Iron Maiden Documentary Flight 666 Screens in Coral Springs Tonight; Q&A With Nicko McBrain!
Today, you see, is what the band has dubbed "Maiden Mayhem Day," according to the band's drummer (and Boca Raton resident) Nicko McBrain. Maiden fans will gather for the world premiere of Flight 666, an all-digital affair that chronicles the band's recent spate of large-scale gigs. Part documentary, part concert film -- and all rock and roll insanity, it's safe to assume -- the all-digital movie screens today in theaters in 40 countries around the world.
It's an over-the-top cinematic undertaking, but one that matches the very all-in-good-fun excess of the band's recent worldwide live run. Dubbed the Somewhere Back in Time tour, 2008 saw Iron Maiden circle the globe in some intense bursts. On the first leg alone, the portion captured in this film, the band traveled some 50,000 miles across five continents, playing 23 shows in the first 24 days. And they did so in a custom-made, flying party/tour plane, the Ed Force One.
New Times caught up by phone recently with McBrain, possibly the most cheerful heavy metal legend in the world, to discuss the South Florida gig and Flight 666. Read the full Q&A below.
Flight 666 plays tonight at 8 p.m. (sold out) and 10:15 p.m. at the Trademark Coral Square 8, 770 Riverside Drive, Coral Springs. Tickets cost $10, and can be purchased in advance at www.trademarkcinemas.com/events.html
New Times: I can honestly say that your gig here in South Florida was my favorite of recent months.
Nicko McBrain: Thank you, darling! It was mine too, wasn't it! I tend to go to see a lot of shows here; the last one was AC/DC, and I thought they were fantastic. But the vibe that we had at that show here, it was unbelivably great. The reaciton from all of our fans, the old and the new, was absolutely mind-blowing.
Of course, I'm a local lad, having lived in Boca Raton for 20 years, and finally I got to end the tour on the home turf. It was wild when I came out and I thought, My god, all me mates were on the floor in those seats! I was so overwhelmed.
So right now I'm here at home, just up the way from you, but then I'll be in London for the big "Maiden Mayhem Day" as we're calling it.
Can you give a little explanation of what's going to happen on Maiden Mayhem Day for those who don't know about Flight 666?
It's all about the new movie, which is concert/documentary footage about our travels and adventures on the first five weeks of the Somewhere Back in Time tour last year. We started in February 2008 in Mumbai, in India. For the tour, basically, we converted a 757 customized to take 13 tons' worth of our equipment, all of the road crew, all the band, the management, friends and family, and a hooligan documentary team -- the Canadian lads from Banger productions. It was a sort of fly-on-the-wall thing, with lots of filming of us enjoying ourselves after shows, on days off, and things like that.
I've got to be honest with ya, the true stars of this documentary are the fans. It's fantastic. The guys had over 500 hours of film, of which they edited down to just short of two hours, and now we have Flight 666.
That kind of tour was something we'd never done -- it was very historical, playing to so many different countries over 45, 50 days. We were going to all these wonderful countries, with time zones and date changes, and it's a documentation of that trip. It was very brutal, I must admit.
But once the film was finished, it was so well received with the record company and everyone with Universal and EMI, that we decided we would release it as a film, around the world, on the same day. So we have this Flight 666/Maiden Mayhem Day, a celebration of the film on the same day around the world. We've got 42 countries, and 450 screens showing the movie, which is a great achievement. And I'm really, really psyched, because I've seen the film and I really, really love it. I think it's a great representation of what us old hooligans get up to and the passion we do it with!
You already mentioned Banger Productions, who made the previous documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. And of course they interviewed Bruce Dickinson in that film. Is that what led you all to choose them to create Flight 666 for you?
I'm not 100 percent sure but it had to do with Rob Smallwood, our manager. When we were thinking of doing this documentary, it was decided who was gonna do it, and I guess they came to the forefront. And they won the toss of the coin, I think based on A Headbanger's Journey. We were just overwhelmed that they won the toss of the coin.
I think what stood us in great stead with them was that Sammy Dunn, of Banger Productions, was a lifelong fan of Iron Maiden since he was a kid. And I think that it was a little more of a labor of love put into the film from them because of that. But I basically think they won the toss of the coin, and I'm ever so glad they did, because they're very much a part of their family. Although I might add, they did kind of become the enemy a couple of times.
