Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson can pretty much do no wrong. He’s a pilot, a fencer, an author and the frontman of one of the most successful metal bands of all time. However, his recent comments about punk music in an interview with The Guardian seem a little misguided, especially given that they came while talking to punk/folk singer Frank Turner. When Turner brings up the fact that metal suffers from a sort of “cultural gatekeeping,” Dickinson goes on a bit of a rant about punk music:
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.
It sounds like Dickinson’s had an axe to grind for a long time. It also sounds like a pretty antiquated concept. The lines between punk and metal have increasingly blurred since Dickinson joined Maiden in 1982. When metal albums are regularly being reviewed in Pitchfork and there are black metal food pairings, he can’t say the “art establishment” hasn’t embraced metal. And as far as punk bands and porn stars go, has he looked at Burning Angel or Suicide Girls recently? You don’t want to think of the 56 year-old Dickinson as out of touch, but both punk and metal have come a long way, the former in terms of musicianship and the latter in terms of credibility.