(Friday Morning Quarterback)
Q: How did you come up with the album title "Accident of Birth"?
B: It's kind of a weird story. About a year ago, my mom decided in a fit of guilt that I was actually a failed abortion when I was a little kid. I wrote the tune immediately after getting off the phone and thought, "Oh, accident of birth," and I looked and thought, "well, you know, there's nothing I can do about the origin of the species, but at the same time, it's a great title for a record."
Q: Well, you're back with Adrian Smith now. It's been about 8 years since you played with him...
B: Yeah, it is something like that. The first time somebody mentioned that I thought, "Naw, it's not 8 years gone," and it's likely, it is. Time flew and when we got back together it was just like we'd never been apart. It's really weird, you know, creepy.
Q: How did you get him to come back?
B: I just gave him a call and said, "Listen to some demos that I've got here," 'cause I'd been out to L.A. writing 4 or 5 tracks with Roy Z. As soon as I'd written these five songs, it was like, "Oh, man, this is a Metal record." The three previous records I've done have not been Metal records. I mean, I don't mind admitting it, they weren't supposed to be like out-and-out Metal records and this one is. It was like, boy, this is gonna be a real mother of a record and I need another guitarist here, and that's when Adrian sprang to mind immediately. He was thinking along exactly the same lines. I mean, he came up with some riffs and some tunes, but we already had about nearly two-thirds of the songs written when he came on board. So that's why he only wrote like two or three things with me. But the two or three things he did write were great. He's all over the record, I mean he's on every track. We're rehearsing together at the moment; same guys that did the album in the touring band and Adrian, as well, so it's really cool.
Q: Roy Z's back in the band as well. How did he feel about having Adrian come aboard?
B: Roy? He loves it. He's a huge fan. I mean, he started out as being like this huge fan that came up. I was a fan of his band, the TRIBE OF GYPSIES. It's absolutely fantastic for him, he loves it. Me and Adrian are actually rehearsing a bunch of classic Maiden tunes that we'll be playing a few of when we come out live, some of which have not been heard for quite a while. I'm thinking of "Flight Of Icarus," "Children Of The Damned," "Powerslave," "Revelations," "The Prisoner," "Run To The Hills," etc. Basically, think of every big tune American-wise that we did. I was making a list and it was all stuff that either me or Adrian or both of us wrote. We've got "Wasted Years" and "Stranger In A Strange Land," you know! I was like "this is just gonna be unbelievable!" So, what we're doing is we're learning ten or twelve of them and we're going to just sprinkle them two or three at a time in the shows, so each night people will get usually about three Maiden tunes. We'll play it by ear. We're gonna do about seven tunes off the new record and then "Tears Of The Dragon," maybe an old Samson tune. That'll be for real aficionados - you know. I came into rehearsal the other day and I was listening outside the door and they (Roy and the boys) were just going through a back track and I was going, "Man, that record sounds good." I went in and it was the band rehearsing "The Prisoner." And, I swear to God it sounded like the record, but better. Adrian freaked out. He's like, "Wow, this sounds better than we do!"
Q: What has Adrian been doing since ASAP broke up?
B: He did ASAP, he had a project band called Psycho Motel, and he's still got that together. In fact, he's just finishing up a new album for it. What's nice about our project, he kind of joins my band and we do the album and tour. We're all committed to the whole thing; we'll see it right the way through to next year, as long as it takes. But in between times, there's no problem with people going off and doing stuff after this album's kind of done its thing. That's no problem, then we'll get back together and make another one. We've got some great ideas for a new album already.
Q: What happened to Skunkworks, your band from the last record?
B: Well, the band thing basically didn't work, mainly because the musical differences within it were just too great and the cracks really started to show at the end of the tour, particularly when we started writing new material for a new record. They were like big into the Alternative thing - and I was big into the Metal thing. I thought we could have kind of a meeting of minds there. In the end I said, "look, I want to make a Rock album. At the very least, a pretty heavy rock album and maybe even a full-on Metal record. We'll see what happens once we get started." But, I definitely don't want out-takes from the last David Bowie record. I want out-takes from Judas Priest about 1983. Everyone looked at me kind of dumbfounded. I went, "Ah-hah, wake up and smell the coffee." So, it didn't work basically. They're off now doing their own thing. They got a pop group together. They were kind of like young kids and were hoping we were going to grow into something humongous and didn't quite grow into something as humongous as I'd hoped.
