BRUCE DICKINSON - "If Anybody Wants To Hear An Amazing, Balls-Out Metal Voice, Go Have A Listen To TOM JONES"

February 28, 2024, a month ago

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BRUCE DICKINSON - "If Anybody Wants To Hear An Amazing, Balls-Out Metal Voice, Go Have A Listen To TOM JONES"

Iron Maiden singer, Bruce Dickinson, will release his new solo album, The Mandrake Project, via BMG on March 1. He is featured in a new interview with Songfacts dicussing the record, how his voice has changed over the years, and the singers he most admires.

Following is an excrpt from the interview.

Songfacts: What song is the most challenging to sing live?

Dickinson: "The song I find the most challenging to sing in the Maiden repertoire would be 'Aces High'. That's not just because I'm 60-something years old. Trust me, when I was 26, it was equally challenging. I always said, 'If we're going to do 'Aces High,' can we put it towards the front of the set please?' But we still do all the songs in the original key. I'm sure it would be easier if we dropped the key, but then it wouldn't sound as good. That's the most challenging Maiden song to sing.

Solo-wise, I don't know. Because I wrote the vocal parts, I'm pretty comfortable with it all. It's not that the songs are necessarily difficult to sing. I think if you've got a good, decent sound, and decent monitors, then you can pretty much pull off all the solo catalog. If you've got crappy sound, you've got to be a little careful when you start doing things like 'Darkside Of Aquarius' and 'Book Of Thel' so you don't blow your voice out if you're not getting all the required feedback from the monitors."

Songfacts: How would you compare your singing voice today to earlier in your career?

Dickinson: "The large parts of it are surprisingly intact, especially at the top end. Because typically, it's the high notes that go. I've always been quite a loud singer. Some singers have the ability to sound like they're singing really loud, and actually they're not. It's relatively quiet and all terribly under control. I'm not that singer. I open my gob and it comes out, and it has to shake my body down to my boots. I sing with my entire body pushing out that sound. I think that's one reason why my voice has lasted - because my voice gets a huge amount of support from my lungs and my diaphragm, and all the rest of it.

How has it changed over the years? Well, after throat cancer, my top end got a bit of a new lease on life because somebody took a three-and-a-half-centimeter golf ball out of my windpipe, to make the cancer disappear. I've got more bottom end now. There's a bit more growl to the voice, which I really like. When I was 18, 19 years old, I could squeak like a banshee but I couldn't do more looser, bluesy stuff because you need a kind of weight to your voice to do that. I had all the top-end stuff I could do. But now I'm in kind of a happy medium where I can do a lot more of that low-end stuff."

Songfacts: Which modern-day metal singers do you admire, or singers overall?

Dickinson: "Singers overall, one who is unfortunately no longer with us, Chris Cornell, was one of the finest voices I've ever heard of any generation. And sadly, he's gone. The guy from Angra (Andre Matos), he's also gone. So, all of these guys have gone, and they had the ability to really move people. They could yell and scream like the best, but they had the ability to move people with their voices.

One of my favorite performances of Chris Cornell, to show just how damn good he was, was doing the James Bond Theme ('You Know My Name' from the 2006 film Casino Royale). That's a great vocal performance. And funny enough, he shares that honor of great vocal performances with Tom Jones, who did 'Thunderball'. If anybody wants to hear an amazing, balls-out metal voice, go have a listen to Tom Jones and imagine if that voice was doing metal or rock. Obviously back in the day, he wasn't. But oh my God, he's just awesome. Power, resonance, tone... fabulous."

Read the complete interview here.

Dickinson will release his first solo album in 19 years, The Mandrake Project, on March 1 via BMG worldwide on multiple formats. Across ten inventive, expansive and absorbing tracks, 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, The Mandrake Project 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 lineup 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 Dickinson’s seventh solo album. Pre-order here.

The Mandrake Project tracklisting

"Afterglow Of Ragnarok"
"Many Doors To Hell"
"Rain On The Graves"
"Resurrection Men"
"Fingers In The Wounds"
"Eternity Has Failed"
"Mistress Of Mercy"
"Face In The Mirror"
"Shadow Of The Gods"
"Sonata (Immortal Beloved)"

"Rain On The Graves" video:

"Afterglow Of Ragnarok" video:

(Photo - John McMurtrie)

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