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BRUCE DICKINSON On His ‘The Mandrake Project’ Tour: ‘It’s Amazing To Play With Musicians Who Are Less Than Half My Age’

Ahead of the Brazilian leg of his “The Mandrake Project” solo tour, IRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson was asked by the Rádio Kiss FM radio station what fans can expect from the shows. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Oh, wow. Well, we are having so much fun on stage. It’s amazing to play with musicians who are less than half my age. So the energy and the enthusiasm is just off the chart. I mean, we’ve been learning new songs, and we just throw them into the set and go, ‘Yep, let’s do this one tonight.’ Whereas a lot of bands, because they have a big show and fireworks and monsters — like MAIDEN, for example, we don’t change the set around every night. But with this project, we do. So, yeah, people who come to Curitiba to see the show, the people the next night in Porto Alegre are gonna get a different show. And it’s interesting for us, and it keeps us on our toes musically. The first time in Brazil, I’ve got some stuff to put on screens, so I think we’re gonna have screens behind us. And so I’ve developed a load of material, some of it quite out there for the back. Because we don’t play to a time code or a click track, we don’t use tapes, backing tapes and all that crap, we’re actually musicians who play the real thing, so if we’re excited, we play a little bit faster. So we look at each other, we go, ‘Should we stop now?’ ‘Yeah. Okay. One, two, three, four,’ boom. Or ‘should we start now? One, two, three,’ boom. Let’s go. We look at each other, we play off each other — it’s that old-school stuff. And the way the stage is, I designed it so it’s deliberately different to the normal thing where it’s all about having a massive drum kit right in the middle. Well, we’ve got a pretty big drum kit, but it can be heavy and it can be beautiful as well. We play ‘Navigate The Seas Of The Sun’, which shocked us when we first played it, because we’ve never played it — I’ve never played that song live. And we’ve done it three times now, and each time I’ve been shocked at the reaction. It’s a real emotional reaction to that song. It’s beautiful.”

After playing two warm-up shows at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California, Dickinson officially kicked off his first solo tour in more than 20 years on April 15 at The Observatory in Santa Ana, California.

Joining the IRON MAIDEN singer on the trek is his current backing band, featuring Dave Moreno (drums),Mistheria (keyboards) and Tanya O’Callaghan (bass),alongside the group’s latest additions, Swedish guitarist, songwriter and multi-platinum-credited producer Philip Näslund and Swiss session and touring guitarist Chris Declercq (who played on Dickinson‘s “Rain On The Graves” single). Bruce‘s longtime guitarist and collaborator Roy “Z” Ramirez is not part of the touring lineup.

Prior to the April 12 Whisky A Go Go show, Bruce last performed with his solo band on in August 2002 at the legendary Wacken Open Air festival in Germany.

During an appearance on the April 16 episode of SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”, Bruce was asked if there are plans for him to stage a full U.S. tour in support of his recently released solo album “The Mandrake Project”. He responded: “I brought the [booking] agents and the promoters, and everybody came down and saw the Whisky show [in West Hollywood, California over the weekend], and now they know what they’ve got to deal with in terms of doing a U.S. tour. So, we’re looking at it, we’re planning it.

“I absolutely wanna do a full U.S. tour with ‘The Mandrake Project’,” he added. “I obviously can’t do one for the rest of this year [due to commitments in other parts of the world and MAIDEN‘s upcoming touring activities], but there’s ’25 and there’s numerous opportunities that will crop up. So the answer to that is yes, of course, we wanna come and do the U.S.”

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.

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