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Bruce Dickinson Interview
How did Bruce combine his business and pleasure interests and was he an organised sort of person?
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Bruce: "Up to a point. I can be when I have to be, and I like everything to happen in the right place at the right time. That needs a lot of organisation but I'm not particularly good at sitting down and doing the nitty gritty. I do keep a pad, a reporter's notebook and at night I scribble down what I have to do the next day, even down to the extent of like, laundry, I put down things like 'Don't forget you left two socks in the bedroom'. Having got my list, I get up in the morning...and promptly forget it! I try and do something each day. I was sitting in the house yesterday and flopped down and found there were three hundred tee shirts and bin liners in the spare bedroom, and stuff that needed tidying and the laundry needed doing, and there was shopping to be done and mountains of washing up...and I thought 'Right. I'll do that NOW'. So I went up stairs, cleaned out the spare bedroom, arranged the wardrobe, cleaned the house, de da de da. Once you actually start doing something, you get renewed energy. The achievement of doing one thing leads onto another and before you know it, you've saved the planet! If you feel bored, it's not really boredom, you are just feeling sorry for yourself. Get out and do something! There is always something that needs to be done and can be done if you tackle it." Bruce now lives in a small three bedroomed mews house since he split with his wife.
Bruce: "She's in what the Daily Mirror called 'The Mansion' and I'm in the three bedroomed house, which is alright. I'm quite happy living there. The other place was too big. It was a HUGE house. You needed a loud hailer to call from one end to the other! I always felt a bit divorced from reality there. When I got the big house it was part of the overall master plan. Everybody in the band got set up with their partner or went off to have a baby or not. Then at the end of the tour, with your money you buy outright your house and build a lifestyle. Plug into that, go off and tour and set up the pension fund. This gives you security so you don't have to worry about your loved ones and you can get on with the music. All well and good except if your loved one ceases to be your loved one it gets a bit complicated. It's the folly of advanced planning. Suddenly someone runs over you with a bus! Just when life seemed secure I'm back to where I was eight years ago with a little house and I'm quite happy y'know. It's very manageable and I know how to operate the central heating now. I never knew how to work it! I was useless around the house. Still am. A fuse box is a complete mystery to me. Eventually I found the central heating controls fairly logically next door to the boiler. I press a button, the red light came on and I thought 'This is it.' But it gurgles and knocks and makes really frightening noises, hammering like poltergeists. The first day I switched it on, I woke up at seven in the morning and there was a hideous sound: 'Bang, bang, bang, glug, glug, glug' and lots of hissing. I thought 'Shit, it's gonna blow up!' I really thought it was going to explode and I was going to be covered in bits of copper shrapnel. So I ran downstairs and my eyes were full of sleep. I thought the house was full of steam and it had already blown up. I had visions of water cascading through the ceiling. I ran round the house turning on every single hot tap trying to relieve the pressure. 'Hang on, there is no steam...what's going on?' Of course there was nothing wrong with it... I treat everything like Play School anyway. I don't mind doing my own housework. I'm a fiend for washing up. If there is one thing I can't stand it's having mucky dishes. I'm pretty scrupulous about that, but I'm not too hot on Hoovering. When it's Black and it should be white, then you have to Hoover it."
Bruce normally gets up around 9 am and admits he has never been an early riser. Equally he doesn't like rotting abed until midday. One of his first chores, apart from hosing down his teeth, is to check the Answer Phone.
Bruce: "Yeah, I didn't know how that worked at first, either. I finally got a message on there, The Phone Ranger:
'You called but I'm not home. Please leave a message on the telephone'
"People call up just to listen to it, but I don't care."
Bruce has got a TV set, a very old one, and rarely watches it.
Bruce: "I was very proud of myself. I diagnosed a fault in it the other day. The battery in the controller was flat! I'm a fully qualified TV repair man now."
Bruce carries around with him a case with a file containing details of all his projects. One of them concerns the committee for the Under Twenties English Fencing and another is devoted to PAGANINI a rock opera Bruce is planning based on the life of the Italian violin virtuoso, who many consider was the first super star.
Bruce: "The rock opera is under consideration by a major film company and who knows if it will happen. I just wish they would make a bloody phone call and let me know one way or the other. I have copyrighted a synopsis and some song titles. It's all there. I've got a load of scenes and ideas, but I don't want to seriously commit them to paper until the company comes up with the money. One of the biggie American companies are interested. But they get things under consideration all the time. "Paganini was an ugly bastard. Bony, beaky nosed, hunched back, weird looking guy going bald. He hated his father all his life who pushed him into music. Adored his mother. Had illegitimate children, had affairs with royalty, was reviled by the church but loved by the people. In the middle of a concerto he would start making bird noises just like rock guitarists mess around now. After he died his body was dug up and moved seven times because people thought his fingers were possessed by the Devil. He's a fascinating character and I've written a synopsis that will result in a film that's a cross between 'Tommy' and 'Amadeus'. The problems of artists are universal and everlasting.The conflicts he had to resolve, the temptations he had to fight, are all relevant today. I want to produce a rock opera that would tell the story of his life. His live performances were legendary but of course no one will ever know what they were like because it was before the age of recording. Apparently he had enormously large hands like Jimi Hendix, which is why he could do so much on violin and he was a keen guitarist as well. He used his own unique system of fingering and improvised all the time. He broke strings during a performance once and improvised a violin concerto for one string. On stage he dressed all in black, a bit like Ritchie Blackmore. He was an explosive Italian and would never play one note when fifty million would do!"
