Iron Maiden plays Vancouver on the Powerslave tour, Dave Murray talks to the Newt

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By Steve Newton

On December 9, 1984, Iron Maiden played the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver–with Twisted Sister opening up! Not only that, but the Georgia Straight newspaper put my interview with the British metal legends on the front page, featuring a totally rockin’ live photo by famed Vancouver photographer Bev Davies.

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I hadn’t been so proud of my non-award-winning accomplishments in journalism since scoring the prestigious Ozzy cover back in June of ’82!

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Maiden was touring behind its Powerslave album—the one with “Two Minutes to Midnight” and “Aces High”—so you know that can’t be bad.

In advance of the show I interviewed guitarist Dave Murray on the phone from Toronto, and this is what went down. 

How’s the tour been going so far?

Well, we just finished a European tour with Motley Crue, and that went very well actually. They’re a good bunch of lads and all, so we had a jolly good time there.

What was it like playing behind the Iron Curtain earlier on this year?

Well that was a great experience. We did ten shows there, all together, and the reaction from the kids was superb. It’s so rare that you get bands going over there.

I saw on the TV news a couple of months back that you really caused a stir in Poland. Why do you suppose they go so wild for heavy metal over there?

Well for one thing you can’t buy records over there much, which is a drag. You have to get people to send you albums. They’re pretty much suppressed when it comes to music, so when they do get a concert it’s incredible. They were saying that it’s probably the first—and maybe the last—rock concert they’ll ever see. So it was really emotional in a way.

I understand the guards were even throwing their jackets around and going wild.

That’s right, yeah. Because there was a riot squad, they had strict security, and by the end of the show they were doing that—jumping up and down. We’ve got quite a collection of police hats at the moment, you know, which we’re gonna auction off at the next gig.

Was it difficult to get clearance to play there?

Well I’m not sure exactly how we got over there really—it was done through our agency, you know. We just got our visas and everything. Actually, they gave us a great welcome when we got there. There were all these soldiers at the airport, because quite a few fans turned up. And a TV station turned up. It was great.

Are you going back?

Well you never know. We might go back in 1986. But we filmed everything for a documentary when we were over there. It went out on MTV about a month ago. So hopefully we might have opened the doors now for more bands.

You’ve also played places like Japan and Australia.

Yeah, we’ve been to Japan twice and Australia once.

How do the metal audiences differ from, say, Japan to Australia?

Well in Japan the audience is like 95 percent female. And they’re very polite. They come to the concert, and they’re not allowed to get up in their seats, so they all sit down. I mean it’s all girls, right, and they just…you know, it’s great! And in Australia there’s the hardcore heavy metal fans, who are pretty much the same all over the world. They’ve got their own fashion—they all dress the same with denim jackets and patches.

“Two Minutes to Midnight” is my favourite song on the new album, but its images are pretty grisly. Do you get much flack for making music that deals with death and destruction?

No, we’ve probably only written a couple of songs about that. Bruce wrote the lyrics to that, and apparently it’s about the doomsday clock—when it strikes midnight it’s like the end of the world. It’s probably something that he feels strongly about, you know, and it’s good that he can express it through writing the lyrics.

How did you come to do a song based on “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”?

Well Steve has always been interested in English literature and all that. It’s a Coleridge poem, and it’s about a hundred pages long, so Steve sat down and read it and interpreted it in his own way. He actually wrote the song when we were recording the album in the Bahamas. I remember when he first came out with the lyrics—there were pages and pages of them. And it’s good because we don’t really stick by the mainstream and just write three-minute songs. From each album we’ve had a song which is maybe eight or nine minutes—like on Piece of Mind it was “To Tame the Land”. We like to make big songs, like a short story really, and try to make them as interesting as possible.

The instrumental on Powerslave, “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)”, sounds pretty complicated. Was it a hard one to play?

Not really. Steve came up with that song, and it worked out really well actually. I think probably the hardest song to record on the album was “The Mariner”, because it was the only one actually written in the studio. Steve and Nicko put the bass and drums down, then me and Adrian would come in with the guitars–we were actually in there learning it as it was comin’ along. But it was great fun because it kept us on our toes.

What’s your Egyptian stage like?

