Interview: Bruce, November 1988 Material from a feature in Metal Hammer,
November 21st 1988.
organised sort of person?
Bruce: "Up to a point. I can be when I have to be, and I like everything to
happen in the right place at the right time. That needs a lot of organisation
but I'm not particularly good at sitting down and doing the nitty gritty. I do
keep a pad, a reporter's notebook and at night I scribble down what I have to do
the next day, even down to the extent of like, laundry, I put down things like
'Don't forget you left two socks in the bedroom'. Having got my list, I get up
in the morning...and promptly forget it! I try and do something each day. I was
sitting in the house yesterday and flopped down and found there were three
hundred tee shirts and bin liners in the spare bedroom, and stuff that needed
tidying and the laundry needed doing, and there was shopping to be done and
mountains of washing up...and I thought 'Right. I'll do that NOW'. So I went up
stairs, cleaned out the spare bedroom, arranged the wardrobe, cleaned the house,
de da de da. Once you actually start doing something, you get renewed energy.
The achievement of doing one thing leads onto another and before you know it,
you've saved the planet! If you feel bored, it's not really boredom, you are
just feeling sorry for yourself. Get out and do something! There is always
something that needs to be done and can be done if you tackle it."
Bruce now lives in a small three bedroomed mews house since he split with his
Bruce: "She's in what the Daily Mirror called 'The Mansion' and I'm in the three
bedroomed house, which is alright. I'm quite happy living there. The other place
was too big. It was a HUGE house. You needed a loud hailer to call from one end
to the other! I always felt a bit divorced from reality there. When I got the
big house it was part of the overall master plan. Everybody in the band got set
up with their partner or went off to have a baby or not. Then at the end of the
tour, with your money you buy outright your house and build a lifestyle. Plug
into that, go off and tour and set up the pension fund. This gives you security
so you don't have to worry about your loved ones and you can get on with the
music. All well and good except if your loved one ceases to be your loved one it
gets a bit complicated. It's the folly of advanced planning. Suddenly someone
runs over you with a bus! Just when life seemed secure I'm back to where I was
eight years ago with a little house and I'm quite happy y'know. It's very
manageable and I know how to operate the central heating now. I never knew how
to work it! I was useless around the house. Still am. A fuse box is a complete
mystery to me. Eventually I found the central heating controls fairly logically
next door to the boiler. I press a button, the red light came on and I thought
'This is it.' But it gurgles and knocks and makes really frightening noises,
hammering like poltergeists. The first day I switched it on, I woke up at seven
in the morning and there was a hideous sound: 'Bang, bang, bang, glug, glug,
glug' and lots of hissing. I thought 'Shit, it's gonna blow up!' I really
thought it was going to explode and I was going to be covered in bits of copper
shrapnel. So I ran downstairs and my eyes were full of sleep. I thought the
house was full of steam and it had already blown up. I had visions of water
cascading through the ceiling. I ran round the house turning on every single hot
tap trying to relieve the pressure. 'Hang on, there is no steam...what's going
on?' Of course there was nothing wrong with it...
"I treat everything like Play School anyway. I don't mind doing my own
housework. I'm a fiend for washing up. If there is one thing I can't stand it's
having mucky dishes. I'm pretty scrupulous about that, but I'm not too hot on
Hoovering. When it's Black and it should be white, then you have to Hoover it."
Bruce normally gets up around 9 am and admits he has never been an early riser.
Equally he doesn't like rotting abed until midday. One of his first chores,
apart from hosing down his teeth, is to check the Answer Phone.
Bruce: "Yeah, I didn't know how that worked at first, either. I finally got a
message on there, The Phone Ranger:
'You called but I'm not home. Please leave a message on the telephone'
"People call up just to listen to it, but I don't care."
Bruce has got a TV set, a very old one, and rarely watches it.
Bruce: "I was very proud of myself. I diagnosed a fault in it the other day. The
battery in the controller was flat! I'm a fully qualified TV repair man now."
Bruce carries around with him a case with a file containing details of all his
projects. One of them concerns the committee for the Under Twenties English
Fencing and another is devoted to PAGANINI a rock opera Bruce is planning based
on the life of the Italian violin virtuoso, who many consider was the first
Bruce: "The rock opera is under consideration by a major film company and who
knows if it will happen. I just wish they would make a bloody phone call and let
me know one way or the other. I have copyrighted a synopsis and some song
titles. It's all there. I've got a load of scenes and ideas, but I don't want to
seriously commit them to paper until the company comes up with the money. One of
the biggie American companies are interested. But they get things under
consideration all the time.
"Paganini was an ugly bastard. Bony, beaky nosed, hunched back, weird looking
guy going bald. He hated his father all his life who pushed him into music.
Adored his mother. Had illegitimate children, had affairs with royalty, was
reviled by the church but loved by the people. In the middle of a concerto he
would start making bird noises just like rock guitarists mess around now. After
he died his body was dug up and moved seven times because people thought his
fingers were possessed by the Devil. He's a fascinating character and I've
written a synopsis that will result in a film that's a cross between 'Tommy' and
'Amadeus'. The problems of artists are universal and everlasting. The conflicts
he had to resolve, the temptations he had to fight, are all relevant today. I
want to produce a rock opera that would tell the story of his life. His live
performances were legendary but of course no one will ever know what they were
like because it was before the age of recording. Apparently he had enormously
large hands like Jimi Hendix, which is why he could do so much on violin and he
was a keen guitarist as well. He used his own unique system of fingering and
improvised all the time. He broke strings during a performance once and
improvised a violin concerto for one string. On stage he dressed all in black, a
bit like Ritchie Blackmore. He was an explosive Italian and would never play one
note when fifty million would do!"
