BRUCE DICKINSON Defends His Decision To Vote For Brexit, But Says Great Britain Should 'Absolutely' Re-Engage With E.U.

March 29, 2024

In a new interview with France 24's Marjorie Hache, IRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson was asked about the hardships younger hard rock and heavy metal musicians face when trying to break through in today's music industry. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, look, there's a market for this kind of music. There's an audience for this kind of music. But the problem, for me, and there are several — one is that this music exists to be played live. The tragedy now is that between government-slash-E.U. [European Union] legislation and taxation and everything else like that — I mean, the big bands, they have accountants and they can deal with tax and all the rest of it, but the smaller bands, a government saying, 'Ah, yes, we'll take 20 percent of your money and put it against tax.' A band that's getting paid 500 euros for a show can't afford to have 100 euros taken away. At the same time, there's a lack of venues, so now we've gone crazy about health and safety and blah blah blah, but bands need venues to play in, and bands need to be paid more for their music. So there needs to be a revolution in the royalties that musicians get paid directly from streaming."

Asked about the irony of the fact that he voted in favor of Brexit in 2016 and is now a Brit who lives in France, which is part of the European Union, Bruce said: "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, no, I'm a Brit who lives in France 'cause I'm allowed to, because I married a French girl [in 2023].

"There was a minority of people in England, I think, who basically kind of don't like foreigners," he explained. "So they voted for Brexit because of that. But it was a very, very broad church of people. The weird thing is that the United Kingdom is an island. And that means that we think differently. Like, at the moment, the Corsicans are voting because they want to do something to secede from France, 'cause they're an island. People think differently in an island. And if you don't respect that, there's pushback. And the problem with the European Union was, they decided that one size has to fit everything. And so, okay, we quit. Should Great Britain re-engage with the European Union? Yes, absolutely. But it should be based on pragmatism, not dogmatism."

Back in September 2021, Dickinson defended his past comments on Brexit, saying that he was "less concerned with IRON MAIDEN's position" and more worried about the "younger" British musicians who didn't have the resources and the time to go through all the paperwork required to tour across Europe after Britain's departure from the European Union.

During a June 2021 appearance on Sky News, the MAIDEN singer, who previously admitted he voted to leave the EU, said that Brexit was making it harder for British acts to do tours and concerts in Europe and that the government should be doing more to help.

Predictably, his complaints fell on deaf ears, as many rushed to social media to mock his plight, noting how quick he was to change his stance when it began to affect him personally.

In a later interview with Classic Rock, Dickinson pushed back against his critics, saying: "It's slightly disturbing that people cannot contemplate that other people have other views contrary to themselves. 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. 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."

He continued: "People are deliberately choosing to misunderstand the position I was taking in that interview. 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. 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, and 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.

"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 explained. "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. 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."

Back in 2018, Dickinson told the French news magazine L'Obs that he was "quite relaxed about the idea" of the United Kingdom separating from the European Union, explaining that he thought Brexit would make Britain "more flexible" and that "Brexit actually opens our borders, Brexit opens the United Kingdom to the whole of the world.

"Brexit will not change the status of the [country] by very much," except for "enhanc[ing] our economic capabilities," he added.

In June 2021, over 200 musicians and bands — including WOLF ALICE, Annie Lennox, Mark Knopfler, NEW ORDER and RADIOHEAD — urged the U.K. government to act to mitigate the Brexit-related expenditure and red tape of touring on mainland Europe. The "Let The Music Move" campaign called for a renegotiation on touring — or "new bilateral agreements with each country that will reduce the costs and red tape" — as well as a short-term "transitional support package" to financially assist artists with new paperwork.

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