Bruce Dickinson wouldn't have rejoined Iron Maiden if they were stuck in the ''past''.

The 60-year-old rocker originally joined the legendary heavy metal band in 1981, taking over from Paul Di'Anno, but he quit the group 12 years later to embark on a solo career, before he returned in 1999.

The 'Run to the Hills' singer - who was replaced by Blaze Bayley during his time away from the band - has admitted that he had one condition about fronting the band again, that they ''restart the whole impetus and direction of the band'', and founding member Steve Harris agreed.

This led to the band recording 2000's 'Brave New World', which Dickinson still thinks to this day is the best ''Maiden album ever''.

Speaking to Spain's RockFM, he said: ''Well, all I needed to know was that we were not gonna come back as some sort of a reunion-type thing.

''I didn't want to go back to the past. This was gonna be about putting a band together that was looking ahead to the future -- to do a great new album and to really restart the whole impetus and direction of the band. And Steve [Harris, bassist] said that's what he wanted to do, and I was, like, 'Okay. Let's do it.'

''And, of course, the first album we came out with after that was 'Brave New World' -- I think one of the best Maiden albums that we've ever done.''

Maiden made two album in Dickinson's absence, 1995's 'The X Factor' and 1998's 'Virtual XI'.

As well as music, Dickinson is also a licensed commercial airline pilot and has his own aviation business, whilst the band brought out their own brew of Trooper Beer, which sold over 20 million pints in five years.

Dickinson has even incorporated his passion for planes into the band's live show, as they opened their UK 'Legacy Of The Beast Tour' shows last year by performing with a Spitfire replica on stage.

He said: ''We would have made it actual size but we had to cut it down by 10 per cent to fit on some of the festival stages, otherwise it's an exact replica of arguably the greatest plane design ever, in fact one of the best designed machines ever!''

The 'Legacy of the Beast Tour' kicks off again in Florida on July 18.