IRON MAIDEN – Somewhere Back In Time: The Powerslave Interviews

April 10th, 2008
by EvilG

 

 Iron Maiden

Part 2: Vocalist Bruce Dickinson

 Bruce - 1984

Bruce Dickinson Interview, about an hour later the same evening…

Bruce:  Hello!  … It’s Bruce here from Iron Maiden.

 

Hi Bruce – How are you?  … I wasn’t sure if you were going to call or not after all

 

Bruce:  What happened was … I was going to call … (resigned sigh) … but the car we were coming back in from Leicester to London – blew up on the motorway! 

 

Oh! You’re kidding!

 

Bruce:  I’m not kidding!  The engine started to go, so we had to stop at the motorway service station and hang around there, and there was another band that came in.  They were a semi-pro band, a metal band, who’d been doing a gig, and they were going home, and we got a lift home in their car. 

 

Ah, so you hitch-hiked a ride home, eh? (laughs)

 

Bruce:  Yeah! So, that’s why we got in late – we just got in a couple of minutes ago.

 

Well, that was alright, because I wound up talking to Steve for a pretty long time in an interview just before this, and I was worried that you might’ve tried to call, and couldn’t get through … And I know it’s pretty late there, isn’t it? 

 

Bruce:  It’s about five past three [AM] …

 

Well, you’re probably wide awake anyway, since the car blew up!

 

Bruce:  I’m afraid so, though it wasn’t actually my car, it was a friend of ours who was giving us a ride back. And, what happened was, we got overtaken – on the motorway – by a gentleman who was doing over 130 miles an hour, and he gave chase!  And his car was a little bit older, unfortunately, so, while it could handle doing 110, it couldn’t handle doing 125!

 

Yes, something had to go, then!

 

Bruce:  Yes, and our oil pressure went! (laughs)

 

Well, at least you got a ride back!  And how have you been doing otherwise, Bruce?

 

Bruce:  I’m fine! 

Bruce

 

Well, it sounds like for the most part, you’ve been doing very well, at least as far as the band is concerned. . . .  I want to ask you about some of the songs you wrote on this album (Powerslave)).   There’re at least two of the songs on this album that you wrote or co-wrote, and two you wrote on your own … And at least two of them seem to be about war … “Two Minutes to Midnight” – is that about a Doomesday sort of thing?

 

Bruce:  Yes, that’s right.

 

And you have another one, too.   Was that something you were thinking about at the time?  Because “Back in the Village” seems to be about something like that, too.

 

Bruce:  “Back in the Village” is actually based on a TV show called The Prisoner. 

 

Okay, which is not a show we see over here …

 

Bruce:  Um-Humm … Well, the whole idea of The Prisoner is that it was allegorical.  And each episode of the TV series paralleled some experience that you would have in your life, therefore, each experience in the TV series was, in some ways, almost looking inside your own head.  So, what I tried to do with the song, was in the same way, look inside somebody’s nightmare, every couple of lines.

 

If I had seen the series you are talking about, I might have been able to understand the song better before, but I was having trouble figuring out what the song was about.

 

Bruce:  Umm, Yes, well, good! (laughs)

 

Yes, because it does make you think! (laughs)

 

Bruce:  Yes! And good – I enjoy that! (laughs)

  Crazy Bruce

 

And even some of the other songs, they do make anyone who pays attention  … really think, and try understand what it’s about.  One of the lines I was thinking of in particular was:   “Questions are a burden, and ….

 

Bruce:  Yes!  That’s a direct line from the TV series! “Questions are a burden and answers are a prison for oneself.”  See, the prisoner, in the TV series, is held prisoner in a place called The Village. He doesn’t know why he’s being held a prisoner, or by whom, and for how long.  He is free to do whatever he wishes, but the one thing he can’t do is escape from The Village.  He was formerly an agent, and he resigned. And all the time he’s in The Village, the only question they ever ask him is, “Why did you resign?”  And he never tells them, and in the end – and you have to see all 17 episodes – there is no cut and dried ending.  What we find out at the end, for all 17 episodes, is that the prisoner has in fact been a prisoner of himself.  He’s created his own prison … And it’s really very complex…

 

Bruce on Poweslave tour at Radio CityAnd, really, that happens all the time in real life, doesn’t it?

