Bruce Dickinson ofIRON MAIDEN
Bruce Dickinson is one of the more entertaining personalities to speak with in this business and never more so than when he is "feeling his way." The celebrating in the IRON MAIDEN camp must have been furious this week. The happiness with this new Millennial MAIDEN is intoxicating in and of itself but when Bruce has obviously been with the grape; well that makes for an altogether different interview. Not one to hold out from peer pressure (or for lack of a better excuse!) I popped myself a can of suds or six and got to the point, as much as was possible by the end of this drunken verbal marathon we were on. Fact is, there is quite
a bit of business in both the Bruce Dickinson and IRON MAIDEN camps, time to get serious. Dickinson has recently released yet another solo album, this time a live disc, and as faithful metalheads would expect from Bruce, it is top shelf material all the way. Representing the largest portion of set lists from concerts in several Brazilian cities, "SCREAM FOR ME BRAZIL" showcases
the Bruce Dickinson Band at their rocking best. No MAIDEN numbers here, the focus is on solo material, as Dickinson will explain, there was no need to because he is once again back with MAIDEN. So, what we have here are songs representing the best of Dickinson's solo catalogue performed in front of a teaming arena of crazed Brazilian metalheads. The tour book sized CD insert documents it all and is itself so incredibly well done that special mention should be made of it and, I guess, just has been! Kudos to the art director for the mass of photos and other documentation included. In addition to the live solo record, issued under Dickinson's own AIR RAID RECORDS imprint, there are to be several other releases. At least three SAMSON releases that feature Dickinson, the reappearance of the "METAL FOR MUTHAS" series and a compilation of rare and unreleased solo tracks and by years end another solo studio album, whew! Combine all that with a full-blown MAIDEN album/tour cycle and it looks to be yet
another busy year for Mr. Dickinson to say the least. Bruce phoned in from France where he was finishing up the new MAIDEN
epic. We covered a lot of ground as the hour we had planned to speak slipped into two and then quite nearly three. Here are a few feet of that territory, as for me, next stop is the aspirin bottle.
DAVID LEE Are you still in Paris recording?
BRUCE DICKINSON We are in fact still in Paris, yes.
DL What are you recording?
BD The new IRON MAIDEN record.
DL Oh, I thought that you guys were still rehearsing and writing that one.
BD Oh, no, no, no, no. That is why a few of these interviews have gone slightly awry, because every now and again there has been the odd conflict of interest between interviews because of the IRON MAIDEN record and I am a bit long winded.(laughs)
DL With the end of your relationship with CMC International and the forming of your own label I am thinking that you are going to buy back the records you did with them and re-release them, am I right on this?
BD No. They want too much money.
DL In time will you get them back?
BD I would love to get my records back but the thing about all of these guys is that, my experience so far has been that they are not interested in doing sensible deals. They are just like bloodsuckers and they just want to chisel as much cash out of you as they can. All I am interested in doing is making new records so why should I buy back my old records? I mean, if they are selling records on my behalf, they have to pay me and that is fantastic. On the other hand, why should I part company with a big chunk of money which would pay for me to make a new record? I have got to be kind of realistic about the whole deal. The important thing for me is that I can make new solo records and IRON MAIDEN records as well. Spending stupid amounts of cash buying my old records back, I mean, as long as they are releasing the records and people are free to buy them, I am happy. If they are not doing that then they are probably in breech of some kind of contract or something and words like, "Lawsuit" fall to mind. I don't know, it is really not occupying my mind terribly at the moment. The most important thing that is occupying my mind at the moment is my live album and the new IRON MAIDEN album.
DL I was looking at the back of this record and I noticed that it was "Air CD 4", what were the other three or did you start at number four?
BD No, we have Air CD 1 was "THE CHEMICAL WEDDING" and then we had "TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE" and "BALLS TO PICASSO and then this one. We are going to have four SAMSON CDs released next year along with "METAL FOR MUTHAS 1 + 2" which were the original albums that started the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Also next year I am going to release an album called "CATACOMBS" which will be a sort of compilation of unreleased and rare footage from the last ten years.
DL Is this stuff that was sitting on tape and was finished or stuff that was incomplete that you are now completing?
