SHOCKWAVES: Can you mention the four?
BD: No. (Laughs) We're talking to them and just getting a vibe off them. It shouldn't be too long before we make a decision, because we have to book studios and everything before the end of the year. With Martin... I mean, I love Martin, but since he stopped working with Maiden he hasn't made a single record, and I think he just, you know, wants to go fishing. I mean, he's done with, you know, knocking his brains out.
AS: He knocked his brains out for a long time with Purple and Sabbath. He went from one thing to another. Yes, we did a lot with Martin, and it's nice to do other things. This whole thing's about going forward, as well. We want to try something new.

The conversation moves to digital versus analog recording:

BD: People's ears have gotten so degraded because a CD is only sixteen bits. Most people don't understand what "sixteen bits" means-they think sixteen bit is good. Every molecule of iron oxide that moves is a bit. Until you've got, you know, three hundred thousand bit sampling.
AS: They have all kinds of modules you can hook up to your digital stuff to make it sound like analog, but...
BD: It will never sound like analog because it doesn't have the information. If you record it digitally, you will never have it; you're f**ked. In other words, when they bring in sixty-four bit CD's or DVD's, the Beatles records are going to sound unbelievable. People are going to go, "Wow, what did they do to the Beatles records?" Nothing. They always sounded like that, it's just that they sounded so lame on CD. And the fact is that vinyl, really good vinyl on an amazing system, kicks the shit out of the best CD on the planet. Whatever poor fools have recorded and mastered their albums thinking, "Hey, I recorded it on Sony 24 bit..." Hey, that's as good as it is ever going to sound, only 24 bit. So that's the end of my tirade against digital recording. What was the question?
AS: Like I said, it's about going forward and doing something different, not just about rehashing.

SHOCKWAVES: Janick Gers will also be joining you on this tour. So, you'll have three guitarists in the band...Is that difficult from a mixing and compositional standpoint?
BD: Not our problem. (Laughs).
AS: Live, yeah, it'll be interesting. Although I did hear rumors about our sound- guy wondering how he was going to put it all together.
BD: Fire him! (Laughs).
AS: The cool thing is, David (Murray) and I grew up together, we now get to work together. And I know Janick. We're not three guys trying to totally out-do each other. There's some healthy competition, but we're a band, working together for the song.

SHOCKWAVES: So the direction of the new material-is it going to be in the vein of, say, "Number of the Beast"?...It's definitely going to be a metal record, right?
BD: Oh, shit, yeah! The Maiden sound is not broken.
AS: I think what we want to do is sort of tweak the sound on record and tape and make it sonically heavier. I think we've all kind of agreed on that.
BD: I think the Maiden sound needs to be not reinvented, but re-presented to people, so they go, "Wow, it's Maiden. Dang! That sounds really good." And I don't think people really have been doing that the last few albums.

SHOCKWAVES: What do you think your staying power is? A Maiden fan will always be a Maiden fan.
AS: I think because the band's always been quite uncompromising in its attitudes toward the business really. And the fact that we played a lot of shows, we did get radio play, we kind of built up a following over a long period of time. I think there's more longevity in that. Bands kind of stay with you because you know they care about what they're doing. So all the hard work we did in the eighties, it pays off, because those people stay with you. You're playing for the fans-it's like a direct link. In a lot of ways, we kind of bypassed the business. The management's very uncompromising, very passionate about the band. They don't let any of the business bullshit stand in the way.
Smith apologetically leaves to, among other things, "get some socks out of the dryer," and we bombard him with photos. Dickinson sticks around.

SHOCKWAVES: Maybe you've been asked this a thousand times, but when it comes to writing songs like "Mariner" and "Icarus," songs based on literature, where does the motivation come from?
BD: Good stories. That's it. I mean, what's a song? It's a story. Simple as that. "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" was Steve's thing and "Flight of Icarus" was my thing, and we sort of flipped it on its head and messed with it a little bit, which may not mean a lot to people who don't know the story in the first place. Some people don't really listen to the lyrics very much at all, and that's fine. It's not mandatory or anything, but just as a singer I like to have some kind of story in my head when I'm singing a song.

SHOCKWAVES: You wrote a couple of books, didn't you? Humor books, weren't they?
BD: Pornography. (Laughs). I was thinking about doing a short, pornographic history of the USA. I don't really read much fiction, I read sort of nerdy kinds of books. I just finished The History of the Making of the Atom Bomb. It's, like, eight hundred pages of Pulitzer Prize stuff.

SHOCKWAVES: Did that influence "Chemical Wedding" at all?
BD: "Chemical Wedding" was William Blake. I sort of go through phases where I'll read fiction, like paper back sort of fiction. Anybody that can write can actually write that stuff. It's stamina. A friend of mine writes horror paperbacks-Shawn Hudson. A lot of it, like Jackie Collins, is just stamina. Talking to Shawn, I think writing a novel-the largest part is perspiration. I did it and it sold thirty thousand copies in England and it's still on sale in Germany and in Poland. Poland... I mean, what's Polish for "anal intruder?" (Laughs). I got a paperback deal as a result of it. I signed a three book deal. They wanted another one by March that had to be at least two-hundred and fifty pages. I was, like, "Wow, I'm getting paid money, I've got a deadline... This is like work!"

Dickinson soon has to split as well, so we take more pictures and cruise to some bar in Hermosa Beach, then to a luau where they had roasted a giant pig in the sand, and everyone complained about the sandy pork. I don't remember much after that.

Later that week I'm driving to my corporate-weasel, yes-man job with Live After Death blasting through the car, wondering what my commission check is going to be this month and what I'm doing there and why that guy Mike always walks around with no shoes on, and I'm so close to just losing it and turning around. But suddenly I hear myself screaming two words over and over: the exuberant echoes from years long past, the same and only words I wrote in my note pad while interviewing Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson, and suddenly I don't feel so glum and slimy; I feel like that capricious seventeen-year-old jerk I miss being so much, and any rock band that can do that deserves to be number one on my list and the world's.