Bruce Dickinson: 'Punk Is Rubbish, Punk Musicians Can't Play Their F--king Instruments'

"What they'd really love to be doing is being in a heavy metal band surrounded by porn stars," Iron Maiden singer says.

Ultimate Guitar

Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson recently gave the punk genre a decent bashing, calling the music rubbish, and branding musicians as wannabe metallers.

Chatting with the Guardian, Bruce was asked about the way metal is judged as "a lesser art form."

"The closest the 'art establishment' ever came to embracing metal was punk," the singer replied. "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 f--king 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 f--king bunch of tosspots. Thanks very much, give us the money and we'll f--k 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," Dickinson added.

During the rest of the chat with fellow musician Frank Turner, Bruce dubbed fame an "excrement of creativity," going on a second ripping spree, this time focusing on Glastonbury performers.

"I see these wankers onstage at places like f--king Glastonbury wandering around as if they had a mirror attached to themselves, gurning for the f--king cameras and paying no attention whatsoever to that kid in the front row.

"That's what makes the difference between Maiden and everything else. I'm not interested in being famous," the singer noted. "Fame is the excrement of creativity, it's the sh-t that comes out the back end, it's a by-product of it. People think it's the excrement that you should be eating. It's not. It's the creativity and the audience and being there in the moment."

198 comments sorted by best / new / date

    In other words..."Bruce Dickinson slams punk rock".
    This quote was taken WAY out of context... read the article a while back. Bruce was asked about the differences between metal fans and indie and punk rock fans. He actually made some very insightful comments about how in the 60's and 70's that genres didn't matter and it was all just "music". Radio and the music industry started separating genres to better market to people. I wish I could find a link to the original interview...
    Sid Vicious would be a prime example - A guy in a band who couldn't even play his damn instrument. I do agree that the technical ability is far inferior, however it doesn't take away from the music - Clash, Ramones, early Misfits etc., all GREAT bands imo. At the end of the day if it's enjoyable who gives two sh!ts how technical they are/not?
    Yeah, this is rather uncharacteristic for Bruce. Punk is more of an idea than a genre of music nowadays anyway, the sheer diversity out there is staggering, especially when you start dipping into stuff like Post-Punk and Post-Hardcore.
    Pablo Mortis
    In other words... "Bruce Dickinson finally snaps after years of Paul Di'Anno's jibes about his operatic vocals and assertion that Punk is a superior genre, will be sending people to Di'Anno gigs to shout "Bruce.""
    Is Mr Dickinson having a midlife-crisis?
    regardless of what he says, punk back in the day was more rock n roll than any other genre at the time, why? rock n roll is stickn it to the man, thennnnn somewhere along the lines of good charlotte punk blew up into pop status making it a beauty contest and mtv production rather than staying raw, real punk bands still exsist : )
    "What a f--king bunch of tosspots." Tosspots would be a great band name.
    Tosspots...wankers...shag birds... Rubbish God I hate English people
    link no1
    Yea because those words are obviously worse than some of the crap slang that originates from other countries. YOLO and Swag come to mind as far worse.
    YOLO came out of Canada, thank you, and Lil' B is simply the purposefully crafted, logical conclusion of certain rap strains, and his work is art.
    God damn those Limey bastards, creating the language we use and adding words we don't like!
    ianharv · Jun 23, 2014 04:23 PM
    Jacques Nel
    He's on a completely different level of swearing...I'm actually jealous.
    Oy yeh Fahk! u thnk u make a fahken funny m8? cohm down 2 the bloody pub, I'll bash ye fookin 'ead in! yeah? Yeh fuhk.
    He's from London, not... wherever that was supposed to represent. But he is an absolute hero; the whole band are down-to-earth, normal lads. It just so happens that they make amazing music and put on incredible shows for their fans. Up the Irons!
    Londoners are the undisputed champions of swearing, actually. Mancs, scousers and etc can't touch them.
    You've clearly never been to Ireland then... Ya ****ing prick!
    Well, I didn't take Ireland, Scotland and Wales into account. But yes, you're correct, the irish could form a swearing think tank if they wanted. "Fuck off ye **** you're ****ing wasting my time you ****ing knobber" - your average irish lad, if you say "hi" to him.
    I was on about the accent he tried to put on - which is also unlike Scottish, like he says it is below!
    I wasn't making fun of Bruce. That was more like drunken Scottish gibberish (in response to a comment). Had nothing to do with Bruce.
