Nicko McBrain; PC: Wikimedia
We may treat these rock stars like gods, but when it comes to Mother Nature, nobody’s special, specifically Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain who recently admitted that the legendary metal band isn’t playing songs with the same raw energy that they used to – because they physically aren’t able to.
Can you blame them, though? With the youngest member in singer Bruce Dickinson coming it at a gleaming 53 and McBrain himself five years shy of collecting Social Security (if he was American, that is), the band just can’t be held to the same standards as it was thirty years ago when Iron Maiden pretty much gave music a good kick in the ass with a brand of metal that is still mimicked to this day.
But it’s not all bad for the band as McBrain feels that Iron Maiden’s years in the business – along with their killer catalog of classic songs – gives them the advantage of being able to put on any kind of tour they want and not simply one that is pretty much in support of their latest album, much like their current tour which concentrates on material from the classic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album.
McBrain sat down to talk with AZ Central about the benefits of being able to play any songs from their huge catalog along with his feeling about hitting those twilight years of life.
“When you’re doing a new record you’ve got to see how the sales go on that – you’ve got to go on tour and promote it, which we’ve always done a great job of in the past,” says McBrain.“But it’s nice not to have to take that side of the industry with you every time you go on tour.”
McBrain adds that he also see’s benefits of being able to focus on past material for younger fans who most likely never got a chance to see many of the classic Maiden songs live.
“The primary reason is there were these new generations of fans,” added McBrain. “We thought, ‘These kids weren’t even thought about when we went out with this tour and that tour.’”
Many of the songs featured on the band’s current tour of the US with their England Maiden tour were written over 25 years ago and recorded by a much younger band, leaving McBrain to admit that the Maiden just isn’t what she used to be.
“I’d listen and go, ‘Gosh, I can’t believe we played that song that fast,’” says McBrain of Iron Miaden’s early work. “We still have a lot of energy, but as a player I’ve realised we couldn’t play at that speed today and make it work. We were younger and it was a lot more crazy. We’re a bit more refined with where we go with tempos now. There are still nights when I go a bit quick and the rest of the band moan.”
Well, can’t blame the guys for something that happens to all of us. Still though, can’t be any worse than seeing some of these other aged stars live (I’m looking at you Bob Dylan). And as McBrain puts it, “It’s like riding a bike; you never forget, but you get a little wobbly and the joints go rusty.”