 

Bruce:  That’s right.

 

That you’re a prisoner of yourself … Yes.

 

Bruce:  Yes, you’re a prisoner of yourself your entire life!  You’re always trying to escape from every new situation into another one – which you think is better, but which, in fact, is simply the same, and which used to happen to this guy in every single episode.  It was the brainchild of a chap called Patrick McGoohan … 

 

Excuse me, but wasn’t there another song on The Number of the Beast album inspired by Patrick McGoohan, too?

 

Bruce:  That’s exactly right!  Yes.  And he reads the introduction, “I’m not a prisoner, I’m a free man. Who are you?”  You know, “We want information.”  “What do you want?” … “Information.” …

 

Well, I’m glad you told me that, because we Americans don’t have that much insight into what that’s about, so it gives some kind of reference point.  And now I wish I could see the series, you know?

 

Bruce:  Oh, the series is absolutely fantastic! It’s incredible, mindblowing!

 

Yes, and it sounds like the sort of series they won’t make over here, unfortunately.  Sometimes they’ll show that kind of stuff over here on PBS, but the British shows are generally so much superior to the American stuff in that respect … we don’t have stuff like that here.

 

Bruce:  Well, it’s a very old series; it was made years and years ago, and they just re-showed it on British TV, and people still don’t understand it.

 

Do you feel that you understood it?

 

Bruce:  Some people do, some people don’t.  Some people get very exasperated about it!  Because they go, “It doesn’t have a proper ending!”  And I say, “Yes it does!” 

 

Well, they didn’t really get what the ending was …

 

Bruce:  Well, the ending’s different every time you see it!

 

Because it brings out things in your own mind, that you see a different way every time? 

 

Bruce:  Absolutely!

 

Which is a kind of thing that is stimulating for the brain and mind …

 

Bruce:  Of course, but that’s if you want to be stimulated. There’re some people who watch television and just want to go to sleep, mentally.  I mean, I do sometimes.  Sometimes I just want to sit there and doze and open my mouth and gawp about the crap that’s coming out of the TV.  And it’s nice to do that, but not all the time.

 

 

Well, you wrote that song, and another one, with Adrian. 

 

Bruce:  Yes, “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “Back in the Village” – I just did the lyrics and a little bit of the music to, yes.

 

Well, I wasn’t sure, but Adrian had told me last year, or something like that, when you’d written a couple with him before, that basically he would already had certain riffs and that you had something that fit in with those …?  Or something like that.

 

Bruce:  Yes, that’s basically the way it went.  With “2 Minutes to Midnight” I basically had some melodies and some lyrics that basically fitted in with the rest of what he was doing. And then we sit down between the two of us and arranged the song.  Like, for example, he would have a bit that he was calling a chorus, and I’d say “Well, I think it would make a better verse.”  And we’d switch it around.  And then there’re the other two songs on the album that I just wrote on my own.

Band pic from cd 

 

Okay, that’s very interesting.  And Steve told me before that you play the acoustic guitar.  Is that how you come up with the music part of the songs you write on your own?

 

Bruce:  Yes, well, I’ve got a little Soft-tech four track.  And I just sit down there and put rough demos down.  I’ve got a little drum machine and a guitar, and I demo it all with a drum machine, a guitar, and a voice. I do the complete song.  And I possibly put down a little idea for a solo or something. 

 

Then you come out with the whole thing almost totally worked out, then?  Not just a very rough outline?

 

Bruce:  I mean, I like to have it at that stage, but, nevertheless, I’m always open to it when somebody says, “Maybe we can play this chord sequence a slightly different way” or put a different accent in here or there.  I like to be able to be open to all that sort of stuff.

artwork from powerslave 

 

Yes.  And that brings to mind “Powerslave.”  I was wondering about the Egyptian kind of influence … The sound is very …

 

Bruce:  Egyptian, yes.  Yes, that’s all me.

