Keeping the Irons Up
Chronicles of Chaos chat's with Iron Maiden's Dave Murray
by: Adrian Bromley
It was almost three weeks before Iron Maiden was to step foot on North American soil for the first time since 1993's _Fear Of The Dark_ tour. The 42-city tour started February 8th in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, with noteworthy openers Fear Factory. Talking with founding guitarist Dave Murray (DM), he indicates he can't wait to play here. "I am so excited to get back over to play North America. We love to tour there," remarks Murray over the phone from Lyon, Paris, literally moments before going on stage. So with a few moments to spare before hitting the stage with a newly revamped Iron Maiden (including new vocalist Blaze Bayley) armed with a new album, _The X-Factor_, Murray spoke openly about Blaze Bayley, touring, and surviving sixteen years in this industry. Also in keeping up the faith and legacy of the band after 16 years and 12 albums, Castle Records has gone forward and re-issued all 12 Maiden classics, each with an additional CD of rare B-sides from the era of the album's release (with the exception of _A Real Live One_ and _A Real Dead One_ which are just being distributed as is.) The B-sides include outtakes from albums and several covers. Be sure to check out the full listing of rare B-sides following the chat.

CoC: Has it been tough to get back on the road with such a long time off, time that was spent searching for a new vocalist, resting and recording _The X-Factor_?

DM: It has been a few years but we are glad to be back out. It took a while for us to get things squared away but we accomplished what we wanted with this album and by finding Blaze. We have been on the road for about four months now. We started this tour a couple of months back in Jerusalem, playing to a lot of places we haven't played before and to get it all together and out on the road, it was like starting out in the black really. It took a few shows and we got straight back into it and now we are all steamed and ready to go.

CoC: How has the response been towards Blaze replacing former vocalist Bruce Dickinson?

DM: The responses have been been good because we are doing a lot of old Maiden stuff and a bunch of the new tracks, but the approach to the songs are a bit different than Bruce's [Dickinson] approach to them. He [Bayley] sings in a lower register but the melodies are still there. When you change a lead singer, it is a difficult thing because that is what you hear first, but we found from reactions people have liked it. When you go through a change like that, that big, it is difficult but we have yet to encounter any problems.

CoC: You had over a thousand singers audition for the band. How did you settle on Blaze Bayley [ex-Wolfsbane]?

DM: He was always at the top of the list. He came in and fit in very well. There was chemistry and he gave it his all when he played with us which is what we wanted and liked. It was gut reaction that he was to be the singer for us. We wanted a singer that was part of the band right away and we felt that we made the right decision with Blaze. It was tough when Bruce left because we all wanted to carry on but we had to be sure we had the right guy and we did. We got the right man."

CoC: You mentioned that you play an assortment of old and new numbers in your live show - why the variety and not just newer material?

DM: We try to add a lot of variety and provide a mood. We are pacing the set so we don't rush right through it. We want people to go crazy with the tunes and also be able to stand back and enjoy them as well.

CoC: Like most Iron Maiden records, this album has a different mood and feeling to it unlike any other record you have done. What were the intentioms or ideas going into the writing of _The X Factor_?

DM: Martin Birch [long time producer] retired, so we needed to find a new producer that would be able to find us a sound, a new sound. A very modern sounding album. And we found Nigel Green who we had worked with before. We spent about a year on the album and a large portion of that was writing and trying to find a groove. While we were in the studio we would play back the tracks and try to see if it had that 'X-Factor magic,' that there was a vibe we were creating with the music. The main focus of _The X-Factor_ album was to show that we had put a lot of thought into what would become of this album and its direction. We felt that we wanted to move forward with this record rather than go back or stay where we were. Plus, with the addition of a new singer, we didn't want to rush this album. We just felt this album, with all the changes, was a very important album and with the next one, it won't take so long. Rather, it will be more of a live recording album next time.

CoC: You said that a lot of effort went into the writing of _The X-Factor_. Does this album in any way deal with issues and topics of the 90s or is it a standard Maiden album full of creativity and fiction?

DM: About four of the songs are about war but with what is going on around you, you can't help but be affected. But the rest of the album is just broad-based material. "Lord of the Flies" is about the book, etc...

CoC: What is your response to the fact that much of Iron Maiden's material is seen as a "history book" of sorts?

DM: It is great because kids can read the lyrics and get into it. We can write a story and then put music around it. We even experience stuff like that in far away countries where English isn't even a first language but they are still singing the lyrics to the songs.

CoC: Iron Maiden has always done these huge tours, playing everywhere. Is that the plan with _The X-Factor_? And why did the tour start in Jerusalem not England?

DM: We went to these places where there wouldn't be a lot of pressure on Blaze. We didn't want to throw him right into the media pit. It was great to start there because we always wanted to play there and then there was also the factor that we wouldn't have the pressure of starting off in England.

CoC: What keeps the band going after all these years? Is there a secret?

DM: Every gig is different. We never sound check, we just turn up. We just go out and every night is different. You get to travel and play places and experience new cultures. Playing music is the best job in the world. Actually it isn't a job, rather a hobby, and a hobby that I enjoy doing quite a bit. <laughs>

CoC: Does a band like Iron Maiden ever get tired of the industry or putting out albums on quite a regular schedule?

DM: In a way it is great to come out of being off the road and recording the album because you are fresh and eager to get out on the road. Sometimes the travelling can get a bit crazy but it is one of those things where you just go on with it, and once you get on stage you forget about it. It is still, and always has been, about having a good time on tour.

CoC: Iron Maiden has always been able to go out and tour with numerous types of acts [so far the band has played with My Dying Bride, The Almighty, and Dirty Deeds]. Now that you are taking out an up and coming younger act, Fear Factory, what do you believe are the benefits of taking on newer support acts?

DM: It is great to have a newer band on tour with you because people know them and their fans come out and experience both acts ... and get into them both. That is why we are taking out bands like Fear Factory and My Dying Bride. I have been noticing on this tour fans come to the show and they are young and they are up front and all the Maiden fans from ten years ago are at the back. <laughs>

CoC: After sixteen years of touring and playing, any songs or albums that stand out?

DM: Early stuff like "Phantom of the Opera" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name" are close to my heart. There are quite a few. After touring for so many years, all the songs become a part of what you were, and what we try to do live is play those songs that sound great live and bring out the classic Maiden in our set. Each album is different and it is like writing a diary. It takes a lot to write an album and the work that goes into it is the stuff that you go all out to do. It is important every time out."

CoC: What is your take on the struggling metal industry?

DM: Fortunately we have been touring 16 years, since 1980, and you have to think the lifespan of the average band is 3 or 4 years and I think we have been lucky because the fans have been coming back. Some have gone away but we have also gained some too. Realistically, metal music isn't as big as in the mid-80s, but that is just the sign of the times. The main thing is that we have always been a touring band, whether we play in stadiums, theatres or clubs. We just go for it. The fans have always stuck by Maiden and that is always an incentive to go out and tour. We have probably toured more than any other band - ten world tours. What can we say? We like to play and write music and tour!

(article submitted 14/3/1996)

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