BRUCE DICKINSON to star in ABBA tribute band horror movie
According to Deadline, IRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson will star in a new horror movie called “Bjorn Of The Dead”.
The film was written by Bruce‘s son Austin Dickinson and is based on an original story by Andrew Prendergast, who is producing the movie, along with Austin Dickinson.
Directed by Elza Kephart (“Slaxx”), the film “centers around an ABBA tribute band who find themselves, along with other tribute acts, trapped in a nightclub at the start of the apocalypse,” reports the site. “Bjorn and his band must work together to save themselves, humanity, and the future of music.”
Deadline also notes, “In addition to Bruce Dickinson, the film will have various cameos from the world of rock and heavy metal.” It is described as a “blood-drenched gore fest” (but it’s not likely to feature Jan-Chris de Koeijer-ALOM).
Here’s the full official plot synopsis, according to Deadline: “Bjorn, lead singer in ABBATOIR, and his band mates Benny, Anni-Frid, and Agnetha spend their weekends covering ABBA classics at a variety of increasingly depressing venues, from old folks’ homes to empty pub back rooms. It’s a grind and the band is ready to call it a day when Benny, the band’s oldest and most needy member, hears of a Battle Of The Bands competition for tribute bands at The Niney Dimey. As the band arrives to load in their gear, things begin to go awry rather quickly. A disturbance in the main room of the venue rapidly gets out of control forcing Bjorn and his band to take cover backstage. Some of the other bands are injured from the fracas outside, injuries which soon present a problem when the wounded begin to metamorphose into bloodthirsty undead.”
Raven Banner is handing worldwide sales on the film.
“It was important to set the tone of the project with this track,” Dickinson explains. “As befitting its title, it’s a heavy song and there’s a great big riff driving it…but there’s also a real melody in the chorus that displays the light and shade that the rest of the album brings… and just wait until you see the video!”
“The Mandrake Project” is a dark, adult story of power, abuse and a struggle for identity, set against the backdrop of scientific and occult genius. Created by Dickinson, scripted by Tony Lee and stunningly illustrated by Staz Johnson for Z2 Comics, the series features 12 episodes that collect into three graphic novels and will be launched in 2024.
An eight-page comic prequel to “The Mandrake Project”, titled “Afterglow Of Ragnarok”, is included within the vinyl seven-inch single booklet which accompanies the single of the same name and sets the scene for the story to come. The seven-inch single also features Dickinson‘s original solo demo version of the song “If Eternity Should Fail”, which first appeared on IRON MAIDEN‘s album “The Book Of Souls” in 2015.
More details regarding “The Mandrake Project” will be revealed when Dickinson appears as the keynote speaker on the opening day of CCXP23, Brazil’s huge Comic-Con event in Sao Paulo, on November 30.
Having already announced Brazilian and Mexican live dates for April and May next year, Dickinson and his phenomenal band — which features guitarist Roy “Z” Ramirez, drummer Dave Moreno, bass player Tanya O’Callaghan and keyboard maestro Mistheria — will continue their touring with a run of European shows, alongside a number of festival appearances in Europe. The currently confirmed dates are below.
“The Mandrake Project” European tour
May 18 – Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow, UK
May 19 – O2 Academy, Manchester, UK
May 21 – Arena, Swansea, UK
May 23 – Rock City, Nottingham, UK
May 24 – O2 Forum Kentish Town, London, UK
May 26 – L’Olympia, Paris, France
May 28 – 013, Tilburg, Holland
May 29 – De Oosterport, Groningen, Holland
June 1 – Barba Negra, Budapest, Hungary
June 3 – Arenale Romane, Bucharest, Romania
June 5-8 – Mystic Festival, Gdansk, Poland *
June 5-8 – Sweden Rock Festival, Sölvesborg, Sweden *
June 9 – Rockefeller, Oslo, Norway
June 16 – Huxleys Neue Welt, Berlin, Germany
June 17 – Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg, Germany
June 19-22 – Copenhell, Copenhagen, Denmark *
June 24 – Zeltfestival Rhein-Neckar, Mannheim, Germany *
June 25 – Circus Krone, Munich, Germany
June 27-30 – Hellfest, Clisson, France *
June 30 – Rockhal, Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
July 3-6 – Rockharz Open Air, Ballenstedt, Germany *
July 5 – Ippodrome Delle Capannelle, Rock In Rome, Rome, Italy *
July 6 – Bassano Del Grappa, Metal Park, Vincenza, Italy *
July 9 – E-Werk, Koln, Germany
July 13 – Hala, Zagreb, Croatia
July 16 – Kolodrum Arena, Sofia, Bulgaria
July 19 – Kucukciftlik Park, Istanbul, Turkey
* Festival performance
Bruce Dickinson has released a video message earlier this year in which he offered a bit more information about his upcoming solo album, due in early 2024 on BMG. Titled “The Mandrake Project”, it sees him reunited with long-time musical collaborator and producer Roy “Z” Ramirez.
