BRUCE DICKINSON: 'I've Been Trying To Do Less Things, But More Of Them'

March 16, 2024

In a new interview with Japanese music critic and radio personality Masa Ito of TVK's "Rock City", IRON MAIDEN's Bruce Dickinson, who is quite the renaissance man — rock singer, pilot, business leader, author, international fencer, motivational speaker, radio host and more — spoke about how he juggles his various activities, especially in light of the fact that he has just released a new solo album, "The Mandrake Project". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, funnily enough, I have been very busy. I've been trying to do less things, but more of them. [Laughs] So, rather than try and do ten things at once, just do two. And so in this case, it's been the album and also a three-year project of a graphic novel, which they don't depend on each other — they're independent of each other — but nevertheless, they share the same title. And there's some links between the one with the other, with the story. So, yeah, it's been a very busy year of mixing things. Also we've been doing the back catalog as well, so we've just done — in fact, this week, [we got done] mixing the Atmos Dolby version of 'Skunkworks', we've remixed it, and we're gonna be doing the same thing for all of my back catalog, so 'Balls To Picasso' and all the other albums. So, yeah, there's a lot of stuff going on. And we're preparing for a tour — I mean, a big solo tour; 50 shows nearly. And, unfortunately, no [shows in] Japan — yet. And then the rest of the year's busy with MAIDEN, and then we will be coming to Japan, which is fantastic."

Earlier in the month, Dickinson was asked by Riff X 's "Metal XS" what he would say to people who are afraid of trying things or getting out of their comfort zone. He responded: "Well, all of us are afraid of failure. And you can choose to let it rule you or you can choose to ignore it and say, 'What's the worst thing that happens if I fail?' You fail. It doesn't change who you are. And people who are not gonna talk to you because you failed, maybe you shouldn't have been talking to them in the first place because they're not interested in who you are; they're interested in what you are or what you do.

"I have some close friends, and although they are interested and they know what I do, they're not friends with me because of what I do," he continued. "I hope they're friends with me because of who I am, and I like them because of who they are and not what they are or what they do.

"I can't spread myself too thin with people, so I don't have millions and millions and millions of friends. So I find social media completely exhausting, and I just don't go there. I just dissipate all my emotional energy on rubbish. So I prefer to just keep it tight and just with people I trust and close friends.

"To people who are afraid of failure, I'd say, look, think of it the other way. Think of it, to not try, to not push and see what happens is not to be alive," Bruce explained. "Life is not just existing. Life is activity and joy. And like I used to say that when I did my one-man show, my spoken-word thing that I did, life is better than all the other options."

Less than six years ago, Dickinson called the concept of multitasking "absolute rubbish," explaining that people who can juggle lots of things at the same time are actually good at rapid task switching. During his September 2018 spoken-word gig at Folketeateret in Oslo, Norway, Bruce was asked by a fan for his advice on optimizing his schedule for motivation and focus. He responded: "Well, I actually try and do things one thing at a time, 'cause it's all I can manage. I've discovered that if I try to do two things at a time, like for example eating with a knife and fork whilst at the same time trying to play chess, one of them has to suffer inevitably. So as simple as it may sound, just do whatever it is you're doing — do that — and then do something else.

"All this stuff about multitasking, it's rubbish — rubbish; absolute rubbish," he continued. "Women cannot multitask. Men cannot multitask. But some people are better at going from one thing to the other thing to the other thing to the other thing and back to the other thing and everything else like that. But if they're gonna be successful at that, they're gonna do one thing at a time and change rapidly from one to the other. That's not multitasking; that's figuring out how to change rapidly from one thing to the other."

Nine years ago, Dickinson, who turned 65 last August, completed a round of chemotherapy for a tumor on the back of his tongue and was given a clean bill of health.

Dickinson's first solo LP in 19 years, "The Mandrake Project", was released on March 1 via BMG. Bruce and his long-term co-writer and producer Roy "Z" Ramirez recorded the LP largely at Los Angeles's Doom Room, with Roy Z doubling up as both guitarist and bassist. The recording lineup for "The Mandrake Project" was rounded out by keyboard maestro Mistheria and drummer Dave Moreno, both of whom also featured on Bruce's previous solo studio album, "Tyranny Of Souls", in 2005.

Last month, Bruce revealed the addition of two new guitarists to his solo touring band. Swedish-born guitarist, songwriter and multi-platinum-credited producer Philip Näslund and Swiss session and touring guitarist Chris Declercq (who incidentally played on Dickinson's current single, "Rain On The Graves") will accompany previously announced members Moreno, Mistheria and Tanya O'Callaghan (bass). Roy Z will not be part of the touring lineup.

The first chance to see the six-piece live will now be at The Observatory in Orange County, California on April 15.

Roy played guitar on Dickinson's 1994 album "Balls To Picasso" and went on to produce, co-write and perform multiple instruments on Bruce's subsequent three solo albums, "Accident At Birth" (1997),"The Chemical Wedding" (1998) and "Tyranny Of Souls" (2005).

O'Callaghan is an Irish musician who joined WHITESNAKE in 2021 and toured with the David Coverdale-fronted outfit the following year. She also hit the road with Dickinson last year as part of a performance of Jon Lord's "Concerto For Group And Orchestra" on nearly a dozen dates in Europe and South America.

Californian drummer Moreno previously played on "Tyranny Of Souls" and has worked with BODY COUNT, Jizzy Pearl, Dizzy Reed and Steve Stevens, among others.

Italian keyboard wizard Mistheria has collaborated with an array of artists live and in the studio, including Rob Rock, Mike Portnoy, Jeff Scott Soto and Joel Hoekstra.

Dickinson made his recording debut with IRON MAIDEN on the "Number Of The Beast" album in 1982. He quit the band in 1993 in order to pursue his solo career and was replaced by Blaze Bayley, who had previously been the lead singer of the metal band WOLFSBANE. After releasing two traditional metal albums with former MAIDEN guitarist Adrian Smith, Dickinson rejoined the band in 1999 along with Smith.

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