Interview with Bruce John Dickinson and Randy Nixon from COLOUR OF NOISE
Interview by Mark Dean
Antihero Magazine’s senior music journalist, Mark Dean, spoke to guitarist Bruce John Dickinson and drummer Randy Nixon from COLOUR OF NOISE.
Introduce yourselves and your role in Colour of Noise.
Bruce John Dickinson: I’m Bruce John Dickinson, I’m the guitar player in Colour of Noise.
Randy Nixon: I’m Randy Nixon, I’m the drummer in Colour of Noise.
Actually, I wanted to take us back to your first musical memory, if you could recollect that, whether it was a gig or a song on the radio.
Bruce: I think it’d be Debby Harry. When I was a kid. On top of the pops, in the shorts girl [laughter]. I have a very strong memory of that. And then, my dad’s record collection actually. You know, more seriously. The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, The Kinks. All the good stuff.
What about yourself?
Randy: For me it was Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life. I can remember listening to that album at a really, really young age and being really impressed by it. I came from a family where I had classic songwriting from my dad, I had Motown and predominately black music from my mum, and then I had heavy metal from my brother. I was kind of in this weird triangle, so it’s somewhere in the middle of there, so I got into each.
Bruce: That’s interesting though, because you could probably hear that actually, with a bullet like that. You can probably hear that in our record.
Randy: It’s a collection of the three things.
Bruce: Yeah, because the drummer in the band will produce the record, do a lot of songwriting, and is a big influence on the overall sound.
Just wondering if we could touch on your own musical history, some of the bands you’ve played with, etc?
Randy: Not so much the classic rock stuff. I’ve done lots of pop stuff. I was in a band called The Jeevas with Crispian Mills, who was from Kula Shaker, his band after that. I was in a few bands in the 90’s that were signed, one called Straw. Nothing kind of major, but around the times when there were other bands that kind of took over. I’ve had a lot of session stuff.
So how did you guys meet up?
Bruce: There was what I regard as one of the great lost bands, another band called the Magic Bullet Band. And well, we’d known each other more than thirty years. We grew up together. But I think the thing that affected me was the Magic Bullet Band record, which never really got a proper release. And, the record never really came out except as a home produced thing, but I had it in my record collection just because it’s a record I played a lot. And then I forgot that it was my mates in the band that gave me the record. And then my wife put it on. We just put that record on alongside Tom Petty, and you know, ZZ Top, or whatever else I wanted to play. So, when I fancied doing some music again, which is surprising, it sort of hit me one day, I thought I’d just convince him…
There was just this sort of strange conviction that the time was right to make a classic rock record. So then I knocked on Randy’s door and Dan’s door, because of the Magic Bullet Band, and said: “What do you think?” And they sort of said, “Yes, sounds like it is the time.” We didn’t know why. It’s just a strange conviction. Anyway, it was like that.
What sort of hobbies, interests, past times do you have outside of music? Obviously you’ve had a little bit longer to explore other directions outside music.
Randy: For me it’s films and I teach, and I love to teach. I’m an artist, so I love to paint and draw and to create. I’m kind of in charge of the visual side of the band.
Bruce: Yeah, it’s great for the video.
Randy: All that kind of stuff comes from me.
The album cover then?
Randy: A friend of mine in Australia did that. And I’m into kind of pushing the boundaries a little bit. An album cover before with four guys standing against the wall, so let’s do something that’s going to stand out a little. And it really has.
Bruce: And the use of color. Like, something. A lot of the sort of fundamental decisions come from Randy like, let’s not do any ballads. I’m a writer, okay? Let’s make a guitar record. And let’s just kick people in the nuts with a guitar record. Let’s have an album color that’s not black. Let’s have some color in it. It’s a bit psychedelic.
Randy: You’re a fisherman.
Bruce: For me, after you go back to the sea every now and then, you sort of gain your sense of respect for the world. I might be bobbing about on the boat or sitting on the beach, but that’s good for your music, it’s much better for your guitar playing than just practicing for eight hours.
Good and bad things about being a professional musician in current times?
Randy: Good thing is I suppose you’re your own boss.
We’ve already lost several musical legends this year, just wondered how it’s like to be remembered yourselves. What would be your lasting legacy? Would it be a song for yourself, maybe a piece of art?
Randy: I think it’s just to leave some kind of body of work, for me. I don’t know, just something that maybe you changed people’s lives, or maybe you’ve cheered them up, or maybe you’ve gotten them through a difficult stage in their life, or maybe the thought that maybe someone saved up to come and see your gig and it was the best gig they’ve ever seen. That to me is the kind of stuff that matters.
Bruce: Little things.
Randy: More than money and you know, I don’t want to ask for a high school or something like that named after me. Or an airline. Something like that.
Is there any sort of musicians that you like to play with? Maybe from a different musical genre?
Bruce: It’s hard, the questions you ask of people who haven’t listened to music. There’s a lot of new music that’s great, but it doesn’t sound the way I’d like it to sound, so I tend to go back to the old records.
Any musical heroes outside the rock genre?
Randy: I’d love to go to Stevie. I’d love to play with Marvin Gaye, I’d love to play with Creedence Clearwater Revival, or you know, Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen. I’d love to do a Bruce Springsteen show, that’d be amazing. He goes like three and a half hours.
Just a final one for you both. If you both were to get a chance to interview someone, with you asking the questions, who would it be? Not necessarily a musician. A star, a personal hero?
Bruce: Do they have to be living? There’s a guy named Chris Yates, who’s a good writer. He writes about fishing, but he writes about fishing as a way of understanding life. And there’s a lot of parallels in music. Well, for example: you cast a line into the sea, it’s like asking a big question. It’s only going to answer; you know? With the sea, you’ve got to narrow those odds down, so it kind of works out in your favor. It’s a big old haystack and you’re looking for these small needles in the haystack, the fish splashing along. If you can figure out how to go fishing, you can figure out how to get on in life. Chris Yates, that one.
Randy: For me, it’s probably Bill Murray. I think I’d love to have a chat with Bill Murray. Or Harrison Ford, or someone like that. Like a really big American movie star, someone that I grew up on. Someone that I grew up watching, or maybe Spielberg, something like that. I like totally creative people. I find it fascinating. Probably someone outside of music, might be a bit more interesting. I know about music; I don’t know about other things.
Okay that’s good, thank you both very much.
Bruce: Thank you!
Randy: You’re welcome.