Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden Makes Accurate Statements About Punk Music, Gets Words Twisted By Media

Bruce Dickinson of IRON MAIDENBruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden had made these comments a few days ago. I had not intended to write on it, as I expected people would see through the click-bait headlines and realize he was just telling it like it is.

Unfortunately, I was mistaken... there are now a whole lot of people are up in arms over his skewed expression of his feelings towards punk music. Let me attempt to clarify for everyone what he's trying to say, and then you may go about making your judgments and assumptions.

First, Bruce's original statements:

"The closest the 'art establishment' ever came to embracing metal was punk. The reason they embraced punk was because it was rubbish and the reason they embraced rubbish was because they could control it. They could say: 'Oh yeah, we're punk so we can sneer at everybody. We can't play our fucking instruments, but that means we can make out that this whole thing is some enormous performance art."

"Half the kids that were in punk bands were laughing at the art establishment, going: 'What a fucking bunch of tosspots. Thanks very much, give us the money and we'll fuck off and stick it up our nose and shag birds."

"But what they'd really love to be doing is being in a heavy metal band surrounded by porn stars."

People mistake the term "rubbish" to mean that he is saying all their music was shite, but rather that its popularity was largely contributed to their raw and dirty aggression, their apathy towards appearances, and their tendency to forego complexity in their songs.

That's not to say there aren't any great punk songs, just that they are more simple by design. Simple structures can still possess pleasing sound. Do you know of any punk guitarists that expeditiously ran through arpeggios or classically-inspired scales and notes to create something resembling music of the Baroque period?

Yeah, I can't think of any, either.

Greg of Metal Injection didn't agree with that interpretation, however. His problem with the statements Bruce made are, I believe, placing too much surface value on what was said - which is totally understandable if you're elaborating based on first glance.

Greg is more of the mind that "...it was an insane counter-cultural thing that flew in the face of society back when it was pertinent. Metal wasn't exactly like that - it was more of an underground thing that sort of kept to it self ad gestated for a long, long time. Plus I'm not sure it's fair to say every punk band couldn't play their instruments."

He goes on to say, following Bruce's final statement:

"Can that even be justified? I mean, think about the bands that were being surrounded by porn stars. I'm not sure those bands gave any more of a shit about the people who were signing their paychecks or the art community than punks did."

"Maybe it's just me, but I feel like Dickinson gets unjustifiably pissed about metal's non-acceptance in the art community back then than he should. "

While I respect his opinion, I must disagree. Dickinson's anger is completely justified. One of the commenters on the original article by MI (who went by the name Keon Croucher) worded it better than I ever could, so I'm just going to quote him:

"He's just telling it like it is. The Punk thing in the late seventies and early eighties in Britain almost killed Metal music there (and if that had happened, we'd probably not have it now) and a lot of punk bands from that era even admit they couldn't play for fucking shit!

It was just the feel of the thing, because at the time Britain was, to be blunt, A god damned mother fucking mess. Riots every day, shit getting lit on fire, windows getting messed up, stores getting raided, it was just out of hand. The government looked like a bunch of useless idiots, and the pissed off kids took to something that was so very 'anti-establishment'.

So the distaste of metal musicians lies very heavy in that era for punk bands overall, because they didn't care about the music, nor even so much anything else attached to it. They essentially just wanted to piss in the British governments cornflakes. That was really it. That being said, he's not entirely wrong at all.

Bruce has always been straight talking, saying exactly what he means to say, so I can feel confident taking his quotes here at face value....but that being said, I do not have the context of the whole interview, therefore I reserve my right to think anything of them except that he did indeed say those words."

EXACTLY. It was more than just a passing fad in Britain - it echoed similarly to a revolution. There were a lot of other factors that Greg and many others did not and probably will not consider that contributed to Bruce's opinion. Imagine if the grunge movement here in the states (which was another genre that tried to "kill the metal", as Jack Black would say) was accompanied by riots, civil unrest, and corruption/ineptitude tenfold of what we experienced in reality.

I guarantee you, we would all hate grunge a lot more than we do right now if our country was in as much uproar as Europe was in those days. Granted, we may yet get some first-hand experience with an uncomfortable period of conflict and uncertainty here in the US soon enough - but until you know war and unrest as they have known it (not just in the punk era, but through both world wars and the collapse of entire empires), you can't fully understand why such anger is justified as it is with Bruce Dickinson.

Anyway, that's my piece. I sincerely wish that all major media/news outlets would adopt a more educated and informed approach in their reporting and start working towards providing the full breadth of information of the topic, instead of bits and pieces to manipulate meanings and using click-bait shocker headlines to generate pageviews.

If you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.


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