“The Mandrake Project” will be Dickinson‘s seventh solo album and his first since “Tyranny Of Souls” in 2005.
Bruce said: “So, everybody, everybody on the planet who’s been going, ‘Oh my god. What’s this solo thing gonna be all about when it finally happens?’ Well, it’s finally happening. It’s called ‘The Mandrake Project’, and’ of course, it’s music. But, it’s also much, much, more. More than that, I’m not gonna reveal for now, ’cause it will become self-explanatory and self-evident as we go through and reveal more layers of the onion for you all.”
He continued: “But, yeah, ‘The Mandrake Project’. We’ve been working on this since 2014, when it wasn’t called ‘The Mandrake Project’. And it’s had time to grow and mature. And, oh my God, has it ever. I think you will be really, really excited. And, I hope you love everything that we’ve created for you.”
When “The Mandrake Project” was first announced in September, Dickinson said in a statement: “This album has been a very personal journey for me and I am extremely proud of it. Roy Z and I have been planning, writing and recording it for years, and I am very excited for people to finally hear it. I’m even more excited at the prospect of getting out on the road with this amazing band that we have put together, to be able to bring it to life. We’re planning to play as many shows as we can in as many places as possible, for as many people as we can! As for what ‘The Mandrake Project’ actually is… all will be revealed soon!”
In March 2022, Bruce told Consequence about his next solo album: “I’ve been working on it, on and off, since ‘Tyranny Of Souls’. But between lockdowns and albums and MAIDEN tours and everything else, I’m looking for a clear space to actually nail and say, ‘Okay, this is what it’s gonna be,’ and get Roy to put some backing tracks down. And then we can do it. So we’re at the point now where we’ve already got — I don’t know — anywhere between 50 and 70 percent of the material for the album, depend(ing) on what we pick, from things we’ve already got. And I think we’d like to tweak it a little bit.”
Back in December 2017, Dickinson said that his next solo LP would likely include a reworked version of “If Eternity Should Fail”, the opening track on IRON MAIDEN‘s 2015 disc “The Book Of Souls”. At the time, he said that he had about “half” of his seventh record already written and he also confirmed that “If Eternity Should Fail” was originally penned as a Dickinson solo track.
He told Finland’s Kaaos TV that the original plan was for his next solo record to be “a whole concept album, which was gonna be called ‘If Eternity Should Fail’. And ‘If Eternity Should Fail’ was the title track to my new solo album,” he said. “And a bit like (Dickinson‘s 1989 solo song) ‘Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter’ (laughs), it got commandeered for IRON MAIDEN. So if I did do another solo album, which I think I will, I might just stick to my original plan and have that as the title track. I mean, I did write it — it was the first track that I wrote for it. So, yeah, I’d probably still include that song. But it would be… the feel would be slightly different — not very much, though — from the MAIDEN version.”
In 2015, Dickinson told France’s Hard Force magazine that “If Eternity Should Fail” ended up being used by IRON MAIDEN after bassist Steve Harris heard the demos that Bruce was working on for what was supposed to be his next solo album. “And (Steve) went, ‘That’s a really cool song. Can we use that? That’s gonna be the opening song on the album,'” he recalled. “And I went, ‘Yeah, okay.’ And he was already writing, I think… He was already thinking of ‘The Book Of Souls’ as being the title, so he told me about the Mayan thing. And I’m, like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool. Okay. Yeah, I see where you’re going.’ But in my case, that song was written as part of a story. So the spoken word at the end is the beginning of a story that goes through the whole album. And one of the characters is Dr. Necropolis; he’s the bad guy. And the good guy is Professor Lazarus; he raises people from the dead. So that introduces Necropolis in the spoken-word thing. And I asked Steve… I said, ‘Look. Okay. I get having the song…’ ‘Cause it opens up with, ‘Here is the soul of a man.’ ‘Yup. Get that. But what about the end?’ I said, ‘Will people understand what this is about? Because this is nothing to do with the Mayans or anything. This is to do with… I’d come up with a concept album that doesn’t happen.’ (Laughs) And he went, ‘No, no, no. It’s just talking about souls and everything, and it sounds great.’ I went, ‘Okay.’ (Laughs)”
Dickinson made his recording debut with IRON MAIDEN on the “Number Of The Beast” album in 1982. He quit the band in 1993 in order to pursue his solo career and was replaced by Blaze Bayley, who had previously been the lead singer of the metal band WOLFSBANE. After releasing two traditional metal albums with former MAIDEN guitarist Adrian Smith, Dickinson rejoined the band in 1999 along with Smith. Since then, Dickinson has only released one more solo album (the aforementioned “Tyranny Of Souls”) but has previously said that his solo career is not over.
In September 2021 IRON MAIDEN released their last full album ‘Senjutsu’, for which the band currently is out on a world tour.