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!
Listen to more great episodes at Next Level Soul Podcast
Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 005
Alex Ferrari 0:23
I'd like to welcome to the show Bruce Dickinson and Sacha Gervasi. How are you guys doing today?
Bruce Dickinson 1:03
Doing great. We were hanging out. We know who we are.
Sasha Gervasi 1:06
We know who we are. I know you guys ought to be. I'm happy to be on your show. How do you feel about it?
Bruce Dickinson 1:11
It's great. It's not bad. Who is this guy?
Sasha Gervasi 1:13
I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 1:15
I appreciate that. I have a I have a car. It's a Prius. But But anyway, guys, listen. I had I just have
Bruce Dickinson 1:24
I don't have a car.
Sasha Gervasi 1:26
He goes by cube everywhere.
Bruce Dickinson 1:27
I don't have no one knows. A bicycle. You're like you yeah bicycle right? Yeah. No, no like a motorbike like a bicycle. You know as the I can add bike?
Sasha Gervasi 1:37
You, mean a Harley?
Bruce Dickinson 1:38
I mean, I haven't I haven't like he has a bicycle bicycle. Yeah. And I wear a mask. So nobody, no one knows who he is.
No one knows that his day job is playing a rack of soccer stadiums. Right is that.
Alex Ferrari 1:49
So guys? Listen, I just had Sasha Sasha on the on the show on the bulletproof screenwriting show talking about his very mythical almost entered just very entertaining life story about how he got into the business of screenwriting and all that stuff.
Bruce Dickinson 2:05
And that, compared to the,
Alex Ferrari 2:07
no, no, I know, I'm gonna get there. I'm gonna get there in a second. So then I'm talking, I'm talking to Sasha and and he goes, Hey, man, I got this. I got this thing. There's an idea. There's a guy I'm working on with this on a script. His name is Bruce. He's really entertaining. You should look them up. If you don't, and I'm like, Oh, I know who he is. He's like, Oh, well, would you want to have him on the show? I'm like, Well, yes. Let's have this conversation. Because, yes, of course. So this is a very unorthodox conversation that we're gonna have, and I can't wait to get into it. So we're going to focus a bit on Bruce and this side, because anybody who wants to know about Sasha can listen to the Sasha one. And they might be together, depending on where these are airing to that, but we'll definitely have links for both. So Bruce, you obviously are the world famous lead vocalist for Iron Maiden. And, and among I can't even list the amount of things you do and have done in your life. But I want to just start really quickly. How did Iron Maiden start? How did you get into being the lead vocalist of Iron Maiden?
Bruce Dickinson 3:10
Well, I was hired. I mean, to put it bluntly, I mean, because the band started in 1975. So I didn't join till like 1980. Okay, from 1970. By the 1980s, 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 said, but cutting a long story short 1979 their first album came out was an 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 a wall street,
Sasha Gervasi 4:02
and I was 15, and he was a rock star.
Alex Ferrari 4:05
Bruce Dickinson 4:07
Yeah, I mean, you know, I mean, so, we were doing all these kinds of stuff. And basically, most of the bands you know, the angles, the Samson's, the iron maidens, whoever it was Saxon and zone has all these bands knew each other. We all toured together we all kind of hung out together. A little bit. On some became more successful than others. I made him become became top of the pile, and we're doing doing really well in festivals, things like that. All the rest of it big theaters, European tours, world tours, which America came back, went back to America again. All this stuff on 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 gonna fire their vocalist and they were looking for a new one. And they knew me because we shared 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 reborn 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 mean, and 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 Rob is. He gets given award, an award for being like, best manager on the planet at convention and Rob managers all over the place, 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, bloody hate these dinners. I hate these. Anybody I've never are. I just saw all these repellent. People just think there's so yeah, I'm thinking he's going to get the warden a minute. You know, he's like, What are you writing? Nothing, 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 this and he just turned to the guy went over the fucker. You know what? 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. I'm not in the music business. I manage. I'm fucking made now. Right. Have you seen death of Stalin? Stalin, Marshall, Juju? kowski, and death of Stalin? That is rod Smallwood. You know, I mean, Oh, my God. So. So anyway, so this is this guy. And, and he invites, I've just done a show with 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 so Steve Harris.
Sasha Gervasi 7:24
Steve Harris. Yeah.
