IRON MAIDEN Bassist STEVE HARRIS - "A Year Ago We Didn't Know If We Were Going To Be Able To Tour Anymore"

March 23, 2016, 8 years ago

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IRON MAIDEN Bassist STEVE HARRIS - "A Year Ago We Didn't Know If We Were Going To Be Able To Tour Anymore"

Iron Maiden bassist and founder Steve Harris spoke with Buenos Aires-based Vorterix Rock FM 92.1. Click the link to check out the audio and the original Spanish transcript. A portion of the transcript translated to English is available below.

On considering the possible end of Iron maiden when Bruce Dickinson was diagnosed with cancer:

Harris: "At this stage of our career, I really don't think we would have looked to another singer. We didn't even consider it. There's no point. We can't really replace Bruce anyway, so we wouldn't try at this stage in our career. I don't think so. But, thank God we didn't need to and he's fine. The main thing is that he's okay, but the second thing is now we can tour and we can make albums He seems really well, and he's singing well, so thank God that we are still together."

On Iron Maiden being called major influence on bands around the world:

Harris: "I think it's a fantastic compliment. We've been around for so long that we've got many people who have said that they're influenced by the band, and that's nice. I just hope that they're influenced by many bands and not just one, because I was influenced by many, many different bands and I think you can kind of learn bits from all of them. If you're just influenced by one band, then maybe you'll end up sounding like that band. So I think it's important to take information from everywhere."

On whether he still has goals he wants to achieve with Iron Maiden:

Harris: "I think we still want to make at least one more album, and we still want to do some more touring. We're enjoying ourselves at the moment. We're just really happy to be here after what happened with Bruce, so it's just a privilege to play and just to be here because a year ago we didn't even know if we were going to be able to tour anymore. It's just a pleasure to be on stage."

Following the major accident in Chile (detailed here) on the morning of Saturday March 12th, a fully repaired Ed Force One will take off tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday March 22nd, from Santiago Airport to rejoin the Iron Maiden tour at Brasília Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport. Following the show at Nilsen Nelson Arena, the plane will be loaded up once again on Wednesday March 23rd with over 20 tons of equipment and tour personnel to fly to Fortaleza for the concert on Thursday March 24th and on from there to Sao Paulo then New York and onwards round the World on The Book Of Souls World Tour which visits 36 countries in the five month period.

The accident required the replacing of both of the Boeing 747’s port side jet engines, a tough proposition at the best of times but not made any easier by the fact of the distances involved in getting such huge components, parts, tools and technical crew to Chile as quickly as possible to get Ed Force One back in the air. The engines alone weigh 5000kg each, and cost around four million dollars each.

Ed Force One is leased from Air Atlanta who went into immediate action following the incident, with technical assistance from Boeing. An emergency meeting on the Sunday was called to create a comprehensive detailed plan for this complex operation – locating suitable engines, thrust reversers, cowlings and parts, working out necessary tooling and technical team, logistics of ground and freight transport and tech team travel and a myriad of other detail. All from scratch. The next couple of days were spent putting these plans meticulously into place.

The result was that on Thursday March 17th, a Cargolux chartered 747 freighter left Luxembourg carrying two huge replacement jet engines, trucked there from Hannover, Germany. The Charter stopped over at Stansted Airport, Essex, UK to collect two more consignments. Cowlings and thrust reversers were trucked there in huge boxes from Kemble, UK, along with tooling and consumables flown in specially from Jeddah to Heathrow and hauled to Stansted.

The chartered 747 then completed the 12,000km (7410 miles) flight to Santiago, arriving at 9am Friday morning. The technicians were flown there from Iceland and from Atlanta Air’s base in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, six in total, to join with EF1’s own two onboard techs, Bjorn Bjarnason and Sigurbjarni ( Barney) Thormundsson, and Jeremy Smith of Rock-It Cargo Ltd, who is on tour with us supervising the freight and customs aspects.

The engines were cleared by Chilean Customs Friday lunchtime and they were transferred to the LAN Chile maintenance area of the airport arriving just before 2pm. Working in shifts 24 hours a day the techs were then able to start removing Engine number 1 and then on Saturday Engine number 2. Using hoists and cranes the damaged engines had to be detached then lowered into a cradle in order to swap with the new replacement engines. The replacement engines were then lifted up and into a place. Once the support pylons had been inspected and x-rayed and damage assessed, both of which passed with flying colors, then the new engines were attached with, as one of the techs said, a “million” wires. Both were finally in place and attached by Sunday lunchtime and then the thrust reversers fitted overnight, almost as complex an operation as fitting the actual engines due to being right under the wing. Final piece of the jigsaw was for the Eddie decals to be fitted and then both engines tested by running to full power.

Comments Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden vocalist and pilot of Ed Force One: “The speed and thoroughness of this incredibly complex operation was stunning and we are so very pleased to get our plane back! We would like to thank Air Atlanta and their terrific rescue team for a fantastic effort in achieving this in the time they did, and to Boeing, LAN Chile. ACS and Rock-It Cargo for all their invaluable support. We are sorry though for our fans in Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Rio and Belo Horizonte who missed out seeing the plane, but we hope they enjoyed the concerts as much as we did.

We should also thank our Killer Krew who found themselves at lunchtime on the Saturday of the accident with over 20 tons of equipment at the airport in Santiago and over 60 people all to get to Cordoba for early the next day to set up the huge show we are carrying. The distance is “only” 1000km, but with a small matter of the Andes in between! They did it, by the skin of the teeth, and all went very well for the show in Cordoba and the other cities EF1 just missed. It’s quite a feat of logistics to find and put into action at such short notice all the transport, replacement air-charters, schedule flights, etcetera, to enable us to play those next four shows on time without EF1, our transport for everything. Great effort, team, many thanks from all of us.  And to our promoter MOVE and ACS for all their assistance and time with this too.“

Dates on Iron Maiden’s The Book Of Souls World Tour can be found here (with ticket links).

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