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BRUCE DICKINSON shocked by state of small venues in Britain


RON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson has called the U.K.’s pub crisis “absolutely shocking”.

According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), 29 pubs close every week because of sky-high energy costs, staff shortages, Brits having less disposable cash and changing consumer habits.

In an interview with the Daily ExpressDickinson said: “Pubs are being closed down in a way that’s ignorant. Pubs are either being closed altogether or are being ripped out so that they become a drinking factory, instead of anywhere with a sense of community. They become soulless, so that there’s no love or character there anymore.”

He added: “The state of small venues in Britain is absolutely shocking. Once venues go, they’re seldom replaced. When I started, shows were super-cheap. Then, bands would earn their money from their records’ royalties. They don’t now and live music is the essence of everyone’s existence. We’ve got to the stage where it costs £100 to see even a low-level show.”

Elaborating on the hardships younger hard rock and heavy metal musicians face when trying to break through in today’s music industry, Bruce said: “Artists get paid basically nothing from (music) streaming, yet the streaming companies still can’t make any money — so nobody is making any money. How this rotten old system still exists, I’ve no idea. It defies gravity.”

Dickinson previously talked about the state of the music industry last month in an interview with France 24‘s Marjorie Hache. He said: “Well, look, there’s a market for this kind of music. There’s an audience for this kind of music. But the problem, for me, and there are several — one is that this music exists to be played live. The tragedy now is that between government-slash-E.U. (European Union) legislation and taxation and everything else like that — I mean, the big bands, they have accountants and they can deal with tax and all the rest of it, but the smaller bands, a government saying, ‘Ah, yes, we’ll take 20 percent of your money and put it against tax.’ A band that’s getting paid 500 euros for a show can’t afford to have 100 euros taken away. At the same time, there’s a lack of venues, so now we’ve gone crazy about health and safety and blah blah blah, but bands need venues to play in, and bands need to be paid more for their music. So there needs to be a revolution in the royalties that musicians get paid directly from streaming.”

Asked about the irony of the fact that he voted in favor of Brexit in 2016 and is now a Brit who lives in France, which is part of the European Union, Bruce said: “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, no, I’m a Brit who lives in France ’cause I’m allowed to, because I married a French girl (in 2023).

“There was a minority of people in England, I think, who basically kind of don’t like foreigners,” he explained. “So they voted for Brexit because of that. But it was a very, very broad church of people. The weird thing is that the United Kingdom is an island. And that means that we think differently. Like, at the moment, the Corsicans are voting because they want to do something to secede from France, ’cause they’re an island. People think differently in an island. And if you don’t respect that, there’s pushback. And the problem with the European Union was, they decided that one size has to fit everything. And so, okay, we quit. Should Great Britain re-engage with the European Union? Yes, absolutely. But it should be based on pragmatism, not dogmatism.”

In June 2021, over 200 musicians and bands — including WOLF ALICEAnnie LennoxMark KnopflerNEW ORDER and RADIOHEAD — urged the U.K. government to act to mitigate the Brexit-related expenditure and red tape of touring on mainland Europe. The “Let The Music Move” campaign called for a renegotiation on touring — or “new bilateral agreements with each country that will reduce the costs and red tape” — as well as a short-term “transitional support package” to financially assist artists with new paperwork.

“The Mandrake Project” is Dickinson‘s seventh solo album and is released via BMG worldwide on multiple formats earlier this yeear.

Prior to the new LP’s release, Bruce‘s highest-charting album in the U.K. was his 1990 debut, “Tattooed Millionaire”, which landed at No. 14.

“The Mandrake Project” is not just an album. The comic book of the same name is a dark, adult story of power, abuse and a struggle for identity, set against the backdrop of scientific and occult genius. Created by Bruce, it is a collectable series of graphic novels scripted by Tony Lee (“Dr. Who”), stunningly illustrated by Staz Johnson (“2000AD”) and with covers by industry heavyweight Bill Sienkiewicz for Z2 Comics, which will be released as 12 quarterly issues that will be collated into three annual graphic novels, with the first coming at the end of 2024.

Earlier this year, Bruce Dickinson has released the official music video for his new solo single, “Rain On The Graves”. The track is taken from his upcoming solo album “The Mandrake Project”, which will be released on March 1 via BMGBruce and his long-term co-writer and producer Roy “Z” Ramirez recorded the LP largely at Los Angeles’s Doom Room, with Roy Z doubling up as both guitarist and bassist. The recording 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.