Bruce Dickinson 7:25
So So Steve is, is watching the performance and goes, I told you, look, he's good guy, you know, you should get this guy. This is what we want and rose up. 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 says, You know, I want to talk to you about something sits me down and goes, I'm offering you the chance to audition for I made him. Now I have no idea how my 20 year old self came up with the so called spa to open my mouth and say what I did say? And I said, well, let's not beat 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. I said, because I'm not gonna be the same like the old guy. If what you want is some little guide to just be nice, turn up and not have any opinions. Find somebody else. cuz I've gotten 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 for somebody else.
Alex Ferrari 8:47
It's pretty self aware for a 20 year old.
Bruce Dickinson 8:49
I'm the guy I need anyway. oh drugs. I don't turn them down, you know. And so and that was that we did go and have a you know, like, a good audition although it 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 of attack. And and that was and that was it. And the rest is kind of history at all.
Sasha Gervasi 9:28
When can I also come to the fans point of view. So I'm a 50 year old fan, and I Hayden have 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 Iron Maiden the previous Singapore pianos left everyone liked. He was a bit of a punk but the 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 sirens. They still do.
Bruce Dickinson 10:00
Yeah, right. Yeah, right, Siren Yeah. His
Sasha Gervasi 10:03
voice shook the Hammersmith fucking odium. Like, this amount of assistance from a microphone. No, but it was like, what, who's this guy with that band? And it was like, to kind of incredible kind of superheroes coming together is
Bruce Dickinson 10:19
That actually, it's very interesting in terms of propaganda, that thing that the, the, the, the manager had this big thing that on the back of every album, everybody had to have some kind of nickname. So nobody was ever
Alex Ferrari 10:33
Bruce Dickinson 10:35
You know, Fred,
Alex Ferrari 10:36
Bruce Dickinson 10:38
That's something blocks, right?
Alex Ferrari 10:40
Bruce Dickinson 10:41
So in my case, he said, Oh, well, we'll call you. And somebody had written a letter to 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 repurpose that the human air raid siren. You know
Alex Ferrari 11:18
I mean, that's branding. That's branding, that's for sure. Now, that's going into branding 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 in 80? I wasn't first, second, third grade. And, you know, you would see these images of this of Eddie the head huge, 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 yeah yeah
Bruce Dickinson 11:47
press tubes, you know, I mean. So this is really lost in the mists of time. Like, like most things, you know, no, one person has the, you know, the lightbulb moment and says, yep, I'm going to give you the whole thing. There you go all in a play. Here's Eddie, here's your concept, da, da, da, da 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, why not? 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'd 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 rock show 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 check by Sasha, pink for me something that doesn't matter when you talk, they just talk like this all the time, which is why everybody has subtitles for people from the east at the London when you are doing interviews with CNN, right. 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 he had no age yet. So we're gonna have the edge flashing in a minute right and then smashed into come out, right. So that was the AED. Now. Rod comes along, sees that and goes, Yeah, the mask masks kind of cool. Yeah. Now remember, now, Roger rugby player. He plays in his rugby team, our club rugby. I think one of his buddies at the Rugby Club, knows that Rogers 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 stuff. 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 the Eddie is like the mask. A Rod's 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 day You know, so roadie would put on the mask and wander out with it with a with a lap with a light shining it on the audience go. Right, then, and 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 edit. 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, and we're all standing there going, Oh, my God, you know, and that just blew the doors off people's minds, right 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 with a top of his head was shaved and sutured back on like Frankenstein is in a padded cell, piece of Pac mind. And we get people saying, Oh, dude, was it he had a haircut? And it would 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, fine, boom, you know. And 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 we had lots of spinal tap moments with inflatables, that weren't very advanced technology at the time. So we had a deflated Apollo and Astro astronauts flying above everybody's heads looking like a, like a very sad condom. You know, I mean,
Alex Ferrari 17:11
you read my mind, you read my mind, I was thinking I like the prize. That's like a sad condom.
Bruce Dickinson 17:15
On the somewhere in time, too, which is the 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, because the hand plate like this big claws coming up, Eddie. So the whole stage became a giant giant Eddie was the head came up, like amazing, you know, all great, except that, again, early technology, you know, unfortunately, you know, the big head came up and look sometimes dependent on 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 it would come up, like, supposed to do this, and instead, it would just go like that. And then you wait, and you're like, Okay, fine. Yeah, that's kind of funny, you know. So we've all seen Spinal Tap, which we all thought was very funny, because it was actually quite real.
Alex Ferrari 18:30
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? You put it up to the left?
