IRON MAIDEN vocalist Bruce Dickinson recently spoke with New York City’s Q104.3 about his new autobiography, “What Does This Button Do?” The full chat can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On the inspiration behind the book’s title:
Bruce: “My dad… one of the great things he did for me was say, ‘You should have a go at everything. Just try it — whatever it is, when you’re a kid, if you get a chance to do something, whether it’s a school trip, whatever it is, just have a go.’ The other thing that he was very big on was, whenever you start something, finish it. When I did things and discovered things that I thought, ‘Well, I like doing that,’ [I thought,] ‘Let’s see where it goes.’ If you’re going to squeeze the lemon, do it until the juice runs down your leg.”
On the process of writing the book:
Bruce: “The book is about stories and my life and the things I’ve done, and it’s a celebration of life. It’s not getting down on people; it’s not salacious and tiddle-taddle.
“I’m not that crazy about biographies that are written by other people — by ghost writers. If you’re going to write a book, I think in an ideal world, you should write it yourself, so literally, it’s your own voice coming through.
“I wanted to tell my story but in a way which was uplifting. That’s kind of who I am. I’m not interested in ‘the dark side’ — I might write songs about it, but that’s not me.
“I wrote fifty percent of the book in the pub. I’d go down to the pub, I’d sit in the corner, I’d have a couple of beers, make it last two-three hours, and at the end of that, I’d have 1,500 words.”
On flying the planes that IRON MAIDEN uses on tour:
Bruce: “I’m not sure if it saved a lot of money, but what it did do was it made it possible to do a lot of places that we couldn’t have done otherwise. We had the equipment and the band and the crew on the same airplane, so what it was, was a massive time-saver. It joined up the world like a big magic carpet. Instead of having to exclude places like Australia, New Zealand, India, all of Southeast Asia, because the connections in those places are kind of inconvenient – not just for the passenger transport. That’s not the issue. It’s the freight transport that kills you, because hiring a freighter to get your equipment around, that is what kills you. Having the airplane made it possible to join up the world in a way that we couldn’t have done any other way.”
On whether he’s faced any dangerous situations in the air:
Bruce: “Um… no. [Laughs] I’ve had bird strikes… in the engine, I’ve had them in the cockpit, and a buddy of mine took an African vulture that bent the landing gear. We were stuck in Africa for two or three days while we sent the part down to fix it. Windows shattering, decompressions and things like that, emergency descents. Those are all things that you train for. They sound, like, ‘Oh my God,’ but these are things you train for in the simulator, and when they happen… it’s pretty clear what you have to do.”
On learning that he had cancer:
Bruce: “When I got the diagnosis, I didn’t feel sick. You’re in kind of this weird, altered state — like an out-of-body experience. Funny enough, it’s the same feeling when you get told, ‘Yeah, you’re all clear. It’s over.’ You go, ‘It can’t be — I just spent six months of my life in this world.’ It’s like your constant companion, and now somebody’s told you that this thing that was with you is gone. It’s almost like Stockholm Syndrome, where, ‘I almost miss it.’ You think, ‘What a dumb thing to think,’ but you have to fess up to those sorts of things. I treated like an uninvited guest, and I was like, politely and firmly, ‘I’m going to ask you to leave, with the assistance of my friends here — Mr. Chemo and Mr. Radiotherapy. They’re going to be my bouncers, and you are going to be walking out the door.’ All in the best possible taste, because cancer is a part of you – it’s your cells, gone weird and wobbly for whatever reason.
“You want to blame somebody. You want to blame something — I did that and that’s why, or if this had happened, then I wouldn’t have gotten it. It’s just bad luck. If you’re going to accept that, then I think you’re well on your way to being [in a] good head space. You have to let the treatment take its course, and you have to try and make sure you stay strong and well during the treatment.”
On why IRON MAIDEN‘s success hasn’t dissipated:
Bruce: “IRON MAIDEN fans are like plywood. We have laminate layers of them, and they stick to one another. Every few years, we add a few more layers, and the table gets thicker and stronger. Back in the day in the ’80s, we’d do, like, one show at [Madison Square] Garden. Now, we’ve just done four shows in the New York area. How come we’re four times bigger than we were in the ’80s? We haven’t suddenly grown a whole bunch of people, dare I say it, of my age. What we’re doing is building up this great new fan base of kids who discovered — a lot of kids will have discovered MAIDEN with this last album, ‘The Book of Souls’, and they’ll go back and rediscover all the mythology of the band.”
“What Does This Button Do?” was released in the U.S. on October 31 via Dey Street Books (formerly It Books), an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.