Watch “Rain On The Graves” below.

In a recent interview with Paul Cashmere of Noise11.comIRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson spoke about the upcoming tour in support of his new solo album, “The Mandrake Project”Bruce‘s touring band features longtime co-writer and producer Roy “Z” Ramirez, drummer Dave Moreno, bass player Tanya O’Callaghan and keyboard maestro Mistheria. Asked if he is planning to play “The Mandrake Project” in its entirety on the trek, Bruce said: “No. I mean, it’s been God knows how many years since I actually went out on the road. I mean, it’s been 19 years since my last solo album, 2005’s ‘Tyranny Of Souls’, Yeah, it’s a long time. So, given that, and given the fact that you’ve got seven albums to pick from now in terms of the setlist, I think it would be cruel and unusual punishment to have people listen to a brand new album start to finish.”

He continued: “We’re gonna do ‘Tears Of The Dragon’ (from 1994’s ‘Balls To Picasso’ album), we’re gonna do ‘Chemical Wedding’ (off 1998’s ‘The Chemical Wedding’), we’re gonna do ‘Accident Of Birth’ (off 1997’s ‘Accident Of Birth’), and all this, this stuff. I’m gonna limit it, probably, to the things I did with Roy, because that’s stuff that we share, with Roy and Dave Moreno, the drummer, and Mistheria did keyboards on all my records. So, you’ve gotta have a little limit that goes some way. ‘Okay, where’s our starting point?’ And effectively, it’s gonna be from ‘Balls To Picasso’ forward. I’m probably not gonna put any ‘Skunkworks’ (1996) stuff — not because I hate it, but just because we’ve got so many other great songs. I’m sure this won’t be the last tour that we do together, so we’ve got we got plenty of opportunity to go and do stuff. There’ll probably be three or four off the new record, for sure.”

Bruce added: “Roy wasn’t on ‘Skunkworks’. That was a completely different band, and a completely different feel to everything. But there’s some cracking songs on there. And, obviously, Janick (GersMAIDEN guitarist) was on ‘Tattooed Millionaire’. But, again, I’m not gonna do anything off ‘Tattooed Millionaire’ — not this tour. I mean, we might dig stuff up for future tours and things like that, but for now I wanna concentrate on the heavy stuff. And I think people will wanna hear stuff off ‘The Chemical Wedding’ because that was my little bit of a groundbreaking record in the ’90s.”

Dickinson‘s new studio album, “The Mandrake Project”, will be released on March 1, 2024 via BMG. Across ten inventive, expansive, and absorbing tracks, Bruce and his long-term co-writer and producer Roy “Z” Ramirez 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. “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.

The battle for immortality begins with “Bruce Dickinson’s The Mandrake Project” #1 available at comic retailers and direct from Z2Comics.com on January 17, 2024. The large-sized 9.35″ x 9:35″ 36-page single issue with cardstock cover is priced at $10 and arrives in a sealed bag with a first-printing certificate of authenticity — the first of a 12-issue run arriving quarterly over the course of the next three years, including annual trade paperbacks every fall. Release dates for 2024 and 2025 as follows:

“The Mandrake Project” #1 – January 17, 2024

“The Mandrake Project” #2 – March 20, 2024

“The Mandrake Project” #3 – June 26, 2024

“The Mandrake Project” #4 – September 25, 2024

“The Mandrake Project” #2 – March 20, 2024

“The Mandrake Project” #3 – June 26, 2024

“The Mandrake Project” #4 – September 25, 2024

“The Mandrake Project” #7 – June 25, 2025

“The Mandrake Project” #8 – September 24, 2025

“The Mandrake Project” annual trade paperback #2 – November 5, 2025

“Bruce Dickinson’s The Mandrake Project” #1 (of 12)

* Story by Bruce Dickinson
* Script by Tony Lee
* Art by Staz Johnson
* Letters by Troy Peteri
* Colors by Gabo
* Covers by Bill Sienkiewicz

Bruce Dickinson has recently released the official music video for his new solo single, “Afterglow Of Ragnarok”. The Ryan Mackfall-directed motion picture short is based on the graphic novel written by Dickinson and Tony Lee and features original artwork by Staz Johnson. “Afterglow Of Ragnarok” is the first single from the IRON MAIDEN singer’s upcoming solo album, “The Mandrake Project”, which will arrive in early 2024 via BMG.

Watch “Afterglow Of Ragnarok” below.

“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.

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 SmithDickinson 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.

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