Bruce Dickinson 18:39
Yeah, I mean, at the roadies used to put it up to 11. guarded marking 11. And little did like
Alex Ferrari 18:49
they did, right. That's the thing, right? They actually,
Bruce Dickinson 18:52
because we really loved that film. Yeah. The only thing we have we are we pissed off about the film was that people thought that we didn't get it. You know, and people would ask us questions, like, Did you think Spinal Tap was funny? Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 19:08
Bruce Dickinson 19:10
You know, and some people would, you know, obviously had such a minimal sense of humor. And they were so serious about everything. They were just like, oh my god, they think it's funny, you know, but then you get the other side of it, you know, which are, which are all those sort of, like, new wavy type, you know, people who would go oh, you know, oh, that head those heavy metal people. This is stupid as a moronic you know, they just say Spinal Tap is so clever. Oh, they think it's funny too. Well, yes. Yeah. Well, we're better than you are. So I mean, yeah. But I will see what Glastonbury Oh, we won't know.
Alex Ferrari 19:48
So they hit the hipsters, hipsters of their day.
Sasha Gervasi 19:51
Oh, when I was in school, there was a lot of people look down their noses of metal, right. I was a 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, seeing 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.
Bruce Dickinson 20:21
I've had I've had implants put in now. So then you could do that. I could go home so he could be more metal. Yeah. It's actually it's actually a new hip. Yes. But it is therefore heavy man. I never knew he was so pleased. I've got I got six inches of titanium hammered into me. Do you know how serious it is?
Alex Ferrari 20:44
It is pure metal. It is pure metal.
Sasha Gervasi 20:47
Very quick related Advil story. This is a true story. When ambil came out in 2008. Nine, it was the 20th anniversary or 25th anniversary actually of spinal tap. Okay. And Spinal Tap we're 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 any. So MTV, which full angle in the end right MTV, which a new VH one was for Advil. They thought Fuck it. We're gonna ask Spinal Tap about Advil. And so I have the video footage of when the MTV journalist brings up Advil which they've specifically said do not mention. And the reporter goes so Nigel Nigel Tuttle's, what do you think of Advil? And it goes it's like being crushed by a giant piece of art.
Alex Ferrari 21:40
Bruce Dickinson 21:41
Sasha Gervasi 21:42
but I love that Spinal Tap lost their sense of? Exactly, exactly. You know what, that's
Alex Ferrari 21:47
absolutely brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
Bruce Dickinson 21:50
Now, that 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 22:02
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
Bruce Dickinson 22:09
works. You know, and if everybody could accept that there wouldn't be any more people fighting each other, we just be laughing at each other falling over, you know,
Alex Ferrari 22:18
we're just trying to fit we're just all trying to figure this out, man, this is this is a heavy Look, this, 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 22:31
And just just when you think you've got to figure it out. Did you know? You know, I
Sasha Gervasi 22:39
Thank you you for this message of hope. Tonight, ladies, gentlemen.
Alex Ferrari 22:45
Just when you figure out life,
Bruce Dickinson 22:48
say, you know,
Alex Ferrari 22:49
when the Reaper comes for you?
Bruce Dickinson 22:52
We are well educated chimpanzees with iPads and nuclear weapons, you know, I mean, and but 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 23:13
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?
Sasha Gervasi 23:28
Don't Forget the fencing, fencing.
Alex Ferrari 23:32
So he's a fence, you're a fencer, as well, I mean, where 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 24:02
Um I'm just curious about how they work. I want you to and the only way to find out how something really work is to internalize it. And if 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 you thought 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, what, fight whatever, whatever. You know, I'm not going to condemn other people for doing what they do, but it seems to me to be poor. Plus, to invest your time in things that which you are not really passionate about. So the third tip 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 during middle childhood boom, airplanes and right, okay, great. Lots of musicians learn to fly, lots of actors learn to fly. And then 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've got to actually get there and dependent on the weather and you got to have more qualifications and blah, blah, blah. We're shooting 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 Maidan a 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 showed up. And he was a Scottish Scottish guy. And he was very abrupt to nibs, like always, you know, what? Busy, busy. Busy. just yet. What kind of lessons you got? All? These? What's that? commercial pilot's license? airplanes. You're gonna take some car parks? Gentlemen, tonight.
Sasha Gervasi 27:10
Actually, I can relate to
Bruce Dickinson 27:16
your lighting camera man. For film stuff. He goes, Yeah, but in the evening, I fly car parks to Germany back for a cargo company. And I'm just like, pilots. I are actually a little bit strange. So I, I started my airline pilots qualifications. Yeah. And I became an American flight instructor as well, while I was at it,
Alex Ferrari 27:43
Bruce Dickinson 27:45
So I 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? I'm 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 chances 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 757 730 sevens. And eventually,
Alex Ferrari 28:47
but you were still in Maiden.
