Living metal legends they may be, but from playing their new album in its entirety on tour to insisting they aren't metal, their legacy is hardly set in stone. Metal Hammer magazine's (web site) Geoff Barton rakes them over the coals. Read on:
Q: Do you believe your fans want to hear the whole new album on this tour and they wouldn't be happier with 10 classic MAIDEN tracks?
Steve Harris: "A lot of people might come along with the attitude that they want to hear a lot of old stuff. But when they actually see the show they're pleasantly surprised. And if they're not, they should've gone to the last tour. Or the next one."
Dave Murray: "It's obviously been all over the Internet, the fact that we're going to be playing the whole of the new album. So a lot of people realised that they had to listen to it and really get into it before coming to see us. Obviously there are going to be tours in the future where we'll be playing much more of the old stuff. Sometimes you just have to change the script a little bit."
Adrian Smith: "We played plenty of old material on the past couple of tours. We were prepared for a bit of stick this time but it's gone down better than we thought it would. It's a statement, isn't it?"
Janick Gers: "We're very proud of our history but we're also very proud of the new album. There comes a point where we have to say this is where we're at now. It feels right."
Q: The songs on "A Matter Of Life And Death" are pretty progressive — which bands were you listening to, and which bands inspired you?
Steve: "On the last few albums you can hear our influences more than ever. Early GENESIS, WISHBONE ASH, and JETHRO TULL in particular. There's a couple of things on the new record where you can really hear the TULL influence — particularly the middle bit of 'Out Of The Shadows'. It's not ripping off TULL, it's not even paying homage to them really. It just comes out naturally."
Bruce Dickinson: "My influences are people such as Arthur Brown, Peter Hammill [leader of progressive rockers VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR], Ian Gillan and Ronnie James Dio. It's quite a mix. Somehow on the new album MAIDEN's music has acquired an emotional depth that wasn't quite so evident before."
Nicko McBrain: "Some of the sounds on this record are straight out of the 1970s. It's definitely an album that does stand within that progressive realm and needs to be listened to with headphones on."
Q: How do you feel about claims that your new album is the best thing since 1988's "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son"? Doesn't that write off a lot of work you've done in the interim?
Bruce: "Actually, I reckon it's better than anything since 'Piece Of Mind' . Having said that, I've got no idea how the next one can possibly be — quote, unquote — 'better.'"
Steve: "It stands up to anything we've done in the past but that's a sort of view-from-the-bar debate."
Nicko: "When we were recording the album I thought, 'Man, this is too good. This is right up my street.' It took me right back to the 1970s."
Q: Nicko, is that your blue face in the "Flight Of Icarus" video? If so, did they make you do it?
Nicko: "Hah-ha! They did make me. I'd just joined the band in 1982, and 'Flight Of Icarus' was the first single off 'The Number Of The Beast'. They said, 'Being as you're the new boy in the band, we think you should be the Icarus character.' I said: 'Yeah, I'll have a go.' But I didn't realise I'd have to paint my face blue, wear a cape and stand on the edge of a precipice, with all these big waves breaking below. On the day we did the shoot it was quite windy. I got quite frightened."
Q: Dear Mr. McBrain, run over any more security guards recently?
Nicko: "Allegedly run over, might I add. Emphatically, no. I have not. It's a costly experience. That's all I can say."
Q: Janick, you recently said in an interview that you don't think of IRON MAIDEN as "heavy metal." What is your favorite colour?
Janick: "No, I don't think we're heavy metal. To me it's all music. We're heavy, we've got loads of power, aggression and energy, but I don't see us as metal. Deep purple."
Q: A lot of MAIDEN songs are based on historical events or people, so I think IRON MAIDEN should be part of the school curriculum for history. I'm studying for my A-level in history so can you please write a song about crop rotation and Jenner's vaccination for smallpox?
Bruce: "Hmm. I think the one about crop rotation is one for JETHRO TULL. In fact TULL have probably already done a song about it."
Steve: "Ha-ha. Yeah, okay. We'll bear that in mind."
Q: Was there a proper punch-up after "Mission From 'Arry"?
Bruce: "No, there wasn't. The only punch-up that happened was that I had to thump Nicko in the stomach to make him drop the tape, because he was going to break it. He was pissed off but 'Arry was very amused. Those are priceless tapes."
Steve: "No, there wasn't a punch-up. But it came pretty close. I just wish we could've recorded the first part of the argument. It must've been 10 or 15 minutes long."