You'd be on the airplane feeling fatigued after nine hours, and a camera would come around the corner of the seat. I'd be like, There's an emergency exit, either you go first or the camera does! Pick! Certain people, you hear them say that in these reality shows, you know the camera's there, you kind of get used to them. But you don't get used to them, really! Sometimes they get too much in their face, and you know they're there.
But they were wonderful guys to work with, and all the crew. And of course when you see the live footage, you don't notice the cameras. They really, really did a great job.
Did you decide to do the documentary before you decided on the tour setup?
It was when we formulated that we could do this tour this way, our "757 tour" as we called it. We consulted with Astraeus, the company that Bruce flies for when he's not out singing with the band. And once we knew we could do it, and all the logistics were worked out, and the certifications nad safety and what have you were worked out, we went, Wow, this is pretty historic!
Nobody has ever done this before, Taken a bunch of hooligans, and their mates, and the bloody Banger productions yobbos, and girlfriends, and wives -- band, family, road crew, equipment! Then we went, Well, we should document this, it's historic. Then from then we went on to doing the first leg of the tour around the world. We did over 51,000 miles on the first five weeks of the tour, nine different continents, something like that -- or was it six?
We thought, Well, we better take a camera crew. But when it was propsed to do the whole thing, there was a little trepidation from everyone, because we're kind of private guys. We didn't want people stuffing the cameras in their faces in a restaurant or the bar.
We felt that was a bit of an intrusion, but then we kind of warmed to the idea. There's a scene in the movie at the end when we were in Toronto, Adrian [Smith, guitarist] says, It's been really good, you guys have been okay. And Adrian was one of the sterner band members, against having cameras in the face 24/7.
Are you having any post-tour letdown now that you're home after all that? Or is it a relief?
I've got the post-tour doldrums, darling!. The thing is, I let go when I go home. I sit in my house and think, Thank goodness I'm home, I dont have to get up at half-past seven. And then after two or three weeks I start to get really depressed. But to be honest, every day I'm talking about this movie, so I'm still so psyched up, see what I mean? I haven't been able to let go because I've been talking about the film and memories of being on the road.
I'm thinking about this wonderful concert footage and wonderful adventure, and if you were at my house, Arielle, at about half past 7 p.m., a quarter past eight, I start getting itchy, because normally we're leaving the hotel around that time to do a 9 p.m. show. I really am in the doldrums with it, really, I'm missing all the guys, although I'm glad to be home. It's the agony and the ecstasy.
So you're going to be spending the near future here in South Florida?
I have some dental work that I need to have done by my guy in London, and then I'll be back. I do have to go back to London in June and do a drum and guitar show, but otherwise I probably won't be playing any music with anybody.
What about your side projects?
I kind of put the side projects on hold. A few years ago I had a project with Danny Spitz and that kind of fell down, I kind of basically lost interest in it. Then I had a band called McBrain Damage, with a guy called Rick from Deepset, a local band of great musicians. In that one I actually played with Davie Spitz, Danny's brother, on bass!
We were doing Iron Maiden covers. It was kind of an Iron Maiden tribute band, and it worked alright for a little while. But there's only one Iron Maiden, and it's not the same if it's only one or two of us playing the songs with other people. I may, on the other hand, get some original stufff together. I'm very content with my life, my band, my music. I don't have any of these inner ambitions to go out and do a solo record. I'm just very content. I'm Iron Maiden's drummer, and that's it.
The last thing I wanted to ask you about is the fact that you're openly proudly Christian, but you have to play these songs about the beast, as it were, and the movie is called Flight 666. How do you reconcile these things with your faith?
Well, of course if you look in the Book of Revelation, we know the beast will be numbered. We've got our good Lord and our sSaviour, Jesus Christ, and at the same time, we've got the other guy, and he's got a number on his noggin! And if you're not aware of it and concerned that he's there, then I think thats' when trouble can get you, because he's gonna come and get you no matter where you are, no matter how far!
So in terms of the 666 situation, it's not a glorification of that at all. It's just something that's there, and it relates to the Number of the Beast record that made the band popular. The fact that 666, the number of the beast, part of the movie title, we figured why not, we've got Eddie emblazoned on the tower of the plane. There's no inner meaning or Satanic meaning of it at all. And as a Christian, it doesnt bother me, because I know I'm protected anyway!
To wrap up, anything else you want to mention to readers?
Your readers need to take note that the best-looking bloke in the band is the drummer -- he's a very good-looking bloke, and he's featured quite prominently in the movie so you should see it just for that!! Oh, what did the Lord tell you about vanity, Nick?
But, hello to all of your readers, and God bless you, and hope to see you all on the road!