Dave Murray (photo by Ken Settle)
Adrian Smith (photo by Rod Snyder)
Janick Gers (photo by Rod Snyder)
Click here to see a photo gallery of Iron Maiden's 2010 touring gear.
Disney teen queen Miley Cyrus garnered a ton of press last year
by sporting Iron Maiden T-shirts in various well-timed photo ops.
When some of the more protective acolytes of the pioneering
metal band from east London began saying she was a “poser,” she
attempted to prove her authentic-fan status by uploading a video of herself
naming Maiden songs to the web. None of us is losing any sleep over
whether Cyrus’ shirts sporting the band’s famous “Eddie the Head” mascot
were the fashion accessory of the week or signs of true fandom (we can
only hope the latter), but it’s probably fair to say that, long after her 15
minutes are up, Maiden will continue adding to their chapter in the history
books as they have done for decades. Celebrity is one thing. Longevity is
something else entirely.
In their 35-plus years as perhaps the greatest metal band of all time, Iron
Maiden has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. They led the
New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the late 1970s and early
1980s, and they forever changed the sound of heavy metal. Directly
or indirectly, Maiden’s influence permeates the sound of countless
bands from yesteryear and today—including hot-shot young bands like
Avenged Sevenfold, Dragonforce, and Trivium. In fact, it’s fair to say that
classic Maiden albums like The Number of the Beast
, Piece of Mind
are essential listening for any true headbanger.
Like their iconic, zombified mascot, Maiden shows no signs of faltering—
even in the midst of an economic crisis and the changing face of
the music industry. The band’s latest release and 15th studio album, The
, debuted at #1 in 28 countries and at #4 on the Billboard
200 chart in the US, making it their highest-charting US release ever. The
album—which is also the band’s longest to date at 76 minutes and 34
seconds—features the expected epic compositions imbued with some
unusually challenging prog-inflected escapades.
recently caught up with Maiden guitarists Dave Murray,
Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers to get the inside scoop on The Final
Frontier. About an hour before doors opened at their sold-out show at
PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, we sat down for the interview
at a hotel 40 miles away in midtown Manhattan. The band was pretty
wrapped up in the final game of the World Cup, but Murray, Smith, and
Gers soon got around to amiably discussing the new album and divulging
secrets of the Maiden sound before making the trek back to the venue.
What was the songwriting process for
It was pretty much the same as
always. Everyone would bring in ideas, which
eventually went to Steve, who is like the
nucleus of the band. He’d take the parts and
get the songs into shape. He also wrote a lot
of the lyrics on this album.
Because Steve’s a bass player, he thinks
a little bit differently. He gets you to play things
you normally wouldn’t play and sometimes it
can be a bit uncomfortable. “El Dorado” was
Steve’s song, and he had everything written
down to the last detail from start to finish. With
Steve’s stuff, you have to play it exactly the way
he hears it and that can be very rigorous. Janick
volunteered to do the parts. Steve showed him
what to play, and it took Janick a lot of work to
do it the way Steve wanted him to.
That’s how it used to be in the old days when
Steve would write a lot of songs. We’d sit
down and go through it the way Steve wanted
it, even so far as the picking accents, using
downstrokes or upstrokes.
There’s no set way of doing it, and that
keeps it fresh. I think if you get into the rut
of doing it the same way every time, you lose
the spontaneity. You never quite know what’s
going to work and what isn’t. I’ve brought in
stuff that I thought was amazing and it didn’t
get on the album.