NICKO MCBRAIN as known by Steve Harris
With a character like Nicko, you never forget the first time you meet him! We were playing our first ever show abroad in Belgium and he was playing in a band called McKitty when I first saw him. He was sitting outside a café, dressed in a white suit, panama hat and winklepicker shoes. I thought he was a pimp or something from the way he was dressed! Larger than life, as he always has been and always will be, he had obviously had a couple of drinks and was chatting off, and I thought, ‘Wow, who is this character?’ It was quite an amazing experience to meet him and it still is really, he’s just a whirlwind. I suppose he’s calmed down a little bit over the years, but not a lot - but you wouldn’t really want him to.
He was with Trust when they supported us in ‘82 and we thought he was a fantastic drummer, so when Clive left the band, we approached Nick and asked if he’d like to try out and it worked fantastically.
It’s hard to describe what he’s like if you haven’t met him. I know people see him on the videos and that, and they think he’s crazy - and he is! But there’s a lot more to him than that. He flies planes and does all sorts of other things. He’s a more complex guy than you might think. He’s just really good fun to have around. I’m a bit on the shy side, so when we go out to meet people, I usually take him with me, because he’s a laugh and he’s got so much verbal, he takes the pressure off me. I just have to stand smiling in the background!
He is without a doubt the entertainer of the band. I really do think he could be a stand-up comedian if he wanted to. He half does that when he does his drum clinics. He tells these little stories and comes out with all these jokes. Often they’re in Spain or Italy or somewhere like that, and half the time, I’m sure the audience don’t really understand him, but he’s laughing at his own jokes anyway, so they laugh along with him! It really is a sight to behold, so I would recommend anyone to see his drum clinics, whether they’re into drums or not.
Technically, he’s a great drummer and he can play all kinds of music. Drummers from other bands sit round the back of him to see what he’s doing, but he’s got his kit set so he doesn’t even look at what he’s hitting half the time. He just puts his head down and plays.
He’s got his first songwriting credit with Maiden on ‘Dance Of Death’ with ‘New Frontier’. About time – he’s only been in the band 20 years! But the first one is probably the hardest to bring in to the other band members, especially when you’ve been in the band so long, and he’s up and running now, so I think it will give him the confidence to write stuff in future. Any variation in writing is a good thing and everyone is encouraged to write in this band; the only criteria is that it’s got to be bloody good!