Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway with Bruce Dickinson & Sacha Gervasi

Fear is responsible for more unfulfilled lives than anything else. Fear stops us from moving forward, taking chances, and taking risks. Fear causes you to look back on your life when you are older and regret not opening that business or following your dream or walking up to that pretty girl at the party.

Today’s guests also deal with fear on a daily basis but they don’t allow it to stop them from evolving and moving forward in life. We have on the show today the legendary lead singer Bruce Dickinson of the iconic band Iron Maiden and if that wasn’t enough we are also joined Sacha Gervasi, the screenwriter behind Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal and director behind the remarkable film Anvil! The Story of Anvil.  

Bruce is a renaissance man. In addition being a world class singer he is also an accomplished airline pilot, olympic caliber fencer,  radio and television host, best-selling author, beer entrepreneur, and the list goes and on. Fear never stopped Bruce from following his curiosities or evolution in this life.

Sacha and Bruce are currently working on a exciting feature film based on his documentary Scream for Me Sarajevo.

The story of hope in a time of war. Scream for Me Sarajevo is the amazing and astonishing story of the most unlikely of rock concerts, performed by Bruce Dickinson and his band Skunkworks in 1994, in the midst of the Siege of Sarajevo. This is a film about extraordinary people defying the horrors of war, and the musicians who risked their lives to play a show for them.

Bruce, Sacha and I had an amazing conversation about breaking through fear, where does inspiration and art come from and how they both continue to grow as people, artists and souls. BTW, we will be doing a deep dive into Sacha’s amazing life in a future episode as well. Enjoy and rock on!

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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 005

Alex Ferrari 0:12
How did Iron Maiden start? How did you get into being the lead vocalist of Iron Maiden?

Bruce Dickinson 0:17
Well, I was hired. I mean, to put it bluntly, I mean, because the band started in 1975. And so I didn't join till like 1980. Okay, from 1975 and 1980, the band was the equivalent of a revolving door, in terms of people coming in people going out there were like, however many lead singers and they, but cutting a long story short 1979 their first album came out was a instant success. And then they did the second album killer, that was an instant success. I was in a band in parallel to them, called Samson, which is where Sasha used to bump into me going to sort of like late night clip joints, you know, in SoHo in in Wardour Street, and I

Sacha Gervasi 1:10
And was 15 and he was a rock star.

Bruce Dickinson 1:14
You know, I mean, you know, I mean, so, we were doing all this kind of stuff. And basically, most of the bands, you know, the angles to Samson's, the Iron Maidens, whoever it was Saxon cylinders ever. All these bands knew each other, we all toured together, we all kind of hung out together a little bit. And some became more successful than others. I made him become became top of the pile. And we're doing best and doing really well in festivals, things like that. All the rest of the big theaters, European tours, world tours, which America came back, went back to America again, all this stuff. The band, I was in Samson, we did three albums, and we had an intimate knowledge of every toilet in UK in which it was big enough to play concert. So, so we didn't really go anywhere. But maybe we're going to fire their vocalist, and they were looking for a new one. And they knew me because we had the same drummer and he joined it was over incestuous. And so they basically asked me did I fancy coming for an audition, to see if I was on the job. And this is very strange, because that the manager guy called rod Smallwood, who's a very intimidating, you know, grumpy guy, his entire life's work is I made man still is. So he's not. This is a guy that got an award. I actually had to give like the speech, and we're sitting at a dinner. So I'll tell you, this is who rod is. And he gets given the award, an award for being like, best manager on the planet, at convention of managers all over the place. So we sat at this dinner, and he's next to me, and I'm sort of like scribbling little note down a bit of paper. And he goes, What are you writing? I said, nothing, nothing, nothing. Nothing. He goes, I'm bloody hate these dinners. I hate these. Anybody I've never are just so all these repellent. People just think they're so rude. Ask. I'm thinking he's gonna get the award in a minute. You know, he said, What are you writing with? Nothing, nothing. Nothing, nothing. And then this guy comes up to him and says, you know, you know, hey, Mr. Smallwood. I'm a huge admirer of you. And I really admire your work and your dedication and your visit. And he just turned to the guy went, Oh, the fuck are you? I'm ago when I you know, I mean, I, you know, he said, he said, You think I'm in the music business, don't you? And the guy went, Well, yeah. He said, I'm not in the music business. I manage. I'm fucking made now. Right. Honestly, if you've seen death of Stalin, Stalin, Marshall juja kowski in death of Stalin, that is Rod Smallwood. You know, I mean, so So anyway, so this is this guy. And, and he invites, I've just done a show the Samson at Reading Festival. Okay, not headlining, but halfway up on a Saturday. In the audience is this guy, Rod. And Steve, who's the guy that started the band. That's kind of his band. He's, you know, so Steve Harris, Steve Harris. Yeah. So Steve is is watching the performance and goes I told you look, these good guy, you know, you should get this guy. This is what we want and rose up. Well, I don't I'm not convinced. So I'm summoned to his hotel room that evening, after you know, we've had a few beers and he's just getting on to talk to you about something sits me down and goes, I'm offering you the chance to audition for Iron Maiden. Now I have no idea how my 20 year old self came up with the song chutzpah to open my mouth and say what I did say. And I said, Well, let's not about the bush, shall we? Because you're not really offering me the job because you know, I'll get it. I said, so my question to you is not Do you want me? It's not it's not do I want to be an Iron Maiden, it's whether or not the band are actually going to be able to tolerate what I'm going to be like, when I get in. I made me I said, because I'm not going to be the same like the old guy, if what you want is some little guy to just be nice turn up and not have any opinions. Find somebody else, cuz I got a lot of ideas, I've got a lot of things I'd like to change around. And I'm sure people are not going to be happy. But if what you want is not that Then find somebody else.

Alex Ferrari 5:55
It's pretty self aware for 20 year old

Bruce Dickinson 5:57
And he went

Alex Ferrari 6:02
I like this guy

Bruce Dickinson 6:02
And then turn them down. And so that was that and we did go and have a you know, like a audition or they didn't feel like it. You know, we just went and ended up singing all the maiden songs and then all the songs from bands that we liked as well. We covered all those because we had so many points to come back. And and that was and that was it. And the rest is kind of history at all went

Sacha Gervasi 6:36
Can I also come to the fans point of view, Simon 50 year old fan, and I Aidan, her blown up Bruce, you're very well known singer in Samson. And it's a very big high profile story that he's left Samson to join I made in the previous Singapore pianos left. Everyone liked. It was a bit of a punk but the books you know, some people loved it, other people didn't. When I went to see Bruce fronting Iron Maiden at the Hammersmith Odeon. In about 1981 or two it would have been remember, they used to call Bruce the siren. They still do the air raid siren. Yeah, his voice shook the Hammersmith fucking Odeon. Like it was

Bruce Dickinson 7:14
This amount of assistance from a microphone and like,

Sacha Gervasi 7:17
No but it was like, What is this guy with that band? And it was like, to kind of incredible kind of superheroes coming together

Bruce Dickinson 7:27
That actually it's very interesting to the propaganda, that thing that the, the, the, the manager had this big thing. And on the back of every album, everybody had to have some kind of nickname. So nobody was ever right. You know, Fred, Bruce, verse something blocks, right? If they. So in my case, he said, Oh, well, we'll call you. And somebody had written a letter to a music paper saying that they'd see me in my inaugural gig in the Rainbow Theatre in London when we introduced me as it were. And it was a letter saying, this is the most awful thing I've ever seen. It was awful. It was a travesty. I hate the new singer. He sounds like a cross between a cement mixer and an air raid siren. And I'd rather just repurpose that the human air raid siren you know

Alex Ferrari 8:26
That's branding. That's branding, that's for sure. Now, that's going into brand new really quickly, who came up with Eddie the head? Because that was such an amazing image that imagery. I mean, I was I was like, what an ad I was in first, second, third grade. And, you know, you would see these images of this of Eddie the head just like, and for people not understanding what the 80s were like. I mean, that was was, you know, terrifying for a lot of, you know, because heavy metal was the devil's music, obviously. And all of that stuff that was going on. Yeah.

