Interview Joey Bruers (Maiden UniteD)

“Leaving a Maiden UniteD show without having fun is impossible”

(November 2012, text by Pedro Bekkers, edited by Peter Willemsen)

This time no conversation with a regular progressive rock band, but an interview with an Iron Maiden tribute band. That is to say, the British/Dutch band Maiden UniteD is a project that rearranges the classical Iron Maiden songs into acoustic pieces. Joey Bruers, founder and bass player of Maiden UniteD, was so kind as to answer my questions, as a result of the release of the band's second album Across The Seventh Sea (see review).

Joey Bruers

You're the initiator of the Maiden UniteD Project. Where does this fascination by Iron Maiden come from?

Joey Bruers: “When I was a young child I saw these T-shirts and posters with Eddie on them. That made me very curious to know more from this band. My niece gave me the album Live After Death one time and I was completely blown away! From that moment on I was fascinated by Iron Maiden. I bought all the albums, lots of posters, T-shirts, and so on. The only thing that was important in life was that red and white logo. I never lost my belief in 'Maidenism' and I think I'll never do. I'm associated with the tribute band Up The Irons for more than twelve years now and with Maiden UniteD in my collection it isn't possible to erase Iron Maiden out of my world.”

Do you regard Maiden United to be a real band or a project?

“ all started as a project, but soon it became a band after a few tours. And now, after two years, our second album has been released.”

How did you form this line-up of Maiden UniteD, since you have invited some impressive names in progressive rock?

“I invited the best musicians in order to work out this idea. Guitarist Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation, For All We Know) is a real good friend of mine for many many years now. He is a huge Iron Maiden fan as well. Marco Kuypers is the best piano player that I know for this kind of music. I'm always impressed by his piano parts. Mike Coolen is a drummer who can play with many different types of sticks. He is dynamic and a real steady drummer.
Top: Damian
Mid: Joey & Marco
Bottom: Mike & Ruud
I'm a fan of Damian Wilson's voice since I heard him singing on the Ayreon albums. He is the most professional singer I've ever met. Well, all the musicians I invited for this project said 'yes', so that completed the line-up.”

The first album was a kind of ode to just one Iron Maiden album; the new album contains songs from different albums. Why this particular choice?

Mind The Acoustic Pieces is a complete acoustic interpretation of Piece Of Mind. It's funny but I can't remember when we came up with the idea to do a full album. I think it wasn't one of the most sober moments of our lives, ha, ha, ha! Many people liked the idea and the live shows were really awesome. Our fans asked us to do another album. We decided to listen to them after they had listened to us for a couple of hours. We recorded the encores that we played during the Pieces Over Europe tour and some additional tracks. Some tracks we had already rearranged, but they didn't suit the 'Pieces' concept. All these tracks together became Across The Seventh Sea, our new album.”

How hard is it to rearrange the double guitars to a piano and guitar combination? The sound is great and still very recognizable.

“Some of the songs were really hard to rearrange, while others were done in a few hours. Marco Kuypers really did a great job on his piano. We had lots of difficulties with songs like Flash Of The Blade and 22 Acacia Avenue, but eventually these tracks belong to my favourites on the album.”

Do you intend to record a third album?

Anneke van Giersbergen
“There will be a third album, sure. But I can't say anything about it right now. During the recording process of Across The Seventh Sea we came up with a brilliant idea. Please be patient.”

One of my favourite songs of Iron Maiden, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, hasn't been rearranged yet into a Maiden UniteD song. Is it too difficult to play in an acoustic setting?

“I have an acoustic arrangement of that song, but it wasn't good enough to make it to the album. I'm still working on it.”

On the album Mind The Acoustic Pieces Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen appeared as a guest. She did a perfect duet with Damian Wilson. Will she be back on stage with you?

“Anneke will join us again on stage someday. She's really busy right now. Last year she recorded her best album so far in my opinion. Having her on my monitors was one of the most exciting moments in my musical career.”

The guest performance of Apocalyptica's Perttu Kivilaasko suited the music perfectly. Do you have any other special guests who join you during live concerts?

“Perttu will play some shows with us during the upcoming tour. We have Wudstik (Ayreon, For All We Know) on vocals as a special guest on the 22nd of December and Jos Severens (Up The Irons) on guest vocals on the 23rd of December. Martijn Balsters (The Dust Connection) will play some shows with us as well on guitar. Plenty of special guests I think so...”

Across The Seventh Sea

I've already got tickets for the show in Uden, but rumour has it that this gig will be different from the one in Zoetermeer. Would you please clarify?

“Every Maiden UniteD show completely differs from others, ha, ha, ha! Hey, we have Damian Wilson in the band and then it's difficult to expect the same show as the one before! Those who have seen Maiden UniteD before know what I mean. Actually we don't even know what's going on when we are on stage. It truly is, but that will keep us alert and bring us a lot of fun on stage. Leaving a Maiden UniteD show without having fun is impossible.”

Thank you for answering my questions, Joey.

More info about Maiden UniteD on the Internet:
       Maiden UniteD Website
       review 'Across The Seventh Sea'

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