Shall We Dance? By
Dance Of Death
With Bruce Dickinson
and Andrian Smith back in the band since 2000-2001 and after long and hurtful
internal strife that led to their departure a few years earlier, the Iron Maiden
resurgence that started back with 2000's Brave New World still goes strong
today and Maiden is cooler than ever. With their scintillating trademark galloping
rhythms and twin - oops, I meant tri - guitar harmonies Iron Maiden gain new
fans day by day and keep "Running Free" towards their next decade
of musical creation.
Of Death is bolder, darker, and heavier but at the same time more
refined and adventurous than their previous efforts. It is parts
early era, Powerslave, and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. "Rainmaker"
is a classic Maiden tune with catchy harmonic lines, interludes,
and a great chorus. "No More Lies" is another Maiden epic
anthem shy of eight minutes in length with a punchy chord chorus
and fluid verses, sort of like an inversed "The Prisoner."
"Montségur" is perhaps the heaviest Maiden song.
"Let me tell you a story to chill the bones, about a thing
that I saw one night wandering in the everglades" sings Dickinson
and "Dance Of Death," the albums homonym song, begins.
Another Maiden epic song, this one shy of nine minutes, features
some very interesting and novel arrangements like the staccato acoustic
guitar vs. electric guitar comping and strumming (!) of the verse
and lush orchestral arrangement of the interludes and alternate
verses. "Paschendale" is Maiden's most progressive tune
to date (another one shy of nine minutes). The band seems to be
freer and more creative using lots of acoustic guitars and full
string orchestrations in a way they haven't really done before.
This is also evident in the song credits which are the most inclusive
of any Maiden record - please correct me if I am wrong - with all
band members, even drummer Nicko McBrain contributing to the album.
Harris's name is first in the credits of only one song, unlike past
albums, which coincidentally is the only one in the album that was
written by one person. Collaborative genious. There is even a predominantly
acoustic track - "Journeyman," the album's closer - dare
I say Maiden epic folk? The band is tighter than ever with all musicians
performing at their peak. The songwriting is superb, and Bruce Dickinson's
voice seems better, stronger and more explorative than ever.
We caught up with Bruce Dickinson in Los Angeles. We talked about
the past and the future, the man, the music, the band.
OW: Everybody was really excited a couple of years ago to see
you came back in the band after a rocky period. Why did you decide
BD: It was because of the music. I had done some great solo stuff
with Roy Z. Stuff that I was really proud of and I proved a lot
of things to myself about my ability to do things independently
and I also learned a lot during my time outside of Iron Maiden.
I thought I had become a better singer and I thought I could reintroduce
that into Iron Maiden. And at the time the musical world was going
through a period when it almost seemed that it needed Iron Maiden
to be back. So I reckoned that I could rejoin the band and we could
do some great new music and not just a nostalgia thing - just great
OW: I remember in a show from the Brave New World Tour that you
talked about that. Was that a statement?
BD. Yes it definitely was back then but I think people understand
now that that's what the band is all about [new music]. I don't
think there is any doubt now. In the intervening two years the band
has changed, especially in Europe, from being an album-tour, album-tour
band - we had just finished our largest tour in the band's history
in Europe: seven hundred thousand people at 28 shows - to touring
with no album. So the band exists in two separate worlds right now.
Live, just as an Iron Maiden festival, and Iron Maiden event, and
through the albums. And these two things are now becoming separate.
Our recent announcement that we will be cutting down on the amount
of touring we do after this series of tours we are doing now was
designed to reflect that. We'll still carry on doing records and
of course doing gigs but we are no longer going to join the two
together and disappear for nine months of our lives at a time. We
don't have to. We can do festivals in the summer that have huge
audiences, and have great fun, celebrate everything. But it doesn't
mean that there will be a new record to go with it. But Iron Maiden
is never going to sell 5 million records. We are never going to
be Nickelback. We can't, even if we wanted to, which we don't. And
it was the same back in the 80s. Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, and
all these bands that had their one hit, sold three million albums
and then just disappeared. We sell one million albums but we sell
every time. We're sort of like the Rolling Stones. The Stones never
sold very many albums for one particular record. I don't know anyone
that bought the Steel Wheels album but everybody wanted to go see
the tour. Maiden is a bit like that now, in the summer. Shit, we
outsold the Rolling Stones this summer in Scandinavia.