Bruce Dickinson 8:57
I mean, I've said, so. This is really lost in the mists of time. Like, like most things, you know, no one person has the, you know, the light bulb moment and says, Yep, I'm going to give you the whole thing. There you go all in a plate. Here's Edie. Here's your concept. Dadadada da know, what happens is one or two events happen. And somebody goes, Oh, hang on a minute. If we put this together with that, we've got this, which is how Eddie Eddie was invented. So running through it well, manager rod, saw the band in the early days, very early days, way before me when they were playing pubs. And they literally had like, you know, little wooden crates with lights in them and things like that. They somehow managed to acquire a kabuki mask, right Japanese Kabuki mask over the head of the drummer. With a hole in the mouth, through which they piped at some point during the song I made, I think it was smoke came out of the mouth. And I think a bit of blood came down and it was like, you know, super, super cheap, you know, like high school high school lotto stuff, right? That was it. And that was cool because they're all from largely from East London. So as you know, from the long Good Friday, which name checked by Sasha picked for me something that I don't remember murder when he talked, they just talked about this all the time, which is why everybody has subtitles for people from the east London when you have to do interviews with CNN, right? They so that the whole thing about Eddie was he was known as the Kabuki mask. He wasn't called the Kabuki mask. It was called the head. No, ah, the head. So we're gonna have the edge flashing in the minute bar and then smoked in the come out, right. So that was the AED. Now. Rod comes along, sees that and goes, the mask the masks kind of cool. Yeah. Now remember, now, Roger rugby player. He plays in his rugby team. Club rugby. I think one of these buddies at the Rugby Club, knows that rod is into music. And he goes, You know, I don't know. I've got this guy works in my office. He draws all these weird pictures and stuff for now. And Styrofoam. I don't know. Is it any good? I don't know. What do you think you're in this kind of world? It's this guy, Derek Riggs, who is the artist that originally draws, Eddie. But of course to Eddie is like the mask or rods putting together basically the whole concept of an A an existence, if you like a primal force, because that's what's in the pictures. Now you have a mask with a primal force, we created a mask. An actual fact in the early days, you know, a roadie would put on the mask, a wander out with it with a with a lap with a light shining it on the audience go like that. Then, then we go further down the road. And our lighting director had been to an Opera Festival, blind born, I think it was anyway, they had giants on stage. And there were guys, you know, in in contraptions that made these giant monsters walking around. It goes to the eyes and said, Could you build me a giant that looks like this. And that was the first time we ever had a giant walk on Monster Edie, and I'll never forget that the moment when they they unveiled it and the roller shutter kind of came up in the in the theater, we're all standing there going, Oh, my God, you know, and that just blew the doors of people's minds when they saw that on stuff. And we've continued to do that, you know, ever since. But Eddie's acquired this entire existence because of course, you can place him in any, in any in any period, you know. So we, we had a whole visual pun where the top of his head was shaved and sutured back on like Frankenstein is in a padded cell piece of Pac of mine. And we get people saying, Oh, dude, was it he had a haircut? Oliver be like, Oh, you see, it's like, oh, fuck if we have to explain it. Let's move on, then Ancient Egypt. Yeah, let's put it in ancient Egypt. Like, bang, boom, you know, then we had a kind of homage to Blade Runner on the next one. And that was the inspiration for the lighting rig was Blade Runner. So and we had a lot of spinal tap moments with inflatables, that weren't very advanced technology at the time. So we had the deflated Apollo and Astro astronaut flying above everybody's heads looking like a like a very sad condom. You know, I mean,

Alex Ferrari 14:17
You read my mind. You read my mind. I was thinking I like to present like a sad condom

Bruce Dickinson 14:22
On this somewhere in time, too, which is? Yeah, that's, that's the one we had. I want the stage out there, which is best described as something I designed was the balance of my mind was disturbed. We had these big, hydraulic hands that came up on platforms, you could stand in each hand and of course, the hand plate like this big claws coming up, Eddie. So the whole stage became a giant giant Eddy as the head came up like a big deal, you know? All great, except that again, Early technology, you know, unfortunately, you know, the big head came up and look sometimes dependable dependent upon the voltage, you know, going into the pumps, it would sometimes look a little bit like a, like a bin liner. Or alternatively, the hands would come up and would come up like, Oh, I'm supposed to do this, and instead it would just go like that. And then you would wait. And they're like, Okay, fine. Yeah, that's kind of funny, you know? So we all see Spinal Tap, which we all thought was very funny, because it was actually quite real.

Alex Ferrari 15:38
Did you put the question is did you? Did you put it up to 11? That's the question. Did you ever put it up to 11?

Bruce Dickinson 15:44
You put it up to 11. Yeah, I mean, although they, the roadies used to put it up to 11. Did marking 11. And little

Alex Ferrari 15:56
They did like they did right. That's a thing. Right? They actually,

Bruce Dickinson 15:59
Because we really loved that film. Yeah. The other thing we we pissed us off about the film was that people thought that we didn't get it. You know, people were asking us questions. Like, did you think Spinal Tap was funny? Yeah. You know, and some people would, you know, obviously had such a minimal sense of humor. And they were so serious about everything that we're just like, Oh, my God, they think it's funny, you know, but then you get the other side of it, you know, which, which are all those sort of, like, New Wave II type, you know, people who would go you know, oh, that had those heavy metal people. That's as stupid as a moronic you know, they just Spinal Tap was so clever. Or they think is funny, too. Well, just, yeah, well, we're better than you are. But I'm assuming Glastonbury. Oh, we won't know.

Alex Ferrari 16:56
So the hipsters hipsters of their day.

Sacha Gervasi 16:58
Ooh, you gotta understand when I was in school recently, there was a lot of people look down their noses at metal right. I was a massive fan. I would go to the marquee I was lucky enough to see an incredible amount of bands I've got to Hammersmith Odeon see made and by the way, see maiden live particularly as a 15 year old but at any age. It's like a jet landing on your head. It is so loud and so powerful and so intense. Right? And it's you know, as anyone it's just makes a massive impression on you. I would go back to school. They would laugh at me. I've had

Bruce Dickinson 17:28
I've had implants put in now. So then you could do that prepare for implants.

Sacha Gervasi 17:33
So you could be more metal so he could be more metal.

Bruce Dickinson 17:34
I yeah, I know. I have. It's it's actually it's actually it's actually a new hip. Yes. But but it is therefore heavy man never nearly was so I've got I got six inches of titanium hammered into me. Do you know how serious

Alex Ferrari 17:51
It is pure metal. It is pure metal.

Sacha Gervasi 17:54
Very quick related anvil story. This is a true story. When anvil came out in 2008. Nine, it was the 20th anniversary or 25th anniversary actually of spinal tap. Okay. And Spinal Tap were doing the interview circuit anvil was around and they said whatever you do, do not ask about anvil. We do not want to hear about anvil. Don't ask them any questions. They lost their sense of humor. So they wouldn't do anything. So MTV which bought anvil in the end right MTV, which a new VH one was poor anvil. They thought Fuck it. We're gonna ask Spinal Tap about anvil. And so I have the video footage of when the MTV journalist brings up anvil which they've specifically said do not mention. And the reporter goes so Nigel Nigel tacos, find out what do you think of anvil, and it goes it's like being crushed by a giant piece of art. Great, that angry, but I love that spinal tap lost their sense of.

Bruce Dickinson 18:52
Exactly. Exactly. You know what,

Alex Ferrari 18:54
That's absolutely brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Now,

Bruce Dickinson 18:58
That's the danger of assuming that you're, you know, your superior species because you can laugh at other people. You know, I mean, it's, it's just just yourself the whole time.

Alex Ferrari 19:09
I think at one point in our lives, we are the ones laughing and many parts of our lives. They're laughing at us. And that's just the way the world goes

Bruce Dickinson 19:17
That's life, you know, if everybody could accept that there wouldn't be any more people fighting each other. We just be laughing at each other falling over.

Alex Ferrari 19:25
We're just trying to fit we're just all trying to figure this out. Man. This is this is a heavy look. This entire thing called life is a pretty heavy trip. You know, we're trying to just deal with it on a mental level, you know, spiritual level.

Bruce Dickinson 19:38
Just Just when you think you've got it figured out. Dead you know

Alex Ferrari 19:45
You know, I think I

Sacha Gervasi 19:47
Thank you for this message of hope from Iron Maiden tonight. Ladies, gentlemen.

Alex Ferrari 19:52
Just when you figure out life The Reaper comes for you.

Bruce Dickinson 19:59
You know, we are well educated chimpanzees with iPads and nuclear weapons, you know, and we haven't really evolved that much. Right. That's all our technology has, you know, so I mean, you know, it's, it means you can keep on making movies forever, because we keep on making the same stupid mistakes, you know?

Alex Ferrari 20:20
Absolutely, absolutely. Now, I mean, so when I was doing research on you, Bruce, I mean, from beer to your own radio show, to being a pilot, I mean, I mean, I can't What do I start?

