Not a power ballad

The great thing about life is that it’s unpredictable. The bad thing about life is that it’s unpredictable.

About a year ago, I tried to write this novella for NANOWRIMO about heavy metal, depression, adoption and chaos. Unfortunately, the unpredictable happened and I stopped writing. Here are a few of the chapters I wrote (I’ll post more later on). It might or might not be based on true events.



When He died, my unborn soul was not sorry.

He died for me, did He not?


Chapter One

My Bloody Roots

Dear Biological Mother

It marvels me.

Everything about you does.

Though, I know nothing of you.

In my humble pie of opinions, I disagree with what you have done because I will always carry that excess of knowledge with me. To know that this is what I am:

Adopt v. 1 legally take (another’s child) and bring it up as one’s own.

  • Origin ʗ15 (earlier ME) as adoption): via Fr. from L. Adoptare, from ad- ‘to’ + optare ‘choose’.

This is what it should mean:

Choose v. (past chose; past part. chosen) 1 pick out as being the best of two or more alternatives.

  • Origin OE cȇosan, of Gmc origin.

This is what it REALLY means:

Different adj. 1 not the same as another or each other; unlike informal novel and unusual. 2 distinct; separate

And this is what I have become:

Rebellious adj. 1 showing a desire to rebel • engaged in rebellion. 2 difficult to control; unmanageable

  • Derivatives rebelliously Rebelliousness n.

Funny. Is it not?

These words are so powerful and their meaning even so.

So, that is all for tonight.

Your biological daughter,

Miss Rebellious



I was adopted into a nuclear family; Pa, Ma, older brother and a dog that I don’t remember the name of. I was six months old when I first met my family. I was tiny. I wasn’t the cutest baby girl but I was adored. There was a huge family party when I was taken home that day. All the Uncle, Aunties and new cousins came to celebrate my arrival. Looking through my baby photographs, I can tell everyone was thrilled with my presence especially the Granny who kept pinching my cheeks.

It’s been 16 years since that faithful day. Back then, I was a humble child who knew nothing of this world but things changed when I was five years old. Ma told me that I was ‘adopted’ and Pa explained to me what ‘adopted’ meant. It sounded like a normal word with a normal meaning. When I was eight years old, I told my best friend named Clarissa that I was adopted. Clarissa told me the next day, that her mother said she shouldn’t play with orphans. That’s when I realised that ‘adopted’ wasn’t a normal word with a normal meaning – it was a bad word with a bad meaning.

“Ma, why did you and Pa adopt me?”

Ma looked up at me from her sewing table. She stared at the cotton laid out in front of her and then glared at the tip of my nose.

“We wanted another child to love,” she said.

“So, why not have your own baby?”

“Well, we couldn’t have any more children after your brother due to medical reasons. Pa and I decided to adopt a baby.”

“So, whose baby photograph do you keep in your jewellery cupboard? Was that another baby that you were going to adopt?”

Ma looked shocked. “What were you doing in my jewellery cupboard?”

“I was looking for an earring clasp and I saw the photograph.”

“Well, you should have asked for my permission first!”

“Well…it was just a question.”

Ma said firmly, “That baby in that photograph was mine. He died from third degree burns when he was four years old.”

“Oh…” I said as I quickly scampered out of the room muttering incoherent words.


I can barely sleep. I keep thinking of Pa and Ma’s other biological child. I didn’t know Him. I did not even know about Him until now. I cannot bring myself to feel sad. All that goes through my head is: if it wasn’t for Him then I wouldn’t be here. When He died, my unborn soul was not sorry. He died for me, did He not?

Black Metal And Brews


When I started Heavy Metal Duchess, I thought I had all the time in the world to update and post regular content. As you can see, that plan didn’t work. So my humble apologies to the few that actually read this page. A bigger apology goes to Ben from Black Metal & Brews. I did an interview with Ben almost 4 months ago about metal, beer and mental health. Thanks Ben, for being honest and willing to open about things that society takes too lightly. Here is what Ben had to say:

According to the Black Metal and Brews mission statement; you want to listen to every album possible and drink all the beer. How is that going so far?