Bruce Dickinson 28:49
Yeah, I used to take unpaid leave. So I could go on tour.
Alex Ferrari 28:57
I can't, I'd like what 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? That's 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 29:25
Well, we brew, we were up to over 30 million points. Now. I'm trooper. And so I've just done quite well. But yeah, something I love. But I do, do the things you love. Do the things you love and that you're passionate about, you know? Yeah. And so I kind of created the flavor profile of the first beer we did. And I have a big say it all of them now. And we have a whole bunch of stuff. I mean, there's one going to be launched in America soon, which is I think going to be quite exciting. So you know.
Alex Ferrari 29:56
So the thing is one thing I've noticed about you, Bruce Is that a lot of musicians? And look, we've all heard the stories of the broke musicians who can't make a living and or, you know, washed up and they never figured out like a business. You have a very entrepreneurial side I mean Maiden, demerge for maiden is, is legendary. I mean, you guys still are selling March like out the door, I'm assuming right?
Bruce Dickinson 30:21
Now the motion is huge, but like, like all things. I mean world is its own laden world is its own its own world, it's got its own parameters, its own internal things in terms of like, when we talk about from a business perspective, we're always 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, there are some fans that 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 time a magic time, really. 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 actually part of every creative act. But I mean, and moving on from from music, I mean, I'm moving on from 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 object, every school play and everything and blah, blah, blah. And then I went on to my next school, which is where I fought for my first rock concerts, and directed some things did some street theater did all kinds of bit, Bob, 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 go, No, that's not a line. You know, like, you know, a last port Godfrey. I knew him well. Not not Godfrey. Yorick No. So so then it's done. 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 front map 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 dust bins, 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 Marquis de sarde. Right, the Marquis de Saad was locked up for most of his life, and wrote his madness down on pieces of toilet paper. That's how all as crazy stuff was written. Because in this feeble fevered state, we 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 tube, 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 of 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? Doesn't 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 36:19
and some actors from other actors.
Bruce Dickinson 36:22
Yeah, because because, yeah, anybody can stand up and sing the words. But singing the words with meaning, and something where people look at something and go, Wow, where, where were we? Where are you? Where is that guy is 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 you start off from that perspective, and then therefore everything becomes story. related.
Sasha Gervasi 36:56
So as I mentioned, one thing, there's a maiden song of number of the beast called Hallowed be thy name. And it's home 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 through your organs. It's not just the music and the song. It's the whole character of the man about to die
Bruce Dickinson 37:30
And that's a really easy there as well. Right? Right.
Alex Ferrari 37:35
So Bruce, though, I mean, 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, and in our interview in regards to the almost channeling, allowing it to flow through you from some other source. I think 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 within 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 38:16
Totally, I mean, you know, you're nodding, you're not in total control of what's going on, but you are a reflector. And by that, I mean, 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 reflected back in the right way. Which is one reason why I, you know, after coming off of off stage, and I've done obviously, all kinds of different performances, the, the I've actually performed to one person, right. pub somewhere, and, and we went on stage, 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 39:17
Oh, my God. He's like, I paid my ticket. Entertainment me
Bruce Dickinson 39:21
I'm gonna say this. So we go on and we start running around I thought, you know, we you know what, there has to be a way of, of doing it. So I went, I went over to the bar and bought the guide 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'll relaxed and because it's easy, so many bands, and they go out and they want to be in like Madison Square gardens, but you're not in Madison Square Garden. Come on, out. Go, hello, Cleveland. What was he looking at? You know, some of the best advice I ever got was from England from the football. And he said, front row, look him in the eyes and mean it. 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 and she's 100 yards away. I guarantee you, she's gonna turn around and go, Who the fuck are you staring on my ass. Because she could feel it 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 41:27
Because you can't keep it going.
Bruce Dickinson 41:28
Because Because you can't you can't even get through the door with a balloon that size. Right? You just have to find a mechanism to come down.
