"The biggest lie about punk rock is that anyone can do it. Sure, anyone can do crap punk rock, but there is a fine art to taking a music fueled by destructive impulses and building it to last." - Stuart Berman, "Album Review: Metz' Metz" Pitchfork. 2012
Berman makes a bold statement at the beginning of his review for Metz' self-titled which was released earlier this month to glowing praise. The album does hold water to said critical justification just as much as Berman's statement about punk rock. While listening to Metz' latest record this week alongside cloakroom's EP and revisiting New Plastic Ideas and Nevermind as fodder between them, 2012 has been the year that time remembered. We once again felt the dirt wedged between our fingers and our nails and the music which accompanies it. It's now a time of idol worship and nostalgia, and the fine line we ride between the two varies from elitist to even more elitist publications back to the even more elitist culture of listeners who have their head so far up their own ass, they've traveled back to the adolescent discovery of all things they consider to be "true."
Between seeing At the Drive-In continue to deconstruct the sound they more than disassembled a decade prior and the beauty and sprawl of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's out of body experience, one can say that most of our musical notches are still in tact. (I say that knowing that there is much dispute about the former.) Between a new Hot Water Music record and Texas is the Reason entering the studio with J. Robbins, it seems we just can't let go of the '90s-core musical landscape of pre-Internet showmanship.
But there's still one reunion, one time in my life I've yet to revisit, and this weekend I feel like the last decade of my life will come to a close and I will have more than a better understanding of what punk rock truly is and not what I was told it was in 2002. While it was four years after the release of The Shape of Punk to Come, I discovered Refused for the first time after seeing the video for "New Noise" on an MTV affiliated rock channel. Like videos for "One Armed Scissor" and "Understanding (In a Car Crash)," this was my first dive into "hardcore" music as I knew it to be at that point. Dead Kennedys and Black Flag were still just "punk bands" and Operation Ivy was "ska" when I was sixteen and didn't know any better and lacked any sort of back story to the bigger picture.
I didn't have ten years of research and discovery under me. Now all the pieces fit. Now I understand how we went from The Sex Pistols to Public Image Ltd. to Black Flag to Fugazi to Blink 182 to Fall Out Boy to metalcore numbness and now past 'GO,' collecting $200 through Web funding.
Just as I grew up in the suburban landscape of America, I'm not alone in how I wedged my way into the punk rock lifestyle. My story is no different than many others. I've always been an angst ridden child. I wasn't good at sports. I was very self conscious about myself throughout high school - and still am to an extent. Like many of you, at sixteen, music was the escape of emotions. But I'm not going to sit here and tell you I didn't own a copy of Significant Other years prior, or still listened to NOFX, Reel Big Fish and Blink 182 around the same time - bands some Refused fans would find "below them."
The Shape of Nu-Metal to Come.
That was my environment, and I can only be a product of it. I think that's the thing overlooked when discussing The Shape of Punk to Come. In 1997-98, it was reinventing and "new," but in 2012 it's idol worship. I didn't know who Nation of Ulysses were when I was sixteen, but now I do, and when I hear people denounce the record because of it, it's like they're ripping out a piece of what made me who I am today. It's taking a sledge hammer to the foundation of my grade school punk history 101.
All you uptight pricks just stomped on my diorama. Thanks.
The funny thing about our youthful "know-it-all" attitude is that some of us grow out of it and open ourselves to broader ranges of music, and some can't quite shake what we've always been attracted to audibly. The Shape of Punk to Come is an album centered around the expansion of what music, particularly the genre of "punk rock," could be. Beyond the references borrowed from the early hardcore scene, down to the cover for Rye Coalition's Teen-age Dance Session, the band turned it into their own for the next generation.
Somewhere, at some point in the first decade of the millennium, a line was drawn between holding our elders sacred and handing down old ideas to create new ones. There are more listeners and critics (including my guilty self) who would rather blame the next batch of bands for turning a trick than doing their best at reinventing the wheel over time. It really bothers me at this point that some of us are still in this mindset.
