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Bruce Dickinson Interview
When Bruce came to Brazil to play in the Skol Rock Festival last year, a lot of journalists asked us: How could these Heavy Metal bands join 30.000 people in a stormy night? And how people knew all Bruce songs from ‘Accident of Birth’ (‘Accident of Birth’ was not released in Brazil)? We just smile about the ingenuity of some colleagues. Brazilian press in general doesn’t know anything about Heavy Metal. They just think that people who listen to this kind of music do drugs and have long hair.
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Bruce is the proof that there are artists that have success even when they don’t have any kind of support. He just makes excellent albums like ‘Accident of Birth’, a huge success of sales in Brazil (just remembering ‘Accident of Birth’ was not released in Brazil). And now he’s back with another great album as good as ‘Accident of Birth’ or even better.
Bruce still has by his side his old mate from Maiden times, Adrian Smith. And the rest of the band is still the same: Roy Z (guitar), Eddie Casillas (bass), David Ingraham (drums).
To talk about this great moment in his career, Bruce received us with the usual good humor, and when he discovered that this interview would going to be the principal of the month in the magazine, he said: \"I’m going to be the cover of the Magazine again! Fu**ing cool!\"
Rock Brigade – Before the release of the new album, ‘The Tower’ was the most played song on the rock radio in Brazil. Is this kind of thing is happening round the world or just here?
Bruce – \"Yes, everywhere. The album received some awards like the cover and album of the month in Terrorizer (English Magazine) and received some positive critics from Kerrang! (England) and Hard Rock (France). It was the release of the month in Heavy Oder Was (Germany), Rock Hard (Germany), etc. In the U.S. ‘Killing Floor’ is in the top ten on some radios. This whole thing makes me feel very happy. And if ‘The Tower’ is playing on Brazilian radios, I’m happier now (laughs).\"
RB – The expression ‘Chemical Wedding’ is used by alchemists to define the moment when lead becomes gold. When did you have the idea of using this term to title the album?
Bruce – \"The alchemists always used this term in a metaphoric way, because the truth is that, lead is the human being and the gold is the divine. This whole thing is really interesting.\"
RB – Most of the songs are based in alchemy. Did you have to study all the philosophy and the theories of alchemy?
Bruce – \"Although the album is about alchemy, my idea was making an album about William Blake. When I read his poems, I realized that I was involved with his work, principally about paintings. Blake poetry is strong and captivating. I think he was the first heavy metal poet of the world (laughs).\"
RB – You are a heavy metal artist, and you know that there are still some kind of prejudice about it. Did you have any kind of problem in getting the Tate Gallery to allow you to use Blake’s paintings in your album?
Bruce – \"Before everything, they asked for the lyrics. And I explained to them that alchemy was the principal subject of the album. They were worried about the way I would use the paintings. But when I explained to them that my work had no kind of disrespect to Blake they allowed me in the same time.\"
RB – Did you already know Blake’s poetry or just read them because of the subject of the album?
Bruce – \"I always was curious about his work, but I had never got the chance to know it deeply. When I start knowing it, I realized that he was special, different and as I said before, a heavy metal poet \"
RB – Did you do research in the Bible or in any alchemy book?
Bruce – \"Yes, I’ve researched things that I didn’t know very well. I have a small library at home and I used those books to research - principally a German book about occultism.\"
RB – You used some illustrations in the album. Did you have to study occultism too?
Bruce – \"Yes. Look, alchemy has a huge way to define it. And for sure it has a bit of occultism too. This whole thing together helps us to understand the universe that we live in. Aleister Crowley studied it a lot. I admire it.\"
RB – Do you think that your fans, specially the teenagers, will have any problems understanding so complex lyrics?
Bruce – \"Well… (Long pause) All critics about the album come from the promotional copy of it. And it hasn’t the lyrics in it. Even though the critics were very positive. And now that everyone can read the lyrics they can understand the subject of the album. The most important thing is that people like the music, and this \"The Chemical Wedding\" is doing great!
RB – About the illustrations, what is the meaning of the album cover?
Bruce – \"That painting is called The Ghost of a Flea, it was painted by Blake, and it was about one of his own poems written in 1819. This painting is displayed in Tate Gallery.\"
RB – The character Edison was created by you in the \"Accident of Birth\". Did you kill him, or just waiting to use him in again later?
Bruce – \"He will be in the clip of \"The Tower\" or \"Killing Floor\", maybe both. In fact he doesn’t fit very well in the new album cover. But we intend to use him in some way on the tour.\"
RB – You recorded ‘The Zoo’ at the same time of ‘The Chemical Wedding’. Do you intend to release it on some B-side?
