Iron Maiden "Dance" Back

Three-year lull ends with world tour, new album

Nearly two weeks still remain on Iron Maiden's Give Me Ed . . . 'Til I'm Dead tour, scheduled through August 30th in Sacramento, after which the band will take a short breather before beginning support of its thirteenth studio album, Dance of Death, due next month.

Dance will spark another round of touring for the U.K. metalmen, who will launch the Dance of Death World tour in Prague on October 22nd. A U.K. outing is set for December, with trips through North America, South America, Japan and the Far East lined up for early 2004.

For Maiden, even after more than twenty-five years of touring and recording, the process is something new. In the good old days of excess, the band used to find itself caught between a feverish need to tour constantly and the synergistic requirement to hit the road behind new material. The group's new M.O. is to tour when they feel the urge and to record during the lulls between.

"The biggest tours we've done over the last three years have been with no album, which felt a little odd," frontman Bruce Dickinson says. "It's great fun, but it's not the sort of thing you can do everyday, because suddenly it starts turning into Vegas, and you do turn into a pastiche of yourself. So our take on touring now is that we're going to be doing less of it, but have more fun when we do it. What's the point of going out and trying to be road warriors ten months on the road? We've done that for umpteen years. If we do it much longer, we'll be dead. It hurts more than it used to."

That approach might mean longer lulls between albums, but Dance -- much like its predecessor, 2000's Brave New World -- finds Maiden sounding as assured as in the early-Eighties heyday that yielded metal classics like Killers, Piece of Mind and perhaps its most enduring album, Number of the Beast.

"It's a bit more sophisticated than those days, I suppose," Dickinson says, "but in terms of the energy, it's definitely an equivalent. It's probably an amalgam of the first three albums I did with the band, with about twenty-five years of experience on top, and a willingness to go out on a few things that, for Maiden at least, are a bit experimental. There's a track, "Journeyman," which I suppose you could describe as being a bit melancholy, with some acoustic guitars and such. That side might come out more on the records."

The set was recorded in the spring at Sarm Studios in London with Brave producer Kevin Shirley at the helm and a less indulgent tact on the part of the band. "It's comfortable, but it's also a hell of a lot more focused," Dickinson says. "We did Number of the Beast in five weeks. We were staying up drinking 'til five in the morning. People got to the studio at 2 p.m. and took a few hours to get over the hangover. Then we did three or four hours of useful and productive work and then we celebrated our productive work until four in the morning. This cycle went on and we said, 'This is rock and roll!' Now we get in the studio about midday and work until about five or six and get about five hours of productive work and then we go home."

Track list for Dance of Death:

Wildest Dreams
No More Lies
Dance of Death
Gates of Tomorrow
New Frontier
Face in the Sand
Age of Innocence