Bruce Dickinson Plays His First-Ever Guitar Solo on ‘The Mandrake Project’
During Loudwire's "In Conversation" live event with Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson last week (Jan. 16), the singer revealed that his new solo album, The Mandrake Project, features his first-ever guitar solo.
While Dickinson is best known for his age-defying vocal performances, when it come to songwriting, he dabbles on guitar and piano. He plays down his abilities while conceding that although he can use these instruments to write, he'd much prefer someone else play them on the recordings.
Bruce Dickinson on Playing Guitar
"Roy Z made me, the bastard, he made me play guitar," Dickinson amusingly grumbles when asked about his contributions on guitar on this new record.
"I said I'm going to show you the riffs and the chords and everything and he said, 'Yeah, cool. Well, you do it!' And I said, 'Well, yeah, but I'm not very good so if you do it, it'll be a lot quicker and he said, "No, no, you do it.' And I went, 'Okay, just for the demo, right? Just for the demos,'" he goes on.
"So, on we went for the demos. A lot of it did get replaced, but some bits he kept, sneakily, without me realizing," Dickinson notes, revealing, "There's a guitar solo — my first guitar solo in recorded history and also probably my last."
The solo appears on "Face in the Mirror," the third to last track on The Mandrake Project, which will be released on March 1.
Bruce Dickinson on Playing Piano
The singer then recalls his experience writing the epic "Empire of the Clouds" off Iron Maiden's 2015 effort The Book of Souls. He had to record his parts in small bits, even tracking the left and right hands separately.
"The sound of it is kind of robotic and kind of mechanical. It doesn't have that lovely flow that somebody can really play piano has," Dickinson laments, noting that he'd like to re-record the 18-minute song with an orchestra and give it the real proper treatment.
Watch the interview directly below.
Q&A With Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson (Full Video - Live Audience)
About The Mandrake Project
The Mandrake Project is the successor to 2005's Tyranny of Souls and contains material that has been in the works for over two decades. The first single and album opener, "Afterglow of Ragnarok" is a real thumper and can be heard here.
Ever the creative, Dickinson has also just launched the first of 12 The Mandrake Project comics (order here), which further fuels the dark narrative that's explored on the album. The story was actually based on the title track to Dickinson's 1997 solo offering.
"The story for the comic was based on a song called 'Accident of Birth,'" Dickinson explains, "In 'Accident of Birth,' there's a brother separated from his twin at birth. One is in Hell, the other one is alive [with] survivor's guilt... 'Why him and not me? Why am I not in Hell and survived?'
He continues, "But imagine if there was a way of bringing back his dead brother from the underworld? Imagine there was technology that could do that and that technology is owned by two guys — Professor Lazarus and Dr. Necropolis. One's a good guy and one's a bad guy. One wants to use it for the good of humanity and one wants to make a load of money."
How Many Songs Each Iron Maiden Member Has Written
Gallery Credit: Joe DiVita