Exclusive: Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris talks about his British Lion solo project
So why is this the time for a Steve Harris solo album?
Because it’s ready, it’s finally, finally ready. The guys have been waiting very patiently for years for me, and it’s been frustrating at time, but what can I do, I’m so busy with Maiden. People have already said to me, ‘Are you going to do this instead of Maiden?’ and I’m like, ‘Of course not!’ Maiden is always going to be the priority, always has been and always will be, but it’s interesting and exciting to try new things.
No one reading this will have heard British Lion yet: how would you describe it?
Well, what I think and what other people will think might be two different things, but I’d say it’s more mainstream rock than metal, very British sounding, very 70s-influenced and quite commercial… but good commercial. There’s all kinds of stuff going on, with nods to The Who and UFO and some classic British rock bands, but it’s not the progressive rock album some might be expecting.
There’s quite a nostalgic feel to the album in places: is British Lion a homage to the music you grew up listening to?
You could say that, I suppose, but then you could probably say the same about Maiden. But yeah, the older you get the more nostalgic you are: you become more aware of your own mortality and start thinking weird and wonderful things… especially when you’ve had a few pints of Guinness!
Perhaps inevitably, there are elements of the classic Maiden sound in the album too. What was to stop a song such as Us Against The World ending up on a Maiden album?
Because it’s written with other people. There’s no way I’d ever bring anything to Maiden that was written with outside people because there’s no point: there’s a lot of great songwriters in Maiden and we don’t need or want any help.
Some people will be confused as to why you need to do a solo album at all, given that Maiden has always been your band: surely within Maiden you can do whatever you want?
Well, no Maiden isn’t really like that. Yes, on the early albums most of the songs are mine, but as we’ve gone into different eras with different people writing, there’s been more and more collaborations. And I think it’s been important for Maiden to do that rather than have me dictating everything. But I have bags full of ideas, so many that I couldn’t record them all in my lifetime, and I tried out a few different things on this, because I had the time to do experiment.