I got this email from a friend the other day:
So, I came upon this:
And then read this quote from the singer:
'It's about being willing to die for what's right and live to see justice. I feel like a lot of times I am an IED, an 'Improvised Explosive Device,' and when I go off it is in a creative and hateful way you will never forget. And at the same time I'm blasting through problems and life's situations I'm still trying to have feeling and empathy for the world and people.'
And I'm thinking, "This is the kind of asshole that gives metal a bad name."
First, I'd have to ask him via this here blog, did you listen to the song? It's mostly badass, as is most of Axis of Eden. When Today Is the Day are good, they're pretty unstoppable, but my friend is right—Steve Austin does often come across as an asshole in interviews. So that begs the question, just when does an artist's or musician's personality or opinions stand in the way of appreciating their work?
I don't think the question is in any way unique to metal. Bob Dylan fans have to overlook the fact that he's kind of a prick, much the same way Metallica enthusiasts have to come to grips with the idiocy of the four members. And it's hard to deny the awesomeness of “Stranglehold,” no matter what you think of Ted Nugent.
That said, the pretentiousness of certain segments of underground metal sometimes reaches the point of alienation. In the case of Today is the Day, the lyrics are often as indiscernible as they are bad, so they aren't all that important to me—I just like the way they're screamed. But then you have someone like Burzum or Graveland, whose racism defines their work. That ain't cool. Disqualifying jerks from your musical tastes is too limiting and probably leaves the pool of bands it's OK to like a bit shallow, but I'll draw a line when it comes to Nazi-sympathizing, church-burning and/or murdering.
If anyone has any other metal-oriented questions or comments, send them to cream [at] nashvillescene.com and put "Dear Matt" in the subject line. I know everything.