Nicko answers your 20 Questions

Published: Jun 22, 2009

1. If you hadn't become a drummer, what do you think you would have ended up doing? - The_Kidd
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a cameraman and work in film, I was intrigued by how they made film and television and I like to see behind the scenes stuff, hence when you see my drum video Rhythms of the Beast you see a lot of cameras and how they got the shots -- I like that although that's not proper tv or making movies. So I think I probably would have been pursuing that one.

2. What was your most EMBARASSING moment on the last tour? Please feel free to reveal any of your bandmates' moments too! - cisan

No comment on the bandmates cos I can't think... well maybe Bruce has a couple where he fell over at a couple of gigs hahah, I forget where we were... but that's not really funny cos he hurt himself.  Cos he's so energetic he runs around like a banshee with his head cut off, and he fell over a couple of times and that's probably quite embarrassing for him.  My most embarrassing moment... I really don't have any apart from I suppose when I fuck up during a song, and that's quite often every night... so pretty much every gig!

3. Nicko, if you had to swap roles with one member of the band for one night only, who would it be and why? And more importantly who would you let get behind your tubs!? - maiden_madness

I think it would have to be 'Arry cos I've always loved bass guitar and the only song so far that was written by Nicko (in Iron Maiden) is New Frontier and that was written on the bass. I think playing with Steve for 23 years has influenced the way I play, and I've always loved that instrument so I think I'd swap with Steve. I certainly wouldn't have 'Arry on my tubs cos he ain't got a clue what he's doing up there (mind you I ain't got a clue what I'm doing on his bass!). He tries, he's sat on my tubs a few times and I always get a laugh, it's ever so funny. I think Bruce, he really has a passion for playing the drums so I think I'd let him have a go.

4. When you're a young musican, would you recommend to kind-of develop your own style of playing drums(for instance) or watch loads of instructional videos with your idols? Or maybe find a great combination between both? -- Andcuna

Good question Andcuna. Definitely develop your own style. For instance, when I was growing up and learning my trade, I listened to records we didn't have DVDs and what have you then (I don't think anyone had instructional videos out a hundred years ago!). They're available, watch them and learn and then develop what you lean in your own style so really a combination of both is the best way to work. Also of course you can play along to some of the songs we did on the last tour on Rockband now!!

5. Hi Nicko. What song is the hardest to play, and have you ever messed up big time? - bebbe25

The hardest song is probably... it's difficult to say cos we've got so many songs we haven't played for a while. Alexander the Great was quite a... you had to really be on top of it to get through it as there are some really weird time signatures in there, but we never played that live. More recently, from a drumming aspect Powerslave is quite tricky, lots of drum fills in it and you've got to nail them. Haven't really had any big time mess-ups, you have little whoopsies and maybe don't execute a fill correctly, but nothing really big. Our mistakes usually end up missing beats or speeding up here and there... and Bruce forgetting the lyrics HAHA. No real big stuff. 

6. I've been asked by many non believers that you use a double kick pedal and I've said all along that you do not. It's all just single foot on a single pedal. I remember an interview with Bruce from way back regarding you insisting on not using a double kick pedal for ""Where Eagles Dare"". I figured this is my chance to put this to rest once and for all. Do you use a double kick pedal or not and what kind of pedal do you use? If you don't mind me asking. - camrajotte

That's very true, I don't use a double pedal, it's a single pedal.  It's a DW5000 Accelerator and the only time I've used a double pedal was for 'Face In The Sand' on Dance Of Death.  One tune only. Wickerman, songs like that, Different World... all done with one pedal -- no cheating. As was "Where Eagles Dare" of course

7.   Hi lovely band you are playing in. I wonder would you release your drum video from 1990 again on dvd this time or perhaps a new one ? -- svenh

Rhythms of the Beast was an exercise in that I wanted to capture one of my drum shows at the time, and it came kinda close to it. We're thinking about doing a history of the drum, which'll have a lot of playing... who knows.  Doing an educational video, we've talked about it and I'm not sure if I'm going to do it -- on the back-burner at the moment.

8. How do you get motivated, when you have to play one gig after another with songs that you´ve played a hundred times before? I mean, for me as a fan a gig is unique since I´m looking forward to see you months in advance.  -- beastfromBonn

You have to have a passion for what you do. Music is one of those jobs if you like (none of us feel it's a job, it is but it's something we love to do and have been graced that we can make a living at it). So we have this passion and this fire that when we get on stage together the commitment is like the first time we ever played on stage. You have that in your heart so when you get on stage the fires are already alight under you -- that's our domain, that's where we live, it's where we love to be primarily although we love to make records too, touring and playing in front of fans is the best thing in the world for us.

So every night, I dunno how many times I've played Run To The Hills, every time I've played with Iron Maiden we've played Iron Maiden and Hallowed Be Thy Name, they never get old. I do change a little things in there from year to year and the band let me get away with that, cos they know I'm a crazy geezer like that.   So you keep it a little fresh, you add little touches in there but sometimes it goes too far and you get told off -- "No Billy Cobham fill there please Nick!"

