Bruce Dickinson March, 1997

(German Rock Hard magazine)

What happened to Skunkworks?

Bruce: "We came to the point where our musical aims were so far apart that there wasn't any sense in working together any longer. I had certain ideas about the further development of Skunkworks that weren't shared by the other band members. After I heard their song ideas for the last album and compared them with what I wanted to do, I sat down with them and said: 'I want a crushing, politically incorrect metal album, but you seem to want to do something completely different.' Their world seemed to turn around Beck and stuff like that, while I was in a metal mood. So I took a plane to California and wrote a big part of the material together with Roy Z."

The duo recorded 17 songs with the help of the Tribe of Gypsies' rhythm section, Eddie Casillas (bass) and Dave Ingraham (drums), and Bruce seems to explode with euphoria: "This album is gonna piss over every alternative band on the planet! It's exactly the kind of record to show up at your neighbor's with and ask him: 'What kind of music do you like? Alternative? Fuck alternative, man! I like metal, have you heard this? Boom!'"
Words that haven't been heard from Bruce for quite a long time. Where did this change of mood come from?

Bruce: "Alright, I'm still standing behind some of my statements. What was going on in the metal scene at the end of the eighties was partially quite ridiculous. Alternative gave the music scene what it needed the most, a kick in the ass. Metal had to go back underground again - and so did I. So I submerged, experimented, and tried this and that. I'm still proud of my records - although 50 or 60 percent of the metal kids may not get into 'Skunkworks' at all."
"My new project is like the rediscovery of an old toy box. You dig around in it and find all the things you played with years ago: ideas, riffs, songs that suddenly awaken memories. It's just a blast!"

But Dickinson didn't try to just reanimate the old NWOBHM-formula. "No, the aim was to transport the classic metal sound into the nineties." Bruce describes the music as a mixture of Sabbath-like riffing with Thin Lizzy/Maidenish guitar harmonies. "The sound itself is classic, but the whole thing is much heavier. If you listen to some of the records of the eighties that we all thought were really heavy, it becomes clear how the whole scene has developed. I was quite shocked when I listened to that old stuff again only recently. It's like listening to 'Jailhouse Rock' from Elvis. Cool music for the fifties, but quite dusted in terms of modern stuff."

Half of the guitar parts on Accident of Birth were done by ex-Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith. This is the first time since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son that the Dickinson/Smith team is working together again.

Bruce: "I still think that Adrian and I wrote a bunch of cool songs for Maiden in the past. There was only enough time for us to write 3 songs together, but all of them will be on the record. It's great. And the stuff really sounds like classic Maiden - '2 Minutes to Midnight', 'The Prisoner', 'Flight of Icarus', that kind of stuff. By the way, these are the three Maiden songs we'll play live, and maybe some older songs too."

That would mean that Dickinson and Co. could sound more like Maiden live than Iron Maiden itself.

Bruce: "Hahaha, yes, I think you're right! I mean Roy and Eddie are big Maiden fans, and they're hot to play the old stuff live; and now that Adrian is with us, I really have no doubts about that. Adrian has a special feeling and a very unique style as a guitarist; you don't find that everywhere. I think he's really happy to be with us, and what he did on the album was great."

The album will be released in early May.

Bruce: "I believe the album could be a real overstarter, and with the line-up I've gathered now - it's gonna be smoking...almighty! Hopefully we can get a lot of people back on board with this record!"

The countdown is on.