“I couldn’t tell you a pentatonic scale from a gin and tonic”: Bruce Dickinson plays guitar on record for the first time on his forthcoming solo album

Despite the Iron Maiden frontman having used the guitar to write many songs over the years, The Mandrake Project captures his playing for the first time on record.

Bruce Dickinson on stage. He's holding a mic attached to a stand and is wearing sunglasses.

Image: Kevin Mazur / Getty

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Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson is due to release his latest solo album, The Mandrake Project, on 1 March this year, and the release will mark the first time he has ever played guitar on a record.

The album will be his first solo release in nearly two decades, and is branded as a follow-up to his seventh solo album, Tyranny Of Souls, which landed all the way back in 2005.

Despite being more comfortable behind the mic, The Mandrake Project introduces Dickinson on guitar for the first time on record, though he has used it plenty of times to write songs across his career, and it turns out he’s not all that impressed by his own playing.

“It’s minimalist to say the least,” he tells Metal Hammer in its latest print edition. “I couldn’t tell you a pentatonic scale from a gin and tonic. I don’t rate my guitar playing at all, but if it sounds good, I like it.”

What’s even more surprising is that you may even catch some bongos played by the Maiden frontman too: “Dave [Moreno, drummer on The Mandrake Project] has this big box of stuff to bang and shake,” he says. “So I started grabbing things: ‘That sounds nice, let’s have a go! Bongos? Brilliant!’”

Just before 2023 wrapped up, Dickinson also gave an unfiltered take on Iron Maiden’s appearance at Power Trip Festival, claiming there were “posers” at the front of the crowd: “I think what was a little bit strange for us was that the people who should be down the front of the stage, because the tickets for the festival were so expensive, the kids who you wanted to play to were at the back.

“And that sucks, actually. It wasn’t our festival; it wasn’t our organisation. We’re going into America next year and we’re doing our own tour. And the people who are down the front are gonna be the people who deserve to be down the front. They’re gonna be the real fans, which is gonna be great.”

He added: “It’s, like, yeah. Go take a look at some real rock and roll fans – not a bunch of posers who wanna go down the front. ‘I paid 3,000 dollars for my ticket. Look at me.’ Fuck off.”

The Mandrake Project is released on 1 March. Find out more over at Bruce Dickinson’s website.

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