John Doran of The Quietus recently conducted an interview with IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Quietus: 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.
Harris: 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 realize, 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.
The Quietus: Are you going to play live?
Harris: I’d love to play the album live, I think we have to wait and see what the reaction is like first though, I never take anything for granted. I’d love to start with some club shows in key cities in Europe and then see how we go. Obviously it would be really weird because I know we haven’t played any clubs for years.
The Quietus: When was the last time you were actually phased by playing in front of an audience? You must be so used to big crowds now would you actually find it more frightening to play in front of an intimate audience… would the adrenaline be pumping more?
Harris: Well, I don’t know for sure, but yeah, I can imagine that once you step outside of the MAIDEN comfort zone, then you don’t know what to expect. I still do get a little bit nervous at the beginning of MAIDEN tours but that’s mainly because of the new material. We will have rehearsed but you can rehearse until the cows come home and the first few shows will always be a little bit rusty. Once you’re confident, it doesn’t matter so much. I used to get more worried years ago with MAIDEN about whether people were going to turn up or not. It’s different now. I may not expect every single show to sell out and I never take everything for granted, but you still know you’re going to get a certain amount of people.
The Quietus: Obviously, in IRON MAIDEN you’re all really fit, you play football, the gigs themselves are obviously workouts. Is there any reason why you can’t keep on doing this for another ten years?
Harris: 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 anymore, 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.
The Quietus: Given how abrasive heavy metal is with image, sound, philosophy, lyrics etc, how do you explain its huge global appeal?
Harris: Because it really means something to the people who listen to it. It gives them an identity where they can feel part of it. And it’s appealing that outsiders don’t understand it. And if people from the outside do check it out properly, then I think a lot of people end up thinking, “You know, there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye.” And you know what? There is.