Metal icons Iron Maiden released their 17th studio album, Senjutsu last Friday to both critical and commercial acclaim.
With an epic running time of a little under 82 minutes, the album is a joyous journey for Iron Maiden fans, featuring all of the signature elements we've come to love over the band's 46-year career on full display while also introducing some new sounds and stylistic influences.
On the day of Senjutsu's release, we were granted an audience with a man whose fingerprints all over that signature Iron Maiden sound, the living legend of metal, guitarist Dave Murray.
Murray is responsible for some of the most instantly recognisable and beloved lead guitar work in metal history, with his contributions throughout Iron Maiden's career lionized, memorised and sung by audiences worldwide for decades. As the second-longest serving member of Iron Maiden (only originator, Steve Harris has been around longer) Murray's influence on the metal of yesterday, today and tomorrow can not be undersold.
Murray was nice enough to chat to us from Hawaii, going deep with us on a number of topics including Senjutsu, his favourite Iron Maiden guitar parts, his memories of touring Australia, Iron Maiden's relationship with their fans and the secret weapon to Iron Maiden's live longevity, which of course is....tennis!
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden how is existence treating you today?
“Doing great. Thanks. It’s mid-afternoon here in Hawaii, where everything's nice and chilled out, so I’m just relaxing, it’s nice to talk to you”
Dave, you’ve graced us with your metal god presence today because the mighty Iron Maiden have just released your 17th studio album, Senjutsu. How does it feel to have this one out in the world?
“We are so pleased for it to be out. It’s been in the Iron Maiden dungeon for the last couple of years, as with everything that happened, we weren’t going to be able to tour it, so we decided just to hold it back. That gave us more time for the presentation of the album, the artwork and the videos that are coming out along with it, so in a way, holding it back til now is kind of a nice thing, because the fans have been waiting and the bands have been waiting so we’re all that bit happier that it’s launch day”
Senjutsu seems to be being pretty well received by your fans so far, how does that response make you feel?
"That’s been a positive sign as well, because even though it is our 17th album now, we still always want to create new melodies, new ideas, new songs to try a make each album a little bit different, but it’s still got to have the identity of Iron Maiden in there. Even if the songs are nine or ten minutes long, they still have to have that stamp of Iron Maiden on them."
"Historically, when we play our songs live, the fans know all the lyrics, they know every chord change, every lead break, every solo, every vocal part, every drum part; our fans are just so special. So if we put something out there, they’re quick to jump on it, which is great. So far I’ve seen bits and bobs on the internet and everything seems to be positive, so today's a great day for Iron Maiden”
Now the pandemic has obviously made this an unusual rollout for Iron Maiden, but have you found any positives in having to switch it up?
"Yes. This is a completely different way of doing it than we’ve ever done. I think most bands are in that position now where they've had to change just the way they do things or look at things. Previously every 18 months, you know, we'd have a new album and tour it and then we’d do a best-of tour and that would see out three years for us. So this situation has turned everything on its head and we're just still rolling with it. We’re looking forward to getting out and touring it at some point because obviously, that's a big thing for us, but so far, so good. Today is a good day!"
For a man who has written so many classic guitar parts throughout the years, is there anything on Senjutsu that you’re super stoked on from a guitar perspective?
“With each song on the album, we wanted everything to be harmonized and for the solos to really come leaping out. So with each solo, we tried to work it into the song, so instead of just having it be there for the hell of it, we tried to compliment the song with the different notes we chose. So some of the solos are spontaneous and were made up on the spot and that can be really good, while others we had to work on a little bit”
“As far any particular solos that are favourites, over the past few records, I’ve kind of enjoyed the big picture more than anything, which is that we’re still able to express ourselves through our instruments. That we can just let go and play and have it all be gelling and it makes the records feel like good group therapy.”
