Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain might very well be the nicest guy in heavy metal. The legendary British-born South Florida resident is frequently spotted at local metal concerts, signing autographs and smiling perpetually, taking care of business at his BBQ restaurant, Rock n Roll Ribs in Coral Springs, or participating in philanthropic work in the area. While some artists might sign a check for charity, McBrain prefers to take a more hands on approach to his giving back, and though South Florida boasts more than its fair share of celebrated individuals, McBrain is one that truly enriches the community with his presence.
This Saturday, McBrain will be hosting and performing at the Classic Rock & Roll Party, a fundraiser for the Homesafe Charity at Hollywood's Seminole Hard Rock Casino. We spoke with McBrain about working with the charity, his passions outside of pounding the drums for one of the most heralded metal groups of all time, and the unfortunate situations that have recently removed heavy metal drumming pioneers Bill Ward and Dave Lombardo from their rightful spots in their respective groups.
New Times: How did you get involved with the Homesafe Charity?
Nicko McBrain: I got involved with Homesafe about 8 years ago. Tico Torres (of Bon Jovi) was actually kind of host of it, but I met him through a lady who kind of set me with the golf tournament for Tico, and then I went to the event and I just fell in love with everybody who worked there at that time.
There was such a positive vibe towards the way that people were working for the charity, and then Clarence (Clemons) came on board and we hit it off, and he took me down to meet the children at the West Palm Beach home, and it tugged the old strings of the heart, so, I've supported it ever since.
This year, obviously we lost Clarence a couple of years back, they asked me to be the host and I MC'd the event last year and I'm very honored and proud to be a part of the big event this weekend! It's been tough, it's been hard work, but it's culminated in a great golf tournament and a fantastic night for Saturday!
You're an avid golfer, right?
I live for it! If I wasn't a pro drummer, I'd try and work out to be a pro golfer. Unfortunately, um, I'm not that good. But yeah, I've played since 1986!
I recently had a conversation with Daniel Svensson of In Flames and he and his band take golf very seriously as well -- which seems to be a trend in metal these days. There has to be a heavy metal golf tournament at some point soon!
Yeah! Funny enough, Alice (Cooper) and I have talked about doing a tournament together and it's more than likely going to happen in the next year or two. He's got his restaurant in Phoenix and I've got mine here in South Florida, and we're going to do a kind of golf tournament around a cook-off thing between him and me, and we've talked about it for a year or two now and we definitely want to do it! Primarily, I think the celebrities will be from our genre of music.
I think there is an interesting attraction of people that play aggressive music to golf as they seem like such opposite activities...
When you get into playing golf -- no matter what level you're at -- you tend to think about just everything golf when you're on the golf course. And you said, it's two opposites, and it's such a release, and I think because of the pressures of playing -- doesn't really matter what kind of music -- but the pressures of entertaining and traveling, it's great way of kind of letting your hair down.
It's funny because there's a lot of professional golfers who want to be in pro bands! We've cut a little program, a friend of mine and myself, called Living the Dream, and it's kind of a golf reality show we're trying to get off the ground about people in our industry that have a passion for the game and dream of being out on a par round.
You wouldn't think it, but it saved Alice's life basically! His story is that he was so wild in the late '70s and he got into playing golf with a passion and he stopped drinking and got off drugs and he's as clean as a whistle now, you know!
Your restaurant is fantastic. Have you always been a BBQ fan?
Yeah! You know, I'm a Brit, and we don't have a very long summer, so it's very few and far between people get out and do a barbie in the back yard. Touring around America, I always used to love buying a rack of baby backs and some cole slaw and french fries, and that was my main BBQ experience, the baby backs. Then a friend of mine taught me how to make the ribs we make in the restaurant, and I started to make some sauce, and it was very successful and people liked it, and that's where Rock n Roll Ribs was born, really.
It was a dream we had and it finally came into fruition three years back. I've got to be honest, it's not a business that's making a lot of money for us, but we make a lot of people smile and a lot of people happy. I'm very happy, it's great! I love it when I meet people and they say things like "these are the ribs I've ever had" or "your pulled pork is to die for" and it warms the cockles of me heart!
Would you like to weigh-in on the situations going on with Dave Lombardo and Bill Ward?
I don't so much about the Dave story... I was actually with Dave a couple of weeks ago in LA and he didn't say anything. I don't know much about the story, I take it there's trouble in the Slayer camp?
Apparently he came to Kerry King regarding some financial discrepancies and they fired him.
Oh, that's not good! Yeah, you know, most of the issues that pro musicians have sooner or later in time boils down to the royalty check or performance royalties.
I'm sad to hear that that has happened, but, you know, when you find out and look at something and say "could you explain this to me, why we're not getting what we should according to these numbers" and if somebody turns around and says "Fucking shut your face or you're fired," that therefore it tells you there's an alarm bell going off. Without knowing all of the ins and outs of it, you can't pre-judge it.
But yeah, the Bill Ward story, I understood that Sharon Osbourne got her fangs into that one. It's beyond me -- I mean, Bill Ward was the original freaking band member, you know? It just doesn't make sense to me. If I was entitled to more, I don't really want to know; I'm happy!
You have to ask yourself this: How did Dave Lombardo get the information that led to this problem, is what I'd like to know. Who gave him the financials, if he wasn't on top of it with an accountant already?
I'm sad because Dave is so much a part of that band; he's so identifiable. There's great drummers out there, but Dave Lombardo is a master with it, and Dave is... to me, he is Slayer with Kerry and the guys! I think Kerry really may have overreacted and might be regretting it. I hope that that's the case and they can sit down and sort it out.
Is there anything you'd like to add about the Homesafe event on Saturday?
We've got a great night of fund raising! We've got Pat Travers getting up, an American Idol finalist named Brett Leowenstern, Sam Moore's playing, then there's Sugerhill Gang -- that's a bit different -- and we've got an all star jam! I've got Ripper Owens coming down and whoever else is in the audience is going to get up! It will be a fun night for a great cause!
The Classic Rock 'n' Roll Party, 6 p.m., March 2, at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Ballroom, One Seminole Way, Hollywood. Visit helphomesafe.org.