Bruce Dickinson discussed his departure from IRON MAIDEN back in 1993 – which started the band’s Blaze Bayley era and a string of four solo albums from Bruce – explaining to Vulture:

“When I left Maiden, I was pretty hard on myself.

“I said, ‘This whole setup is a limitation. It’s a lovely golden cage that’s comfortable and earns loads of money and I could go on recycling our identity, but I don’t want to do that. The only way I’m gonna find out what’s beyond and grow as a singer is to do something different. And the only way I’m gonna get taken seriously, is to leave.’

“I realized when you’re in Iron Maiden, everyone blows smoke up your ass. In the ’80s, when you’re in a big band, you have publicists and all kinds of people to protect you.

“As soon as you leave the bubble, everybody goes, ‘You know, I always just wanted to kick that guy in the nuts!’ It’s open season! That’s what happened to me. It was a shock.

“But, at the same time, I was like, ‘Well, this is why you did it.’ You step outside the box to find out what’s outside the box. You just have to take it on the chin and go, ‘Move on. This is evolution. This is Darwinism. It is survival of the fittest and if you can’t evolve into something that has a useful function, slink away and die.'”

The singer added:

“You basically throw yourself to the universe and say, ‘Okay, should I really exist as a singer? Is there anything useful I’m bringing to the world by being in a heavy metal band other than nostalgia?’

“Because if that’s all it is, maybe I should just take that person and quietly strangle him and go do something more useful instead.

“If you want to be an artist, you can’t be resting on your laurels. You’ve got to be out there doing something different.

“I didn’t know what to do, which is why I left. I think people assumed when I left that I had a plan. Nope. No plan. Which I think the guys in the band found really hard to understand.

Explaining how he feared at the time that Maiden would fall into irrelevance, Bruce added:

“Plowing the same furrow would maybe be the term. The audience would probably be happy with that, although it would slowly diminish.

“The band would become less relevant and gradually turn into a blob with the rest of the metal community. That’s not what I wanted.

“I learned so much when I was out of the band. I was a way better singer when I came back to Maiden [in 1999] than when I left.

“Consequently, the album we did when I came back, [2000’s] ‘Brave New World,’ I think is one of our classic records of all time. That was because all the energy was back. Everything in the band changed at that point.

“Before I’d left, there’d always been these little power struggles. When I came back, it was much more honest. People always say, ‘Maiden is like a family,’ like a family is a good thing.

“But families aren’t necessarily good things. A happy family is a great thing, but families are just random events that happen. That organisms pop out of the same hole, that’s no reason why they should like each other, in truth.

“All this ‘Blood is thicker than water’ … sorry guys, if your brother is an asshole, he’s an asshole!”

Bruce concluded:

“We’re probably more friends now than we ever have been. We’re a band of brothers born out of the same mother, which is Iron Maiden. The mother ship gave birth to our relationship. We all accept that now.

“My loyalty is not to Steve, Adrian, or Janick. It’s to Iron Maiden and on that basis we have a great relationship. It means that we forgive each other, all of our little trespasses, if you want to use the Lord’s Prayer.

“I think it’s the same for everybody in the band, like, ‘Nu uh, it’s about Maiden, stupid.'”