 

It’s all stuff you had designed to have in there beforehand?

 

Bruce:  Oh yes, absolutely, that was the basis for the song.

 

Yes – yes. (laughs)  That’s the most dominant thing as far as the melody and background and theme are concerned.  But I didn’t know how much of that was worked out with the other guys in the studio …

 

Bruce:  No, the entire thing was worked out on my dining room table.  It took me about four hours. 

 

lineup1984 

I know that the words indicate that you’ve obviously read a lot about Egyptian history … Are you into that?   History and Archeology – those are some of my favorite subjects, too … But I know you have a lot of varied interests.

 

Bruce:  Well, it was the Egyptian symbolism that interested me more than specifically the Archeology or anything else like that.  It wasn’t about being into the Egyptian history so much as just the symbolism and the idea of their various gods, and the idea of using the idea of the death of the Pharaoh as a parallel to all kinds of things in modern life. 

 

So, what other things were you relating it to? 

 

Bruce:  I just linked it up, in my own mind, when I was writing it – in my own head at the time – it was very clear, the distinct parallel between the death of the Pharaoh in Egypt, and the death of Brezhnev in Russia!  All their followers go – all their followers are finished – once the leader dies, same as the Pharaoh’s. 

 

I guess it’s like that in China, too, with Mao …

 

Bruce:  The same thing happens whenever a leader of a nation these days, dies.  Or whenever it’s the leader of a big industrial corporation and a new leader arrives.  Many of the old people that were with him die, as it were – although not literally these days.  Of course, in Egyptian times, often it was literally. 

 

Yes, and sometimes the ideal dies, too, just like in America, when Kennedy died, they say all the optimism this nation had, died with him …

 

Bruce:  Uh-humm …

 

Yes, the whole mood of the nation changed.  When the man dies, the whole vibe, the ideology he represented, dies too …

 

Bruce:  Yes! … all around is laid waste.

 

Ah, yes, I didn’t even think of it like that!  That song had me thinking of the obsession with the eternal life kind of thing, in the way the Egyptians and Pharaohs were obsessed with it, and how it’s really a kind of evil thing, to want to have that …

 

Bruce:  Well, eternal life was only achieved by absolute power, you see.  It was a lust for power.

 

Yes.

 

Bruce:  And in the end, they’re a slave to the power.  And also they’re powerless, because the power is greater than they are.  So, there’s all kind of paradoxes in there.

 

Well, when you say things like the things you are saying now, it reminds me of what an intelligent person you are, which I already knew from talking to you previously.  But it just makes me irritated because there’re a lot of people out there that don’t realize that, or the fact that Iron Maiden as a whole are really an extremely intelligent band.  There’s just this odd stereotype …

 

Bruce:  Unfortunately, that’s the price you pay.  I’m not in the business of being a musician to go around espousing diplomas or degrees, unfortunately.  I mean, whether or not I’m an intelligent person or not, is really irrelevant. If people enjoy listening to the music, they enjoy listening to the music.  If they’re going to be influenced by other people who might say, “This person is clearly moronic because he plays this sort of music, and all people who play this sort of music are clearly stupid and moronic, and therefore I will not listen to it” – it seems to me a sort of twisted logic. Unfortunately for them, I would say.

 

Well, I want to – and I will! – present the fact that a person like you, and the other guys, and this band, period – aren’t one-dimensional people. I just don’t like it when inaccurate stereotypes are projected, you know?

 

Bruce:  It always sort of shocks me that people do tend to think of Iron Maiden as one-dimensional and moronic, and mention it in the same breath as bands that really are one-dimensional … It’s always consistently amazed me, how bigoted people can be, but nevertheless, this is life, and this is what we have to live with, so we simply do our best to dissuade people from this point of view, without trying to come off spouting like university professors, because we’re not that at the same time.  At the bottom line is that we’re musicians playing in a heavy rock – a heavy metal band – whatever you want to call it. And we make records, and we try and make those the most interesting records we can, and that’s all we try and do!  And if people want to sell themselves short by not listening, that’s their loss!

