The U.K.'s The Sun Online paper spoke to IRON MAIDEN vocalist Bruce Dickinson about the group's ill-fated final Ozzfest performance in San Berardino and their future plans. Read on:
The Sun Online: Why is Reading so special?
Bruce Dickinson: "It's where I was asked to join the band and it's also the first festival I ever went to in my life and also played. And this year it will be a big one, I promise and yes we'll be nervous."
The Sun Online: You're playing just the four albums on this tour because of "The Early Years" DVD Part One? Will there be a Part Two?
Bruce Dickinson: "Yes, Part Two will be based around 'Live After Death' and 'Powerslave' and 'Somewhere in Time' and we have started working on it. The plan is to do what will be our biggest, most spectacular tour we have ever done. The 'Powerslave' era was the one that had all the toys. It had the massive Eddie, the huge mechanical hands and Ancient Egypt. And we want to recreate the whole deal."
The Sun Online: You've ridden out every rock music trend and almost every band throughout has cited you as an influence. Why?
Bruce Dickinson: "Yes that's weird isn't it? It's because we've never compromised. MAIDEN is about loyalty and pride and doing what you believe in and sticking with your beliefs. It's a bit like people who follow football teams. They sign up for a football team and support them all their lives even if they lose. That's us, and our fans are part of our gang."
The Sun Online: Ozzfest, Reading and Leeds are all about new fans. Why are they important?
Bruce Dickinson: "People who are as old as I am are generally not that fun to play to. I know there'll be people reading this saying 'It's not true,' but 47-year-olds don't rock like 15-year-olds. They go absolutely mental and that's what keeps us going. We are playing songs approaching 25 years old and yet we have the youngest audience."
The Sun Online: So what happened when you went on stage at Ozzfest?
Bruce Dickinson: "We were hit by a co-ordinated barrage of bottle tops, lighters and eggs from a certain section at the front! Then the power for the PA and backline was completely pulled three or four times during songs. The band held it all together incredibly though and we just got really pumped up. It ended up being an amazing show. MAIDEN can pretty much deal with anything. We don’t get fazed too easily."
The Sun Online: Who do you think was behind it all?
Bruce Dickinson: "Everyone knows it's Sharon Osbourne. It's certainly not Ozzy or SABBATH — they have too much class to condone stunts like that. She hates me for making remarks about reality TV. I hate reality TV. People should get off their arses and do stuff and not be so voyeuristic."
The Sun Online: Her stunts seemed to backfire as you played a magnificent set and soon after, thousands walked out in disgust?
Bruce Dickinson: "We left for the airport pretty well straight after we came off but we could tell there were a lot of disgusted fans who had paid good money to see us. The audience was incredibly behind us all the way and they really lifted us. If they hadn't been happy, there may have been a riot as those fans were really disgusted with the cowardly attacks."
The Sun Online: Did you enjoy the Rockwalk of Fame presentation and what does it mean to you?
Bruce Dickinson: "Well it's very American but behind it there are all these fans that are really into it and have all turned up. It's great. We are very proud of that day, though we ended up with filthy hands. It was great that Eddie rightfully got a handprint too."
The Sun Online: You left the band in 1993. Is it something you regret?
Bruce Dickinson: "Hindsight is a wonderful thing. When I left I had no intention of coming back but in the intervening period, I ended up becoming a much better singer than I was before, certainly live. And coming back into the band I had a hell of lot more energy than in the two or years before I left and I stayed with it. I also came back with a determination that I'm never going to walk on stage again doing something I don't want to do as it's soul-destroying and eats you up."
The Sun Online: How does MAIDEN fit in with family life?
Bruce Dickinson: "Well, we get to run around like a lunatic and play music and my kids can come and watch. My 15- and 13-year-olds were in the front row at our New York gig, in the mosh pit. I suddenly saw these four security guards jump in and hold someone down. I thought they had my kids but then I looked and saw their little faces, sweating and screaming and I was ready to dive in."
The Sun Online: And next for MAIDEN?
Bruce Dickinson: "We have the live album 'Death on the Road' out on Monday with a DVD to follow and then we record the new studio album next spring, which will be out next autumn. First we have the special fundraising Hammersmith Odeon show next week. It's for our old drummer Clive Burr's Multiple Sclerosis Trust Fund. I'm really looking forward to it. It will top off an amazing year which included a show in Sweden, where we played to 56,000 and were broadcast live to 20million people."
The Sun Online: And next for you?
Bruce Dickinson: "I go back to my 6 Music radio show and my job as an airline pilot. It's a proper, straightforward, regular job. I had to book holidays for the tour. I was straight off stage at Ozzfest to hightail it to LAX airport."