By Alex Eruptor
Steve ‘Loopy’ Newhouse is a former roadie of Iron Maiden and since August 2012 has been posting a series of recollections on his blog Loopy World, hosted on the MetalTalk.net website.
For anyone interested in the embryonic years of the heavy metal beast that is Iron Maiden, Loopyworld is essential reading. Although the band had already been playing for a few years with different line-ups (such as in the below photo featuring guitar player Bob Sawyer [aka Rob Angelo] and singer Dennis Wilcock) before Loopy’s involvement.....
.... his story with Iron Maiden began at an important time in the evolution of the group, when his school-friend Paul Taylor was offered an audition to be lead singer. Taylor got the gig.....
.......and, using the more rock n’ roll name Paul DiAnno, fronted the band into a world-wide record deal with EMI and recorded two of the most best known metal albums of the 1980s – Iron Maiden’s eponymous debut album, and its follow-up Killers.
Loopy’s writings provide fresh insight into how Iron Maiden evolved and what it was like to be involved behind the scenes as they progressed from a determined pub band to a global mega-brand. It is perhaps a more critical version of events than you will find in the various official biographies.
Another outcome of the website is that it has brought together a number of Iron Maiden enthusiasts around the world, and uncovered new information around the involvement of guitarist Paul Cairns on the Soundhouse Tapes demo tape and EP. Additionally, Loopyworld has its own facebook group and seems to have also acted as a catalyst for a new Ex-Iron Maiden Members facebook group.
In June 2014 I contacted Loopy with the idea of doing a quick Q&A. Results as follows…….
What prompted you to start the Loopyworld pages on MetalTalk.net?
I was contacted by Steve Goldby, Metaltalk’s main man, two years ago, asking if I had thought about writing down my experiences of the early days of Iron Maiden. To be honest, I like writing, and tried to get a book published about 10 years ago, with no success I might add, but the thought of writing about Maiden hadn’t even crossed my mind. It was Steve’s idea really. I asked him what sort of thing he expected and he just said “Write something up and we’ll see what we can do with it”. So I got writing and after 5 or 6 chapters I sent him my first piece, but he didn’t get it warts and all. I have a good friend, Jules, who does all my editing, crosses the t’s, dots the i’s etc, so she did her thing, sent it back to me, and I sent it on to Steve. He liked it so much he gave me my own column. By the time the first column went ‘live’ I had already written 10 chapters, and Jules had returned another 5, so they sat in a file, and I would post one a month to Metaltalk. I used to love seeing my column come out each month, and Jules did such a great job that it never got touched by anyone before it went ‘live’.
Since going online with this you’ve picked up a lot of readers, has it surprised you how quickly the website has grown?
I don’t even know how many readers my column reaches. I have asked, but Goldby must be busy. LOL. On the back of the column, I set up LoopyWorld-Iron Maiden on Facebook, just for fun really. I did try to set up LoopyWorld.com, but found it time consuming and not knowing my way around web building, I gave it up very quickly. Don’t try looking for it, I gave up the rights to it recently. Getting back to the question, am I surprised about the page growth? Of course I am. In two weeks time LoopyWorld-Iron Maiden is one year old, and to have almost 5,000 followers is incredible. And these people are from every corner of the planet. Just incredible.
I even have my own t-shirts, which are selling well. That must say something.
It sounds as though you have toured a lot of the world. Of all the places you have been which have been the most memorable?
Being in the Bahamas for 2 months while Maiden recorded Powerslave will always stay with me, as will my one and only time in Japan, but as silly as it sounds, being in the UK means never being that far away from a roast dinner. You can eat all the delicacies in the World, but there’s nothing like coming home to a roast.
Obscure b-side question time: I understand that the song 'Burning Ambition’ was from a demo session for EMI, featuring Doug Sampson on drums, and that this was the same session that yielded the demo version of 'Running Free' which turned up on the various artists 'Axe Attack' compilation. Do you remember whether or not that is true, and were any other songs demo'd with Doug around that time? Or with Clive Burr as part of the pre-production for the first album - or did they just go in and record the versions that were included on the actual album?
I honestly don't remember Doug doing any other recording other than what's already out there. As for the album, Harris knew which songs he wanted to use, so both Clive and Dennis were given a crash course on those tracks, and after a few warm up dates, we went straight into the studio and recorded it. The whole thing was done in just over a week. Although, according to my diary notes, Maiden recorded the single " Running Free" at Morgan Studio's on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th, January 1980, at least four weeks before the rest of the album.
Maiden and crew are known for being enthusiastic about the sport of soccer. Are you following the 2014 FIFA World Cup?
Yeah, of course. It’s the biggest competition in the World. I’m a big West Ham United fan, but don’t get to see them as much as I should. I try to watch as much TV footy as I can, English, Spanish and MLS. At least with the World Cup they have a 11pm kick off, so I get to see some live games. I work from 2-10pm at a Royal Mail Processing Centre, so early or evening kick off’s are something I have to read about in the papers the following day.
Favourite Iron Maiden artwork?
I love all of my friend Derek Riggs artwork, but couldn’t single one out. He has some outstanding new work you should check out.
Favourite Iron Maiden song?
Hallowed Be Thy Name. Might be after I left, but I knew that the band were heading in that direction. Steve always had idea’s, and would play snippets in the dressing room of his latest idea’s.
Best thing about working for Iron Maiden?
I always enjoyed travelling, so that was definitely one of the highlights, and it’s not a bad job for the money you get, and not many people can say that.
Worst thing about working for Iron Maiden?
The long hours, but other than that, I had a blast
Any bands/musicians from the NWOBHM era that could have/should have been bigger?
I always had a soft spot for Angel Witch, and really wish they had followed us to the top. And MORE were a great band, but bad management tore them apart. I’m sure there were a lot more that could have done better, but when you work for the best of all of them, you don’t tend to care too much about the ones you leave behind.
Ever get fed up of being asked about Iron Maiden?
Of course, but people need to know. I’ve been interviewed about 10 times in the last 5 years, so when you consider that’s only twice a year, it’s a little hardship, when you realize you are making millions of fans happy by reading your words.
All the best for now…Loopy
Thanks Loopy. So there we have it, a rare interview with an original Iron Maiden crew member who was there during the lean, mean years of early ‘Maiden history. Visit Loopyworld to read all about recording the seminal Soundhouse Tapes EP and debut album, touring in Japan, and all kinds of craziness.
You’ll find Loopyworld here:
Also mentioned above was the artwork of Derek Riggs, whose iconic artwork and Eddie designs are as much a part of Iron Maiden as twin-harmony guitars, over-sized drum kits, and galloping bass-lines. You’ll find Derek’s work online here:
- Alex Eruptor