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Source: Metal Hammer Magazine (France) –Numero ?  Interviewed by Chris Welch

Since the release of No Prayer For The Dying, it looks like Iron Maiden are once again about to conquer the world. The single Holy Smoke is storming the UK charts, while causing some controversy at the same time. The UK tour that started on 20th September was a massive success, and we met up with Dave and Nicko just before the band embarked on their first European tour in two years. The press may take less interest in them than in Steve or Bruce, but what they have to say is no less interesting. Just read on...

Nicko got married last May to his fiancee Rebecca, a top-model with whom he got a house in Florida.

Nicko McBrain: I spent a few weeks installing everything in the house... I'm doing quite well with brushes and wallpaper...

But you didn't spend the whole year working on your house...

Nicko McBrain: No, of course not! I've organised many drum clinics with Sonor drums and Paiste cymbals. I played at the Music Festival of Frankfurt, and I shot an educationnal video last June with Dave. I'd already recorded the drum parts for the album and my presence was no longer required. For this video, I wrote two instrumentals with Dave, with guitars, bass, as well as a horn section. I'd like to release it as a single towards the end of the year. The A-side is called 'Rhythm Of The Beast' and contains everything I can do as a drummer, which is quite different to what I play during the clinics, or even with the band...

How do you feel the recording of No Prayer For The Dying went?

Nicko McBrain: When we started rehearsing together at Steve's, we'd originally planned to start recording in April at the Battery Studio in London. Eventually, the song-writing and the rehearsals were done so much in advance that everyone, Adrian included, decided that it would be best to bring a mobile recording studio to Steve's instead of waiting our turn to go into the studio. The sound at Steve's was brilliant.

Dave Murray: Many songs were recorded in one take per instrument. In a lot of cases, we'd just placed microphones in the room to capture the live aspect of our sound. I wonder what the carpenters who built Steve's house some 300 years ago would have thought if they'd known that a rock band was going to record an album there. This place has a past, just like the mobile studio we used, that was also used for the recording of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti. In fact, we'd used this mobile studio several times in the past, during the airing of the Donington gig on the BBC, or for the Maiden England video.

The album was recorded very quickly...

Nicko McBrain: It's true that the recording itself was done in a relatively short time. But we rehearsed the songs for this record for much longer than usual, which allowed us not to waste any time and to maintain this live energy we had on our previous albums like Piece Of Mind, which was my first album with the band.

Does the fact that you didn't play together for a year explain this surge of new energy?

Nicko McBrain: It's certain that we were really happy to play again together, and the arrival of Janick Gers was like a catalyst, as the morale was not so good after Adrian left. I sincerely believe that this album is the best we've done, and it's certainly the one we had the most fun doing. At Steves, we all felt more or less at home...

Dave Murray: Personally, I've always been very pleased with all of our albums, even those where we experimented a little bit. But this particular album sounds like dynamite. It's a bit like going back to our roots...

Why did you decide to go back to those roots?

Dave Murray: What happened is that we found ourselves in the same state of mind as at the beginning, with the same thirst for success, the same rage as we had 10 years ago, but this time with the experience that you get from 10 years of a successful career...

Do you find it funny to see Holy Smoke, the first single, go to the top of the UK charts whereas the radios refuse to air it?

Dave Murray: British radios aren't used to hearing bands with real instruments anymore. They're confused (laughs)...

Nicko McBrain: We're certainly the only band with a single in the UK charts without being aired on the radio! This is because we made our reputation on stage, and our fans are faithful. We never made any compromise and there's no reason to change. If the radio DJs refuse to play one of our singles because you can hear twice the word "shit", well tough! I don't think that it's inappropriate or rude, within the context of the song or whatever Bruce says about it.

How did you react to Janick Gers joining the band?

Dave Murray: About halfway through the first song, I knew he'd fit in. The whole band felt the same way too. Then we played 'Iron Maiden', 'The Prisoner' and 'Children Of The Damned', and that was great, mostly that Janick only had 24 hours to learn them. Afterwards, we were all silent for a moment, motionless, looking at each other. All you could hear was the buzzing of the amps. That's a moment that meant a lot to us...

Dave, how did your collaboration with Janick Gers go? How did you share the solos?

Dave Murray: At first, we recorded separately. Then we decided to work together on the solos, so we wouldn't play in the same tones, then we worked on the harmonies together. It was the first time that Janick was playing with another guitarist. Before that, he'd only collaborated with keyboard players.

What are the differences between Dave and Janick's way of playing?

Nicko McBrain: Janick has a much more aggressive style, whereas Dave is incredibly precise. He plays in a more fluid manner. I can tell a solo from Dave or Janick because of their different approach.

Dave Murray: Since Clive Burr was replaced by Nicko, a few years ago already, this is the first major change within Iron Maiden...

When did you become aware that something was wrong with Adrian?

Nicko McBrain: When we had to sort out the problem with Adrian, thing weren't simples. We all had a few sleepless nights trying to talk about it and to sort it out among ourselves. We'd already worked on six or seven new songs with him, and we didn't feel like auditioning other guitar players on the eve of recording the album. But Adrian didn't agree with the musical direction we wanted to take. Bruce had done his solo album with Janick and was talking very highly of him. When things started to go downhill with Adrian, it was almost logical to ask Janick...

Have you seen Adrian since he left?

Dave Murray: I've seen him once or twice, and he looks happier than ever. Now, he's free to do whatever he wants. You know, he's always been involved 100% in whatever Iron Maiden did as long as he was happy with it... Adrian remains a friend to us all.

Nicko McBrain: This band is like a family, and we'll miss Adrian. It's always hard to part with somebody you've worked with for so many years, but this decision had to be made. Adrian is a great guitarist, a brilliant song-writer and a very good singer. For the moment, he feels a bit lost, but once he gets the musicians he needs.

I heard that Clive Burr was going to play with him, but this is only a rumour... If I understood correctly, Adrian didn't really leave the band willingly...

Nicko McBrain: In fact, we had to make the decision for him. When we asked him if the success of his band, ASAP, and of his album, Silver And Gold, would make him leave Iron Maiden, he didn't want to give a straight answer, which was for us a positive answer. We didn't really fire Adrian, we only made him face his responsibilities, and he had the choice. You know, when something's not quite right within a band, you have to find a solution right away, as painful as it may be.

Have you ever considered making your own solo albums?

Nicko McBrain: As far as I'm concerned, yes, absolutely. But it was impossible for me to do it this year because Adrian and Bruce were both releasing their own. Maybe later...

Dave Murray: Me too, I obviously want to record a solo album, but it won't be before a few years and it shouldn't interfere with Iron Maiden's activities. Anyway, I'd like Nicko to play on it...

Nicko McBrain: I'd like to release a classical blues album, with horns, Hammond organ, a bass and two guitars...

Dave Murray: But for the moment, the near future for us is this European tour with Iron Maiden... Then, we'll go to the USA, Hong-Kong, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. As you can see, this is going to keep us busy for a few months...

This Interview is taken from The Iron Maiden Commentary

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