Interview-Dickinson

 

 

BRUCE DICKINSON

11/13/99 By Brian Coles

With a career spanning two decades, fronting Samson, Iron Maiden and his

own critically acclaimed solo career, Bruce Dickinson remains one of the

premiere voices in metal. He has recently reunited with the mighty

Maiden and has just released a live solo album called Scream for Me

Brazil. I recently chatted with Mr. Dickinson about his solo career

(past, present and future), the Samson days and Iron Maiden happenings.

 

Rock Devil: Do you think the buzz around the Iron Maiden reunion is

enhanced by the great response to your solo efforts?

Bruce Dickinson: A lot of people have come up with that as a potential

thing, but I think itís more complex than that. As much as Iíd like to

take all the credit I donít think itís fair to for me to do that or

collect. The main thing is that the solo stuff has really been doing

great. My only regret on Chemical Wedding is that the record company

didnít put nearly enough commitment behind the record to the extent we had

to cancel our U.S. tour because they refused to come up with tour support.

Then I said Iíll pay for the tour myself if theyíd come up with a campaign

for radio and they said no. Anyway, Scream for me Brazil is out on my own

label.Bruce Dickinson: A lot of people have come up with that as a

potential thing, but I think itís more complex than that. As much as Iíd

like to take all the credit I donít think itís fair to for me to do that

or collect. The main thing is that the solo stuff has really been doing

great. My only regret on Chemical Wedding is that the record company

didnít put nearly enough committment behind the record to the extent we

had to cancel our U.S. tour because they refused to come up with tour

support. Then I said Iíll pay for the tour myself if theyíd come up with a

campaign for radio and they said no. Anyway, Scream for me Brazil is out

on my own label.

 

RD: The live album sounds so powerful and concise. How did you approach

the production end of it?

Dickinson: You have to take a philosophical view when you record a live

record. One way is to make it sound like it was recorded in a big tin

shed. Another way is to make it sound like it was almost live in a studio.

We actually opted for something between the two. When we were mixing it, I

said to Roy we need to hear it as if we were in the band, not in the

audience. This record sounds like what I hear when Iím on stage. That was

the concept behind the record. I dislike live records that sound like they

were recorded in the bathroom. You have to take a philosophical view when

you record a live record. One way is to make it sound like it was recorded

in a big tin shed. Another way is to make it sound like it was almost live

in a studio. We actually opted for something between the two. When we were

mixing it, I said to Roy we need to hear it as if we were in the band, not

in the audience. This record sounds like what I hear when Iím on stage.

That was the concept behind the record. I dislike live records that sound

like they were recorded in the bathroom.

 

RD: Too bad the U.S. didnít get a chance to see you in action this time

around.

Dickinson: Itís an absolutely unbelievable band. One of the reasons we did

a live album was to put it down and document it. In a sense this is the

tour of America I didnít end up doing. For Americans this for them to hear

and go "Wow! That must have been awesome." Itís an absolutely unbelievable

band. One of the reasons we did a live album was to put it down and

document it. In a sense this is the tour of America I didnít end up doing.

For Americans this for them to hear and go "Wow! That must have been

awesome."

 

RD: Hopefully weíll get a chance to hear your solo band in the future!

Dickinson: This is not a finale by any means. Iím carrying on making solo

albums. In 2001 I should be making a new solo album and going out on the

road again. This is not a finale by any means. Iím carrying on making solo

albums. In 2001 I should be making a new solo album and going out on the

road again.

 

RD: Roy Z is such a big part of your recent solo efforts. Heís a player,

writer and producer. Does he factor in your future plans as a solo artist?

Dickinson: Absolutely. Roy and I work closely together and talk all the

time. We have an ongoing dialogue. The thing thatís impressive about Roy

is that any idea I come up with he can translate. It doesnít matter if I

say letís have a Pink Floyd moment or say letís have a little medieval

guitar heís right on it. Heís just a great musician. Absolutely. Roy and I

work closely together and talk all the time. We have an ongoing dialogue.

The thing thatís impressive about Roy is that any idea I come up with he

can translate. It doesnít matter if I say letís have a Pink Floyd moment

or say letís have a little medieval guitar heís right on it. Heís just a

great musician.

 

RD: Your first solo effort, Tattooed Millionaire, sounds so different from

the other albums youíve done.

