Interview: Maiden United

On January 27th, Maiden United will perform in Carré, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. DutchMetalManiac’s Glenn van der Heijden spoke with Maiden United’s Joey Bruers about this show and the concept of Maiden United, among other things.

Congratulations with your upcoming Carré-show, it’s a real honor, right?

Yeah, it sure is an honor. It’s also nice that you’re saying congratulations. Sure, I think Carré is the top.

Is that also the way you see it?

Yeah, in The Netherlands it is of course the top of the theatres. It is also one of biggest things to accomplish with Maiden United.

In the documentary you showed on Facebook for the last 3 months you also said that Maiden United started as just a short-term idea and it got a bit out of hand.

It sure did, this wasn’t the idea at first. This is something we didn’t expect, we didn’t start it back then with this in mind.

What was the idea you had in mind back then?

The idea was to make one album and after that we booked 10 shows. That was what we did at that moment. In December 2010 we released our first album, Mind The Acoustic Pieces, and after that we played those 10 shows in December. That was the idea and that was all it would be.

What was the moment you thought there was more to do for Maiden United?

At that moment it was all finished for us. We released the album, booked the shows and had a great time. We were satisfied. Until we got a lot of phone calls after those shows. First, the organization of Paaspop called us, who wanted us to play on Paaspop. At first, I told them we couldn’t do it, because we were finished. In that week I also got a call from the UK asking us if we want to play there, because we didn’t do so at that moment. At that moment Ruud (Jolie) and I called the rest of the band for playing Paaspop and the UK. After we announced playing at Paaspop, Wacken and Donington also wanted to book us. At that moment we had to make a decision, because if we also would be playing those other festivals, it would become a long-term project. Then things would change, you have to stay active in that case. So we decided to do it that way.

Now you’ve already released three albums and you’re looking forward to a show in Carré. A place some people can only dream about playing there.

I am one of those people, I always dreamt of playing there.

I assume you are also a bit proud of playing there?

Of course it is. We have a lot of fun, but we also work very hard. You don’t get to perform in Carré just because it is nice to do so. That was also part of our decision back then. Of course, it’s not only the fun you extend, but also the part of working hard.

When I talk about Maiden United with people who don’t know your music I explain that you do covers of Iron Maiden in an acoustic way. I also tell them you arrange the songs yourselves and you make it special in your own way. How do you see that part and how does that grow?

I can’t answer how that grows, because I don’t know it myself. You can do so by playing the songs exactly the same as the original ones, but on acoustic instruments. That won’t work for some parts and we don’t want to do so. We want to let people see and hear how great the songs of Iron Maiden really are, because they are really great. First of all, we break up the song in many pieces, then we start creating something from the beginning. We try to keep the core part of the track intact. That core part can be anything, for example the melody, the vocals or the rhythm. After that you can go different ways.

For vocals you got Damien Wilson to be part of Maiden United. He has very characteristic vocals, which is also a choice you made, right?

Yeah, besides the fact Damien was also high on our personal lists of people we want to work with, for both Ruud and I. I haven’t seen and heard a vocalist as great as Damien. Looking back at all those years working with him I can count his false notes on one hand, literally. That is really unbelievable. He is also really busy with his work as a vocalist. His show isn’t from half past eight till ten in the evening, his show starts at ten o’clock in the morning. At that moment he is already preparing for the show in the evening: he goes jogging, does his warming-up, his vocal technique exercises. That last part of the evening is his big final of the day. Every day when he has to sing he does it this way. He is always busy with it. There is also another reason we wanted Damien to be part of it. When we play a show with Maiden United we all sit down. Then you need someone who attracts the audience. Damien is very charismatic and when he enters the stage things happen, even when he hasn’t done something yet. We also don’t know what exactly is going to happen, it some kind of big mystery, which is fun. It all fits perfect and besides that, he is of course also a big fan of Iron Maiden.

I assume you are all Iron Maiden fans?

For sure. Sometimes it happens in a funny way, for example with Thijs, who’s playing Hammond. He wasn’t an Iron Maiden fan, but he became one because of Maiden United.

When you announced the show in Carré you also came up with other stuff, for example the aforementioned documentary in preparation for the show. How did that go?

It was some sort of collection of different ideas. We didn’t see the impact Maiden United had at people. When we released the first album we often heard that something happened. At one moment we even got the compliment of someone saying that it felt like Iron Maiden released a new album for the first time. People got curious. In December 2010 that album was released and about half a year later, in the summer of 2011, we played all big festivals. The attention we got grew and people wanted to know things about us. We paid no attention to such things, we also hardly have any video material of the first few months. That wasn’t the idea, we were doing it for fun. Now that we are going to play Carré, we thought it was a perfect moment to share some more stuff about us. That is why we started the documentary with explaining what we have done so far and talk about how we started up to where we are now.

