IRON MAIDEN – Somewhere Back In Time: The Powerslave Interviews

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 IRON MAIDEN - Somewhere Back In Time: The Powerslave Interviews

PART 3: Dave Murray

Dave Murray 


Dave, tell me about everything you’ve been doing since the last time I saw you, the new album, the tour, anything at all.


Dave:  Well, right after we finished the album [Powerslave], I went over to < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Egypt for about three weeks. I went there with me girlfriend, and went to see pyramids, and we went for a cruise up the Nile. We went down with diaries and all that sort of stuff, like taking notes an all that.


Oh, Really?!


Dave:  Yeah, we just got really into it — the whole thing.


Oh!  Now that makes me think of all the Egyptian-themed artwork on the album.  It especially makes me think of that picture of the band on the inner sleeve, where it looks like you’re inside a tomb … Was that done in Egypt?


Dave:  No, that was done … in a place in Hackney [London, UK], I think! (laughs)  Oh, but do you mean the picture?


Yeah. (laughs)

Dave Murray Alpine Valley 84 


Dave:  That was done at a studio in Los Angeles.  … The guy who done it, had done like Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark, and stuff like that.


Oh, he made up a set for it?


Dave:  Yeah, that’s it.  He built up a set with lots of cobwebs … and just tried to make it as mysterious as possible.


Oh!  Well, when you mentioned going to Egypt, I thought you might have done it there, because it looked very authentic!


Dave:  Yeah, a lot of people have said that, actually.  It does actually look like the real thing, because I went to quite a few tombs when I was there, and it does look like that.




So, was doing the album with an Egyptian theme the thing that inspired you to go to Egypt?


Dave:  Actually, it came about the other way around, really. …  Well, I’ve always wanted to go there, and I’ve always been interested in it, and when Bruce came up with the idea for Powerslave, I started getting back into it. I thought, well, we’ve got like a month to kill, so I thought: Let’s go to Egypt! Where we stayed, was a sort of Indian hotel overlooking the Pyramids, so you’d wake up in the morning and look out and there’s this giant pyramid standing in front of you! It was great, and we also went camel riding out in the desert, and it was great fun actually!  It was really an experience, one of the highlights, actually, you know what I mean?


Yeah!  Well, good for you on that, because I know you guys go all around the world these days, but you don’t often get enough time to really see or experience the places you’re at in the world …


Dave:  No, that’s right, very rarely. Although I’ll admit me and Adrian always go out fishing, in America anyway, so we get to see a bit of countryside – sometimes, anyway

Dave in a NYC pub in 1984 


Yes, I’ve seen you guys out fishing a couple of times when you’ve been over here, and that seems like a great remedy for all the craziness of the road. … But speaking of diversions, I can see from the promo photos for this album that some of you went out and had tattoos done since the last tour.  When I asked Adrian about it, he said you guys had that done while you were making the album, and he said everyone except him and Bruce had ones done.


Dave:  That’s right, yeah.  This guy [tattoo artist], he lives in Ilsip, and he’d already done a couple for Steve, and he came out to Jersey for a week, and everyone went mad!  And I had one done, because I used to have a cross, so I had it covered it up.  But everybody was getting ‘em – I think the hotel manager, and even the guy running the chip shop!  (laughs)  We kinda thought about taking him out on tour, actually, and setting up his tattoo gear at the gigs! (laughs)


Oh, he’d probably get a lot of business now! (laughs)


Dave:  I bet he would, actually! (laughs)


Well, let’s talk about that new album a bit more – and the great guitar sound on there…


Dave:  Well, we spent a lot more time getting the sound together


Well, the guitar sound just seems more distinctive than ever …

Dave backstage Alpine Valley Powerslave 


Dave:  Yeah, I think they’re a lot more “up there” this time.  I think it’s a well-balanced album, actually, and it was a lot of fun making it.  We had some great laughs.  But Martin had some different ideas about how he wanted to approach it, and what we done is we put down some of the backing tracks, then when all the backing tracks were done, we took all of the stuff out of the studio and then set up all the equipment, and played along to the backing tracks.  We went for an ambient sound, we were trying to get a big hall sound in the studio, and it sort of captured it actually.  There’s a live area in the studio where we put the cabs up, and it sounded really live, so we went for that sort of approach.  So, it created a lot more space on the album.  It’s all just trying to capture that little bit of magic! … Spending more time, I think it did pay off.  … and I’m glad you like it, anyway.


