Geoff Martin of Canada.com recently conducted an interview with IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
On the new CD, "A Matter of Life And Death":
"This album is a step up on everything else we've ever done, in my opinion. I know a few people don't agree with that, but I don't care, you can stuff that up your ass, I don't give a s--t."
On the band's rise since Bruce Dickinson's return to the group:
"Since Bruce has come back, it's gone back like it was in the early '80s, and there's this escalation. In the mid-80s, people said it was the height of our career. Well it was then, but this is the height of our career, really, because we've come full circle, and we're doing it again with the same people we had back in the 80s."
On whether they are surprised by the large crowds they're still able to attract:
"In Scandinavia, there's this new breed that's come out, the next generation, and they've gone wild for the band. And these younger kids, they're discerning, they like the faster stuff, but they've gone back — and I'm going to put ourselves up with LED ZEPPELIN and bands of that ilk, but we're still out there doing it! — and they've gone 'Freak, my old boots, this is class music, this is melody, this is speed, this is great guitar solos.'
"It seems to have just gone ballistic since Bruce came back. It's like when you have a (spat) with the old lady, and sometimes it's good to be away for a while from one another. And then you come back and it's better than it was before.
"Music, and being in a band, it's very much like a love affair. And don't get me wrong when I say this: the sex is the music! The first 10 or 12 years I played in IRON MAIDEN, I saw more of these guys and lived with them more than I did with my family."
On the fact that IRON MAIDEN probably doesn't need new albums as an excuse for a tour:
"We could probably get away with that, but we don't want to. We want to still make new, cutting-edge, progressive, underground music. You can call it heavy metal, but to me we're a hard rock band, and we're really a progressive blues band, to be honest, a bit like (LED) ZEPPELIN were when they came out.
"We are a very selfish band. We don't compromise, and people go, 'Well if you did this or that, you'd have a lot more people come and listen to your band.' We say, well bollocks, we don't want to compromise. If people don't like it the way it is, then we don't particularly want them.
“And our fans and the people who are coming to know this band realize, they look at our merchandise, they look at the way we put our shows together, and they say, 'They care. They're doing it for themselves, but they really do care about us, don't they?'"
On the recording process for "A Matter of Life and Death":
"Normally, (bassist) Steve (Harris) and I have this complete blow-out argument somewhere along the line, whether it's in writing or making the record, but this time 'round we didn't, and it was such a talking point, you know? Steve said, 'Hey, do you realize we haven't had an argument on this record?' Well we still had four B-sides to record, and I said 'Steve 'ang on a minute, we've got another day in the studio yet, that could happen!'"
"Pretty much anything we record, we pride ourselves on being able to actually reproduce it live.
"At the end of the day, the fan that buys that record is very discerning, he's going to go to a live show and he's going to stand in front of the band or the solo artist, whomever it is, and he's going to go ‘hey that doesn't sound very good, that's s--t!,' you know? So at the end of the day you're going to get caught, one way or the other. You can dunk your biscuit in it, and if it don't hold together, it's going to fall all over the cup of tea."
On his conversion to Christianity, which he says happened in 1999:
"The usual question I've been approached with is people coming up to me and going, 'How can you play 'Number of the Beast'?' Well, 'ang on, it's a story. If you look in the Book of Revelation it tells you about all that, all that grief, all that business. And that, by the way, was a song written from a nightmare that Steve had.
"And my opinion is, well look, one of the greatest tricks the Devil ever pulled was making you think he didn't exist, and I can tap people on the shoulder and say, 'I'm not glorifying him — if I was then I wouldn't be Christian.'
"Because I understand, and most Christian people understand, that sin is the Devil's domain, and the ultimate sin is death, but we have a way up, and that's where your faith and your Christianity comes into play. Sometimes I've had an opportunity to talk to people about my faith, and what I feel, and maybe that's the way the good Lord's working with me.
"To still be able to be in such a great band, where people think we're demonic or Satanic, most people that know and have a modicum of sense and intelligence knows that not to be true. It doesn't take an Einstein to listen to the records and listen to the lyrics of the songs to know what's going on.
"Okay, so Eddie's the mascot of the band, right? And he's a… sort of… well, he's a demon, you know! He's whatever you want him to be, you know? I mean, listen here, look at the number of the Beast, here he is, the Devil's the puppet! But you know, we're not glorifying Eddie as being evil. It's just … he's just a cartoon character.
"But people can look at that and say ‘wait a minute, Nick, 'ow can you say you're a Christian, you're playing in a band that's got this kind of stuff going on?'
"But when you become a Christian, you don't become sinless, the idea is to sin less. We're all sinners, we're never going to be clean till the day the good Lord is standing in front and judgment comes, but to me, I try to live my life, I do fall off, and occasionally I fall off hard and I have to get down on my knees and beg forgiveness, so it's not an easy ride, and it's not professed to be either."
On whether he has tried converting any of his fellow band members to his faith:
"We've had some incredibly deep conversations amongst each of us. I can't say to you that I'm trying to convert all these guys in my band to be Christians. I'm leading them on my route, and if they choose to follow what God's plan is in the Bible, that's up to them. I say to them all, you know, look, in my belief, at the moment, if you turn to your saviour Jesus Christ, I'll have eternal life in Heaven with you! … We don't talk about it every time we get together, but we've had some interesting conversations over the years.
"I truly praise the Lord for being able to carry on with this band, and the blessings that we have to be able to make this kind of music, and still go out there and turn young kids' heads and they go 'Crikey, these guys can play! They might be old farts, but listen to that!'"