Adrian Smith and Dave Murray live at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel,
New Jersey, July 11, 2010. Photo by Rod Snyder
One of Maiden’s trademarks is your harmonized
melodies. Since you started out as a
two-guitar band and later added Janick, how
do you arrange your two-part harmonies?
Well, you can do three-part harmonies.
Yeah, none of us ever stops playing—
even if the other guitarists are playing a
harmony. It could be rhythm guitar behind the
harmony, or a unison part.
If it’s a harmonized line, would you do a
unison on the upper melody note or the
lower harmony note?
Boy, you’re asking some technical questions!
It’s hard to answer that exactly, because
when we learn and do a song in the studio, usually
after we’re done, we just move on to something
else and forget about it. There’s really no
set way, it’s more of whatever works. There’s no
formula. In fact, we try to step outside of formulas.
Sometimes, if one of us has parts worked
out already on a demo, we’ll just show the parts
to the other guys. That way we can get it close
to the way we had it on the demo. Or, sometimes
we’ll make up a part on the spot.
Whoever brings the song in usually plays
the main solo, and whoever figures out the best
part to go with the solo will play that part.
Sometimes, if we’re playing the same
thing, I might play a note, say, on the 3rd string
and Adrian would play the same note on the 4th
string, which thickens the sound out. I mean, if
we really want to sort it out, I’ll say, “I’ll play in
unison with you, but on a different string.” If you
listen to those old albums, there are more than
one or two guitars on it. On Tattooed Millionaire
[Brduce Dickinson’s first solo album, released
in 1990], I recorded eight guitars playing one
chord, but at different levels—high, low, a chord
in between, etc. If you mix them all together,
it sounds like one big chord, but it isn’t. It’s all
about making the guitars sound bigger, like a
wall of sound. These are little tricks of the game.
What acoustic guitar did you use in the intro
to “The Talisman?”
I did all the tracks for that. It was a Taylor,
which was very lovely sounding. There were
probably three or four acoustics mixed in on
“The Talisman.” Some had different tunings.
When we play it live, it’s just me on the acoustic,
however. I have to play one of the parts, and you
have to imagine the other. In these cases, I have
to decide which of the parts to play, and which
harmony parts to leave to your imagination.
Janick Gers summons a “wall of sound” live at the PNC Bank Arts Center in
Holmdel, New Jersey, July 11, 2010.
Photo by Rod Snyder
How do you keep Maiden fresh, yet still distinctly
identifiable, after more than 30 years?
Whatever that magic ingredient is, we
don’t know—it just comes out of the air. We
don’t tour as much anymore, and we record
an album every couple of years. It’s just about
doing something that you really love doing. For
example, after Rock in Rio
, we took a couple of
years off. When you’re off, it’s good to just step
away from the band stuff so that when you come
back, it’s totally fresh. I would jam here and there.
I jammed with Alice Cooper and Mick Fleetwood
at a charity function, and that was a lot of fun.
We look at each other and feel each
other, because to me, bands are all about chemistry.
It’s not about the individual players. You
can get the best players in the world and still
have a shitty band if the chemistry isn’t there.