Tim McTague said something that just blew me away this past week in an interview with Alternative Press about the disbanding of UnderOath and about their legacy. He said, "It was this effort of a bunch of small things coming together, that obviously, we can’t take credit for—people we don’t even know probably played a massive part. It was just this thing that came out and I just kind of smiled for the fallen great bands, for the Froduses and the At The Drive-Ins, or Refused—who are obviously back and destroying everyone in their path. But at the time, all those bands that almost got there but didn’t. [Underoath] will never be dropped in the same conversations. No one from Refused will ever care about our band. I’m sure Justin Beck from Glassjaw hates our band—and that doesn’t matter. We know we’ll never connect with or inspire [the members of those bands]. They inspired us. Our music career is in honor of what they started."
It's sad to read that quote considering how far UnderOath pushed themselves as a band, the fact that they brought These Arms Are Snakes out on one of their first big tours and that like Poison the Well, UnderOath is that band that drew up the blueprint for the next wave, only to blow past them with their last three records. For some, even in the UnderOath's stride forward, they were just "ripping off Isis, etc."
The biggest tragedy to come out of The Shape of Punk to Come is that in the years to follow, we got so attached to the past that we forgot about what the future could hold. It's 2012 and we're finally digging ourselves out of the rubbish of 2005-2009's most popular hardcore, post-hardcore and punk acts to grace a Hot Topic display case.
You can sit here and bitch all you want about how Refused borrowed a few tricks from early hardcore's elite, but they also borrowed from European house music, jazz records (a genre based on ripping off other musicians and turning it into something all its own), classical string arrangements and even the blues. No one ever talks about those references. No one is defending the Bo Diddley or Igor Stravinsky allusions.
No matter the genre or sub-genres that make up punk rock, it's always been about dismantling the standard. With punk rock, there's no standard within the genre, if there was, and you're playing it, then you're not even really punk rock then, right? Punk rock's an excuse to be a rock star without having to know how to play an instrument, right? It's about being the toughest person in your crew, right? It's about cascading the most "fuck it" attitude in your lyrics, right? These standards sound familiar? That's because they're all made by us. In a genre without rules, there sure as hell seems to be a lot of them.
The Shape of Punk to Come is an album without rules. Worship and Tribute is an album without rules. Relationship of Command is an album without rules. You see where I'm going with this? But those records are references to the Bad Brains and Fugazis and Drive Like Jehus alike. So what separates their worth in history? Without Coltrane, there would be no Monk. Without the Kinks there would be no Spoon. Without the Talking Heads there would be no amount of great acts such as St. Vincent and Grizzly Bear. To put this all in a better perspective, I'll pull from what I know. To quote Roger Meyers Sr., "TV is built on plagiarism! If it wasn't for The Honeymooners, we would of never had The Flinstones! If someone hadn't made Sergeant Biko, there'd be no Topcat!" I'm ten years older than my first listen to The Shape of Punk to Come. News flash to younger readers out there: everything is built on everything. Some bands will disassemble an idea, and others will cook a pot of gumbo with many ingredients and influences.
You'll know when something is "crap," because when you move forward and backwards in time through its references, it all sounds the same. When you take a linear path through a timeline and similarities exist, but different landscapes are painted using different techniques and bases, you'll find yourself being able to sift through said "crap." It takes time and it takes growing up. You never have to grow out of punk rock, but you should learn how to use its insights to further progress.
If not, you're spending all your time on stage bitching about what's hardcore and what isn't and giving me something to laugh at on the Internet besides the "Darren Sharper 'Hold my dick!'" video.
Thanks Refused, for putting the team on your back.
My relationship with Code Orange Kids started with a t-shirt. A t-shirt a friend wore all of South by Southwest in 2011. It was a special year. A lot of special shows happened in small spaces, dupstep bars and pizza shops with an open window. Then a few months after I heard Embrace Me // Erase Me, I was on board. It was as violent as Trash Talk and contained a visceral snarl all Majority Rule and Converge. Then came Cycles, twice as long as the former and coated in new tricks, blends of harmony, sharper changes. Of all the passion and forward thinking that was brewing in the hardcore scene at the moment, Code Orange Kids stuck out. Within a year, four young kids, one a long time member of AbsolutePunk, were the biggest buzzed about hardcore band almost a year after seeing that shirt. In 2012, I watched as they tore a pizza parlor apart. Beer on the ground, miscommunication that almost started a fight, and a thrown mic, and me telling drummer Jami Morgan to put some fucking pants and t-shirt on after blasting through an intense 15-minute set.
