Older But Bolder: 2012 Begins, Some Thoughts
Well, here we are. It’s 2012 and if you believe the world that we’re living in is going to end on December 21st, you are a turd and should probably stop reading my column. I really wish I were kidding.
So I said 2012 would be a more aggressive year for this blog but admittedly I’m not quite sure how to enact said aggression. Due to this, I’m just going to write and whatever happens will happen. Time to dig into today’s main topic: Punk & its inherent lack of open-mindedness.
Punk in all its forms seems to be moving towards a more secular doctrine when it comes to who can and can not partake in the creation of music. A lot of punk is chided for being off point and drivel in comparison to Wave bands, Holy Terror bands, Dischord Record bands, along with any other classification of punk you want to talk about. What punk seemingly needs to learn is that the people playing music don’t need to be incredible musicians with long resumes of work to be relevant to the collective music scene. While it is pertinent for some people to follow every band that Justin Pearson or Wes Eisold (of American Nightmare) have been in, it isn’t necessary to just follow those bands alone. It is alienating to both the listener and to new bands.
By flat out saying to anyone, famous or not that music can be created and listened to whether they’re popular or not should be an empowering idea to take hold of. Punk music should be empowering to everyone i.e famous/not famous, rich/poor, black/white/latino/asian, liberal/conservative, so on and so forth. It is entirely silly to say that punk is and should only be for liberal, free-thinkers because it is just as discriminating as those people writing off punk altogether. Everyone has the right to make punk rock music, or make art, or do what they please. To deny them that right is close-minded & silly.
But if you say punk is just for liberal people you’re a hypocrite (to put it bluntly).
Interestingly, that notion makes the mob dynamic of punk rock unsettled. Most punk fans want their favorite musicians to be doing the same thing over and over again, constantly appealing to that one secularized style of music. Thus when punk bands try to break out of their niche and explore something new, be it melodic or traditional or whatever they are often written off as “losing their touch” or plagued by some other thoughtless remark. It can turn a potentially good piece of music into something that is pushed by the wayside because it isn’t en vogue. That’s thoughtless and it proves that punk fans are no different than pop music fans if they are willing to cannibalize their favorite musicians rather than accepting that they are people who want to progress as well.
(EDIT: this is happening with CEREMONY right now)
Basically, for a band to change their sound they need to fall off the face of the planet or break up. Otherwise, you end up realizing that X% of your fans were hypocrites and using you to satiate some simple need in their head. Or you can go the Wes Eisold route and completely alienate yourself from a scene and reemerge years later as a different person making an entirely different genre of music (though, wait, there was that AN reunion…).
For simpler people (I don’t mean that in a derogatory way) it’s easy to say, “It’s just music, why do you need to be so hard on it?” or “It’s just music man, let everyone like that they want to like.” Yeah, alright, I suppose you could say those sentiments, but people love to categorize. Thus people label someone punk, like let’s say Henry Rollins and then declare all of his bands after Black Flag as punk even though they are clearly not. Hell, Rollins Band is alternative rock. You get sucked into a whirlwind of your fans telling you what you are instead of you having the freedom to declare yourself as something.
I guess maybe you could chock it all up to a subconscious desire on part of the musician and on the side of the fans to be pleased. The musician wants to please the demographic that he’s playing to, i.e. a punk singer wants to please a punk fan, but won’t give a shit about what a metalhead thinks (realistically). The punk fan wants to support the punk musician that appeals to them but (typically) only if they keep repeating the thing that hooked them in the first place. It’s a cyclical problem and there should be more openness on the side of the musicians and the fans alike, though it seems that generally the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the fans.
If you’re a new band, don’t let your fans define you. Keep playing what you want to play until you define your fans to some extent. Breed this sort of openness into them. Or alienate them if that’s what you’re interested in. Different strokes.
Anyway, welcome to 2012.
By: Josh Zoerner
Last 5 posts by jzoerner
- Older But Bolder: National Socialist Black Metal - April 5th, 2012
- Older But Bolder: Silent Return - March 28th, 2012
- Older But Bolder: Questions and Answers, pt.4 - February 10th, 2012
- Older But Bolder: Uh, Stuff I've Been Listening To Lately - February 4th, 2012
- Older But Bolder: Questions & Answers, Pt. 3 - January 27th, 2012