Thursday, 13 October 2011

Narcissism is a virtue...

I like to think of myself as one of the few people I know that genuinely gives a shiny shite about new bands. And I don’t mean the latest band Kerrang! are humping every last morsel of magazine sales out of. I mean bands who are at the bottom, just starting out, trying desperately to get their foot in the door of the business and seemingly in denial about the true state of the music industry in 2011. I will give virtually any band a chance, even if they look like they’ve read the fictional textbook entitled How To Ensure 14 Year Old Girl’s Will Fawn After You. I figure everybody deserves a chance (unless you’re a verb-the-noun band. Seriously. Stop what you’re doing and rethink your life. I already know what you’re going to sound like the minute I see your name, which is invariably a completely meaningless statement. And yep, you always sound like the same band I’ve heard a million times and hasn’t excited me once. At least be honest. Brainwash The Impressionable. There you go. It’s a damn sight better than Fight The Sky or Defumigate The Youth Hostel or whatever next week’s band wants to call themselves). Nothing pleases more when I come across a band who kick arse in every possible way – great songs, awesome live, passionate, and playing like they mean it. It’s even better when they’re local (Par exemple - check out Oceanis. Balls out progressive metal right from your hometown).

But the greatest indicator that a brand new band are going to be absolutely fucking dreadful? Like beyond any sense of comprehension dreadful? A simple scour through Facebook and a quick check of any random band’s info section reveals this: when a band has this ridiculous need to describe themselves in a manner that can only be described as complete self-righteous drivel, consistently over-zealous about themselves that goes beyond a simple charming confidence or a little cockiness. One such band I’ve come across recently plans to “revolutionise the metal industry”. And how do you plan on doing that exactly? How on earth do you plan on revolutionising a really rather wide genre that has virtually gone as far as it can go without bringing in genres that should have absolutely zero involvement in metal (Asking Alexandria, Attack Attack!, I’m looking at you)? How do you intend on truly revolutionising an industry that doesn’t make any money for its artists anymore? Oh, apparently they’re fusing “hardcore” and “djent”, the former a genre that has been so raped and pillaged over the years that what people consider hardcore today has little to no relevance to what it ACTUALLY is, and the latter an absolute micro-genre that has already died and become a joke as quickly as it rose to some form of prominence. They also aim to “push progressive metal and melodic metalcore to a new level”. How is that even possible? Are there time signatures that havn’t been played in yet? Are we really needing any more of the screamo-verse-wet-chorus-sick-brootal-breakdown song structures that metalcore so woefully dishes out year after year? And what the fuck is “melodic metalcore”? I thought the whole point of metalcore’s existence was to be a somewhat cleaner form of hardcore (which is where the bastardization of hardcore spawned from. You vile, maggot-infested musical terrorists). THERE ARE NO NEW LEVELS TO AIM FOR. ACCEPT THIS AND YOUR MUSIC WILL BE LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF THE CONTRIVED “REVOLUTION” YOU ASPIRE TO BE.

*cough* Sorry about that. So anyway, in summation, I suppose the question I’m building towards is this: why do bands feel a perpetual need to take themselves so seriously? Don’t get me wrong – I understand just as well as anyone that artistic expression is and should be a serious thing personally to the people involved, and belief in your craft is more important than anything. But for Christ’s sake, you’re just a band. You are ONE band. And you seem to have no idea how insignificant you are. Music is supposed to be about entertainment, passion, expression. If you want people to believe in you and root for you, you’re not going to get that by stroking your own ego on the internet to people who couldn’t care less about what your “plans” are. All people care about is whether or not your songs are any good. All the promoters care about is whether or not you can sell tickets. And all YOU should care about as a band is writing the best songs you possibly can, and crossing your fingers that you’ve chanced upon that rare chemistry that makes any great band great and that there’s enough individuality and heart in the three, four, five or twelve of you that make up the band to make something that sounds and feels truly special. Not original, SPECIAL. Originality is a dying game. 50 years ago the possibilities were endless. Nowadays, music (metal especially) is slowly grinding to a halt as it seems the only way to be even slightly original in the current climate is to make your music utterly incomprehensible. So all you can hope for is that your band somehow creates an intangible vibe when you play together that connects to people, be it through honesty, vulnerability, intensity or just plain old rock n’ roll “fuck you” attitude. What matters is that you convey your art, so to speak, in the most real way possible, because no one gives a fuck about those meaningless words on your Facebook page. They just want your music, and they want good shows and good times. Calling YOURSELF a revolution on Facebook isn’t going to add any weight to your potential impact. If anything, all it’s going to do is make me laugh even harder than I normally would when it turns out you’re a mediocre copy of bands who’ve been doing it a lot longer than you, and better.

If you want attention and success, go out there and get it. Take the creation of your music as seriously as you can – believe in it, live for it, and put every ounce of yourselves into it. But it needn’t go any further than that. People like bands who are either absolute rockstars or who are incredibly humble and down to earth. Those are the two extremes. You occupy the inbetween – bands who deal exclusively in a technique I affectionately call Upownarseism. Take it from me: NO ONE wants to like a band like that. Cockiness and arrogance can be absolutely vital to the success of a band. What I’m talking about here is neither of those things. This is just straight-up, unabashed pomposity. And it’s fucking disgusting to tell you the truth. How you can be so full of shit is beyond me. You want people to love you? Then mean it. It’s really that simple.

Support new music, support your local scene, and support the progression and evolution of this genre we all enjoy to varying degrees. But separate the wheat from the chaff: bands that mean it do not come along every day. This is but one way you can tell a gang of posers from a union of people who live for the music they play. Sorry to go all deep on you, but it’s the truth. And deep down inside, you all know it.

Don’t be a pleb.

Love, Frank

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