Nicko: "I had this cassette in my hand and Bruce did hit me to get the tape back. But not that hard. I dropped the tape, Bruce picked it up and I steamed down the corridor after him. I was going to have him. I was going to have a fight with him. I thought: 'That's it, I'm leaving the band.' But then Bruce said: 'I'm sorry, but I've got the lyrics to a song called 'Powerslave' on that tape.' After that it all deflated."
Q: Is it fair to say you've all made fashion statements you wish you could take back?
Bruce: "No, I don't take back any of my fashion statements however awful. I never regret anything because it's all part of life's rich tapestry. And in any case you can always hold it up to scare your children later."
Nicko: "I admit I did often look ridiculous in the '80s. But that's part of the colorfulness of the era. I was young and vain."
Dave: "At the time the spandex and everything made sense because everyone was wearing that stuff. But the spandex years were definitely dodgy. We did look a bit odd. Our clothes were trying to be louder than everything else."
Adrian: "I'm probably more guilty of that than anyone. I had a tremendous mullet for a couple of years. Not only that, I dyed it bright blond just to be double sure that it would never be forgotten. It's in my wedding photos and everything."
Janick: "I've never worn spandex — I'd look like Max Wall [old comedian]. I've always worn jeans. So, no, not really. [Hammer reminds Janick that he once wore a single legwarmer on his right pin when he played with his pre-MAIDEN band, GILLAN, at the Castle Donington Monsters Of Rock festival in 1982. He replies:] I wasn't making a fashion statement. I'd probably just lost the other legwarmer. But I'll own up to that, it's a fair cop."
Q: Is Rod Smallwood as much a ruthless ball-breaker as he appears on "The Early Years" DVD?
Bruce: "No, he's much worse than that. We're not likely to complain. It's just that everybody else does."
Steve: "You always need Rod at his bombastic best. But you don't want to get on the wrong side of him."
Nicko: "He calmed it down for the DVD, to be honest. He's a very fair person but he doesn't suffer fools gladly. So you might ask yourself how come I've been in the band for 25 years! You've got to have someone who grabs people by the balls and slaps them around the face. Just don't lend Rod Smallwood a fiver. You not only won't get it back, you end up paying commission on it."
Dave: "No. Rod is a gentleman and a scholar. A damn fine human being."
Q: What's your favorite MAIDEN album cover? Any clangers?
Bruce: "My favorite is 'Powerslave'. I wasn't that crazy about 'Fear Of The Dark'. It wasn't as scary as it should have been."
Steve: "I like 'Somewhere In Time' a lot. Possibly the weakest one I can think of is 'No Prayer For The Dying'. It was just good enough but not amazing like some of the others."
Nicko: "'Somewhere In Time' is my favorite. But 'No Prayer For The Dying' was a bit of a letdown. I agree with Steve."
Dave: "I like the futuristic feel of 'Somewhere In Time'. But 'Powerslave' is my favorite — the imagery, the pyramids and the symbolism behind it all. The one that scares the hell out of me is 'The X Factor'. It's horrific on every level."
Adrian: "I love 'Brave New World'. It's quite artistic. But to be honest I don't have a lot to do with the artwork."
Janick: "They're all striking and evocative in their own way."
Q: Have you ever been to see a MAIDEN tribute band? Any good?
Bruce: "I've been to see HIGH-ON MAIDEN — a Geordie band. They're good; they've got all the right trousers. Whether they've got the equipment to fill them though is a different matter."
Nicko: "I've seen HIGH-ON MAIDEN too. They were really good. Mind you I've got my own occasional tribute band too: MCBRAIN DAMAGE. We do MAIDEN stuff, a bit of OZZY as well."
Dave: "In Canada I saw this band who were doing the 'Powerslave' era. They had the mummy and everything. They put a big effort in. They were right on the money."
Adrian: "I played with one at a fan club convention in Holland: HIGH-ON MAIDEN. We did 'Two Minutes To Midnight'. But I forgot it, because I hadn't played for so long."
Janick: "I'm not a great fan of tribute bands. There's so many of them around now. It's got to the point where you've got ABBA tribute bands playing Wembley Arena. It's a fine line between parody and cabaret."
Q: Steve, knowing what bands and boys get up to on the road, does it worry you sending your daughter Lauren into the fray with her own band?
Steve: "No, not really. She's grown up; she's travelled around enough to know what's what. I don't have a problem with it. She's supported ALICE COOPER, she's done Rock Am Ring, Rock Im Park, Download, club shows. I knew she was ready for this. In fact, I get more nervous than she does."