Well, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve set an impossibly ambitious goal for myself with this one. I have neither time, patience, nor budget to accomplish this (and I think I’d get alcohol poisoning along the way). However, I have kept true to this in ways. Even though I only end up featuring a small fraction of the music I receive as submissions, I listen to at least ten minutes of everything that comes my way, as even things that sound potentially out of my genre have surprised me in the past. I tend not to like power metal and thrash metal, yet even some of the submissions I’ve received from these communities have been engaging and worth my time. In terms of beer, I do what I can but don’t really have the budget or desire to drink too frequently. I think this surprises some readers, but I appreciate beer as an occasional treat, not as part of a daily routine. With this in mind, I try to make sure that I pick beers that are either classic recipes done to perfection or beers that are completely off the wall and unique.

Black Metal and Brews began as a means for you to combat depression. You put out a personal post a few months back explaining how the website helps you conquer depression and moves you out of your comfort zone. Can you elaborate on that?

Depression is a personal thing, yet it’s not something that is unique to a given individual. I think many people who suffer from depression feel more isolated (either by society or as a symptom of the depression itself) than we actually are. Sometimes isolation is healthy for growth, but sometimes it can be the most suffocating feeling imaginable. As someone who is fortunate enough to be able to get by despite this ongoing issue, I realize that sharing my struggle might encourage others to seek help, support, or whatever it is that they might need. I know that by continually making myself visible and by doing something other people care about, I have created a system for addressing certain aspects of my depression. My primary desire is to withdraw from the world when I feel frustrated, inadequate, or overwhelmed. While sometimes the large amount of emails I receive for BM&B can contribute to this stress, the attention and positive reactions of my readers ensure that I won’t stay away from writing for too long.

It’s important for me to elaborate on this here: for me personally, positive attention can sometimes intimidate and overwhelm. Sometimes people send me messages of support that I just completely ignore because they catch me off guard and scare me. If I do something that people like, I often imagine it as an expectation, a pressure to repeat the positive performance. So please don’t view this as an ego thing or seeking approval nearly as much as it is knowing that something I do regularly brings joy to others. I like knowing that I’m making a difference in the creative communities that inspire me. If you’re depressed and the only joy you have comes from the approval of others, please realize that this is only a small component of life and that the best feelings of all come from approval of yourself.

Depression and other mental issues are taken too lightly in society. If the public cannot see a scar, then it’s not worth talking about. What do you think it will take for the media to open up about mental health especially media in the metal/punk/alternative areas?

What will it take for people to address depression and mental illness properly, especially in media? I honestly don’t think it can or will happen. Too many people who haven’t suffered from a given issue like to pretend they can easily erase or redefine it. We all know that the end result of cancer, AIDS, or heart disease is often death. The topic of suicide as an outcome of depression is often referred to as a “choice,” which on a purely technical level might be accurate, but a choice made during the depths of a sickness that alters the brain’s chemistry is not a choice at all. The unwillingness to acknowledge depression as a sickness only perpetuates and stigmatizes the suffering and isolation that folks with any sort of mental illness experience.
Additionally, in extreme music, there seems to be a disconcerting trend of romanticizing depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. Art needs to reflect reality, which can at times be an uncomfortable place. Still, it bothers me when I see artists glamorizing their own mental health issues without opening up a dialogue on the very real effects of mental illness. A small handful of extreme acts, especially in the depressive/suicidal black metal niche, seem to encourage and celebrate self-harm and suicide. While this may be an artistic expression to some, I have a hard time knowing that bands have sold special editions of albums with razors and syringes to a fanbase that may take this message too far. As a result of this romanticized melancholy, I often feel people in extreme communities may cling to the acceptance of their mental illness in lieu of seeking help. It’s an incredible thing to be accepted as you are, but to wilt away in the grip of mental anguish instead of taking steps to enjoy life more fully is a tragedy. I realize that we do not all experience this in the same way, but I do know that rolling over and accepting depression (or anger, or whatever else may trouble you) as a permanent state will make it that much harder to see opportunities for improvement when they arise.
I realize I didn’t touch on what coverage can be done, because I don’t know what can be done on a broad level. I feel that the first thing would be to start questioning artists whose art is self-destructive. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them would share the messages I’m trying to convey if they were only asked. Instead, the press seems eager to play into the drama and appeal of “dangerous” and “explosive” personalities without examining the repercussions. So…I guess the media should start asking better questions instead of going for the easy headlines, but that’s a general issue with media across the board.