Well I haven’t seen this one actually, ’cause we’ve got two stage sets—one for Europe and one for America because the stage is a lot bigger over here. So we’ve built up on it, brought over more lights and more P.A. But the whole stage set, from out front, gives you the impression of looking into a tomb. We’ve got like the jackals there, and there’s a hieroglyph and mummies and stuff like that. And the actual backdrop is like three-dimensional, the way you can look at it.

Does Eddy [the band’s horrendous mascot] make an appearance on stage this time around?

Yeah he does actually [chuckles], in more ways than one. ‘Cause we killed him off on the last tour, you know, and we brought him back to life again. He’s sort of back as a mummy.

In your Capital Records bio it says that you’ve got something like 120,000 watts of P.A. Do you really need that much?

Well we won’t be using it at full volume, it’s just that with that amount of equipment we can actually get a better sound, so everything’s gonna be clear. We try and get the effect of having like a huge stereo. But it won’t be earbending, you know.

Who do you like listening to in your spare time?

Well I listen to a lot of stuff like Purple and that. And Jethro Tull, Genesis.

Have there been any new artists that have blown you away lately?

Umm…well I like Stevie Ray Vaughan actually. I love his guitar playing. And we went to see a band called Queensyrche; I thought they were really good. I think they’re one of the better bands to come out.

Was it a high point in your career to get on the cover of Guitar Player magazine?

Oh yeah, that was amazing. ‘Cause like years ago, when we were starting off, I used to go out and buy Guitar Player and all these magazines. And I never dreamed that we’d actually be in it, least of all on the front. So it’s a lovely compliment to us. It’s nice.

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To hear the full audio of my 1984 interview with Dave Murray–and my ’80s interviews with Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris as well–subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on 300 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana of the Pleasure Barons, 1993
Sue Foley, 1992
Tom Keifer of Cinderella, 1991
Terry Adams of NRBQ, 1997
Mark Hollis of Talk Talk, 1984
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 2010
Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Slash’s Snakepit, 1995
Peter Goalby of Uriah Heep, 1983
Lenny Zakatek of the Alan Parsons Project, 1983
Marc Storace of Krokus, 1983
Chris Whitley, 1991
Buddy Cage of New Riders of the Purple Sage, 2006
Bill Elm of Friends of Dean Martinez, 1995
Simon Townshend, 1983
John Bush of Anthrax, 1993
Aldo Nova, 1983
Steven Adler from Guns N’ Roses, 2011
Mick Ronson, 1989
Tom Morello, 2011
Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, 1993
Colin Hay of Men at Work, 1983
Mark Kelly of Marillion, 1986
Luther Allison, 1995
Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats, 2007
J. Geils from the J. Geils Band, 2006
Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, 1997
Jason Newsted of Newsted (and Metallica), 2013
Marshall Crenshaw, 2013
Dan Hartman, 1984
Sean Costello, 2006
Roger Hodgson from Supertramp, 1998
Tommy Stinson from the Replacements, 1993
Brian Blush of the Refreshments, 1997
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, 2003
Craig Northey of Strippers Union, 2021
Melissa Etheridge, 1990
Joe Jackson, 2003
Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity, 2001
David Ellefson of Megadeth, 1992
David Lee Roth, 2003
Grant Walmsley of the Screaming Jets, 1991
John Popper of Blues Traveler, 1991
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 2012
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1993
Ellen McIlwaine, 2001
Derek Trucks of Tedeschi Trucks, 2012
J.D. Fortune of INXS, 2006
Fernando von Arb of Krokus, 1984
Gary Holt of Exodus, 1985
Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
Scott Ian of Anthrax, 2012
Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, 1992
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, 1985
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 2003
Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions, 1992
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, 2001
Jeff Keith of Tesla, 1988
Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton of Arc Angels, 1992
Marc Bonilla, 1992
Mike Smith of Sandbox (and Trailer Park Boys), 1996
Dewey Bunnell of America, 1983
Robert Randolph of the Family Band, 2003
Keith Strickland of the B-52s, 2008
David Johansen of the New York Dolls, 2005
Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, 2003
Todd Kerns, 2016
Bill Payne of Little Feat, 2002
Robbin Crosby of Ratt, 1989
Tommy Shannon of SRV & Double Trouble, 1998
Alejandro Escovedo, 1997
Billy Duffy of the Cult, 1989
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

…with hundreds more to come

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