- On the phone with David Lee Wilson - 2000
- Paul DiAnno is an interesting fellow to say the least. Most people who have had the slightest amount of notoriety will do all that they can to hold onto the reigns of the horse that they are riding just in the hope that they not be thrown but that is simply not the case with DiAnno, not by a longshot. DiAnno is more the type to devour the horse because he can run faster, stronger and get further by using it as fuel rather than transportation. This attitude has been present in everything he has done and may give some insight into why it is he has gone through a rather long list of musical companions.
Having achieved his greatest fame as a member of Iron Maiden DiAnno has used that particular horse to expose the world to a much more direct voice, his own, leaving the shadows and imagery of Maiden largely behind. If there is a word to describe DiAnno in the year 2000 it is definitely, direct, and the best evidence of this is contained in his latest work, the compact disc he calls, "Nomad". "Nomad" features DiAnno fronting an all Brazilian metal band which may well eclipse Sepultura as Brazil's most popular Hard Rock export and he is touring the US for the first time in a decade in furtherance of that goal.
There is also more to DiAnno than the music, for instance, he has embraced the teachings and practices of Islam and is currently preparing for the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims must make if they are able. DiAnno has also raised his political voice in his adopted country of Brazil in an effort to clean the filth from the Amazonian River Valley but the endeavor that seems to bring him the most joy is his philanthropic work. DiAnno has spent much time and energy conceptualizing businesses that will employ and educate Brazil's poor. Yes, there is much more to Paul DiAnno than a few Heavy Metal classics still he hasn't abandoned his musical past and will perform a career spanning set on the "Nomad" tour including all of the Iron Maiden, Battlezone and Killers s you could ever want to hear. I recently reached Paul in the UK as he was preparing for the trip to North American to begin the "Nomad" tour and despite some recent oral surgery we wagged on for quite some time resulting in the following.
DAVID LEE: For me, this upcoming tour is really something special because you have not been in the States for some time, are you looking forward to the return?
- PAUL DiANNO: Yeah! We have been talking to immigration and stuff like that and it looks like we are going to be rehearsing in Florida instead of going back to San Paolo. We are going to rehearse there for about four days and then we are on the road.
K2K: I should have asked this question first but, who is in the band for this trip and which band is it? Is it Battlezone, Killers or something else?
- PD: It will be done under the name "DiAnno" because Battlezone is on hold for the moment due to a few personnel problems. When my guitarist, Paulo, left Battlezone he went back to Brazil and I spend a lot of time in Brazil, I have my girlfriend there. What Paulo and I decided to do was that we would stay in contact with each other and for about the last six or seven months we have been writing some more songs together and we decided to go ahead and do an album with an all Brazilian band.
K2K: This is the "Nomad" record?
- PD: Yeah, that's right.
K2K: While I was in England for the Millennium party on the Thames I stopped by a half dozen shops in Soho and managed to come home with a bunch of Paul DiAnno goodies, the most recent of which was "The Masters" double disc, will this new record sound anything like that one?
- PD: Soho? It's OK now, they've cleaned it up but when I was a kid back in the seventies that was the most exciting place in the world for us! We got my friend laid on his sixteenth birthday for the British equivalent of about seven pounds. He got his nuts blown off by this girl and he had never even had a girlfriend, ever, so we all chipped in and paid for it! (laughs) It used to be all seedy dives with the basement apartments with the red lights and hookers everywhere, it was fucking great! It is not like that now because the Council cleaned it up.
K2K: At least they didn't do it 'till your mate got his rocks off! (laughs)
- PD: Oh yeah! He had never had anything like it and I don't think he could walk for about a week!
K2K: I just got some CD's and records myself, you know the family was in tow and all that! (laughs)
- PD: Yeah, "The Masters," what a load of shit! (laughs) It has been weird because we had a lot of trouble with that record company. It was a year ago that the "Feel My Pain" album came out by Battlezone and immediately thereafter they did nothing. It just went to pieces and they still owe us thousands and thousands of pounds. We are all so pissed off because we were all working our balls off and we were trying to get some recognition and it was coming together. In the mean time I have been busy but not so much in the public as it were, just watching the kids grow up and shit like that.
K2K: Does the son hit you up for some cash so he can make his visit to Soho? (laughs)
- PD: Actually, my son is doing rather well. He is a mechanic for one of England's biggest car manufactures and he is only seventeen so I am pretty happy for him. I don't get to see him too much because me and his Mum broke up when he was about four but we talk every week and he is going to come out and visit me in Brazil soon. I haven't seen him in a year and he tells me he is hooked up with two girls at the moment, good guy! (laughs) He has an apartment with two girls!