Bruce – \"At the moment, there are no plans. We have other songs to be released as b-sides. The truth is, I’m not really keen to release b-sides, because the fans spend a lot of money buying it, and most of it songs are on the album. Maybe if ‘The Tower’ becomes a radio hit, possibly CMC can release a single or something. And if they have plans to release all the albums again, I have a lot of extra songs to put on them.\"
RB – How about the Tribute to Alice Cooper?
Bruce – \"Adrian and I recorded ‘Black Widow’. It was nice. We had a lot of fun doing that.\"
RB – You have created your own label Air Raid Records. What is the objective?
Bruce – \"Basically to release my album in Europe. Because I had a lot of problems with Castle.\"
RB – Like, for instance, ‘Accident of Birth’ was not released in South America.
Bruce – \"Exactly! That was the biggest problem! I was pissed of with that! Because it was a great album, and the South America public is fantastic. And when I came to South America on tour last year, I looked the fans, and realized that they liked the album very much, but they only could buy an import one, I became furious! I didn’t stop complaining.\"
RB – Now that ‘The Chemical Wedding’ was released in South America, what are your expectations?
Bruce – \"The best ones! Now the fans won’t have to pay a fortune to buy the album. I hope the album has a good selling to play again in Brazil next year.\"
RB – Do you have plans to release other bands in your label?
Bruce – \"Not at the moment. I’m too busy with my own album, that I don’t have time to think in everything else right now. In the near future maybe.\"
RB – Now we see festivals around the world with 20, 30, 50 thousand people visiting them. And the companies are selling lots and lots of albums. How do you, as a heavy metal artist, think about people who say that heavy metal is dying?
Bruce – \"Simple: They are wrong! Today, heavy metal is growing and becoming stronger. It’s not in just some countries, but in the whole world. \"
RB – About four or five years ago, few artists came to Brazil in promo trips. Today this is very common, you came here four, five times doing promotions. Do you think Brazil is a good market to heavy metal?
Bruce – \"Yes. Brazil always was, it is, and always will be a good market. That happens in some countries in the west of Europe, even in Germany.\"
RB – A lot of people, include ex heavy metal artists, says that the future is the techno music…
Bruce – \"They’re wrong, terribly wrong. (Laughs)\"
RB – You are also a writer. Do you have plans to release another book?
Bruce – \"No, not in a near future. I’m too busy nowadays, that the only spare time that I have, I use it to sleep (laughs). Writing books take some time, and I don’t have time right now.\"
RB – You could do it next year when the new tour finishes…
Bruce – \"When the new tour finish I will be doing a new album. That’s my life, I barely finish doing something, and I’m doing another one.\"
RB – You also wrote a screenplay about Paganini’s life. What about it?
Bruce – \"Actually, I wrote another one about Aleister Crowley, but it became my concept album, which is, ‘The Chemical Wedding.’ The screenplay about Paganini almost became a movie. The title would be Man of Sorrows.\"
RB – Do you intend finishing the screenplay, and making the movie?
Bruce – \"The guy who directed the ‘Killing Floor’ video was in the Paganini project with me. He’s much more involved with cinema than I am, and he is really excited about the idea. Who knows?\"
RB – Comparing you and Paganini, both are writers, both write songs, both like history, occultism, ancient cultures. People said that he has some deal with the devil, it happened to you too in Maiden times. Paganini died with syphilis…
Bruce – \"Ooops…. I hope the similarity ends there (laughs). Even though, Paganini was tall, hunchback, and had a big nose (more laughs).\"
RB – So, you never thought about those similarity?
Bruce – \"(Still laughing). Not really. His life is very interesting. He was buried seven times after his death, because people always knew that was his body that was buried in such cemetery. And people didn’t want him buried near their families. I hope this doesn’t happen with me (laughs).\"
RB – The European press spread rumours that Iron Maiden wanted to do a jam with all the ex-singers in their new tour. Did someone invite you?
Bruce – \"No. What happened really was that during an interview, I said that it would be fun idea to make a reunion with the ex-singers. Someone took the wrong way and said that we wanted to do it.\"
RB – Steve Harris is Mr. Nice Guy, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t do drugs, is always calm… A lot of people think that this is the reason that you and him didn’t work out, just because your temper is the opposite. How much truth is there in that?
Bruce – \"That’s not a question of being or not being a Mr. Nice Guy. Everybody thinks what they want of your life, nobody has anything to do with it. I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, but I drink some beers. This don’t make me feel better or worse than anyone.\"