I think that’s an understatement! (laughs)   And, I think there’s greater degree of clarity in the sound overall – everything, every instrument, seems to pop out. ….   And Adrian mentioned that he had changed his style on this album somewhat, what’s your take on what he means by that?


Dave:  I think he went for a different approach, maybe.  He uses the whammy bar a couple of times on the album, so I think it’s down to that. 


Well, Adrian also mentioned that you did the solo on “Powerslave” – and he said that kind of solo was “right up your alley” … but that makes me wonder, how do you decide which of you is going to do what solo on each of the songs?


Dave:  Well, a lot of the time, when there’s a key change, there’s normally a guitar solo in one key, then the next solo follows in a different key.  We have different styles, anyway, and it’s really whatever style happens to fit into that type of chord pattern.  Well, that slow bit you’re talking about, I just sort of went into it.  But, as far as the other solos go, we merely sat down and thought, “Oh, you’ve got to do this one, and I’ve got to do that one.”  It was like who’d feel the most natural to play any particular solo.


I know that you and Adrian obviously do have different playing styles, but how would you describe the differences in the way the two of you play?


Dave:  Well, I think it might be our influences, mostly.  I like listening to Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore sorts of things, and I think my style tends to go in that direction, and Adrian likes listening to Michael Schenker and UFO, and things like that, and I think he tends to go more in that kind of direction.  And they’re all different styles.  But that was a few years ago, and I think we’ve got to a different stage now, where you go off and sort of develop your own kind of style, and you just sort of get into your own little thing and play what is most natural to you.


I know that you and Adrian grew up in the same neighborhood in the East End, and that you both knew each other and started playing around the same time, right?


Dave:  Yeah, we both used to live in Clapton, and there’d be all the different gangs hanging out, and we’d sort of go hang out ‘round this block of flats.  And there was music going on everywhere, so I went out and bought a guitar out of Woolworth’s (laughs) and just started messin’ about with it.  Then, I think it was Adrian’s brother, already had a guitar – a Spanish guitar – and we sort of got together, and we’d go ‘round to Adrian’s house, downstairs in the cellar, and have a little jam! We bought a little bass drum, and we’d set up a couple of cardboard boxes and that. (laughs)  So, we had this “Top Twenty” Woolworth’s guitar, and this Woolworth’s amplifier, and we’d play a lot of bluesy sort of stuff, like Free and Sabbath.  And we actually did our first gig in Clapton at a church hall. We went down there and there were only about 10 people there, and we went up there and played for about 15 minutes.  (laughs)  I think we got like a can of Coke and Mars bar, or something, for playing a few songs.


Dave Murray 

So, that was actually your first payment as a musician!? (laughs)


Dave:  Yeah, a can of Coke and a Mars bar!  (laughs)  At that time, you just did it all for fun, and it was great getting out anyway.


How old were you at the time?


Dave:  Oh, I think I was about 17 or so.   So, we’d get together, and go ‘round to pubs, like talent contests, and get up and do a couple of songs, just so we could play.


Did you have a name for your band then?


Dave:  Yeah!  It was called Stoned Free.  (laughs)  It was me and “H” and we had a drummer and bass player.  We didn’t do many gigs, but it was a starting off point, to get out there and actually start playin’.  Then me and Adrian both sort of split up.  We thought it would be best to go our separate ways and try to get something else together.  And Adrian got a band together called Urchin – he must have told you?


Yeah, he did, and I knew Urchin actually opened up for some early Iron Maiden gigs, didn’t they?


Dave:  Yeah, it was at an airbase in England, and we actually played together there, but we actually opened up for Urchin the first time, and they opened for us the second time. So, it was good fun really.


But even though you and Adrian went your separate ways, it sounds like you were still keeping in touch.


Dave:  Yeah, I’d go down to see Urchin play down the pubs, and he’d come down and see us.  I went for a few different bands, and that’s when I joined up with Maiden.

iron maiden 


Well, I did want to ask you about that, too, because so far I’ve never seen the details of exactly how you did hook up with Maiden. [Ed. Note: these interviews pre-dated the official Run to the Hills biography on the band, and most other such sources that elaborated on Maiden members “early days.”]