K2K: Is he dad's idol?
- PD: You see, the thing is I was trying to give him the birds and the bees a few years ago and he says, "I know all of this shit, I just want to ask you one question, When was the first time you got laid?" I said, "I was nearly Twelve years old." He goes, "Oh, fuck! I was thirteen!" (laughs) He knows all of that shit now! As long as it is safe, it doesn't matter! (laughs)
K2K: Yeah, man when I was a kid the worst thing that could happen is you get caught by the girls Dad or the girl gets pregnant but now there is shit that will kill you! Gotta have a helmet on that soldier and then still worry! (laughs)
- PD: Yeah, this is it! I have backed off of all of that stuff because I have got a great old lady in Brazil and all that but that is not to say that I won't do it, I know me all too well!
K2K: Especially hard to do when she is in Brazil and you are in the UK?
- PD: Well, the reason that I am back here is that my passport runs its course in another five days so I am staying here to get through the bureaucracy shit and then I am going back home
K2K: In the last few years there has been an onslaught of Iron Maiden product out there that featured you, all the "Best of's" and re-issues and stuff like that. Then there is the stuff by Battlezone, Killers, the solo stuff and all of these "project bands," but you have kept a pretty low profile, as you say, you have stayed out of the public eye, why is that?
- PD: God, yeah, I'll tell you what, if I was getting the money out of all of this I would be rich!
K2K: Did you lose your claim to some of that stuff long ago?
- PD: Well, I get a lot of money out of all this Iron Maiden re-issue shit but my personal manager over here, I help him out a lot in England, his name is Lea Hart and he was with a band called Fastway. . .
K2K: Of course.
- PD: . . .And he is a freak! He is like, "Come out and help me on this stuff." And the reason that I help him with this stuff is because he gets all of these "Best of" projects like a record of ZZ TOP covers and UFO covers and I get a chance to sing something that I grew up listening to. I don't have to sing along to it in my bedroom, I can actually go in and record it! He gets all of the money and I do it just for fun and practice. I just did one with him the other day, a UFO song.
K2K: Which song?
- PD: "Shoot, Shoot" and it was great fun. I had seen UFO so many times as a kid and though it was never really the sort of music that I really liked, it was cheap, we could go and see them for something like a dollar. We just would go and see them just to hang out and I saw them with Michael Schenker and everything.
K2K: Did you ever get to see Michael throw one of his famous fits on stage?
- PD: I actually saw him do it on a ferry once! When Battlezone was going over to play the very first Dynamo show we went out and Michael was on the ferry and we started talking and drinking and he said, "Oh, don't tell my wife, she thinks that I am drinking mineral water."
K2K: Yeah, he and his wife live out in the Arizona desert now and, I guess, he has mellowed a bit.
- PD: Yeah, same story with me, I very rarely drink anymore. I don't know, we did this last tour in Brazil and we didn't drink and the guys are all younger in the band, except for me and Paulo, we are the two old fuckers. Anyway, I very rarely drink anymore and I have to tell you, we had the best gigs that we have ever played. It is really cool because the spirit of the band is really the thing that we need and not the alcohol and stuff like that. I have been drug free for years so I don't do any of that shit, I never liked dope anyway. I couldn't see continuing to spend ridiculous amounts of money on coke and stuff like that, its ridiculous. I did own a small part of Columbia for a time, but I can't be doing all of that shit now, I am not interested.
K2K: There is nothing like your first blast anyway. The rest of the time is just trying to recreate that feeling, that and I'd rather have some more CD's actually! (laughs)
- PD: Yeah, that was when I was about fifteen so I can't even remember it, not into it at all. It has been about five years now since I last did anything and I was in the worst place to be living for that, Brazil. It works out to be about six dollars a gram! My old lady is a chemist anyway!
K2K: That's handy!
- PD: My girlfriend is actually an Amazonian Indian and she is absolutely barking mad! We have so much fun together that it hurts when I have to come home here because we are always laughing. I have never been so bloody happy!
K2K: I have seen advertisements for this tour and it has been advertised as, "An Evening of Iron Maiden." That is not actually the case, is it?
- PD: Bullshit! No, I wouldn't do it, I would rather quit. Obviously, we have to play some Maiden songs which, I tried doing a show without them once and I nearly got lynched! (laughs) But, as this is my first trip back to the States to play in six years and it is the others guys first trip ever. We also know that not everyone is going to be able to get the album straight away or be familiar with it though we hope that they will get off on it anyway but we will have some songs that anyone is going to recognize. I am just working on the set list right now.'
K2K: Are you taking requests?
- PD: No. (laughs) I can give you a rundown of it now if you like?
