BRUCE DICKINSON - "You Don’t Feel Like Sleepwalking Through Life Especially Since Having A Bout With Cancer"
December 3, 2017, a year ago
Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson's new memoir What Does This Button Do?, debuted at the No. 10 position on the New York Times' Hardcover Non-Fiction Best-Seller list. He recently spoke with The Irish Times about the autobiography and his formative years; an excerpt is available below.
Q: You were diagnosed with tongue cancer in December 2014. How is your health now?
Dickinson: "I’m fine actually. You go back to the doctor and they say, 'You’re all clear of that. When was the last time somebody put a finger up your bum and brought a camera up there?' (laughs). You’re a never-ending pin cushion now, but I’m fine."
Q: Was your health scare a catalyst for the book?
Dickinson: "People have been asking me to write a book for 10 to 12 years. Either I’ve been too busy or I couldn’t be bothered. I know how much time it takes. I’d rather just sing. Then, after I got done with this thing (cancer), I thought it was not a bad time to do it (the book). The problem with doing an autobiography is where do you stop because obviously your life is ongoing. This autobiography is a really good stopping point because you have pressed the reset button for the rest of your life with it. Getting clear of it (cancer) was a good stopping point for this book. That’s a good end point for it so it gave me the impetus to have a go at writing this book.
Initially I was reluctant to write an autobiography. I just wanted a sort of a memoir if you like, a load of stories. As it turned out, since I started writing it, it kind of turned into an autobiography. I said I might as well call it that anyway because that is what the publisher wanted."
Q: You’re a singer, a licenced commercial airline pilot, an international fencer (he represented Britain), an entrepreneur and now a bestselling author (Dickinson wrote the book himself without a ghostwriter). You’ve been called a renaissance man. Does that term sit well with you?
Dickinson: "No, it requires a level of wisdom that I haven’t yet acquired (laughs). The title of the book says it all: What Does This Button Do? I do love new experiences and I do love exploring things that I think would be quite interesting. When you really work at something and really absorb yourself and throw yourself into it, it is hugely satisfying. You really feel alive. You don’t feel like sleepwalking through life, especially since having a bout with cancer. You think, this is really shit. Somebody can take this all away from me. Not the material aspect of it, but simply functioning – your brain, your soul, your passion. This bloody disease can take away all of that. I’m having a great time. That was hugely motivating in trying to overcome it (the cancer). I wanted to get on with the rest of my life."
Go to this location for the complete interview.
Heavy metal pioneers since their formation in 1975, Iron Maiden have sold over 90 million albums and played over 2000 shows in 63 countries, making them one of the most successful and globally influential bands of all time. One of the world’s most storied musicians, Bruce Dickinson has been the band’s internationally-acclaimed lead singer for more than 30 years, and quite aside from the decades spent delivering high-octane performances with his larger-than-life persona, Bruce has lived an extraordinary off-stage existence too. A true polymath, Bruce is, or has been, an airline pilot and captain, an aviation entrepreneur, a beer brewer, motivational speaker, film scriptwriter, twice-published novelist, radio presenter, TV actor and a world-class fencer.
Over the last couple of years, and throughout Iron Maiden’s The Book Of Souls World Tour, which has covered 39 countries and 117 shows since February 2016, Bruce has turned his unbridled creativity to writing his memoirs, longhand (in seven A4 notebooks no less).
In What Does This Button Do?, Bruce (a man who famously never gives interviews about his personal life) shares, for the first time, the most fascinating recollections, including his thirty years with Maiden, the early days, his childhood within the eccentric British school system, going solo, realising his dream of flying jumbo jets and his recent battle with tongue cancer. Bruce Dickinson is so much more than the frontman of one of the biggest bands on the planet. A rock icon, a true renaissance man, Bruce has been, and remains, a man of legend.
Bold, honest, intelligent and very entertaining, What Does This Button Do? is the long-awaited window into the life, heart and mind of one of our most adventurous and multifaceted sons. The global publication on October 19th will be accompanied with a commensurate international book tour. More details to come soon.