Interview: Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden


Swashbuckling swanker Bruce Dickinson is something of a workaholic to say the least! Having taken a much needed break from the Iron Maiden camp, he's not only turned his attention to writing novels, but has also fitted time in to record his debut solo album Tattooed Millionaire. Presently in the process of touring Britain and Europe with a new band that features new Maiden guitarist Janick Gers, Bruce is determined to dispel any rumours that may have circulated about his solo project taking presidence from his commitment to the 'Irons.'

Pre-tour I met the 'Maiden' man for a lengthy chat...

"Rock music, hard rock music, heavy metal is a perfectly valid form of music for anybody to listen to and it pisses me off when people try to put it in a box!"

Why did you decide to undertake a solo project?

"The reason I did it was because it felt right at the time. It just happened!"

How did you approach the project in contrast to your work with Maiden?

"Well, with Maiden there's always a certain amount of tension at the beginning because nobody knows who wants to write with who. So you go into the thing a bit blind! With my solo record I just sat down with Jannick and we wrote all the songs together. We just jammed together until we got a feel we were happy with, and took it from there. That's how most of the songs developed! Each song has its own little way that it was written, its own little vibe to it, its own little story - nothing complicated! It's the way I like to write! If something occurs naturally and it feels good then I'll not change it that much."

The lyrical content of the record seems a lot different to that on a Maiden album?

"Again with Maiden we felt a bit limited in some ways to what we could write things about. You couldn't write a song like Born in '58 and sing it with Maiden. It's too straight-forward and melodic and it's not melodramatic enough, given the fact that Maiden music is basically everyone playing at once, so the words have to fit in with what's going on around them! However, the words on the new Maiden album [No Prayer For the Dying] are a bit more topical and hard-hitting!"

Do you think that this solo project has benefitted your work with Maiden?

"Definitely! It's given me a lot of confidence which maybe I didn't have before. Having come off the solo record I just dived straight into the Maiden stuff with Steve. The new Maiden album is a real mish mash. It's the most that people have written together since the Piece of Mind record which I think is really healthy! You get a stronger album at the end of the day."

Are you looking forward to playing smaller venues again on your solo tour? 

"Yeah, it's going to be great! We're just going to go for that feeling, for that excitement that you get with a basic rock n' roll show."

Are you going to be playing any other material live?

"There won't be any Maiden material. I can tell you that! We're going to be doing a few covers plus a few Samson tunes as well. Every night is going to be different. Some nights are going to be ecstatic! It's important to put a bit of 'danger' back into music. Everything's so safe and nobody seems to take chances anymore! They've got the pyro, they've got the video screens, et cetra. They've got all this stuff backing them up and you know they're not going to fall flat on their face."

How important to you are your projects outside of Maiden? 

"It all helps to have breaks because things can get a bit stale to be honest. Having made what I think is a really happening record I don't want to just let it drift away as one of those solo albums that you pick up in the bargain bin six months later! So, you have to see projects through to a fitting conclusion. In a sense when I get out on the road I'll be able to relax! I"ll be on stage every night and travelling during the day - no bugger will be able to get hold of me!"   
What do the other members of Maiden think about your album?

"They really like it. Steve Harris, who has a very wide-ranging taste in music, thinks it's brilliant! In many ways, because it is a more mainstream album, it could get a lot of radio-play, especially in the States, and could match the sales of a Maiden album. It doesn't affect my position in Maiden whatever happens! Just because I play in Iron Maiden doesn't mean that I've got two heads and no brain. A lot of people seem to get put off by that image!"

What's the best thing for you about playing live?

"There's a feeling you get when you play live. It's almost like an out of body experience! It's the biggest natural high you can possibly imagine on a level with great sex. Psychologists call it 'peak experience' and it definitely is the ultimate buzz!"

Mark Crampton
Riff Raff
June, 1990

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