Iron Maiden - Dave Murray Interview

By Elric on 3:15 PM 23 September 2007

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Iron Maiden recently announced their most ambitious and extraordinary touring plans thus far. Named the Somewhere Back In Time World Tour 2008 it will comprise three sections, kicking off in February and March of 2008 with the first leg encompassing major concerts in 20 selected cities on five continents in seven weeks including India, Japan, North America, Central and South America and Australia.

The tour will then continue with more concerts in North America in late May and June before finishing with a third leg in July and August encompassing major stadiums and festivals all over Europe. During the tour the band is expected to play to well over one and a half million fans and travel close to 100,000 miles.

The Somewhere Back In Time tour will also revisit the band's history by focusing almost entirely on the 1980's in both choice of songs played and the stage set, which will be based around the legendary Egyptian Production of the 1984-85 Powerslave Tour. This will arguably be the most elaborate and spectacular show the band have ever presented to date.

And for Australian fans, it’s been a long time between drinks as the band last toured there back in 1992. In the wake of the band’s 2008 tour announcement, Joe Matera spoke to Iron Maiden’s long serving guitarist Dave Murray to discuss the upcoming tour, his guitar role within Iron Maiden and on the band being dogged by Satanism claims.

Ultimate-Guitar: The last time Iron Maiden toured Australia was back in 1992. What sort of memories do you have of that visit?

We’ve got some great memories. I remember we traveled around and spent a lot of time in Sydney and stuff like that and it was great. We did all the tourist attractions things like we went and visited the Opera House. We did a lot of that sort of thing while we were in Sydney. And we were given a really beautiful reception by the Australian fans down there. Hopefully this time around we will have a bit more time to see and go to more places besides Sydney and besides doing just the shows themselves.

The upcoming world tour is going to focus primarily on ‘80’s Iron Maiden especially in the selection of set list and the stage set?

That is right. The whole theme of the tour is going to be based on the Egyptian kind of thing that is similar to the production of the Powerslave tour. We are putting a big production together and also we are going to be focusing on the songs from around the mid-‘80s. Though there are a lot of songs and we basically know all of what we are going to be doing, it is going to be a bit of a learning curve in some ways because there are some songs we haven’t played for like 20 years. We will have to go back and relearn them because we may have forgotten how they go or need to know how they all go again (laughs). We are really excited about this because some the songs are really strong and it will be nice to breathe fresh new life into them now especially since Janick Gers wasn’t on most of those songs anyway. So it is going to be nice having the three guitarists playing within the framework of those older songs. It should be really good so we are looking forward to working those out.

While on the subject of having a three-guitar line-up, how does each guitarist approach their respective guitar parts within this framework?

A lot of it we just kind of fall into it naturally. If we’re all sitting down and there is a song that has kind of been written, then we basically try to first play around with the chords and try and make it all blend together. When it comes to stuff like working out guitar harmonies, someone will naturally go to a part on the neck that they’re comfortable with. So basically we just sit down and work out those little details in the recording studio just so we kind of know that we are all on the same page. But it is a real easy and natural effort between the three of us. We don’t spend hours and hours analyzing it all. It just tends to flow naturally which is the beauty of it really. Because sometimes it just sounds like one big guitar and at other times, you can hear the three individual players coming through.

"Whole theme of the tour is going to be based on the Egyptian kind of thing."
Having three guitarists in the band and each vying for their own musical space, does it ever get competitive between each other?

No it is not like that because we all feel very comfortable in the surroundings that we don’t feel it is a competition at all. Music shouldn’t be a competition anyway. We just try to complement each other so it is not like a battle of who is going to do what. We all feel comfortably enough with each other where we can play how we feel and just enjoy what the other guys are doing. We just want to make music because we enjoy doing that. And what is the point of competing anyway? It’s not like you’re a soccer player, football player, rugby player or something like that where you’re against the other team and you want to go out there and be up against them. It is a band and a whole different approach.

For the songwriting process, does Steve Harris write the initial songs and then bring it to the band so they can add their own bits to them?

Yeah Steve will normally have the songs written like the music, the lyrics and the melodies from the beginning to the end. It is kind of a very specific process as he really knows what he wants so it kind of makes it easier for the band. We will sit down together and he’ll play a melody on the bass and we’ll kind of grab it from there. When we’re in the rehearsal phase, it normally starts out with Steve working with Nicko McBrain and getting the rhythm section kind of working on all the bits and getting it absolutely tight. And while they’re doing that, the guitars are kind of messing around and kind of getting into the groove as well. Once we’re in the studio, we will lay everything down live. Because of this, the tracks will have a good feel to them and we’ll go back to them afterwards and patch little things up here and there.

On those early Iron Maiden albums, how much input did producer Martin Birch have in regards to helping the band forge its trademark sound?

The thing about Martin and for that fact Kevin Shirley too, is that they both have the same kind of filter. What I mean is that, they just let the band go in there and do its thing. Martin and Kevin will just enhance it all through the production of the sound. With Martin it was great, as we would go in there with the songs and just play the songs and he would just enhance it through the production side of it all and through the editing process and stuff like that. I know some producers who want to go in there and take over the whole band and mold it in their way. They will normally demand that the band plays like this and you plays that but then it doesn’t sound like the band anymore. It sounds more like the producer. So we’ve been really blessed with Martin and Kevin where we just go in there and play. So you have the identity of the band still in there being the primary focus. And they will have their go at putting in the little things that helps bring out the sound of what we’re like even more.

What is your current live set-up when it comes to guitars, amps and any effects?

I use mainly Fender Strats, some new 100 watt Marshall heads, a Wah Wah pedal and a Marshall JFX-1 effects rack. So I basically have a pedal board that gives me the ability to dial up any sound I want. With Maiden because there are a lot of rhythm parts, especially on the heavy rhythm side of things, I can just kick on a button and have a solo sound or a have a clean sound or whatever. I basically though try and keep four or five sounds preset onstage and just use them solely.

"We're definitely not devil worshippers."
Iron Maiden has always been an easy target for the moral majority particularly over in the US where the band members have in the past been labeled Satanists?

You couldn’t get a group of people further in the opposite direction than any of us. We’re definitely not devil worshippers. I think it all started because of the Number of the Beast album. When it came out, a lot of the people who didn’t like that sort of thing, just started gravitating towards that album in particular. And though it became a big issue at the time, it wasn’t as big as people made out it to be. But we basically ignored it and left it alone.

There are some people out there who unfortunately will always tend to confuse any sort of fantasy with any sense of reality?

Yeah that is right. With Iron Maiden, with the music and the songs and the lyrics, it is all about the escapism really. Basically that is what the songs are about, you listen to them and it sort of takes you somewhere. If you go watch a movie or read a book, it is kind of like the imagery that you will get from that. And it is going to make you feel good if you know what I mean.

Many bands these days seem to be bringing out cover albums, and since Iron Maiden have done some covers in the past, any chance of an entire covers album coming from Iron Maiden any time soon?

Yeah we’ve done covers in the past like for B-sides for singles. We’ve covered bands the likes of Free, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple so we’ve done quite a number of covers and I’m sure there are others flowing out there somewhere. But I don’t think we’d ever actually go in and do a whole covers album. I mean, good for all the guys that do that but I don’t think we would do something like that.

1 comments for this post


Great interview. This tour should be quite interesting! It's nice to see Dave interviewed once in a while!

Crescent Shield - Melodic Metal like the great Iron Maiden

Posted on 24/9/07 23:29  

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