- PD: The first song is "Madman in the Attic" which is the opening track on the album. Second track is "POV 2000." That is "Point of View 2000" and that is about racism and how much we hate it. The third song will be "Prowler." The fourth song will be called "Brothers of the Tomb" which is probably the most Heavy Metal, as in, old traditional style Heavy Metal. The next song will be "Remember Tomorrow" after that it is "Satan."
- PD: Yeah, we are making fun because we don't believe in all that shit. Next one is called, "Dog Dead" and then the title track, "Nomad." Then there is "Killers," you may know that one. (laughs)
K2K: Like I wrote it myself! (laughs)
- PD: I did start playing that one with Battlezone but we turned it into a grindcore kind of song and it worked pretty well. We also used to do "Wrathchild" where it would start off Hip-Hop.
K2K: I had actually read something about that.
- PD: Yeah, it sounded great and it was three times heavier than Maiden ever did it when it kicks in, it is great fun.
K2K: This is a good point to ask, have you heard the studio re-recording of "Wrathchild" with Bruce Dickinson that they did for the PC game, "Ed Hunter"?
- PD: No, I haven't. Now that would be interesting. We don't see each other very much anymore. Oh well, lets get back to the set list! (laughs) We won't talk about that! Right, the next one is an old Killers song called "The Beast Arises."
K2K: From the first Killers record?
- PD: Yeah, exactly. Then there is another track from the new album called "Cold World." Then we have "Living Dead" which is the ballad thing that I was talking about. The last song from our album is "War Machine" which I always dedicate to my ex-wife! (laughs) She is happy about that!
K2K: So, there is a lot of love there! (laughs)
- PD: She thought it was cool. We are still best friends, actually though she does call me, "The asshole I used to be married to." The very last song of the set is "Sanctuary." Then encore songs will be "Running Free," "Murders in the Rue Morgue," fuck, we put in extra Maiden songs just because it is the first American tour in a long time! We finally end with "Children of Madness" which is an old Battlezone tune. So, that is about two hours worth of music there every night. We are going out for hardly any money, just 'cause we thought it would be cool to play the States and we don't want to be limited to South America. We had forgotten that North America was there, somewhere! (laughs) We want to let people know that it is not only Sepultura that is from Brazil, the fine band that they are. The Latinos are a-comin! (laughs)
K2K: I had always presumed that Dianno was an Italian name but are you Latino?
- PD: You got it. Our drummer, he has the best Heavy Metal name in the world, his name is Achilles. He has got the non-Italian name and he was actually born in South Africa but he grew up in Brazil, his father was Brazilian. One of our guitarist is Francisco Dejera, Chico for short, and he is from Japanese extraction but still is a Brazilian. Paulo, who does all of the actual writing with me, his family are actually from Torrino, Italy but they emigrated to Brazil about five generations ago. Our Ba** player is Philipa Andreolli, another good Italian name, then there is me so we are all sort of a mixture. I mean, I travel on a British pa**port but I have got Italian and Brazilian parentage.
K2K: There we go, the entire pedigree of the band! (laughs)
- PD: That's right! (laughs) Yeah, I got the greatest job in the world! I can see the world, meet lots of people, see all of the social problems but then that gets depressing a bit, then again if I can write a little bit about it, it isn't that bad.
K2K: I hadn't know of your conversion to Islam until recently, when did that take place?
- PD: I turned to Islam about ten years ago. My ex-wife was a Muslim and she said to me, "Don't say anything, just read this." and I read the Koran and some other literature. I had always believed in God, that's for sure. In Islamic eyes I am a Fundamentalist because I am playing Heavy Metal music which you are not supposed to do and I am speaking about issues outside of Islam so I am kind of a Fundamentalist but because you say that you are a Muslim, people they all think that you are running around with a machine gun. Most Muslims are very peaceful people. I have always believed that if you believe in God and you get down on your knees to pray to God then you should pray directly to God, you don't have to go around the Holy Mother and everybody else to get there. It just made more sense to me. I also cut out doing drugs but I am not that good because I still have a drink now and again but nobody is perfect other than Allah. I still firmly believe that God has kept on letting me do what I am doing because he thinks that I am finally writing about issues that matter. I may be kidding myself, but that is what I believe.
K2K: Interesting. I spoke with Yusef Islam once and he related his story of conversion and it definitely seemed as though the whole circumstances surrounding it brought him a great deal of peace. It is a bit strange for Europeans to convert to Islam as it is not really part of the culture.
- PD: You are talking about Cat Stevens?
- PD: He is a man that I admire very much.
K2K: I certainly respect his dedication because he left his career and millions of dollars behind to follow his faith.