As I housed the band this past South by Southwest, they were planning studio time with Kurt Ballou, and you could read the excitement across their faces. It's an excitement I've seen in a lot of faces as of the last few years. It's warming. They talked about ideas, about how this industry should work, and what they're going to do, and what's probably going to happen in reality. As I was sitting across the room from them, sick as a dog, already exhausted from two days of the festival, the band was gearing up to leave for something like their fifth show of the week, only beaten by my other roommates for the week, Former Thieves.
Here we are months later. So much short running releases, now Code Orange Kids had to showcase an LP. Holding someone's attention for 15 minutes is one thing, try at least 30. On Love is Love // Return to Dust, the band have taken the best elements of their two songs off their split with Full of Hell and melded them into magnificent long form. Hearing "Liars // Trudge" out of context of the album says a lot. It didn't sound right on first listen. But follow it with the harmonious "Colors (Into Nothing)" featuring Adam Mcllwee of Tigers Jaw and it's drainage into the harsh textures of "Nothing (The Rat)," and "sense" is clearly made. Writing a group of songs that flow together is one thing, but having them connect into the body of an album is few and far between these days.
A lot of people want to call Code Orange Kids the next Converge. I can see that. I feel like critics will cite Jane Doe in their work in upcoming reviews. I can hear and feel that. The final three songs of the album cement that notion. But I've been wondering who will ever take the next step after Fear Before the March of Flames really deconstructed brash hardcore with The Always Open Mouth. It hit me when I heard "IV (MY MIND IS A PRISON)" earlier this year. It's more than apparent in the thread and dirty needle of Love is Love // Return to Dust. 2012 has been an amazing year for hardcore, and this is the way it needs to be capped off. There are bands giving new harmonies to the genre in albums like Our Home is a Deathbed and Blame & Aging and I've Lost Everything. Then you've got hammers of anguish and hurt in I.V. and You, Me, and the Violence and the upcoming Real Spite. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, along with Mountain Man's II and Sohns' Ripe/Rot, lies Code Orange Kids' debut full-length. It's emotional, it's unforgiving and most importantly, it's thought provoking and contains forward thinking in a genre that is often scoffed at for its misogyny and violent behavior shown by some that ruin it for many. The challenge has been set by a number of bands this year and 2013 is going to be the next big step. Native. Former Thieves. Caravels.
Last year I watched as three of the most influential bands of my youth called it a day. At the beginning of the year, RX Bandits announced their hiatus. Since most deaths happen in 3's - back to back, Thrice and Thursday decided to take their breaks as well. What I've been thinking about leading up to seeing Thrice's farewell show tonight in Austin is what each individual band has shown me. RX Bandits showcased the fact that some of the best bands can't be pinned down to any particular genre, combining many different elements to create a distinct sound. Thursday showcased an even level of anguish and beauty - something that has carried with me throughout my favorite bands. It's a band that has maxed out at both the heaviest elements and the most melodic (perfect example: "Past and Future Ruins").
Then there's Thrice. As I've talked about the idea of bands being challenging over the years within our spectrum of tastes - Thrice has certainly taken the reigns for me in that aspect when it comes to my favorite bands. I would jam a new RX Bandits or Thursday record for months on end when they were released. Thrice was a different story. It's not that their sound shifted so drastically between records, it's that each record truly had to marinate, cook on high and then allow my palette to absorb each flavor that every album had to offer. The crazy thing is, I'm unsure why exactly that even happened. As I listen to The Artist in the Ambulance now, I can rock "Paper Tigers" heavier than I ever did the day my friend bought the record for my birthday. It's a song way heavier than anything on The Illusion of Safety or the first time I heard "Phoenix Ignition" and my jaw dropped and wanted more. For some reason it took months to sink in. It took half a year to fully grasp Beggars and hearing the Major/Minor cuts live last Fall really breathed a different light into them that I was not seeing. It's a very bizarre concept, but I know it's not a concept that only effects my tastes as a listener - a staunch one at that.