 

Well, the thing is, if anybody really ever listened to stuff and understood what you are doing, they would know it’s not on a moronic level, and instead on a higher level.  There’s not too many people I know, even highly educate ones, who could sit down and write these kinds of lyrics, whether on Powerslave or other albums.  It would be beyond their ability and knowledge to do that, because they’re not on that mental plane.  So, I just can’t figure that out, that stereotype out there, that Iron Maiden is not a deep-thinking band, or whatever … Why do people not realize it’s the opposite?!

 

Bruce:  It’s because, maybe … they’re not so bright themselves!  (laughs)

 

That’s right!  That’s something I’ve thought of too, that if it’s unappreciated, maybe it goes right over their heads …. 

 

Bruce:  That’s right … (laughs)

maiden live pics from powerslave booklet 

 

Well, another thing is that you’re a very opinionated person, too.  You can’t be any sort of idiot to be opinionated about most things because …

 

Bruce:  Well, no, I have lots of opinions about things, and, if people ask me about them, I say what I think!  

 

But, you really have to have taken the time to think about things in order to have a strong opinion about them, you know? 

 

Bruce:  Yes. I mean, if I don’t have a strong opinion about something, I’ll either say I don’t have an opinion, or I’ll think to see if I can make up an opinion on the spot, and I’ll say “agree or disagree?”   And if they disagree with a strong enough, I’ll change my opinion.  (laughs) It’s always fun to make up opinions, because then you’ll find out whether people are bullshitting or not. 

 

So, you like to test a bit, do you?

 

Bruce:  Yes. 

 

Well, I’m going to ask you another question that I was actually told or directed to ask.  He [an editor of a national rock mag. I wrote for at the time] told me to ask about the fact that you went to a private school in England …

 

Bruce:  Yeah, and to the University ….

 

Yeah.  What were you majoring in when you were there?

 

Bruce:  History.

 

Ah yes, I should have guessed that.  I’m not that familiar with the English educational system, but, is it as expensive as it is here to send your kids to schools like that?

 

Bruce:  What, private schools?

 

Yeah.

 

Bruce:  Yes, it is. Yeah.

 

Well, I just wondered.  The reason I am asking this, is that Iron Maiden is associated with being a part of the “working class” kind of thing … But you don’t necessarily have that kind of background, though, do you?

 

Bruce:  I can’t say as I do, no, not really.  I could dig up all kind of statistics, and produce my working-class grandparents, or that my parents were once working-class, and all the rest of it, but that would all be like desperately trying to prove how working class I am!  (laughs) As it happens, I don’t give a shit!  I mean, I am a singer, I am a musician, and I work very hard with another bunch of musicians, and that’s it, end of story.  I don’t really care where they came from, and I suppose they don’t really care where I came from.  

 

Well, I don’t know, but I think the point of why I was “directed” to ask that is because he wanted me to draw some kind of contrast …

 

Bruce:  Okay, I understand, but there’s no real contrast to be drawn.  We’re all very, very different personalities in the band … and obviously, our personalities get formed by experiences and everything else that we had when we were younger. And we’ve had a lot of different  experiences – I’ve had a lot of different experiences which probably Steve didn’t have, and he’s probably had a lot of experiences I haven’t had.  One set of circumstances is not better or worse than another set of circumstances.   They’re just different, and that’s all.  Experiences are just different, and they just produce different people – thank God! (laughs)

 

Yes, variety is the spice of life, as they say. (laughs)  But there’s another thing … Steve, and even many other people I’ve interviewed, especially ones from England, have told me that they never really got much family or social opposition to the fact that they wanted to be a musician, or that they were a musician.  I suppose it may be a difference in the post WWII, baby-boom sociology between the two countries …  But the thing is, you had quite a bit of an education, in a very formal way, so did your family have any opposition to your doing what you’re doing at the beginning?  I ask that, because I know my family would … they think even writing about rock music is a waste of my education, though they were once very working–class, blue-collar, and maybe below that themselves.

