Interview: Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith and Dave Murray in Their First Guitar World Feature from 1983
In Guitar World's first Iron Maiden feature from 1983, fans got a lesson on Maiden history, and Adrian Smith and Dave Murray discussed their current album, Piece of Mind.
Murray: "Most of our songs have two solo passages, maybe in different keys, so we alternate."
Smith: "Usually before we record, we'll sit down and work out exactly who's going to play what, depending on our different styles. It usually ends up fifty-fifty anyway. We each have different sounds, different ways of bending the strings, Dave uses more tremolo, that kind of thing."
On the new album, Piece of Mind, Dave solos first on "Flight of Icarus," "Die With Your Boots On " and "To Tame a Land." Adrian goes first on "Revelation," "The Trooper," "Still Life" and "Quest for Fire." Dave takes the solos on "Where Eagles Dare" and "Sun and Steel," with both doing the harmony part on the latter.
(Apologies, mates, if I didn't quite get that right. Remember how confusing it was trying to figure it out?)
Neither player uses a theoretical or scalular approach to his playing. Says Dave: "I prefer to play from feeling. The songs are tightly constructed, so I always play the same there. But when it comes to the solos, I don't necessarily play the same solos on stage as I do on record. I like to go out and sort of jam, more free-form. A lot of it is blues-oriented."
Adrian: "I've never been much for theory and scales. I know chords and I guess I play in a rock blues scale on the solos."
The latest album was recorded in Nassau at the urging of producer Martin Birch. The band used pretty much the same set-up in the studio as they do on stage, minus Eddie and the Brain. What changes are the miking techniques.
Says Smith: "The room is the most important thing about recording. We kept the guitars separate and put the amps up in a big wooden room and just put mikes everywhere. We didn't get to enjoy Nassau, because by the time we got the backing tracks and solos done, it was time to leave."
The album was mixed at Electric Ladyland in New York and, at this writing, is doing quite well on the charts.
Most of Iron Maiden's songs come from the quill of bassist Steve Harris, who, according to Smith, "locks himself away in a room and writes a complete set of lyrics. The rest of us will then sit around in the studio and jam with drums and guitar, just messing around till we come up with something. We pool our ideas." It is Harris' penchant for the Dark Ages that gives the music its gothic weltschmerz.
And, yes, there is one song about the devil, on the band's third album. It's called "Purgatory" and that one song is the one that causes all the commotion with strict constructionists, podium-thumpers and vote-seekers. The group was accused of "back masking," or recording evil messages backward and hiding them in their music. Ooo-eee-ooo ...
Now the truth can be told. There is a backwards message on the Piece of Mind album, between the first and second songs on the second side. I'll take a chance and reveal it to you. It says .. . arrgh! .. . (slump) ...
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