So, tell us, did you successfully complete The Complete Beer Course: Beer Boot Camp for Beer Geeks by Joshua M. Bernstein? What can you tell us that we may not know about beer?

Oh gosh, no. This book is a hefty read and I have every intention of going slowly with it. Each chapter focuses on a style and has a lot to digest. Each section comes with suggested beers that are top examples of the style, so that the reader can sip along and understand what things to look for in a specific beer. My goal is to drink the beers while I read through the book, which will not be a cheap or easy experience, but will hopefully add to my comprehension of the material involved. It’s taken me years to understand extreme music as well as I do (and I still have a lot to learn) so I don’t anticipate I’ll have all the answers about beer any time in the near future. What I do know is that I’ll have a blast while I learn and hopefully impart some of my enthusiasm and excitement to the readers and viewers who are following along with what I do.
With craft beer culture as visible as it has ever been, it’s really hard to say something that other people don’t know. I’m not trying to dig deep for super niche trivia, but I’m frequently humbled by the classics. For all the fun and experimentation that’s involved in the modern craft beer community, especially here in the United States, I still find myself impressed by timeless recipes from Bavarian and Belgian breweries. Revisiting age old beers in between craft brews with peculiar ingredients and angles has been a healthy way for me to remember the purpose of everything I do.

From all the beer reviewed so far, which one still stands the test of time and why do you say so?

Most beers I’ve given favorable reviews are probably worth visiting again. However, I’ll admit I’m not often one to revisit beers frequently. This is partially because my budget doesn’t allow me to keep a six-pack (or bomber) on hand for fun very frequently unless I want to cut into my list of beers that I plan on reviewing in the future. Some old favorites that have held up nicely are North Coast’s Brother Thelonious, Delirium Nocturnum, and the seasonally appropriate Pumking from Southern Tier. Brother Thelonious was the first beer I ever had served at room temperature, possibly one of the only bar experiences I remember so vividly. It’s been a favorite since that day. Delirium Nocturnum is just simply great. All of the beers coming from Brouwerij Huyghe (makers of Delirium) are top notch, but that’s the only one I’ve reviewed. Finally, Pumking is probably the best pumpkin beer I’ve had aside from Southern Tier’s other autumnal offering, Warlock. There are a few other mighty beers I’d really like to include here as top picks, but I haven’t reviewed them yet and don’t want to reveal any impending plans.

Let’s talk music. I know we are a few months away, but what’s on your top ten lists for 2014 so far? (NB. This interview was conducted four months ago…)

Top ten lists are hard even at the end of the year. Damn, let’s see. I feel like I fall in love with a new album every other day, and I’m sure I forget important albums left and right because my brain is more of a sieve than it is a container for thoughts. Lots of great music comes in, gets heard once or twice, and then floats away to other people who actually retain things. If I were to draft it off the top of my head, I’d surely forget things that are crucial and include things that aren’t as noteworthy but are currently in my head. Here’s a tentative list that will likely be seriously altered come December:
Lasher Keen- Mantic Poetry, Oracular Prophecy
Beach Pneumatic- Beach Pneumatic
Body of Light- Limits of Reason
Yellow Eyes- The Desert Mourns
Thestral- Y Canu Brud
Grafvolludr- Promo 2014
Ill Omen- Enthroning the Bonds of Abhorrence
Paramnesia- Paramnesia
Urzeit/Akatharsia split
Rotting Sky- Sedation
To be honest, I know I’ve got dozens of cassettes on hand that might threaten to enter the list but I’ve got a lot of time to dig through my shelves between now and the end of the year, plus there are a few releases I’m itching to hear but waiting until they arrive in physical format instead of in my email. The greatest frustration about running a website that features music I love is knowing that for every incredible release I feature, I’ve neglected to feature at least two or three other great albums that deserve to be heard and loved by a broader audience.

