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Bruce Dickinson Interview
C: Bruce, how is it that you haven\'t been interviewed by anyone in Australia since 1992?
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B: Oh, it\'s completely twisted. Unfortunately I\'ve been signed to various labels, none of whom seemed to have given a toss about Australia, which has been really annoying and I\'ve been pestering people and I\'ve been getting promises \"Oh this is gonna happen and that\'s gonna happen\" and stuff like that you know. It\'s been pretty frustrating for a while, but finally things are getting sorted out and straightened out worldwide now, and it\'s looking pretty good.
C: With a little bit of luck we might even see you down here at some stage to play live.
B: Well, you know, the wheels are starting to grind slowly and I don\'t know what the chances are but I know there\'s a lot of people talking to promoters at the moment trying to see if we can possibly get down and do some shows maybe even as soon as the next couple of months. If that was the case then I\'d be jumping through a hoop because the few times I have been to Australia, well actually the first time (1982) I went there I came pretty close to digging a hole and putting some roots down and not leaving! (laughs).
C: Yeah well, I don\'t think you\'d be alone in the people jumping through hoops, I reckon there\'d be a lot of people in Australia jumping through hoops as well if you guys decided to get down here, that\'s for sure.
B: Well, I reckon there must be a lot of metal fans in Oz because I know how many records we sold with Iron Maiden and you know they can\'t all just disappear overnight.
C: We hope not. When was it? What 1983 or something, was that the first time you came out with Maiden?
Note: Maiden\'s first tour of Australia was Nov 7 - Nov 21 1982, for ten shows.
B: That was the first time yeah. The Number Of The Beast tour, we came out for a couple of weeks and played four nights at a theatre in Sydney which I don\'t even know if it exists anymore now, but it was just a great time and I had a few lucky escapes! I got persuaded to go rowing in Sydney harbour in a rubber boat and with a bottle of wine! (laughs) At night! (more laughs). And somebody mentioned when we were about fifty metres out, they went \"Shark!\" and we thought yeah maybe we better come back in (laughs). But it was some great stuff.
Somebody spiked my drink, in some place in Kings Cross, actually and the thing was, it wasn\'t the spiking of the drink, but I was drinking half a pint of coffee! (laughs). I was trying to be terribly straight, but the coffee had a bit of wizz in it. So I was up all night and half of the next day and I nearly lost my voice before the gig. I got a throat Doc in and I said \"Jesus! What\'s gone wrong?\" and he said \"Well, you know you\'ve been up for like 48 hours!\" (laughs). I was like \"I can\'t help it!\" I dunno, so they thought they were doing me a favour, put something in that would make me go a little faster in the coffee you know. (laughs).
C: The title of your latest record, the Chemical Wedding, it\'s your fifth solo record now, did you go into writing this record with anything specific in mind?
B: Ah, well yeah. I started out with a whole bunch of history books to do with Alchemy, which was sort of a philosophical pseudo-science, occult pseudo-science which started out with the Egyptians and has been flourishing ever since in one form or another. There\'s quite a fascination with it among authors, play-writes and artists and things. So I was writing this album about various facets of it and as I was doing it I kept bumping into references about this English poet, a very non-conformist guy called William Blake. So I started digging around some William Blake poetry and he was a pretty outstanding artist as well, I don\'t know which he was more famous for really, but it just grabbed me. I thought \"Wow!\" this is a great way to give the album a whole new twist, a whole new dimension to it.
So about half way through with the writing process, the album became not just about Alchemy, but Alchemy and the writings of William Blake and so I thought well it\'s kind of a strange thing to write a Heavy Metal album about but hey, damn the torpedoes!
C: How did you go about incorporating, did you incorporate some of his actual lyrics, his poetry and stuff like that in your lyrics? Or was it just the way you interpreted them?
B: No I think if you try get underneath the skin of the thinking behind somebody\'s poetry, or painting or anything else like that, and I think if you\'re sort of in sync with it yourself with what you\'re trying to do then it becomes quite easy to lift chunks of it and apply it in something that you\'ve created and it won\'t stick out like a sore thumb. It\'s when you just steal something and plagiarise it, i.e. just pinch the idea with no love for it, no reverence for the original creation, then that\'s when it\'s bad. But having said that, there\'s not actually an enormous amount of lyrics which are from Blake specifically. There\'s a lot that\'s inspired by him.
The song Jerusalem, has three or four verses, which are more or less identical to his poem, but there\'s probably another 10 or 15 lines I added as well, so it\'s a bit of a hybrid. Other stuff was just inspired by him. He\'s a very inspirational poet, I mean you know \"the doors of perception\", that\'s a line from William Blake, that\'s where \"the Doors\" (the band) got there name. And there\'s a lot of other people, lots of rock artists who have been influenced by him.
C: You\'ve been quoted as saying that the Chemical Wedding is the first record of the rest of your life. Do you still believe it now that the record has been out for awhile? And you\'ve just turned 40 as well, so has it been a bit of a revelation?