 

Bruce:  Yes! Yes. 

 

They had different hopes for you I guess.

 

Bruce:  Well of course they did – that’s why they sent me to a private school. 

 

Yes… yes.

 

Bruce:  I mean, I got sent to a private school when I was 13.  And I enjoyed it … But I didn’t actually enjoy most of the people there.  I mean, it was a great chance to be away from your parents for four years. It was a brilliant way to piss about and get in trouble a lot. … And I was a very irritating pupil!

 

Bruce live - powerslave booklet 

Were you a good student?

 

Bruce:  No, I was appalling!  I got thrown out!

 

Well … (laughs) … I knew that you got thrown out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you were a “bad” student academically.

 

Bruce:  No, I was a terrible student!

 

You didn’t apply yourself?  (laughs)

 

Bruce:  That would be an understatement. (laughs)  I applied myself to everything except the things I was supposed to apply myself to.

 

Then you were a bit rebellious? (laughs)

 

Bruce:  That, again, would be an understatement! (laughs)

 

Yes, that’s the impression I’m getting … and you could probably say you still are a little rebellious now, too, couldn’t you?

 

Bruce:  Yes, I think you could probably say I was now.  (laughs)  Although my rebelliousness has … toned down a little bit, I suppose.  … I mean, I used to be rebellious by setting things on fire, and throwing water everywhere, and doing ridiculous practical jokes which inconvenienced hundreds of people at school … which was all a little childish!

 

Well, maybe you’ve channeled that rebellion in another way, maybe a more constructive way …

 

Bruce:  Yes, now I just enjoy irritating journalists around he world by being repeatedly successful … Not necessarily yourself …But my rebellion now takes the form of, well, here I am now in Iron Maiden, and this is a band I believe in . And I believe in what we’re trying to do.  And what we’re trying to do is simply play our own sort of music, and in effect, we’re rebelling against a lot the established pressures, and a lot of the established avenues of musical expression.  And I find that very satisfying, because it’s being constructively rebellious.  It’s demonstrating the way to other people.

 

Well, I think that is something that is really strong about the band, as I was discussing with Steve in the earlier interview.   That the band has been doing things – a lot of times – against the grain, and still being able to win. 

 

Bruce:  If anything, we’d be horrified is somebody said we’d done something right!  (laughs) 

 

Yes, if you did it the way you’re supposed to ?

 

Bruce:  Yes, that’d be awful! (laughs)

 

In a way, it’s challenging a certain kind of authority, it’s the pre-established norms, you know?   But I get a certain satisfaction out of seeing stereotypes blown away, just because of having enough of that certain conviction that says – “I will not be swayed, I shall stay the course, no matter the trend,” etc.  

 

Bruce:  Well, I do enjoy upsetting people.  I mean, I love seeing people throwing something at someone – and then the other person saying, “Now I get that.” When you throw something at someone that they don’t understand, very often they’ll just instantly hate it, because they don’t understand it.  And it’s nice to do that – if you can – in public, with people.  Because then everyone else can see that they’re a prat! And sometimes you do it with audiences … sometimes you sling something at them, then see what they do! I mean, like the time I came onstage in Japan, and sang two verses of  “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, unaccompanied.  This was in Japan, just on the monitors, before the encore.  I told the whole crowd to be quiet .  Then it was like, (he sings the first few bars of “White Christmas” in Bing Crosby mode)  — and I sang a couple of verses and walked off, and the band were still standing onstage! 

 

Did anyone know that would  happen?!