Sacha Gervasi 20:36
Forget the fencing,His in a fencing team,

Alex Ferrari 20:40
So he's a fence, you're a fencer, as well, I mean, you are, you're very, you're obviously a unique soul. And you're, you're trying to try a lot of different things. Because a lot of people, a lot of people on this planet, we like, I'm the head of, I'm the lead singer of Iron Maiden, I'm good. I'm good. I don't got to do anything else. For the rest of I'm solid, I'm solid. But you constantly are always searching and looking and experiment, what brings you to do all these other things.

Bruce Dickinson 21:10
I'm, I'm just curious about how they work. I want to and the only way to find out how something really works, is to internalize it. And by internalize it, what I mean is, it's very easy to be superficial, about something, not a bad thing, being superficial. It's just like, I take an interest in blah, and I do it for one day, a week for an hour and a half. And, you know, I'm never really be any good at it, because you can't be any good at it. If that's all you do. It's my hobby, and then I'll give it up, find another hobby, and blah, blah, blah. And that's great. But that pisses me off. I mean, me, other people were fine, whatever, whatever, you know, I'm not going to condemn other people for doing what they do. But it seems to me to be pointless to invest your time in things that which you are not really passionate about. So the alternative is to be passionate about everything you do in some way. Which means that, you know, you end up having to make commitments because that, that passion means there's a constant thirst to want to know more. What does this what makes this beast tick? Right? What does it really like to be in, for example, you know, when I learned to fly, I started learning to fly and doing little Chugga boom, airplanes and right, okay, great. Lots of musicians learn to fly, lots of actors learn to fly. And then it don't move, I thought would be really nice to go and fly myself around to some gigs, then it becomes more complicated because you got to actually get there and dependent on the weather and you got to have more qualifications and blah, blah, blah. We're shooting of a kind of a not exactly a documentary. So it was a TV special that we did with an illusionist, right guy called Simon Drake. So Madan are shooting this thing, and he comes on he does some like, you know, magic type stuff. So we're filming and filming and filming. And the Module Manager comes up to me and says, Oh, the lighting camera man you like a chat with him because he's a pilot too. I went, Oh, okay. So I go up and I say hey, how you doing? I fly little airplanes. He shows up. And he's Scottish Scottish guy and he was very abrupt and nibs like always. You know? Busy, busy. Busy. Oh, just oh, what kind of lessons you got pulled it out? Oh, no. What are those? Nice. What's that? commercial pilot's license plates? You're gonna take some car parts. Gentlemen tonight. I'll see you tomorrow. I know. Actually, I can relate to your lighting camera man for film stuff. He goes yet but in the evening, I fly car parks to Germany back for a cargo company. And I'm just like, pilots are actually a little bit strange. So I I started getting my airline pilots qualifications. Yeah. And I became an American flight instructor as well while I was at it, when I still had two sets of licenses going. And then finally I got to the point where I thought there's so much more to learn here. The only way to learn this to, to dig really deep is to get a job and actually be a professional pilot, obviously. Okay? And not being John Travolta and being unable to afford to buy my own jet. I thought I got to get a job and fly somebody else's. So, believe it or not, that's what happened by a series of chance and happenstance. And in much the same way that I ended up getting a job in Iron Maiden was actually how I ended up getting a job in an airline. So I worked as an airline pilot, six and a half, 1000 hours over it for nearly 15 years. Flying 750 sevens, 730, sevens, and, eventually, a seven.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
But you were still in maiden.

Bruce Dickinson 25:56
Yeah, I used to take unpaid leave. So I could go on tour.

Alex Ferrari 26:05
I can't I'd like, what do you? What do you say? What do you say? What do you say about that? I don't even and that's not even including? I mean, I mean, it's okay. So and that's, and then you of course, have a Discovery Channel show. You know, flying Heavy Metal, then you have your own radio show on the BBC for a few years as well. Right, yeah. And then you started a beer company?

Bruce Dickinson 26:33
Well, we brew, we were up to over 30 million pints now a trooper. And so it just done quite well. But yeah, something I love, but I do the things you love, do the things you love that you're passionate about, you know. And so I kind of created the flavor profile of the first beer we did. And I have a big say in all of them now. And we have a whole bunch of stuff. I mean, there's one guy we launched in America soon, which is, I think, gonna be quite exciting. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 27:04
So the thing is, one thing I've noticed about you, Bruce, is that a lot of musicians and we've all heard the stories of the broke musicians who can't make a living and are you know, washed up and they never figured out like a business. You have a very entrepreneurial side, I mean, made in the merch for Maidan is is legendary. I mean, you guys still are selling merch, like out the door, I'm assuming right?

Bruce Dickinson 27:28
Now, the merch is huge. But like, like all things. I mean, maybe world is its own, maybe world is its own its own world, it's got its own parameters, its own internal things in terms of like, when you talk about from a, you know, a business perspective on this, there is a business perspective, we try as a band, we kind of exclude ourselves from that. When you have to, when you have to create something, it has to you have to be pure, you can't artificially shoehorn in concepts, just because some marketing guys whispered in your ear eggs, it'd be a really good idea if you wrote a song about a pair of sneakers, you know, I mean, you know, I mean, they're all so that they would do that sort of thing, but but not us. So, so we tried to just cordon off that, that, that that business thing, and put ourselves in a bubble, whenever we go and create, we have no idea what's going on in the outside world. During during that period. It's kind of a magic time. Really. It's so you need to go back to being having a childish enthusiasm for things. I think all of us need to do that. I mean, that's, that's actually part of, of every creative act. But I mean, and moving on from from music, I mean, uh, moving on for music to film, and storytelling, storytelling. I started out, not, not really ever imagining that I could be a musician. I started out on stages, because I was really into every school play and everything and bah, bah, blah. And then I went on to my next school, which is where I fought, saw my first rock concerts and directed some things did some street theater did all kinds of bonds. I would have been a terrible actor, right? Because I would I could never, ever take it quite seriously enough. And I was always like, sort of like ad libbing and people don't know that's not a lie. And you know, like, you know, you know, alas, Paul Godfrey, I knew him. Well. Not not Godfrey. You're right. So so then I started, I don't want it to be a drummer. And the reason I wanted to be a drummer was because to me a drummer was it was this kinetic energy the drummer had, but at the same time I saw somebody like Keith Moon as almost being a frontman, at the same time. Anyway, I couldn't figure out how to get a drum kit past my parents without explaining it was a lot of big dustbins. And I was a very tidy sort of chap, which I wasn't. So then I discovered purely by accident that I could sing a little bit. I thought, ah, singing, singing, and I thought, what, what, obviously, I was inspired by a lot of bands. But I came up with the idea, bit like the marquee to sad, right? The marquee decide was locked up for most of his life, and wrote his madness down on a piece of toilet paper. That's how all as crazy stuff was written. Because in this febrile fevered state, he had no access, he was completely cut off. So he invented this crazy world. In much the same way, I didn't get to see any of the bands that I admired, brought up because I was at a boarding school. And so I missed out on Zeppelin and purple and Sabbath and never saw any of them. So I invented what I thought they did on stage. And what they actually did was, when I first saw them in real life, afterwards, I went, That's it, they just, they just, they don't fly through the air, they're not doing cartwheels. They're not being in that one. That's it, you know, and I was like, I can't be like that I have to be like, you know, throw shapes and, and tell stories. And the way I think about music, whenever I'm singing lyrics, or, you know, whatever it is, I, I'm closing my eyes. And there's a movie going on in my head. And all I'm describing with the, with the tune, I'm describing the movie. And I create that movie for every single song. So I can argue there's actually a long form video for every Iron Maiden song I've ever sung. And it exists in my head. And that's what the story that you're giving to the audience. And for me, it's, it's not acting is performing. But there's elements of it, which are similar. Because when you look at a screen actor, that's very charismatic. You want to know, what's going on in that person's head in their soul? Does it matter what he says? Or she says? You're thinking, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why, why I want to go deeper into what makes you who you are. And that backstory going on is what I think separates some bands from other bands,

Alex Ferrari 33:27
And some actors from other actors.

Bruce Dickinson 33:29
Yeah, because because, yeah, anybody can stand up and sing the words. But singing the woods with meaning and something when people look at somebody and go, Wow, where, where? Where are you? Where are you? Where is that guy? He's somewhere else when he's singing those words, where are you, I want to know where you are. And that's what draws people in. So use started from that perspective, and then therefore, everything becomes story related.

