IRON MAIDEN’s Adrian Smith Talks PRIMAL ROCK REBELLION - "I Like The New Style Metal With The Big Heavy Riffs And De-Tuned Guitars"
July 6, 2012, 5 years ago
By Mitch Lafon
Longtime IRON MAIDEN guitarist, Adrian Smith, recently teamed up with former SIKTH frontman, Mikee Goodman to form PRIMAL ROCK REBELLION. The band’s first album, Awoken Broken, was released earlier this year to great anticipation. Smith took a few minutes away from Maiden’s current North American tour with ALICE COOPER to call into BraveWords.com’s headquarters.
BraveWords.com: Why Primal Rock Rebellion - the band and not Adrian Smith - the solo project?
Adrian Smith: “It just kind of evolved really. I met Mikee Goodman five or six years ago. I saw him playing in a band called SikTh and I was quite impressed. I ended up writing with him, but I didn’t know that it was going to turn into an album. If anything, it was more his solo album to start with me producing and writing, but then it became more of a joint project. It just sort of grew really.”
BraveWords.com: It is a true joint project or because you’re ‘the guy from Maiden’ that you have more input?
Smith: “Nah, it’s pretty much 50/50. When I first met Mikee, I had a couple of songs. The first was ‘Savage World’ and I had ‘Search For Bliss’. They’re both on the album. I had those roughly demoed (the music) and I wanted to see what Mikee would come up with. I thought what he came up with was really interesting. He’s not your conventional singer and I just thought his vocal approach was kind of interesting. I thought there might be something in it, so we pursued it.”
BraveWords.com: How did you come up with the material for Primal Rock Rebellion? Were these demos you had for another band or did you write specifically for this album?
Smith: “Specifically for the album. It has a life of its own. Like I said, I had those two songs and then we didn’t do anything for almost a year. I went out on tour with Maiden and then we did another couple of songs. Then I went off again... So, this was a few years in the making. It was only after we had done those initial four songs that we got some good reactions from people. We initially wanted to do an EP (four or five songs), but then we got the go ahead from the record company to do a whole album. We, then, had to sit down and write another six or eight songs (which we did). That’s pretty much how the body of the album came together.”
BraveWords.com: So, you had never planned on making a full length album...
BraveWords.com: Did you have extra demos lying around or did you take the time to concentrate on writing new material?
Smith: “These days, I seem to be able to sit down and come up with something. We spent a couple of weeks and came up with a song a day (writing wise). With technology today, you start writing and recording it as well. So, you start off with a rough draft (like a guitar track and time code) and build the track from there... Right from the writing stage and if you want to change anything, you just edit it. When we worked (and pulling the thing together took a while due to our schedules), it was pretty fast.”
BraveWords.com: In the ‘90s you had another outfit called PSYCHO MOTEL. How is Primal Rock Rebellion different?
Smith: “Well, Psycho Motel there were two different singers involved on two different albums. We decamped to a studio, but the way we did Primal Rock... I have a studio at home, so I can work when I like and how I like (which is great). Mikee has a studio, so we work separately and together. I would say that’s the main difference and Psycho Motel was more of a band. You had a drummer, bass player, guitar... Where Primal Rock is just me and Mikee. We did get Dan Foord (ex-SikTh) to play drums...”
BraveWords.com: Is this a one-off or have you started thinking about a second album?
Smith: “Don’t know really. Mikee and I are friends and we live near by each other. There’s a possibility that we might do something in the future. I enjoy working with him, but Mikee has gotten into making videos now. We’ve done two videos (‘No Place Like Home’ and ‘No Friendly Neighbour’) and he’s working on the third one. He’s a really creative guy, you know.”
BraveWords.com: Once the Maiden tour is done, will you take Primal Rock Rebellion out on the road?
Smith: “I don’t think so, no. It was never the intention to make it a touring band. There’s not a band as such. We’d have to find members and to recreate the album live - would take a little bit of doing, so there are no plans at the moment.”
