BRUCE DICKINSON On His Upcoming Solo Tour: 'We're Gonna Be Sold Out In Most Places In Europe'

March 13, 2024

In a new interview with Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show, IRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson spoke about the stripped-down nature of the upcoming tour in support of his latest solo album, "The Mandrake Project". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, we're doing a mix of festivals and headline shows so far in Europe up till July 21, about 40 shows. Luckily, I think most of the headline shows are almost sold out or sold out now. So we're gonna be sold out in most places in Europe. About two-and-a-half-thousand seaters — the average is probably about two and a half thousand, so they're cool-sized venues.

"For me, the whole essence of this is letting the music do the talking, let the music do the storytelling," he explained. "And so I'm not planning on having monsters or pyro or any of that stuff. There will be a screen, and, of course, we'll have a lot of stuff to put on it because we've got a great director and he'll be able to give us some content. But even then, I'm not going to have a show that's choreographed to like a time code or a click track or something else like that. This is gonna be a show where the music and the musicians take the story to people. So, I'm not thinking 2002, I'm not thinking 1982. I'm thinking 1972."

Last month, Dickinson revealed the addition of two new guitarists to his solo touring band, which will hit the road in April in support of "The Mandrake Project". 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 Dave Moreno (drums),Mistheria (keyboards) and Tanya O'Callaghan (bass). Bruce's longtime guitarist and collaborator Roy "Z" Ramirez will not be part of the touring lineup.

Earlier this month, Bruce told Paul Anthony of Planet Rock about Roy's absence from the touring band: "[It] is disappointing, but there you are. He had a lot of stuff going on at home. And, basically, there's stuff he could be doing in the studio. We are in the middle of doing Dolby Atmos mixes for all of my back catalog, and that requires quite a lot of stuff, 'cause we're not just remixing; we are also — what's the expression? — reimagining some of the albums. So some of the albums that should have been, frankly, a bit heavier, like 'Balls To Picasso', we can stick some new stuff on, and there's some stuff that didn't get mixed on to the album that was recorded that we can take a view on as well. So there's quite a lot of exciting stuff going on there, so there's gonna be lots for him to get on with whilst we're touring."

He continued: "But we've got two fantastic guitar players, Philip Näslund from Sweden and Chris Declercq, who actually is already on the record, because he played the solo on 'Rain On The Graves'. So he's based in L.A. He's a Swiss guy, but he lives in L.A., [is] based in L. A. And Philipwas based in L.A. but now lives back in Sweden. So it's gonna be an incredible band. I jammed with both guitar players. And I was, like, 'You know, I'm just gonna take both of them.' Obviously, there's a lot of twin guitar parts on the record. And there's also quite a bit of keyboards on the record and lots of stuff. So there'll be no idle hands on stage. But it'll sound magnificent. I've already jammed with Tanya and Chris and Philip and Dave Moreno when I was out in L.A., just to give it a quick once around the houses with some of the tunes, and it was so exciting. It really was."

Asked how many of the songs from "The Mandrake Project" will be performed live on the upcoming tour, Bruce said: "Well, I wanna make sure that people come to the show and just go away going, 'Well, that was great, cracking. You can't expect people… I mean, it's not like the Sermon On The Mount, where you turn up and it's, like, 'And you're gonna have this, whether you like it or not. So I'm gonna play certainly four tracks off the new record, and we'll just see how it goes. It's not a situation like a MAIDEN situation where, because we have a big show, because we have everything coordinated with the lights and monsters and pyro and everything, once we get out there, the show is pretty much set in stone, what we're gonna play. Well, this one, we can swap it around a little bit. I mean, if we start doing rehearsals and we go, 'Wow, this feels great. Why don't we chop in another song?' I wasn't gonna play anything off 'Skunkworks'. Now I'm not so sure, 'cause it turns out that both guitarists and the drummer are mad, keen fans of that album. So I'd just done an Atmos mix of 'Skunkworks' with the blessing of [the LP's original producer] Jack Endino, and it sounds brilliant. And I was in there with, with Chris and he's, like, 'Oh, can you play that track?' I went, 'How'd you know that track?' He goes, 'I love this album.' 'Wow.' So, there'll be a lot of stuff. There'll be stuff off 'The Chemical Wedding', obviously, gotta play 'Tears Of The Dragon' and so on and so forth, there'll be stuff off 'Accident Of Birth'. So it's gonna be a smorgasbord of the best-of, 'cause it's been 19, 20 years since I've toured live [as a solo artist]. So lots of people have either never seen me live or the ones that have seen me live have forgotten how bad it was, and have bought tickets. [Laughs]"

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.

"The Mandrake Project" arrived on March 1 via BMG.

Bruce and Roy recorded "The Mandrake Project" largely at Los Angeles's Doom Room, with Roy doubling up as both guitarist and bassist. The recording lineup for "The Mandrake Project" was rounded out by Mistheria and Moreno, both of whom also featured on Bruce's last solo studio album, "Tyranny Of Souls", in 2005.

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. Since then, Dickinson has only released one more solo album (the aforementioned "Tyranny Of Souls") but has previously said that his solo career is not over.

Photo credit: John McMurtrie

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