IRON MAIDEN Guitarist: 'Music Shouldn't Be A Competition'

Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with IRON MAIDEN guitarist Dave Murray. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Ultimate-Guitar.com: The upcoming world tour is going to focus primarily on '80s IRON MAIDEN especially in the selection of set list and the stage set?

Dave: That is right. The whole theme of the tour is going to be based on the Egyptian kind of thing that is similar to the production of the "Powerslave" tour. We are putting a big production together and also we are going to be focusing on the songs from around the mid-'80s. Though there are a lot of songs and we basically know all of what we are going to be doing, it is going to be a bit of a learning curve in some ways because there are some songs we haven't played for like 20 years. We will have to go back and relearn them because we may have forgotten how they go or need to know how they all go again (laughs). We are really excited about this because some the songs are really strong and it will be nice to breathe fresh new life into them now especially since Janick [Gers] wasn't on most of those songs anyway. So it is going to be nice having the three guitarists playing within the framework of those older songs. It should be really good so we are looking forward to working those out.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: Having three guitarists in the band and each vying for their own musical space, does it ever get competitive between each other?

Dave: No it is not like that because we all feel very comfortable in the surroundings that we don't feel it is a competition at all. Music shouldn't be a competition anyway. We just try to complement each other so it is not like a battle of who is going to do what. We all feel comfortably enough with each other where we can play how we feel and just enjoy what the other guys are doing. We just want to make music because we enjoy doing that. And what is the point of competing anyway? It's not like you're a soccer player, football player, rugby player or something like that where you're against the other team and you want to go out there and be up against them. It is a band and a whole different approach.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: For the songwriting process, does Steve [Harris] write the initial songs and then bring it to the band so they can add their own bits to them?

Dave: Yeah, Steve will normally have the songs written like the music, the lyrics and the melodies from the beginning to the end. It is kind of a very specific process as he really knows what he wants so it kind of makes it easier for the band. We will sit down together and he'll play a melody on the bass and we'll kind of grab it from there. When we're in the rehearsal phase, it normally starts out with Steve working with Nicko [McBrain] and getting the rhythm section kind of working on all the bits and getting it absolutely tight. And while they're doing that, the guitars are kind of messing around and kind of getting into the groove as well. Once we're in the studio, we will lay everything down live. Because of this, the tracks will have a good feel to them and we'll go back to them afterwards and patch little things up here and there.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: On those early IRON MAIDEN albums, how much input did producer Martin Birch have in regards to helping the band forge its trademark sound?

Dave: The thing about Martin and for that fact Kevin Shirley too, is that they both have the same kind of filter. What I mean is that, they just let the band go in there and do its thing. Martin and Kevin will just enhance it all through the production of the sound. With Martin it was great, as we would go in there with the songs and just play the songs and he would just enhance it through the production side of it all and through the editing process and stuff like that. I know some producers who want to go in there and take over the whole band and mold it in their way. They will normally demand that the band plays like this and you plays that but then it doesn't sound like the band anymore. It sounds more like the producer. So we've been really blessed with Martin and Kevin where we just go in there and play. So you have the identity of the band still in there being the primary focus. And they will have their go at putting in the little things that helps bring out the sound of what we're like even more.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: IRON MAIDEN has always been an easy target for the moral majority particularly over in the U.S. where the band members have in the past been labeled Satanists?

Dave: You couldn't get a group of people further in the opposite direction than any of us. We're definitely not devil worshippers. I think it all started because of the "Number of the Beast" album. When it came out, a lot of the people who didn't like that sort of thing, just started gravitating towards that album in particular. And though it became a big issue at the time, it wasn't as big as people made out it to be. But we basically ignored it and left it alone.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: There are some people out there who unfortunately will always tend to confuse any sort of fantasy with any sense of reality?

Dave: Yeah, that is right. With IRON MAIDEN, with the music and the songs and the lyrics, it is all about the escapism really. Basically that is what the songs are about, you listen to them and it sort of takes you somewhere. If you go watch a movie or read a book, it is kind of like the imagery that you will get from that. And it is going to make you feel good if you know what I mean.

Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.

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