STEVE HARRIS as known by Janick Gers
I was introduced to Steve and Bruce when Gillan were playing Hammersmith Odeon back in the Eighties. I quite liked the lad at the time, and I met him subsequently at a few Maiden gigs after that. He always seemed quite intense and serious and aware of what was going on.
As a person, Steve is one of the few people you meet that you can trust totally. He wouldn’t sell you down the river, he wouldn’t badmouth you behind your back; he’s a very straight fella. You can confide in him and it won’t get passed around, and he doesn’t bullshit. He has the ability to stand back and look at both sides of a situation, but if he’s convinced that he’s right, he will argue with every fibre of his body and he’ll never change his mind, which I think is a great strength. He has very strong mental tolerance.
In situations where other bands might have caved in, the one thing that has kept Iron Maiden doing what it does best is Steve, because he has this belief that what he’s doing is right. When you’re in a young band and your record company come to you, saying, 'You need to soften up your sound, we need a single', Steve’s the kind of guy you need to turn round to them and say, 'Fuck off!'
Steve has a very fertile imagination and a very simple way of writing lyrics. It’s not highbrow stuff – it’s deeper than that. He writes it as he sees it and you really get the feeling the words are from inside him. Every time I play the song ‘Blood Brothers’, it makes me shiver, because he hit the nail on the head. He lost his dad when he was on tour and when things like that happen to you, sometimes you go to deep places - everyone experiences that - but to be able to write it down is another thing. When you read his lyrics, there’s an honesty in there that comes out and he opens himself up more than he does when you’re talking to the guy.
He’s a great football player and he had the choice to play football professionally or play music when he was a kid, but I think he made the right decision. I don’t think he could cope with the discipline of the footballer’s life at the time when you’re a teenager and you’re starting to meet people and get into music. He’s his own man. But having said that, he doesn’t drink much and he takes care of his body – that’s very important to him. Being a sportsman, his attitude is that if your body is healthy, your mind is too, and I think that helps with the band, because you don’t get locked into that stupid rock'n’roll 'let’s go party every night' lifestyle.
He is an idiosyncratic bass player. He picked up the bass and taught himself in such a way that nobody can really copy it. People say it’s like a lead guitar, but it’s not. It gives the band a basis and it moves around quite a lot, but it’s the tone that he has. He has a way of hearing things and a tone that isn’t normally associated with a bass, it’s more like a rhythm guitar. Him and Nicko provide the pulse of Iron Maiden, the body of the band. You copy it at your peril, because the sound of Maiden is built around the way Steve plays bass and the only band that it would work in is Maiden.
Steve has been very involved in the new album. He has this tunnel vision where he can really hone in on things and he has this tremendous focus when he’s recording albums - or doing anything with Iron Maiden really. He wants to get it right and he’s prepared to put the time in. Not many people have that kind of determination and focus.
He is a very, very strong personality. Without his drive and ambition, it wouldn’t be Iron Maiden, no doubt about it. He’s its heart and its power.