Q: Well, the last album was pretty conceptual, are there any concepts running through "Accident of Birth"?
B: Usually you get around to some songs that are sort of related subjects. There's a concept attempt on this album. I decided I was gonna get down to story telling and start writing fantasies, and start writing sci-fi stories and things like that. There was very definitely that intent on this record. There's two or three stories about aliens and earth contact, you know, that kind of stuff. There's a full-on fairytale, "Taking The Queen," and there's lots of songs about the dark side and how much fun you can have with it.
Q: You've got a new mascot on the cover of the new album, Edison. Any relation to Eddie?
B: You read too much into this stuff! No. He is not. He's actually a relation to this puppet called "Mr. Punch." He's just got a head full of light bulbs.
Q: What about the European album cover?
B: Well, the European album cover is the same guy, except for this occasion, he is bursting out of the puppeteer's stomach, which is kind of what you get if you eat like the wrong kind of chili dogs. In the meantime, the power that be in terms of distribution, got very nervous about putting it out in America, because the cover was too extreme and offensive. There was blood and guts coming out of this guy's belly. I said, "Well, couldn't we make the blood and guts green?" and they're like, "No, they'll still know it's blood." They chickened out. We'll have to sell the offensive poster at live gigs.
Q: Did you have any input on the "Best of the Beast" compilation?
B: No, not really, I mean it's pretty kind of comprehensive. I was surprised "The Flight Of Icarus" wasn't on there, but apart from that, it seemed a pretty good package; all the pictures, all the gigs and stuff like that.
Q: With KISS, Sabbath, Motley Crue and W.A.S.P. and everyone reuniting, is there any temptation for you to reform Maiden or go out on tour with them?
B: Well, not really, nobody's asked me. If it was like for a tour or something, I'd have no great moral spiritual objection to it or anything. I just don't see it would do them, necessarily, a whole bunch of good, because they're trying to establish Blaze Bayley and everything and do a new style. So, I don't think they'd be too interested. And, I'm just doing gangbusters with the new record and having a blast with the band right now. I would feel there would be no point, in the near future anyhow.
Q: Are there any plans for your book "Lord Iffy Boatrace" to be released in the States?
B: You know who I was talking to about books the other day? Believe it or not, William Shatner.
Q: You met William Shatner?
B: Not only did I meet him, I got his autograph on his cue card, "Captain Kirk." I was just like, "I am not worthy." They have this TV show here in England called "Spaced Out." I was a guest on the panel. They dress you up like you're on the Starship Enterprise, and you have to answer these goofey questions, you're supposed to crack jokes and stuff. And, William Shatner's on it. Anyway, the books, there's a lot of demand for them in the States, and we actually have the rights. I guess we may very well release the book for the States, but it's something that I don't want to do while the album is out. The main event now is the music.
Q: Any solid tour plans for the States or anywhere?
B: Yes. We start up in three weeks doing festivals in Europe and then we do a Japanese tour, where, incredibly enough, the record's sold-out. They ran out of copies in Japan, only briefly, but it was through a weekend that they ran out. That was pretty cool. And then we come back to England for a couple of shows and then it's off to the States. We are holding about six weeks of dates right now, form the middle of August through 'til the beginning of October, as a headliner. But we are planning - or we are hoping - to go out on tour with another CMC act who will surely have a record out, and if it happens, then all the Metal fans in North America will think they've died and gone to heaven. So, if that happens, that would be my preferred option because I think that teaming up with somebody else, I think we should really give everybody a lot of bang for the buck there, and it would be a great show and we'd play some bigger places, I think.
Q: Lastly, wrapping things up, what do you think of the state of Heavy Metal today, and where do you see it in five years?
B: I think in five years there's gonna be a lot of Metal bands around. I think that out there the Metal bands of the future is in the garages of North America. They've just been kicking over to date, but they're out there and there's people out there.