Iron Reagan Are a Thrash Metal Blast From the Past
Ronald Reagan sure left his fingerprints on the giant floating orb we call home. Aside from major events during his presidency like the Iran-Contra affair, his cultural impact will always linger in phrases like "Win one for the Gipper" and "trickle-down economics." Music-wise, no genres loved--or, more accurately, loved to hate--America's 40th President more than punk rock and hardcore. In Dead Kennedys' "We've Got A Bigger Problem Now," Jello Biafra sang, "I am Emperor Ronald Reagan/Born again with fascist cravings/Still, you made me President." 7 Seconds, Screeching Weasel, Fifteen and MDC also skewered or referenced him in song--not to mention the Ramones with their classic "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg." Reagan Youth mockingly named themselves after him as a play on Hitler Youth. For a certain set, utterly despising Ronnie and everything he stood for has always been in vogue.
Iron Reagan --a Richmond, Va. five-piece who specialize in high-energy, generally serious, sociopolitical hardcore/thrash metal -- carry a torch for this legacy, even if they only started in 2012. Vocalist Tony Foresta, who is in his mid-30s and thus grew up with Reagan in power, was clinging to this name for around four years before the group started. On the surface, 'Iron Reagan' has a couple of meanings.
First, it's a punny reference to metal icons Iron Maiden. It's also another ode to one of the most ubiquitous enemies of liberal-leaning heavy music. "The imagery of [Iron Reagan] is so ridiculous, too. It's kind of funny--the overexaggeration of the character of Reagan," says Foresta, who is better known as the frontman of comparatively lighthearted thrash gang Municipal Waste. "[Reagan is] like the ultimate supervillain. He's the biggest villain you could have." (It's worth noting that Direct Control--a Municipal Waste-connected project--have a song of their own called "Ronnie's Dead.")
Digging deeper, calling out Reagan has other implications. Punks and metal-heads on the prowl for political nemeses have no shortage of targets--Why not name a group after Dubya?--but in referencing who they do, Iron Reagan specifically invoke 1980s thrash. The flavors of last March's Worse Than Dead--the band's high-speed debut full-length (which is 19 songs long with not one running over two minutes)--clearly evidence an affection for that era and aesthetic.