Bruce Dickinson explained why he sometimes wonders if Iron Maiden pushes themselves hard enough.

The singer said he faced the recurring concern that the band limits its creativity to keep fans happy – and also discussed his solution.

“Iron Maiden fans are on another level,” Dickinson told the Big Issue in a recent interview. “And it’s a whole life term. I don’t support a football team, but I look with astonishment at how supporters react.

READ MORE: The Best Song From Every Iron Maiden Album

“I don’t think there’s a word for the level of commitment and devotion people have to a football club. And people have that same level of devotion to Iron Maiden.”

He described the mixed emotions that resulted from his observations: “Part of me says, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ The artistic half of me worries that maybe we don’t challenge ourselves artistically, because we have this devoted following and they’re happy with the way we are.”

He continued: “One reason for doing solo records is to push the envelope of what you can do emotionally and get out of the tram line. The tram lines [with Maiden] are quite broad, but they do exist.”

Dickinson reflected that his teenage self wouldn’t have believed what he’s achieved, and he pinpointed what mattered to him most now: “In spite of all the potential for turning into an absolute wanker, I’ve only partially turned into an absolute wanker.

“And somehow, I think, I’ve managed to be quite helpful for people in their lives, whether through music or other stuff. And that does mean a lot.”

Bruce Dickinson Chooses the Single Day He’d Relive

Asked which single day of his life he’d relive, Dickinson chose the experience of his solo band playing in Sarajevo while the city was under siege during the Bosnian War in 1994, as explored in the 2015 documentary Scream for Me Sarajevo.

“The difference that show made to people’s lives was beyond anything I could ever hope to achieve,” he said. “They were down to three days’ supply of food, water and diesel … people were living in houses that barely existed and had burnt the last of their furniture for firewood.”

He added: “We didn’t mention the war once. You don’t need some rock star turning up saying, ‘War is a bad thing.’ They’re in it, dude. Just play your music. It might just make people happy – and that’s the most useful thing you can do.”

Iron Maiden Albums Ranked

When ranking Iron Maiden albums, perhaps the most striking thing is that they succeeded despite changing lead singers on three separate occasions.

Gallery Credit: Eduardo Rivadavia

More From 99.1 The Whale