October 5, 1999
by Gary James
When you're talking Heavy Metal, you're talking Iron Maiden!
While it's true they didn't invent the style, it almost seems like it. Their career has spanned 22 years now and they've sold something like 45 million albums. They've toured the world many times over with massive stage shows, winning fans over again and again. Guitarist Dave Murray gave us an in-depth look at the history of the band.
Q: The last time I recall seeing Iron Maiden was way back in 1982. Would that have
been when the group was at its peak of popularity? Are you still playing the arenas?
A: Well, actually I would say more '86, '87. That time, '82, was the first tour we'd done of America. In fact, I think we were supporting Judas Priest then. Right about '83, we came over and started headlining. From '83 to about '87, we had a really good run in America. Each album released in that time was doing really well.
Q: Iron Maiden was formed in 1977?
A: '75 actually. I joined in '76. During that time it was a case of going out and doing the clubs and the pubs and hoofing it up in the U.K. (laughs)
Q: Is Heavy Metal or Hard Rock still popular outside of the U.S.?
A: In Europe it's still very popular. It's thriving. We've been made to understand in American it's really dropped off. There are still rock fans out there, but not as many as there were 10 years ago.
Q: Where did you sell most of your records? In what country?
A: In America really, Now the ball has kind of been headed back to Europe. (laughs) Over the whole period we've probably sold the most albums in Europe.
Q: When you are in between tours, and in between CD's, what do you, Dave
Murray, do with yourself, and how do you get the money to do it?
A: We've got families, kids. The normal stuff really. Because you spend 7-8 months on the road, it's nice to do normal things, go down to the shop and buy a newspaper. These sort of things you don't often get to do when you're out traveling around. So really, it's back to reality.
Q: And you're living on royalties from past records?
A: Yeah. That's right. It all comes in over a period of time.
Q: Iron Maiden now calls CMC its record label. You always recorded for Capitol
Records. What happened?
A: Well, they really didn't want to take us on board, I think. I don't really know the politics that goes down between the management and the record company. We get on with the music and let them deal with the business side of it. CMC is a really good label. They're really looking after the band. They're really into it. They're very enthusiastic. You need somebody that's gonna be behind you, and be a team, and we're playing on the same team. They're an independent label, but they're really pushing the band, and also releasing the back catalog. Now everything we've ever recorded is on CMC. They've got everything we've ever actually put down on tape. They feel good about having us with them and we feel vice versa.
Q: How did you raise the money to release your EP, "The Soundhouse Tapes" on
your own label, Rock House Records?
A: Well, that was done between two guys in the band really. We were working at the time doing day jobs. We were always putting money back into the band, as far as getting equipment and petrol. You gotta pay to play nowadays. You always had to really, especially in the early days. So, we just self-financed it really.
Q: Was it expensive?
A: Well, yeah. We couldn't actually afford to buy the master tapes, which would have been nice to have now. We just scraped up enough money to do the recording. But, to actually buy the reel of tape would've cost more and we couldn't afford that. So, unfortunately that's gone. (laughs)
Q: What happened to it?
A: They just re-recorded over it, the next band that goes in. Unfortunately, it's gone to magnetic heaven. (laughs)
Q: Did you make any money off of that E.P.?
A: Well, we only had 5,000 made up, and gave a lot of them away. It was more of a promotion thing really. I gather they're very hard to get hold of and are going for $300-$400. (laughs)
Q: Was it hard to find a suitable replacement for Bruce Dickinson? Did a lot show
up for the audition?
A: No. We had about a thousand tapes sent in, and we had about 12 people come down for the audition.
Q: Rolling Stones Encyclopedia of Rock 'n Roll has stated that Iron Maiden had a
fascination with violence and destruction. Is that true?
A: No. That's complete B.S. Absolute crap. We're not interested in what they have to say. (laughs) We're just a rock band playing music, and there're fans that come down to listen to the music, and that's it. If you want to see violence, just turn on your t.v.
Q: I want you to explain something to me. How is it that The Beatles could change
their image and change their music and still meet with acceptance by the fans? Why is it that
once a metal group is locked in with the loudness and leather, you can't change?
A: I don't think the image has much to do with it. I think it's the music really that has to say it all. Anyone can get dressed up in a monkey costume. (laughs) It's the music. It's the integrity. It's the songs. It's the depth of the music. That's more important than what the band actually looks like.
Q: Could Iron Maiden play rock-a-billy and get away with it?
A: No. Obviously not. There's a certain sound and a certain image that they're into. That's why they're into it. They just like that whole scene. If we started playing rock-a-billy or country, they'd just walk away.
Q: Does that bother you that you can't change?
A: You see, we're kind of happy doing this music. If we weren't, we'd just quit.
Gary James files his interviews from Syracuse, NY.