has become quite a cornerstone of the set. It’s kind of a participation number and people seem to relate to that song. It’s got something about it. It’s one of those songs I enjoy playing the most. The other one is Afraid to Shoot Strangers. That wasn’t in the set originally and we decided to try it out and it does a good job of creating good dynamics in the set, it brings it down. It’s interesting. It’s a nice contrast to what else is going on. What keeps you going these days? Personally I’m always striving to get better. I just really enjoy it. When I was in the band the first time it was all a bit of a whirlwind; I wouldn’t say we had success quickly, but once we did start getting successful it was elevated very quickly. We were headlining arenas and I was only 23, 24 years old. I think I can enjoy it much more now and take it in and really appreciate it and enjoy every minute of it, really. Earlier this year you released the
album as a side project. How did that come about? That was done over a period of years, literally. I think I started working on it about five years ago. I saw a band called SikTh and Mikee Goodman was one of their two singers. They were more of a new style metal band which I was interested in: I like the heavy riffs and the power and that sort of modern metal, whatever you want to call it. I was very excited about the thought of trying to introduce a bit more melody to it. So I got in touch with them and ended up working with Mikee writing a couple of songs. The first couple of things we did were quite interesting, he has a very very different approach to music than I do. He’s younger than me and probably grew up listening to Pantera and Korn and these sorts of bands so we pulled each other out of our comfort zone. The album’s really heavy musically and sonically, which is what I wanted to explore. I’ve got my own studio, so I was able to create these big guitar sounds and I played bass on it. I kept it personal. It was a lot of fun to do. I was proud of the way it turned out. Any thoughts about bringing some of those guitar tones to Iron Maiden? Iron Maiden will never have that kind of guitar sound. I play a bit of detuned stuff in the Maiden set, but it doesn’t really overpower, it’s just to create another dimension, another colour to the sound. If we started tuning down it wouldn’t sound like Iron Maiden, so we’ll never have that sound, that really boomy sort of sound. I think Maiden is a unique-sounding band, so you don’t want to mess with that, really. Having said that we did Satellite 15 on the last album which is something I did in my studio, which grew out of a Primal Rock thing. I played it to Steve and he took it in a different direction, so that was quite interesting. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have the PRR thing going. What did you think of the documentary Flight 666? I love those guys Sam (Dunn) and Scot (McFadyen), they were great. They came out on the road with us. I think it was a bit difficult for them because it was outsiders coming on a very close-knit thing with our band and our crew. We’ve had a lot of the same crew for a long while, so they had to learn to slip and slide between the hectic life of a tour like that, but I think they did a good job and it’s nice to have a document of a little part of your life. I think it was great to see the fans. The audiences down in South America are unbelievable. They sure are passionate about you. I don’t think they have materially as much as a lot of people down there so music means a lot to them; music and football. It’s a real passion, so when they come to the gigs they let it all out. Are there any songs you’re tired of playing? Do you have a in your set? We’ve been playing 2 Minutes to Midnight for a while now but every night it takes on an energy and people respond to it so that gives you feedback and you put it right back into the song and it’s great fun to play as well. There’s nothing I don’t really enjoy. Even Run to the Hills is good fun to play. It’s all good. There are two tracks on the set list. That album was released after when you weren’t even in the band, so how did those songs make it into the set? Fear of the Dark For people who saw the show in 1988, how has the stage set evolved? It looks different from the show I remember at the Winnipeg Arena. It was taken from the album cover, which has a bleak polar landscape, but now we’re certainly got more pyrotechnics. It’s incredible. The light show is more sophisticated and computerized. To be honest I think we’re playing the songs better as a band now than we did 20-odd years ago, so all around I think it’s up a couple of notches. What’s the most fun song for you to play these days? I enjoy all of them really. We play Aces High at the end of the set now. In the past we’ve always opened up with it. You’re always working out the kinks in the first song and that was always difficult to play as a first song, but playing it at this point in the set lets it breathe a bit more and it’s a lot more fun to play than it used to be when we opened up with it. I think every guitarist who has dabbled in metal has tried to play that one. It’s a little bit tricky. It’s like a train. If you don’t get a good grip on it at the start you’re liable to fall off halfway through.
Iron Maiden is playing better now than 20 years ago.