9.  Nicko, Why is it that the women love you so much?? My girlfriend does too Tee Hee, bet I've embaressed her now.. - maidendeth1982

Awww mate you've embarrassed your missus now! Listen mate, I'm the best looking bloke in the band see! And of course, drummers do it with rhythm!

10. Hi Nicko-
 In the many years you have been in the band, you've seen I'm sure, many changes both in group dynamics and tour/production.
What would you say is the biggest change in the way Maiden's touring has evolved and how has the studio dynamic (writing, recording) changed over the years? - 2TilMidnite

Good question. Over the years I think we've all grown up a bit -- not a lot but enough to have got a sense of maturity about us. We've always been very health-conscious, I don't mean getting up and going to the gym every day cos I find two hours playing with Maiden every night suffices in that department. We all look after each other and look after ourselves, make sure we eat well and get enough rest (which is a killer). Don't do drugs, like a drink -- we'll I'll speak for myself there boys and girls, nice drop of red wine if anyone cares a nice Chateau Palma 1975 would be a nice gift!

As far as the gigging, that evolves from what works from experience and what doesn't. That goes across the board from the people who work on the backline (guitar techs and drum techs), all the people who put the carpentry together... everybody, the whole family. We've been blessed in that we've had a pretty consistent family that's been touring with us for the last who-knows how many tours, and it's always nice cos you get to know one another and what works and what doesn't.  You learn from experience and it evolves.

As far as the studio, obviously we've used Kevin Shirley for the last three albums and working with him has been an absolute joy. The difference is that we tend to get more live tracks done whereas we used to layer them. We used to do the bass and drum tracks first and if the drum track was right Steve would re-do the bass, then the guitars would come in... they'd all still be playing but we'd overdub. We've shied away from that over the last few years, the last three albums especially have been very very live -- that's a big change there.

11. Nicko...your drumming on the Flight 666 footage, as has been noted by nearly everyone, is fantastic. Dare we say that it's the finest recording they've ever made of your drumming. Regarding the classic songs, we notice over the years that you add fills or change fills that are already there. Do you ever put those in purposely to see how they will improve the song, or do you sometimes just find them "on the fly" as you play them, and decide to later keep using them? -- Khan

Refer to question six boys and girls. How you keep it fresh, I do tend to play within the song but I'll change it up cos that's the way I do it.

For you aficionados, if you listen to my drumming from say '85 Live After Death compared to what it is now on some of the classics... in fact if you listen to Ancient Mariner '85 it's about twice as fast as we played it on the last tour. But that was then and this is now, so as far as changing drum fills... there's a maturity, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and I can tell you, rest assured, that if it doesn't work I find out about it pretty quick!

But then, on the fly, yeah, a lot of it is on the fly. Sometimes if I decide I won't hit my 17 rude cymbal over the right for an accent I might change up and do a drum fill on a different part of the drum set or I might put it on the snare drum... it's pretty much on the fly.

Good question by the way, I hope that puts you lot out there in the realm... I've been reading all your notes about this very question and Khan it was you that started stirring up the shit wasn't it? Good on you mate, lovely, thank you all you boys and girls out there, if you don't like it you know what you can do with it don't you?!


12. It's a bit of a gimmick, but have Maiden ever discussed playing a concert "in the round" with no backdrop? -- TedNes

Oooh no, I don't think so. I don't think it's ever come up... the problem is, you see, that you get to see everybody's arse! Someone's going to have to look at someone's arse -- I look at them every night and believe me you don't want to 'kin look at their arses when they're up there playing. Boys and girls, it ain't a pretty sight! Mind you, you can't see mine cos I'm sitting on it... but no, you can't have it 'in the round' sorry.

13. Concerning your golf game, grip it and rip it or lay up and be safe? - zamboni5150

Oh come on, you can't grip it and rip it unless you've got a swing like bloody Tiger Woods or Phil Nicholson or one of my favourite golfers Mr Nick Faldo, you can't grip it and rip it... you've got a 220 yard carry over the water and a par 5... lay up son! Chip it close and make a birdie, get the short game going cos that's where the money is!

14. Bruce said in Flight 666 that Rime of the Ancient Mariner was his favourite song to play on the tour - what was yours ? - Cardiff Iron

Boys and girls, you should know this! If we had a poll, most probably 99% of you people out there would get it right! Hallowed Be Thy Name -- always has been, always will be. In fact, if the band ever want to get rid of the good lookin' bloke in the band...  next tour if they don't play Hallowed, I ain't there. And 'Arry knows it!

15. Having achieved such a staggering level of fame and fortune, are you still able to remember the days when you had nothing but a dream and an empty stomach? I guess the question is are you still appreciating all that you and the band have achieved as much as you thought you would have when you were struggling to survive?  - jrd3825

Without a doubt. Of course you never forget your roots. That's where we all learned our trade, there's a lot of struggle going on even today where people are out playing in bands... you bang your head against the wall thinking 'what's the point -- we can't play a gig, we can't get paid...' people withhold the money -- we all know what that's like.