- PD: Yes, that's right. He has become an Imam, he is one of our most respected teachers over here in England. Then again, I did hear that he was going on tour again, that he started to play again.
K2K: I know he did an album of Islamic music a while back but are you saying he was doing Cat Stevens tunes?
- PD: Yeah, or some of them, I don't really know. I couldn't see him going out and singing about Islam with an acoustic guitar although that would be more acceptable than going through electric instruments which we are not really allowed to do.. Also, what I like about Islam is that it is Green. Allah gave us this world just to look after, not to wreck and ravage. It was lent to us as a gift, it is not ours. Plus, you also look after the community, it doesn't have to only be the Islamic community, but you look after the people around you. It has got all good things going for it.
K2K: Do you plan on making the Haji?
- PD: Oh, absolutely. I was thinking that I will, hopefully, by next year. Once I finish whatever tours I have I am hoping to go on the Haji, I really am. My head is already shaved in anticipation! (laughs)
K2K: Do you try and spread the word or Islam to non-Islamics? Do you carry literature around with you on tour?
- PD: Oh, yeah. My Koran goes everywhere with me. For those who are interested, but it does say, "Do not touch the Holy book if you are a non-believer" but I have little pamphlets and things that I bring out with me. There is no Mosque here is Salisbury but there is the Moslem Foundation right down the street and there are only about 200 of us down there but that is the closest thing that we have got.
K2K: Since you live in Salisbury I would expect that you have been to Stonehenge?
- PD: It is about five miles from where I live and I have to drive past it everyday. I understand its importance and I watched a really cool program on it recently where they found a body which they say dates to about 200 AD that was beheaded right by the stones. They have run forensics on it to see how he was executed. Summer Solstice has just happened here about two weeks ago and it was the first time that they actually let people come over there and let them stay all night until the sun had come up. I never went over myself because it has no significance to me. I think that they are very amazing things and that they do have some kind of special power but it is not the sort of thing that is significant to me in my life but if they help other people, fine. I was a the Wailing Wall last year because Jerusalem is a very important thing to Muslims. I went to the Golden Mosque but I got a bit pissed off at the Israeli soldiers trying to stop me going in.
K2K: Why would they stop you from going in?
- PD: Well, you have to go through a little market thing downstairs run by Jews and Arabs side by side but then there is a walled gate there with Israeli soldiers there stopping Muslims from going in to pray. They check you out and stuff like that and I got really pissed off and I said "Fuck you! I am a Muslim and I am going in to pray." The guys from my record company were there and I don't think that any of them knew that I was a Muslim! (laughs) These guys are all Jewish and they are like, "Oh my God!" (laughs) I said, "I will see you in a couple of hours" and I went to afternoon prayers and that was it. It was an eye opener to see that there are these people running around with machine guns and I do realize that these people must have somewhere to live but first of all, it was Palestine. I don't know, it is a big mess and I hope that they can work it out and live side by side eventually. I have been watching it all and I don't know, I think that what gets up most Arabs noses is that it was taken by force. Ah well, who is to say, it is a difficult thing. I am not exactly the most peaceful person in the world myself because I get so pissed off with so many of the things that go on in the world. I used to strike out at people but not any more. I like to think that I am a little bit above that now which is not to say that I wouldn't if somebody was going to harm my family or my friends.
K2K: This upcoming tour is something that will touch a lot of people because you were and are involved with some music that really moved people, what music touched you in that same deep way and do you still listen to it?
- PD: Punk. Things like the Sex Pistols and The Clash and stuff like that. That stuff just put it into my head that anybody can do this, that was what it was all about. It didn't matter if you could play or not, you just went up there and did it. Definitely Punk music, I still listen to the same old records now. I don't mean Green Day and Offspring, that is not Punk music, that is put together by people at record companies. I am playing in a Punk band myself on Saturday it is called, The Almighty Inbreeds, and we do it just for fun. We play old stuff and we have about six or seven of our own tracks which are all absolutely disgusting! (laughs) That is what it is all about isn't it? We have this one song called, "Gary Glitter, Baby Sitter."
K2K: (Laughing) That's nuts! With all of the information that is out there about anyone who ever picked up a guitar or warbled a note I haven't seen a lot of stuff out there dedicated to you so need to ask, what else is there that you want people to know about that we haven't gotten to?
- PD: There really isn't much that I can add! (laughs) I would like to thank the American Government for letting me come over and play again! I would just like to say that anyone new who comes along we will certainly do our best for you because we always do the best for us. The bigger we get the more we can clean up our own country and then go after the rest of the world! (laughs)
Written by David Lee Wilson