In a new interview with Consequence, IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain was asked now he and his bandmates balance MAIDEN‘s creative vision with the lofty expectations of fans. He responded: “Of course, we’ve got the best fans in the world. We got the best critics, and we got some of the most stupid critics in the world, as well. [But] I’ve gotta be honest, we’re a very selfish, motivated band. We love our fans. When we go out on tour, that’s when we think of you guys: What do you wanna see? But it’s not the main motivation. Because if you get lost in that world… ‘What do you think all these fans wanna see?’… You’re gonna have different fans and attitudes around different parts of the world. You’re all one big family, but say South America… they might want to hear certain older songs or whatever. But from an album standpoint, when we go in the studio, I’m sorry, none of you lot out there are even thought one millisecond about. Please don’t get offended, any of you lot out there. We just write what we — at that time in that studio, in that circle of the sun, if you like, where we are in that time of our lives — come up with. There’s a lot of pressure on the writers, but we all tend to be able to suck that pressure in. Like an atomic bomb, we’ve got this nucleus, then we explode within the song. Once the song is written, that’s where MAIDEN come alive and we make it ours.”
Nicko added: “The fans, we really think about you guys primarily when we’re putting tours together and the visual aspect of it. But we are really very selfish. We do it for ourselves really. And we pretty much know what you like, so that’s where you guys come into it.”
MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson previously touched upon fans’ expectations in a 2017 interview with Fortune while discussing the importance of playing new songs live. He stated at the time: “If you take advantage of them [fans], as in you serve up the same old thing every single tour, you can expect some of them to walk away. That is just a band becoming a karaoke band. If you’re not doing new music, why bother? We don’t share the idea that going and doing stadiums, playing 30-year-old songs, is a success. It’s just making money.”
When asked about the fans who want them to play only the classic 1980s songs, he said: “That’s tough. In that case, don’t come.”
In a 2016 interview with The Music, IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris admitted that songs from the band’s then-latest album, “The Book Of Souls”, weren’t going over as well as MAIDEN‘s earlier material. “It’s like any new tour with new songs; you’re not going to get the reaction that the old stuff gets,” he said. “It’s just always like that when you’re playing new stuff. Maybe one day a couple of them songs will be regarded as a massive part of the set, once people know them more. But I think it’s really important to push your new stuff; it keeps things fresh.”
“Senjutsu”, IRON MAIDEN‘s first album in six years, came out in September. It was recorded in 2019 in Paris with longstanding producer Kevin Shirley and co-produced by Harris.
For “Senjutsu” — loosely translated as “tactics and strategy” — the band once again enlisted the services of Mark Wilkinson to create the spectacular Samurai-themed cover artwork, based on an idea by Harris.
“Senjutsu” bowed at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, charting higher than even the band’s early classics like “Powerslave” and “The Number Of The Beast”. Nearly 90 percent of the LP’s 64,000 equivalent album units earned came from pure album sales. The critically acclaimed double album debuted one place higher than 2015’s “The Book Of Souls” and 2010’s “The Final Frontier”, which both peaked at No. 4.
“Senjutsu” was MAIDEN‘s 13th album to top in the Top 40 in the U.S.
MAIDEN‘s first two Paul Di’Anno-era albums, “Iron Maiden” (1980) and “Killers” (1981), as well as with those recorded with singer Blaze Bayley, “The X Factor” (1995) and “Virtual XI” (1998), all failed to dent the Top 40 in the U.S.
According to Billboard, “Senjutsu” logged the second-largest week of 2021 for a hard rock album in both equivalent album units earned and in traditional album sales. It trailed only FOO FIGHTERS‘ “Medicine At Midnight”, which debuted on the Feb. 20 chart with 70,000 units (of which 64,000 were in album sales).
“Senjutsu” topped the charts in several European countries upon its release, including in Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.