Would Bruce play Paganini himself?
Bruce: "Oh no, you need to be thin, gaunt, bony, going bald with a great conk. I would like to play a character part in the movie. I am really interested in acting and would like to do some, purely independently from music. I did a lot of acting at school and was in two plays a year. I would very much like to find a bunch of people into reading plays aloud. We used to do a lot of that at school, and really enjoyed it. Now I'm back in London I am going to start visiting the theatre. I used to go a lot, ten years ago. But when you get into rock and roll somehow the attention span gets shortened and you end up going to the pub instead. "I'm thinking about buying a computer. I'm very suspicious of them and feel they define your creativity rather than enhance it. You can only write what a computer is capable of writing."
Bruce would rather write with a quill pen than a word processor, but he is intrigued by the idea of using a Farfisa midi voice controller to put down melody lines for song writing.
Bruce: "It would be easier for me than putting down songs using a guitar. You sing into the machine and it comes out however you want, like an organ or a piano or whatever. Farfisa make it and it only costs two hundred pounds."
Although Bruce is not an avid telly watcher, when he does have a few spare moments he quite likes watching snooker.
Bruce: "I enjoy the tension during a game and can relate to that. It's what I go through on stage and is like the sport I do - fencing. Although snooker is a protracted game, nevertheless each time the ball is struck, it happens in a split second, when you win or lose. It's interesting to watch people dealing with that."
During his day, was he ever called on to attend his management company business meetings?
Bruce: "No, they give me a call if there's anything needs sorting out. After this British tour is over we'll be putting everything on ice for a year. I've got several projects all lined up on the basis that any one of them may happen. Which ever happens first, I'll abandon the others. I've got several irons in the fire. There's the rock movie and another long shot, a part in a movie which was offered by the author of the book who sold the rights to the movie. It takes a while for those things to materialise. There's also my book about 'Lord Iffy Boatrace' which I want to get published this year. Now I'm home I can do it. Steve Harris is getting sick of people asking him what it's like and I'm getting sick of him phoning me up asking when I'm gonna publish the bloody thing."
Another plan dear to Bruce is a centre for young people to introduce them to fencing.
Bruce: "I want to start it next year. I have to find the premises. It won't be in London because there is so much going on there. It would get lost as just another minor sport. I would set it up somewhere north of London. I'd like an old warehouse and try to attract a sponsorship deal. I won't throw money at it. The West German government spend twenty five million marks a year on fencing. They take school kids who live in fencing centres for six years and all they do is fence and go to school with their own tutors. They have all their equipment and board paid for by the State. You can't compete with that. The Sports Council - ha - does zilch in comparison with that sort of investment."
Bruce spends at least four days a week training.
Bruce: "At weekends I try to go in for a competition and I might train five times for that. I spend two or three hours a session on those days. So I spend around 12 to 15 hours a week training. That's activity time and doesn't include getting undressed and showering. So that would take up my evenings from 6pm to 10pm."
Between all this did he ever get time to eat?
Bruce: "I just go out to Marks & Spencer and fill the fridge up with stuff. Don't cook much. I tend to eat things cold. By the time it gets in your belly it's gonna warm up anyway. I'm just about capable of boiling water and making a cuppa tea. I buy salads, rice, and ready cooked breast of chicken. I go out for a curry once a week. It depends how I feel the next morning if I'll go twice a week. I have stopped eating the vindaloos. I can manage it going down, but the next morning is too much to contemplate. You can't go out of the house for five hours in case you have an accident."
Did Bruce go to many clubs at night?
Bruce: "No, not at all, I don't enjoy them. I hate the scene. I did it a couple of times and felt very out of place. I don't mind going if there's somebody I want to see or if I'm there with a bunch of friends having a great time. But to go on your own, and sit there propping up the bar... I could do that in my local pub and play a game of pool and actually have a lot more fun. I hate Stringfellows, the Limelight and the Hippodrome. I'm not short of the price of a pint but I think it's obscene the prices they charge. But then you don't go there to drink beer, you go to be seen!"
Bruce doesn't burn the midnight oil, slaving away over his desk with the quill pen into the early hours then?
Bruce: "I write whenever I've got a chunk of time and I don't have to do anything else. I like to clear the decks and concentrate for a while. I always have a guitar downstairs to doodle on and maybe write a few tunes with it. At the moment I'm just playing exercises on it. I've always wanted to put a three piece band together with the musicians playing different instruments. Like with me trying to play guitar and a drummer trying to sing, and a guitarist playing drums. We'd have old heads on inexperienced bodies. We'd loon around, have a bedroom band and learn how to play again. I've always fancied that idea. Anyway that's how I usually spend my day. I nip in and out. One thing that takes up my time is starting a small company to import fencing equipment from China and selling it here. I've bought a calculator - my first one! It's always better to have too much to do. And there's still loads of things I wanna do."