Interview: Iron Maiden Drummer Nicko McBrain on Flight 666, Ed Force One, and HAHAHAHAHAs
"I actually threatened to throw the documentary crew off the plane while it was in the air one time."
Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers and drummer Nicko McBrain sightseeing in Mexico
In the annals of rock-star heroics, piloting your bandmates, roadies, and 12 tons of stadium equipment safely around the globe in a Boeing 757 is an impressively staggering feat--right up there with barely escaping a military coup by Hugo Chavez. So last year, when Iron Maiden set off for 23 concerts on five continents via Ed Force One--a customized jetliner with the band's zombie mascot Ed on the tail fin--and front-lung Bruce Dickinson was in the cockpit, the metal behemoths brought along a movie crew to document the voyage. The result is Iron Maiden: Flight 666, a 112-minute tour-film out this week on DVD (and on VH1 this Saturday at 12:30 am) that chronicles 45 days of touring faraway reaches like Tokyo, Costa Rica, and Mexico City--cities where the devil-horned dieties still fill stadiums, cause hysteria, and make grown men weep on camera.
While Ed Force One is one of Flight 666's unexpected stars, so is jovial drummer Nicko McBrain, a gregarious hoot of a man characterized in the rock-doc as "the social side of Maiden." We recently spoke with him from his Boca Raton home about nearly throwing the camera crew off the plane, being gobsmacked, and why he doesn't want Maiden to tour in the fall of 2010. (Hint: his well-documented obsession with golf.) And yes, Mr. McBrain actually laughs like this.
At the beginning of Flight 66, there's talk about how you guys have always been a private band. Why'd you finally decide to allow a film crew along with you?
It was a little bit of a difficult decision. There were two or three of us in the band--myself included--that had a little bit of trepidation about it because we have always been private people. When we're on stage, that's our domain. But we've never been a band who searched out paparazzi and would want to go to nightclubs where we'd know we could get our picture in OK Magazine or People Magazine. We've always shied away from that kind of limelight. And having a camera crew 24/7 in your face, for seven, eight weeks was not our idea of being private. So it was discussed--and there were mumblings and grumblings and moans and groans all over the place. And finally, we kind of relented, and thought, "It is such a historical event. And it is something we've never done before. And it should be something that could make a great piece of film." So we all kind of agreed.
I have to be honest though, Camille, there were times over those seven-eight weeks when the [film crew] boys were out with us on the airplane that they got into trouble, verbally, none more so than my good self. I actually threatened to throw them off the plane while it was in the air one time. [Laughs]
But what happened when we all sat back and watched the roughs of this film just before Christmas, I was gobsmacked. And I thought, "My Lord, these two guys, Scotty McFadyen and Sammy Dunn, they did such a great job." And those moments when you thought, "I don't want to do this. I don't want these guys here. I don't want them in the dressing room," yaddy yah, the moans and groans, were all worthwhile, because it all came out so well. And they are so much a part of our family now. I think the proof is in the finished product.