    Well, nah. My personal opinion that Iron Maiden is mostly crap. I wouldn´t even think of putting an album on. Although, I don´t dislike them even if it appears that way. I respect them for being very talented and most of all; Perhaps the nicest guys in the business.Iron Maiden is talent and success combined with two feet on the ground. Love them. You see?
    He's partly right. I get his point, on the other hand there are quite a bunch punk songs that are good songs and fun to listen to. A good song's a good song, no matter how technical your playing is.
    Punk is a music genre as legitimate as heavy metal and its subgenres. This comment seems uncalled for, and it reeks of ignorance. My mad respect for Bruce Dickinson just went down a couple of notches. Don't be a dick, Bruce. It's beneath you.
    Maybe they were bunch of hacks in the beginnings of the punk (and even then there were talented people, like Clash), but to be honest, for a music that was against complicated shit, punk is one of the genres that have evolved the most over the years. From the latter half of 80's the people started actually giving a toss about playing music and not just punching the guitar and calling it a day. Not to mention some bands like Fugazi or Thursday that brought punk to a new level. Judging the whole genre just because people acted like shit in 70s and in 80s is nearsighted at best, as much as I love Dickinson (tee hee).
    he doesn't understand that you don't need complex music to make good music. I'd rather an artist put some soul and passion into a song consisting of a few chords etc than a complex song with absolute no care whatsoever to what the song is about
    That's what I like about guys like the Clash or Sex Pistols, their music is dead simple, but played with absolute conviction. Same with blues, the skill of the musician is secondary to the feel of the music, that's where the appeal lies
    Pablo Mortis
    The thing is, the guitarist with Clash was actually quite talented - I believe he ended up working with Public Image Ltd, listen to him with them (this coming from someone whose knowledge of Punk is mainly shaped by what he sees on BBC 4 xD) Edit: That's not to say the other members weren't - anyone who can put Spanish backing lyrics to a song is good by me
    You're right, Joe Strummers pretty damn good. And he was shite at soloing, but he was as good a rhythm guitarist as anyone could ask for. Good music comes in many forms, and as I've said many times, every genre has it's fair share of good and bad bands (yes, even pop all you radio-haters!)
    I think what he's saying is that a lot of punk bands don't put their soul and passion into it and just do it to feed their egos and "stick it to the man", otherwise he'd be dicking on most forms of popular rock music.
    Every genre has it's fair share of posers, and other bands that are the real deal. This is the case for metal as well. Iron Maiden are the real deal, but some bands just play loud, fast, angry and overcomplicated just because they can, while the soul of the music is thrown aside Personally I like punk, and I'm not much of a metal fan, but I've nothing against it. It's easy to slam a particular genre if it does nothing for you, but there's good bands and bad bands in every genre in music
    I can hardly name people who write complex songs and put no care into what the song is about. Example - Between the Buried and Me is mega complex and their lyrics are also very thought provoking, heartfelt, etc. It's a cop out to say that complex writers have no emotion or statement or anything. Death, Atheist, Between the Buried and Me, Cattle Decapitation, etc, the list goes on.
    god you people are ****tards
    You're right. Most of the "Kids" on this site have no clue what "punk" is. They think Fall Out Boy & Blink 182 are punk. They are clueless
    Or maybe they're not impressed by the Clash or the Ramones or the Sex Pistols as you are. Because, good or bad, those are bands that have very little to say for today. There are many bands who wrote timeless songs, with topics that lived on past the decades in which they were written. I would argue we can't say that most Punk bands do that.
    What you would 'argue' is kind of irrelevant, especially when your drawing points for punk are so incredibly narrow. Do you really think there's a subjective argument to be made for or against punk? If you don't think there's any punk that's held up with time, that speaks to absolutely nothing except your individual tastes. It's not an argument for or against anything, let alone an entire genre of music.
    Breaking news: music isn't about virtuosity, it's about expressing yourself. Also: record labels control almost every genre of music out there today, punk isn't an exception. Bitter old man.
    I think Greg Lake had a similar moment last year. It's funny how musicians you can otherwise respect can't get their damn foot out of their mouth about punk. As a metal fan and a musician in 2014, this is absolutely an embarrassing discussion to still be having. If you don't like punk you don't like punk, but where do these people get off thinking they're making legit statements about an entire genre of music?
