Bruce interview from French mag Rock Hard (from JackKnife scans)


Ancient Mariner
Rock Hard: When did you find the way to write and record this last album?
Bruce Dickinson: In fact, we composed this record in Paris where we rehearsed there during 3 weeks. This is the lapse of time we needed to write the full album TFF.
Before that, Steve had certainly worked (swoted) one or two days with Adrian, and then with Janick but when we joined all together in paris, we didn't really know what the others had composed. Therefore, we shared our views of the tracks and we worked on these basis.
20 days later, we were holding our album!
I wouldn't say it was easy because this writing session was really intense. But it's true that we had a lot of ideas and no problem of inspiration.
It's hard to pur words on melodies but at least we didn't have to confront with the anguish of the white sheet of paper.
Then, we left Paris to the Bahamas, to the Compass Point Studios like in the old good time (Iron Maiden actually recorded albums there like POM 83, Powerslave 84 and SIT 86).
There, we did all the backing tracks in 2 weeks. We went on composing as well. I think, in particular, about a title like "The Alchemist". In Paris, we didn't have the time to work on this track and another song because the last day of the rehearsal Janick cut his hand.
Every day in the Bahamas, I heard them work on demos of the songs and I was looking for words to put on them.
So, I was still writing texts when we started the recording. After 15 days, we had all the backing tracks and my vocals. Therefore, I went back home when the guitarists were doing their overdubs. Finally, I was present during the sound mixing in Los Angeles. I also recorded my last parts of vocals, in a very tiny room. I had just taken a microphone and I was doing my takes with Steve and Kevin Shirley. "What about doing The Talisman today?"
I was singing and one hour later it was okay, we were doing something else.
In the Bahamas, I had recorded 60% of my vocals because a few songs were so complicated, complexed with so many different parts, that it was impossible for me to remember them all in Paris.
Building a track like When The Wild Wind Blows (A Harris song lasting 11 minutes) for example, was like giving birth to a kind of Frankenstein (Bruce laughs). This song was in Steve's mind. So, when we arrived in the Bahamas, he said to us: "This is how you must play or sing this or this part. Trust me, everything will go perfectly in the end." So, we worked step by step, part after part as if we had to deal with a big puzzle. It was pretty difficult for us because part from Steve, we had no idea of the way the result would sound. A big mystery!
For the rest, yes, we worked pretty fastly. After how long did it take to Elvis to make a record? 3 minutes! (Bruce laughs)
It used to work this way before! We know each other so much that we can allowed ourselves this kind of approach.

RH: More Rock'n'Roll?
BD: Yes, I think so. With all the high technology we're using nowadays, Pro-tools, digital recording and all these bullshits, it is pretty easy to sing til getting a good result. If a word or two don't fit into one song, we take the words somewhere else in another part of the track and we do copy/paste to block the holes.
It's convenient but however we prefer giving good performances in studio to avoid to stick patch and it makes a big difference. "The Talisman" for example was 90% recorded in one shot/take. And I like that because it's such a physical track that we have the feeling to be on a Formula One trip.
A few tracks are like "Le grand prix de Monaco" (Formula One competition in Monaco). You always must be careful and watch the change of course.
It's an effort of all instants. But on "The Talisman", you can push the accelerator and appreciate the speed because it's a long straight line which reminds the Suzuka circuit.

RH: This is the fourth time you've been working with the producer Kevin Shirley since you're back in the band in 1999.
Isn't it a way to be in a kind of routine?
BD: In fact, Kevin doesn't have a lot of impact on what we propose in terms of structures, compositions/arrangements, melodies....
When we arrive in the studio, the tracks are, for most of them, already written, ready to be recorded.
Kevin's major role/part is more about sound and especially sound mixing.
I am particularly happy with the sound mixing of this new album, which hasn't always been the case in the past.
To me, TFF is better in terms of sound than AMOLAD.
His 1st song or I should say his intro (Satellite 15..... TFF) is a bit odd I reckon because it comes from an old demo tape of Adrian. A part of this intro has a weakest sound, a lower resolution. But the sound mixing gives a big effect and when the song begins, the produced effect is astonishing!
We realize that the sound of the album is really thick, strong. I love this effect!