Dave:  One of the singers [for Maiden] at the time was a guy named Dennis Wilcox.  He was putting a band together first, and he already knew Steve [Harris].  And I sort of joined for a week or so, and it didn’t work out.  Then Dennis Wilcox joined up with Steve in putting Maiden together, and he said, “Oh, I know this guitar player,” and he had me phone number and got in touch with me.  And they had all this gear set up in this caravan out in this farm yard, so I sort of trudged across this field with all these cows wandering about.  (laughs)  And I remember the first song I actually played was “Wrathchild.”  We played that together, and it was like, “Yeah!”  So, that was happening, and I just joined up.


Wasn’t there a point when you left the band for a spell?


Dave:  Yeah, well, I actually got sacked! (laughs)


By who?!


Dave:  Well, by Dennis, the singer.  We’d done a few gigs together and we’d done this gig down at The Bridgehouse, and I don’t know, there were all sorts of things going on at the time, and I just got sacked.  So, I went back and joined Urchin with Adrian, and we did a few gigs together … and then Steve came down to this pub where we were playing and said, “Would you like to join Maiden again?”  And I said, “Yeah!” because I really liked the songs and everything – I had a feeling about it, that something was going to happen. 


Oh, you did have that feeling?


Dave:  Yeah, straight away, I sort of said, “Yeah, I’ll join ‘em!”   I liked the songs, and there were actually a lot of things going on, and it was really good, and really enjoyable.


At this time, Maiden weren’t all that well known were they?


Dave:  Well, we had like a cult following, actually, that we’d sort of built up around the East End.  We’d play the pubs, and we’d have a couple of hundred people in there.  And we’d play two or three times a week.  Then we’d start venturing out to the English countryside and playing gigs up in Scotland and down in Wales, and down in Brighton, and we gradually started building up a following all over the whole country.  But, at that time, we didn’t have any records out or anything.  And it was round about ’79, actually, on New Year’s Eve, that we went down and did The Soundhouse Tapes



Do you think that was the turning point, when you did that?


Dave:  Yeah, when we went down in the studio and put down four tracks, it was like, “Great, we’ve got them down” so we could take them around and get more people interested.  Because you know Neil Kay – we’d took the tape down to his place, The Bandwagon, and he started playing it, and it got into the heavy metal charts over here.  And it paved the way actually.  We’d go down to the club, and Neil would put on the record, and there would be all these headbangers jumping up and down with imaginary guitars and stuff. (laughs) And it was great!


So, was that when the record companies came knocking?


Dave:  Well, where Steve was working, there was a friend of Steve’s who said he knew this agent, and it was Rod Smallwood.  So, Steve gave him a tape, and Rod played it, and I think he must have liked it.  Then we set up a couple of gigs in this one place called Windsor Castle, and the pub manager said we had to go on at a certain time, and there weren’t hardly any people there at the time, so we kept putting it off and said we’d go on a bit later, and, in the end, we didn’t go on at all.  So, Rod didn’t get to see us.  It’s funny, ‘cause the pub manager there said we’d never play in North London again! (laughs)


Didn’t exactly make the best first impression then? (laughs)


Dave:  No way! (laughs)  So, we set up another gig after that – this one in Hammersmith, and we went down there and had all the gear set up, and then, ten minutes before we were supposed to go on, Paul DiAnno got arrested!  (laughs)  He got arrested outside the pub, so we went on as a three-piece, and we did an instrumental set, and then Paul came back for the last 15 minutes and a couple of numbers.  It was really funny that happened when Rod came down to see us.  But I think he liked it, and we started getting things together from there.  The first thing we did was put out The Soundhouse Tapes – we made up like around 5,000 copies and started selling them through Keith Wilfort, and it was really good because we were getting records out to the kids then.  We were quite amazed, actually, at the way they went – you know?


Yeah, and then when you did get signed, and you released your first album [Iron Maiden], that went in high on the charts in England too, didn’t it?


Dave:  Yeah, I think it went in at #4, and that was great, because we’d been playing gigs consistently at the time, and we’d built up quite a following. 


That must have been a very exciting time …


Dave:  Oh, yeah, when we signed that deal with EMI, we thought, “Great!” because now we can do the album.  And everybody packed in their jobs, you know.  And it was great, because then we could go out and do it full time.  … It was something we’d always dreamt about doing, actually.


But did you ever dream it would get as big as it’s gotten now?