What is your biggest pet peeve in the music industry right now? 

My biggest pet peeve in the music industry? Man, I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but since it’s my field of choice it’s the thing I notice the most. I really don’t like lazy music writing that caters itself more towards turning a profit than actually engaging the audience with quality words about exciting new music. I won’t name names, although unexciting websites about underground music are a dime a dozen, and they’re typically the ones that are profiting from advertisements. That’s not to say that money inherently ruins writing, as many of the best metal writers right now are definitely seeing some income, but I feel a lot of sites with ads give in to temptation to put out Buzzfeed-esque articles or crappy gossip pieces instead of really putting something of merit out there. I could rant about this for ages and it would do me no good, but seriously…some days the only thing keeping me writing is the knowledge that a large majority of the metal press lacks integrity and quality control.

You hold down a full-time job, play dad to an inquisitive cat and still manage to churn out quality pieces for Black Metal and Brews. What would you like to say to aspiring music writers? Also, what myths would you like to debunk about being a music writer?

Aspiring writers should write because it satisfies them. If you do it for love and passion, you’ll always do your best. That’s not to say that your best today will be as good as your best next week, but that’s the whole point. Anything you do regularly is a craft and regular practice will make it improve. I’m not embarrassed by any of my mediocre writing, but I use it as a touchpoint for my own planned growth and improvements. I’m always looking forward to new music and new opportunities to expand my voice. I encourage others to do it as well. Also, don’t do what I did and name your site with a genre in mind unless you’re 100% positive that’s all you’re going to want to do. In retrospect, I’d probably have chosen a name with less limitation, but I write about whatever I want on Black Metal & Brews and know that my audience will follow because I’ve developed a reputation for pushing stuff from out of left field. Also, don’t read what others write about an album until you’ve written your own review. If possible, don’t even discuss it. If your opinions are formed on the basis of others’, you’re inherently selling our own judgment short. Readers want to know that you back everything you say in writing. While it may be an easy grab to write high praise of that hot new album, you’ll regret it when all those new readers you gain realize they don’t have much in common with your typical fare. Carve your niche and your audience will eventually find you, even if it takes a few years.

What can we expect in the future from Black Metal and Brews?

The future of Black Metal & Brews is a strange and nebulous beast. Work and life throw me in many directions I don’t always anticipate. Sometimes I have a prolific month or two. Sometimes I go weeks without a blip. This is still just a hobby but I’m slowly laying groundwork to make this more of a self-sustaining project. I’ve purchased art to eventually make some merchandise and do plan on finding a few fun ways to possibly make a small income from this without diluting the purpose of my writing. I’m also hoping to launch a podcast and get back to making beer and tape pairing videos in the near future, hopefully by the year’s end.

Would you like to add anything?

What can I add here? I’m not the most exciting or brilliant person, but I’ve found something I’m good at and done it for a couple years and some folks have taken note. I’m sure some folks can’t stand what I do, and that’s okay too. So, I guess if you’re reading this and you’re maybe in a rut like I was in when I began my site a couple years ago, just find something you like doing and do it a lot. Do it by yourself. Do it publicly. Just do something and do it until you either lose interest or develop a following. The world needs its bankers and chefs, but it also needs people who create custom fridge magnets on etsy and nerdy dudes who write about beer and underground music. If you think your niche doesn’t exist, it’s only because you haven’t created it yet. Thanks for taking the time to ask these questions and wait for my responses.
Thanks Ben!
Check out Black Metal and Brews and chat to Ben on Twitter!

Why I’m obsessed with this band called Revery

I am yet to hear more than one female-fronted rock band in South Africa. No, Flash Republic aren’t rock, Dear Reader don’t qualify and Junkyard Lipstick are metal to the max.

