Iron Maiden's Steve Harris swaps stadiums for clubs with British Lion

British Lion, Steve Harris's side-project
(Image: © John McMurtrie)

You began British Lion as a vehicle for the album of the same name. But you hesitate to call it a solo release, don’t you?

That’s right. I never wanted a solo career. I’m much better in a band environment.

Five years and three tours later, that’s what it’s become – a bona fide band.

Is it as long as that? Where does the time go? I must have been busy doing something else [laughs].

Do you have the same kind of hunger you had with Iron Maiden, to make British Lion bigger?

Yeah. It gives me that challenge. One of the hardest things is getting people to come along and take notice… almost to believe [in the band], if you like. Maybe British Lion ruffled the feathers of a few Maiden fans. It takes a while for it to sink in and for them to grasp and accept the band as something different.

Obviously British Lion play much smaller venues than Maiden. Is the idea to keep in touch with your roots?

To a certain degree, yeah. I always love playing smaller venues. With Maiden it had been a long, long time since I’d done clubs. I love every minute of being back there, just like I do with Maiden in the bigger places. I’m very lucky to have both.

Are there any British Lion followers who aren’t Maiden fans?

There’s a few, yeah, but most come from the Maiden camp. It’s all about getting bums on seats and proving what we can do. We’re a good band in our own right – I’m not just saying that. Most who come to see us stay and become part of the thing.

You’ve tour managed your daughter Lauren on that same live circuit, which becomes more and more precarious each year.

I feel sorry for bands that are just starting out, I really do. There’s always new rules, regulations and bullshit to endure, and the venues are closing down. Keeping your head above water, let alone making a crust, is almost impossible. I admire anyone that still does it for the love of it.

Are British Lion a band that you could continue when Maiden eventually decide to call it a day? Is that also part of their raison d’être?

Maybe. But I think Maiden will continue for a long time yet. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t.

The dates run from December 2-6, starting at Folkestone Quarterhouse.

A LAYMAN’S GUIDE TO BRITISH LION

  • Richard Taylor, David Hawkins, Simon Dawson and Grahame Leslie complete the line-up.

  • A second studio record is out next year.

  • The tour includes their first gig in Ireland.