Maiden Might Drop The Prog
Guitarist Adrian Smith doesn’t know why NWOBHM giants have wound up writing longer and longer songs – as he recalls terror flight over Japan tsunami.
Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith says the band might abandon their recent trend of writing long prog-rock style tracks, and return to creating material that could be released as singles.
And he’s looked back at the moment singer Bruce Dickinson told them their customised jet was being diverted as the horrifying Japanese earthquake and tsunami took place beneath them.
Maiden’s 15th studio release, 2010′s The Final Frontier, featured 10 tracks of which The Alchemist was the shortest at 4.29 – but the average song lasted 7.40 with When The Wild Wind Blows clocking in at 10.59.
Smith says he’s not sure how that happened, but it might be because he, Dickinson and bassist Steve Harris stopped composing separately.
He tells VH1′s That Metal Show: “On the last couple of albums Steve, Bruce and me have written together, which is a new thing. Steve used to bringing three, four, five completed songs. But now he’s doing more arranging, production, overseeing. We sit down and write, and that’s reflected in the slightly different stuff.
“We’ve been writing longer for some reason. Maybe next time we’ll do some shorter stuff – but it’s difficult to look into the future too far.”
The guitarist was heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Free and Thin Lizzy when it comes to songwriting. “They did some great singles – put things into three minutes, which is a difficult thing to do, but it can be done.”
Having said that, Maiden will do things their way, as they always have: “It’s just the band. There’s no outside influences. There’s never been a record company in the studio with us, so we’re lucky – but we kind of worked for that.”
The band’s recent tours have featured their customised Boeing 757, dubbed Ed Force One, often piloted by Dickinson. He was at the controls when it was ordered not to land as scheduled in Japan as the devastating natural disaster hit on March 11, 2011.
Smith says: “We were in the dark. Bruce did come on the intercom and said, ‘We don’t know what’s going on but we’ve got to be diverted.’ When we landed we were on the tarmac for two hours. We couldn’t get off the plane. The phone lines were down and we were trying to call – we knew something terrible had happened. We’re glad we didn’t land two minutes earlier.”
But the guitarist insists he has never felt any concern about his bandmate controlling their flights. “I’ve been up in a small plane with him, so I thought, ‘It’s just a bigger plane – it should be alright.’
“Anything he does, he gets right into it and he does it really well. And he does it for a living, it’s not like he does it as a hobby.
“I’ve seen him check out flight plans, literally just before a gig. It’s like, ‘We’ve got to go on stage in a minute!’ But he can switch on and off. He’s very professional. It’s amazing.”
Maiden are preparing for a US tour on which they’ll concentrate on playing material from their 1988 album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Smith explains: “Probably two-thirds of the set is going to be that kind of thing. It’s good to rediscover them. I like to play them slightly differently, but people know them so well you can’t deviate too much.
“If we remember the songs it’ll be alright.”