Sacha Gervasi 34:03
So as I mentioned, one thing, there's a maiden song of number of the beast called Hallowed be thy name. And it's all from the perspective of a man in a cell on his own, who's about to be hung up or executed or guilty or whatever, at 5am. And he's thinking about his life. And the way when I remember seeing Madan, Bruce perform that song on that tour, I think in 83, and it was like a theatrical performance. Bruce stands on the stage and he becomes that man, and it sends chills three organs it's not just the music and the song. It's the whole character of the man about to die

Bruce Dickinson 34:37
And that's a really easy to do as well. Right.

Alex Ferrari 34:43
So Bruce, though, when you're when you're creating because that's that's creation, I mean, that is absolutely creation when you're up there and you're creating these things. I touched on this with Sasha in our interview in regards to the almost channeling allowing it to flow through you from some other source. It I think what two things one, I think you're becoming very open and transparent about where you are. So you're letting people see inside of you, when you're going through that we're in any part of the creative process. But do you? I mean, do you believe that there's something that you're kind of like bringing in through you, and that you're just basically a vessel at that point in the game, it's very much like a writer does or an actor does. Or

Bruce Dickinson 35:23
Totally, I mean, you know, you're not, you're not in total control of what's going on. But you are a reflector. By that, I mean that, you know, you take, you know, 15,000 people in a stadium 30,000 40,000, I mean, and you have to, you have to take that energy, absorb it, and reflect it back in the right way. Which is one reason why I, you know, after coming off, off off stage, and I've done obviously, all kinds of different performances, the, the, the, I've actually performed to one person, right. Pub somewhere, and, and we went onstage, not not in Iron Maiden. And there was one guy in the pub in a ballroom, and he got a chair and put it in the middle of the ballroom and sat on the chair.

Alex Ferrari 36:25
Oh, my God. So I was like, I paid my ticket, entertain me.

Bruce Dickinson 36:29
I'm gonna say this. So we go, and then we start running around, I thought, you know, we, you know what, there has to be a way of, of doing this. So I went, I went over to the bar and bought the guy drink. And I came back. And I said, and we stopped one of the songs and I said, Listen, I want you to have this beer, I said, just tells you know, that we really care about you. And we're going to do this all just for you. And then we will relaxed. And because this uses so many bands, and they go out. And they want to be like Madison Square Gardens, but you're not in Madison Square Gardens do. So they come on, and they go Hello, clean. What is he looking at? You know, some of the best advice I ever got was from England from the purple. And he said, front row, look him in the eyes and minute. And, and the human eyeball carries. So well, you know, from the screen, you know, the eyes have so much power. And it's incredible. I mean, the, you know, you stare at some females, but she's 100 yards away. I guarantee you, she's gonna turn around and go, Who the fuck are you staring at my ass. Because the programmed to, to detect that. And so if you can throw that, that if you have the ability to project that I say it's like having a balloon in your head, that you you inflate to fill the room. And as you get more practiced, you find it easier to inflate your balloon. And by the time you get to a stadium, you can inflate your balloon to encompass the entire stadium. And then you come off stage at the at the end of it. And you have to somehow find the mechanism to stick a pin in it and have a go.

Alex Ferrari 38:34
Because you can't keep it going.

Bruce Dickinson 38:36
Because Because you help you kind of get through the door with a balloon that size right! You just have to find a mechanism to come down.

Alex Ferrari 38:46
Yeah. How like what is that mechanism for you? Because I can imagine like playing in front of 1000s 10s of 1000s of people and you're in this arena you do it night after night after night. When you when you cut off like okay good night and you walk backstage you just like oh,

Sacha Gervasi 39:01
Can I also like I saw Maidan and Bruce do a show in rockin Rio. Right was 100

Bruce Dickinson 39:07
No

Sacha Gervasi 39:08
300,000 People

Alex Ferrari 39:14
There's very few people. But there's very few people in the in the world who will ever stand in front of that kind of that kind of crowd ever. How do you come down from that in a healthy way? Because look, look how many bands have been destroyed? Because they can't get off that high?

Bruce Dickinson 39:30
Yeah, so so the answer is how do you come down from 300,000 people? Well, the short answer on that particular instance is you don't I was always I was I was still up at 6am hadn't gone to bed at all. And I went out. We've been kind of in prisoners in our hotel because the whole place was under siege from all the fans like proper Beatlemania. Not just as it was all the other bands cheerful hotel And so we went, I went out on on, I guess it was Copacabana beach in Rio. And there was nobody there. I mean, everybody was at the festival, and then nobody on the beach, and it was 6am. And the sun was up, and it was just getting nice and roasty. So I went out onto the beach, and I sat down on the beach, and I look to my left, and there was Brian May from Queen doing exactly the same thing. He hadn't been to bed either, you know, and because they went on afterwards. And so that that was a fairly extreme example, but you cannot tolerate that you do you do implode, you have to find a mechanism to deal with it. Now, in my case, I got to I have a routine. So enter the show. off stage, we normally leave straightaway. So we've got a car journey. And then it probably in this case, nowadays we go by aeroplane because we can afford to or the old days it would have been a bus. But either way on there, chill out. Two hours, three hours, gets in the hotel room, I've still got another you know, hour and a half of sitting up watching rubbish late night TV, take a really long shower for like an hour, just you know, just just sit there and just drip. And then finally go to bed. And try and make sure that your hotel room has blackout curtains because I want the fall, I want the full eight, nine hours, you know. And that's it. And then just get up slowly. You have to live a bit like a monk if you're a singer, because you can't be going going blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah all the time because you could rest your voice etc. Boring, but true. And that's how you deal with it. And I go to the show, and I have a routine. And you know I do this I that I do that I go and have a lie down, have a snooze, I get up, move on we go. And it all is there to serve the one hour 45 One hour 50 That you're on that stage, your entire existence is there to serve that moment.

Sacha Gervasi 42:22
And to serve the audience and to serve you aim is making

Alex Ferrari 42:24
Obviously, yeah, exactly. And but I love when when you said that you're a reflector, because I've never really heard it put that way before, I've always looked at as much more of a conduit like you just come in, and it flows through you. But the way you're looking at it is like well, I have an audience I'm trying to, to service. So the energy comes to me, I in turn, I internalize it and and I shoot it back out. And that way, so it's filled, you're almost the filter essentially coming out.

Bruce Dickinson 42:51
If you if you if you try and take on that energy, and puff yourself up with it. Yeah, you end that you you will end up exploding, you know, because you can't encompass all of it it you know, and no amount of have taken strange chemicals to make your mental state even more agitated will be able to control it at all. So the you have to get a mechanism, having it come down. And the best thing, of course, is if your motivation is pure, because if your motivation is pure, in other words, you're just serving the story you're serving the music is serving the audience. That's that's that's pure that. So actually, you're not conflicted? It's not your it's not your ego. Yeah, we've all got egos, okay, without will fold up and collapse in a blob on the floor. But it's not you're not going on there going. I am here because I am. But no, I am here because I have some great stories to tell you. And I want to see your faces react. And I'm going to throw that back at you. You know, just to know that you know that we know that you're there. So it's a two way street. The guy that first said reflected to me was the late great music producer Martin birch. And I won't go into his disturb discography we'd be here all night. But he was just astonishing. And he was a childhood hero of mine. And I ended up making records with him. And he turned around my my head in terms of singing because I thought I was a pretty good singer. Till I met Martin. And then I realized there was a whole nother level of meaning. I'll give you an example. So I'm doing a song 666 Number, the beast, right. And it starts off with some kind of whispered spooky lines, I left it alone. My mind was blank. I needed time to think to get the memories from my mind, right? And I go and say, Yeah, I could sing that Jesus, like blow down on epsilon, my mind was like, you know, and, and I go in and I deliver the lines. He goes, Yeah. Do again. I said, what's their attitude? What time what he is noticing I'm here. We went around for a couple of hours. And I'm thinking, can we just get on with the rest of this song? I'm just really fed up with singing these first two lines. And I ended up throwing a chair across the studio and getting really angry and like, what do you know? And he came in and he said, we're going to come back to come back and do this tomorrow. I mean, what, what, what? And he goes, Yeah, it goes, let me tell you a story about that. Donna's great singer, Ronnie James Dio, that he worked with Ronnie did an album with him called Heaven and Hell. And he said to me, he said, you know, he said the same problem with Ronnie. I mean, really, the guy's one of the Great's of all time. And he goes, Yeah, he said, but, you know, the, the opening lines to the title track heaven, and hell are, you know, sing me a song you're saying, right? That's my Ronnie impression when he came along and sang the words, and he said, No, no, no, I don't hear when you guys were Muslim, this time? Don't do this. You know, what I don't hear? Is that your singer? Right, running? Around to go? Yeah, he said, so this is your entire life? In two lines? What it was like, Yeah, I don't do that. Right. And it's, I don't know how you do it. You just You just have to surrender and not even think about it. And in the end, that's what happened with with number the beast. And he was right. Goddamnit. You know, that's the, you know, not infuriating thing. That's the moment of enlightenment when you go, Oh, my God, I think I'm beginning to get it.

