Iron Maiden had “no idea” how Senjutsu would turn out

Bruce Dickinson says Iron Maiden hadn’t even thought about doing a double album when they went into the studio…

Iron Maiden had “no idea” how Senjutsu would turn out
Nick Ruskell

It’s very good news that Iron Maiden’s forthcoming new album Senjutsu is a double – and technically a triple on the vinyl version, such is its heft. It’s 80-something minutes long, and as epic as you’d expect such a thing to be. But, Bruce Dickinson tells us in our exclusive Cover Story, despite the monster it would eventually become, there was the barest of sketches when they first went into Paris’ Guillaume Tell studios in the spring of 2019. Not a bean.

“We had no clue, absolutely no idea, what the album was,” he says. “We didn’t go in there with any set idea or preconception,” says Bruce. ​“We had a few ideas. We went into the studio and tried them out, and when they worked, we just recorded straight away. So while we were rehearsing, everything was being recorded – the tape was rolling the whole time.”

As for the creative process, he revealed that he and bassist Steve Harris work in very different ways when it comes to writing.

“Steve would literally lock himself away for two or three days, and we’d all turn up and play pinball,” Bruce continues. ​“And then he’d say, ​‘I think I’ve got one, chaps. Oi! Everybody in the studio!’ Boom. The stuff I wrote with Adrian was a bit more conventional – we’d stand around and play guitar and sing and do that until we thought we had something. Then we’d rehearse it and put it straight down. It’s more organic, if you like. Steve tends to be quite detailed and meticulous in exactly how he wants it.”

With band members drifting away from the studio once their respective parts were done – “Nicko [McBrain, drums] got his drums done and then went back to Florida, where it’s warm” – at the end of the sessions the last men standing were Bruce, Steve and producer Kevin Shirley. So for two years, most of the band haven’t actually heard the finished thing.

“Management didn’t have [a copy],” says Bruce. “I think Steve had a copy on one laptop and one was locked away in a vault somewhere, and that was it. Obviously, we were thinking it’d escape and somebody would hear it. So to have kept it under wraps for this long is pretty good, really. The last time I heard it was when Steve was mixing the Mexico live album. He hadn’t listened to it for ages, so we put it on and both went, ​‘This is really good… wow!’”

Read all about Maiden’s new album Senjutsu in this week’s exclusive cover feature.

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