When Axl Rose claimed Iron Maiden were “just a political organisation”

Axl Rose

The attitude was always more important in rock & roll than the message. Even though a lot of talented songwriters have written songs with the express purpose of improving the world, sometimes it comes down to whether the song inspires dancing or not. Despite having written many excellent songs for Guns N’ Roses, Axl Rose acknowledged that Iron Maiden was the model for everything he didn’t want his band to be.

Let’s be very clear upfront. Guns N’ Roses and Iron Maiden don’t even feel like they are having the same conversation. Although both of them have sold millions of records that fall into the broad category of “hard rock,” Rose’s ferocious scream will never be mistaken for Bruce Dickinson’s voice during an air raid.

However, there was enough similarity between the sounds of the two bands. This similarity got Axl Rose on tour with them when they first started to gain international recognition. As Iron Maiden explored their more experimental side, including the use of synthesizers on the album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, GNR was already taking rock back to its origins with Appetite for Destruction.

In Rose’s opinion, Maiden appeared to be a band that took themselves far too seriously above all else. All he wanted to do was create music that uplifted people’s spirits. Dickinson was preparing to teach you a lesson on the classic novel “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in the meantime.

Rose stated that he saw no connection between Guns N’ Roses and the legendary metal band. He added, “They’re nice guys, but it’s just like a political organization. And your albums kind of like your political stance.” They are entirely distinct from ours. Simply put, I don’t see how they relate to rock & roll. I’m not sure what they do, but that’s what they do. I wish I was never that way.

In the process of recording his next album, Axl Rose found himself becoming a little too famous. Someone who seemed so enthusiastic about tearing the band through the mud. Use Your Illusion I & II features Rose’s foray into the same ostentatious territory as Iron Maiden. However, there’s an emphasis on older singer-songwriters rather than an attempt to create a massive metal epic.

Many of the songs bear a passing resemblance to Maiden’s earlier work from a few years prior. “Civil War” marked the band’s first foray into politics with a song. “Coma” is an example of the same kind of epic based on sweeping riffs as the songs of metal icons.

Even so, Bruce Dickinson, who later claimed he had threatened to punch Rose after their touring cycle didn’t work out, remained unmoved. The metal band’s scolding of him had no effect. If anything, though, the history of rock and roll was changing in the eyes of the rock world, with the balance now favoring Rose far more frequently than it did Dickinson in the late 1980s.

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