Saturday, July 13, 2013

Axl Rose's Nemesis: Iron Maiden

Formed in 1985, Guns N' Roses hadn't even the slightest idea that their debut, Appetite for Destruction, would top Billboard's 200 chart and make them a household name. For most fans, the allure was "Sweet Child O' Mine"--the band's only single to reach number one--and monster guitarist, Slash, who helped lead them to success.

Following Appetite for Destruction's good fortune, Guns N' Roses were granted a spot on 1988's Donington Monsters of Rock festival alongside names like Iron Maiden, Kiss, and Megadeth. Being selected for the bill was certainly no small feat with one album under their belt, but the band filled the position with relative ease based on their debut's acclaim. Compared with the rest of the line-up, they were inexperienced, but that didn't stop them from showing the crowd what they had to offer.

After the performance, vocalist Axl Rose and guitarist Izzy Stradlin stepped to the side for an interview. The basic premise poked at Guns N' Roses' identity and place in the festival's line-up to familiarize concertgoers with their music. Most intriguing was Axl's reluctance to let Izzy speak, who, perhaps put off by his bandmate's comments, refused to talk when given the chance.

According to the interview, Gun N' Roses were Kiss fans, as they shared a common ground called hard rock. Nevertheless, for Axl, one difference set them apart: lust for fame and fortune, leading him to harshly label Kiss as nothing more than a product, instead of the music-making machine they had been in their early days. His band, on the other hand, supposedly put their music first with money (and girls!) in a distant second--undoubtedly a bold claim.

When asked if Gun N' Roses shared any similarities with British act Iron Maiden, Axl gave a resounding "I hope not," catching himself before he asserted they weren't a rock band. Quickly covering his footprints, he instead called the five piece a political organization, discretely spelling out the differences between hard rock and metal. Clearly, music was about fun, rather than outright artistry and, for Axl, Iron Maiden's long epics coupled with poetic lyrics had little do with his envisioned rock 'n' roll song.

As a member of Metal Archives put it, Axl's comments were based on a difference of tastes more than anything else. Back then, and even today, Iron Maiden are known for their professionalism, while Guns N' Roses are recognized as a dirty, gritty version of the hard rock trend that took the eighties by storm.  Songs about drugs and sex, two topics common for Guns N' Roses, rarely, if ever, found themselves on the British metallers' lyrical palette ("Charlotte the Harlot," 22 Acacia Avenue," and "Hooks in You's" prostitute talk doesn't count!).

Alternatively, Axl appeared drunk enough to talk nonsense, but all we have is a short clip to help us make an educated guess. It wouldn't be far-fetched to assume that was the case here since he was never known as the mastermind of Guns N' Roses. Shall we chalk this one up to inebriated stupidity?

-TMA

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