Recently, I came across Johannesburg’s best kept secret – a small female-fronted rock band called Revery. If Royal Thunder had a passionate affair with the Dave Matthews Band, their love-child would be Revery.

Lead vocalist, Hana Muftic, grabs the listener with her rich soul voice while guitarist, Richard Globisch, and bass player, Adrian Patterson, ooze  rhythm and groove. Drummer, Greg, ties the sound with clean proficiency.

Revery began their heavy rock journey in 2013 but after several line-up changes, the band carved a blues rock signature tune. I’m obsessed with this band because their sound is exactly what’s needed in the South African market. Local radio shows loop zealous pop anthems every day and a lot of it is made using auto-tune. Revery, on the other hand, are authentic and their sound can easily appeal to the mainstream market without gutting their rock reputation. Plus, the South African alternative music market needs a larger female presentation after all, it’s not just boys and men who can rock.

Apart from that, I’m obsessed with Revery because their music is rich, powerful and home grown. According to the Facebook page, Revery are currently in the pre=production phase of making their EP with renowned producer, Dylan Ellis.

Until then, I leave you with Revery’s Soundcloud tracks:

For more info about Revery go to their Facebook page, Twitter profile and Reverbnation account

Pieces Of Me

While working at Heat magazine, I was told that I write “poetically” and should lose it. I’m not sure how I should take that. Either way, here are bits and pieces of me being poetic on the internet this past month.

haulixRead more at the official Haulix Blog 

Also, read more about Haulix co-founder Matt and Haulix PR/Blogger James.

Seth W. of SKULL TOASTER let me babble on about the music that I listen to. Read it all on the official What Are You Listening To segment




Lastly, it’s official. That *hush* project that Mark Brandt and I have been working on is *almost* ready. It’s called Broken Amp and we are gearing up to launch in September 2014. Look out for details, tweets, campaigns and shout outs as we tell you more about Broken Amp. Hint: I said a lot more about it in the Haulix Blog interview.

Oh, and if you like vintage stuff. Then take a look at Vintage Shopper and yeah, that is how I look.

Cheers for the support to all those listed here.





Congrats! You are now an intern at HEAT magazine

Twitter is great! I’ve been on Twitter since 2009 (@LavNandlall). There are some incredible people on Twitter – from good folks that I personally know, virtual acquaintances, mentors from around the Globe and just people in my niche. Not only has Twitter developed my ‘useless facts’ knowledge but it has opened up my social circle. If you are not on Twitter, you are missing out!

On Friday, Twitter proved itself useful once again. I saw a RT about intern applications for HEAT magazine. Despite the tabloid (read as tacky/weak) journalism, I applied.

To be honest, I’d much rather write about Judas Priest’s rise and fall then about what Taylor Swift wore on some night out. HEAT magazine is owned by a larger company called Media24 in South Africa with Bauer Media being it’s parent company on an international level. Stepping into either of those companies is a great boost on a career ladder. However, stepping into either of those companies means hard work and luck. I’ve been applying to do freelance in those companies and even though I might deem myself fit for the roles applied – you can only get in if you have a ‘contact’. We all know how businesses and larger companies work on a hiring basis. It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know and what your zip code is. If you disagree, I’d like to know why.

As luck/super-moon/diligence would have it. I got accepted for the internship. It did mean that I had to pack my bags, take a 10 hour roadtrip and find accommodation within 24 hours. Well, mission accomplished.

I start tomorrow. I’ve studied HEAT magazine and am trying to orientate myself in the big big city. I’m totally and completely out of my comfort zone. What is the best advice you would give to any intern?

– Lav




Truth. An open letter to an email.

My cousin’s mother-in-law is right. I am a loser.

I lived in Australia last year. The house that I was living in was being renovated and required me to move out for a bit. The non-expensive option was to temporarily move-in with my cousin’s in-laws. It seemed fine as I was acquainted with the in-laws.

Things went downhill bit by bit. It started with a laundry detergent feud.