 

Bruce:  No, they thought we were going to do “Prowler” and I walked to the back of the stage and just yelled from the amps: “PROWLER!!” and jumped back onstage again, and the crowd went absolutely nuts!  Again, you know, you don’t do it every night.  But sometimes a little devil sits on your shoulder and says, “Go on!”  (laughs)

 

Ah, that irresistible, spontaneous devilry, eh?  (laughs)

 

Bruce:  Yeah, every now and again, you do naughty things.  Like one show in Columbia, South Carolina, I jumped into the audience and interviewed one of the guys in the audience during “22 Accasia Avenue.”  (laughs)  I said, “What do you think of the show?!” – and stuck a microphone in his mouth!  He was like, “umm, umm, umm, umm” – and that was the end of it.

 

I bet you drove your teachers absolutely crazy!  (laughs)

 

Bruce:  Yes, I did!  (laughs)  I did all kinds of shit.  I sent my half-master a ton of horse shit.  I had it delivered right onto his doorstep. 

Band pics from cd 

 

What prompted this mischievous streak in you!?  Do you know?  Or is that just you?

 

Bruce:  It’s just me.  Apparently, when I was very, very small, when I was a baby, one of my aunties came to say “Hello” – and I pissed in her mouth!   I remember my grandfather teaching me how to fight – I lived with my grandparents until I was about five – my parents lived in a flat in Sheffield, trying to get enough money together.  So I lived with my grandparents, who were miners, and I remember going to school one day – and I got the shit beat out of me. So, I came home, all covered in bruises and crap, you know.  So, my granddad sat me down and taught me how to fight!  He used to sit there, and I used to have to hit him with fists every day – I had to hit the palms of his hands.  And, after about a few weeks, he said, “Okay, right.  Now, go and find the kid who beat you up, and beat the shit out of him!”  So I did!  But I didn’t stop there!

 

Did you beat a whole bunch of other kids up too!?  (laughs)

 

Bruce:  I enjoyed it!  (laughs)  So, the teacher brought me home, and I was duly received at the front door by my granddad, who said it would never happen again.  Then he sat down and explained to me that I wasn’t supposed to do it all the time!  (laughs)  That was my first lesson in morality!

 

Well, were there any further problems after that?

 

Bruce:  No…not really.  I used to take great pride in the fact that people would thump me in the head, and I wouldn’t hit them back at all.  I occasionally used to get a wally!  Somebody grabbed my balls in rugby match one day!  But that’s the last time I ever had a fight with anybody – when I was about 16.  I actually had a serious fight then! (laughs) So, I turned around and laid him out!  And I got sent off! (laughs)  It was rather unfair!   I did make the point that he had grabbed hold of my balls, you know?! 

 

You didn’t react the way he expected, probably! (laughs)

 

Bruce:  I was very surprised, actually. I was very surprised at seeing this person lying on the ground. I was quite shocked!

 

There must have been quite a bit of adrenalin behind that …

 

Bruce:  Well, there was.  If someone grabs a hold of your bollocks, I you do tend to react unthinkingly …

 

And instinctively …

 

Bruce:  Yes. And that tends to be the most lethal way … but I’m not into that sort of business now. 

 

Well, from the things I’ve seen you say, you’re more of a pacifist these days, aren’t you? 

 

Bruce:  Well, I would say … No, I’m not a pacifist.  I’m possibly … a sort of humanist or something like that. But if somebody comes around to my house with a big stick and says “I’m going to beat you up” … So, he either stands there with a big stick, or I get a big stick and I hit him first.  Well, I’m afraid, if things break down, and it gets to that level, well, I’d much rather that it be him!  So, in fact at one stage I was considering a career in the army.  I was in the army cadets for five years at school, between school and the university.

 

What a contrast

 

Bruce:  Well, I was interested in Rock ‘n Roll all the time. There are loads of people in the army into Rock ‘n Roll.

 

Oh, definitely; it’s that way here too.  Did you have to have short hair and everything? 

 

Bruce:  Oh yes.  Oh shit, I was out there on night exercises and running around in the field, and bayonetting people and everything.  ….

                       

What changed your mind against it?