Dave:  Well, we’re pretty much all the same now as we were. (laughs)  Nobody’s changed.  I don’t think we really realize ourselves how big it all is, really – you know what I mean?  We just go out and play … but we do see the album sales, that it’s doing well, but we just get on with what we’re doing.  You do get all the kids coming up to you all excited and everything, and that’s really good!  But, at the same time, you don’t get really wrapped up in it.  I guess some people may get more wrapped up in than we do, but the main thing for us is to just go out on the stage and play, and have a good time!


Well, it looks like you’re going to have plenty of time for all that with this tour – you’re sure not going to have much time for a vacation for a year or so now, are you?


Dave:  No, as you, know, this tour is like 13 months long.  We’re about two months into it, so we’re sort of rolling there, you know.  Everything’s going really well, actually.  You know we started of in Poland, so we could get the stage show sorted out.  And it came together – like after a couple of gigs.  So, everybody’s really comfortable now, and we can go out there and really enjoy it.


Yeah, I’ve noticed in the past you’ve usually started out tours in England, but that doesn’t give you the chance to work out the kinks …


maiden live 1984 


Dave:  Yeah, that’s right.  And England is home here, and you when you go out there, you do have a level, a standard of performance you expect, so this time we thought we’d get a few gigs under our belt and come back and tour here. … But it was really good going to Poland, ‘cause not many bands go there.  So, when we played over there, the kids were so happy we’d actually gone over there, and we had the whole show and everything.  So, it was really a trip doing that!


Adrian mentioned that you actually did a video over there in Poland that’s supposed to be shown here in American on MTV – in October, I think.  So, what things did you tape?


Dave:  Well, we taped all the things we shouldn’t have done! (laughs)  I mean, a lot of it, because we’d driven through the Czechoslovakian border into Hungary, and there’s this railway line running past, with military tanks and cars, and these guys were filming it, and I don’t know if they’ll show it, because you’re not supposed to take pictures of that.  And even at the airport, actually, you’re not supposed to film, but, when we got there, there was a TV crew there, and also the people who came with us, so it was like everyone was filming everything! But, I don’t know how much they’ll be able to use.


And what other things were taped?


Dave:  Oh, like the concerts, you know – and everyone working around us.  It’s going to be an hour documentary, like “Behind the Iron Curtain” or something. 


Adrian told me the thing about the Polish wedding reception thing over there … did you tape any of that?


Dave:  Yeah, we’ve got that down, yeah!  That’s going to be “featuring” on there, I think. (laughs)  We might release that as the next video. (laughs)   But, we went down this club, and it was a wedding reception, with all these mums and dads, dancing and waltzing about, like the fox trot and all that.  Then we sort of wandered in there and had a few drinks … then had a few more drinks.  And there was this little band playing, so we thought, let’s get up there and have a jam!  When we said that, the guy from the TV crew sort of rushed back to the hotel and got all the other guys out of bed, and then right back to the club and got it down on video.  We done like “Smoke on the Water” and “Tush” . (laughs)  And there’s about 50 people on stage, like singing and shouting … 


Well, I can just imagine, because my step-father’s Polish, and I’ve been to a lot of Polish weddings, and they all really like to have a good time, even the little old grandmas and granddads!


Dave:  Yeah! Oh, Yeah! It was great, they were all shoutin’ for more and all that! It was real fun! (laughs)


Well, I’ll be anxious to see that!


Dave:  I can’t wait to see it meself, actually!  I think they’re still editing it down right now, to pick out the best parts.


Well, they just debuted your new video on MTV last week, though I haven’t seen it yet, for “2 Minutes To Midnight.” 


Dave:  Oh, is that the new one? 


Yes, and hopefully I’ll see it soon, because the people I know who saw it were going over the top about it.  …And the same is true for the new album – I’ve heard that it’s doing really great so far already – charging out of the gates!  All the rock fans I’ve talked to have been super enthusiastic about it …


Dave:  Oh, fantastic, that’ll be great, for when we get over there!  ‘Cause, as you know, we’ve got two different stage shows … We’ve got one for Europe, and another one for America.  We’re using pretty much the same stuff we’ve got here, only a lot more – and there’s quite a few spectacular effects going down! (laughs)  I think they’re definitely going to be in for a surprise – well, we’re going to be in for a surprise! (laughs) … It’s always good, ‘cause the halls there are great to play in anyway, and we’re doubling up on the PA. So, it’s going to be a really big production – we’re going to go all out this time: No Holds Barred!



Up next Adrian Smith!

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