Monsters of River and Rock — My Life as Iron Maiden's Compulsive Angler is the new book from Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith. Behind the flashy solos and that dominant power stance onstage is a humble man who has spent a lifetime wading the waters of the world in pursuit of balance, tranquility and, of course, some photo-worthy fish.
Even if you've never been fishing in your life nor have had any ambition to, Smith's book is a must-read. Not only does it offer a glimpse into the otherwise private life of the Iron Maiden axeman, complete with its fair share of stories from the road and other band anecdotes, but it underscores the ideals of the sport (he's more of a catch-and-release angler) and raises the level of understanding as to what makes this a much more enthralling adventure than perhaps many would realize.
As Smith recounts in great detail in Monsters of River and Rock, the excitement comes from the unknown. Sure, some polarized sunglasses can help peer a bit beyond the surface of the water to reveal what living treasures may lie beneath, but nothing is a guarantee in fishing — it's a game of patience, skill and a little bit of luck.
It's the understanding that, at any point when you've got a line in the water, you could potentially reel in the biggest fish you've caught ("biggest" is relative to each species, of course) and it could even be the first time you've netted a certain species. That's where the compulsion comes in, similar to a gambler tempted by fortunes to be had with just one more bet placed on the table.
As mentioned above, Monsters of River and Rock also affords Maiden fans with brief anecdotes about the band — non-stop fishing during the sessions for 2015's The Book of Souls, writing "Stranger in a Strange Land" as well as what the rocker was up to following his 1990 exit from the band and then his subsequent rejoining in 1999.
Diving into this quiet fascination with angling, we caught up with Smith by phone to discuss the book, a bout with depression in the '80s and what it was like to watch Iron Maiden perform during his time away from the group.
'Monsters of River and Rock'is out now. Head here to get your copy.
There’s a connection between water, cleansing and creativity. I hear all the time inspiration strikes in the shower or while washing dishes. What do you feel that connection is?
You said it there, it is a cleansing thing. As I say in the book, fishing is like meditation with a punchline. I can sit there all day staring at the water and get completely lost thinking about what’s happening underneath the water. I watch the wildlife and the nature. I don’t create when I’m on the bank, maybe the next day I’ll come up with an idea, but it does clear your mind for sure.