FORMER IRON MAIDEN SINGER PAUL DI’ANNO DISCUSSES WRITING SONGS WITH THE BAND AND STATED, “[IT’S] STEVE’S BAND..AND IF YOU’RE LUCKY, YOU GET TO WRITE THE ODD SONG”
Songfacts: Do you still enjoy singing the Maiden classics?
Paul Di’Anno: Yeah, I do. There are days where you don’t really want to do it. You feel like, “Oh God, what am I doing?” You know, we’ve done it for so long on and off and I’ve been lazy – I don’t make records, which I should do! I just think, Oh God, I’m going to be stuck doing this for the rest of my life. There are days when I say, “I don’t want to do this,” but as soon as I get on the stage, everything’s fine. We play a lot heavier, as well.
Songfacts: As far as songwriting, how would you say that you write your best songs?
Paul Di’Anno: In jail. [Laughing] No, me and Joey – my guitar player from Architects – we seem to have hit it off really well. Joey’s the newest member with us – he’s only been with us a couple of years when the rest of the guys have played with me for about six, seven years. He’s absolutely phenomenal. We couldn’t believe it. We knew he was good, but we didn’t realize just how great a guitar player he is. Both my guitar players in the band are absolutely awesome. It’s really changed the whole feel of the band. And yeah, we’re coming up with some really good stuff at the moment, so we’re really happy.
Songfacts: How would you describe the songwriting in Iron Maiden?
Paul Di’Anno: Well, it’s Steve Harris, isn’t it? [Laughs] Steve’s band, Steve’s rules, Steve does what he wants, and if you’re lucky, you get to write the odd song.
Songfacts: But as far as the songs that you had a hand in writing, such as Remember Tomorrow and also Running Free, was it the lyrics that you contributed?
Paul Di’Anno: Yeah, I did some of that. Running Free is basically my song. I asked Steve to play this certain bass line, he did, and I actually ended up getting a songwriting credit – I thought, “Oh… great!” But Steve would have an idea and I would make up some lyrics on the spot, or make up some sort of melody line, and then we’d just carry on with it after.
Songfacts: As far as the song Running Free, did you pretty much write all the music, as well?
Paul Di’Anno: Yeah. I had the idea for it all. I stole the idea off of Gary Glitter, with a drumbeat and stuff like that. I wanted that kind of vibe and feel for it. It’s quite simple. I think it was Rock and Roll, Parts One and Two – it was the same drum beat, we just sped it up a little bit.
Songfacts And then the song Remember Tomorrow, if you want to talk a little bit about that.
Paul Di’Anno: That was about my grandfather. I lost him in 1980, when I was on tour. He was a diabetic. They cut off his toe and his heel, then he lost his leg from the knee down, and he just sort of gave up. But the lyrics don’t relate to it, to be honest with you – just the words “remember tomorrow.” Because that is what he always used to say – that was his little catch phrase. “You never know what is going to happen, remember tomorrow, it might be a better day.” So I just kept it in, and that was it.
Songfacts: Were the lyrics to Running Free based on any of your real-life experiences?
Paul Di’Anno: Yeah. [Laughing] I’ve always been a rebel. I don’t know why, I just don’t like conforming to the norm if I can help it. I don’t respect authority, which is a bit unfortunate, as it’s a bad thing for me sometimes!
Songfacts: What about the song Killers, that you also co wrote?
Paul: Steve had the song and I had the idea for the lyrics. But Steve wanted to play it live at the Rainbow when we’d done that DVD, and I thought, Oh crap. I had a rough idea, but I made up the words as we went along – live on stage, in front of all those bloody people. And they’re different to how they are on the album, as well. It was about a psychotic killer, what he’s thinking about while he’s doing it.
Songfacts: Looking back at those two Iron Maiden albums, what song is your favorite and why?
Paul Di’Anno: I don’t know really – they’re all bloody good. It’s just the production is really bad on the first album. I prefer all the songs on the first album.
Songfacts: What was the hardest or most challenging Maiden song to sing?
Paul Di’Anno: The one we don’t do anymore – Women in Uniform. [Laughs] We played it a couple of times with Iron Maiden, and I played it a couple of times recently over the years – it’s such a bloody pain in the ass, it really is. And it’s not even one of our songs – it’s Skyhooks, the Australian band. I just didn’t get on with it. I don’t get on with that song at all.
Songfacts: One of my favorite Maiden songs has always been Murders in the Rue Morgue.
Paul Di’Anno: Steve came up with that – it’s from the book, The Murders in the Rue Morgue [a short story by Edgar Allan Poe]. Steve is into all that stuff – the historical stuff – and it came out really good. I still love playing that song live, and I’ll be doing it tonight again.
Songfacts” What about the song Wrathchild?
Paul Di’Anno: That’s one of Steve’s inventions. I don’t really know what it’s all about, to be quite honest with you.
Songfacts: Was there ever a lyric that Steve presented that you didn’t really care for?
Paul Di’Anno: Yeah, there’s a couple. Invasion was one of them – one of the very first tracks we ever did. The hook line: “The Vikings are coming, the Vikings are coming.” Oh blimey, that sounded really rubbish. But it still went down great live, so I can’t complain – what do I know?
Songfacts: Let’s talk about your new project, Architects of Chaoz.
Paul Di’Anno: This is my German touring band. We’ve been friends for so many years and we just decided that we’ve had enough of this, let’s become a band. We still play some of the Maiden songs, but we started writing and it’s all going very, very well. We had an EP we put out to try and get a record deal, and somehow, Metal Hammer got a hold of it and Rock Hard Magazine have both made us the EP of the month in August. And the vibe on us is going absolutely crazy, so we’re loving it. We go into the studio in February to start recording the full album. Still got a couple of songs to finish off the album when I get off tour. And then it’s a May release. We’ve already got the title, it’s Architects of Chaoz, A League of Shadows. So we’re just going to see what happens with this now.
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In addition to his new band, Di’Anno also released a DVD called The Beast Arises and a book called The Beast.