By Michael Henry

Most writers spend their time chasing after the hottest artist in town to interview in hopes of getting the coveted "exclusive" words from a chart-topping superstar. This is fine and well, but I view things a little bit differently than most. To me, a superstar is a person that has withstood the test of time, writing album after album of killer material that is still as listenable today as it was years ago. Such is the case with Bruce Dickinson.

Whenever the name Bruce Dickinson pops up in conversation, people naturally associate him with his infamous work with the once-mighty Iron Maiden. But what most don't know is Bruce has a virtual goldmine of heavy, killer tunes packed into his latest 13 song CD entitled Accident Of Birth (CMC Records) that will satisfy the most devoted metal fan's hunger for brutal, over-the-top riffs and searing vocals.

Shockwaves: First off, let me congratulate you on your latest CD, kicking major hiney on this one. Has your solo career been personally satisfying for you, as compared to your glory years in Maiden?
Bruce: Yes, actually. I am extremely proud of what I did with Maiden, but in reality, Maiden's heyday was over in 1986-87. That was around the Somewhere in Time and Live after Death era. After that, I felt that we were losing it, we no longer were on the cutting edge. Bands like Metallica, Guns n Roses, Megadeth, and Queensryche's Operation Mind Crime cleaned up and pretty much covered all the bases that Iron Maiden could have. That was what ultimately led to me quitting the band. I basically didn't want to be in the band anymore if it wasn't possible for us to innovate. It was also a conflict with myself and Steve (Harris). It was our attitudes and our way of looking at things. Steve looked at things like, "If it's not broken, why fix anything?," and I saw it as "Everything is broken, why not strip it away and start again?"

Shockwaves: You mean, getting back to basics?
Bruce: Exactly, but then it was, "What does getting back to basics mean?," and I felt it meant a lot more than just having Steve produce the next record (slight laughter).

Shockwaves: I honestly can say that I have enjoyed much of your solo work. Albums like Tattooed Millionaires and Skunkworks all had some stellar moments, but your latest one, Accident of Birth, took me back to Maiden's glory days and totally kicked my ass!
Bruce: Well, it has taken me four years to come around and get back to the full on metal thing again, and that was my own choosing. It's not like I am blaming him (Steve Harris) for anything, it just took me that long to believe that I could come out and really nail it. I didn't want to record anything that wasn't as good as the best that I had ever recorded before. And every time I even got close to my past, meaning Iron Maiden territory, I didn't want people coming out and comparing the two and saying, "This record is trying to recapture past glories and isn't quite up to scratch." I'd rather be doing acoustic records than doing that. With this record, I wanted to just come flying out of the starting gates, and that began with the production from Roy Z, who deserves huge amounts of credit for making the sound, as well as giving me the emotional support I needed. When I would be down on myself, he would say, "Don't worry about it, just do what you feel," and I needed that.

Shockwaves: Does this fresh, heavy, recognizable sound come from your collaborating with Adrian Smith again? (Former Iron Maiden guitarist who is a staple part of Dickinson's new band)
Bruce: Uh ...Yes, in some ways. Some of his riffs on the new record are really cool! Songs like "The Ghost of Cain," he has written some very good tracks. Adrian and Roy write entirely different. Adrian doesn't write nearly as fast as Roy, but when he gets an idea in his head, he works and works on it. But the overall sound of the record, the guitar sound, the heaviness was in Roy's head before we even began the recording.

Shockwaves: Does the Bruce Dickinson band intend on staying with this heavy direction?
Bruce: Oh definitely! In fact, I think our next record will be out in the fall. It will be the same lineup, on the record and on the tour. I'm even going to stick my neck out on this one by saying I would like to do at least 3 or 4 more records in this direction. Then I might think about taking a holiday (laughs). No, seriously, we want to keep this vibe going while it's hot. If you look at the really good bands over the years and the great records that came from them, bands like Led Zeppelin, their best albums came out in two year spurts "boom boom boom" one after the other. But the great ones are those who can change direction and then come right back, and still be on, ala Led Zeppelin. Yeah...and what I have done with this record is actually very rare...very few people get a second bite at the cherry. I think we have created a record that is setting the world alight, and people are just freaking out over it. And I don't see much reason why the next one can't do it, even more so.

Shockwaves: I have noticed that you switched labels since your last CD (moving from Castle Records to CMC Records). Has working with CMC been a good experience?
Bruce: Yes it has, CMC has been very supportive. They shelled out for tour support, and that is important to us; it is also nice having BMG distributing the new CD. It's nice to have the record in the stores.

Shockwaves: In my opinion, most of the '90s rock is complete s**t. But there are a few groups keeping heavy music alive, and fortunately there are still companies like CMC, Mayhem, Metal Blade, Earache, Century Media, etc. who support this music.
Bruce: That's absolutely right. But what they are also coming to understand is, that they must become very discriminating now about what they do release. They can't release just anything because it's metal, they have to release really good metal. And now the press are all sniffing around looking for the metal revival, hoping that metal will be the next big thing. And for us, we have our credentials. We have our hard-core fans, so when it does explode, it will be right in our direction.

Click Here For BRUCE DICKINSON SHOCKWAVES Interview Part 2