Bruce Dickinson is in the midst of getting ready for the release of his upcoming solo record The Mandrake Project. Because of that, he’s been out giving interviews about his new album and his time in Iron Maiden and his solo career. He left Iron Maiden in 1993 after the release of Fear of the Dark and the ensuing world tour. He sat down with Classic Rock to talk about the fan reaction and his solo career.

Bruce’s solo career feels similar enough to his Iron Maiden songs, but still feels different enough to make it really worth listening to. Here’s what he said about leaving Iron Maiden and what he would or wouldn’t have changed.

“I would have done, yes. I wouldn’t have changed that, but I would have done it better [laughs], I would have had more of a plan.”

He also went on to talk about his decision to leave Iron Maiden after Fear of the Dark.

“It was. I realized Iron Maiden was doing its thing and there was nothing anybody could do to change its trajectory. At the time, I was sitting there making what ended up being [his second solo album, released in 1994] ‘Balls To Picasso,’ and I realized that I didn’t have much clue what to do outside of Iron Maiden.”

His 1990 solo debut Tattooed Millionaire was a solid one, but not something Bruce was particularly proud of. He went on in the interview to talk about how his solo career wouldn’t have been as impactful if he had stayed in Iron Maiden.

“I was in this state of limbo then. I thought, I have to leave because otherwise, whatever I do, nobody’s going to take it seriously. They’ll just go, ‘Oh, bless his pointy little head, it’s his little side project.’ I read a quote in a newspaper which finally provoked it, by

Henry Miller, ‘All growth is an unpremeditated leap in the dark with no idea of where you’re going to land.” [The quote is ‘All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience,’ although the message is the same.]

Finally, Bruce ended with how fans reacted to his album Balls to Picasso after his departure.

“Yes, I couldn’t understand it. Some of them told me they couldn’t even listen to ‘Balls To Picasso’ at the time because me leaving was still too raw.”

The Mandrake Project will release on March 1st through BMG. Here’s how they described the album.

Across ten inventive, expansive and absorbing tracks, Bruce Dickinson and his long-term co-writer and producer Roy Z, have created one of 2024’s defining rock albums. Sonically heavy and rich in musical textures, it sees Bruce bring to life a musical vision long-in-the-making, and features some of the finest vocal performances of his career.

Recorded largely at LA’s Doom Room with Roy Z doubling up as both guitarist and bassist, the line-up for The Mandrake Project was rounded out by keyboard maestro Mistheria and drummer Dave Moreno, both of whom also featured on Bruce’s last solo studio album, Tyranny Of Souls, in 2005.

The Mandrake Project is not just an album, but a dark, adult story of power, abuse and a struggle for identity, set against the backdrop of scientific and occult genius. Created by Bruce Dickinson, the comic series is scripted by Tony Lee and stunningly illustrated by Staz Johnson for Z2 Comics, released as 12 quarterly issues that will be collected into three annual graphic novels. The first episode was released in comic shops on January 17th, 2024. 

You can pre-order The Mandrake Project here.

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