IRON MAIDEN Guitarist: 'You Just Never Know When Your Last Gig's Gonna Be'

Phil Freeman of MSN's metal music section Headbang recently conducted an interview with IRON MAIDEN guitarist Janick Gers. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Headbang: The band's been doing these themed tours recently — playing the first four albums, then the next four, and now the four most recent albums. Now that you're completely caught up, what's the next move?

Gers: Well, the next move is, we've got a new album out. So the minute we go out on tour, it'll be based on the new album. It won't be the full album like we did with "A Matter of Life and Death", because that was just a point in time where we felt we needed to do that. I think to do that was a great move. Because we went out and kind of put our feet down and said, this is where we are now. And we played a set that sold out nearly everywhere in the world. That album went gold in about fifteen different countries. Which for a band like us, we're an underground band, we don't get radio play, we don't get TV, we don't get a lot of media, we get a bit of media, so we kind of rely on our live show. We go out and play good gigs; we're a good live band. So we went out and played our new album in its entirety, and sure, a lot of kids wanted to hear "The Trooper", wanted to hear this, wanted to hear that, well, you know what? You can't, you're gonna have to come next time. What we're playing now is "A Matter of Life and Death", and that's the way it has to be. Otherwise you turn into one of these cabaret bands that go around every year playing their favorite album. And that's not what we're about.

Headbang: Some people have been worried about this being it for the band, with the title "The Final Frontier", and the lyrics to that song, with Bruce [Dickinson] singing about how he's accomplished everything he ever wanted to… what's the deal? This isn't the band's last hurrah or anything, is it?

Gers: Well, I don't know. I hope not. I'm enjoying it, I think everybody else is enjoying it, and I wouldn't like to think this is the end, but you never know. You just never know when your last gig's gonna be. It's like a heavyweight boxer, he's at the peak of his game and he goes out and he gets knocked out. You believe you can go on forever. I believe we're a really good band, and as long as it's fun, and as long as we're cutting it, and as long as we're valid, I wanna go out and play. But I don't wanna end up doing a cabaret set with a load of other bands playing the greatest hits album all the time. That's part of it, having the hunger for what we do, and I think everybody in the band does. And as long as we're cutting it, and bringing great songs in, trying to go down different paths and further ourselves musically, then I think we carry on.

Headbang: It's funny; people talk about the concert business being in trouble, but you guys sell out almost every show. Why do you think the band is such a draw?

Gers: I don't know why it is. All I can say is, we're very honest about what we do, we give a hundred and twenty percent every night, we just couldn't give any more, we give the best show we can, everybody in the band's a really good musician and we really have a tremendous will to do well. And we've always stuck to our guns, we've always done what we believe in, and I think there's an honesty about the band. So maybe that has partly to do with it. We're honored whenever we put a gig on and it sells out. It's a tremendous achievement. We're playing in a place called Bergen in Norway tonight and we've got maybe 25,000 people coming. And it's a tiny little place, it's not a massive place. I'm always amazed when we play and that many people turn up. It humbles you a little bit. But I think we're honest, we have a lot of integrity, and we're a very good live band. We've got some good songs as well.

Headbang: IRON MAIDEN seems to continue to attract young fans, too. When I saw you in New York in August, there were eight-, nine-, ten-year-old kids there with their dads.

Gers: You're right. And everywhere else in the world, it's always been like that. Brazil, Costa Rica, all these wild and wonderful places, we've always had lots of young kids there. All of Europe, there's always been lots of young kids there, Scandinavia particularly, half the audience are really young. And it's something that in America we didn't really cross over to. I don't know what it was, something to do with the '80s, but mostly older people came. Which is great, but there's nothing better to me than playing to young kids who've never seen it before. That to me is what it's all about. If you've seen it once, you've seen it twice, you've got an inkling of what's gonna happen. If you're a young kid and you turn up at a MAIDEN gig, you haven't got a clue what's gonna happen, and that's really exciting for the band, and that keeps the band vibrant as well. Getting the young people in is really important. You're right, I think on this last tour in America we had a lot of young people there. I think that's tremendous.

Read the entire interview from Headbang.

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