Dickinson: Each of my solo albums really were tentative for the first two

or three. Tattooed Millionaire was really a one-off hard rock project.

RD: I always thought "Dive! Dive! Dive" wouldíve made a great AC/DC tune.

Dickinson: Thatís how we did the album! We sat down and said hey, letís

take our ten favorite rock cliches and make a record. "Dive! Dive! Dive!"

is the best AC/DC track AC/DC never recorded! Thereís also a bit of Guns

ní Roses, Aerosmith, Stones and a mishmash of Free and Bad Company. It did

pretty good. Then I thought I donít want to do another one of these

because people will think Iím just some retro old fart. Thatís how we did

the album! We sat down and said hey, letís take our ten favorite rock

cliches and make a record. "Dive! Dive! Dive!" is the best AC/DC track

AC/DC never recorded! Thereís also a bit of Guns ní Roses, Aerosmith,

Stones and a mishmash of Free and Bad Company. It did pretty good. Then I

thought I donít want to do another one of these because people will think

Iím just some retro old fart.

 

RD: After you left Maiden, how did you come at your solo work artisticly?

Dickinson: When I left Maiden I actually ended up recording three complete

records and I scrapped two of them. I met Roy halfway through the second

one. I heard his band Tribe of Gypsies and was completely blown away. Then

we wrote about four tunes. Originally we were going to glue them together

with the second album, but it didnít work because they were going in two

entirely different directions. So then I wrote a few more tunes and we

went in and recorded what was Balls to Picasso. The only regret I have

about Balls to Picasso is that Roy didnít produce it. Itís the only album

Iíve recorded where the guitars werenít as heavy as they should be. When I

left Maiden I actually ended up recording three complete records and I

scrapped two of them. I met Roy halfway through the second one. I heard

his band Tribe of Gypsies and was completely blown away. Then we wrote

about four tunes. Originally we were going to glue them together with the

second album, but it didnít work because they were going in two entirely

different directions. So then I wrote a few more tunes and we went in and

recorded what was Balls to Picasso. The only regret I have about Balls to

Picasso is that Roy didnít produce it. Itís the only album Iíve recorded

where the guitars werenít as heavy as they should be.

 

RDRD: Any chance the extra material will be released on your outtakes

album due next year?

Dickinson: Well, weíve got so much stuff that weíve recorded that nobodyís

heard that we actually have enough for two outtakes albums. Theyíre not

really outtakes either. Thereís the one album I recorded with Keith Olson

that is a complete album that is recorded and mixed. It is very dark and

Peter Gabriel-ly. There is also the original version of "Bring Your

Daughter to the Slaughter" which was the first thing I recorded solo,

which was with Janick Gers. That hasnít seen the light of day. Thereís at

least a half a dozen tracks off of A Chemical Wedding and Accident of

Birth we recorded. Thereís a great track called "Wicka Man" off of

Accident of Birth which we just didnít have time to finish. Plus thereís

several songs that were special tracks in Japan or Brazil etc. Well, weíve

got so much stuff that weíve recorded that nobodyís heard that we actually

have enough for two outtakes albums. Theyíre not really outtakes either.

Thereís the one album I recorded with Keith Olson that is a complete album

that is recorded and mixed. It is very dark and Peter Gabriel-ly. There is

also the original version of "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter" which

was the first thing I recorded solo, which was with Janick Gers. That

hasnít seen the light of day. Thereís at least a half a dozen tracks off

of A Chemical Wedding and Accident of Birth we recorded. Thereís a great

track called "Wicka Man" off of Accident of Birth which we just didnít

have time to finish. Plus thereís several songs that were special tracks

in Japan or Brazil etc.

 

RD: Speaking of Brazil, why do you think the Brazilian response to metal

has been so strong compared to other parts of the world?

Dickinson: First of all, Brazil has a huge proportion of young kids. They

are also very hooked up on the net. So it means is that Brazil has

probably one off the biggest word-of-mouth situations. So in otherwords,

the Hollywood hype and Hollywood bullshit doesnít really get down there.

They canít really be bothered to spend the money and go down there and

hype everything up. So basically, consumers make up their own mind. First

of all, Brazil has a huge proportion of young kids. They are also very

hooked up on the net. So it means is that Brazil has probably one off the

biggest word-of-mouth situations. So in otherwords, the Hollywood hype and

Hollywood bullshit doesnít really get down there. They canít really be

bothered to spend the money and go down there and hype everything up. So

basically, consumers make up their own mind.