B: Well yeah! The great thing about the Chemical Wedding and actually the last record Accident Of Birth is that I feel totally relaxed listening to them. I don\'t feel like I\'m trying to prove anything, other than this is just terrific Heavy Metal music. It\'s great Heavy Metal music.
Before that, I\'m proud of all the albums I\'ve done, but there was always something, I was always trying to dig myself out of some kind of hole. Sometimes self imposed, sometimes it was something you feel from the media and stuff like that or you\'re trying to sort of, not escape from your past, but sort of go \"Look, the past was the past. Can somebody please just listen to the records for what they are, rather than for what they think they should be relative to something that happened 10 or 15 years ago\". And the last couple of records have actually achieved that, and people have just listened to them on their own merits and I can\'t ask for any more than that. That\'s great!
C: One of the tracks I\'ve been playing on the Three Hours Of Power is Book Of Thel, can you tell us about that one please.
B: Oh jeez, yeah. That\'s a bit of a barnstormer live actually. When the riff kicks in at the beginning when it really starts rocking, the place it looks like a tidal wave (laughs), halfway down the hall people just jumping! It\'s a really, really amazing song in that respect.
Lyrically it\'s a bit of a mish-mash. It\'s about sexuality and betrayal, and kind of ritual sex basically and….oh it\'s kind of twisted stuff. (laughs).
C: The more twisted the better! What\'s it like having Adrian Smith back on board for the last couple of albums?
B: Oh, it\'s great! Because you know Adrian is one of the few guitarists who you can listen to and immediately know it\'s him. (Costa agrees). There are very few guitarists in the world now who have such a characteristic sound, that straight away you can just go \"Wow, that sounds like that Adrian Smith guy!\" To have that ability is something really unique in this day & age. It\'s very rare, so it\'s great to be playing with him again.
And of course with Roy as producer of the album and also writing most of the songs with me, it\'s also really cool. Roy for example is 50% of all the solo\'s on the record - Roy Z as well as Adrian, and the great thing about working with two great guitar players is that there\'s like no ego going down so it\'s really cool.
The way we record the album is more of a cottage industry type approach. I mean we use really good studios and everything, but you know, there\'s no flunky\'s wandering around, we don\'t have like millions of managers and people. It\'s really hands-on type stuff. We all go shopping for the guitar strings together, and we all go buy the recording tape, I whip out my credit card and pay for it and worry about it later. You know, we drive beat-up cars around Los Angeles, it\'s like there\'s no hangers-on.
C: You would have had enough of that during the Maiden days wouldn\'t you?
B: Well yeah. To be honest, there wasn\'t that many hangers-on during Maiden but every big band tends to acquire them. What I like about this is that we\'ve always just done our thing in these hole-in-the-wall studios in L.A. and got fantastic results. And the only people that come round to the studios are like really close friends of people in the band so you don\'t mind \'em hangin\' around the studio if they hang around.
C: It\'s almost what six years now since you left Maiden…
B: Yeah maybe more. Something like that. I\'m never quite sure of the precise date but other people always remind me! (laughs).
C: When you first left it was probably a bit of relief to get out and think well tha\'ts behind me now and I\'ve got my solo career to look forward to, which was already sort of on it\'s way. What\'s the feeling now?
B: There\'s always this moment when you leave something, you want to desperately prove that you exist outside of the previous group. And it\'s not so much that you want to do down the previous group it\'s just that you feel you have to do everything to fight to say \"I exist! I\'m not just a glove puppet with the other four guys, I really am a person!\" (laughs).
I think it\'s just a pretty natural human reaction and so I spent my time first of all doing that. Secondly, going through a period of beating myself up about things, and the last couple of years I\'ve done two cracking records and kind of settled down in a sense into a really productive period, and that\'s been my thing.
As far as looking back at the Maiden thing and everything, I\'m completely not phased or frightened by really anything that could crop up from this point onwards. There\'s been lots and lots of rumours kicking around about gigs or reunions and things like that but the odd-shot of it is that I\'m continuing with my solo career and nobody has asked anything, so until somebody asks me I don\'t know what I would say. There\'s certainly no moral objection or anything from my part in terms of somebody saying \"let\'s go and do some gigs\". I\'d be like \"Hey, sounds like fun\". But I would never want to sacrifice my solo career because I\'ve worked too damn hard!
C: So if Steve Harris said \"Come and sing the encore with us next week at the Hammersmith\" or whatever, you\'d do it?
B: …er yeah. Yeah, of course I would cos\' it would be fun. As long as something is like, as long as you\'re enjoying something and it\'s good straight honest fun then there\'s absolutely no reason why I shouldn\'t do that.
I mean, I actually went on stage in Paris the other night, there\'s a Brazilian band called Angra and they\'re very big in France. They invited me to go over there and guest with them at this big show they were doing. So I showed up and he said \"Do you mind coming on stage with us and we do Run To The Hills and Flight Of Icarus?\" I was like \"Oh, okay I think I could probably do that\" (laughs). And we did that in front of like 6,000 french kids!
C: It must have been a hell of a lot of fun.
B: Oh it was a blast! So I\'m sure if I can do it with Angra or with somebody else, then doing it with Maiden of course would be so much better.