It's hard for some to write punk rock forever. Thrice has easily been that band to shed light on that very idea. Here's a bunch of guys who were too technical for the mainstream for some, and sometimes a bit too mainstream for some of the underground. As they grew, fans either loathed the direction into the more conventional (yet never lackluster in structure) or opened up to what the band were growing into. That idea of being open to one's growth is very important in punk rock. It's an idea that you either learn or forever miss - and end up forever stuck listening to a small library of what you think you know, which actually is false. You become forever jaded in the past or stubborn to new elements in music you're simply dismissing. Again, I know because I've been through those motions many a time and fully regret it. It takes a big man to admit his close-minded behavior at a young age, and another to pass that knowledge along so it saves another generation from closing their doors on new ideas and progress outside of what the media and labels want to sell their bands as or who to sell their bands to.
As I'm sitting here late writing this up, my Facebook feed loaded up again, and my buddy Daniel posted something I thought was pretty special after he saw the band in Dallas last night…
If my blog a few nights ago seemed angry, it's because of sentiments like the one above. That's coming from a friend of mine and someone who's in two bands himself. That's not a writer who has some sort of "authority," it's just a person who feels passionate about music. Daniel is not only me, he's also you. His sentiments are your comments. It's your arguments. It's your attachment to something "special." To say something is "special" though is to say it contains depth and honesty in the music that is being sold to you rather than the image you are actually being sold to from media outlets, PR and management and the lackluster thereafter. I know it's a tired argument, but it's the truth that we subconsciously forget. Thrice isn't the only band. There are thousands that share the same spirit and another thousand that don't and somehow make it further to only become a mark of forgotten history.
Thrice has a been a band that taught me the payoff of being challenged by music. They gave me a decade of thinking and rethinking the elements of rock and roll. I know I've thrown around the word "post-hardcore" a lot and tried to pick apart and restructure what that term really means, but Thrice is definitely a contender along with bands like Cave In and Poison the Well who stepped out past their hardcore roots to make careers out of challenging their fans with what they could come up with next as a band. Like the aforementioned, they didn't fail many of us when showing us a new trick as they learned a few themselves each time around.
When I was fifteen-sixteen years old, the ending to "Invalid Litter Dept." was one of the most intense moments in music that captivated me and forever left a violent influence on the rest of my musical spectrum. But it wasn't intense in the general realm of metal or hard rock or, er, white-belt grindcore - it was something that I heard and felt throughout my nervous system. It was deep belly and snarl of anguish felt in the pit of one's stomach, untouched by anything i had felt prior. Relationship of Command was the first time I heard something that was deemed "hardcore" by the general consensus. Ten years later, and I witnessed At the Drive-In leave anything that would deem them "hardcore" in the past and play what I would be safe to say their best sounding set to date. For some of you who were there Monday night in Austin, or in Dallas last night, I'm sure you'll disagree with me on some level. I walked away after an hour and ten minutes with mixed emotions and a better understanding of out-growing punk rock to an extent.
I never saw At the Drive-In when I was young for two reasons: I lived in suburbia and I rarely went to shows at that age. A lot of us my age or younger never saw At the Drive-In for that same reason. They were one of those bands that some of us missed the boat on or were too young to fully grasp. The truth is, when they were around, the band played to small rooms that would barely sell out in the States. (An older friend of mine said the last time he saw the band, they played off campus here in Austin at a record store to about 20 people.) What about At the Drive-In leaves us all yearning for these reunion shows? Why were they so special? Some will tell you it's because "they changed the face of hardcore music," a genre for which they hated. So many bands can cite their favorite moments of an At the Drive-In record, but none of those moments have ever been re-imagined or challenged on a level worth noting since. Relationship of Command was like the Revolutionary War of hardcore records. It's an impact that forever changed the game, but one few can still recount being a part of when it landed. It's a record on a pedestal in a genre for which it didn't want to be. It took risks, fought the status quo of punk and was tossed aside in an era of nu-metal many of us would like to forget. To those who lived it and saw the spastic showcase of the band's youth would probably be disappointed in the decade of growth that happened Monday night at Red 7 in Austin.
