“It’s great when stuff like that breaks through”: Bruce Dickinson explains why he loves one of nu metal’s biggest, most “eccentric” bands

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

Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson has expressed his admiration for seminal nu metal band System Of A Down in a new interview.

During a conversation with Loudwire, the vocalist – who joined Iron Maiden in 1981 and left in 1993, before returning in 1999 – was asked for his opinion on younger artists who emerged in the wake of Maiden’s initial success in the early 80s.

Dickinson responds by saying that, although older musicians may baulk at the heaviness of bands like Slayer and Sepultura, he understands why they took the musical paths they did.

“You got some extremities,” Dickinson answers (transcribed by Metal Hammer). “Look at the grandaddies of everything, Slayer, and a band like Sepultura: just big, fat slabs of angry ‘Grrrrr!’

He continued: “Your blues rockers just went, ‘We hate that!’ And it’s like, well, you have to get in the headspace of why they’re writing stuff like that. If they’re young kids, which they were when they were doing it, they’re going, ‘We don’t wanna be like my grandad, who plays really proficient blues guitar. It’s going nowhere, because I can never be as good as him. And, even if I was as good as him, people would say, “You’re not as good as him.” So I’m gonna do something different.’”

Dickinson then carried on by mentioning bands that “diversified” metal’s palette in the 1990s, singling out Rage Against The Machine and System Of A Down. When the interviewer asks the singer for his thoughts on System especially, Dickinson expresses his admiration for the “eccentric” Armenian-American outfit.

“I kind of liked System Of A Down, simply because of the fact that it was that eccentric,” he explains.

“I’m not sure where it came [from], [but] I love the fact that it did get mainstream exposure. I think it’s great when stuff like that breaks through. I’m not sure what I could take from it but, nevertheless, it’s great that it’s out there.”

System Of A Down formed in 1994 and topped the US album charts with their second record, Toxicity (2001). Toxicity single Chop Suey! is also one of the most popular metal songs in history, boasting more than a billion streams on Spotify. The band split in 2006, following the release of 2005 double album Mezmerize and Hypnotize, but reformed as a live-only act in 2010.

Dickinson released his first solo album in 19 years, The Mandrake Project, on March 1 via BMG. Metal Hammer journalist Chris Chantler gave the album a glowing 4.5-star review, writing, “Technically, it’s an hour long, but The Mandrake Project is so filled with ideas it seems to fly by in no time, yet still feels like an epic journey.”

Dickinson and his solo band will tour prolifically to promote The Mandrake Project in 2024. The full list of dates is available below, and tickets are now available to purchase.

Bruce Dickinson 2024 tour dates:

Apr 15: The Observatory Santa Ana, USA
Apr 18: Diana Theater, Guadalajara, Mexico
Apr 20: Pepsi Theatre, Mexico City, Mexico
Apr 24: Live Curitiba, Curitiba, Brazil
Apr 25: Pepsi On Stage, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Apr 27: Opera Hall, Brasilia, Brazil
Apr 28: Arena Hall, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Apr 30: Qualistage, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
May 02: Quinta Linda, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil
May 04: Vibra, Sao Paulo, Brazil
May 18: Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom, UK
May 19: Manchester O2 Academy, UK
May 21: Swansea Arena, UK
May 23: Nottingham Rock City, UK
May 24: London O2 Forum Kentish Town, UK
May 26: Paris L’Olympia, France
May 28: Tilburg 013, Netherlands
May 29: Groningen De Oosterport, Netherlands
Jun 01: Budapest Barba Negra, Hungary
Jun 03: Bucharest Arenale Romane, Romania
Jun 05-08: Gdansk Mystic Festival, Poland
Jun 05-08: Solvesborg Sweden Rock Festival, Sweden
Jun 09: Oslo Rockefeller, Norway
Jun 16: Berlin Huxleys Neue Welt, Norway
Jun 17: Hamburg Grosse Freiheit 36, Germany
Jun 19-22: Copenhagen Copenhell, Denmark
Jun 24: Mannheim Zeltfestival Rhein-Neckar, Germany
Jun 25: Munich Circus Krone, Germany
Jun 27-30: Clisson Hellfest, France
Jun 30: Esch-Sur-Alzette Rockhal, Luxembourg
Jul 03-06: Ballenstedt Rockharz Open Air, Germany
Jul 05: Rome Ippodrome Delle Capannelle, Italy
Jul 06: Vincenza Bassano Del Grappa Metal Park, Italy
Jul 09: Koln E-Werk, Germany
Jul 13: Zagreb Hala, Croatia
Jul 16: Sofia Kolodrum Arena, Bulgaria
Jul 19: Istanbul Kucukciftlik Park, Turkey

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.