    He's not wrong about punk being (mostly) simplistic, he's just missing the point. You might as well complain that a Nokia brick doesn't have a touchscreen. But he's a little more on-point with the whole thing about the "art establishment" picking up on it just because it was easy to say they were making a statement. As for the thing about fame, I think he again misses the point. When you rake in cash by the truckload like he does it's easy enough to say you don't need fame, it's a little harder when being able to live off your music is some barely-worth-having dream. Of course, every musician should have a decent relationship with their fans regardless.
    I think what he was saying about the fame thing was that he's more interested in crowd interaction than he is in smiling for the camera or whatever.
    link no1
    I think comparing it to a Nokia 'brick' is a bad example. The brick was good at the time, especially considering touch screens weren't even a 'thing' then. Punk musicians have always been bad, most of them self-proclaiming that they couldn't and that they were 'sticking it to the man' ('the man' being fans of talent in this case). Even for 'their time' they were bad and many musicians from many genres could use their instrument to a much higher degree.
    link no1
    I think comparing it to a Nokia 'brick' is a bad example. The brick was good at the time, especially considering touch screens weren't even a 'thing' then. Punk musicians have always been bad, most of them self-proclaiming that they couldn't and that they were 'sticking it to the man' ('the man' being fans of talent in this case). Even for 'their time' they were bad and many musicians from many genres could use their instrument to a much higher degree.
    I'm not denying that a lot of punk musicians couldn't play for shіt. But whether you think it's pretentious bullshіt or not, they were at least to some extent doing it to make a point. And, well, given punk's time as a major genre, there was a time when people agreed with it. They did what they intended to do. Likewise, a brick does what it's meant to do. You can phone people and it won't break. They exist today because, despite being inferior technologically, there's still a demand for what they do. Punk was big when it was big because there were people who wanted to listen to it more than the hard rock of the time. Now I'm no punk fan myself, most of the music just doesn't do it for me, but I think Bruce just comes off as pretentious and ignorant condemning punk as "rubbish". Naturally he's allowed to think what he thinks and you're allowed to think what you think. I think punk's a silly thing to get upset about.
    Punk musicians are bad? Someone should tell these guys I don't thank they got the memo
    if you attack someone else's creativity, you immediately lose all credibility. like rob halford, this guy DICK-IN-SON is an ass-hat tool-bag.
    Attacking someone's creativity is what this whole argument is about. People don't know the difference between their perception of something and reality. It's kind of sad that if you don't like punk, you seem to be physically and mentally incapable of understanding that people enjoy the music for more than just the aesthetics or the message. The way people wear their ignorance like a badge ("FUCK YEAH DAE THINK PUNK SUCKS") is kinda pathetic. Liking or disliking something is one thing, but some people are too arrogant to leave it at that.
    Though I agree with you, your laughably lacking vocabulary and creativity in swearing compared to Bruce leaves me hollow and disappointed.
    Look I have allot of respect for Dickinson and I don't listen to much punk but the fact is, metal would not have been the same without it. The 80's thrash bands that were influenced by punk opened up a whole wealth of different metal sub genres and sounds. Metal became more aggressive and fast paced aswell because of it. As for the musicianship of punk bands, well that's the point isn't it? It gives rock music variety when there's stuff like both punk rock and prog rock.
    Good point, Discharge, Amebix the Subhumans [UK], and others have for sure influenced a lot of really good metal bands.
    I was going to say that, good point. Where would we be without the energy and aggression of punk?
    Metallica always cited the Misfits, GBH, SNFU, and many other punk bands as influences. Sure, they added the technical playing, but the speed and energy was influenced by punk rock.
    Ridder Lugtepik
    Ramones bad musicians? Well, Marc Bell (Marky Ramone) is not at all a bad musician. People who think that, have clearly never heard him prior to Ramones playing with Dust and making records by the age of 15 and 16
    If punk is so shit when why do so many bands recite Black Flag as a big influence? Not everyone wants to hear operatic vocals and w*nky harmonised guitar solos. Punk bands don't need men dressed in giant zombie outfits as a stage show either. I'm not even the biggest punk fan in the world but Bruce hasn't got a clue on this. Nirvana can be considered punk rock, they seemed to do just fine.The Melvins, Mastodon, QOTSA all openly talk about Black Flag as influences and I'm pretty sure they can play their instruments just fine
