ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 9, 1982
By Steve Newton
Iron Maiden is quickly becoming one of Britain’s most popular metal bands. Last year the band sold well over a million albums with their second release, Killers, cracking the top ten in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and Belgium.
Their latest album, The Number of the Beast, was released in March of this year and was the number one record on the British charts for two weeks. The album had originally been scheduled for an earlier release, but had to be delayed because of mysterious malfunctions of equipment in the studio and the unusual difficulties the band had in laying down the title track. It seems that, as soon as the band began recording it, equipment which had proved totally reliable on an eight-month world tour started to misbehave. Bassist Steve Harris’ amplifier stack blew up and guitarist Dave Murray’s kept cutting out at irregular intervals. Then, as producer Martin Birch finally got ready to mix the song, he was involved in a car crash on his way home from the studio. When the bill for repairs arrived a few days later, the fee was 666 pounds.
Not a particularly good omen.
As well as Harris and Murray, Iron Maiden is made up of guitarist Adrian Smith, singer Bruce Dickinson, and drummer Clive Burr. The group will be playing at the Pacific Coliseum on July 22, along with German rockers Scorpions. I talked to Burr from Toronto recently about his band, their influences, and the current state of heavy metal.
Your current world tour has you playing in France, Spain, and Switzerland, among other countries. Is heavy metal popular in those places?
Oh extremely. It really is.
Has it always been, or is it more a new thing?
Well, I think in Spain and places like that it’s a sort of new thing, but in places like Germany and France it’s always been very popular.
You guys are going to play Yugoslavia in October. I didn’t know they were into heavy metal over there.
Yeah, we did a festival out there last year, and we played to–believe it or not–to about 30,000 people. It was really weird. I mean the P/A was like pre-war, and all the bands had to use the same kit. It was very ancient equipment, but the fans were outrageous–they were really into it. Headbangers.
What’s your stage show like?
Our new stage show is really good. You know, we’ve got all the effects and things. I can’t say too much, but be prepared to be shocked.
Britain seems to be the heavy metal country of the world. A lot of heavy bands have come out of Britain and made names for themselves. Is there something about the country itself that makes Britain such a great exporter of heavy rock?
That’s a difficult one to explain. I just suppose it’s two different styles of music. In Britain we’ve got a different way of making it in the business–we use other media more than we do radio. Whereas in the States it’s all done by radio, basically. Once you get the radio play then people start buying the record.
So perhaps we start off with a different attitude. When we’re first getting into it, we don’t need to make anything so they’ll play it on the radio. We’re just given the freedom to style things the way we want. From the very outset, when you’re just starting to play your instruments, you’re not thinking all the time about hit singles which will get you radio play. You’re just thinking about writing songs.
Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are both blazingly fast guitar players. Who were their main influences or guitar heroes. Do you know?
Yes. Dave’s were Jimi Hendrix and Blackmore. And Adrian’s were Blackmore and Gary Moore.
Your new album, The Number of the Beast, was produced and engineered by Martin Birch, who’s noted for his work with Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath. What was it like working with him and what effect did you using him have on the album’s msuic?
Well, it was the second year we actually used him. We had him last year to record Killers, so having already made friends with him we were looking forward to seeing him on this new album. He’s more a psychologist really, than just a producer. He really psyched us up well, without us knowing it.
When you go in and record, especially when you’re doing high energy stuff like we do, you’re very conscious of the fact that you’ve got to get that energy going. But it’s very difficult without an audience, and you don’t want to create a forced energy, because if it doesn’t flow freely from you, it sounds false on the recording. You can tell. But Martin really psyched us all up and it came out really well.
On your new album jacket it says that the record was recorded “on Ruddles with a little help from Remy and Carlsberg.” What’s Ruddles?
Ruddles is the beer that we’re all into. It’s the traditional ale of England. It’s brewed in the woods without chemicals and things. And you only need about two or three pints and then you’re gone.
Is Iron Maiden a heavy drinking and partying group?
You could say that, yes. It’s sort of an understatement.
Your album covers are all sort of shocking, mainly because of your evil-looking “mascot” Eddie. The new album is especially catchy–it’s got the devil there and Eddie standing over him.
A lot of people have asked “Is this a concept album?” or “Was this preconceived about all the devil worship?”. But we aren’t into all that, and it wasn’t a preconceived idea, because that cover was in fact a single cover that we brought out a year ago. We had a single called “Purgatory”, and Derek Riggs, our artist, designed that cover. We thought it was so good that we saved it for a whole year for the new album cover.
Which other artists do the band members listen to in their sare time?
Dave is into Purple and Hendrix, and Adrian likes listening to that sort of music as well. Bruce is a Rainbow man, and Steve is into UFO, Judas Priest, and Todd Rundgren. My favourite is Frank Zappa. He’s God as far as I’m concerned.
To hear the full audio of my interviews with Iron Maiden members Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, and Steve Harris subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on over 275 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:
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
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
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
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
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
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
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
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
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
…with hundreds more to come