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Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson says criticism of his Brexit support is “disturbing”

By | Published on Tuesday 7 September 2021

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson has said that he finds the criticism he receives for being open about the fact that he voted for Brexit “disturbing”.

The musician has spoken out a number of times about his support for Brexit, but received particular criticism in June when he gave an interview to Sky News about all the issues musicians now face as a result of the UK leaving the EU, in which he told the British government to “get your act together”.

Many people, not least Johnny Marr, suggested that voting for something, and then complaining about the entirely predictable outcome of that something, was somewhat hypocritical. Not so, says Dickinson now. And the sooner we all stop shouting at each other, the sooner we can all get on with our lives.

“It’s slightly disturbing that people cannot contemplate that other people have other views contrary to themselves”, Dickinson tells Classic Rock in a new interview. “It’s like a dog whistle, people start running around and jumping up in down in anger, and I think it’s out of all proportion”.

“If you decide to do something reasonably radical in any walk of life, there are bound to be teething problems”, he adds. “If you suddenly change from Windows to a Mac, there will be things that really piss you off as you get adjusted to the new operating system. And someone might say, ‘Okay, in the long run, maybe being on a Mac will leave you better off, but in the meantime, how do we figure this out?’ That’s a perfectly reasonable position to take”.

I’m not sure Apple’s going to be calling up Mitchell and Webb any time soon to reprise their 2007 Mac ad campaign that sought to personify the Windows and Apple operating systems, but nevertheless, maybe the PC versus Mac thing is a perfect metaphor for Brexit.

PCs – standing in for the EU – are made by lots of different companies all trying to reach the same result by employing certain standards and protocols that inevitably require some compromises and restrictions. Macs are produced by a single entity that doesn’t give a fuck about what everyone else is doing. They’re also really expensive.

The metaphor only really falls down when you remember that Macs are much better than PCs. Maybe a better metaphor would be switching from Windows to an Etch A Sketch.

Anyway, the problem with confusing metaphors – and trying to see things in black and white – is that there is little room for nuance. Actually, there’s plenty of room for nuance, but people are so hellbent on taking a side that they’re keen to avoid it.

“People are deliberately choosing to misunderstand the position I was taking in that interview”, Dickinson goes on. “It’s unfortunate that both sides are seeking to take revenge political advantage. And there’s ultimately no point in that”.

“Everybody has to get on”, he says. “I have a German sister, I’ve a French partner who’s half-Italian who chooses to live in England because she thinks it’s great. Brexit should make absolutely zero difference to those relationships. And it doesn’t. It’s only at the political level where they need to lock themselves in a room, and have no food or water until they figure this shit out”.

You could argue that it would have been better to have some idea about what Brexit would actually entail before the vote – or even at some point in the four and half years between the vote and the UK properly leaving the EU. Or at the very least, to have addressed all the legitimate concerns with something more substantial than a “project fear” cliche and some “take back control” bullshit.

But Dickinson does not accept that there’s any hypocrisy in voting to for a deliberately undefined ambiguous concept, and then being annoyed when that concept is employed in a way you’re not entirely happy about. For example, in a way that makes it much harder for British musicians to tour Europe in a commercially viable way.

“The bizarre thing is that I’m less concerned with Iron Maiden’s position because we have the resources and the demand and we’re inputting a huge amount into the European economy playing to close to two million people next summer”, he adds, kind of stating the obvious, but nevertheless clarifying that he was speaking up on behalf of other musicians earlier this year.

“It’s not us I’m concerned about, it’s the younger bands who don’t have the time to go through all the paperwork and all the nonsense, and there should be a way of streamlining those things for all performers. Culturally, we’re all very close, and so I think it’s something that needs to be a work in progress”.

“I think it’s people trying to score political points at a high level, disregarding the fact that people still live next door to one another and still want to visit each other”, he continues. “Yes, we will be economically different and yes, we will have a separate independent sovereign political leadership, which is what I voted for, but we still want to get along”.

Anyway, let’s shut up about Brexit. There’s a much more important battle going on right now. Iron Maiden are currently going head to head with Drake for this week’s UK number one album. And Iron Maiden are winning.

According to the Official Charts Company, there are currently just 8000 combined sales separating Iron Maiden’s ‘Senjutsu’ and Drake’s ‘Certified Lover Boy’. Iron Maiden are ahead on physical and download sales, while Drake is dominating streaming.

Were all those physical sales a weekend boost that will see the band lose ground to Drake’s higher streaming figures across the week? We won’t know until Friday.

If Maiden win this battle, it’ll be their third consecutive number one and the fifth of their career. For Drake, it would be his fourth number one in a row and overall.