Yes, laundry detergent. Apparently I used waaaaay tooo much laundry detergent and the in-laws washing machine had a slight malfunction. After I apologized and cleaned up, the in-laws smiled and stated, “It is your fault.”

So, I acknowledge that and we move on. Well, only I moved on. From laundry to how I use hot water – I was being furiously scrutinized by the in-laws. Then the biggie… “Lav, you are so not industrious. You are nothing like your cousins. You have amounted to nothing in your life. All you ever do is couch-surf from one place to another. You have no ambition, no goal and no aim in life. All you ever do is bits of silly writing.”

To be honest with you, I went to a local Aussie metal gig that night and headbanged the mother-in-laws words right out of me.

Then I moved out and on. It always played in the back of my head but I didn’t care much.

Almost a year later, I’m in an extremely similar position. Not with the in-laws but with my Uncle. I should explain that being Indian, you cannot move-away from family. Every family member – no matter how far removed – will continuously have a say in your life. Also, Indians don’t care much about your opinion because whatever they state is fact – even if not proven.

I speak for every Indian child/teen/young adult when I say, education and  job status is of utmost importance. Nothing else matters. Being a Doctor, Lawyer, Accountant, Scientist, Engineer and Chemist is the highest form of satisfaction for any Indian parent. Even at that point, you are still required to study further for a higher job status.

I am the laughing stock of the family. A writer? God. Help. Me.

I won’t be the next JK Rowling nor do I want to be the next Mick Wall. No. I just want to write. I want to start conversations and have discussions with average people. It doesn’t pay my bills. Freelance writing without a byline about travel, Oscar Pistorious, robberies, rape and crime pays my bills. I don’t live an extravagant life and don’t drive a BMW. I live a simple, clean lifestyle and drive a Chevrolet big enough for me, my dog and travel luggage. I don’t like children (despite being an au pair) and I don’t intend on having them so there is room for me to wiggle around in and explore my life.

However, it’s not what my family wants. It never has been. I am the prototype of the “loser” in my family and their culture. I’ve been told that several times over and over again.

So, to the person who emailed me last night asking “How do I get to be a writer like you?”

My answer is simple. Only you know what you want to do and only you can decide how much you can take on. My story is different, unorthodox and by now – you will have gathered that it’s what I chose.

– Lav




Firsts with Slayer

Remember the first time you discovered Slayer? How did it feel? Who was there? What were your initial thoughts of the band? Whatever your reasons are, Slayer ruled at one point because of their ability to shock crowds; both in artistry and philosophy.

Here is a question for the two (maybe three) people that read this blog: If Slayer did not exist – which band could have fulfilled their legacy?

My first experience with Slayer was Reign in Blood. It took me a couple of years to hear it, as I had a legitimate fear of the cover art the first time I saw it at the age of 12. All the blood drenched on the bottom of the artwork, as a goat king sits on a throne ruling over the disfigured faces around him, chilled me to the core. Once I got over that hurdle, I was in awe from the very opening riff of “Angel of Death.” I had never heard a band that fast before, and it definitely took a few dozen play throughs to become acclimated to it. I felt like I had ripped open a new side of metal that I had never heard previously. All the death and thrash metal I got into as a teenager was partially thanks to this album. Though it’s not my favorite Slayer album (that honor goes to Hell Awaits), I wish that I could feel as mesmerized all the time with music as I did with my initial listen of Reign in Blood. – Dan Marsicano (@heavytothebone2)

The first time I saw Slayer was at Belgium festival, Graspop, 2 years ago. It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. We waited at the front of the stage for at least an hour to get the best spot. I was standing only a few metres away from Dave Lombardo, one of my idols. The show was really intense, and even though they didn’t run around much, there was this sinister feeling in the air, the band knowing that they make their fans lose their shit in the mosh pit. The played an awesome, varied set and when they played Chemical Warfare, my life was complete. There was loads of headbanging and moshing and some serious crowd surfing. Afterwards, I was speechless with the biggest smile on my face. – Luci V. (@MrsVillain)

Photo Credit: Lucinda V.

