pauldianno Greg Prato of Songfacts spoke with former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno. Excerpts from interview appear below.

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.

Read more at Songfacts.

In addition to his new band, Di’Anno also released a DVD called The Beast Arises and a book called The Beast.

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  • Lee on

    Martin “turn up everything” Birch.

  • Grady on

    Maiden with Paul was special it was the original band and sound and Balls ,with bruce it was more technical but itl lacked substance It ‘ $ svery musically prolific but the soul isn’t present

  • Franky on

    This thread has really got my imagination going the last few days and i am really comming to the conclusion that Dianno in his prime would have made Number Of The Beast darker and more primevil. just sit back, clear your thoughts and play the songs we all know so well in our heads. imagine Diannos low gutteral vocals on Numbers, Children Of The Damned,22 Acacia Ave,Hallowed Be Thy Name. After Number Of The Beast with the departure of Clive Burr the bands writing morphed into a style more suited for Bruce Dickenson. Dont think Paul would have faired well on Piece Of Mind, but Numbers, I would have loved to have the first 3 Maiden alblums end with Dianno as a perfect trifecta

    • JAMEϟ on

      Or better yet… consider my two singer idea and turn Beast into a double album… One LP has Bruce singing the songs, the other has Paul. That would be magic!!

    • JAMEϟ on

      *** WOULD’VE been magic, haha.

    • Franky on

      That would be amazing

    • Dan Neal on

      I’m glad to read many good vibes of Paul. When Maiden started out he was clearly a good sound for them. I hear so many people go on about Bruce, Bruce, Bruce!! OK so Bruce had the thunder, sustain, power, and many ranges. Yeah he changed the band. I like his sound and he rocks. I’ve enjoyed all of Maiden. But—— there’s just something that’s raw, ruff, edgy, and unique about Paul’s style with Maiden. For me it’s like ACDC. I rock the songs but when it’s Bon Scott I just feel it deeper. It pulls me in. That’s what it’s like when I rock some Maiden. I just get this pull like I want to move, thrash, pump my fist, when playing iron Maiden and killers. Paul had a eerie kind of spooky feel he put off with them. Yeah Steve felt a new direction, but I think Paul would have made a great number of the beast track with them. The lyrics would have been great for him. They have that short edge to them. I like Bruce but sometimes I feel like in hell listening to a heavy metal opera. Fuck it! Paul you deserve more credit.

  • Bill on

    Ugh, listen, I love Maiden (first concert ever, when they opened for Priest on the Number tour), I dig all eras, and Killers is one of the best metal albums EVER… but let’s be real, here. It is ludicrous to compare Paul Di’anno’s vocal ability with Ian Gillan and Bruce Dickinson. You might LIKE his sound better, can’t argue that, but there is NO WAY that Paul Di’Anno is singing Number, Hallowed, Child In Time, or Space Truckin’ to start with, let alone night after night on 18 month world tours. It just isn’t happening. Just because he had one GREAT album and one pretty decent album doesn’t put him in the pantheon of the greatest metal singers of all time.

    • metalmania on

      Totally agree with you Bill. I really like the first two Maiden albums, but they went to another level entirely with Bruce. We’ll never really know what Maiden’s future with PD would have been, but I honestly don’t think they would have ascended to the same level that they did with Bruce.

    • Franky on

      Bill, your clearly looking at this with the aspect of Dianno trying to sing those songs imitating Dickenson. thats the way you are programed to hear them. I believe Dianno in his prime mjght shock you how cool it may have been. if he was good enough to deliver Killers im sure he could have have done well with Numbers. Just a matter of opinion.

  • T on

    I really like the songs Paul did with them. They had a rough edge that wasn’t “better” than now, but still very, very good. Also, Steve has done a great job taking Maiden into the future as well. Rathchild, Murders in the Rue Morgue and Running Free are just great songs, delivered with serious attitude in my opinion.

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