Smith just published Monsters of River and Rock, a memoir about his life in the band and how he schedules his favorite pastime around it. However, when he first took up guitar, he put down his fishing rod, because he was convinced the two pursuits didn’t match.
In a new interview with The Guardian, Smith recalled how the vision of a “beautiful silver roach” in a polluted London canal inspired him to start fishing and how it opened him to a new world with his father. “I’d never even seen countryside before,” he said. “I’d wake him up, going, ‘Come on, Dad! Let’s go fishing.’”
But when he first heard the Deep Purple classic “Highway Star” as a teenager and learning how to play guitar, he quit fishing. “I couldn’t imagine Ritchie Blackmore trying to catch carp,” he explained, even though the hobby helped him deal with “social anxiety.”
“Fishing gives you something to focus on, which helps you out of it,” Smith reflected. “In my youth, I put everything into establishing myself rather than go fishing. But then maybe if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have done as well.”
He later found that fishing helped him deal with the rigors of touring the world with Iron Maiden, though it sometimes caused problems on the road. One time he hired a car to spend a night away; it broke down, and he got back in time for the show only because two men gave him a ride. “They were drunk as lords, so it was a bit hair-raising,” he recalled. “But even at my age, I like the adventure of going off into the unknown. It’s an escape from our increasingly regimented lives.”
Smith also owned up to keeping worms on his tour bus. “When you open it up to get the luggage out after a couple of days, it is not a nice aroma,” he noted.