Buckle up for Iron Maiden
By Naughty Mickie
Photos by Kieth Durflinger
If Iron Maiden hasn't landed in your town yet, you can be sure that they'll be there soon. The hard rock mavens have recently released the DVD, "Visions of the Beast," and their latest effort, "Dance of Death," will be out this month. The lineup of Bruce Dickinson, bassist Steve Harris, guitarists Dave Murray, Janick Gers and Adrian Smith and drummer Nicko McBrain is on tour with Dio and Motorhead.
Instead of giving you their history, which can be found in our archives in a previous Iron Maiden feature, I'll take you straight to my eventful day.
It was like any other, I was at work, sipping my morning coffee and perusing the newspaper, when my phone rang. So far, so good. Then the voice on the other end (Mark Morton of Chipster Entertainment) asked me if I would like to speak with Bruce Dickinson around lunchtime. I almost spit my coffee across my desk at my co-worker. Would I? Gee, let me think...
Noon. The phone rang. My pulse jumped. One word, "Hello," and I knew that I was plunging into an interview with one of the biggest voices in the biz. I went right to the beginning of things.
"I was into acting and being on stage and I didn't really know what I wanted to do as a kid," Dickinson starts. "I really got into the idea of maybe being a drummer and then discovered I could sing and thought hmmm, maybe that would be a good idea. So that's how I became a singer."
Dickinson started singing at age 13 or 14 and has never had any vocal training.
Dickinson shares more, "I was a history major in college (London University) and I did my degree, finished college, and joined my first band which was called Samson. I did two albums with them. Then joined up with Maiden, so I've never really had a proper job."
I ask him about his hobbies.
"I have a full-time job as an airline pilot flying 737s for an airline called Astraeus (Airways), which is a charter airline and I work for the BBC as a presenter on a radio show," replies Dickinson.
"I didn't know you were a pilot," I say.
"I'm afraid so," Dickinson laughs. "I've been working as a professional pilot for about two years, initially on Boeing 757s down to Africa and back and then lately I've been flying 737s around Europe."
As a former student pilot, I wonder if he likes small planes, such as Cessnas.
"I started out flying small planes," says Dickinson. "In fact, in the States, when we're touring the States, I may very well be flying myself around from gig to gig in small planes because I still love it and it's great fun. Yeah, I do fly small planes, in fact if you want to come and fly in a small plane, I'm your man."
I learn that he's flown many different types of small planes and is also a Certified Flight Instructor in the United States. At this point, it's hard not to giggle, I'm not sure which would be stranger-- hearing "This is Bruce Dickinson, you captain speaking" as you buckle up or jumping into a Cessna for a lesson and coming face-to-face with one of your musical idols.
I manage to ask him how Maiden writes.
"I'd like to say that it was really thought out, but it really isn't, we kind of free associate and just work as best we can. I try to make the song tell a story, but other than that it's really quite random," explains Dickinson.
We go on to discuss the music scene.
"It's alternately inspired, confusing, interesting and rubbish," says Dickinson.
"Would you like to clarify that?" I ask.
"No. It's inspired, it's confusing, it's interesting and it's also rubbish sometimes," Dickinson reasserts. "It's all of them at the same time. It all happens."
"Do you think that this current hard rock comeback will lead to new generation of fans?"
"Well, we shall see," says Dickinson. "We just go ahead and do what we do and look at the rest of the world and say, 'OK, great.' Everybody has music in them and everybody has a right to express what they want to do."
Bravely, I query him as to what he thinks about the Internet.
"It's faster way to post a letter," Dickinson notes. "I'm still on dial-up connection, I haven't bothered with broadband at the moment. I find the Internet very superficial. You can get far more information in depth going to a library than you can going on the Internet. I find it very unsatisfactory reading for any length of time on the Internet."
Oooo, I hope he feels more positive about DaBelly.com... I decide to refocus on Maiden and find out to what Dickinson attributes their staying power.
"I just think that Iron Maiden has never followed any particular fashion. We've always ignored the rest of the world and just done what we felt we should have done musically. I think that's one of the reasons why we're still around. And also, I think we're a pretty good live band," he tells me.
"What about your tour and DVD?"
"We're touring with Dio and Motorhead and we're doing basically a 'greatest hits' set with a lot of songs that nobody's heard for quite a long time, maybe 15 years or so. And basically that's it. We've got a new album coming out in September." Dickinson continues, "We do have a DVD. We did an updated version of the VHS that's been available for some time and we do have lots of unreleased footage that's available on there and also a few little surprises. If people want to explore the menu of the DVD, they can discover hidden tracks and things like that in there. It's really quite good fun."
"Do you have a favorite scene or song on the DVD?" I say.
"Oh, gosh, I don't know. I remember all of them. I like 'Can I Play With Madness' myself, but I think they're all very interesting. It's a nice period piece. Relive your little fantasies by looking at each of them," Dickinson says with a chuckle.
We talk about their last release, the greatest hits box set.
"That one was designed really to enable people that might not be familiar with Iron Maiden to acquaint themselves with the band," says Dickinson. "We hoped that worked."
I know our time together is over, but I prod Dickinson to part with a few words for his fans.
"We're looking forward to coming to the States and I'm sure people will find out more about the record when we actually get there because we aren't saying anything about the album until we get to the States," Dickinson responds.
Yes, I have successfully unveiled a few of Dickinson's secrets, but the mysterious aura of Iron Maiden still glows.
Catch a few of their rays at www.ironmaiden.com
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