and play your guitar. It reminds me of those Westerns where you see sleepy gringos with a large hat when the sun's a bit too strong. Here, it's the same. We would have found the same atmosphere, the same climate, the same feeling, the same sound... I wanted to break this routine, break the circle. Steve and Nicko, on the other hand, were really happy to come back here, because they get a great bass and drum sound. So we finally agreed on the following compromise: the bass and the drums would be recorded here, and all the rest in Hollande. We couldn't record in the UK for tax reasons, and even if we could have done it, we wouldn't have wanted to because of the closeness of our friends and to be in a known environment would have prevented us from focussing on the work at hand. At first, we wanted to go to the Music Land Studios in Munich, where Queen record, but it wasn't possible, so Martin thought of these studios in Amsterdam, which he'd heard were very good.
So you've given once again the production to Martin Birch... Why do you always work with him? Wouldn't trying out another producer be beneficial to the band, like the change of studio?
I don't think the others would want to work with someone else than Martin. Why look elsewhere for something that we already have and that suits us perfectly? The way he works with us and his production fit perfectly to what Iron Maiden expect from a producer. Martin has been with us for a lonf time now, and he knows us like the back of his hand, he understands our music, our lyrics, and he knows how to make them sound good. I don't think that Mutt Lange, for instance, could get along with us as well as Martin does.
A well wrapped-up album
Have you tried new experiments with this seventh LP?
In a way, we did. This album is very different from the others, it's the best one since The Number Of The Beast, but I don't mean that we used drum machines or synthesisers, not at all, and we're not going to do it. There's a lot of feeling, a lot of space, on this album. It's not either going flat-out, we really worked a lot on this album. There are a lot of melodies, guitars, vocals and choruses. The vocals are sometimes very bluesy, and I'm proud of that. Wasn't I a Blues singer in the past?
There is also some singing in a very "operatic" style. It's this diversity that I like so much in this album, you'll see, no-one will be disappointed...
What were your influences, both musically and lyrically? Films, books or personal experiences?
I suppose that everything around us has an influence, but I think that books or films are pretty much determinant. This time, each of us wrote the lyrics to his music. Steve has written great songs, with really beautiful choruses, beautiful melodies. You know, he was so scared that it would sound "mainstream" that, when he played the tapes to us, we were all in stitches... It was almost Speed Metal! Adrian writes song on a much more medium tempo. His lyrics are pretty much... say... traditional, mixed with a Bad Company kind of style, very open, but also based on personal experiences and feelings. There's a song that deal with the way you feel when you reach the top with your band. It's the best time of your life, you have to enjoy it, to live intensely every moment of it. There's another one about violence in the large cities, and the fear it generates. Steve has written more "Maiden-tradition" songs. His songs are about a Greek warrior, about a man who sells his soul to the devil. Oh yes, there's also one about the thoughts of a dying man who sees his soul leave his body, but who simply refuses death...
Apparently, the tilte of the album and the songs are still "top secret"...
Yes. The album shouldn't be released before September, because of the Summer, and it's a bit too early to reveal all. To tell you the truth, we don't even know ourselves what the album will be called, or what the stage design will be for the tour...
Since The Number Of The Beast, we are used to hear a very long epic on each LP. Is there going to be one on this album too?
No, there won't be one this time. All the songs have more or less the same duration – 4 to 5 minutes. But there is a great instrumental written by Steve.
Does Steve always write songs on his bass?
Yes, only on his bass.
Do the others use a piano, or any other instrument that isn't theirs?
No, we all use the instrument with which we usually play. I personally use an acoustic guitar, which isn't always the best. All the songs I'd written sounded very much like Spanish folk music, and I didn't even realise. I remember, in Jersey, playing my serenades to Steve. Everybody was in stitches! So there's only one song from me, four from Steve, three from Adrian, and one from Dave.
He's got an absolutely great sound, he's never played so well than on this album. The drumming is really incredible. He still uses only one bass drum and he can make everyone believe that he's got two! He's a really fast drummer.
I've seen the light!
The breaks and changes of tempo are an essential characteristic of Iron Maiden. I suppose that you're used to putting together parts that were originally destined to different songs to make only one song, right?
Yes, we do that very often, but it mostly comes from Steve. He really likes these breaks. I'd say that he loves them so much that he unconsciously writes songs according to that. He thinks in breaks, it's natural for him. For example, with this instrumental, he drove us all up the wall! Even me, and I had nothing to do on it!
When I saw all the different parts, with all the guitar work... we really wanted to send him to the funny farm!
This complexity, also in the lyrics, makes the band special. Do you think that your fans in the UK, and here in France, really understand you?
I know that it's hard to understand everything, but I think that Iron Maiden leaves enough room to your imagination so you can make out whatever you like.
Is it your decision to always print the lyrics on the covers? Will it also be the case with the new LP?
Of course. It's the band's idea. We know that the "foreigners" sometimes find it hard to understand our lyrics, so we think that it's very important to print them on the sleeves.
Is it going to be done once again by Derek Riggs, and will Eddie The 'Ead appear on it?
Oh yes! You can count on it! I don't know yet what shape or form he'll appear, but I trust Derek to use his talent in the best of ways.
The Iron Maiden will get you, wherever you are
Let's talk about the upcoming tour. Do you intend to go back to Eastern Europe, or do you want to explore new places, like Judas Priest and Motorhead seem to be doing?
We're open to all offers and we like to go on an adventure. Even if this tour won't be as long as the previous one, we still hope to return to Eastern Europe and South America. We've got fans absolutely everywhere, and we need to please them all wherever they are.
It's becoming like a charity! Does it give you a good conscience to tour under-developped countries? What do you think of Hear'n Aid?
The only reproach I'd have concerning this charity is that it seems to be a bit too late. But it's for a good cause, so it would be difficult, or even unconceivable to slag it off...
Back to the tour. In France, you'll be touring the whole country and a gig is planned in Paris/Bercy on 29th November...
I don't know all the exact dates yet, but this seems to be right. We'll tour Europe from September to December, then we'll go to Canada, the US and Japan until April.
I think that WASP is opening for the whole European leg of the tour. Is this due to the fact that your manager, Rod Smallwood, also manages this band?
No, not at all. We wanted a really strong band to open for us, a band that could be some kind of a challenge. WASP was the perfect band for this job, as they are not known well enough in Europe to headline. However, I don't know who will open for us in the States.
In the US, Iron Maiden still hasn't reached the status of Kiss or Scorpions, although you toured pretty extensively over there last year. Is 1986 going to be the year Maiden really break through in the States?
You're right when you say that Iron Maiden stormed the giant that the US are. We really hope, like many other bands, that we'll make it big over there. But we don't rely on airplay or singles to do that!
If you "make it big", as you say, maybe you'll soon be able to take a few years' break like the Stones or Def Leppard?
Well... that's a great idea. We'll think about it...