Adrian Smith Interview

Adrian Smith gained fame as guitarist for the British quintet, Iron Maiden. Maiden's popularity was so great, that by the end of 1985, the band had received a total of 46 gold and platinum records from around the world. Adrian Smith has left the band and released his first solo effort titled "Silver and Gold" (Enigma Records). Helping Adrian out on the album, are people like Zak Starkey (Ringo's son). It's a strong debut album and a guarantee of even better things to come. We spoke with Adrian Smith about his Maiden days and his split from the group to go solo.

Q. A lot of musicians will leave an established group, in the hopes of making it on their own. How did you know you could do it?
A. Well, we did the album last year, the ASAP (Adrian Smith And Project) album. I actually started rehearsing with Iron Maiden in January for a couple of weeks. After a couple of weeks, it wasn't going quite right so we kind of sat down, and had a discussion, and it came about that it would work out better for both parties. That was the upshot of that. So, I'm pursuing this full-time now. It's kind of scary after being in Maiden for ten years and being a part of that. But, I feel real positive about what I'm doing now.

Q. Since critics love to categorize music, what category are they putting your music in these days?
A. Well, it's a bit weird, because I'm coming out of what most people see as a radical heavy metal band and now I'm doing kind of straight ahead rock. I suppose Iron Maiden was very intense. What I'm doing now I still put that intensity into it, but it's more straight ahead. Hopefully kind of honest rock really. It's really difficult trying to categorize things. (Laughs).

Q. Why did you feel the need to have two other guitarists on this record of yours?
A. Well, it really wasn't meant to be a triple guitar band. The guys I hooked up with Dave and Andy, was primarily from a writing point of view. Obviously I don't need three guitarists. We all kind of played in a similar style, but the emphasis was more on songwriting. I like their work. Sometimes it works really nice having three guitars. I play the bulk of the solos. Andy, who's a great guitarist, I've always loved his playing, he cut loose quite a bit, and Dave was more into kind of clean textured stuff.

Q. How difficult is it going to be for you to tour behind your album? What kind of venues will you be playing? Are you going to be the frontman?
A. The thing is yeah, there's a lot of questions, I know. First of all, it's kind of a studio project, ASAP, "Silver and Gold." It was kind of a studio band. There was never any plans to tour. It was just an album I was gonna put out during the year off from Iron Maiden. Now I find myself in a situation where I'm pursuing it full-time. I haven't got a full-time band really. The guys are still around, but they're doing different things. Also, at the time the album was released, I was still in Iron Maiden, so I couldn't make any long-term concrete plans to tour. So, nothing was set-up when I actually did part company. So, what I'm doing now is promo, hoping it picks up some radio play. Probably, what I'll do next is go back to England and maybe start thinking about another album, then definitely do a tour.

Q. When you're in a heavy metal band like Iron Maiden, audiences expect you to play a certain style of music, wear your hair a certain length, and dress a certain way. Doesn't that cramp your style a little bit? How can a musician experiment under those conditions?
A. I think that the bands that rise to the top, usually play the part, but they usually are the part, if you know what I mean. They kind of live it, or at least they appear to. Obviously if you're in a successful band and you're doing a certain thing, and people want to see you for that certain thing, it stops you certainly from experimenting. But I think that's just the price you pay for success. It goes back to Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar. Every time he went onstage people were disappointed if he didn't do it, or if Pete Townshend (The
Who) didn't smash his guitar. Silly things like that. It's like an actor getting typecast. So, I suppose it's inevitable, unless you're David Bowie and sound and look different on every album. And people like him for that.

Q. What were you doing before Iron Maiden?
A. I was kind of doing the pub circuit in England. That's where I started singing actually, and playing guitar. Playing like Thin Lizzy covers, UFO songs, and a little bit of originals. Just kind of dues paying.

Q. Do you understand it when people say the fun has gone out of today's music? Groups aren't singing about cars, or surfing, but about the darker side of life. Why do you suppose that is?
A. I suppose you got a movement now where people are singing about the rain forests, serious issues. I suppose the older you get, the more philosophical you get.

Q. An organization out of Lake Mont, N.Y. calling themselves Freedom Village, U.S.A. accused Iron Maiden of backward masking the message, "Don't meddle with things you don't understand." Did you ever do that?
A. I think we were just having a little fun. I think someone had the idea of putting something really dumb backwards on the record that meant absolutely nothing.

Q. Was that the producer's idea?
A. I think the drummer did it, on a drunken night. He sat down and kind of rambled on and we all laughed at him, and they recorded it, and they just put it on the album backwards. (Laughs).

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