When starting to work on a Maiden United album, how do you decide which Iron Maiden tracks you are going to use?

Ruud and I are the ones who arrange and produce everything. It’s very hard work, a lot of searching and trying to find good ideas. Of course it also has to fit all together on one album, we recorded a lot more than that we actually released. Sometimes it doesn’t fit that well, it’s not ready enough or it might have completely failed. At a certain moment you have to fit things together and when you have a bundle of tracks, you have an album. Of course, it’s important to have a direction you want to go in. For example, with the latest album we’ve chosen to work with a Hammond, because of that you have to work with tracks in which you can apply the Hammond.

You also got several guest musicians. How do you decide which guest musician there will be?

That is the biggest part of Maiden United. Of course “Maiden” is clear and “United” stands for uniting all Iron Maiden fans around us. Sometimes I thought about which guest musician fits a specific track, but it can be the other way around as well. The first time we did it like this was with To Tame A Land, it was pretty difficult to make an acoustic arrangement of that, it cost a lot of time. At a certain moment I got the idea to do that canon at the end of the track. It would be Damien and someone else doing that. I started thinking about who fitted in there and it became clear that Anneke (van Giersbergen) would be the right person for it. In the studio it fitted perfectly. After that, my idea was to also do it on stage and in the end, we also did. However, it was pretty difficult to convince them to do so.

Can you tell us something about the Carré-show?

We have four supercool guests. Of course Perttu Kivilaakso already joined us a while ago, which was so nice that he is doing so again. We also got Dennis Stratton as a guest. He only joined us in the UK so far. Now, he is also coming to The Netherlands and we also are going to play some old Dennis-tracks with him. Furthermore, we have Wudstik as guest. He is probably the biggest surprise for the people in the metal scene. He is more known within the hip-hop music. He is a really great vocalist and a big Iron Maiden fan. The fourth guest we have is Sharon den Adel. Everybody was waiting for the moment that she would be joining us after Anneke and Marcela (Bovio) joined us. It never fitted in both agendas, but now it does.

How is having a former Iron Maiden member as a guest for your show?

It is awesome, I am a big Iron Maiden fan myself and Dennis has been part of that. Now I can work with him. In the meantime, he already joined us several times, which is also very nice, he didn’t join us in The Netherlands and Germany until now, but now he will.

Was Wudstik as a guest a no-brainer?

To be honest I didn’t know Wudstik that well. Ruud started working with him with For All We Know. At the moment I heard him singing I was immediately in love with his voice. It was really awesome. We started working with him and it really fitted great. When he also worked with us on our Remembrance-album he also joined us at the cd release party. At that moment the audience really embraced him. When asking the audience who they love to see joining us again, many of them answer Wudstik. He is a totally different vocalist compared to Damien, which is also really nice. Damien has a really classical trained voice and Wudstik has a real rock voice with a raw edge on it. Both of them are really great vocalists and to have them together on stage is awesome.

How do you see the future of Maiden United?

From the moment we decided to continue we had a series of plans. That series ends at the show in Carré. I really don’t know what we are going to do after that. I decided to wait until we have done the show in Carré, to see what happens.

Do you see that as something difficult or are you ok with it?

I don’t know, it was difficult for a long while for sure. It was some sort of block, I didn’t know how to go further, but now I am looking at it more relaxed. We are definitely not going to stop, but we are open for what happens next. Maybe there won’t be happening that much and we have to create new things by ourselves, which is also fine. My head is full of ideas. I don’t know whether I can apply those ideas after the show in Carré or not. If we already plan stuff for after that show, we are bound to that. If I wait with new plans I can be completely open for whatever is going to happen. It is exciting and of course isn’t without a risk. We are just waiting with planning new stuff until after the show in Carré. Of course, we aren’t the only ones deciding that, our audience also does. There is one episode of the documentary you couldn’t see so far in which our fans are speaking. Funny thing is that a lot of people want us to go back to the small venues, because they liked it the most in those places. It could be that Carré is our highlight and after that we go back to the smaller venues. I don’t know if that is practically possible, but we sure are open for everything.

The show in Carré is coming closer, are you nervous?

I am not a person that is nervous quickly, but I am tense. I think there is a bit of a difference between them. However, most of all I am really looking forward to it. It is going to be a day full of fun. It will be fantastic.

Sharon also immediately said yes to joining you?

She was the first one. When the date of the Carré show was planned we of course had to communicate that with Within Temptation, because there couldn’t be a Within Temptation show at the same date. When we did, Sharon immediately said she wanted to join us. She was sure very soon and she is also really looking forward to it.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

We are bringing Iron Maiden to Carré, while Iron Maiden never would perform there themselves. Of course, we do so for our fans, but we also do so for the scene. That kind of venues are getting a bit more confronted with metal this way.

Maiden United Official Website
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