Steve Harris On Iron Maiden: “We’ve Certainly Got Another Five Years In Us”
Iron Maiden bassist and founding member Steve Harris has opened up about his new solo album British Lion, the longevity of Iron Maiden and some of his early gig memories in a new interview with Hammer’s own John Doran over on The Quietus.
Check out some extracts below:
I’ve enjoyed hearing the influence of bands like UFO and Blue Oyster Cult on British Lion…
Steve Harris: You’re the first person to mention them but I’ve always loved Blue Oyster Cult. Before I was in Maiden, my band Smiler covered ‘The Red And The Black’.
Why rock over metal?
SH: That’s the original stuff I was into. I suppose in Iron Maiden we evolved into being a metal group if you like but originally we always saw ourselves as being a heavy rock band with lots of melody. Over the years as more and more hardcore and extreme bands have come along they’ve made us sound more like The Moody Blues! [laughs] But effectively, when we started we were a heavy rock band and British Lion is not that far removed from it.
Normally side projects seem to get cranked out in six months down time but British Lion must have the longest gestation period of any side project album ever.
SH: Probably yeah. [laughs] We’ve actually taken longer to get this album out than Guns N’Roses took with Chinese Democracy. You say side projects are usually done in a six month period but I don’t get that amount of time available to me unfortunately. As most people realise I’m probably the busiest one in Maiden and there’s always stuff going on. It would be a lie to say this album was done at a leisurely pace even… it was done at a snail’s pace, a little bit here and a little bit there. But that’s how it had to happen.
Obviously in Iron Maiden you’re all really fit, you play football, the gigs themselves are obviously work outs. Is there any reason why you can’t keep on doing this for another ten years?
SH: I don’t know about ten years but I think we’ve certainly got another five years in us but it’s hard to say. As you get older it gets doubly hard to keep yourself fit and in shape. We do work really hard on doing that. It’s important to us. We’d be selling ourselves and everyone else short if we didn’t, so we do look after ourselves. It does get tougher. I don’t play football much any more but I play a lot of tennis. Partly because I’ve had so many problems with my back that I can only play the odd match here or there. Unfortunately it’s five years since I’ve played a full season of football and that’s something that I miss a lot but I had to make a decision.
You’ve seen heavy metal become revived from a fading sub genre of heavy rock to take over the entire world and become the biggest type of music there is globally. Where is there left for Iron Maiden to go, which territories would you like to invade?
SH: I’d love to go into China. Up to now they’ve not let us go in or if they did let us, it wouldn’t be in the way we wanted. They’d want to look at lyrics and they’d be worried about Eddie…
You could have a communist Eddie in a Chairman Mao outfit.
SH: [laughs] Yeah. I mean I’d love to go to China anyway as a tourist but I’d also love to get paid to tour there. We’ll see.