Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith discussed the pros and cons of having a massively successful merchandise line.
He noted that it resulted in people being associated with their renowned logo and Eddie mascot without having any genuine connection with their music.
“No matter where we go, we always see our merchandise around,” Smith told Louder in a recent interview. “A great thing about this band is that we go out and take the music to people, wherever that may take us. Doing that also means people stick with you. Having said that, I’ve walked by people in those shirts who had no idea who I was! I think our merchandise works a little too well like that.”
He recalled a moment when the band’s highly visible following gave him a laugh: “I was out fishing in Ireland with my dad. Word had got out in the local village, and these kids started turning up, all wearing Eddie shirts, watching us from the banks for a while. I went over and they asked if we could sign their things and, just as I did, two nuns walked up! They looked at the album, looked at me and thought it was hilarious.”
In the same interview Smith mentioned another downside of being a big-name act. “In places like Italy and Mexico, I’ve found the police escorts can be a little … enthusiastic,” he said. “Too much so, you might say! People think it’s glamorous getting this escort, but it can be very stressful, especially when you get a bit carsick and your driver thinks he’s in an action movie, speeding through the night at 100 mph with his sunglasses on!”
Despite the downsides, the guitarist said he and his colleagues have no plans to retire in the near future. “Even now, there’s still a little bit of insecurity and wanting to prove things to people, do things we haven’t before,” he explained.
“It’s like fishing – there’s always bigger fish and new places to explore, always something to look forward to. It’s what keeps me going. That and things like playing tennis with [bassist] Steve Harris to keep me fit. I don’t think any of us feel like slowing down – we still want to get out there!”