Iron Maiden's a little fixated on death, but that's part of what gives this British heavy-metal band its grim-reaper-peeking-in-your-window-about-to-chop-you-into-pieces-with-a-very-sharp-object appeal. The albums have titles like Killers (1981), No Prayer for the Dying (1990), Dance of Death (2003), and A Matter of Life and Death (2006). The band's mascot, Eddie, is a demonic skull-faced specter who appears on their album covers doing mostly heinous things.
Despite the glam-and-gore gimmicks, these metal gods are planted firmly in the land of the living. Over a 30-plus-year career already in the (body) bag, the guys have laid a foundation for heavy metal, produced 15 studio albums, created an unmistakable sound, and absolutely rocked everyone's socks off. But Iron Maiden is not slowing down. No. Iron Maiden will die with its collective boots on.
Its latest album, Final Frontier, was released August 2010. It's rich with epics that will remind you of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"; soul-baring ballads; and good, old-fashioned, balls-out rocking. In anticipation of Saturday's South Florida show, New Times grabbed Nicko McBrain, who is not only Iron Maiden's drummer but also the owner of Rock n Roll Ribs, a restaurant located in Coral Springs. The first request: an exciting anecdote of something that happened recently. But the drummer, who has been called an "octopus," wouldn't fold: "How about the fact that I'm still getting up on the stage well into my 50s?"
New Times: OK, just tell me something interesting about the new album.
Nicko McBrain: Music is an elixir of life. That's pretty interesting! It's like a drug; it's like sex. You know, I'm married to my band — er, my wife will give me trouble for that. But it's also true. Except in this relationship, music is the sex. We wouldn't need to make a new record and we could still tour for a while, but we like being challenged by making another record. It's the challenge: Find new territory.
Now tell me something interesting or exciting about touring, life on the road.
We're very well-behaved. We come off stage, go back to the hotel, shower — and sometimes we don't. We meet for a nightcap, maybe some beers or bottles of wine, and talk about who made the worst mistake of the night. There's no drugs or anything like that. The music is the drug. That's lovely.
Any particularly interesting stories behind the songs on Final Frontier? What's your favorite song on the album and why?
They've all got special meanings, but "Coming Home" is a good crack at a ballady song... It's about reflecting on life on the road, making friends, saying goodbye, flying in an airplane, and making your way home. I'd probably put "When the Wild Wind Blows" from this record in our top five epic tunes. There are so many nuances within the rhythm — look, just go and buy [Final Frontier]. I'm not telling you anything more, except that it's loosely based on a movie. And it's fantastic — I've not yet done it justice. I'm not quite nailing the individual bits. But it goes down great every night.
When I was a kid, my mom wouldn't buy me an Iron Maiden shirt because she thought Eddie was "gross." There's something about Iron Maiden's ubiquitous T-shirts that no other band has.
Very much so — Eddie is bigger than the band. Ed the 'ead — we don't pronounce the h. Our band's font lettering is very distinct, and we have great artwork — a lot of people just love the imagery. That is the market — sell the music, then the artistry.
Any kind words for your South Florida fans?
Our Florida fans are absolutely lovely. In 2010, we finished our tour at BankAtlantic. We come back — we haven't played in over 20 years — they made us feel so welcome. We're looking forward to another ten years. Florida, you make it great — old fans, new fans, and fans that aren't fans yet.