26.5.00 16:00 MTV Iron Maiden Explains Its "Brave New World"
"When the band is on and we're doing it live, there's no other band on Earth that can touch us."
--Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson
If Iron Maiden's career ran out of steam in the mid-'90s, someone forgot to tell the band.
With the departure of Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson in 1993 and a mainstream with seemingly little interest in old-school metal, things looked bleak for the band in recent years.
However, a funny thing happened on the way to obscurity.
Dickinson returned to the fold last year along with guitarist Adrian Smith, the band hit the studio, and now Maiden is enjoying the biggest radio hit of its 24-year career with "The Wicker Man," the first single from "Brave New World," which hits stores on Tuesday, May 30. Despite the album's title, Maiden returns to the sound that has earned the band a place among metal's most iconic figures.
"It's the classic sound," Dickinson explained to MTV News. "If it was a Rolling Stones record, you'd say it was a great Rolling Stones record, and nobody would be disappointed that it didn't sound like Nine Inch Nails. It's like, 'Duh.' It's a great sound. There's nothing wrong with it." To capture that sound, the band holed up in a studio in Paris and essentially recorded "Brave New World" live, something Maiden had never done before despite its notoriously tight live sound. "I think there was universal disenchantment with the idea of doing an album piecemeal on ProTools. Nobody wanted to indulge in that nonsense," Dickinson said.
Consequently, the six members of Maiden's current lineup (Dickinson, Smith, guitarist Dave Murray, guitarist Janick Gers, drummer Nicko McBrain, and bassist Steve Harris) all set up their gear in different corners of a converted theater and recorded their parts at the same time.
The band also gelled once again during the creative process as Dickinson notes that Maiden wrote its new material as a collective, with five different songwriters within the band sharing responsibility for the ten tracks on "Brave New World."
"If the record sounds uniformly strong, it's because of the uniform strength within the band," Dickinson said.
Despite Dickinson's long absence from Maiden (or perhaps because of it), the recording process was relatively conflict-free. "It was all very positive whenever we had a disagreement on something," Dickinson said. "It never turned into an argument. It was more of a positive discussion about the relative merits or demerits of a particular thing."
Now, with "The Wicker Man" hitting rock radio and "Brave New World" on its way to stores, Maiden is mapping out its tour plans and working on its master plan. "I saw going back with Maiden as almost being a new frontier," Dickinson explained. "Like, 'Wow, here's a chance to make this huge again,' because it's a great sound.
"When the band is on and we're doing it live, there's no other band on earth that can touch us," he continued. "I really, really believe that. It's kind of a cool challenge as well because so many people have written the band off. A lot of the people who have written the band off were not really kind of experienced Maiden watchers or Maiden fans. They didn't really know how good the band was deep down, so it's very easy for them to be dedicated followers of fashion and write off everything that's metal every five minutes."
The newly invigorated Iron Maiden plans to tour the U.S. this summer, but has yet to firm up those plans.
-- Robert Mancini