BD No, actually not even. For example, the very first version of "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter."
DL With Janick from the soundtrack of "NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET?"
BD Yeah with Janick but this one was never released. And then an entire album that was never released that was recorded with Keith Olson plus various versions of other songs. There are about a half a dozen songs that were recorded during "ACCIDENT OF BIRTH" and "CHEMICAL WEDDING" that were never released.
DL They just didn't make the cut?
BD We didn't even have the time to finish them actually and I finished some of them up last year and we decided that they were pretty cool songs.
DL It seems as though you are going through another prolific spurt in your career?
BD It is true, I did but the prolific spurt has passed.(laughs) I have spurted my prolific ness! I have squirted my whatever from the whatever, the acatalectic record of mankind and have decided to repose myself until after the new IRON MAIDEN record.(laughs)
DL You have to give yourself a bit of a refractory period?(laughs)
BD Refractory! Yes, what a good word! I shall refract myself, yes, I shall no longer be known as the prism; I shall be known now as "that strange collection of rainbow looking bollocks that appears in the distance."(laughs) Yes, what were we talking about?
DL (Laughing) I think you were on about needing a break until after the MAIDEN thing is finished.
BD I am taking a break but not a huge break because the MAIDEN record is actually happening right now and I am recording it as we speak, well not right as we speak but close.(laughs) I will be out by next spring so really we are talking about a new solo record 'round about the year 2001 which sound like a good giggle to me really, it sounds like good fun. Especially if between boughts of drunkenness you can occasionally achieve sobriety and being a musician, which is marvelous.
DL It is all in the timing. . .
BD That is right but it is tremendously difficult!(laughs)
DL Is it too far off to say whether it will be a Roy Z type of Dickinson solo album?
BD Oh, no I definitely want to work with Roy. A lot of people have asked me if the band will be largely the same and the only answer that I can give is "Well, I hope so." I can't give guarantees only because I don't know whether they are interested or not. I mean, I hope that they will be terribly enthusiastic and that includes Adrian(Smith) but my guess is that at least some of them will have musical lives of their own which is perfectly fine and that gives me tremendous encouragement and optimism for the human race in general, that people choose to go off and do their own things.
DL The solo band is not on any type of salary at this time, I would guess, and therefore they do have to find some way to eat while that band is inactive?
BD Yeah. Although I guess that the salary that they get when they are working with me is, like, it beats working at McDonalds so it has got some things going for it. A lot of the guys do a lot of good stuff with other musical projects and, you know, they are very good players. Even the guys that are not the Roy Z's of this world, like Dave and Eddie, they do really well as musicians.
DL The track listing from this live album is pretty heavily form "THE CHEMICAL WEDDING," is that close to being representative of the actual live show, minus the MAIDEN numbers?
BD Well, all we did was took the existing live show that we were doing normally through the whole world and removed the IRON MAIDEN tracks and the "TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE" tracks. The reason that we did that is because we didn't need to do the IRON MAIDEN tracks because I am already in IRON MAIDEN!(laughs) It is as simple as that.
DL What about the stuff from "TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE?"
BD The "TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE" stuff has already been covered, in a sense, because there was a live video and also it was also, of all the albums that I have ever done I have always felt that "TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE" is the odd one out. Although it is a good album it is just a little strange. It is the unusual one.
DL Is that possibly due to the fact that it was recorded when you were still a functioning member of IRON MAIDEN?