Sacha Gervasi 47:22
You know, you're talking about a level of commitment and the level of

Bruce Dickinson 47:26
It's a level of, of, of your channeling something. The words, the notes, and the words are stuff that anybody can do. That's karaoke singing. But it's when you go to the level of what your subconscious is doing. And you can't control that. You can't go, hey, hey, subconscious, you know, you know, hey, subconscious, the devil gave us to you. And you can't control that, you have to kind of open it out and just go think of nothing. And then seeing the lines, I really hard to do infuriate to do a one year once you once you're into it, you're on a roll. And you don't have to worry about it. But Martin to go back to the original thing, the original thing about reflectors, Martin had a bee in his bonnet about a quite a lot of other producers. And some producers who we thought were just awesome. And the main difference was, and there was one producer in particular, I won't name him because you know, but basically, the kind of producer that would turn up and say to a band, okay, so we're going to make a record. So you just hang around for a while. And I'll make a record. And I'll bring in all these guys. And then you can come in and play a few bits that I'll tell you what to play. And then that will be your record and it will be a huge success. And you know what, it probably is a Martin despise those people. So because he would, he would work only with bands who we thought have character and integrity, and were worth something and were different. And he said some producers are like puppet masters. They turn up and I guess it's like directors in movies, some directors or Puppet Masters. Hey, everybody does illustrate everybody down to the string you to that you'd have that on God. Right. And some directors and some producers just hold up a mirror to the script and the situation and the actors and go your movie. This this this artist. What you see is real is what you get. Well, that's it. And if you hold up the mirror and the stuff in the mirror is crap, then it's a GRANT movie, you know, so, you know, yeah.

Sacha Gervasi 50:04
Just applying to kind of screenwriting and filmmaking. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 50:09
And any endeavor.

Sacha Gervasi 50:12
Like it's really interesting like, even as a writer, the best directors I've worked with obviously watching Steven Spielberg work or, you know, the other Andrew Niccol all the different people that I've worked with, the best directors say very little. They just witness the emotional events that are unfolding before them. And they do a little bit of directing.

Alex Ferrari 50:34
I'll tell you, I'll tell you a quick story. I'll tell you a quick, I'll tell you a quick Steven Spielberg story. I had Ed burns on the other day on the show. And he was on Saving Private Ryan. And for the first two weeks, the entire that whole young cast with Tom, you know, that had you know, Vin Diesel and all these other amazing actors. Steven never gave anybody direction. And these were all young actors, so they were very insecure. And then finally, on the 15th day, they do a scene and Steven goes, I know, you got to do this, this and this. And then at lunch, they all walk up to him and go Steven, why? Why today? Did you give us the things because because you weren't being honest, you weren't being true. You were being raw. I didn't say anything, because I didn't need to because you guys were tuned in. But the second you got out of tune. I went in there and tweaked it

Bruce Dickinson 51:24
As a great producer. I mean, great. Music producer is exactly. Exactly that, you know. So yeah, so So you that's the there's always an internal story. Trying to get out, if you let it, you know, and that's goes to the same I mean, obviously, we I did some getting around to script writing. I mean, my my adventures in script writing came with a startup with a film called The chemical wedding. And so we made a basically we I got to know a guy called Julian Doyle, who is the editor for all the Python films. Life of Brian, he did ZIL, he did all that stuff, right. And he was secondary director. So he used to finish a lot of the movies. So all the dinero sequence and everything in Brazil, that was all directed by Julian because Terry was sick and so on and so forth. And he was kind of like the film guru for Python. So he did a video for us called cannot play with madness, and we got one of the Monty Python's in it. And I got sick. I was putting chatting to Julian, and he said, you know, he maybe should do a movie. I went, Yeah, but that's never gonna happen. Because, you know, wrote The Punisher and I'm really not sure how we would work it. No, no, no, no, no, I said, but there is a guy that nobody's ever done a movie about this peripherally, you know. And that's this crazy, whacked out, culturally significant black magician called Alister Crowley. Right? Who created the do what thou wilt and basically had his identity stolen by anto at San Anton zand, all of a church of Satan. They will just copied Crowley. He's in numerous films, and various representations. I said, and he had this crazy whacked out life in involving sexual magic, drugs, meditation, Eastern stuff, you know, and this is in the 1920s and 30s. Jesus, yeah, heavy size. He invented the counterculture. That's why he's on the cover of salt and pepper. Right. So, so we went and started doing this. And I said, Well, I started writing the script. So we started on what I did was adapt to book Somerset more than novelist wrote a book called The magician, which in which one of the characters was based on Crowley, right kind of adapted, looked at it, adapting that book. And we got into about the third or fourth iteration of the of the script. And we sold it to Walter yet Nichols, who was the dead ruthless people, but he was also the head of CBS Records on the sold into Sony. So he started his own production company, and we sold it to him. So I was going up talking films with Walter Yannick off and stuff like that, and hearing his crazy stories, you know, this is all good stuff. And then he decided not to make films so very honorably. He gave us the film back and we had rewrites and I had, I'd had the rewrite experience in which one guy tried to rewrite it in a very bizarre way and then we found out that he hadn't written they'd given it to his buddy to write and then ours. Absolutely, you know. So we went back and I said to Julius, uh, why don't we try and make the damn thing ourselves? God went yeah, yeah. Okay. He said, but we can't afford to do it period. I said, Well, you mean should Well, you know, we can't afford it, we're going to do ourselves period is going to be so expensive. You said, we can't afford to do that, as you will, how are we not going to do period the guy died in 1947. And, and that's when your subconscious works, and you get the little moment you go, unless we bring him back in the present day. So the movie starts in 1947. On the day he dies, okay, and you have to now we have to find a mechanism by which we can bring him back, like Jesus for three days in the first day and say, What do you get up to? You know, that's interesting. So so so so that's the movie. I mean, it we got to, you know, the actor Simon Callow. Yeah, yeah. So calor played Alex to Crowley in it. And the movie has many, many, many, many flaws. But I learned an awful lot about moviemaking an awful lot about directors and an awful lot about, you know, what should or should not have gone in my script. And, you know, I learned an awful lot from that experience made the film on my mom. It's a little it's a curiosity. In in the annals of film, I think

Sacha Gervasi 56:38
Bruce talks about most it's really interesting, because as you as you know, Bruce and I are working together on a project right now. And it's like working with this is not working with a singer in a band is suddenly coming into the world of film. This is working a storyteller and a writer who's made films, and who really understands the rhythms and structures and how they work, which was really, like, completely unexpected, you know, because I break because you're like, you don't Yeah, well, I just didn't really understand how much experience versus

Bruce Dickinson 57:09
750 pages of rewrites on chemical wedding, including starting.

Alex Ferrari 57:15
So that's a film basically a film school, a master's degree in film,

Sacha Gervasi 57:17
But not only that, it's also hundreds of songs. It's also all books. It's also so you know, the storytelling thing is so,develop

Bruce Dickinson 57:25
What gets me I actually think that if you're involved in putting words on paper, butchering or otherwise, I think that screenplay writing is the toughest discipline of by a while, because I've written an autobiography. I've written two comic novels, I've written songs, write writing books, is an awful lot of perspiration, and about 10% inspiration. Because that's the truth. Whereas screenwriting, is 100% inspiration, and 100% perspiration. Because to get that 100% inspiration, you just have to grind through it and refine and cut and cut and cut, you know,

Alex Ferrari 58:22
And, and stick it into this little box. That is the platform and the format of like, you know, description, you can't just write five pages on how the house smells. You have to say that in a word.

Bruce Dickinson 58:35
Some famous sculptor,

Alex Ferrari 58:38
Michelangelo, I think it was

Bruce Dickinson 58:40
About the sculptor,

Sacha Gervasi 58:44
He hacks away what's not the statue?

Alex Ferrari 58:46
Yeah, you're right.

