"I couldn’t tell you a pentatonic scale from a gin and tonic." Bruce Dickinson's new album The Mandrake Project will be the first time he's ever played guitar on record

Bruce Dickinson on the cover of Metal Hammer
(Image credit: Future (Photo: John McMurtrie))

On March 1, Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson will release his eagerly anticipated new solo album - the singer's first in almost two decades. Titled The Mandrake Project, it serves as a long-awaited follow-up to 2005's Tyranny Of Souls and Dickinson's seventh solo full-length overall. 

As part of his exclusive cover feature in the latest issue of Metal Hammer, Dickinson reveals that amongst other notable moments on the record, The Mandrake Project will feature the first time he's ever played guitar on an album, despite having written songs on the instrument many times across his career.

“It’s minimalist to say the least,” he tells Hammer. “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.”

Dickinson also reveals that as well as strumming his stuff on the album, he gets to bust out the bongos at one point. We're not kidding.

“Dave [Moreno, drummer on The Mandrake Project] has this big box of stuff to bang and shake,” he explains. “So I started grabbing things: ‘That sounds nice, let’s have a go! Bongos? Brilliant!’”

Elsewhere in the interview, Dickinson lifts the lid on his setlist plans for his upcoming live dates, which will include stop-offs in Mexico, Brazil, the UK and mainland Europe. Currently, the frontman plans to focus on 1997’s Accident Of Birth, The Chemical Wedding and the new LP.

“I did think of doing Born In ’58 [the autobiographical anthem from his debut solo album, Tattooed Millionaire], because I love that song,” he says. “And even Roy [Z, guitarist] was like, ‘Anything off of Skunkworks?’ Because that’s a fabulously underrated album. But I was like, ‘Hmmm, you know what, later. Let’s get our feet under the table with this tour first.’”

Read more from Dickinson in the new issue of Metal Hammer, out now.

Bruce Dickinson on the cover of Metal Hammer

(Image credit: Future (Cover shot: John McMurtrie))
Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.