Steve Harris is a name, which we seriously don’t have to introduce. The bandleader did, same as his co-players long time ago, fulfill his long term dream of a solo project. In 2012, after many years of trying, he finally released an eponymous album under the name British Lion. During their current short term tour, they will come to Prague in November, Bratislava and next to that they will perform also at Masters of Rock Winter in Zlín. The author himself promises, there will be a few more albums in the future.
Interview took place during fall 2016 and you find the Czech version here
Photos credit: John McMurtrie
English translation credit: Iva Boháčková
The debut album, which surprised many fans, when it was released, is now out for a couple of years. What are your feelings about it from today’s point of view?
I am extremely proud of the result of our cooperation and I agree that it all needed some time. When it came out, I heard a bunch of various comments on it, but I am glad we recorded a traditional hard rock album. It comes from our shared roots, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we will stick with it on the next album. The beginnings were a bit improvised, but we are now getting better live day by day. We played quite occasionally, but now we manage to find five weeks a year to play, which is amazing. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and the fans are having fun.
I feel from the album and the live shows that you are doing this mainly for fun and not for the money. How do you manage to keep such a good and friendly relationships in the band after so many years?
We know each other for a very long time and honestly, I don’t know if I would do something like that with people, who are not so close to me. Everything works naturally and it reminds me of our relationships in Iron Maiden. Simply, a family atmosphere, where we love the same things like music, sports and food. Thanks to that, we get along very well on the tour. We play in a smaller venues then I am used to, but it gives me a chance to meet fans after the show.
An occasion becomes a tradition
There is nothing like a sold-out football stadium, but on the other hand, an intimate club show has an incomparable atmosphere.
Definitely. Stadiums are usually quite similar, while every club is different. Next to that, I must say, I enjoy doing the sound checks myself for a change. Generally, the intimacy is crucial. You can really see in fans faces they are having an awesome time, as they are just a hand away. I am really enjoying it, because the intimacy was always a challenge with Iron Maiden, as we play in massive arenas. We are working on it, to be closer to the fans, but club shows level is simply impossible.
I assume you will play the whole debut album. But what about some Iron Maiden cover versions or some brand new tracks?
There will be definitely some new material, which fans don’t know. However, when we are talking about covers, there might be one or two. But it’s not like in the early days, when we barely had stuff to play, so we took some items from Iron Maiden’s catalog. Now we have a plenty of our own material, so we won’t need any covers soon.
Honestly, I don’t know if I would do something like that with people, who are not so close to me.
The first album was getting created for a long time and during breaks. So, is it finally possible for British Lion to rent a house for a couple of weeks and write together?
This ideal scenario could happen in the case of a third album. But now we have a core of the second album written. Currently, we just have to finish two or three tracks only. The fact, we are working on the songs discontinuously, is not a bad thing for me, as I can have a diverse schedule. Even though the process looks complicated, I trust our material. Let’s say the song called Us Against The World was written in the last moment, but it is our most wanted thing.
How do your co-players feel about the band? I remember my interview with a producer Andy Sneap, who reincarnated after many years his NWOBHM band Hell, where he was a guitarist. He mentioned that his buddies thanked him for this opportunity with tears in their eyes.
Be sure, they are damn thankful. (Laugh) But primarily they are honest people with a heart at the right place, great musicians and also normal human beings that have to pay bills. I am also very happy that I can play with them because I truly believe they deserve a chance to play in front of really loyal audience, which is sharing the same values. In the beginning, it was a bit easier for us, as we borrowed a part of the best fans in the world. But I feel that British Lion will continuously build its own fan base. That’s one of the reasons, why I don’t mind we play “just” in clubs.
Timing is everything
In order to support the first album, you recorded a number of videos. Are you thinking to record videos from the current tour to support a new album?
Of course, time to time, we will record parts of the current tour. So far, we haven’t decided which songs we will prefer. To be honest, I would rather release a live album. We would like to show everybody how strong is this band live and afterwards, we would like to release another studio album. Currently, there is a time gap between Iron Maiden tours and we wanted to use that. There will be more of them and we will fully use them.
In the beginning, it was a bit easier for us, as we borrowed a part of the best fans in the world. But I feel that British Lion will continuously build its own fan base.
We had to postpone this interview for a couple of days, due to a hurricane that made a huge damage in United States and especially Haiti. How you were personally affected?
We were extremely close to this bloody monster, when we were flying to Florida, because of my son’s birthday. We got hit there by it a little, but luckily just symbolically compared to what happened in the Caribbean. Thanks God for that.
Do you get involved in some charity activities, when you come across a natural disaster such as this?
In Iron Maiden we get involved once in a while. But to be fully honest, we don’t want to bring any additional attention to us, more than needed. Therefore we don’t talk about it. We are simply happy, we can help.