BD Yeah. Well, I recorded that album largely, well, I suppose it is fair to say that we were a little derivative when we recorded that album. We had two weeks to write the album and the album was commissioned by a publishing company who said "Wow, this "Bring Your Daughter tot he Slaughter" stuff is terrific, do you have any more?" And I lied and said "Yes!" I said "I have loads of this stuff." And so I called Janick and went "Janick we have to write another album of this shit, quick!" and he said "What shall we do?" "Oh well, we will write sort of a freak sort of tune and a ROLLING STONES kind of a tune and an AC/DC kind of a tune and we will just have a laugh because these guys just have loads of money and they will pay for us to make a record so just shut up and have a laugh!" So we did! So, two weeks one summer we had a great laugh and made a terrifically fun sounding record and unfortunately everybody took it seriously. Everybody was like, "Aha! The singer from IRON MAIDEN has made a new solo record and it sounds like this." I was like "No, you don't understand, I didn't take this record terribly seriously." There are odd tracks that I think, "Oh, that is cool." I actually think that "Tattooed Millionaire" is actually a really good pop metal track and I think that "Born in 58" is a great tune as well and "Gypsy Road" I like and things like that. There are a lot of stuff on the record that I am thinking is generic but actually it is just as good as everybody else who is putting stuff out at the time. If I were to sit there in judgement,
like the great and Powerful Oz, I would go, "A lot of this album is kind of generic so you are condemned to the pit of Generic hell!" I have this theory that is very brutal and I call it "99% is shit!" This goes for every aspect of human endeavor which is 99% of everything that we ever do is shit and the tiny 1% of originality is the only thing that keeps us going. I don't mean that 99% of everybody's life is worthless but it is shit. It is the same shit that we all have to do. 99% of my life is shit, with IRON MAIDEN, with my solo stuff, whatever it is but if I am really lucky 1% of it will be a little weenie bit of genius and that is the bit that sustains it all.
DL You are living for that 1% then?
BD I am just living for that 1%.
DL But working for the weekend?(laughs)
BD Yeah, precisely! Yes, a LOVERBOY quote! Working for the headband!(laughs) Living for the skin graft!
DL I am sorry, that just slipped out, I don't know what came over me!(laughs)
BD That is quite alright.(laughs)
DL Let me jump off topic for the rest of the time we have, I know that you are very much into science fiction and I have always meant to ask you about a bit of English sci-fi that I am really into, DR. WHO.
BD Oh, fantastic!
DL Having grown up being able to watch that show every week was there a particular Doctor that you like over the rest?
BD Yes, there several actually, Patrick Troughton with the Daleks, "The Invasion of the Cybermen" series, "Death to the Daleks" and basically anything with Cybermen and Daleks in it. That was my big trip. I have a Dalek in my house, you know.
DL No, a real one from the show?
BD Yeah. I have it in my hallway. I found it in this second hand magazine and it was on sale, I won't even tell you how much money I paid for it because it is really sad and embarrassing!(laughs) I remember talking to Martin Birch about it and going "I am really sad and embarrassed about this but I am going to pay this for a Dalek." And he turned 'round and went "A Dalek? A real Dalek? You have got to do it!" So I went and got the money out of the cash point and went and paid the guy cash for this Dalek. It is absolutely awesome.
DL Is it a rolling model?
BD Oh, yes. It is a real full size Dalek and you can get into it. You have to be a real midget to get into it but my oldest kid can get into it and he walks around and operates it. The head moves and the little eye moves and he goes "EXTERMINATE ALL TEACHERS!!!"(Laughs)
DL How did you get it home? Did you have it delivered or did you have to put it in the passenger seat for the drive home?
BD I had to stuff it in three sections in the back of a car and you should have seen the looks! I was driving and all of a sudden people would see this Dalek staring at them out of the back of this 4X4 and they would be going "Oh my god it is a Dalek!"
DL It must be hell getting replacement parts.
BD Yeah, well you know.(laughs)
DL Alright, back on topic now, the title of the CD, "SCREAM FOR ME BRAZIL," has that phrase become the equivalent of "everything louder than everything else" for Bruce Dickinson?
BD Yeah, pretty much. It is like "Scream for me Long Beach!" except it is Brazil.
DL I think that you used exactly that phrase when you were last in town with MAIDEN and it got a great reaction.
BD Oh, I have said it several times, it has become my catch phrase.
DL At the end of the day it seems that Bruce Dickinson is quite a happy fellow?
BD It rocks! I am still going to continue doing solo records, the new IRON MAIDEN album is going to sound unbelievable, honestly it will be really, really good.
DL Is this a real, real classic metal record?
BD Oh, better than that. I mean, I don't even think that you can call IRON MAIDEN 100% real metal. IRON MAIDEN is beyond that and always has been. That is one of the things that America has always had a problem with but right now we might be moving to a point where by America may actually understand what MAIDEN is all about. We'll see.