(This guest post was written by an Australian writer who calls himself Hoss.)
The other week, while researching for an article on John Peel and grindcore, I came across a nice little moment in metal history. When I first read about it, I thought it was just about one of the coolest things ever. I’m going to share it with you now.
In 1992 British art-electro-hip-hop-kinda-thing band The KLF were invited to perform their hit “3AM Eternal” live at the Brit Awards. The KLF are perhaps best known for being justified, ancient, driving an ice cream van, and, most importantly, being endorsed by Tammy Wynette. Ever the pranksters, they invited Ipswich grinders Extreme Noise Terror to perform in their stead.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – ‘getting a metal band to perform a pop song!? THAT’S HIL-AR-IOUS!’. But you must remember that in 1992 this irony-laden chestnut was not yet old, and still might have caused at least a few bemused smirks. Part of the joke also included firing machine guns filled with blanks into the crowd (rad) and dumping a dead sheep at the afterparty.
Sounds awesome right? I mean, this photo of The KLF head guy Bill Drummond certainly makes it look that way:
Well after jumping onto YouTube I discovered that, well, it wasn’t really. After babbling into the mic for a while, Drummond limps offstage and returns at about the 2:40 mark, only to fire off a pitiful three seconds worth of gunfire.
Three seconds hardly seems enough to give the event a prominent place in Pop Music History, but apparently that’s exactly what it did. British rag The Guardian named it as number 37 in their History of Pop Music Series, which outlines the 50 key moments in pop music history.
And what about poor old ENT? Observing the bemused and polite reaction of the crowd, you can’t help but feel that ENT were co-opted as a novelty item for the amusement of the ‘cultural elite’. It’s all so….polite and…ummm…un-grindcore-ish. Putting aside misgivings about the embarrassing nature of it all, The KLF vs. Extreme Noise Terror is a significant moment when extreme metal collided with pop culture…even if it’s only significant because of the attention it received, rather than what it actually was.