 

Bruce:  Well I was going to be an officer, and I began to decide that I didn’t really like officers!   My future potential officers, I began to think that I wouldn’t get on with them very well, because I thought I was a little bit too eccentric. 

 

Well you did say you had a rebellious nature …

 

Bruce:  That’s what I meant by a little bit too eccentric!  (laughs)

iron maiden classic lineup 

 

Ah, yes! (laughs) I can relate to that … And, I don’t know about the British Army, but, in America, it’s very disciplined, and of course it also demands that you lose your individuality. 

 

Bruce:  Well, all armies are geared to a loss of individuality in a sense, because, if you tell a hundred blokes to run up that hill, you can’t go ask each one of them individually, “Go attack that bloody hill!” – in the full knowledge that probably a twenty of them are going to die on the way.  Of course, if the blokes are all individuals, they’d all turn around and argue, “Why not send him?”  You know?

 

Yes … I understand the reason for that indoctrinization …

 

Bruce:  As far as my being an officer is concerned, I looked at it thought, well, for a  20 year career, can’t see it as being incredibly stimulating.  I mean, I quite fancied the idea of the excitement … which I found interesting.  People asked me questions like, “Do you mind the idea of getting shot at?”  And I said, “No!”  I mean that’s why I joined the bloody army … If you join the army you expect to be shot at.  Some people join the Army, I imagine, because they expect they’re going to get a free holiday in some exotic part of the world.  But, basically, let’s be realistic about it, people in the Army are trained to kill people in the quickest and most efficient manner, which is a very unpleasant job, in the process of which, they might very well get knocked off themselves – and again – not in a very pleasant manner.  So, I just thought, well, for all the excitement and all the rest of it – Thank You, I think I’ll stick with rock ‘n roll!  

 

When you decided to give up on that after all, did you go full-force into music then?

 

Bruce:  No, I went to university for three years.

 

But you did become more involved with music at that time didn’t you?  Or am I wrong?

 

Bruce:  I only really only started getting involved with music when I was 17. 

 

It would seem so, since you were so involved with so many other things until then …

 

Bruce:  Well, no, when I was 13, I was at school listening to all these albums, but I didn’t actually start doing anything practically until I was 17. 

 

And you kind of taught yourself to sing, too, didn’t you, as far as the breathing from the diaphragm and all that

 

Bruce:  Um-humm, yes.

 

And you definitely use your voice the right way, like someone who has been trained.

 

Bruce:  Yes, yes.  Well, I mean, there was a girlfriend of mine who’d had some voice training, and she mentioned that I had a decent voice and it could probably be improved by training, and I said, “What do you mean?”  And she told me she’d had voice lessons, and this is what happened… So, I went to the library and pulled out every book I could find on the human voice!  And read it, and thought, well, this whole thing is fairly logical and straight forward.  So, I pulled out all my old records of all my favorite singers, and I listened to their voices, and I discovered they were doing the same things I’d read about in the books … and off I went to practice!  It was as simple as that. 

 

But, even though you said you were listening to other singers, there still are quite a few singers, even well-known ones, who don’t really use their voices properly, in that you can tell that they are putting such a strain on their vocal chords …

 

Bruce:  Um-humm. 

 

Well, it’s a good thing you don’t do that, because, obviously, I don’t think you could take all the touring Iron Maiden has been doing, if you sang that way …

 

Bruce:  No, well, that’s one of the reasons I taught myself TO sing that way.  Because I thought, well, if I want to get involved in being a singer, I want to know how to use my voice properly, because that way, if I do need to tour, and I do need to do concerts, then I can stay the course.  If I want to abuse my voice, I have the option.  I like having lots of options, you see.  Because, if you have options, you have choice.  And if you have choice at any given stage, then you have freedom. 

 

Yes, freedom of choice – that’s what freedom really is.

 

Bruce:  Yes, freedom without any choice, is not freedom.

 

And that’s why people can also be slaves of ignorance, because they don’t even know they have any choice. 