    Punk bands have a lot of fans for musicians who ''cant play their instruments''
    Cause it doesn't matter in that aspect. Look at the pop charts and tell me how many of those names can actually play a ****ing guitar.
    must say something about the sort of people who are buying records atm then eh?
    That is such bad logic I still cant begin to fathom what the point here is. Being able to play an instrument well =/= getting lots of fans.
    There seems to be a re-occuring theme here on these forums... If it's played on the radio it's not real music... Bands by their very nature have to make money, the more money they make the more they can put into it. Especially, those who are signed to a blood sucking label. You may not like pop, or rap, or metal, and you may not like classical... But, that doesn't mean that if your favorite reggae artist suddenly makes a hit on the radio that he/she just became those genre's you hate...
    Ah yes, it's laughable how most metal musicians think everyone that has ever held a guitar wants to be in a metal band.
    So the SINGER of a band is complaining about how punk musicians can't play instruments...
    Wow. Sounds like a pre-teen metalhead bashing on a music genre and lifestyle they know **** all about. This is embarrassing.
    Clash.. Ramones?
    In fairness thats not helping your case. the ramones were AWFUL musicians. to the point where the guitarist had only gotten his first guitar a few weeks before the recording of their first album
    Clash and Ramones are punk in the same way Poison and Motley Crue are metal. Leaning into the mainstream, radio friendly airspace. You know, the stuff that sold records.
    'the stuff that sold records' yeah I agree. That's why the Ramones' debut only went Gold last month.
    Because debuts are always bands most commercially successful albums? Yes Bleach sold so much better than Nevermind. Pantera Metal Magic sold so much better than Vulgur Display of Power...
    comparing an indie album with one with corporate back-up....oh well, nevermind...
    "Songs for the deaf" will care to disagree!
    link no1
    Are you saying that's QOTSA debut? I hope not because even though I'm not a fan of them, I still know that isn't their first album
    Actually The Ramones barely sold anything back in the day, not many people got them until much later.
    Without Ramones, it wouldn't have happened the way it did. They didn't give a ****, they couldn't play, they sang about how bored they were and they inspired thousands of other punk bands. To say they're not punk just because they're more well known than others makes me think you're just a twat who thinks they're too punk for us. Oh, by the way, the Clash are ****ing fantastic.
    When was the last time bruce dickinson released/sang on a record that people gave a shit about? Cause I'm pretty sure Fear of the Dark was the last.
    Agent 00Awesome
    I'm a huge fan of all of Iron Maidens post 2000 albums. Its a lot more epic and progressive sounding than any of their other stuff.
    I don't know, man... I don't like punk very much but I wouldn't disgrace it either.
    He makes some good points but it's never okay to bring down other genres of music simply because it's too dependant of someone's taste and perception. Punk has a completely different point of view where the feeling of unity and the atmosphere in the crowd is more important than the technicality of the musicians in the band. Whereas metal is, together with jazz, one of the more complex styles of playing. And it's exactly that what's so great about metal, it's heavy and in-your-face for non-musicians and challenging for musicians. That being said, there are many exceptions in both cases: you can have the most simple, boring metal with 4 chords and 5 choruses but there's also punk music that's more varied and complex. It's no use talking arguing about this since it's all apples and oranges anyway.
    apparently he's never listened to Bad Brains
    Bad Brains are pretty much beyond criticism. Anyone who badmouths them is just showing their ignorance. Their records can sound like they were recorded in a dumpster. They can make an album of dub. H.R. can do interviews that confirm he's batshit crazy. Their songs can be 23 seconds long. Doesn't matter- those records are masterpieces. I'd listen to an album of Bad Brains breaking strings.
    I don't like punk (so much), but it's not a reason, why I should call it rubbish. I hope Bruce don't wanna be someone like Gene Simmons
    I feel like his thorough bashing of fame makes it plenty clear we don't need to fear Bruce turning into Gene.
    I guess he doesn't know why punk go t started in the first place. Punk was against metal and the overindulgent bands that played 20min guitar solos and songs that never seemed to end. The fact that the ramones and sex pistols didn't really know how to play was just in support of that notion. People that really didn't know how to play wrote songs that became popular and the point of the music was the rhythm and melody not the solos or riffs (even though today that has changed). But if you look at guitarists like Michael Olga Olger you'll see that punk has a lot of talent in the instrumental department it just doesn't like to overindulge on that aspect of music.
