By Ginger | November 3, 2004
“The more that things change the more they stay the same”
If, like me, you are old enough to remember music before Nirvana, or ways of finding out about bands without the aid of the internet, or waiting to seeing ‘how your favourite group moves on-stage’ without having the dream shattered by MTV showing ‘how your favourite group mimes on video’, then you will see this current wave of interest in rock music as nothing more than an example of fashion running out of ideas. Again.
It has chased the past for ideas under the banner of ‘retro’ (or Nu-Retro, as some shlong swallowers will no doubt name it), until it has ran into its own anus.
Those without original idea have caught up with themselves in their tireless search for something to rip off.
Plunder without incrimination until someone finds out, they say, which would hopefully be ages away, giving them time enough to think up something original.
Of course, as stated on these very pages in the past (go check), Rock was always going to come back into fashion. Rock music has always represented quality, in sound, presentation and performance, and trends will always level out in the presence of quality, the ‘retro’ that will always be hardest to move on from.
Fashion was destined to meet rock and a marriage in both Heaven and Hell was inevitably going to take place.
HEAVEN: The whole image and sound being a gold-mine of ideas for a gaggle of new designers/musicians to plunder the endless depths of.
HELL: Rock has been around for longer than any other genre of contemporary music/dress. Where the fuck are you going to go when THAT well has dried up?
And drying up it most certainly is. Great news for us ‘older’ people for whom rock music has ultimately paid most handsomely anyway. Feels good to back a winning horse, right?
Gloating aside… (nah, fuck it, there’s always time for a little more gloating when it means seeing clueless opportunists squirm in discomfort…)
Okay, gloating NOW aside… let’s take a look at how desperate the art of eking has been made to look since Rock left it’s underground haven and came unto the light of mass public acceptance.
NU-Metal. The genre that reinvented Grunge as a new way of complaining about the same old shit. Misery for prepubescent teens. Feeding the unhappiness of those still too young to buy into anything more positive but old enough to buy ‘album/t-shirt’ after ‘album/t-shirt’ after ‘album/t-shirt’ of every faceless bunch of major label Pinocchio’s currently being thrust at a TV set near you. A genre destined to die quickly due to the inevitability that its audience would out grow out of it just as soon as they developed a fully rounded sex drive.
Goth: The perfect soundtrack for those kids who grew up and didn’t develop a fully rounded sex drive. Music whose main property is to stick ugly cider drinking people next to other, like-minded ugly cider drinking people, and have them bond under the misguided pretence that they have style. For those not ugly enough to naturally gravitate to ‘Goth’, the look fortunately involves black lipstick and badly made high-street clothing brands favouring black fashion. For those too stylish to fully understand how to look bad in black, try baggy PVC trousers.
Punk: The home of the middle class rebel, who’s only sworn enemy is ultimately the middle class parent that offered to put them through college. Music is secondary to the fashion, based on the original concept of ‘Punk’, ripping previously un-ripped clothing and fixing the tear with safety pins/loose stitching and finally stenciling a slogan on the back of said garment (slogan must read as a statement against establishment, such as ‘destroy’ or ‘anti-something’, or ‘anarchy’, a popular favourite). Fortunately these styles can be obtained in ‘Rock’ clothing shops (situated on most high streets and areas near the coast), conveniently involving none of the originals link with personal expression. Sadly the music is either a bad pastiche of Discharge, or the more commonly known exponent of the ‘punk’ (or nu-punk) soundtrack, Pop/Punk (Avril, Blink 182, Sum 41, Busted… yeah Busted). The search for a less mainstream sounding form of sonic representation leads, ultimately, back to ‘Goth’ and ‘Nu-Metal’. Resulting in…
Cyber-Goth: A plastic, shrink-wrapped version of Punk meets Goth fashion with a heavier soundtrack indicating a more serious demeanour. Red and black striped, fake hair extensioned fans of ‘metal’ hobble about on built-up footwear, claiming an alternative lifestyle while pouring money into largely expensive fashion, more money, in fact, than the three above-mentioned styles combined. The soundtrack resembles dance music for people that can’t dance mixed with industrial tinged Heavy Metal for angry people that still live with their parents.
And now let’s introduce the newest addition to this crazy phase: Classic Rock.