As the band launched into "Arcarsenal," everyone went to ten and the place exploded. But after three songs in, the band decided to move along to the songs that separated them from the pack. When it came to the jam session of an extended version of "Quarantined," I realized that not only did I not care if they played "Invalid Litter Dept." at that point, I also heard the best version ever of a song that lacked the fury of most fan favorites. I thought it was the cornerstone of the set, especially following a tightly executed "Napoleon Solo" at that. I think if I was fifteen or sixteen years old, I would have been disappointed with the set list, but now that I have experienced a larger palette of music to reflect back on, the set was an even mix of perfection. I screamed my lungs out to "Enfilade" and was amazed the guys pulled out "Non Zero Possibility" before "One Armed Scissor" in the mix.
Just last week I went on a These Arms Are Snakes kick. Now, back in the day I always loved the quick spastic hits and larger than life rockers the guys had to offer, but as I was shuffling through songs, I noticed my love in all the slow burners or enormous builds and swells the band offered in their time. It hit me on the afternoon drive to work flipping from "Tracing/Your Pearly Whites" and "Ethric Double" instead of "The Shit Sisters" to "The Blue Rose" that my tastes really had changed. The college years of indie pop and nights falling asleep to post-rock that came after discovering punk and hardcore in my youth evolved my tastes for the better and in that challenge, I grew into a better understanding of what punk rock really can be - defined past what history, elitist crust punks and the general media of "know-it-alls" that we all learned about the term from when we were naive. As At the Drive-In flawlessly strode through "Quarantined," it hit me how over traditional punk rock I truly was. While I thought I was going crazy with emotions of the show walking back to my car, I immediately called my friend, and he shared the same sentiments.
I wasn't crazy. I had grown up. I'm no longer a kid who is searching for what punk rock is or isn't. I've grown to see and experience what it can be and what it grows into as a term. It's not spin kicks. It's not crowd surfing. It's not seeing how many stage dives you can do to one Gorilla Biscuits song (though I would like to know who holds that record). It's not not selling out. The most punk rock thing any band can do, whether they succeed or fail, is to be themselves. That's what's really behind some of the most heralded records - a bunch of youth with nothing to lose and everything to try on their own terms. If that's the idea in the beginning, generally those same artists will continue to push that idea as their career moves on. You either recognize that, or you'll forever be stuck in the past. If you do get held back with mental expectations, you should know that special moments are created, but they are rarely ever re-created. The members of At the Drive-In have long moved on from something special they once gave to the music world who half ignored them, and as my friend said of the more toned down show Monday night: "At least they didn't come out and fake it."
I'm not writing this to tell you that At the Drive-In's reunion was a bust, because it wasn't whatsoever. If you have a ticket or a way to see this, go see it and sing your heart out. Just know that you're not seeing young musicians deconstructing a genre of music. You're going to see a band play their work better than it was ever recorded since recording and writing pieces of music well removed from their young career. Monday night I saw At the Drive-In play the set I believe they always wanted to play. They performed their songs the way they were intended from the moment they were pieced together, but never came into fruition because the musicians didn't have a decade of experience and practice at their craft behind them. There's a part of me that's disappointed I never got to see what some will deem as the "glory days," but there's a bigger part of me that's glad he saw a group of musicians perfect the chops they fought hard to at least bring attention to so long ago. Take that statement as you will, leave your expectations of the past at the venue door and enjoy the moment until the station is no longer operational once again.
Some of the things that really grease the wheels of that noggin up there come to me at the most unexpected times. I recently asked Matt Pike (he books a lot of your favorite bands and that whole American Nightmare reunion) to do a Five and Alive of his favorite AN songs. While he sent me the criteria of a Five and Alive, he also sent me a well worded intro. In perfect timing, I just so happened to be listening to Poison the Well - probably one of the most important and influential hardcore bands in the genre for me. If the band's first two albums were blueprints drawn from Cave In and early Piebald, they were the contemporary blueprints for the unfortunate third wave thereafter. When the band redefined their sound (The double take of You Come Before You and then the underrated, but firstly rejected Versions), they did the scene a favor but only noticeable years too late - like most of the re-inventors.
I've always wondered why I was so attracted to the genre. I didn't grow up in the mean streets of anywhere. I never had it "that rough." I surely was never a fighter. Then again, I never listened to hardcore's brute side. I was never a tough guy. Also, I've still never gotten into that side of it today - unless it's as brutal as Trash Talk - but my favorite hardcore bands are also my favorites lyrically. Touche Amore has written one of the best this year with Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me. Lyrics are what can make and break a band for some. Generic pop music and Nickelback have survived for years, so I know that's not the case for the majority of people - considering it seems like the majority of America is still uneducated in art and literature due not to the educational system by the contemporary media and social networking alike.