OW: Some have said, actually accused the Rolling Stones that
whenever they run out of money they go on tour. And they might have
lost some of their credibility as a band. Is Iron Maiden heading
in that direction?
BD: Well, the Stones have also been touring forever. They are in
their sixties now. I hope I don't have to do it when I am sixty.
I mean, who would even want to see me when I am sixty [laughs].
OW: Let's talk about the new album and in particular the new video,
"Wildest Dreams.' The avatar in the beginning is you, correct?
And there are no other members of the band in it, right?
BD: Yes it is me. Actually we let the director do whatever he wanted.
We just said we don't want to be in it.
OW: The video is interesting. With the racing aspect and all
that. Is Maiden consciously trying to reach an edgier, extreme-sport-type,
BD: [Laughs] I really don't know! If someone on the marketing side
is trying to do that then great! I think that any attempt to reach
a bunch of kids is great. And there are quite a few kids into Maiden,
not over here so much but in Europe, completely.
OW: What about your old-time fans that have been following your
career since the beginning?
BD: Well, in the States they do come out to the shows but not in
Europe. In Europe most of our audience is around 23. In the states
is the reverse [laughs]! Most of our audience here is around 32.
OW: Does that have to do with the fact that you tour more extensively
BD: No. It has to do with the fact that the media over here is controlled
completely by the major corporations and they simply dictate what
track is going to get played on the radio, what videos are going
to get played on the video channels, and those are the main sources
of information. And kids don't read magazines. Well, some of them
do, but most do not. Plus, most magazines are out of date. In Europe
it is a bit different. Plus in Europe, kids learn about bands in
depth, whereas over here they learn about bands in 30-second sound
bites and they are segmented very, very narrowly. And I don't think
that younger listeners even know that Iron Maiden has a new record
out. They are not supposed to know, because corporations think that
Iron Maiden is not relevant. They think that they can't sell anything
to them. Whereas in Europe younger listeners will discover it for
OW: Is there anything that you wish fans knew?
BD: Yeah, I wish more fans new about Chemical Wedding. I am very
proud of that record.
Do you plan on releasing any more solo albums?
BD: I don't know. When I finish the tour now I'll see what I want
to do. I'd like to do another solo album but after Chemical Wedding,
which was such a great album, I want to step back and make sure
that I sit down and see whether a new one would be able to reach
or even top that.
OW: Is Iffy coming back? [Dickinson's main character in his novels]
BD: No, not in the near future [laughs]. Too much work there and
I've done it enough. Plus I did everything myself, no assistant
editors, etc. which makes it so much more demanding.
OW: Are you keeping up with fencing? I have to ask you this.
It's out there and fans would like to know. Did you really turn
down an offer to compete for the English National Fencing team in
order to join Iron Maiden.
BD: No. That is someone getting very imaginative out there.
OW: Well, let's get back to talking about the new album. Three
guitars again, and more prominent than last time, same producer,
some experimenting with forms and sounds.
BD: Our fans just loved the three guitars. And it has never really
created a problem in our songs. On the contrary, I think it has
contributed to our sound. And the guitarists sort out the parts
OW: What is your favorite song in the new album and what was the
most challenging song to record?
BD: My favorite song of the album is "Journeyman" and
I would have to say that the toughest one to record was Paschendale.
OW: Any one song in particular that you will enjoy performing live?
BD: Definitely "Paschendale."
OW: Well it seem we have ran out of time. Thanks you Bruce. It
was really a pleasure and good luck with the new album and tour.
BD: The pleasure was all mine.
list for Dance of Death :
No More Lies
Dance of Death
Gates of Tomorrow
Face in the Sand
Age of Innocence
Dance Of Death