So I got back from Salzburg late last night where I had been attending the first ever academic conference on metal. There were over 30 of us there from 9 countries and it was a really special event. I've been in touch with quite a few metal scholars over the years, some of whom were at the conference, but I've met very few face-to-face. So it was an incredible pleasure to be able to hang out and chat to other metal scholars for 3 days.
I'm not going to write a full conference report here - hopefully someone else will do so - as I'm monumentally behind with other work. You can read abstracts and some of the papers here. What really struck me was the high quality of the work presented. Before the conference I was concerned that some of the presenters might a) produce the kind of superficial popular music scholarship you sometimes find that simply celebrates its subject; or b) simply 'use' metal as a way of discussing other things. Happily, no one fell into those traps.
In fact, what seems to be happening is that some kind of 'critical mass' has been acheived and scholarship on metal is finally starting to produce a diverse range of interesting and innovative perspectives based on thorough research. Most of the people at the conference were metal fans themselves, some of them quite involved in the scene. Maybe its utopian of me but I think there are really possibilities here for integrating serious criticism into the metal scene. There's an intellectual side to the scene that can be developed into a real criticial edge.
Anyway, I'd like to give a big shout out to anyone from the conference who reads this blog post, and also to Niall who did a fabulous job in organising the conference.
Following on from the previous post, the paper I presented at last weekend's IASPM UK conference in Glasgow was entitled Do we need Jewish metal? On popular music, diversity and inclusion
The paper was a very preliminary attempt to think through some questions about the necessity (or otherwise) in popular music, using Jewish metal as the jumping off point for the discussion. It got a pretty good response but I'm not quite sure what to do with the paper now. So, I'm posting a PDF version on this blog to see if anyone has any comments. Download it here:
There's a new interview with me on the Treehouse Of Death website about my book. The questions are some of the most challenging and penetrating I've ever been asked about my work on metal. In fact the questions are probably more lucid than my replies. Read it here.
Looking through my last few posts, it's interesting that the Jewish element to this blog seems to be decreasing. This isn't because I am any less interested in Jewish issues. Rather, my passion for metal seems to be increasing. When I started the blog ( 3 and a half years ago) I knew that there wasn't much crossover between the Jewish and metal side, but I hoped to carve out a Jewish and metal niche for myself. What I think has happened is that I devote so much of my professional life to Jewish issues that I don't have much energy or desire to spend my 'leisure' time going over them again. In contrast, since finishing my book I am finding new and exciting aspects of metal that I like to write about.
I'm going to make an effort to beef up the Jewish aspect of this blog. But I think it's true to say that at the moment Metal Jew is more metal than Jew...
...since I last posted. Life is hectic as ever. Anyway, here's four miscellaneous items:
I had an article published in the Jerusalem Post entitled 'Is Britain Good for the Jews' (my answer: yes with some reservations). The comments on my article on the website are hysterical.
I 'DJed' last night at a Jewdas event. It wasn't quite as successful as last time I did so - I was in a back room, I was on too early and there weren't enough people. Still, I had a blast and played some weird and wonderful stuff.
I'm pretty ambivalent about next Sunday's Salute To Israel Parade - I really dislike the public triumphalism aspect of it. However, I have to admit that the organisers have avoided the usual musical dross that permeates these kinds of events and book Israeli pop punk band Useless ID to play. Okay, they are hardly Earth Crisis but it beats Dudu Fisher.
In a fit of time-wasting I checked Wikipedia's lists of every UK number one single . I remember every one from about 1978 to about half way through 1995, thereafter I become old and out of touch. I used to scan the charts religiously...