Bruce Dickinson 58:49
I read that quote. And I was just like, yes, yes, that's exactly what you that's what you do when you when you're trying to write a screenplay.

Sacha Gervasi 58:57
We all know, if we read a script, we know within 10 to 15 pages. It's brutal, like, you know, immediately have they distilled it down to its essence. Is it the essence of what it needs to be? How is it dramatized? You know, it's brutal, I think Bruce is right.

Alex Ferrari 59:14
I always say it's other than a haiku is probably one of the most difficult things like it actually took us.

Bruce Dickinson 59:20
So we have things we're working on at the moment. I mean, I did, bizarrely, I mean, I was actually when, because I, the last time I started thinking about doing anything movie wise was back in that script I gave you that gave to Yeah, there we go. And that was what 2010 or something like that. So basically, I'd put all the scripts stuff and put it all in a drawer and go on. Okay, forget don't bump into Sasha again, purely by chance. Who says

Alex Ferrari 59:53
Not by chance, not by chance, There's a there's a reason.

Sacha Gervasi 59:58
Let me just get Just a very brief background. Okay, so I'm a 15 year old heavy metal fan 15. And I meet this guy called the right honorable Phil Harvey. He was an English aristocrat. He was known as the Lord of metal. Now this guy was a total drug taking lunatic, right? And he used to have these parties at his muse house in Malibu, in Clark's muse, and at these parties, you would see members of Twisted Sister members of Thin Lizzy, Phil, you know, all these crazy people will be there, an anvil, who I knew, took me and introduced me to Phil and he knew so the first time I met Bruce, and he doesn't remember because he was a rock star. And I was, I was thrown into the back of a Jeep that Phil Harvey, the writer had come from Zanzibar on safari driven it into London. So I'm this little freakish, 15 year old kid in the back of the Jeep, and there's Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, and ever having a chat with him. So I met him as a fan. He doesn't remember but I remember because I met Bruce. Anyway, so we met them, and I'd see made many times. Then years later, when anvil came out, I can't remember how we hooked up. I can't remember. But somehow we were connected through the film. And somehow we ended up in LA me and Bruce going to dinner with Jimmy Caan as in James, kind of The Godfather, and my wife, and we had this rather entertaining dinner. And I remember dropping Bruce back in Santa Monica, we had this crazy. And anyway, whatever, the story about my life, but we had a really, really good time. And Bruce came over to my house and anvil were there but Bruce was I was fascinated with him. And we were talking and I was like, you know, I'm working on if he said, I'm working on a film project, you know, maybe one day we'll produce something together. But you know, like those encounters with people. Sure, we love each other for a few years. Then what happened was this past Christmas, I was sitting around at home a few days after Christmas, I look at BBC Four, which always has the best documentaries and music programs, there's suddenly a documentary called scream for me, Sarajevo is instant. And I was like, fucking how I watched this documentary. And it totally blew me away. And it was so moving, and unexpected, and vital and crazy and insane. And, you know, these these, it's the story of essentially a Bruce and his band at the time, going behind enemy lines under siege into Sarajevo, via the UN and armed transports, etc, to play a rock show for all these young kids who are basically being slaughtered. And who were in a kind of shooting gallery when being there. So I saw that you've got to see the documentary. So I saw the documentary and I thought Bruce was so incredibly it was just like, so moving to me, that he would they would be that insane to do it. And also, how inspiring they were to these kids, you know, Bruce, or something in the country, about, you know, I just only hope that I could be big enough as big as they needed me to be, because. And it was this incredible stories of people coming from the frontlines to attend the show. And, you know, so I thought to myself, fuck, I really want to find a movie. There's a movie, I thought, there's a movie. This is so crazy. And I found Bruce. I don't know how I found it. And we met. And it was like, Okay, we're gonna pick up where we sort of talk 10 years ago, like, yeah, and we just I said, there's a movie here. You're a writer, should we explore it, and we've been working on it. And behind us, you can see the note all the note cards were. But the point being,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:30
Oh, I could see everything. I know the entire story. Now. I mean, come on.

Sacha Gervasi 1:03:34
But like, what I'm saying to you is it's really coming together in credit. It's such an interesting story, and so unexpected. And like, here, I am a 15 year old Iron Maiden fan, right? 40 years later, or whatever, 35 years later, working with one of my heroes on this extraordinary story of his you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:52
But that's, but that's that's basically seems to be your life, Sasha. That's what you do. I mean, I mean, obviously, you've just worked with your heroes, that's just your career.

Bruce Dickinson 1:04:00
The cool thing about the film that we're making, is that it's actually not about me, or about the band. It's that there are more important actors in there are who you follow. And we were they were the excuse for the film.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:20
But I have that. But Bruce, I have to ask you, when I when I heard about when I when I heard about screening from this area, and when and when Sasha told me the whole story behind it. The only question in the back of my head is why in God's green earth would you go into a war zone to play a concert and I just I would really love to know that and I understand that why you were doing in the sense of, but I just like because Because from outside in looking in, it's insane. It's insane. But I know there's a much deeper meaning there, but why did you do it?

Bruce Dickinson 1:04:52
Never done it before.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:55
There has to be more than just because I haven't done a lot of stuff either, but I'm not going into it. Warzone for it. So that but but was, but what was the deeper reasoning for it like you were I mean, obviously you were there to be of service to those kids and to bring some light into that darkness.

Bruce Dickinson 1:05:10
We had no idea who we were gonna go and play in front of. Right not not clearly it was all done. It was all done in the most bizarre way. I mean I got a phone call from the head of magazine called Quranic heavy metal magazine, right? And the guy goes look with the somebody called us from Sarajevo when some guy from the UN, and he wants to know if, if you would be interested in going in and doing a show. And I said, What is it? Well, we you know, we asked Motorhead and they said, No, we asked Metallica and they said, No. And I said, Oh, and so now you're left to having to go down to the lowest common denominator, which is me. You know. I went well, okay. I mean, sorry, though. I mean, it's, hang on. It's still a proper war over there, isn't it? Oh, yeah. Yeah, but don't worry said it's all sorted out, you'll be safe and secure. You just go there, do the show. And then you'll be out like the same day. I went. Okay, this sounds kind of like an adventure, you know, all right. Yeah. So very naive. We turn out very, very nice. We get to split, which is the kind of staging post where you get there and the guy goes on No, UN have said, no, no, they don't want to do any concerts. Because you're gonna upset people upset the opposition. So here's your boarding passes, get on the plane and go home. And we just decided not to

Alex Ferrari 1:06:47
As the same person would as a sane human being would.

Bruce Dickinson 1:06:50
Yeah, so we decided not to. And we said, well, what's the worst thing that can happen? We're gonna end up staying in split for a week, the beers cheap. The weather's not too bad, we'll find somewhere to play a gig. And then we'll go. Actually, the worst thing could happen is you end up dead. Yeah, as I was discovered, but, you know, as you as you go, as you go through, I mean, but we did it. And what the voyage of discovery? I mean, was, I mean, it was life changing stuff, for me, and for the guys in the band. And we were only there for four days. Right? Imagine what it's like being there. And living through it for years. Okay. So somebody has already given me a version of a script. Having seen the thing, they came up with the script, and I just said, No, this is not the right kind of script. Because it was all about the band.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:55
Yeah, you're the protagonist, right!

Bruce Dickinson 1:07:57
It's not about the band, the band is that, you know, the band is the is the vehicle. For the rest of it, the band is the excludes, is the excuse for everybody who matters to turn up. It's the lens through which you see everybody else the crazy life that existed around that. So that's the script that we are trying to write, you know,

Sacha Gervasi 1:08:23
And it's what is it what's interesting is it seen through the eyes of the kids attending the concert, and, and those relationships, and also what it meant, in the middle of, you know, having your entire life and your family and your world shattered, to be able to have Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, they were so excited. It was so important, it was so like a mythical thing for them to get to. And still to this day, it remains at an event there that really has not been forgotten. It was a really, I wouldn't say a turning point of it, but it was a seminal event in their, you know, in their youth. Because, you know, this is what, it's the most extreme version of what music is to all of us. You know, it's our soul. You know, it's when I listen to music that I love. It's my personal time. Like, you know, it's a, it's a nourishing healing thing. This was, I mean, Bruce, Bruce, Tommy, and you can see in the documentary that's well worth watching, because it is brilliantly done is that, you know, like, in most shows, there'll be a line of people outside, you know, waiting to get their tickets, you know, to clip to come in, this was groups of three and four people running from from across the street while being shot at to get into the show. I mean, this was an, this was not just a rock show. This was an event that occurred in a war. And I just thought to me, I thought to myself, How fucking beautiful there's something poetic about the story and it's Bruce's life and I just thought, let's see what we can pull together.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:51
And I think that I think really cut you off. But that thing you said earlier, what Sasha said about that you said was like I hope I'm big enough for it. for them for this show. I mean, I don't know, what kind of pressure there is for a musician, normally, to put on a good show, but I have to believe that if you're being shot out as a as a, as a concert goer, you're expecting a hell of a show, if I'm risking my life for it. What kind of pressure? Is that on you? I mean, what were you thinking when you were going about to go on stage? I mean, you know, what's going on outside? What the heck's going on through your head?

