IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain has spoken to Mark Uricheck of NEPAtoday.com about his side-project called MCBRAIN DAMAGE. The group, which also includes ex-BLACK SABBATH/GREAT WHITE bassist Dave "The Beast" Spitz, as well as members of DEEPSET and FAILSAFE, concentrate on an IRON MAIDEN format, playing a set of the band's biggest hits, like "The Number of the Beast", "The Trooper", and "Run to the Hills", while also showcasing original music from the band. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
NEPAtoday: Well first off, how'd you come up with the idea to put this project together?
Nicko: "Well, I'd done some shows initially with a (IRON MAIDEN) tribute band; same kind of situation, but with a bunch of Italian guys from a band called ANTHENORA. A good friend of mine put this idea together about 3 or 4 years ago to go over to Italy and do some shows. I'd do a little drum show first and then get the band up and do some MAIDEN songs. I actually went out with a tour right after (IRON MAIDEN's) the 2001 Brave New World tour. It was a convention tour and I called it Total McBrain Damage. That's how that kind of came about. I thought well, this is a nice idea to go out and keep my hand in; it's almost a no-brainer because it's my band's music. We had a good time with it; that's basically how it came together. Then earlier this year in June I had my birthday party with my friend's band DEEPSET, which is basically the nucleus of the MCBRAIN DAMAGE band. We had a right blast at a club down here, and we thought hey — let's do some more gigs."
NEPAtoday: Have the other members of IRON MAIDEN heard MCBRAIN DAMAGE yet?
Nicko: No, they know I go out and do these little soirées. I was actually speaking to Adrian (Smith, MAIDEN guitarist) a couple of weeks back when I went back to London. He said, 'Well, what did you play and how did it go.' I told him that we actually played 'New Frontier'; that's a tune I wrote for the last (MAIDEN) album with Adrian. He said, 'How did it go down?' I said 'Actually it went down really well.' This was with the Italian band I played with in April, and it went down really well. He said 'We should do that!' So, there's a little bit of excitement from the guys in the band to get a feel of what it's like; because they don't do what I do. They like to sit at home and play their guitars and write tunes; do the family thing. With me, I'm a fish out of water after a couple months sitting at home; it just drives me up the wall. I've got to go out and play; that's the way I've always been. But they're all pretty supportive of it. And, if they're around, you might get the odd jam happening.
NEPAtoday: What's it like to come to the U.S. and play the smaller venues after doing the huge festivals in Europe?
Nicko: "Well, the only thing really different about it is the feedback that you get; more right in your face. I can sit and scream at the guy in the front 'Pop off to the bar and buy me a beer.' (laughs) Whereas at a festival it's a bit difficult to do that. They all hear you, they all buy you a beer, it's a cheap night out! (laughs) No, it's very much more intimate. I think all musicians, when you start playing in bands and you play these kind of size venues — pubs and clubs and bar mitzvahs and what have you — that's what you kind of learn on. It's fantastic performing to a big live audience, but you do lose a lot of that personal touch with the audience. Although Bruce (Dickinson, MAIDEN singer) or a good frontman can actually maintain the bond between the distances sort of. But there's nothing better than looking in the faces of people and winking at them; you can almost talk to them if they want you to play a song. So it's really really nice. The only way you adjust I guess is the sound you get onstage. Sometimes it can be really good, and sometimes it can be really difficult to hear everybody."
NEPAtoday: How's everyone in the MAIDEN camp? You guys are taking some time off for the next year or so?
Nicko: "Everybody's fine. Steve's (Harris, MAIDEN bassist) been buying some properties over the last few months. He's been ducking and diving sorting those out. Davey's (Murray, MAIDEN guitarist) been in Hawaii, doing that Hawaiian thing. He's been playing lots of golf I heard, getting his handicap down. He's going to give me a run for my money now. Bruce is doing a lot of flying. He's a commercial pilot. Actually I spoke to him the other day, he was in Africa. He said 'I'm stranded here, it's monsoon season.' But he's very energetic with that, and he's been doing some radio stuff with the BBC. Plus he's got some new solo offering I think he's been working on. Janick (Gers, MAIDEN guitarist) just bought a new home. He's in the depths of Hartleypool somewhere. Everybody's doing fine, enjoying time off with the family. I am too, it's just driving me nuts. I have to get out there and play. I'm so used to making a fool of myself; you know, I'm sitting twiddling my fingers when I'm at home."
Read Nicko McBrain's entire interview with NEPAtoday.com at this location.