The following interview with Bruce Dickinson was conducted on August 19, 1998 by Seriah Azkath…
Q: Do you think that the music scene in Europe is much different than it is here?
A: In some ways, yeah. In some ways I think in America though things happen a lot faster and once the process of change gets started, it continues and it eats up everything in it's path very quickly. However, that will most probably work in favor of metal bands I think because I think metal is coming back now. And it's really starting to gather some pace there's really some momentum behind it now.
Q: How do you feel about the way people won't call it metal anymore, but will call it things like agro-rock, and loud rock?
A: They're just scared of being unhip and I'm not scared of being unhip because I've always been unhip. It's metal.
Q: Who's in the band this album, who wrote the stuff with you?
A: Well it's the same band as is on the last album, the same touring band as is on the last tour. Adrian Smith, Roy Z on guitars, and Eddie Casillas and David Ingraham on bass and drums. The album is produced by Ray Zeke in all the same studios as we did the last one. The only difference is, the songs are different, the music's different, and it's heavier, a lot heavier, the whole album.
Q: Really? Are they going to be any light songs like on the last album?
Q: Oh, none at all?
A: None at all. The album is unrepentantly, totally heavy. From start to finish.
Q: Are you still going to have the puppet involved in some way? Is he going to be a mascot?
A: No, it's too heavy for the puppet. The puppet didn't make it on the cover, it's too heavy for the puppet. What's on the cover is artwork by an English eccentric poet and painter named William Blake. The paintings are around 200 years old, and they're scary.
Q: I heard a rumor that someone actually stole your puppet while you were on tour, is that true?
A: Not while we were on tour, they stole him the night before he was supposed to be in the video. What we've done is we've gone in and had a replacement made, and we took him on tour with us. And in fact, I think what we might end up doing is when we shoot some videos this time, we might use him in maybe some of the videos.
Q: What songs did you do videos for last time?
A: We did videos for Accident of Birth and for Road to Hell and there's also one for Man of Sorrows.
Q: Your lyrical inspiration for the last one, it seemed very occult bent.
A: Yeah, and it's even more on this one.
A: Yeah. This one's totally about alchemy. This one is about alchemy and specifically the poetry of William Blake which is very much based on the philosophy of alchemy. So yeah, even more so on the new record.
Q: Is this something that you have a deep interest in or just a passive you read a lot so you know what you're talking about kind of interests?
A: It's one of the I read a lot so I know what I'm talking about interests.
Q: What was Man of Sorrows about?
A: Man of Sorrows was about the young Aleister Crowley, Aleister Crowley as a boy. And what kind of feelings turn a twelve year old boy into, basically what inspires a twelve year old boy to make a life choice: "Hey what do you want to be when you grow up?" " I want to be the Antichrist."
Q: I noticed a lot of Crowley-isms in there I wasn't sure if that's what you were…
A: Oh absolutely.
Q: What about Accident of Birth?
A: Accident of Birth is about a family from Hell. Except they're in hell and one of them has accidentally been born, and they want him back and he doesn't want to go. For all the same reasons that you wouldn't want to go back to your family if they're a pain in the ass so he doesn't want to go back to his family. Ok, so they're in Hell, that makes a little difference too.
Q: What are some of the new songs about, besides the general alchemy theme.
A: Well basically I wrote the songs about, you could say each song was about has a sort of frame in which it operates but the first song is about fear, the second song is about tragedy, the third song is about union, the fourth song, I forgot where am I at, I need the album in front of me. But basically it's things like that. You could pick a theme or a topic for each song so that's what the song is about and then you put it in a frame. How do we express that word in which story. For example, one of the songs about failure and the song is call The Trumpets of Jericho. And the story of the trumpets of Jericho in the Bible, the walls fall down when the tribes of Israel walk around the city and blow they trumpets. Except in this song they don't. It doesn't work. You're done everything right, everything's cool but the wall's still standing. And what do you do? How do you face up to that fact? And it's all part of the whole alchemy thing. What were the alchemists trying to do? They were trying to achieve something that was virtually impossible, they spent their whole lives trying to do it, and all of them failed. I think, or pretty damn near all of them failed. So, what does that feel like, and how does that work, and why keep carrying on. So that's the way the songs kind of work. And you don't have to go into them in all this detail, you could just sit back there and let it hit you over the head like a sledgehammer cause the album works it's just a really heavy album. But it's all there if you want to dig through the words.