Bruce Dickinson 1:10:27
It's just really hot, everything seems to work and there's one light that's it a white light on or off? You know, and, and that was it. I mean, really, it was like, you know, we could have been, like, the high school band at the prom, you know, with with, with everything. But the circumstances meant that it was not like that at all, you know? And, and but the great thing was, is that, I mean, there was no, at no point, did I ever feel the urge to go on stage and go, let me tell you about the war. You know, let me tell you how awful this war is, you know, you know, we should stop this war. You know, fucking liberal assholes do that, you know, I mean, what you want is you want to go on there and you want to go, let's all just fucking rock out, let's get energy, let's be positive, let's have something to live for. Not some proselytizing lecture from somebody that, you know, really wants to be, you know, a member of some committee in the UN or some bullshit like that, you know, you need all wants to be highly regarded on CNN, you know, I mean, it's just like, No, no, no, this is about being visceral. You know, that's what they came for. And that's what we had to give them. It would have been dreadful, you know, to do I hate those things. One of the reasons I loved it was because it was pure. Yeah. You know, and, and so it's very hard to recreate or repeat that experience, or that, that having done it to that depth of integrity. I'm not sure how you do that. You don't do that again, you know.

Sacha Gervasi 1:12:19
And if you can, I can I also suggest that people can look up screen for me, sorry, Eva, and watch the document. Absolutely. And you'll see the live concert footage, and you get the feeling that Bruce Bruce is talking about. It's conveyed. Like how intense and experience it was, how important experience was not just for the but for you guys, a totally different.

Bruce Dickinson 1:12:40
I mean, this was just before Christmas, right. And so the complete dislocation, of being in a war zone one minute, and then with a big hangover, arriving back in in a kind of cold, Misty London, about two days before Christmas. And look, and just looking at the realities of people and people. The first thing I noticed bizarrely, because I came back on the, on the train from where we landed with the Royal Air Force and came back on the train. And I feel like I can't go home yet. Because I'm still there, I can't go home. I went and I sat on a bench, outside the train station, outside padding to train station. I just sat there for about a half an hour, just watching people drive up and down wasn't much traffic. But the thing that struck me the most I would, I was like, traffic lights. I was like, I just come from a place where if you stopped in the middle of the street, you would be shot by a sniper. And yet here people are the lights gone Amber, I have to live my life is run by traffic lights, you know, you know, we have this completely false sense of security. In all societies, that everything is run by traffic lights, traffic lights will always work. If you stop at a traffic light, then everything will be good. You know, be safe, you'll be safe, get a ticket, you know, but know that you know you're our society hangs by a thread. Because you see what it can dissolve into. So radically and so quickly. It's scary. So yeah, traffic lights.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:43
But I just want to touch on something really quickly. I think when you said that there was that concert was so pure, that whole experience was so pure as creatives and I'm gonna ask you the same question Sasha. As creatives as people who your chosen art forms. I mean, Bruce has 40 chosen art forms, but but just mere mortals like you and me Sasha. But generally, the chosen art form or the chosen expression, the chosen expression of what our soul is, what our purpose is what we're here to do. I know you've kind of mentioned this a little bit, Bruce and talking about with other bands and other producers and getting your ego involved and all that stuff, it's when you're able to get all of that stuff out of the way. That's when it becomes honestly, so easy. And much easier, I think, to just like, let it flow as opposed to kind of trying to control the beast, if you will.

Sacha Gervasi 1:15:38
It's interesting. And this is one of the joys of working with Bruce on this story, because it's so close to him, and he knows it so well, is we literally just sat at the table and started doing scene cards, different things that happened, and you lay out all the jigsaw pieces. And as soon as within two sessions of putting it up on the wall, the film began to tell us what it wanted to be who it wanted to be about, and what you're talking about that feeling of easiness of being directed. When that's happening so early on a project, it's a very, very good sign. And you just ride that. So we kind of already have an idea. It's like being in a lab and you know, the photo is, is being developed. And he what's happening, and you just got to stand out of the way and let it happen. And I find I get blocked and frustrated when I'm trying really hard to make something. But when you're just you know, listening. Yeah, listening for what it is. And that's been happening that's sort of been happening from the start on this.

Bruce Dickinson 1:16:34
Yeah, I always like if I get stuck going analyzing things. Again, I'm kind of on a picture sort of person. I like to think of an analogy of what it is what it is we're doing with each individual project, and I'm with Sarajevo, we came up with this thing. I went this movie, if we imagine we're building, we're creating a human body with this movie, what is the spine of the picture? What or who is the spine of the picture? Or everything wrapped around the spine? All the appendages and limbs? They all work off the spine? Who is what is the spine? And it was abundantly clear? We went Yep, that's it. Big spine starts at the top ends at the bottom bang, and everything bolts onto that. Yep. You know. So once you've got that, you can sort of go Ah, yeah, you know. Yeah, you know,

Sacha Gervasi 1:17:40
And that's what it is. Any good film, I think revolves around a certain core concept. You could call it a nugget or a theme, or an idea. You know, I'll give the example of anvil. You know, where I have 300 hours of footage of a documentary, I could have made nine different films. And I was struggling in the Edit to make the film. And I had to step out of it. And I had to say, what is this film really about? Right? And so what it came down to, I distilled it down to its essence. And I said, ambil the story of anvil is this is about cost of refusing to give up your dreams. That's the movie. It's all about the cost of refusing to give up your dreams. Every single scene in that film relates to that central nugget. Sorry, I can't remember what. Oh, yeah, here we go. Oh, yeah. This is the beginning of the film. That's right.

Bruce Dickinson 1:18:29
Yeah. So we just I said, Yeah, we should write this. Some of this happened. Some of this might have happened. Some of this should never happen again.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:37
Oh, what a great line. Oh, my God. That's amazing.

Sacha Gervasi 1:18:40
Yeah. Put it back on the board.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:44
That's great. But that encompasses the entire film,

Sacha Gervasi 1:18:48
When it's like, as your movie. That's it? Yeah. That's the purpose of what we're doing. That's not just the theme. It's the description. It's the essence. It's why we're doing it. Right. Yeah, why we're doing it. So there's an element of, you know, fantasy, but really, it's the story of these kids. And so you're lucky when you get that kind of clarity. Sometimes it takes a bit of work. But once you have that spine, you know, and everything can fold in around it. That's usually when there feels like there's integrity in the film or that it's integrated.

Bruce Dickinson 1:19:17
I mean, the other one we're working on is I'm sorry, so totally different. It's a, which is a script is an insane script I did which is like Yeah, is it closer do we get to is it kind of like a very dark JoJo rabbit type thing? Initially, we send it with another 10 Right, so So anyway, he read the script anyway. Yeah, I'm gonna send it to cook. So we sent it to Kurt Sutter. And he said, You know what, there's something in this but act three is a mess. I went yeah, that's because there is no act three, you know, it's just a mess. It was so I was basically I was kind of almost the first 30 pages is cool. And then then Next, so like 30 pages is Yeah, okay. And then the last 30 pages is like, Oh, what happened there? Because the first 30 pages were actually planned. And I basically kind of free associated the film right the way through, and one very, very long weekend. And that's as you do, I'll just type it up. And we're going to do with it. So now I'm looking on, on act three of it, trying to act three, and in doing so, basically, effectively, start again, because act three informs act to informs Act One. And we're still the same subject matter. But what inform what the crucial thing was, we've got loads and loads of bits of information all about the Second World War, all kinds of weird stuff. And it's really easy to get lost in all those great stories that are not the story you're going to tell. And it was just like, let's cut through it. What is the message? We want to give about all this crazy stuff? On What's that message? How do we take something from World War Two, and relate it to today, right now. So the message that links it to right now, so you get a moment where the audience will go? Oh, my God. Oh, wow. That's now wow, how did we end up in this place? And then we work it back, work it back. And and you have all these characters who really existed. But to make the movie work. I said, You know what, let's, let's take, because we've got a bunch of characters, and they're all basically male. And they're all basically misogynist, right. And I said, let's put a woman in this. And then the woman started to grow in stature. And now the whole movie is about movies about her. Right? So

Alex Ferrari 1:22:08
The power of what if the power of what if.

