(Stuart Halcomb's Homepage)
Regardless of what people think, there is little question that Bruce Dickinson has one of the most dynamic voices in rock 'n' roll. From his first recordings with Samson to his years with Iron Maiden to his two solo albums and now his new band, there is no doubt Dickinson has sung to his fullest extent and then some.
In a recent interview Dickinson revealed that the years have taken their toll on him, but he said he is not about to let up as his new band is getting set to tour.
"There was a lot of outside pressure for me, but I think I'm really lucky after 17 years of singing to make this record," Dickinson said. "We've slated three months, starting in late April, to tour - with the summer laid out for America."
A question on many minds would be what to expect on the tour, but Dickinson was tightlipped about it, saying that during nightly rehearsals for tour preparations the material consists mainly of Skunkworks songs.
"Last night I really liked 'I Will Not Accept the Truth', but my favorites change all the time," Dickinson added. Since this is a different band, don't look for much from the Maiden catalog. "Not to knock Maiden, but for the most part the guys don't really care for Maiden," Dickinson said. "Well, there is one song we've been practicing on...maybe toward the end of the show..."
With a new band, came a new hair cut. That's right, the long dark locks are gone from atop Dickinson's head ("It's no big deal...just look at Rob Halford [of Judas Priest]"). But also new to Dickinson's career is producer Jack Endino.
"The cool thing is that working with Jack is the closest thing to working with Martin Birch (Maiden's long-time producer who is all but retired now)," Dickinson said. "He was such a Birch fan himself that he knew the exact delay to put into my vocals."
On the new disc, tracks such as Dreamstate and Strange Death in Paradise highlight Dickinson's vocal range while Innerspace shows Dickinson has no problem co-writing with new musicians (guitarist Alex Dickson and bassist Chris Dale).
"There was certainly a lot of pressure on me for this album, but it was great," Dickinson said. "The main thing is that they are all like 18 years younger than my last band."
Of course, Skunkworks isn't all bright and cheery as previous Maiden departures, Dickinson explained.
For example, Headswitch is about a guy about to be executed, who tries to turn to God, although it doesn't help.
In case you haven't noticed, there has been an influx of Iron Maiden-related material flooding the market, due mainly to Castle Records acquiring Maiden's entire back catalog.
"I think they're (Castle) trying to promote the band more since Capitol, who had them previously, did a pretty appalling job. The discs have sold at least 500,000 since release, mainly because the discs have the extra songs that have only been available in Europe," Dickinson said.
Something else about the disc is that the artwork was done by Pink Floyd's artist Storm Thorgerson as well as the backwards lyrics, but not backwards messages as Dickinson was quick to add.
"Here it is, for all those who like backwards messages," Dickinson joked.
As for a comparison of Skunkworks to Iron Maiden, there is none.
With lyrically laden and rhythmic driven tunes such as Back from the Edge and Inertia, Dickinson has severed all musically-similar ties to Maiden.
In all of the touring and practicing, Dickinson hasn't even got a chance to hear Maiden's new album.
"Just a couple of tunes I, like, heard at a bar somewhere is all I've listened to."
For years Dickinson has given his best and, finally, with the re-flux to non-alternative, maybe people will pick up Skunkworks and realize how good Dickinson really is.