Photo Credit: Luci V.

What was your first time with Slayer like?

– Lav

Adrien, Iron Maiden and ‘Ed

I’m not saying that I know Adrien Begrand. Oh, no. I’m quite far away from Canada. However, I know two things about Adrien: 1) He is a superb music journalist 2) He is an Iron Maiden fanboy (Goldfrapp coming in at second place)

So, I put Adrien to the ultimate Iron Maiden test.

Source: Wikipedia

If you had to give a guest lecture on Iron Maiden to a junior class, what would your lesson plan highlights be?

Now there’s a good question. I’d probably talk about how the band revolutionized the way metal is marketed. Sure, KISS pioneered the idea in the 1970s, but Maiden did it on a more grassroots level. Their artwork was the most striking album art imaginable at the time; when you saw a Maiden cover, you just HAD to find out what the actual music sounded like. Coupled with a highly identifiable logo and t-shirts featuring that logo and art, the band advertised its music better than anyone. It had mystique, even though at the end of the day they were just a bunch of blokes from London’s East End. The entire New Wave of British Heavy Metal took the band logo to new levels – if you couldn’t afford a good album cover, at least you had a distinct logo – but Maiden perfected it. All aspects of that band, music, art, performance, created a bond with the fans that’s very unique in music today, and never has Maiden shown an ounce of cynicism.

What Iron Maiden track/artwork/album converted you to a die-hard fan?

The first Maiden artwork I saw was The Number of the Beast and Piece of Mind in early 1983, when I moved to a much bigger town and kids were wearing Maiden shirts bearing those illustrations of Eddie. The first time I actually heard Maiden, however, was in the summer of 1984 when the video for “2 Minutes to Midnight” started making the rounds. At that time I was huge into Twisted Sister, Ratt, Van Halen, and Scorpions, and that song was so different, catchy yet a little complex, featuring a singer with one hell of a voice. I loved the elaborate stage set-up in the video, too. Then when I saw the Powerslave album cover, loaded with intricate Egyptian themes and coloured in that appealing sky blue and yellow, I was drawn to it even more. So once I got the album on cassette, that was it. Ruined for life.

It goes without saying that Derek Riggs is an integral part of Iron Maiden’s development. Which is your favourite art piece and why? 

 As I mentioned, that would be Powerslave. There was a big poster of the cover – that I never bought! – where you could see all the small details, little in-jokes in the hieroglyphics, which I just loved. It’s so detailed, but so distinct and refined, beautifully rendered. Of course Somewhere in Time took the in-joke to crazy extremes, and we’d spend hours looking at that elaborate cover and figuring out each reference that was there, and there are dozens.

As someone who works in the artistic field, has Iron Maiden ever influenced your work or a part of your personality?

Maiden has soundtracked my life for 30 years now, so it must have influenced me somehow! It got me reading Coleridge at 14, for crying out loud. The music introduced me to Robert Heinlein, The Prisoner TV series, social realist fiction/drama. It planted seeds in my young mind, and I branched out from there, it got my own imagination going. I got more out of this band than anything I studied in high school. If anything, the band has been an enormously positive influence on my life. It’s as simple as that.

Iron Maiden have sold more than 75 million records worldwide and counting. What fun facts can you tell us about the Iron Maiden empire?

One fun thing I learned when I interviewed the band in 2010 is that Adrian Smith could never play a certain part of “Alexander the Great”. It was a kooky mental block he couldn’t get his head around, and the only way he could get his guitar track down was to be walked through it again and again and again by Steve Harris. So even though Harris and Dave Murray have always wanted to perform the song live, Smith wants no part of it!

– Lav

*Side Note* (Thank you to Craig Hayes for bringing this to my attention) It seems Derek Riggs’ artwork is in demand after all he did start a generation of Zombie-loving fans. He also boosted Iron Maiden albums sales (the album art caught your attention first, right?). Maiden fans launch a Riggs petition! Read the full article at Classic Rock