 

RD: All your releases have done well in Brazil haven't they?

Dickinson: We've sold a lot of albums down there of every single thing

we've ever done. Even Skunkworks was a big hit. It is actually one of the

records that I am most proud because it is kind of a controversial record

for a lot of traditional metalheads. But there has been quite a bit of

revisionary thinking about that record. People have been discovering it

and realizing it really is a cool album.

 

RD: Any chance of releasing the Skunkworks live video in NTSC format for

us in the States?

Dickinson: Actually, we're thinking about releasing that next year along

with the Tattooed Millionaire video. The Millionaire video is a

full-length live concert with me an Janick.

RD: Was it tough to fit in tracks off of Millionaire on your last tour,

being that they were so different from your recent material?

Dickinson: Na. They're rock 'n' roll tracks. Any self-respecting

musician should be able to play it like falling off a log. The only thing

with tracks like that were that they were so simplistic we had to suspend

the attitude that "we're musicians" and instead say "ah fuck it, let's

rock 'n' roll!" Just let it rip and everything sounds cool.

RD: When you and Adrian decided to return to Maiden, was it done with

each other's consent or did you each decide on your own?

Dickinson: I called him up and said, "Hey listen, what do you think?" And

he said he was like "Yeah, yeah, yeah." We then chatted up with everyone

separately. Because it really is a two way street.

 

RD: How's the vibes in Maiden now?

Dickinson: The Maiden thing feels really relaxed and comfortable. We're

going to make a very interesting record. The nice thing I can say is that

it is going to surprise people because I believe that is the best thing

you can do with any record. The great thing about Maiden is that we've

got so much confidence and oomph now to make a courageous record. You

know, somebody's got to stop making copies of copies of bad rap music.

 

RD: Speaking of which, how do you view bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit

who are "heavy" yet veer away from being called metal? Are they even

metal?

Dickinson: Well, they're not metal bands. It's real simple. So they

don't have to worry about being called a metal band. Actually, to be

honest with you, in a strict sense, neither is Maiden. Although Maiden is

thought of that way and marketed as such. It some ways we're really a

progressive band. Almost like prog-rock at times. You know I don't mind

being called a metal band. I think it's great. I just think people have

to remember that we're musical too. Maiden fans know exactly what Maiden

is all about. It's the outsiders that tend to judge everything by the

container.

 

RD: I heard you may reissue some Samson albums.

Dickinson: On my own label Air Raid, we'll be issuing four Samson albums.

Also, we'll be reissuing Metal for Mothers on CD for the first time.

RD: I've heard some incredible stories about Thunderstick (the drummer

for Samson who wears a leather mask). Care to share any?

Dickinson: You mean printable ones?! (laughs) He is in fact mad. He did

go through a period when he would he would utter no human speech while he

was in his mask. He once had sex with a girl on a the hotel lobby floor,

while wearing the mask, after sitting with her for about a half an hour

without doing anything but grunt.

 

RD: Do you think you will ever play with Samson again?

Dickinson: The possibility for disastrous confusion to take place is so

great, I just don't think it would be smart. Maybe a one night in a bar

or something without an announcement would be fun.

RD: By the way, your voice sounds as good as ever!

Dickinson: Yeah, on this last Iron Maiden tour I was nailing some of the

"Run to the Hills" notes that I certainly didn't do on Live After Death.

 

RD: I know when I saw Maiden at the Greek Theatre this summer, the place

treated the fans like second class citizens. Do you pick up on that when

you play?

Dickinson: Oh, the venue sucked! We're were really annoyed about the

venue. Iron Maiden does not belong in the Greek Theatre. When we see a

bunch of people standing in concrete seats with little flunkies and coats

waving torches at everybody, I want to get the flame thrower out. That's

why in Europe there is none of that. Everybody gets down on the floor in

a heaving mass of bodies. It's like a 10,000 seat club. Maiden needs a

big stage but we can turn anyplace with a big stage into an enormous club.

You can't do it in America where they put everybody into little

concentration camps.

 

RD: Maybe next time you could play the Long Beach Arena (where Live after

Death was recorded)!?

Dickinson: That would be cool.

 

Thanks to Mr. Dickinson for his time and efforts to due this interview.

He was a true gentleman.