Iron Maiden
Lineup: Steve Harris, bass; Blaze Bayley, vocals; Dave Murray, guitar; Janick Gers, guitar; Nicko McBrain, drums
Album: X Factour
Label: CMC International
Producer: Nigel Green (Def Leppard, AC/DC)

The third time was the charm as they say. On two other times we tried to hook up with Harris in Europe. Iron Maiden have landed in the U.S. for their tour in support of the X Factour album. The recording career of Iron Maiden has spanned 15 years and some 40 million units sold. This current project is selling just as well.

Q&A with Steve Harris

SR: Where are you calling from?
SH: (laughing) I'm not sure. Detroit is what it says here.

SR: Where did the title of the album come from?
SH: It's just a term we were using as something we couldn't put into words. It's that magic that you find that brings it all together.

SR: How did you look at that final pay-for-view concert from Europe. I taped the whole thing. It was the end of a era. Bruce's last show.
SH: I suppose it was. We didn't look at it like that. By that time it was a couple of months after the European tour had finished. To be honest with you we were glad to get it over with. We were in limbo so it was just a one-off show. We wanted to get on with our career.

SR: Are up excited about playing the U.S. with this album.
SH: Yes and No. It's been four years since we've played here so it's exciting on that level.

SR: There was never any doubt that Iron Maiden would continue with a new singer. Did you get crazy when Bruce decided to leave.
SH: Oh, no not at all. The only thing, I suppose is it's disappointing that we're playing to less people. In the rest of the world we're still playing the same size venues and arenas. Then again, not playing for four years we didn't know what to expect. So far, so good. We thought Bruce would be leaving because he lost the passion or whatever. Timing wise it wasn't the best because he decided to leave before we did that last tour with him.

SR: Your album is doing extremely well in the U.S. It's still climbing toward #1.
SH: It's top 10 all over Europe and in the rest of the world. Already selling over a million.

SR: Was the first time you worked without Martin Birch on this album, a pleasing bit of time?
SH: Yes, I'm very pleased. I think it's the best sounding album we've ever done, but as far as the best album I don't know. We'll be able to be more objective on that after we finish the tour.

SR: What's the different in the two producers Nigel Green and Martin Birch?
SH: I don't know. I helped produce all the albums including this latest one. I guess just more free reign. Nigel is very easy going and fun to work with. He's been an assistant engineer on Killers and Number Of The Beast so he knows how we work. He's great at getting sounds.

SR: Did you know Blaze when he was in Wolfsbane?
SH: I did because they supported us on a UK tour.

SR: Blaze was one of 1,000 vocalists you listened to. What made him stand out?
SH: He's just got the right sounding voice. You don't want someone who's going to sound like any of the others.

SR: The highlight for me lately has been the reissue of all those great Iron Maiden albums with each one featuring some great B-sides. Just think of the new audience you'll have through this venture.
SH: All the B-sides were never available in the states before. It's great to have it all in one place. I think what happened was there were some bootlegs around from South America that had some of the B-sides on it. We picked up on that interest and decided to put them out ourselves. We've gotten lots of fan mail from the States saying that they couldn't find those tracks so we decided to do a special thing with them.

SR: Is Eddie back on tour?
SH: We've been using him everywhere until we got to the States. We can't fit him in. We've had two Eddie¹s that we used all over Europe, South Africa and Canada. Unfortunately the places we're playing here aren't big enough for Eddie. We shipped him off to Japan where we'll be heading after the U.S. dates. If we can build things up from this tour, we'll bring him over next time.

SR: I have a huge collection of IM goodies. Did you keep one of everything?
SH: It's great your into it. I have kept up with it. It's hard to get everything. I'm sure there are fans who have more than I do.

SR: What's the best song you've ever written?
SH: I suppose the all-time best one is "Hallowed Be Thy Name", but my recent favorite is "Strangers".

SR: I love "Lord Of The Flies" on this new one. Who's playing the slide?
SH: That's Janick.

SR: "Judgement Of Heaven" is another favorite along with "Blood On The World's Hands". You've always written mature, important things.
SH: We've always felt it was important to write something that means something, rather than just rock and roll bullshit. We try.

SR: "Man On The Edge" is the first single. I'm calling for "Lord Of The Flies" to be the second single.
SH: It is.

SR: What's the highest point in Iron Maiden been for you so far?
SH: There's been so many high points. I don't know if I can actually pick just one. I'm pleased that we've had success on our own terms. We're having the same feeling playing the States as we did the very first time. We might be playing to less people at the moment, but we just do what we do and we're accepted for what we are. We're not going to try to change anything.

SR: How do you access the music biz in the U.S. today.
SH: It's very strange what's going on in the rest of the world. We've been on the road since September of '95 playing arenas but here we have to play clubs. It's very strange, but having said that, we weren't even sure we'd sell out the clubs.

SR: Do you guys have an e-mail or website yet?
SH: We've been talking to a lot of fans through the internet. I'm not sure what our number is. We've definitely got a website.

SR: Your album just keeps moving up the chart. Somebody is buying this record. Does CMC keep you up-to-date on how you're doing?
SH: We get some of the numbers, but we're just pretty busy with just the actual day to day tour stuff.

SR: Is McBrain still as crazy as ever? It must be a lot of fun having him around.
SH: There's never a dull moment that's for sure.

SR: What's you favorite activity outside the band?
SH: Soccer. I play every time I get a chance. I've been playing since I was nine. The weather has been too bad in Europe for us to play too much. I play tennis as well.

SR: I've always considered you THE leader of this band. It's been your strength that's kept everything going.
SH: Well, I'm not sure about that.

SR: Did you catch the article recently in Spin about metal being over? Doesn't that make you laugh?
SH: I didn't read it. There was some bullshit about Capitol dropping us. It's ridiculous. We actually bought ourselves out of that contract.

SR: The deal with Castle Records reissuing of all the albums including the B-sides is good until April 30 and then it reverts back to just the album, right?
SH: I should think so. It was something our manager Rod Smallwood sorted out for us. It was something we wanted to do when we bought ourselves out of Capitol.

SR: Keep the faith. It's a wonderful album. All the fans will come back, mark my words.
SH: We'll see you out on the road. Cheers.