Alex Ferrari 41:39
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, goodnight and you walk backstage, you're just like, Oh, can I
Sasha Gervasi 41:54
also like I saw Madan and Bruce do a show in rockin Rio. Right? 100 no 300
Bruce Dickinson 42:05
Alex Ferrari 42:06
There's very few people, you know, 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 42:23
Yeah, so So the answer is how do you come down from zero to 1000 people? Well, the short answer on that particular instance is you don't. I was I was 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 ours, it was all the other bands, Gerald hotel. And so we went, I went out on on obligations Copacabana beach in Rio. And there was nobody there. I mean, everybody was at the festival, 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. Yeah, he hadn't been too bad either, you know, and because they went on afterwards. So, 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've got a I have a routine. So end of the show, offstage 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. Get to 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 I just you know just just sit there and just drip and then finally go to bed and try and make sure the hotel room has blackout curtains because I want the full 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 bah bah blah blah blah blah blah all the time because good 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 you're on that stage, your entire existence is there to serve that moment
Sasha Gervasi 45:14
and to serve the audience to serve you,
Alex Ferrari 45:17
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's like, well, I have an audience I'm trying to service. So the energy comes to me, I in turn, I internalize it, and it and I shoot it back out. And that way, so it's filled, you're almost the filter essentially, coming.
Bruce Dickinson 45:43
If you if you if you try and take on that energy, and puff yourself up with you ended up you will end up exploding, you know, because you can't encompass all of 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 or 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 the will fold up and collapsing and blob on the floor. But it's not you're not going on there go away. I am here because I am. But though 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 distal discography, we'd be here all night. But he's 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 that was a whole nother level of meaning. I'll give you an example. So I'm doing a song. Six 6x Number of the Beast, right? And it starts off with some kind of whispered spooky lines are left alone. My mind was blank. I needed time to think to get the memories from my mind, right? And I go and I say, Yeah, I could sing that Jesus, like the lowdown on my mind was like, you know, and, and I go in and I deliver the lines. He goes, Yeah, no, no, no, this is true. Again, I said, What's their attitude? What time whatever he has noted, I don't hear it. I 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 gonna come back to get 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 done this 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, I had 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 what you guys were awesome. This is not what I don't hear is that you're a singer. Right running from Oracle. Yeah. He said. So this is your entire life in two lines. what it was like, Yeah, I don't I 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 that In the end, that's what happened with with number of the beast. And he was right god damn it, 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.
Sasha Gervasi 50:15
You know, you're talking about a level of commitment and a level of excellence.
Bruce Dickinson 50:19
It's a it's a level of of you're 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 are really hard to do, if you realize how to do. And once you're 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. I know, it'll be a huge success. And you know what it probably is, and Martin, despise those people. So because it would, it would work only with bands that we thought have character and integrity. And we're worth something and we're different. And he said, some producers are like puppet masters, they turn up and I guess it's like directors in movies. Some directors are puppet masters. Hey, everybody does illustrate everybody down to the string. You do that? You do 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 crap movie. You know? So, you know,
Alex Ferrari 52:56
Sasha Gervasi 52:57
just apply to cam, screenwriting and filmmaking. Absolutely.
Alex Ferrari 53:02
Yeah. And in any endeavor.
Sasha Gervasi 53:05
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 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 53:26
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 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 this 15th day, they do a scene and Steven goes by now you got to do this, this and this. And then at lunch, they all walk up to them and go Steven, why? why today? Did you give us the finish? 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 54:17
as a great producer. I mean, great. Music Producer is exactly is exactly that, you know. So yeah, so so you that's the there's always an internal story trying to get out. You let it you know, and that's it goes to the same I mean, obviously we did some I getting grant a script writing I mean, my my adventures in script writing came with a start up with a film called The chemical wedding. And so we made basically we I got to know a guy called Julian Doyle who was the editor for all Python films. Life of Brian he did. He did all that stuff, right? Yeah. 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 sitting chatting to Julian, and he said, You know, he made should do a movie. I went, yeah, but that's never going to happen. Because, you know, rob the manager, and I'm really not sure how we would work it. No, no, no, no, no, I said, but there isn't guided. Nobody's ever done a movie about this peripherally, you know. And that's this crazy, whacked out culturally significant black magician called Alistair Crowley. Right? Who created the do what thou wilt and basically had his identity stolen by Andrew Aqsa Anton's and all of a Church of Satan. They all just copied Crowley is 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.
Alex Ferrari 56:30
jesus yeah, have his hands.
