Metallica have done it. Deep Purple did it. Could Iron Maiden be the next heavy rock band to play live with an orchestra?

Drummer Nicko McBrain hinted at the possibility during a recent interview with 98.7 The Gater in West Palm Beach, Fla., after being asked whether the band's upcoming tour dates would include "Empire of the Clouds," an epic 18-minute track from its new double album, The Book of Souls. "I'm pretty sure we won't," said McBrain, saying the song is "not really ready to be played live" before adding an intriguing possibility.

"The thing is, what I'd like to see Maiden do before we step back from the touring schedule that we usually do ... is do Iron Maiden songs with an orchestra," suggested McBrain. "There's a lot of stuff there. 'Alexander the Great' is a track that everybody's been moaning it's been never played live. I'd like to do things like that. Everything that we haven't covered I'd like to see us do an orchestral version of. Perhaps that will happen one day."

Noting that the band has a utility keyboardist, Michael Kenney, on hand to fill in sonic textures during shows, McBrain suggested that perhaps the new song "The Red and the Black" might be a viable candidate for the new live set. "Michael would do that, or if we did something which has got some orchestration on it, which you can do with a keyboard, Michael Kenney would do it. But this," he said of "Empire of the Clouds," "you can't do ... Plus there's a lot of percussion instruments on there as well and whatnot, so it really wouldn't be something — and it's 18 minutes long. I mean, you could do two songs in there, couldn't you?"

In the meantime, Maiden fans wanting to hear the band's music given the orchestral touch can turn to the Hand of Doom Orchestra, who covered their 1983 Piece of Mind album on a tribute CD in 2006. Listen to the Hand of Doom version of "Where Eagles Dare," and check out McBrain's complete interview below.

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