In 1994, Unwound released New Plastic Ideas through Kill Rock Stars. A year prior, Nirvana would release their third record, In Utero, and the rest is grunge history. There's a blur between the years of 1993 and 1996 where grunge became indie and indie became one hit radio wonders now cased in a not-very-quickly-sold The Buzz packaging on an even more outdated system of commercial spots. If you haven't heard New Plastic Ideas and worship(ed) the groundwork that Nirvana paved into mainstream gold for so many others, one listen to the opening "Entirely Different Matters" should wake you up. I've even heard rumored that at a point in time, Unwound and Nirvana shared a practice space together.
So in an era where bands like The Pixies, Unwound, KARP, Pavement and Fugazi should have moved from underground gods to mainstream integrity, they didn't. Even The Pixies didn't see such mainstream exposure until the film adaptation of Fight Club brought the Surfer Rosa favorite "Where is My Mind" into nu-hipster glory, and for a brief moment "Here Comes Your Man" seemed like a one-hit wonder to some in a certain lapse of time. Now, today, Doolittle is not only a rock staple for critics, scholars and hipsters alike, it finally has a mainstream folklore captivated behind it. In fact, I'm sure many a mainstream music consumer thinks "Where is My Mind" is off that very record.
I was sitting on my couch the other night watching Botch's DVD of their final show. I'm not sure if its the recent rock star news as of late that just boils under my skin, but I grabbed my phone and started a tirade on Twitter. To those of you who started following me because of it - I'm sorry. But in this grandiose moment of clarity I went, "Oh fuck, how did we go from a band like Botch to Falling in Reverse?! How did Fear Before the March of Flames put out The Always Open Mouth, and then we got five years of breakdown after formulaic breakdown and Whine Fests about being friend zoned?!"
Yes, I got that you were mad at Norma Jean for "ripping off" Botch, but at least they did it well. I don't understand why Enter Shakari's new album is being compared to The Shape of Punk to Come, and for the love of god, someone please explain to me why we need so many side projects these days?
None of this bitching is new to any of my 20 regular readers. So I must digress into the "why?" of all of this, because it all of a sudden hit me after watching this YouTube video/sketch this past week. (Now, it should be noted that it is a skit and not the real head of MTV's programming. In fact, the head of MTV's programming did not renew his contract, and Susanne Daniels is now in the drivers seat after this week.) But the skit does make a lot of valid points as to why a channel that truly was a marketing tool to sell music is no longer as relevant as it was in the '90s - the stretch of time some of us will never want to give up on.
Seriously, Nickelodeon is ruining the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and Disney has bought the Star Wars franchise and no one is doing anything about it. Fucking kill me.
The other night I did troll this thread. I did it for two reasons. The first being, I thought it was funny. Plain and simple. The second being that the compilation which sold enough copies to be #16 in the United States is fucking terrible. For some reason, these rock star, gimmicky scraps of music - if we can even call it that - is outselling real rock bands. These bands are being financially supported and the other pool of talent - some of which I like and some I'm not into - have like one big festival a year and still tour to mid-sized venues.
You kids are paying to go see a guy who literally stopped a show to kick out the people who put money in his pocket, over a personal discrepancy with another band. You're still buying tickets to support a band that has cancelled numerous tours for being rock stars and making mediocre albums about how tough life is. On the reverse side, as well as the "Wave" - or whatever - is doing on the polar opposite end of all this resounding bullshit, there are kids in that scene that just download and download and never put back in.
To go back to the MTV skit, it's your fault. It's our fault. We ruined good music. We have always ruined good music. When we ruin good music, the person on the other side of that trying to make a living, half of them don't really fucking care about music. Clear Channel doesn't care if Bieber is huge or if Circa Survive breaks into mainstream rotation. If Issues' and Balance and Composure's next albums break into the top five best selling records for the month, there will be singles from each played back to back - because that's what fucking sells.
The real problem with why one band succeeds and another doesn't is how much support we put into it. It blows my mind when a PR person wants our publication or any other publication to "push" a band or "push" an exclusive. Exposure exists in more forms than just this publication, Alternative Press, SPIN, Pitchfork, etc. There were kids crawling over each other during Title Fight the other night. As I asked Michael York from Pianos Become the Teeth if it was like this every night, he simply looked back and said, "This is actually pretty tame." Sure they got a song released on NPR and a stream through SPIN, but none of their fans give a shit how they get to hear the band's music - it's that they support it.
I said this already, and it's not a joke - music journalism is fucking dead. Publications, affiliates like MTV and festivals like South by Southwest are leveled wormholes to the general public. A great label is a great support system, but it's not the only iron lung you need to keep your band in to survive on. In 2012, I've learned there is apparently still room for rock stars because some of you kids keep buying into this garbage. This isn't a long argument about how my music is better than yours or whatever. This is about actions speaking louder than LPs.
To end this, I'll just take from a friend and personal influence who put it best last week: "There are just so many artists out there that are working their asses off and making great music that deserve your support and attention. Just my opinion."
It's mine too Matt. I'm sure there are a ton of people who feel the same way. A lot of people who still care about the art of music. It can be the dance-noise of HEALTH, the story-telling of Kendrick Lamar, the pure rock of Metz or the youthful angst of Title Fight.
When there's so much to choose from, why pick from the Jersey Shore of record bins.