This is Rock music that visually resembles early ’80’s Denim/T-shirt/Leather jacket/fallen curly-perm sporting bands such as Def Leppard, mixed with a slight ‘glam’ edge as favoured by Guns and Roses (i.e. with optional eye liner and Motorhead/MC5/Iggy t-shirts), while sounding like Rock music played by people that appear on the front of musician magazines. This is a relatively new genre that has no embarrassing exponents of the style, so far. But such is the excitement being shown by ‘World-renowned’ ‘A&R’ ‘Gurus’ that the cringe factor is literally days away. Resembling the more Blues based, back-to-basics traditions of Rock (AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and soon to be name checked UFO) it has yet to be seen to be a failure, so anyone already starting out in music that needs an image/style pointer, go buy some Free, Bad Company, early Aerosmith albums and get copying. See you in the bank.
Indications point to a well-worn theme usually revealed when the life-span of trends are observed, namely the inevitable stripping of superficiality in favour of a more ‘authentic’ direction. As previously mentioned, a trend will seek added ‘quality’ with which to twist the final precious drips of loyalty from it’s consumer.
It stands to reason that the next step in the current evolution, or milking, of Rock music will be AOR.
Similar in intention to the blues based ‘Classic Rock’ genre, as noted above, in as much as it is aimed at an audience older and more stable than the teenage market. The music industry are finally waking up to the fact that the years following ‘the teenage years’ are actually more plentiful.
They’re smart, that’s for damn sure, but we’re smarter.
Any musicians want to hit the big time at any cost? Then here’s my lucky tip, my dead cert, my winning horse, my no-lose situation. Take it or leave it.
Write a bunch of catchy tunes with the minimum of chords, form a (loosely) Blues based band, similar to the ones that you will soon see taking over your TV and radio. Add an extra element of Pop. Then, and this is very important…
GET A FRIEND TO LEARN TO PLAY KEYBOARDS
It should take him no longer than six months, in which time you will all have all longer hair (essential) and will have been able to assemble some great tunes.
If writing a great tune is difficult then ask an older teacher/grandparent to cast their mind back to the late 50’s/early 60’s, write down a bunch of titles for you to find, then go and rip ’em off. Seriously, just copy the fuckers, no one will ever notice, the gap from then ’til now being so long. Shit, even if you did get found out you’ve already banked the cash, and logic dictates that the people who wrote it will already be dead anyway.
Regardez vous those history books people. Wank, wank, money in the bank.
Why not stick it to those lazy cunts in the industry that are about to follow the natural evolution of a trend (purely because thinking of how to do it with any originality takes brains and time, the two things that people in this business have very little of) and second guess their next move?
But when you get signed and are given the cheque then that money better be used wisely, like booking studio time to write essential material and set a more exciting future for us all, or investing the cash into forming your own label in order to help bands that are being criminally ignored all over the country. No ‘high interest accounts’ or expensive cars please, this is not technically ‘your’ cash.
This is a ‘Monkeys Paw’ type of offer, and if you go thinking you’re ‘really onto something’ or that your shit smells like the heads of babies then you will drink the warm juice of Satan’s big pink tap, for eternity. I swear this to be true. Maybe not any day soon, but as sure as God made greedy little A&R men you WILL be swallowing Ol’ Red’s toxic custard in that infernal basement should you follow the hideous tradition of forgetting your own past, come V-Day. You mark my words.
To summarise, then, second guessing the idiots running this show, how difficult could it possibly be? They honestly think they know what’s best for you the public? Well, then why not show them that they are freekin’ A. This is our world too, and every success story that has existed has been a product of following simple technique. And technique is nothing but whatever tried and tested formula that has proven most previously reliable. Like a trend, technique involves keeping an eye in the present and a foot in the past. No one that ever succeeded was smarter than you, they were just a little more in touch with their technique. More in tune with current trends. More familiar with their history.
History is never wrong, remember this. It is the reason for every new thought and every modern advance. History has the largest, deepest carpet under which a host of unsavoury confessions are swept, the biggest one being the admission that everything has been done before.
The present exists on a basis of mass consciousness, and the future depends on eternal continuation. And there will always be continuation, even when there is a drought of original thought. Continuation does not depend on originality only on the dependency of evolution.
No matter how dire a situation appears to be the human being will naturally look forward to the future, as the future is where dreams live. And there is money in dreams.
So while the suits continue to cruise, wearing expressions indicating that they just signed an act so enormously talented that you will, in turn, offer eternal gratitude to their record labels savvy, we can take a leaf out of the history books and beat them at their own game. We could be that signing. And you read it here first.
Oh how we would all laugh.
If only until the next trend.
Haha… keyboard orientated pop/rock for an older audience?
Last one there is a rotten purist.