    lolwut?...Punk's starting had ZERO to do with metal bands. It was against the self-indulgent (at that point) bands from the early '70s and the '60s.
    Was I the only one that interpreted this as a criticism to the "art establishment" instead of Punk?
    I get his point, but how can he not hear the strong punk influence on early Iron Maiden? From that alone, you'd think that he wouldn't bash the genre as a whole that hard....
    Ermmm...where's the influence? Because, Iron Maiden actually started as a band in '75. They were around, as a functioning band, during the early Punk days. They really were more influenced by bands like AC/DC and Motorhead and Black Sabbath than they were by Punk.
    During the show "Metal Evolution" Steve Harris talks about how much he dislikes punk. I mean he's the one who writes basically all of their music, so I'd say he knows what he's talking about.
    I still don't know why people make a big deal about the Sex Pistols. Always thought the Dead Kennedy's were ten times better.
    When was the last time he even listened to punk? Not good at their instruments? That is ridiculous. Sure some bands suck balls. But the Clash were amazingly talented. Joe Strummer's band after the Clash, the Mescaleros, were really talented. And anyone who says punk hasn't stood the test of time and is irrelevant today has never actually listened to punk music. I hate citing the Clash again...but a Rolling Stone once listed London Calling as the number 1 influential rock album of the 80's. And much of punks lyrical content focuses on class problems, tackling racism, sexism and homophobia. Stuff that is super relevant today. Also, when you step outside the main three bands everyone keeps mentioning there is tons of talent. The Exploited in their later years; Bad Brains were insanely talented musicians; Amebix is pretty damn good; Behind Enemy Lines; Dirty Rotten Imbeciles; Tragedy; GISM (if you can get passed their poor recording quality they have some songs that really shred) not to mention punk spawned grindcore which has some insanely talented drummers (listen to Poser Disposer) punk also influenced thrash with bands like Municipal Waste. And the number of Metal bands that do punk covers is staggering so punk must not suck that bad
    Maiden's early material sounded somewhat punkish. They streamlined their sound with "Number of the Beast". I really enjoyed the early, aggressive stuff more than their later material.. Probably in the minority..
    My punk band plays maiden songs, because it's fairly easy and kind of fun. Hell we improv songs that could have been in the maiden song catalogue.
    How adorable is it to see all these people talking authoritatively about punk, yet they can only name The Ramones, The Sex Pistols or The Clash? It's funny that people want to have a strong opinion about punk yet don't feel any burden to inform themselves. Without a clue your argument is invalid.
    And for the record, I love Iron Maiden, but Bruce is an idiot. Anyone who can write off a genre of music they know nothing about is basically telling you they don't have the time to be informed, but still want you to take them seriously. I love Maiden, I love metal, I love prog, I love jazz, and appreciating these things doesn't affect my love of punk. Different genres of music should say different things, so the fact that Iron Maiden might be better musicians is completely irrelevant. I don't get the same affect listening to Yes or Mahavishnu Orchestra as I do listening to Black Flag, Die Kreuzen, Discharge, etc. I wish people would take the time to inform themselves before they formed an opinion.
    Jeez, way to kick a dog when it's down Bruce! Although, I doubt most Punk's wanted to be metal bands, I can definetly see what he said applying to a band like Sex Pistols. Everything else he said was true.
    Yeah, saying that punks wanted to be in metal bands is just laughable. That's exactly the sort of thing they DIDN'T want. It shows real ignorance for the genre. I think most people would rather be in Black Flag than Manowar.
    I read this article a while back and, as usual, this quote was taken out of context and turned into a UG headline.
    Absolutely right Bruce. So let's see ye give this whole "fame" malarky up and get rid of everything its ever bought for you.
    I bet this idiot has never heard of the MINUTEMEN! or the Meat Puppets. and the difference between punk and ****ing iron maiden is that punk is good. Iron Maiden is the corniest shit on the planet
    "Fame is bad!" "Bet you wish you were famous enough to be surrounded by supermodels. This sounds like something he should've said during the 70's, when both he and punk were actually relevant.
    ohhhhh the opinions of a washed up musician looking to get his name noticed again. Music is an art no matter the genre, or the technicality. Do and listen to what you love, no matter what anyone else wants to say about it.