Iron Maiden weren’t part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, says ex-singer: “We felt like we were on our own”

Iron Maiden in 1981
(Image credit: Robert Ellis/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Former Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno has distanced the band from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal in a new interview.

Talking exclusively in the current issue of Metal Hammer, Di’Anno has said that Maiden felt no kinship with the rest of the early 80s UK metal scene – also composed of Def Leppard, Venom, Saxon and more – and that his band were the ones leading that charge.

“Nah, we felt like we were out on our own,” Di’Anno told Hammer’s Dave Everley.

“They [contemporary music journalists] couldn’t pigeonhole us – we were a heavy metal band, but we played fast like a punk band but with all these complicated riffs. They didn’t know how to label us, so they called us New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

“Next thing you know, every fucking band is jumping on that one.”

Di’Anno also spoke about Maiden’s debut single Running Free, released in 1980 to promote their self-titled debut album and named in the new Hammer as one of The 100 Songs That Changed Our World.

“It’s about freedom, not giving a toss,” Di’Anno said of the song’s lyrics. “Especially when it comes to the Old Bill [British slang for police officers].

“I haven’t got a very good relationship with ’em, never have done. Football and an association with the Hells Angels, that’ll do it.

“At 16, you think you’re the centre of the world, nothing can stop you, all that stuff.

“What was I like at 16? I was a little cunt! Ha ha ha! I still am. I’ve got no better.”

Di’Anno joined Maiden in 1978 and appeared on their first two albums, Iron Maiden (1980) and Killers (1981), before being fired in 1981.

The vocalist was replaced by current singer Bruce Dickinson.

Read the full interview with Di’Anno in the new issue of Metal Hammer, which also unravels the stories of classic songs by Metallica, Babymetal, Korn, Body Count, Within Temptation, Napalm Death, Bad Brains, Venom, Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, Refused and many more. Order now and get it delivered directly to your doorstep.

Metal Hammer issue 388 cover

(Image credit: Future)
Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.