Bruce Dickinson 56:32
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 out and 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 rally, 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, the head of CBS Records on the sold to Sony. So he started his own production company, and we sold it to him. So I was going up talking films with Walter Yannick and stuff like that, and hearing some 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 had written it and given into his body to write an absolute, you know. So we went back and I said, Did you guys want to be true and make a damn thing ourselves? JAMIE went, yeah, yeah. Okay. He said, but we can't afford to do it, period. I said, What do you mean? He said, Well, you know, we can't afford if we're going to do ourselves, period is going to be so expensive. He said, we can't afford to do that, as well. How are we not going to do period, the guy died in 1947. And that's when your subconscious works. And you get this 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 present day and say, What would he get up to? You know, well, that's interesting. So, so so so that's the movie. I mean, we got, you know, the actor Simon callow. Yeah, yeah. So callow played after 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, so I learned an awful lot from that experience made the film. It's a little it's a curiosity. And in the annals of film, I think,
Sasha Gervasi 59:31
Bruce talks. 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 and suddenly coming into the world of film. This is working a storyteller and a writer who's made films, and he really understands the rhythms and structures of how they work, which was really, like, completely unexpected, you know, because, right, cuz
Alex Ferrari 59:57
you're like, you don't Yeah,
Sasha Gervasi 59:58
well, I just didn't really understand How much experience versus
Bruce Dickinson 1:00:01
how many 750 pages of rewrites on chemical wedding, including starting so that's.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:07
So that's a film basically a film school, a master's degree in film.
Sasha Gervasi 1:00:10
Not only that it's also hundreds of songs. It's also real books. It's also so you know, the storytelling thing is so
Bruce Dickinson 1:00:18
what what gets me? I actually think that if you're involved in putting words on paper, or other I think that screenplay writing is the toughest discipline of buying oil. Yeah, cuz I've written an autobiography, two comic novels. I've written songs, right. 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. Just to get 100% inspiration, you just have to grind through it and refine and cut and cut and cut, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:15
and, and stick it into this little box. That is the platform in 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 1:01:28
some famous sculptor,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:30
Michael Michelangelo, I think it was about the sculptor
Sasha Gervasi 1:01:35
Bruce Dickinson 1:01:37
He hacks away what's not the statue?
Alex Ferrari 1:01:39
Yeah, yes. Yeah. Daniel, right.
Bruce Dickinson 1:01:41
I read that. 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.
Sasha Gervasi 1:01:50
We all know, if we read a script we know within 10 to 15 pages. It's, like, you know, immediately happy distill 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 1:02:06
I always say I always say it's other than a haiku is probably one of the most difficult things like it actually took us. So
Bruce Dickinson 1:02:13
she has this thing 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.
Sasha Gervasi 1:02:27
Yeah, there we go.
Unknown Speaker 1:02:30
And that was what 2010 or something like that. So basically, I put all this script stuff and put it all in a drawer and go on. Don't forget, then I bumped into Sasha, again, purely by chance. Who says
Alex Ferrari 1:02:46
not by chance, not by chance, not by it? there's a there's a reason. Let me
Sasha Gervasi 1:02:51
just get a very brief background. Okay, so I'm a 15 year old heavy metal fan 50. 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, in Malibu, in Clarks news. And at these parties, you would see members of Twisted Sister members of Thin Lizzy, you know, all these crazy people will be there. And 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 I remember 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 then, and I'd seen made many times. then years later, when Advil came out. I can't remember how we hooked up. I can't remember that somehow we were connected through the film. And somehow we ended up in LA members going to dinner with Jimmy Carr, 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 have this crazy anyway, whatever, the story of my life, but we had a really, really good time. And Bruce came over to my house, and we were there. But Bruce was I was fascinated with him. And we were talking and I was like, you know, I'm working on it for he said, I'm working on a film project. And you know, maybe one day we'll produce something together. But you know, like those encounters. Yeah, 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. Sorry, oboe, yes, concert. 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 in 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's entry about, you know, I just only hope that I could be big enough as big as they needed me to be. Because, but, and there was this incredible stories of people coming from the frontlines to attend the show. And you know, so anyway, I thought to myself, fuck, I really want to find a movie, there's a movie, I thought there's a movie. That's 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, shall 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 1:06:22
all I could see everything I know the entire story. Now, I mean, come on.
Sasha Gervasi 1:06:27
But what I'm saying to you is, it's really coming together. incred 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 wife, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:45
but that's, but that's but that's basically seems to be your life Sasha. That's what you do. I mean, I mean, obviously, you just work with your heroes, that's just your career.
