Steve Harris: three decades of heavy metal thunder
To celebrate Hammer turning thirty, Iron Maiden's Steve Harris joins us to look back on the last three decades of up, downs and shaping heavy metal
The world is a vastly different place from the one that birthed the first issue of Metal Hammer in 1986. One thing, however, remains constant, reliable and perennially reassuring: Iron Maiden. It hardly needs explaining why they have graced our cover so many times over the last three decades (20 and counting!), but it’s still hard not to marvel at this band’s unwavering ability to remain at the top of their game. Somehow, Iron Maiden are even bigger around the world in 2016 than they were when we first sang their praises in the midst of their mid-80s glory days. And there is clearly plenty of life in the old dogs yet, too…
“Alright, don’t rub it in!” Steve Harris laughs. “Thirty years… it’s scary, isn’t it? Where has the time gone?”
Rewind to 1986, and Iron Maiden were very much at the peak of their powers, and steadily approaching the apex of their first wave of popularity. Having played in front of roughly three-and-a-half million people during the World Slavery Tour that concluded the previous summer, the band were up against it when it came to making a new album and topping their recent triumphs. Fortunately, their next album was the magnificent, sci-fi-tinged Somewhere In Time: both Maiden’s most adventurous album to date and the perfect starting point for the next extravagant stage set. The tour, inevitably titled Somewhere On Tour, kicked off in Belgrade in September 1986, two full weeks before the album’s release, and its eye-frazzling, futuristic imagery and giant cyborg Eddie proved to be an immediate hit with Maiden’s rapidly expanding global audience.
“What I remember most about the Somewhere In Time tour was having an argument with Rod [Smallwood, Maiden’s manager]. I wanted to film the tour and he wasn’t having any of it,” Steve grumbles. “I said, ‘We’ve got to film the tour!’ but he wasn’t into it. [impersonating Rod] ‘Noooo, we don’t need to film the bloody tour!’ Of course, later on he ended up saying, ‘Oh, I wish we’d filmed the tour…’, ha ha! But it was a great-looking tour. It looked fantastic, but we’ve got hardly any footage of it anywhere. We filmed the video for Stranger In A Strange Land at Sheffield City Hall, but apart from that we haven’t got much at all. But what can you do? I rest my case, Rod, ha ha ha!”