With that, the hardcore I grew up on was generally about girls and friendships. It bridged the gap of the tough guy to the emotionally the tough guy with a broken heart and a melody every once in a while. Hardcore has always been about more than community - it's therapy. It's a musical AA and a wall that bounces back your frustration instead of absorbing it. It worked during the Regan era, and it's even more frustrating now to grow up in some of the muck we can't work past.
Punk music has always rode this social line of the times. While mostly political, there's only so many times you can talk about the system sucking. The reality of the situation is that the system has always sucked, you just need to make it work for you. There's aggression in the class struggle, friendships and societal norms - and well, love - that when thrown against the driving chords of hardcore, it strikes a nerve with many. The guy in the pit isn't putting on a show, he's having a therapy session right in front of you. The kid climbing over the first two rows for the mic really needs to meld his voice with that of the band because that one line means more to him than anyone else in that room - or even anyone who has heard the song as well.
The hardcore community can be closed minded (see also: Bridge 9 forums), but in the end it's more about the individual that makes up that element of community or backbone than the community as a whole. When Bob Ritchie told us to "get in the pit and try to love someone," he was speaking about the group therapy part of it. Healing personal and social wounds through music. From all of my studies on the scene, it's very tribal, and that element is the most important.
The lyrics that comprise most of the hardcore community - from "Institutionalized" to "Hearts" - they are the language of that tribe. It's why certain lyrics are printed on the backs of shirts (of course showcasing the pit, stage dive, group shot, family photo every time) and how a particular line can light up a room vocally in unison.
When I was younger and sifting through hardcore records, I used to think of them as being the barbaric stereotypes we all know them to be. There's something in the way the choruses are executed that grabs you as the problems start stacking up. It's a beautiful genre that contains many of the stereotypes we've come to know, and even love. At the end of the day, pop-punk kids will turn emo and the metal kids will either turn to ambient noise or nowadays, dubstep. I think when hardcore bands reunite, they tend to have the biggest draw because the message was never lost as it was being handed down. It's one of the few genres that young kids dig at when discovering what came before their favorites. Hardcore is the fury in our head and heart, and its lyrical prowess - when penned meaningful enough - is the open door to the aforementioned furnace that burns inside many of us.
So, secretly, I've been researching Dance Gavin Dance. I've been trying to figure out, for the life of me, why they're compared to such great bands such as Fall of Troy and...well, that's all I keep hearing. I love the Fall of Troy, so why don't I like this? I've given Downtown Battle Mountain a listen. I've taken to their self-titled. I've even tried to find solace in Happiness...but alas, nothing!
In all fairness, I took a spin to Downtown Battle Mountain II - I mean, the dude only ripped off hundreds of dollars from fans, he had to produce something good, right?
Listening to Dance Gavin Dance's new album is like a regurgitated form of vomit from the bands I call home. You're not Dave Knudson. You're not close to Thomas Erak. You're not even remotely close to the skills of Scottie Henry (both Norma Jean and Spitfire attribution) in any form. Still, I'm trying to figure out how you can't get close to filling the feel of any Poison the Well album - especially the grace of Versions.
At some point, bands began to imitate too closely to the bands only months before them. Letters Organize. Blueprint Car Crash. The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower. These were all bands that swept me up into their sound, even when they were making references and allusions to the past. They still crafted their own voice.
While I can (without a doubt) say that Dance Gavin Dance is leading the pack of everything else in this guttered place you call a scene to Warped attendees, that's not saying much. That's like settling on an semi-attractive significant other that has a slight bit of personality. Even as I barely get through the falsettos and frantic schizophrenics of DBM2, I'm still left empty and unimpressed. I'm sure there are kids finding something new within this release (mostly kids who will find The Bunny The Bear revolutionary), they still are lost among what should be.
DBM2 is as flat as anything brimming the surface of what 10-17 year old kids remotely deem hardcore.
"Longtime fans of the band’s Circa Survive-meets-Dismemberment Plan sound should be well-pleased."- Metromix
^Are you fucking kidding me???? Obviously you don't listen to either...
