Former Iron Maiden vocalist Blaze Bayley says that the British metal legends were “at war with grunge” during his time fronting the band, and claims that UK music magazines at the time “wanted Maiden to die.”
Speaking to the Crowcast, a podcast hosted by South Wales hard rock group Those Damn Crows, Bayley, who joined Maiden in 1994 following the departure of Bruce Dickinson, recalls that the rise of the Seattle grunge movement spearheaded by Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, presented a genuine threat to heavy metal acts, including Steve Harris’ band.
"When I was in Maiden, we were at war with grunge,” says Bayley, who recorded two albums with the East London metallers, The X Factor (1995) and Virtual XI (1998). “Grunge was trying to kill us. The UK press, they thought the sun shone out of various bands' bottoms, and they wanted Maiden to die.”
In the interview, Bayley recalls an occasion when Maiden played Seattle - “the heartland of death“ - at the height of the scene’s popularity, and admits, “it was one of the most awful gigs I've ever done.”
“There were these people looking at us like we were some kind of dinosaur, and they were going, 'Why aren't they dead yet?',” he recalls. “And then you've got a few rows at the front going, 'Maiden! Yes!' It's just unbelievable. And that's the war that we had with The X Factor and Virtual XI. We were fighting for the very existence of real heavy metal. And where are they now? Metal is forever, 'cause it's in the heart of fans.”
“I'm sorry, but grunge, it was fashionable,” Bayley continues. "And the best thing about what I do is it's not fashionable. I'm always unpopular, and that's why I've lasted so long!”
Bayley is set to release a new album, War Within Me, on April 9.
“I haven't disappeared,“ he insists. “If everybody liked me, it would be kiss of death for my career.“