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– Anton Gustavsson tolkar Iron Maiden –
15th September 1999
2 Minutes To Midnight
The Evil That Men Do
22 Acacia Avenue
Flight Of Icarus
Lord Of The Flies
Can I Play With Madness
The Number Of The Beast
Run To The Hills
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Heaven Can Wait
Fear Of The Dark
Anton Gustavsson, better known as Anton Maiden, was the product of the Internet generation of the 90s. Combining his teenage passion for Iron Maiden and his deep interest for the Web, he pushed much further the notion of sing-along with his musical heroes and invented the MIDI-karaoke. He simply downloaded a whole lot of Iron Maiden MIDI files from the Net (presumably written by a certain John Twynam), bought a cheap microphone and recorded his own voice over the tinny sound of the computerised music.
But what started as a solitary activity for his own amusement was going to become a mass phenomenon when his best friend, amazed at the originality of the renditions, suggested that he made the records available on the Net. Anton registered on a free server and posted the files he'd recorded with the silly-sounding music and his horribly out-of-tune voice. On a side note, let's bear in mind that this is probably what most of us sound like when we sing along to Maiden, but Anton was actually the first to have the balls to record his singing and expose it to the whole world. Anyway, within a short time, the server registered some 1,800 weekly downloads of the files and Anton can be considered the first "rock star" to have achieved overnight celebrity thanks to the Internet.
Some sort of mass-hysteria developed rapidly, not only in Hässleholmen, Anton's city of residence, but all over Sweden, where he was recognised everywhere, and where the TV and the press dedicated programmes and articles to this new phenomenon. Anton had become a celebrity overnight. However, not everything was rosy and most of the impressive amount of daily mail the young Swede received was from disgruntled so-called "true" Iron Maiden fans who insulted him and accused him of desecrating the music of their favourite band. The threats got the better of him and Anton decided not to record a sequel to his first album.
This CD is obviously for the die-hard collectors, as its musical value is pretty limited. Alternately, you can enjoy a good laugh while listening to it with some fellow Iron Maiden fans and sing unashamedly along. After all, most of us are Anton Maidens without a microphone.
Anton Gustavsson ended his short life on 1st November 2003.
A Swedish IRON MAIDEN fan who became a cult figure on the Internet after posting highly original and amusing versions of classic IRON MAIDEN songs on his web site has reportedly been found dead following his disappearance a week earlier from his apartment in Hässleholmen (Borås).
The Swedish daily newspaper Borås Tidning is reporting that no foul play is suspected in the case, leading to speculation that Anton Gustafsson's death was self-inflicted (as a deterrent to publicity-seekers, the Swedish media generally does not report on suicides unless it involves high-profile individuals).
Gustafsson (a.k.a. ANTON MAIDEN), who was 23 years old at the time of his death, found himself one of the very first stars of the international DIY (do-it-yourself) Internet music era four years ago when his unique versions of classic IRON MAIDEN songs landed him appearances on Swedish national TV (view Anton's hilarious 1999 segment on the Swedish TV program "Sajber" here) and in newspapers around the world. A subsequent CD release was made available in a limited edition of 1,000 copies and has since become a much-sought-after collector's item.
The CD, which featured 11 IRON MAIDEN songs sung in Anton's inimitable karaoke style, was recorded on his home computer using free MIDI files of classic IRON MAIDEN songs that he had downloaded from one of Scandinavia's MIDI-module metal web sites, the Iron Maiden Sound Archive.
Not everyone appreciated ANTON MAIDEN, though. In an interview in the Swedish newspaper Expressen published in June 2000, Anton told journalist Martin Carlsson that IRON MAIDEN fans "think that my interpretations are a disgrace to IRON MAIDEN. But that was never my intent."
Nasty comments in the guestbook on his web site eventually contributed to Anton's decision to put an end to his "career" as ANTON MAIDEN. "It just feels silly to continue," he told Expressen. "There will be no more records, [and] there's no point in trying to convince me [to change my mind]."
Once every decade or so, there'll be an album that will slip underneath the radar of mainstream audiences and submerge itself deep into obscurity. A few years will pass by and it will remerge on the underground cult circuit, waiting to be deemed a "classic" by those who truly know what the word means. Such an event is Anton Maiden. He's not just a musician and he's not just an institution – he is an event. An event that many performance artists could only imagine emulating at the finest points of their career. Armed with an Atari ST computer and deft knowledge of world capitals, Maiden fearlessly takes on 11 of Iron Maiden's classic songs and MIDIs the instrumentation to bold new territories, similar to the soundtrack of a Nintendo eight-bit video game. And his vocals? There are truly no words in any language that could possibly serve justice as to aptly describing the sheer dexterity and potency of his voice. It's almost as if he has invented new notes to be sung and has totally reinterpreted many of the more flaccid Iron Maiden tunes into bona fide powerhouse singalongs. Fans of the band complained of Maiden's abstract take on the tracks, but a more sincere example of the power of music may not exist. These songs are tributes to a band who is hopelessly unhip, lovingly (and probably inadvertently) shaped into hipster anthems by a passionate Swedish teenager. But Anton Maiden is much more than an in-joke for the irony crowd. Anton Maiden is a creature built from old Nintendo components and Circus magazine pull-out posters, a primitive slice of avant-garde thought applied to source material that can appeal to listeners who would never give John Zorn the time of day. This is one of the few examples of a novelty item transcending its own intent and becoming art. And hilarious art at that.