 

Bruce:  That’s right!  And that’s why people can be slaves to power!

 

Oh, exactly – “Powerslaves” … Oh, my! (laughs)  And the vocals on the album, that was all you?  Even the background ones? 

 

Bruce:  All except, “Oh, oh” on “The Duellist” – which was Steve and Martin Birch. (laughs)

 

Well, I didn’t think that sounded like you, which is one of the reasons I asked. (laughs) So, certain times, you are singing tracked harmonies with youself …

 

Bruce:  Yes, yes. 

 

How do you re-create that live, then?

 

Bruce:  I don’t bother.

 

You don’t bother? 

 

Bruce:  No, well, there’s nobody in the band that can really hit the notes, so we don’t bother, because we’re not going to get in backing singers or any tripe like that.  It’s not a gospel group or anything like that.  The thing about it is, I don’t think the songs really need it live, because there so much else going on, the energy and everything. 

 

Well, in the past, I know you’d done the layered vocals on other albums, and they sounded fine live, but there was just a bit more of that with this album, so I guess I was just curious about how it was being approached. 

 

Bruce:  Um-humm, yes.  I mean, I have one or two ideas up my sleeve about how to get around it on one or two songs, but that probably won’t happen until the next tour we do. 

 

Ah, you mean technical things?

 

Bruce:  Oh, I’ve got one or two ideas for a few gadgets and gizmos up my sleeve…It’ll freak people out if it comes across.  (laughs)  But I’m not going to say what it is, because you’ll pinch the idea! 

 

Nah, I’ll just remain in suspense, then!  Well, was it your idea to do the vocals like that?

 

Bruce:  On which songs?

 

Oh, there were several of them I was thinking of, but, for example, “Aces High” …

single - aces high 

 

Bruce:  Oh, I’m sorry, on “Aces High,” Adrian does harmonies with me. 

 

Oh, really? Okay.  That was the song I noticed the most.  But there are bits and pieces in others …

 

Bruce:  Yes, there are bits and pieces in other ones, but most of them are there just to accentuate things in the album. 

 

Well, I do think it is really a great album.  You all have done yourselves proud. The whole thing, and the sound, too, is just excellent – and I think it’s going to knock some people’s socks off – if it hasn’t already! …  Were you satisfied with the way it turned out? 

 

Bruce:  Oh, I was very pleased, yes. 

 

Well, I don’t want to keep you longer, because you’ve got to play tomorrow, and you need your rest!  After your traumatic evening, especially!

 

Bruce:  At some stage, yes. 

 

Well, before I go, is there anything I didn’t ask you that you want to add, Bruce?

 

Bruce:  Well you seemed to have covered most things, you know?  My rebellious, non-working class, privately- educated, military nature!  (laughs) 

 

Well, thank you, because you’ve given me some really great answers, very detailed.  It’s very interesting to get the different perspectives on things from each of one of you, and you’ve given me some answers that the others might not have on some things, and vice-versa … so, it’s very insightful…

 

Bruce:  I’ve given you some answers which other people wouldn’t have said? 

 

Oh, well, maybe some of the others.  You all have a different way of looking at things, and answering things.  But, for instance, Steve, who I just talked to before you: he gives very detailed answers to some questions, but if it’s about the creative process, he tends to be a bit vague … which is not to say that’s a bad thing at all, either! … And, I don’t think I asked him the questions properly.

 

Bruce:  Hummm.  Well, I am sort of a little bit more direct …

 

Well, you’re just two very different people …

 

Bruce:  Well, you do know.  We are two very different people, but we are both fairly intense … but in different ways. 

 

Yes, you are both very alike in some ways, but then very, very different in other ways, but then, that’s the way it should be if you want any kind of creative chemistry, I think.  You’re just apples and oranges, as they say, and that’s a good thing, you know?

 

Bruce:  Hummm … yes, yes, that’s exactly right. 


Read on…Part 3 is an interview with Dave Murray

Powerslave-head

 

Official website: www.ironmaiden.com

 

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