RH: How would you describe this album? It is different......
BD: "Yes and that's precisely what I find interesting. We can find in it a lot of prog elements even if it's not a progressive album. When the fans listen attentively to the album, when they discover all the subtleties, varied experimentations, I am pretty sure that a lot among them will think : "Eh? I didn't know Iron Maiden could do that, could play like that, with all these breaking rythms, this little jazzy side!"
Why should we stagnate? We want to progress, take some risks, innovate.
After all, it is possible that it may be our last album.
We have never taken the evident ways, NEVER!
So, why should we begin now?
It would disappoint our audience and the fans could wonder : "Why are they doing as KISS did on their last album?" I don't want to blame KISS, it is a legendary band but if suddenly we were ordering hits to composers like Desmond Child, we would turn Bon Jovi and play pop!
It's not really what we have in mind...... (Bruce laughs) If we behaved like that, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror, impossible. But we will never do that, none of us. But I understand a few bands can be tempted to do that, to have the feeling, one last time, to be 18. But even when we were 18, we were never tempted by this. Iron Maiden tries to suggest an interesting music. It's all we have left. It's not as if we had no wrinkles and that we were playboys... Music is everything we have left. That is what we have to offer, our music."

RH: That's why your fans are so faithful to your band, don't you think?
BD: "I hope! Because we are pretty direct in our way to do music. Even here, in the USA, we have known up and down moments, lately we allowed ourselves to play AMOLAD, our previous album, in full. So, of course, a few fans only wanted to hear classic songs like "TNOTB" and complained but it didn't shake us. We are not a "pastiche" (in french in the text), a parody of ourselves.
So, we went on this way and we got enthusiasming results. This year, in the USA, we are one of the artists who sell the biggest number of tickets.
In Los Angeles, we are going to play in front of 30 000 persons. Last time we went to Dallas, in 2003, we sold 3 000 tickets. Now, in 3 days, 12 000 persons will come and see us in this same town.
Luck is finally with us because, as I said earlier, we have never taken the easiest way for our music.
One of the most popular band here in the USA is The Dave Matthews Band, almost unknown in Europe. This band plays mostly instrumental music, a sort of jazzy folk rock. It's almost never broadcasted on the radio, but it doesn't stop this band to gather a big audience. And this is not the case of many rock bands at the moment because they have built their career on a sort of pop-rock that stopped them to weave a strong and deep relationship with their fans."

RH: Do you think you will play TFF in full on this tour?
Bruce says they won't play the album in full on next tour like they did for AMOLAD. During the american gigs, they played "El Dorado" but this could change on the European tour. Bruce is convinced they will play more from the new album during the second leg. His wish would be to play 5 songs from TFF : Satellite 15, El Dorado, Coming Home, The Talisman, When the Wild Wind Blows cause he thinks they would sound perfectly live.

RH: This summer, you were supposed playing European gigs with Heaven And hell. Unfortunately, Ronnie James Dio died last may. What would you like to say about him?
BD: (Bruce seems very touched, affected) Ronnie changed the life of many people, to begin with mine. First time I heard him, I lived in Sheffield. I was still at school and Alan "Fluff" Freeman, a rock DJ, very important one at this time, put "Stargazer" on Radio One. I hadn't listened to Rainbow yet.
As everyone knows, I was a big fan of Deep Purple and when this track was broadcasted, I said to myself : "Ah, It seems/ looks like Ritchie Blackmore! But who is this amazing singer???" Of course, it was Ronnie. So, I bought all their albums in the course of their release.
At this time, I used to play in a small band and I remember we were listening to our records in the room of our drummer. And when we putting some Rainbow on, I was wondering : "How does Ronnie do to sing with such a voice?"
I was trying to imagine how he could look like. Of course, I was seeing his face on the cover of his albums, but I would never have thought he was so small! (Bruce is laughing).
Later, when I met him, it's his incredible kindness and his generosity which touched me the most. His lost affected/ saddened me a lot.

Bruce doesn't know if they still have video materials from this period.......
He loves old archives, he finds that funnier than new material. He especially likes the DVD from Deep Purple : History, Hits and Highlights 68-76.
Fantastic to him!
He gives examples from that dvd.

RH: Ed Force one : Will it fly again?
BD: It is possible that it flies again. It depends of their projects for the future and their time table.
But if it happens, Bruce wants their plane to be the coolest of all planes in the air!
Considering the new album The Final Frontier and what it is about, they will customize it like a spaceship from Star Wars!!!

Thanx to djemaa (Geraldine) for the translation. You rock, lady! :wub:


I'll shoot the gunner first!
Jeff, brilliant stuff, thank you very much! Have a praise! :D

By the way, the correct term for "tries"/ "tests"/ "attempts" is actually "takes". As in, I had just taken a microphone and I was doing my takes with Steve and Kevin Shirley.


Ancient Mariner
Forostar said:
You should have done that one instead, much more interesting. ;)

(kidding: thanks mate!  :ok: )

It wasn't I who did it. Now, you could move your ass and try to get that one translated, mate. :D

Travis The Dragon

"Can you see them riding. Riding next to you!"
Just read the rest of that. God, I love Bruce's style and attitude about things.
Also, it'll be interesting to see if they stick to playing the 5 new songs Bruce mentioned.