Bruce Dickinson on Performing Amidst World Terrorism: ‘I’ll Play No Matter What’
Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson has been around the world a number of times throughout his career, both with Maiden and as a solo performer. The singer famously ventured into the war zone of Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia, in 1994 with his solo band and he has now shed light on the events surrounding that show in addition to offering his thoughts on the current state of terrorism and touring.
A new documentary, Scream for Me Sarajevo, chronicles the show and Dickinson spoke about the forthcoming film and terrorism on the Radio Sarajevo show, The Aebyss, in December of last year. When asked about driving into a war zone and the current Iron Maiden world tour, the frontman said, "Personally, yeah, I'll play no matter what. Your concern has to be, actually, for people who don't have a choice in the matter. I mean, it was my choice [in 1994] — actually our choice, collectively, 'cause we all, collectively, said, 'Yeah, we're all crazy enough to try and do this thing and drive into Sarajevo in the middle of a war and see if we can do and do a gig. And [laughs] we're not quite sure when we're gonna come back.' But those poor people that went for that [Eagles of Death Metal] concert at the Bataclan [in Paris, France] had no choice; they were completely, completely innocent in every possible way."
Dickinson went on to discuss how and when to decide what call to make regarding playing or canceling a show, adding, "And, of course, nobody knew that the place was gonna get targeted. So, unfortunately, there's a judgment call that people have gotta make and you have to make it on the best information available — as to whether or not you're suddenly gonna get… If somebody says, 'We're gonna massacre everybody at a rock concert,' you say, 'Well, is it some lunatic, or is it genuinely credible that this might happen?'"
"You can't take the responsibility for what might be some lunacy, massacring people, just because you wanna be kind of 'macho man' and stand up and say, 'Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, we did this and people threatened us, but we were like macho men,'" Dickinson went on. He cautions this attitude towards these circumstances, explaining, "And that's great until one day it turns out that somebody does go and do [something like that] and then you have lots and lots of dead women and children, and you go, 'Maybe we shouldn't have done the show, because there was a credible threat.' So, unfortunately, you've gotta be grown up about it. But, at the same time, you still need to be able to offer people that hope and send that message out there. They can't stop… Real life just carries on."
Going on to detail how growing up in a time where the Irish Republican Army and the U.K. were involved in the Border Campaign conflict leading to numerous bombings, Dickinson stated, "People just got on with it and carried on. You don't stop. You don't back down from living your life. And that was the message in Sarajevo — that in all the craziness, this little bastion of rock and roll and kind of normality happened, for five minutes, in the middle of it. You know, yeah, you know what? There is light at the end of the tunnel there. So all those kinds of things are acts of defiance, but not involving guns or bombs or bullets and things like that."
Scream for Me Sarajevo was written by Jasenko Pasic and produced by Prime Time Productions.
Iron Maiden are in the midst a world tour in support of their 2015 effort The Book of Souls, which has already seen the band play a multitude of the 36 countries on their schedule. The band experienced a hiccup when their custom Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet, Ed Force One, was badly damaged in a ground accident. The craft was outfitted with two new jets engines and deemed ready for takeoff in just over a week after the incident. Photos and a review from the Florida tour kickoff can be seen here and for photos and a review of the New York City show, click here.
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