Arab on Radar would be fucking beyond ashamed. #truth #realtalk
I've been trying to write at least one album review, a show review and scramble around more thoughts of senseless shrubbery for the past few hours and all I've accomplished are the following: my love of Celeste, a desire to keep reading Justin Pearson's fucked up book and finding a full bag of Sun Chips in the cabinet. Salsa style too baby!
I think my writer's block is stemming from my mixed emotions and lack of time. Everything I was feeling Friday night is a bit lost as that rush has lapsed for a bit. That was lost in the drive to College Station yesterday for a friend's wedding and now I find myself flipping through Some Girls, Narrows and mewithoutYou with no signs of an adrenaline overdose.
Then there's the beautiful days where the sun roof is worth pulling back and drives turn into parties by yourself as you look like a fool to the outside world. There's joy felt at the other end of the heavy spectrum of the rush. Both are inclined to let loose, while each rush lets out an energy untouched by pop's loving hand.
The mind is a beautiful thing, especially when it comes to music. The brain can slide itself back and forth between sweeps and noise and the eyes can roll into the head as a major key crescendos into a state of nirvana. It's exciting. It's a rush. It's a drug.
Then there are things like this, where you loose yourself completely in awe of craftsmanship and passion. Sound aside, that's also what I saw Friday night at Converge, just in a different light. It's funny that we all sit around and bitch about what's good and what isn't and what's better and what's worse. In the end, we're all just taking different drugs, experimenting with the ways different timbres come across in our minds. We can feel stoked on something that is loud in pop color or aggressive in impending doom.
I'm hooked. I just can't get out the right words for it today. I don't know why.
Well, I'm happy to say that the book is coming along very nicely. Since my move out to Austin, I've taken my time off to begin writing again, and by the end of next month, I'm looking to be 75% complete.
The experience of doing this has taught me a lot about myself as a writer (I write like I talk, apparently) and the joy of discovering why I fell in love with music, and continue to analyze it for a living.
I'm also thinking of ways to release it through either a record company or management group or something. I figure if the music industry is changing, then why can't I publish a new way.
Or maybe, just maybe, I'll end up doing a Reznor thing and give it away for free with option for a hard copy.
I don't know, it's too early to tell, but I can tell you that I've been writing about Glassjaw and Poison the Well for the past few days.
You can add me on Myspace if you like, and I hope to have more great news in the months to come.
Thanks for all the support, and thanks for keeping up with the blog. I sometimes wish there was more discussion going on in this thing matched to the views, but the fact that people are reading is grand enough.
So I sat down and planned out my chapters today while I had some time between class.
Here's what I'm going with so far:
-Everybody is Going to Hate What is To Come (Nation of Ulysses, Refused<---mainly them though)
-Lo-fi Beginnings, and Reconstructing the Heavy (Rites of Spring, Fugazi, Dischord Records)
-The Thinking Man's Metal or an Idiot Savant? (Botch, Coalesce, The Dillinger Escape Plan)
-Music to Burn Down a City or Two (Blood Brothers)
-Building a Noise A) Loud and Political B) With Ease (Pg. 99, City of Caterpillar)
-The Power Lines are About to Blow (Kill Sadie, These Arms Are Snakes)
-How to Dismantle an Empire and Yourself (At the Drive In)
-Vague and in Anger (Glassjaw)
-White Doves and Progressive Understanding (Thursday/Thrice composite)
-Meeting People Isn't Easy (Brand New)
-A Collection of Other Noises (a chapter of thoughts on bands like Envy, Hot Cross, Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower and a interviews with Level Plane and Equal Vision Records owners, planning on having this chapter as a composite of bands that I would find difficult to write a whole chapter on, but deserve mention)
So that's what I'm working on.
So far many of the artists and PR's that I've talked to have been more than willing to give me their time for this. I'm extremely excited about all of this, and I hope there's at least one person out there (besides my mom) whose going to purchase it. HA!
Deadline to finish and graduate: April '09
Also, I've been in connection with a ton of other writers, all writing their takes on the scene with different bands, writing approaches and ways of looking at this.
I'm not sure if you've read my weekly blog yesterday, but if you haven't, this won't make sense. So go read it! ha!