Bruce Dickinson 1:06:53
film, 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, or who you follow. And with, with x with the excuse for the film,
Alex Ferrari 1:07:13
but I have doubt about that. But 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 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 1:07:45
never done it before.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:47
There has to be more than just me. Because I haven't done a lot of stuff either. But I'm not going into a war zone for it. So that but there but was, but what was the deeper reasoning for it? Like you weren't, I mean, obviously, you were there to be of service to those kids. And to bring some light into that dark place where you
Bruce Dickinson 1:08:03
had no idea who we were going to 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 Qur'an is heavy metal magazine, right. And the guy goes look with the somebody called us from Sarajevo was 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? Well, okay, I mean, sorry, Eva. I mean, it's, hang on. It's still a proper war over there. Is that go? Oh, yeah, but don't worry. It's all sorted out, you'll be safe and secure. Just go there. Do the show. And then you'll be out like the same day. Oh, and Okay, this sounds kind of like an adventure, you know, alright. Yeah. So very nice.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:16
Very, very nice.
Bruce Dickinson 1:09:18
We get to split which is the SCADA staging post where you get there and the guy goes on the UN have said, No, we don't want to do any concerts there 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 1:09:39
as the same person would as a sane human being would.
Bruce Dickinson 1:09:43
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 some way to play a gig. And then we'll go. Actually, the worst thing can happen is you end up dead. Yeah, as I was about As I discovered, but you know, as you as you go, as you go through I mean, but we did it. And what the, the voyage of discovery? I mean was, 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 a script, and I just said, No, this is not the right kind of script. Because it was all about the bat. Yeah, you're the protagonists, right? It's not about the band, the band is the, you know, the band is the is the vehicle for the rest of the band is the exclus 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.
Sasha Gervasi 1:11:16
And it's what's, what's interesting is, it's seen through the eyes of the kids attending the concert, 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 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, right? You know, it's a, it's a nourishing healing thing. This was, I mean, Bruce Bruce told me and you can see in the documentary that's well worth watching, because it is brilliantly done isn't, 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 1:12:44
And I think that I think anybody can cut you off course. But that thing you said earlier, what Sasha said about that you said was like, I hope I'm big enough for 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'd know what's going on outside? What the heck's going on through your head?
Bruce Dickinson 1:13:19
It's just really hot, everything seems to work and there's one light that's it, like, a white light on or off? You know, and, and that was it. I mean, really, it was like, you know, it, 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, 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. Now. You know, fucking liberal assholes do that, you know, I mean, what you want is you want to go out there and you want to go legs or 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.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:53
Bruce Dickinson 1:14:53
Um, you know, and, and so it's very hard to read Create 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?
Sasha Gervasi 1:15:12
And if you see, can I? Can I also suggest that people can look up screen for me? Sorry, Ava and watch the doc. Oh, 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 an experience it was, how important an experience was not just for the but for you guys, a totally different.
Bruce Dickinson 1:15:33
I mean, this was just before Christmas, right. And so the complete dislocation of being in a warzone one minute, and then with a big hangover, arriving back in in kind of cold, Misty London, about two days before Christmas. And look, I'm 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 say, traffic lights, I was I I've just come from a place where if you stopped in the middle of the street, you will be shot by a sniper. And yet here people are the lights gone. Amber, I have to say my life is run my 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 the traffic light, then everything will be good,
Alex Ferrari 1:17:16
you'll be safe, you'll be safe,
Bruce Dickinson 1:17:18
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 1:17:36
But I would just want to touch on something really quickly. Um, 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 I mean, 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 are our purposes, 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.
Sasha Gervasi 1:18:31
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 seeing 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 in front of 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. Yes, learning for what it is. And that's been happening that's sort of been happening from the start on this. Yeah,
Bruce Dickinson 1:19:27
I always like if I get stuck or in analyzing things again, I'm cuz I'm a I'm 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 I had 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 bank, and everything bolts onto that. Yep. You know. So once you've got that, you can still go. Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, and that's what
Sasha Gervasi 1:20:33
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 an bill. 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 a 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 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.
Bruce Dickinson 1:21:17
Oh, yeah, here we go. Oh, yeah. This
Sasha Gervasi 1:21:19
is the thing at the beginning of the film. That's
Bruce Dickinson 1:21:21
right. Yeah. So we just I said, Yeah, we should write as some of this happened. Some of this might have happened. Some of this should never happen again.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:30
What a great line. Oh, my God. That's amazing. Yeah.