Sacha Gervasi 1:22:10
I also did you know, as, as you know, because there'll be many of your listeners and watchers who are writing partners. So I work on my own, I work as a director, I work in partnership with Bruce now. And, you know, we do we have all these different roles that we play, but I will say that working with a great partner, you know, who has total commitment and total intensity, it just brings it out of you by not giving up until this is fucking there. And so, you know, if you're feeling like, I'm feeling a bit exhausted, he'll fucking pull you up, man. And he'll just keep what I mean. But vibe, exactly the same thing he brings on stage, he brings in a writers room. It's really amazing to him. It's kind of unusual.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:56
When I mean, Bruce is obviously

Sacha Gervasi 1:22:58
For my point of view. It's like,

Alex Ferrari 1:23:00
I mean, no, no, obviously Bruce is a force of nature. That's that's that's an obvious I mean, obviously from his life in the life he's led and all the stories that even just the stuff we've talked about in the show that alone, you could just you could just feel you can feel it coming off the screen. I'm across the, across the world from you right now, as we're recording this. And I can feel like I'm in the room with both of you. And I'm holding I'm holding on just talking to you guys. How you're how you're surviving. Sasha is beyond me. Into the look into the eyes, I'm in the beast. It's the best. No, it's fascinating. I want to ask you one last question, guys. I want to ask this to both of you. What advice would you give someone who is chasing that dream, but is scared to take that chance to take that next step? The thing that's holding them back? What would you what advice would you give them to that?

Bruce Dickinson 1:23:58
Yeah, um, you cannot, you cannot be scared. You have no you have no time to be if you're standing. You know, if you're standing in front of a firing squad. There's no point in being scared of the next right. But if you if you have a choice, whether to run away, you have no don't be scared. They might miss. You remain. So do what we do. We're afraid that that if we take the chance that something bad will happen, nothing bad will happen. If you take a chance. One of my I took a chance I quit online was the height of our success. I walked away, came back five, six years later, learned a huge amount in the intervening time, so I don't regret doing it. But in the build up to it, there was a quote from Henry Miller, which I'll paraphrase because I can't remember exactly right. And it was all growth is an unpremeditated leap in the dark, with no idea of where you're going to land. And I thought, that is the journey of an artist. That is an artist's life. You don't know what you're going to create, until you create it. If you sit there going, I don't know what I'm going to create, to I'm not going to start, you will never do anything. But get you know, I mean, as simple as that, if you if you just say I can't do it, and, and it's, it's gonna hurt his career. It might sound cruel and harsh. But you can't let yourself be afraid. Even if you are, you know, admitted, okay, I'm scared. Okay, fine. Next. I mean, it's just

Sacha Gervasi 1:26:02
And bruce is actually right. Following on from that, you know, that idea of being terrified and trying to make that irrelevant. You know, it's all about commitment, right. It's like, you know, there's that great, I think it's wh Murray has this quote, he's on a Himalayan expedition. And it's something along the lines this is I'm going to do it horribly, but it's like, until one is committed there is hesitancy always in effect, as always an effectiveness and a chance to draw back. Boldness has action, magic, and power in it. And it's about fucking commit. We're all terrified for fucksakes You know, the mean, is just figure it out. Yeah. It's so important to write a terrible screenplay, because then you've written a screenplay, you know. And that's it. You got to write a screenplay, like in anvil lips, where you see the worst, world's most disastrous tour, and then I interview afterwards. And I say to him, you know, are you okay? And I said, You must be better. Everything you were promised turned out, you know, not to be true. And he says, at least there was a tour for it to go wrong on what it's like. And I just think you have to have that fucking attitude, right? You're going to have failures, you're going to have missteps, you're going to have welcome all of that shit. And it goes back to Miles Davis, there are no mistakes. There are no mistakes.

Bruce Dickinson 1:27:25
My dad gave me a bit of advice once because I used to when I was a kid I for a while I used to. I used to race go karts, right? Do like competitive go kart racing.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:35
Of course. Of course, you did bruce, of course.

Bruce Dickinson 1:27:38
So I had this really ancient outdated go kart, everybody else had slicks, this wide. Mine were like really shitty ones. You know, everyone had leathers, you know, I plastic, you know, and it was just like, it was the crappiest most outdated motor and everything else like that. And I was just like, you know, grumpy 16 year old going looked at, you know, there's, I'm never going to win anything. Like like this, you know, he goes, Just finish. What he said, Just finish every race. If you finish every race, you win something you're bound to. Because the rest of the track is going to be populated by WizKids. And idiots who are going to crash into each other, get smashed up, just stay in the race, and finish the damn race. Thought that. That's kind of a profound lesson.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:41
It's so profound.

Bruce Dickinson 1:28:43
He's right. I've got this shitty little trophy. I only did three races in my life. And from 1973 I've got this little wooden trophy with like a really rubbish the moment and that doesn't work anymore on it. And, and it's in pride of place, because it's the only trophy I ever won. And it's the trophy I won because I finished a damn race. They ended up on the podium.

Sacha Gervasi 1:29:07
And by the way, and then up on the podium. Let me just for those people who are you know, smart, if you just think there is no connection between that tiny trophy and then watching Bruce on stage command an audience of 300,000 people you're wrong. There is an absolute sacred connection between those two a micro event nature's cattle personal versus this thing that you look on on the outside you can't even conceive and you know, and to be able to step into that with confidence comes from that trophy

Bruce Dickinson 1:29:40
And also and also winning the second prize for the English competition right!

Sacha Gervasi 1:29:46
The second one Yeah, absolutely won the second second prize is important

Bruce Dickinson 1:29:50
And nature's cattle prod you know, when you go

Sacha Gervasi 1:29:56
When I when I one tiny story when I wrote my first screenplay I wanted to I was I begged to meet a London agent, I realized a terrible screenplay, you know, 25 years ago. And I met this agent. And he sort of took a courtesy meeting. And he was this aristocratic snobby English guy. And I met him. And I was very impressed because he was a big agent, he represented some people I was very impressed with. And he looked at me and he said, I said, have you read? Have you read the script? So you know, he said, Have you thought about working in a different medium? But but that was fuel. Yeah, that, no, and when I have my first film, I, I fucking called that motherfucker up. And I thanked him. I said, thank you. I didn't say you miserable little bastard. But I thought it I said thank you, because that helped me and it did it helping.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:49
But that's the thing. But that's the thing about life in general is that another person takes that and just leaves and becomes a becomes a carpet. You call that there wasn't there wasn't meant to be. It wasn't meant to be. That's not

Sacha Gervasi 1:31:02
20 years later, looks back and goes, Why the fuck did I leave,

Alex Ferrari 1:31:06
And then becomes that angry, and they become angry and bitter and, and they take it out on people. And that's all that kind of stuff. And so it all depends on I always say this, I've said this a million times, that life is going to punch you in the face 1000 times, I don't care who the hell you are, you're going to get punched in the face. It's about learning how to take the punch and keep going. And sometimes as you get older, like Bruce said earlier, sometimes you figure out how to duck a couple times. And just a time in just a moment when you start figuring out how to duck all times. It's over. Like, Lucky.

Sacha Gervasi 1:31:39
But it's also about attitude that you bring against me to embarrass Bruce. But the reality is, he's got a book out stadium tour next year. And he's in this room going I want to learn how to do this really fucking well. Yeah, I mean, that's the attitude. That's the attitude I want. I want to get good at this. And it's gonna take work and there's gonna be mistakes and blah, blah, blah. And I'm in the same fucking process myself. And so it's the attitude that you bring to whatever you're doing is absolute you're gonna get smashed. Oh, of course you are. But that's just part of it makes you stronger. I'm hungry now. I know you've got to go.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:18
So listen, I I want to just think I want to thank both of you guys for being on the show. I'm it this has been eye opening. amazing, remarkable. And I can't wait to see this movie. It's now your responsibility to get this thing made. Because I need to see this movie. I definitely want to see this the documentary but Bruce and Sasha thank you so much for being on the show and helping everybody.

Bruce Dickinson 1:32:41
Live long and prosper.

 

Links and Resources

  • Bruce Dickinson – Website
  • What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography – Book
  • Scream for Me Sarajevo – Film

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