“Sometimes when you’re listening to music on headphones or watching a great movie it draws you in, and you become totally encompassed and lost in it and it moves you. That’s what we tried to do with the album, we wanted to take you on a journey, and make you feel a little bit better at the end of it all.”
That’s wonderful. We've had a bit of a debate on our socials recently about what is the best Iron Maiden guitar riff or guitar part. I'm curious, what's your favourite?
“Oh, well there’s two actually. I love the intro from Hallowed Be Thy Name, it’s always really nice to back and play that. The second one takes us back to the early ‘80s, and it’s the solo from the song Killers. I remember that we used to play that one live a lot before we actually recorded it and I always really enjoyed playing it back in 1981, and it’s funny but it still stands out to me for some reason now, all these years later. There’s something about that song.”
Awesome. I saw on our Facebook that that's a couple of your fan’s favourites too!
“Well, that’s always nice to know. What a coincidence!”
Iron Maiden are one of the world’s biggest touring bands and you’ve been frequent tourers of Australia throughout the years, so I'm curious if you remember much about coming out to Australia, do you have any particularly fond memories?
Coming to Australia has always been a really good experience. I remember that we came there for the first time in the early 80s and we played theatres all over the place and it was amazing. We’ve been there several times over the years, and it is always a great vibe, it is a beautiful country and the reaction from the kids there is tremendous. I just love everything about it really, it's a great place to visit, a great place to tour and a great place to really just go out and have a few beers as well”
Well, beer is certainly something that we seem to enjoy a lot of over here, just as we enjoy the mighty Iron Maiden! Now, we’ve been fortunate enough to have our own Australian Eddie's designed a couple of times for when Maiden have toured in the past, which leads me to ponder, do you think any of the Australian Eddie's could win a battle against the Senjutsu Samurai Eddie?
"I’ll have to refresh my memory on these Australian Eddie’s, but off the top of my head, I’m going to say may the tallest Eddie wins. Actually, I think that the winner will be the one that has drunk the most beer."
From what I’ve seen at previous Iron Maiden tours down under, I’m going to tip that’s going to be the Aussie Eddie!
We have a winner!
Before I let you go back to living your best life, we’ve got a few quick questions we like to ask each of our guests. First up, who is the first band that you remember loving?
The Beatles, because my sister was a big fan and used to play the Beatles all over the house, all of the time, and that was way back in the 60s. That was the first band I was a fan of.
Outside of music, what is something that you consider yourself a bit of a Maniac for, what’s something you just can’t get enough of?
Well, I love getting out and playing tennis, actually. I love the adrenaline rush and the way it just keeps you really fit. I also like playing golf. I like to get outside as much as possible, really, get involved in outdoor activities, which is fun, you know?
It sounds to me like an Iron Maiden tennis tournament could be something that we could see in the future?
“We played in Australia on the courts where they play the Australian Open, so you’re absolutely right, we should have one of those tennis tournaments. Adrian and Steve are big players, so we’ll get a run in and play doubles. So I’m sure that is something that we’d definitely like to do in the future.”
Let’s make it happen in Australia!
“It’s a great thing to do before a tour, as it gets your energy levels up too. My thing has always been that if I can last for two hours on a tennis court, I can play for two hours with Iron Maiden.”
Well, I think we’ve uncovered the true secret to Iron Maiden’s longevity, it’s Tennis!
One more question before I have to let you go, Dave. If you could have any song play whenever you enter a room, just like the pro-wrestlers do, what song would you choose?
That’s a good one! Probably Jimi Hendrix, Voodoo Child.
That’s an amazing choice and the perfect way to say farewell today. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to Maniacs today, Dave, it’s not every day that a person gets to talk to a metal god, so thank you for your time and good luck with Senjutsu.
Thank you for your time, Brenton, have a great day in Australia it has been nicing talking to you, take care.
Senjutsu is out now on Parlaphone Records and you can buy it in a variety of formats from the Maniacs Store now.
Watch the video for the Stratego below