Is there another man or woman in music who has experienced the same dizzying highs and disastrous lows over the past 12 months as Bruce Dickinson?
Back in February, it was revealed that Iron Maiden’s imperious frontman was battling throat cancer – a challenge that the singer undertook in typically tenacious fashion, but one that even he had to admit was extremely hard going at times. “The last two or three weeks were particularly miserable,” he told us in our world-exclusive cover feature in August. “You lose your sense of taste completely.” Luckily, of course, it was announced in May that Bruce had been given the all-clear, paving the way for the arrival of Maiden’s most ambitious work yet: The Book Of Souls, a two-disc, 92-minute goliath that’s not only the most epic and ludicrous thing the band have ever put their name to, but, judging by the reaction it’s received, also the most successful album of their career.
As we catch up with Bruce to look back on what has been a, shall we say, rather busy 2015, he’s unsurprisingly quick to deflect attention away from himself and focus on the band’s achievements – but will go as far as to admit that even he was blown away by the response that has come his and Maiden’s way this year.
“It’s been a year of great ups – and downs, of course!” he concedes. “But we’re really happy with how well The Book Of Souls has been received. The support from the fans during my treatment was very much appreciated, and to then release the album to such a great reaction from everyone around the world is fantastic.”
And what a reaction it’s been. From the rousing If Eternity Should Fail, to Bruce’s 18-minute epic Empire Of The Clouds, The Book Of Souls has had fans in raptures. As Bruce explains, for an album that was so bold in its inception, and a potential risk in a modern-day environment filled with short attention spans and a demand for simplicity over depth, the response to has been nothing short of astounding. In fact, it’s quite literally been record-breaking, flying off the shelves the world over.
“Our last album went to Number One in 28 countries, which was pretty impressive,” he adds, “but now The Book Of Souls has gone even further! I’ve been told we’ve gone to Number One in over 40 countries, which is pretty special for us all.”
Ever the forward-thinker, Bruce won’t be drawn any further on the past, and is already looking to the future – namely, the small matter of taking The Book Of Souls on the road for the first time, armed with a bigger plane, a bigger show and more new territories to conquer than ever before. Put plainly: if you thought 2015 was a big year for Iron Maiden, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
“We can’t wait to get back on the road and play the new songs live for the first time!” Bruce enthuses. “As everyone knows, we had to delay our touring plans this year, but if anything, that’s given us even more time to come up with some special stuff for the live show. And, of course, we’re going to places we’ve never played before, like China and El Salvador, and are able to travel even longer distances now with our new double-decker 747 Ed Force One, so we’re extremely excited about that.”
Exciting, right? And if you think that’s a mouth-watering sentiment, UK fans have been given an extra-special reason to get hyped up…
“We’re going to be able to fly into the UK with Ed Force One for the first time to play Download!” adds the frontman. “As all our fans know, Donington is a really important festival for us – a proper home from home – and always has an incredible vibe. The one thing I can tell you about the show is that this is one performance you will not want to miss!”
Headlining at Donington for a triumphant sixth time, bringing a whole new set of songs screaming to life onstage, and showing everyone else how it’s done? It’s safe to say we’ll be there.