Jack Antonio from the “Do You Know Jack?” radio show recently conducted an interview with Bruce Dickinson about the IRON MAIDEN frontman’s new autobiography, “What Does This Button Do?” You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the high level of vocabulary and specific literary references found in “What Does This Button Do?”:
Bruce: “I’m not really good at doing ‘dumbed down.’ I would rather if people don’t know what a word is, I would rather they take pleasure in going, ‘Hey, wow! What’s that word mean? Hey, that’s a cool word!’ That’s it. That kind of curiosity, it’s not trying to be a smart-ass or anything. It’s just using, if you got a lot of colors to paint with, you use whichever ones you need to use at the time. The more colors you have, the more interesting things you can deliver. That’s all it is. Yeah, I did write the whole thing myself. There’s no ghostwriter or any of that stuff involved in the process. It’s me sitting in a pub with a biro [pen] and a big sheet of paper because I didn’t use a typewriter or word processor or a laptop.”
On whether he thinks those who questioned his singing ability during the early parts of his career should be “eating crow”:
Bruce: “I don’t think anybody should be eating crow. I’m the first one to look at situations and go, ‘You know what? This is kind of funny.’ Most of life, if you look at it from the outside, is kind of ridiculous. You think, ‘How did that person get to be in that position? What happened there?’ I think you just have to be a little bit relaxed with the cards that life deals you sometimes. You accept that you try your best and you go with your instincts, I think, is the best thing I can say. You’re seldom wrong if you go with what you really feel to be the right thing to do.”
On what he does today to preserve his vocal cords:
Bruce: “Well, not to the extent of anything specific. I mean, I just keep the same old regime that I always do, which is don’t abuse them. I think the thing about being a singer, it’s a bit like if you’ve been an athlete or anything where you use your body. You just become aware of it. You’re probably more aware of it then other people who have never done that. Just for the sake of argument, people who play a lot of soccer, they’ll be acutely aware of pain in their knees or pain in their ankles or joints or things like that. They’ll look at them and go ‘Is this serious? Or is it just result of wear-and-tear?’ You learn to live with things. You learn to live with pressure and strains in your body and vocal cords, but you’re aware of it. It’s that awareness that builds up over the years and that’s what kicks in when you want to ‘preserve your voice.’ I can go out down to the pub and there’s loud music and everybody’s going ‘Hey!’ and shouting at each other because the music is so damned loud. I’ll go there and have a good shouting conversation with somebody knowing that the following morning, I’ll be, like, ‘Oh, wow. Goodness me. That really beat the hell out of my voice doing that.’ But I’m not going to be using my voice for singing or anything serious for a while. I’m relaxed with it and drink some water and go watch TV and stuff. By the next day it’s fine. You do that when you have to get a real performance out of your voice and that’s a pretty stupid thing to do. Because then the next day is hard work, you can stress your voice, all kinds of stuff. It’s just an awareness of things. If you’re going to do a 100-meter sprint and you’re a 100-meter sprinter and you’re really good, the last thing you want to do is go out and play a heavy game of football the night before and get kicked in the leg or something. That’s kind of a dumb thing to do. But if you aren’t going to be racing the next day, it wouldn’t matter.”
On his conversations with IRON MAIDEN manager Rod Smallwood about replacing Paul Di’Anno in 1981:
Bruce: “It was a similar thing when they got [Dickinson replacement] Blaze Bayley in . I really like Blaze. I like him just as a human being. He’s a lovely guy. I remember going to the management offices and there was a guy, he doesn’t work for management anymore, but he was telling me how great this whole thing was and how brilliant it was going to be. I said, ‘Look, he’s got this great gig. Of course, he’s going to take the job. He’s been offered the job. Of course, he’s going to take it.’ I said, ‘Has anybody given any thought to where he’s going to go with the old stuff? Has anyone given any thought to how he is going to manage it? Not just singing, but how are you going to deal with the fan reaction?’ Because I was surprised it was Blaze. I was delighted for Blaze, but there was a whole bunch of other really good singers out there. [Editor’s note: Rumored candidates also included ANGRA‘s André Matos and HELLOWEEN‘s Michael Kiske.] I thought ‘Wow, they could have picked somebody with a voice that could do what my voice did.’ But they picked Blaze. Obviously, they picked somebody different, but that came with its own set of challenges. I just wondered whether anybody in the management was really giving anybody any serious words of truth on how hard this could be.
“But anyway, so in that same vein, that was me when I fronted up Rod about when he asked me to audition. I said, ‘Look, don’t beat about the bush. I wouldn’t be here talking to you now unless you were pretty sure that you wanted to offer me the job. But, the question is: Do you want the whole package that comes with it? Because that’s what you’re going to get. I don’t do zero, one, two, three. I go to zero and I go to ten. [Laughs] That’s what you get. You get full-on ten, that’s it. If you want a shrinking violet, just let me know now and I’ll slink away and you can give it to somebody else.’ I was full-on. I’m not sure where that comes from. That’s the way I thought. I suppose the same kind of bullheadedness was why I left, because I just said, ‘I don’t like the way this is going creatively. There’s nothing wrong with it. It just doesn’t feel right to me. So I better go.'”
“What Does This Button Do?” landed at No. 10 on the New York Times “Hardcover Nonfiction” best sellers list. It was released in the U.S. on October 31 via Dey Street Books (formerly It Books), an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.