I can remember the days, I turned professional when I'd just gone 20, 21 years old. I had a number of years before I joined Maiden when I worked with wonderful people, but they were struggling times of course. If you ever forget your roots and decide that you're bigger and better than you should be, whatever your mental frame of mind is making you think you deserve it -- you don't, nobody deserves it. It's hard graft, hard work, keep the faith and remember where you come from.

16. Do you still fly planes? if not, when was the last time? -- dironman

I haven't flown a plane in about four years. The last time I flew an aeroplane was with Bruce in America, he had a Cessna C21 twin-engined turbo jobbie and he let me fly it and land. We flew into Cleveland, Ohio and he said 'do you want to do the landing Nick?' and I went 'Is the Pope a Catholic? Of course I do!'.  So I haven't flown in a while, that must have been four or five years ago.

I've sat up on the flight deck with Bruce on a few trips and I've been invited to go and fly the 757 simulator down at Gatwick with our wonderful commander in chief of Astreaus Airlines, John. So I might take him up on that this summer.

17. What is the most challenging song to play and why? - Buster Climb

They've all got their little idiosyncrasies, Maiden songs. But the hardest song on the last tour, for me, was Powerslave, because of where it comes in the set and because it's a very drum-oriented track. It opens with a big drum fill, then half of the solos coming into the last verse... the tempo has to come back through the drum fill -- if you don't nail it it's really difficult to get the groove back for the last verse. There are a lot of little innuendos in it that make it difficult and the most challenging one to play.

18. Wouldn't you like to be elsewhere on stage so that we could see you better ? You're always hidden behind your kit and we only have a chance to see you at the end of the show. It would be great if you were on a side of the stage, so that we could see your left or right side during the whole show. - Irontrooper

Oh yes boys and girls, we could have a little poll on the website, 'which is Nick's best side?'. You don't get to see very much of me, that's very nice and thanks for that question...  I shine when I come off,  as you said you only see me at the end and that's when I can come out and thank you guys. It's a genuine heartfelt thing from my heart, there's rapturous applause for the band, individually, collectively... we are a band and there's no one person bigger than the band. But it is lovely when I come out and get that opportunity... Bruce gets pissed off, he's come out with a big hook and had me off stage in the past hee hee.

My job is to drive the band, to be the engine driver. As we all know, sometimes he gets a big quick cos he's on a promise or whatever... but as long as you can hear me, and I know you can cos we've got a wonderful guy out front engineer, the infamous Mr Doug Hall, so I know you can hear me. As far as seeing me, we've got cameras up there most nights when we do shows with the screens up. Sometimes I wish we could cover a few more of the actual drum fills when they're played rather than, you know, when I don't so to speak. That's the only bugbear I have. I know you girls get a big thrill out of seeing me... I'm probably sure some of you blokes do too but that's the way you swing, it ain't down to me is it?!  So thanks very much and no, it doesn't bother me that you can't see me.

19. If you could only have one piece of music to listen too before they send you to the gallows, what would it be? -- Penelope

Hahahah, what do you mean send me to the gallows!? That's nice Penelope dearest! I dunno, Standing at the Crossroads, Eric Clapton I think. It's really hard to answer that question, I don't think it would be a Maiden song, if it was it would be Hallowed Be Thy Name wouldn't it!

It's a good question, I've never really put a lot of thought into what would happen. I think I'd be shitting myself if they were sending me to the gallows, last thing I'd want to hear is a bit of music to be honest,  I'd be crying and screaming and wouldn't be able to hear it!

My favourite album at the moment is Worlds Apart by Saga so anything from that.

20. I always hear about how Maiden feeds off the crowd.  In watching Flight 666, the crowds were amazing.  Is it harder for you to feed off that energy hidden behind your kit than the other 5 guys who get to have constant interaction with the fans?  If so, what is it that really gets you into a gig that makes you feel as if it is going to be an amazing night? - BigBT

That's a nice question BigBT. As far as feeding off the crowd, you always feel the magic of a big gig, there's always this amazing vibe before you go on, especially when the lights go down and the intro tape or film plays. You hear the audience and my energy feedback comes from that -- backstage, the excitement of going on, getting ready, Aces High kicking off with Winston Churchill's speech...

When I get up I can see maybe 20 or 30 rows of the kids... I feed off of what happens inbetween the songs when I'll stand up and look out. A lot of the South American, in fact most of the audiences around the world on the last tour, will do some kind of a chant inbetween a song somewhere in the set, and it happened more than once on several occasions, so you just feed from that.
My main deal is that while the rest of the guys are interacting more with you guys as fans out there, I interact with my band. And what comes from you lot to them, comes back to me. So that's how I interact.

Thanks so much for your questions. See you all later.



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