Shockwaves: This was just before the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal exploded in 1979-80. There were only a handful of metal bands, such as Maiden and Motorhead, that were established in England at that time. But you were still up against a wall dominated by punk rock. How difficult was that...to rouse a whole new metal revival?
Steve: Motorhead were already fairly well received by that time and were headlining venues. We actually did a couple support gigs with them. We weren't really aware of this movement that was happening until the press started getting a hold of it. There were bands up North like Saxon, in Yorkshire, and there was Witchfynde, as well. So, there were all these bands happening all over England during that same time and I don't think anyone was really aware of it until the press started writing about it, and that pretty much started that whole movement.
Shockwaves: Back to the new album...it sounds a lot more straight-ahead rock and not quite as musically complex as the previous Maiden albums. I also noticed the songs are much longer in length with only eight songs on this CD. Even your first single, The Angel And The Gambler, is well over eight minutes in length....
Steve: We didn't approach this record any differently than we've always done. We just went in and recorded it and we just wrote whatever felt right during that particular time. 'The Angel And The Gambler' is actually a good example because when I came up with that song idea, I put it on a mini taperecorder while I was driving down the motorway, and I distinctly remember saying to myself... 'this reminds me of The Who meets UFO.' So I just took it in that direction. The last album, The X-Factor, was much more progressive. Blaze: I think what also makes this album quite different is the fact that we recorded The X Factor for quite a long time and did a whole world tour. We took a little break in the middle and recorded a track called Virus for The Best Of The Beast And that gave us a lot more confidence when we started writing for this album. I had learned so much about the different areas of my voice and I made it stronger. I feel that the recording of this new album was also a lot more spontaneous than the last. We just got the arrangements together and started recording before we even rehearsed the songs.
Shockwaves: You, Steve, produced this latest CD, as well as X Factor and (co-produced) Fear Of The Dark. Is producing something you enjoy?
Steve: It's like a love/hate thing, really. I do enjoy it, but it's a lot of hard work. I suppose I kind of co-produced the earlier albums, and arranged the songs. In a way, I'm very glad I worked with Martin Birch on the previous albums because I learned a lot from it. I also mixed the two live albums, A Real Live One and A Real Dead One, because Martin decided to leave. So, I had to hire an engineer and, fortunately, I had some experience in the studio.
Shockwaves: Blaze, tell us about the days with your pre-Maiden band Wolfsbane...
Blaze: We did three albums with Def America and two with Bronze Records. I was actually in a band before that, called Child's Play, which kind of had a Thin Lizzy vibe. With Wolfsbane...we had been royally f**ked so many times making the compromises we had to make, especially after the first album. The record company or management would always have their way, yet they would blame us if the record didn't do well or if the show wasn't well received. The few times that we did stick it out and manage to get it our way, it was successful. We were broke the whole time as well, which didn't help (laughs). But, I'm very proud of the records I did with Wolfsbane.
Shockwaves: Steve...you are regarded as one of the most influential bassists in hard rock, long before the Billy Sheehans and Stu Hamms came into the fold. Do you realize the impact you've had on aspiring musicians?
Steve: I do get a lot of people saying that I've influenced them, which; obviously is very flattering. But, the truth is, I'm really more interested in trying to write great songs. Maybe it's because I'm a bass player and I write a lot of the music. I grew up listening to a lot of different bass players like Chris Squire and John Entwistle. Also, Martin Turner from Wishbone Ash and Rinus Gerritsen from Golden Earring were both a very big influence on me. If you listen to some early Golden Earring records, you can really hear the influence!
Shockwaves: Heavy metal and hard rock music is still very big all over the world, particularly in Germany and Japan. But in certain countries, notably the US and England, where fashion trends and hype seem to dominate music, the media in general has snubbed metal. Do you see, in the next year or so - exactly 20 years after the NWOBHM exploded in England - a new metal revival?
Steve: There's a lot of buzz going around about it; I'm not too sure, really. All I can say is that we are very lucky, we're still very strong in most countries all over the world. If our popularity in one country goes down a bit, it goes up in another country, so we're not relying on one country in particular to keep up our popularity. Whereas some bands (from this genre) rely heavily on success in Japan, but we're not in that position, fortunately. Our last album (the X Factor) sold well over a million copies worldwide, but a lot of people here in the States thought we just vanished.That's why touring for us is very important... and we don't really make money touring, we pretty much break even.
Shockwaves: You've been together for over 22 years...was there ever a time in your career when you thought about hanging it up?
Steve: To be honest, there were a couple of times it came across my mind, but it'd only last a few hours before I'd realize that I didn't really mean it. I think it has more to do with your frame of mind and what's going on around you rather than what's actually happening with the band. I just love it too much to ever want to give it up!
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