Talking Iron Maiden With Author Neil Daniels
By: David E. Gehlke
Ah, the infamous Blaze Bayley years...
Blistering.com: To that point, how did you view Smith's role in the band? He seemed to be able to strike the right songwriting balance with Harris, after all.
Daniels: Exactly and I think the reason why - as I mention above - the songwriting on No Prayer is poor is because it misses Smith. He’s only credited on “Hooks In You.” The same can be said of the Blaze Bayley albums – the trio of Smith, Dickinson and Harris is what makes Maiden work.
Blistering.com: When watching live footage of Dickinson around '92/'93 on the Fear of the Dark tour, what sort of thoughts spring to mind?
Daniels: They were amazing onstage and if you watch the Donington footage and listen to the Live At Donington album they were on fire but there’s also a feeling that they were maybe jaded and a tad fed up of each other. It’s funny how Priest and Maiden’s careers in the 1990s kind of mirror each other. They needed the break to truly appreciate the chemistry they have as a band.
Blistering.com: When Bruce put out Chemical Wedding in '98, do you think that made Harris and co. really stand up and take notice of what he was doing?
Daniels: Probably – it would be hard not to. Maybe Harris didn’t make a concerted effort to listen to Chemical Wedding but he would have known what Dickinson was up to ditto Tipton/Downing with Halford. After all, they were competing with each other.
Blistering.com: Some may want to overlook the Blaze years entirely, but the band has done a good job of incorporating some of the songs from his era into the live set. What do you think Bayley's lasting legacy will be?
Daniels: I think fans have largely shunned this era and chosen to forget about it so it’s kinda of like “the dark years” of the band. Ticket sales were low, albums sales were poor, reviews weren’t great. Since Brave New World, the band has become huge again. That period with Blaze needed to happen because like I said before Dickinson and Harris obviously needed to have a break from each other, and in the long run it’s work out well.
Blistering.com: Paul Di'anno has repeatedly bagged on his time in Maiden, yet he tours almost annually playing Maiden songs from his era. Do you see any sort of irony in this?
Daniels: Yes, there is irony but also the guy needs to make a living somehow. Look at the ex members of AC/DC, Wishbone Ash, Saxon, Judas Priest etc., etc – it’s not easy making a living doing something you love in this day and age. I can understand it in that sense but yeah, Di’anno could choose his words more wisely when talking about Maiden.
Blistering.com: Obviously, the band is nearing the end of its career, so what do you think the right way to go out would be? One last studio album? Or a proper "farewell" tour?
Daniels: The Final Frontier is kind of a scary title isn’t it? Is it really the end after 15 albums? I dunno. Maybe they will call it quits or maybe they’ll surprise us and carry on making music and touring. Or will they go out on top - a huge tour like you said. The Final Frontier is a fine album; a great album to end an amazing career. But bands are so unpredictable that there’s no point on theorising until the band issue a statement telling us of their plans.
Blistering.com: What type of projects are you currently working?
Daniels: Yes, I’ve got a little book out in August on You Me At Six, a British pop-punk band, and then I have five books out next year including a second one on Bon Jovi and a fictional rock novel. It’s too early to announce the others yet other than to say they’re bios of major hard rock/metal bands. You can read about my up coming stuff nearer the time at neildanielsbooks.wordpress.com.
Blistering.com: Anything you'd like to plug?
Daniels: I’ve got a book out now on the early years of Metallica. I’ve actually wanted to do this for a while but it was only recently that I found an interested publisher: Martin Roach at Independent Music Press. I worked with Martin before when he hired me to write a bio of Robert Plant back in 2007. He was really keen on the idea of a book on Metallica. Given that the band’s best work is undoubtedly their first four albums – possibly the fifth in some fans eyes – and that they’ve recently celebrated their 30th anniversary it seemed like a no brainer. When metal fans talk about Metallica’s best albums they usually mention Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and ...And Justice For All. It’s been getting some great reviews so far so I hope Metallica fans dig it. Check out neildanielsbooks.wordpress.com for updates.
Neil Daniels official site