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Bruce Dickinson Interview
Welcome to your zillionst interview in your career. Now I guess everybody today has talked about the new album, and stuff about that can be read in every other magazine, so I would like to talk about some other things. Just see this interview like ‘everything we always wanted to know about Bruce, but we never got the chance to ask.
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You’ve written two books in the past. Their titles are "The Adventures Of Lord Iffy Boatrace" and "Missionary Position." Were they in any way successful?
Yeah, well, in the end I got them published in paperback, and the first one sold about 50,000, but the other one I don’t really know to be honest, my best guess is about 30,000 or 35,000. I was supposed to go on a promotional tour, but Iron Maiden conflicted with it so I didn’t.
Can we expect some other books or story’s in the future?
I don’t have any plans to do that, but you never know. It’s a real pity though that my books are hardly available at the moment (pretty much sold out), but I hope to change that in the future.
In 1992 you bought a Dalek (some robot from the legendary Dr.Who TV series) from the BBC. An old time favourite series of yours?
Well, when I was a kid, yeah. I’m still kind of vaguely into Science Fiction, but not so much obsessively like when I was a kid. Maybe you would consider buying a Dalek kind of obsessively, but I don’t have too many of those artefacts, I think I’m allowed one, and a Dalek is a pretty cool thing. You know, when I was a kid those things frightened me, so that’s why I bought one for in the hall, it’s better than a dog or a burglar alarm hahaha.
It seems that you’ve worked with Rowan Atkinson’s alter ego Mr. Bean. What was that all about then, I never knew you did such a thing.
Yeah, that was for a charity record and video. This all happened a long time ago, it was during the general election of John Major (UK prime-minister).
Was Rowan in any way familiar with you and your music?
Nope, he had never even heard of us.
Hmmm, and did you get the chance to let him listen to some songs?
Nope, I don’t think he was interested hahaha.
In all the years you’re in this bizz you’ve met an awful lot of interesting (and less interesting) people, but who or what has made an everlasting impression on you?
I went into Bosnia during the war in 1994, with the Skunkworks album, and we played in Sarajevo while the city was under siege, and that was quite a live changing experience. I mean, I was very glad to just be alive, and able to return to my relatively peaceful own country. I went back later to one of the northern areas, where they did some ethnic cleansing later on, with a charity group. Actually one of these days I’d love to go back, because it’s an incredibly beautiful region.
When you started your career, there wasn’t a thing called Internet, but now, 20 years later it has taken the world by storm, and changed the Rockworld forever in terms of promotion, interaction between bands and fans, but also in bootlegging and other illegal activities. Do you consider the Internet to be a blessing, a curse, or something in between.
Well, I think when people look back I think they’ll see that the Internet in fact has preserved far more music than it has damaged, but eventually I think the Internet would just become a commercial way of distributing music. While it is still in it’s early days it’s really useful as a kind of underground thing. I think the Internet increasingly is going to become very, very mainstream and you’re going to have to pay to use it, and I mean for just about anything. It will be just like using the phone but then with pictures.
It is well-known that your band Iron Maiden never had any problems with bootlegs made by fans in the past, but suddenly there was that thing called Napster, and bands like Metallica strongly reacted against distributing their music for free, and even filed that law-suit against them. How did Iron Maiden see Napster?
Well, we were asked to take part in the suit against Napster, and we actually refused. On the basis that we thought that actually Iron Maiden fans may copy and exchange copied things between each other, we didn’t think we’re gonna loose that many record sales. I think you have to remember that the stuff, the quality that is on Napster (and MP3 in general) is not as good usually as CD quality, and CD quality is in fact not even as good as LP quality. So, I think all this talk about Internet is not so relevant, what I want to see is DVD audio, and have people agree on the proper standard for DVD audio, and that people can enjoy records as they really sound, as opposed to only 16 bits of the record being available.
You’re one of the icons in Heavy Metal since the 80’s, but Metal has changed a lot since the old days, just think of all the sub genres around these days. How do you see the Metal scene these days in comparison with the late 70’s and early 80’s?
There is no comparison with the late 70’s and early 80’s. In that time not only Metal but all music was the major alternative entertainment. Live music in particular was very, very strong. And if you’re into Rock music then you’re into live music so you won’t listen to tapes and go out in clubs and dancing. You want to go to gigs and watch musicians play. That’s very much changed now, the venues have disappeared and there’s very much more competition in what people choose to spend there money on. So regrettably I think that many bands are unable to achieve their full potential because they’re unable to play live as much as they would like to.
Talking about genres, do you follow all the subgenres in Metal?
No. Well, I mean I think I can determine a few things coming out, like what is called the New Metal movement, and than there’s the whole Hip Hop / Rap Metal thing on the other side, but within New Metal and Rap Metal, I don’t follow subgenres, no.
Are there other kinds of music you’re fond of besides Heavy Metal?
I quite like Folk music, old stuff like Celtic, John Redborn, people like that.
A few months ago you hosted a Radio Documentary called "We have come for your Children". The program looked at the controversial subject of Heavy Metal bands such as Slayer, Hatred and the black metal scene in Scandinavia and the content of their lyrics being blamed for acts of violence including murder and the burning of churches. What are your own personal thoughts about bands like that?
Well, there always gonna be children who have problems, because it’s the nature of adolescence. Children become very angry, because they’re searching for an identity, they want to create their own identity, and they become angry against the world as they see is repressing them and stuff, so that’s all natural. I think that music in fact forms a really healthy way of allowing that to escape without people damaging themselves. It gives people breathing space and time, and it allows the fantasy element of their brain to engage and help out other bits of their brain. But in now way do I think that music causes people to kill themselves.
Judas Priest was sued once because some parents though the band was responsible for their son’s (failed ) attempt to suicide. Has Iron Maiden ever been threatened with law suits?
Actually no, not to that extend, we never really had anybody kill themselves and say Eddie made them do it hahaha.
Iron Maiden has dealt with censorship, burning of albums, organisations like PMRC, Moral Majority and stuff like that, but it never stopped you from doing what you want. Now again pop artists (like Eminem) in America are confronted with censorship, boycotts on MTV and forced alteration of lyrics. Do you think censorship has any effect on what kids want to listen to?
No, none whatsoever. You know, when you try to censor something, kids wanna hear it even more. I would say it’s only good for the sales figures. Even stronger, if you want to be successful, get yourself banned!
Ritchie Blackmore has pulled out of the Rock Music scene, and does medieval and renaissance stuff now. He claims that he’s to old to be a rocker anymore. Do you see a similar future for yourself in about 10 ‘til 15 years?
I have no idea, but I have the admost admiration for Ritchie and I love his medieval and renaissance records, I think they’re excellent. About my own future, I can't see myself aged 55 or 60 running around on stage with Iron Maiden, acting like I’m the man of the moment, that would look stupid.
The Stones are still doing it…
No comment. Hahahaha. But for me, I don’t know what I’ll do, I just take each day as it comes.
Maybe a career as a producer?
No, I don’t think I would like being a record producer. I like writing, I like creating, I just don’t like sitting there operating computers, which is what a record producer does nowadays…