Q: So I assume you're much happier now than in the last few albums from Iron Maiden?
A: Oh, I’m not going to go anywhere and start making comments on Maiden and stuff. There's too much respect between the guys in Maiden and me and me and the guys in Maiden. I don't go there.
Q: Well I mean, what you're doing now sounds completely different than the last few Maiden albums.
A: Oh yeah, and that's good.
Q: And is this more of what you wanted to do?
A: Well, this is what I'm doing so I think you can probably say this is what I wanted to do.
Q: Ok, good point. You still get along with those guys?
A: Yes I do. And one of the reasons why we both get along with eachother is that we both kept this respectful distance about commenting on each other's past and things like that. We all have to live in the same universe and we share the same management. So it's a bit like being divorced and still sharing the same bathroom.
Q: Would you ever tour with them?
A: With my solo band?
A: No, I think that would be setting up journalists to make negative comments every which way cause it's what journalists do generally. It's what they like to do, so I don't think it would benefit either band.
Q: Did you do an original song for the ECW album?
A: No we were asked to do a song and it was The Zoo by the Scorpions.
Q: Oh, so you did a cover?
A: Yeah, that's what we were asked to do.
Q: Ok, but it's not on your album?
A: No, no cover songs
Q: But you did record that for ECW.
A: We recorded The Zoo, yeah. It was actually just me and Roy Z cause everyone else had gone home.
Q: Are you fan or did you just get asked to do it by the company?
A: We were asked to do it, but I may have to get in touch with my old mate Thunderstick from Samson cause he's a bodybuilder now. He's pretty built up and he still wears a mask., you know, so I may have to get him in the ring with a few of these guys, cause he could teach them a thing or two, you know?
Q: Do you have any other projects going at the moment?
A: No, The Chemical Wedding is it, big time. Occupying much of my waking hours, such as they are.
Q: Are you going to be writing any more books?
A: Um, not as long as I'm making these records. And as long as I'm doing world tours, and promo tours and god knows what else.
Q: Are you going to be touring the States?
A: Oh yeah, we're going to start the world tour the middle of October here in Europe and that will go until Christmas in Europe and then we start in Japan. And as soon as we can get the right tour arranged, which hopefully is going to be February or March, we'll be in the States because we had just a great time the last time we came out which was on Accident of Birth for six weeks headlining clubs and we had such a blast. And this time we want to get with the program here and get in front of some larger audiences. Give them a package or something like that.
Q: Any preference on who you'd like to tour with?
A: Who I'd like to tour with? Oh I think Black Sabbath would be good don't you?
Q: Well, yeah.
A: Along with everybody else on the planet.
Q: But no specific preference besides that, no bands you're really into at the moment?
A: Well, we have to see what the package was. We have to see what came our way and what the vibe was on things.
Q: What kinds of things do you listen to?
A: Everything from Fear Factory to Garbage to Neil Young.
Q: Nice diverse taste. Anything that's in your favorites at the moment?
A: New Garbage record, Monster Magnet Powertrip, new Fear Factory, Cradle of Filth, and a Norwegian band called Dimmu Borgir.
Q: Yeah, they're on Nuclear Blast. Very diverse taste. Well, anything else you want to say about the new record.
A: No. It's fantastic, go buy it. Listen to it two or three times before you even say anything. Because it takes two or three times. I recommend once you're comfortable with it, a really good experience is headphones, a darkened room, and listen to the whole thing start to finish.
You can check out the Bruce Dickinson Homepage at http://www.brucedickinson.com/
Also, you can check out the CMC Records Website at http://www.cmcinternational.com/