Sasha Gervasi 1:21:35
Put it back on the board.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:37
That's great. But that's that encompasses the entire film, what it's like,
Bruce Dickinson 1:21:42
That's your movie
Sasha Gervasi 1:21:43
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. I
Bruce Dickinson 1:22:09
mean, there's the other one we're working on is I'm sorry, to so totally different. It's, which is a script is an insane script I did. Which is like, yeah, is as close as you could get to is it kind of like a very dark Jojo rabbit type thing? Initially, we send it with another tip that 110 right, so So anyway, he read the script. And he went, yeah, I'm gonna send it to Kurt. So we sent it to Kurt. So I don't even you know what, there's something in this, but Act Three is a mess away. 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 the next, 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 as you do, I'll just type it up, and I know what I'm gonna do with it. So now looking on, on Act Three of it and trying to act three, and in doing so basically, effectively, start again, because Act Three informs act two informs act one. And we're still the same subject matter. But what inform what the crucial thing was, we 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 of 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? The message the 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 misogynists, 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?
Alex Ferrari 1:25:01
The power of what if the power of life
Sasha Gervasi 1:25:03
might also give, you know, 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. 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
Alex Ferrari 1:25:37
keep what I mean.
Sasha Gervasi 1:25:40
By 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 1:25:49
Well, no, I mean, Bruce, Bruce has obviously
Sasha Gervasi 1:25:52
my point of view. It's like,
Alex Ferrari 1:25:53
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 and the life he's LED and all the stories that even just the stuff we've talked about on this show, that alone, you could just get, you could just feel you can feel it coming off the 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. look into the eyes. I'm in the number of the beast. It's the number of the best. No, it's it's fascinating. I want to ask you one last question, guys 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 1:26:53
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. What happened next, right. But if you if you have a choice, whether to run away, you have no Don't be scared. They might miss your mean. 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 on my way to 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. So I'm not gonna start, you'll never do anything. But get you know, I mean, there's Simple as that. If you if you just say I can't do it, and, and it's, it's not gonna work. 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 a brief is
Sasha Gervasi 1:28:55
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 what 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 fuck sake. You know what I mean? It's just figure it out. It's so important to write a terrible screenplay, because then you've written a screenplay, you know? And that's it. But you've got to write a screenplay, like in Advil, lips, when you see the worst world's most disastrous tool. And then I interviewed him afterwards and I say to him, you know, are you okay? And I said, you must be bitter. Everything you were promised turned out not to be true. And he says, At least there was a tool for it to go wrong on what it's like, and I just think you have to have that fucking attitude right? You're gonna have failures, you're gonna have missteps you're gonna have welcome all of that shit and it goes back to Miles Davis, there are no mistakes. There are no mistakes. My
Bruce Dickinson 1:30:18
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 1:30:28
Of course. Of course you did. Bruce. Of course you did.
Bruce Dickinson 1:30:31
So I had this really ancient, outdated gocar 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. 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 cell smashed up, just stay in the race, and finish the damn race. I thought that that's kind of a profound lesson. It's so profound is right, I've got this shitty little trophy. three races in my life. And from 1973 I've got this little wooden trophy with like a really rubbish thermometer. That doesn't work anymore on it. And it's no pride of place, because it's the only trophy I ever won. And it's the trophy I won because I finished the damn race. And I ended up on the podium.
Sasha Gervasi 1:32:00
And by the way, and then up on the podium, let me just for those people who are, you know, smart, if you 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 and 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 1:32:33
and also and also winning the second prize for the English competition.
Sasha Gervasi 1:32:39
Right. The second one, the absolute
Bruce Dickinson 1:32:40
one. The second second prize is important and latest cattle prod. You know, when you go
Sasha Gervasi 1:32:47
cattle fraud. When I when I one tiny story when I wrote my first screenplay, and I wanted I was I begged to meet a London agent. I was a terrible screenplay with 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?
Alex Ferrari 1:33:25
Sasha Gervasi 1:33:26
fuel. And when I had 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 help.
Alex Ferrari 1:33:41
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 carpenter. Because they're not there wasn't there wasn't meant to be. It wasn't meant to be, that's not
Sasha Gervasi 1:33:54
that person, then 20 years later, looks back and goes, why the fuck did I leave,
Alex Ferrari 1:33:59
and then becomes that angry, and they end up become angry and bitter. And they 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 gonna 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 the time and just the moment when you start figuring out how to duck all times. It's over. Like,
Sasha Gervasi 1:34:32
but it's also about attitude that you don't again, 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. I mean, that's the attitude. That's the action. I want to 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. Absolutely you're gonna get smashed. 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 1:35:11
so let's I I want to just think I want to thank both of you guys for being on the show. I'm it 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 going to see this the the documentary but Bruce and Sasha thank you so much for being on the show and helping everybody
Bruce Dickinson 1:35:33
Live long and prosper.
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Links and Resources
- Bruce Dickinson – Website
- What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography – Book
- Scream for Me Sarajevo – Film
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