Just got off the phone with Scott Heisel over at Alternative Press, seems like someone has beat me to the punch on my idea, but luckily has only interviewed two of the bands that I'm featuring in the book. Scott told me to go with my idea anyway...he's a great guy.
I couldn't find much going on this week. I'm unsure if it's because I haven't been on my Internet toes, or if I've been frantically, well maybe not frantically, trying to get my future together.
See, my car has leprosy, no air conditioning, and (drumroll) a broken radio which means all i hear is the rattle from my engine, a death cough before its eventual croak. Sure, I wear my iPod, but it's dangerous and illegal, and makes me wonder how the deaf drive though. Needless to say, with our economic state, I'm about to finance a new used car.
On the other side of the past week's rush is my scrambling attempt to find an English teacher in the Creative Writing Department to take on my final semester's independent study-- my last class and bridge to the real world.
Four years ago, I started my own radio show at LSU's radio station, KLSU, based on my love of the post-hardcore scene featuring bands like Refused and At the Drive In as well as newer acts. Now the premise was a bit hazy though. Because what my show hath taught me is the old standard that the term genre is a pain in the ass to define within itself.
See, I would play everything from Botch to Circa Survive to Between the Buried and Me to City of Caterpillar to Majority Rule to theSnake theCross theCrown. Point is, only a few of those bands can be considered post-hardcore.
Instead of calling the show, "Adam's Post-Hardcore Extravaganza Hour," I simply titled it "the C.C.E." which stood for "creative, chaotic, energy."
See, my independent study is to finish up a book I'm writing based on the scene. Like Please Kill Me or Rip It Up and Start Again or Nothing Feels Good, I want to write something to figure out how we got from the lo-fi sounds of End on End to the crazy repercussions of We Are the Romans to the all out urgency of Full Collapse-- and I want it from the horses' mouth!
I will have 15 weeks or so to interview bands and finish this book, and it will be a hard task. I'm also starting each chapter with personal experiences of the important albums or record labels (have to study up on Dischord Records and Level Plane).
I understand I won't be able to include everyone, and will at least have points on "under the radar" artists that deserve some recognition or contribution to the scene.
No, the book won't include half the artist I played on the show, but I will do my best to hit on those albums and artist that I think made an impact.
I may not be able to give you a proper definition of "post-hardcore," but here's my explanation when people ask me: In the 80's the punk scene split into two parts, the hardcore scene and the experimental post-scene. Besides early bands like Rites of Spring and eventually Fugazi, things kicked in the late-90's when the hardcore started thinking and constructing a bit more creatively, and so The Shape of Punk to Come happens and the hardcore scene and post scene that ripped apart bred something amazing together.
I'm no Klosterman, but maybe he paid off his car title with Fargo Rock City, and I guess that's the best I can hope for at this point.
EDIT: (11 a.m. CST) I'm going to meet a professor in a few minutes, will keep posted on progress. I also have an interview with These Arms Are Snakes today! SUPEREDIT: (7 p.m. CST) I found a professor, we are a go, and had a great talk with both Steve and Ryan from TAAS!
Refused - New Noise
Botch - Transitions From Persona to Object (Live)
Blood Brothers - Ambulance Vs Ambulance
City of Caterpillar - Driving Spain Up a Wall (live)
If you haven't read it already, PitchforkMedia has done an excellent interview with Greg Gillis of Girl Talk, and the last thing he says is amazing and further proves you cannot fight technology, and change has to be evident within any business model because of it. Business is all about the consumer kids. For some reason, the customer is always right:
"Every hip-hop song that comes out, every pop song, they release the a cappellas and the instrumentals and there are a million remixes all over YouTube. People pitch up the songs, put them on YouTube as Alvin & the Chipmunks remixes. It's not hurting anyone; it's just further spreading the songs, and I think we're approaching an era where there's a consistent dialogue going on between artists and consumers. And I think that's going to be part of the solution to actually selling music. CDs are clearly dying out, and it's going to be moving to an all-digital format. Along with it, you raise this interactivity with the music. I feel that it's not stealing sales from anyone; it's turning people on to the music. So I think that's the new age, and every song that's coming out is going to have remixes, everyone's going to be interactive with the music. I think that's the new age, every song that's coming out is going to have remixes, everyone's going to be interactive with the music." - Gregg Gillis, Pitchforkmedia Interview