Bruce Dickinson - "Scream For Me Brazil"
Despite his return to the Iron Maiden fold, despite the understandable euphoria among the British NWOBHM legend's countless fans, Bruce Dickinson will continue to take the liberty of living out his ambitions as a solo artist. When the time is right, mind you, and certainly not as competition for Iron Maiden, but rather to complement his artistic creativity. During the current Iron Maiden world tour, and even before he is set to commence with the preparations for a new Maiden offering together with his colleagues Adrian Smith, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Nicko McBrain and Janick Gers some time during the year 2000, he is now proud to present - as a kind of interim summary of an extremely successful era - his new live album 'Scream For Me Brazil'. It would be futile to waste a lot of words on the subject. You simply have to hear this brilliant album yourself, and it's probably a good idea to let Dickinson himself relate all the important facts. Et voila, here we have Bruce Dickinson in his very own words in Paris, September 1999, one day before the beginning of Iron Maiden's spectacular European tour.
The title 'Scream For Me Brazil' hints at the location where the album was recorded. Why Brazil instead of Europe or Asia?
Bruce: This album could have been recorded anywhere. But the Brazilians happen to be among the most enthusiastic audiences in the world. Nowhere else do I get as many punters at my shows, in Brazil we play in front of 6000 fans. The people there are extremely loyal, they have been following since 'Balls To Picasso'. 'Tears Of The Dragon' was a massive hit there. The fans have always been behind me, no matter what happened, although there have always been a lot of technical problems in the past caused by difficulties with the equipment. Brazil is the only place in the world where heavy metal has continued to gain importance during the past ten years.
Did you record additional shows in other parts of the world?
Bruce: No, because I absolutely wanted Roy Z on these recordings. Which proved very difficult, because CMC wanted to cancel the US tour since they did not come up with the payments. The South American tour was originally supposed to take place at the end of the North American tour, so we would have four weeks to warm up. After the cancellation there were only four dates in South America to cut the live album. In the end we rehearsed in Los Angeles for ten days and then flew directly to Sao Paulo to record the first show. The gig was unbelievably good, 6500 fans turned up, but unfortunately the recording mobile didn't work properly, so we couldn't use the material. Stan, our technician, told me backstage after the show that there had been technical problems, in some places you could only hear the bass drum. So we ended up recording the second show in Rio de Janeiro the following night. Due to popular request the promoter organised another show in Sao Paulo, which was our chance to try it again in the same place. The night before this additional gig we played near Sao Paulo and cut a number of songs there, so in the end we had a totoal of four gigs on tape. Most of the recordings are from that first night in Sao Paulo, although particularly the first tracks on the album were recorded during the additional show there. I think 'Chemical Wedding' is from the third night, 'The Tower' was recorded in Rio de Janeiro.
What makes 'Scream For Me Brazil' different from your first live album 'Alive In Studio A'?
Bruce: 'Alive In Studio A' was actually a compromise. The record company I was with at the time wanted to release an album as soon as possible. I was not particularly impressed with the idea because I had no new material. So I agreed with the company that we'd do a kind of official bootleg, the kind of album that you send to your best friends. Nothing more. But unfortunately the record company undermined this idea and gave the release an importance that really wasn't appropriate. 'Scream For Me Brazil' is a totally different situation. You can't compare these two albums in artistic terms. The new record is light-years better in every respect, and it really represents the strongest and most modern material that I've ever recorded. It was important to me that no numbers were included that were not recorded with this band. We played some Maiden songs and tracks off 'Tattooed Millionaire' during this tour, but they don't appear on the album. You can hear from the record that the band work together really well and that we've played a lot of shows together. Everything fits in perfectly.
How would you describe the most elementary difference between Dickinson gigs and Dickinson in the studio?
Bruce: We always generate more energy at our gigs than we do in the studio. You lose a little of that original magic, of the emotions and the excitement when you work in the studio. You tend to do things as perfectly as possible, although frequently the best things are not necessarily the most perfect ones. I asked fans and friends which one of the two 'Alive In Studio A' CDs they prefer, the studio cut or the live recording. Almost all of them said that they prefer the live CD. I asked them "Why? After all you can hear a lot of mistakes, and the second CD has also been recorded live in the studio!" But most fans prefer the spontaneous CD. Somehow a live CD transports more of that authenticity and energy that develops between the individual musicians.
What are those musicians doing now since Adrian and you are busy with the Iron Maiden tour for the next few months? Are they in some kind of wait state?
Bruce: I like the idea of being able to call on those guys and do something with them during the next Maiden break, although that definately won't be before 2001. You know, I'm not the sort of person who can do two things at the same time. I put so much conviction into my last two studio albums that I don't want to follow them with a half-hearted quick-fire attempt. I'm back with Maiden now, and I'm really looking forward to working with them. They are different people again, and everything is very fresh. I can only do Maiden if I invest 100 per cent of my energy. That's what I did with my solo albums, and that won't change in the future. Maybe I'll bring out a solo album next year with previously unreleases outtakes and bonus tracks from the Japanese or Brazilian versions for fans who own 'Accident Of Birth' and 'Chemical Wedding' and enjoy interesting versions. I'll probably name the album 'Catacombs' since it'll consist of songs from the crypt. There are half a dozen tracks that nobody's heard before from sessions for the last two solo albums.
Nothing from the Skunkworks era?
Bruce: Hmm, let me think. There must be a song for which we never recorded the vocals. I believe it was called 'Slow Garden', it was due to come out on an album that I intended to name 'Fast Garden'. The track really is slow and dragging and has a kind of Black Sabbath feel. Maybe one day I'll record the matching vocals and release it. There are still a number of Skunkworks B-sides, those more or less unplugged numbers that I wrote together with Roy on the coach. Maybe they'll end up on the rarities album. Plus the original version of 'Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter' that was never released. And there there's the album that I recorded with Keith Olsen and that the fans refer to as the 'Lost Album'. And the original version of 'Tears Of The Dragon' with an orchestra arrangement as well as two or three additional songs that nobody's heard so far. It will be a kind of musical adventure. By the way, we're also going to re-release the Samson albums next year.
I know how much passion yuo've invested in your solo carreer. Doesn't your heart bleed considering you have to put it on hold for the time being?
Bruce: To be honest, when I got the first offer to work with Maiden again I really had to think about it. I invested so much hard work in Skunkworks and the two solo albums that I didn't want to throw all that away carelessly. I worry that people end up forgetting and that they only remember Maiden. I'd like to say two things.I think that I've reached a whole new group of fans with my solo album. Of course a lot of Maiden fans, but also people who had no contact with Maiden, that's why I had to use this opportunity. The moment that I negan to work with the Maiden guys I realised it's a whole different story - twenty years of history coming together again.
How do the other Maiden members feel about your solo ambitions?
Bruce: One of the first things that Steve said was, "Nobody minds if somebody wants to record a solo album, as long as we can get the band together again afterwards." During the time when I didn't sing with Maiden my solo band was my home. Now I'm back with Maiden so they're my home once more. If I record more solo albums they won't have anything to do with Maiden.
Will Adrian Smith be part of your team again?
Bruce: We haven't discussed that yet. It's another two years before we get to that point. We've spoken about it, but we haven't decided anything. After all it's also possible that Adrian will end up wanting to reactivate his Psycho Motel project. Adrian did two albums with Psycho Motel but he never had the chance to get the best out of those recordings. Maybe he'll want to make up for that. I for one could certainly understand it.