Would Bruce play Paganini himself?
Bruce: "Oh no, you need to be thin, gaunt, bony, going bald with a great conk. I
would like to play a character part in the movie. I am really interested in
acting and would like to do some, purely independently from music. I did a lot
of acting at school and was in two plays a year. I would very much like to find
a bunch of people into reading plays aloud. We used to do a lot of that at
school, and really enjoyed it. Now I'm back in London I am going to start
visiting the theatre. I used to go a lot, ten years ago. But when you get into
rock and roll somehow the attention span gets shortened and you end up going to
the pub instead.
"I'm thinking about buying a computer. I'm very suspicious of them and feel they
define your creativity rather than enhance it. You can only write what a
computer is capable of writing."
Bruce would rather write with a quill pen than a word processor, but he is
intrigued by the idea of using a Farfisa midi voice controller to put down
melody lines for song writing.
Bruce: "It would be easier for me than putting down songs using a guitar. You
sing into the machine and it comes out however you want, like an organ or a
piano or whatever. Farfisa make it and it only costs two hundred pounds."
Although Bruce is not an avid telly watcher, when he does have a few spare
moments he quite likes watching snooker.
Bruce: "I enjoy the tension during a game and can relate to that. It's what I go
through on stage and is like the sport I do - fencing. Although snooker is a
protracted game, nevertheless each time the ball is struck, it happens in a
split second, when you win or lose. It's interesting to watch people dealing
During his day, was he ever called on to attend his management company business
Bruce: "No, they give me a call if there's anything needs sorting out. After
this British tour is over we'll be putting everything on ice for a year. I've
got several projects all lined up on the basis that any one of them may happen.
Which ever happens first, I'll abandon the others. I've got several irons in the
fire. There's the rock movie and another long shot, a part in a movie which was
offered by the author of the book who sold the rights to the movie. It takes a
while for those things to materialise. There's also my book about 'Lord Iffy
Boatrace' which I want to get published this year. Now I'm home I can do it.
Steve Harris is getting sick of people asking him what it's like and I'm getting
sick of him phoning me up asking when I'm gonna publish the bloody thing."
Another plan dear to Bruce is a centre for young people to introduce them to
Bruce: "I want to start it next year. I have to find the premises. It won't be
in London because there is so much going on there. It would get lost as just
another minor sport. I would set it up somewhere north of London. I'd like an
old warehouse and try to attract a sponsorship deal. I won't throw money at it.
The West German government spend twenty five million marks a year on fencing.
They take school kids who live in fencing centres for six years and all they do
is fence and go to school with their own tutors. They have all their equipment
and board paid for by the State. You can't compete with that. The Sports Council
- ha - does zilch in comparison with that sort of investment."
Bruce spends at least four days a week training.
Bruce: "At weekends I try to go in for a competition and I might train five
times for that. I spend two or three hours a session on those days. So I spend
around 12 to 15 hours a week training. That's activity time and doesn't include
getting undressed and showering. So that would take up my evenings from 6pm to
Between all this did he ever get time to eat?
Bruce: "I just go out to Marks & Spencer and fill the fridge up with stuff.
Don't cook much. I tend to eat things cold. By the time it gets in your belly
it's gonna warm up anyway. I'm just about capable of boiling water and making a
cuppa tea. I buy salads, rice, and ready cooked breast of chicken. I go out for
a curry once a week. It depends how I feel the next morning if I'll go twice a
week. I have stopped eating the vindaloos. I can manage it going down, but the
next morning is too much to contemplate. You can't go out of the house for five
hours in case you have an accident."
Did Bruce go to many clubs at night?
Bruce: "No, not at all, I don't enjoy them. I hate the scene. I did it a couple
of times and felt very out of place. I don't mind going if there's somebody I
want to see or if I'm there with a bunch of friends having a great time. But to
go on your own, and sit there propping up the bar... I could do that in my local
pub and play a game of pool and actually have a lot more fun. I hate
Stringfellows, the Limelight and the Hippodrome. I'm not short of the price of a
pint but I think it's obscene the prices they charge. But then you don't go
there to drink beer, you go to be seen!"
Bruce doesn't burn the midnight oil, slaving away over his desk with the quill
pen into the early hours then?
Bruce: "I write whenever I've got a chunk of time and I don't have to do
anything else. I like to clear the decks and concentrate for a while. I always
have a guitar downstairs to doodle on and maybe write a few tunes with it. At
the moment I'm just playing exercises on it. I've always wanted to put a three
piece band together with the musicians playing different instruments. Like with
me trying to play guitar and a drummer trying to sing, and a guitarist playing
drums. We'd have old heads on inexperienced bodies. We'd loon around, have a
bedroom band and learn how to play again. I've always fancied that idea. Anyway
that's how I usually spend my day. I nip in and out. One thing that takes up my
time is starting a small company to import fencing equipment from China and
selling it here. I've bought a calculator - my first one! It's always better to
have too much to do. And there's still loads of things I wanna do."
"I have stopped eating vindaloos. I can manage it going down, but the next
morning is too much to contemplate. You can't go out of the house for five hours
in case you have an accident."
Interview: Bruce, November 1988 Material from a feature in Metal Hammer,
November 21st 1988.