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Bruce Dickinson criticizes bands that only play old hits

Bruce Dickinson holding beer

Hard Rock

Bruce Dickinson criticizes bands that only play old hits

Unlike most bands of the ’80s that often perform shows with repertoires based on their most famous songs, Iron Maiden featured in “The Book Of Souls” a good part of the album that gave title to the tour, released in September 2015.


And vocalist Bruce Dickinson explains the position of the band in an interview with Fortune: “If you want to take advantage of the fans always serving the same setlist on each tour, you can expect that some of them will depart.”

Bruce Dickinson pilot

“It would be like turning into a karaoke band. If you’re not making new music, why bother? We do not think that crowding stadiums playing songs of 30 years of age is to be successful, but rather just a way to make money”

As for fans who do not want Iron Maiden to play anything but the 1980s classics, Bruce said, “This is hard, so do not come to the shows.”

Read the full interview below:

Bruce Dickinson old

By Phil Wahba (Fortune)

What is the secret to Iron Maiden’s longevity?

Everyone wants to know what the secret is. The secret is hiding in plain sight. With Iron Maiden, the secret is we treat our fans well and we do it with integrity but we don’t pander to them. We accept that they’re along for a journey when they follow Iron Maiden. Some people say, “You don’t have your own reality TV show, so how could you have possibly done this?” I say we don’t need a reality TV show because we are the reality to our audience because we turn up.

Many of your 80s rock peers are touring, playing a largely greatest hits set, while a third of Iron Maiden’s set on the recently ended “Book of Souls” tour came from that album. Why?

If you take advantage of them (fans) as in you serve up the same old thing every single tour, you can expect some of them to walk away. That is just a band becoming a karaoke band. If you’re not doing new music why bother? We don’t share the idea that going and doing stadiums, playing 30-year-old songs, is a success. It’s just making money.

What about fans who don’t want you to play anything but the 1980s classics?

That’s tough. In that case, don’t come.

Bruce Dickinson airplane

When you left Iron Maiden in 1993 for six years, had you started to feel stifled by fans’ intense expectations or jaded by the music business?

I started to feel that way. There is always a fine line between reliability and complacency. In the early days, when a band is starting out, everything is fierce, everything is new and you’re forever trying to play David and Goliath with the music industry. As you get your niche, that’s when the temptation sets in to become less self critical than you should be.

You’re now 59, and your bandmates are all in that range, yet still touring the world comprehensively, playing four shows a week. How are you adapting?

We all play a little bit smarter than we did. We’ve matured in our interpersonal relationships so we can talk more freely about we need and what we don’t need. And we’ve taken more control of the workload because frankly in the 1980s we were working on such a schedule that given the type of music that we play, it’s virtually impossible to do 100% every single night.

You should able to play absolutely at your peak and in fact that’s what people expect from us now. So we have the confidence, and the audience behind us now, to say yeah, this is the schedule were going to do.

Bruce Dickinson book of souls

You’ve now been back in Iron Maiden for 18 years, far longer than the first time around. Why has it held this time?

Everybody realized that the most important thing about being in Iron Maiden was that Iron Maiden was the most important thing. There are no more power struggles now.

In your middle age, you’ve emerged as quite an entrepreneur. Do you, like other entrepreneurs, have to draw up business plans and have a 90-second pitch at the ready, or does being Bruce Dickinson spare you from that?

Nothing’s different because I’m Bruce Dickinson. It’s exactly the same as every other entrepreneur. There are some things that I do that are more hands-on. Some things have a more creative aspect and I let the management team get on with it, but I have a lot involvement in marketing and product development for items like beer.

Bruce Dickinson pilot boeing

What advice do you have for other business people?

Never send an e-mail when you’ve had a few beers. And when you write a really, really shitty e-mail which you think is incredibly scathing and says exactly how you really feel about somebody, something or a situation, stop, read it and delete it. It applies across the board.

If Iron Maiden were just starting out now in the current music industry environment, could it have had the success and career it has?

Probably not, because put simply, simply the entire marketplace for new music is so fragmented and there are so many tiny little niches, so it’s almost impossible to gain traction, particularly for a rock group.

See more Interviews

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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