Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson is Wrong About Punk

Categories: Metal

Todd Owyoung for the Riverfront Times
Bruce Dickinson rules. He's the greatest singer for one of the greatest bands of all time, Iron Maiden. But recently, he unleashed some pretty charged words in an interview with The Guardian. In addition to dropping one of the most incredible quotations ever, "fame is the excrement of creativity," he also said a few harsh words about punk rock, referring to it as rubbish and saying that the lack of talent in punk was an excuse to call it performance art. He goes on to state, "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.'"

Not totally untrue. The problem, however, lies in his words that immediately follow that thought:

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

Whoa, waitaminute. Perhaps the English icon is referring strictly to the British punk bands of the '70s and '80s, citing some sort of inside info. After all, dude's basically a rock god. However, and no disrespect meant to porn stars, but the idea that punks wish they were living decadent lives in heavy metal bands is way off-base.

For starters, identifying yourself as a metalhead doesn't mean the same thing that it used to. As metalheads are often shy outcasts growing up, becoming extremely proficient at an instrument and knowledgeable of your genre was integral to the preservation of the minuscule ego you were clinging to. Through this principle, you formed communities and bands -- excellent metal was almost guaranteed, because playing eyeball-spinning, creative and blazing fast music was all some people had going for them.

Then in the early 2000s, some terrible things happened to the genre through the internet: First, it exposed a bunch of cool and dark bullshit to cute little dudes who could use it to get girls. Second, it removed the mysterious and evil veil that metal had to reveal a bunch of dorks. We found out that death metal bands didn't kill people and gothic metal bands slept in small apartments, not graves.

Metal is no longer scary to anyone aside from your friend's religious nutjob parents -- it's something a large part of society considers to be fairly juvenile. Unless you live in rural South Carolina, no one looks at your long hair and thinks you sacrifice animals in the middle of the night.

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Excellent article Drew.  I wish this appeared on Buddyhead.

Yeah, Bruce is probably talking more about British punk than American punk.  There's a huge culture and mission difference between GBH and Black Flag or Bad Religion.  I can understand his views and somewhat agree from a English perspective.

I honestly think there is nothing "heavy" about Iron Maiden.  They were the Britney Spears of Metal. And, a band like Tool has completely decimated what role Maiden had in history as talented (along with a lot of has-beens from the 70s and 80s).


Maiden has always hated punk, from the 70's era to now a days. Harris was on the tv series "Metal Evolution" (it is about a anthropologist Sam Dunn, who traces the roots of where the many subgenres of metal comes from) and Sam suggested that quite possibly through the metal family tree, because they started playing pub gigs around the same time the Sex Pistols etc where doing their thing. He said "Like f**k, we hated punk back then, we still hate it now. No way are we connected to punk."

So what if Dicko hates punks. Punks probably hate him and his music and lifestyle. Someone needs to get out for some sunshine and fresh air.


I agreed with you until you started coming off as belittling metal ironically much the way Bruce was belittling punk.

Sure, trying to convince fans you murder people and sleep in graves is juvenile, but you didn't mention what also happened: it largely became about the music. The image is shattered, and the music is all that's left sans the silly crap, unless of course your band creates theatricality in which case it's almost an underground version of the performing arts. Thinking a large focus on instrumentation as juvenile is ignorant - many of these artists are classically trained and span a wide range of genres, not to mention often singing about incredibly deep, personal, or grand topics as opposed to singing about getting drunk and being a loser.

I don't know about you, but I couldn't care less about bands writing angsty lyrics and hurting themselves or others for the sake of venting some pent up infantile aggression - punk, metal or otherwise. Good metal is about the music, first and foremost. Not sure if I can say the same for punk.


@TowelieLama Regarding the last bit: yeaaaah no. People these days think "heavy" means drop tuned.

Maiden is legendary, and always will be. Just because one can shred and play polyrhythms doesn't mean one is worthy of musical praise. Sure, many have built off and improved upon old-school metal, but they were still the pioneers and there was a definite musical charm about they way they wrote, with a great deal of heart and soul. There's a lot of modern metal I love and just as much that I think is crap that won't be remembered ten years from now.
I guess the take-away point is that it's all subjective really, but saying that Tool has "decimated" what role Maiden had in history as talented is pretty ignorant considering what they helped pioneer. Not to mention people still listen to them just as avidly 30 years later, and literally everyone I know who is into metal credit Maiden with getting them there.
Don't get me wrong, Tool is fantastic, but give credit where credit is due.


@longbowman Cut the cord and let it go brah. Iron Maiden boy band blows 70s style.  Move on.

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