BraveWords.com: The album’s twelve songs are very different. There’s different vocal styles, different arrangements... Tell us about the album’s ‘sound’. Mikee’s vocal style changed on almost every track...
Smith: “It’s new territory for Mikee. When I saw him in his previous band, he took care of the more extreme kind of vocals (with SikTh) and they had another guy take care of the more melodic vocals. I think Mikee wanted to (possibly) do something more melodic... I definitely did. I like the new style metal with the big heavy riffs and de-tuned guitars. I like to hear some melody in the stuff I listen to, so that was the idea - to make heavy music with anthemic memorable choruses... make it musical. It pulled Mikee in a different direction and encouraged him to sing more melodically and write melodies. He can actually write good melodies. That’s not what he grew up listening to (melodic singing) because he’s a bit younger than me, so he probably grew up listening to KORN and PANTERA. Whereas, I come from (DEEP) PURPLE, (BLACK) SABBATH and THE BEATLES. So, we have different musical backgrounds and that makes for an interesting mix.”
BraveWords.com: Have you given any thought to putting out an instrumental album?
Smith: “I did actually record an album five or six years ago with another friend of mine (keyboard player).”
BraveWords.com: But that was never released...
Smith: “No, it wasn’t. It’s still in the can as they say, but that was interesting... A lot of fun to do.”
BraveWords.com: Will it come out at some point?
Smith: “Maybe... Yeah. I like so many different types of music, but I’m probably going to do something with it in the future...”
BraveWords.com: You mentioned Awoken Broken might be the only Primal Rock Rebellion album. Would you look for another vocalist to do another kind of band project? Do you want to continue doing these kind of one-off projects?
Smith: “I don’t know... I don’t know. It might be interesting to work with someone... Who I really liked (that I was a fan of). That might be something or with several vocalists. I don’t know yet. I’m always at my happiest when I’m working and being creative, writing songs or doing something. So, I’ll definitely be doing some stuff in the future and I definitely don’t see why Mikee and I can’t do something as well.”
BraveWords.com: Would it be another Primal Rock Rebellion album or would you consider changing the musical style and maybe doing a classical or a pop album?
Smith: “No. Primal Rock has got its direction now and I think it’s a strong direction, so it would be interesting to see where that direction leads, but that will always pretty heavy. Although some of the stuff on the Primal Rock album is quite off-the-wall. You’ve got songs like ‘Mirror & The Moon’ which I had a little bass riff... Mikee liked it and put some words to it and it ‘come out’ really unusual. I think it’s what you can say about the album - there’s nothing quite like it out there.”
BraveWords.com: But for you personally - you haven’t thought about putting out an album that deviates from the metal genre? After all, you’ve been doing metal for nearly 40 years.
Smith: “Well, not quite that long. I joined Maiden in 1980 or ’81. But I like my music with passion and power always (and a bit of melody as well). Anything like that I’m in to, but who knows what the future holds. I would certainly think we’d do some more Primal Rock stuff.”
BraveWords.com: So, there’s no Adrian Smith Jazz album on the horizon...
Smith: “No. I can say that.”
BraveWords.com: You’ve been coming to Canada with different outfits over the years. Tell me a little bit about how you feel about Montreal.
Smith: “It’s one of our favorite places to play with Maiden. The fans are passionate. They’re really into it and show their emotions. That’s what really love. We always look forward to playing up there.”
BraveWords.com: If I may, what’s the third Primal Rock Rebellion video going to be...
Smith: “The first video was ‘No Place Like Home’, the second song was ‘No Friendly Neighbour’ and the third one is called, ‘Tortured Tone’ (which is really gorgeous. I just saw the first edit of that).
BraveWords.com: Is there a plan to make a fourth, fifth and sixth video or are you capping it a three? Would you like to do a video for all twelve songs?
Smith: “I don’t think... The budget wouldn’t run to that. Originally, we wanted to make a short film using three or four of the songs, but that never came together. So, I think this will be the final one (‘Tortured Tone’).
BraveWords.com: Anything else we should plug...
For more details visit Primalrockrebellion.com.