Nicko McBrain: IRON MAIDEN ‘Have To Be A Little Bit Selfish’ When It Comes To Choosing Live Setlist


In a recent interview with Romania‘s Rock FM, IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain said that the band “have to be a little bit selfish” when it comes to choosing live setlist. He also recalls wanting to play their latest album, The Book Of Souls in full.

Nicko says in the interview: “We’ve always made great records, and I always say, ‘Oh, this is the best thing we’ve ever done.’  ‘Oh, you said that about ‘The Final Frontier’.’Well, yeah, it’s one of the best records I’ve made with the band — until the new one, the next one. Now if it’s not, then there’s a problem. But I don’t say that because it’s something to say.

“My feeling is that when you make a masterpiece like ‘The Book Of Souls’, I said to Steve, ‘We should do the lot. We should play every song off that record.’ And, obviously, that would have been a bit of a push, ’cause it’s ninety-two minutes long. That’s your show gone, just your record; you can’t play anything else like ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Hallowed’, ‘Number Of The Beast’… maybe ‘Run To The Hills’ or whatever. But it was a silly suggestion that was blown out. But the point being, it’s such a great album, and, yeah, why not do six songs off it?

“The beautiful thing is, you’ve got longevity. The band’s been around over thirty-five, thirty-six years plus… right? Forty years in 2019, so that’s a long, long span with a lot of songs that have been written, and a lot of favorites that people have. And, unfortunately, we physically can’t play a three- or four-hour se, which still wouldn’t cover everything that everybody would wanna hear. So we have to be a little bit selfish in our motivation what we wanna play live, what makes us tick, what makes us feel happy when we go on stage and do these older songs.

“[People complain], ‘You always do that one. You always do that.’ ‘Cause we like it. We love playing ‘Number Of The Beast’. We love playing… Oh, well, ‘Iron Maiden’ will always, always close the set, no matter what.

“So, yeah, it’s a great problem to have, if you wanna call it a problem.”

On making a double album in an era when most music fans never listen to complete albums:

Nicko: “We do it our way. And we do what we feel we want to do. We don’t pander… and we never did, even when albums… to do a platinum album, you had to sell a million records in those days. And gold is five hundred thousand in the U.S. But we decided, when we were recording it, and ‘The Red And The Black’ came in, and that was thirteen minutes long plus, and we were halfway through, two or three weeks in the studio, and [producer Kevin Shirley] is going, ‘Do you know how long you’ve got on the record so far?’ And I don’t know… He said it was, like, seventy minutes, and we still had a couple of songs to go. And Bruce [Dickinson, vocals] just turned around and looked at us and went, ‘I suppose it’s a double album then.’ And we went, ‘Okay.’ And that was the motivation for that album. It was, ‘Well, we don’t wanna stop,’ because we had these other songs to record. And we were fortunate enough in our career and the stage we were at to be able to say to our manager, ‘Go and do a deal with Universal and whoever is doing the record now.’ So we weren’t really trying to make any other point than the fact that we were doing it our way and the way we always have.”

Watch entire interview below: