Well, I was tempted to dismiss the request in yesterday’s Sock Drawer to discuss Gaslight Anthem three days in a row as irony and/or a request for laziness, but then I realized a few things. Firstly, I’m American, so I don’t understand irony (according to British people, who, by the way, also say things like “Michael Moore is the only smart American,” which is hilarious when you consider that this is coming from a citizenry that decided to ship their criminals off to a tropical paradise so they could maintain their standard of living on their tiny, dismal, gloomy, rainy, rat infested, crowded cold little island. Well thought out, to be sure. You guys just like Michael Moore because he looks British.) Secondly, I’m incredibly lazy. And Thirdly, I have a few more things to say about our buddies in the Gaslight Anthem, and you know what? I’m gonna say ‘em.
My band has had the same booking agent forever. She’s great. She’s stood by us way longer than anyone should be expected to stand by anyone. She’s fought for us, she’s put us on tours with her other big bands and when we’ve come away from the tours saying (for example) that Yellowcard is uh…what was the word I used? I don’t remember now, but anyhow, when that whole thing went down, rather than drop us from her roster (a perfectly reasonable move considering that I was publicly shit talking one of her most promising acts) she put us on more tours with more bands that I talked more shit about and she continued to represent us after I angered people at the warped tour and, well, listen, I’ve spoken my mind a lot in this business, and it has, at times been detrimental to our trajectory as a band, and I’m sure it’s been infuriating to our agent, but she’s stuck by us. What does this have to do with anything? Well, she also represents the Gaslight Anthem.
Now, traditionally, if I was in a public forum, talking about any band on our agent’s roster, she’d probably be sweating and doing her best to ignore the whole thing, and this would seem like an opportune time to worry. After all, I’m a shit talker and Gaslight Anthem is not only god fearing, but they’re also everyone’s favorite band to talk shit about these days. BUT, I’m not gonna talk any shit. Not just to appease our long suffering agent, either, though god knows that she deserves a medal for dealing with me for the past nine or so years, but because I’ve got nothing bad to say about them, which is crazy, because man oh man, do people LOVE to talk shit about them. You know why? I’ll tell you:
Punk rock, long standing underground punk rock is a subculture of people who have been passed by. Every person in every long running band you can think of who never made it to the mainstream has a ton of famous friends and a day job and it kind of stings a little. I mean, let’s list the bands that have opened up for my band on tour: Yellowcard, Rise Against, Taking Back Sunday, the Starting Line, Thursday, My Chemical Romance. That’s just of the top of my head. Now, it’s easy for the lifers to dismiss these successful bands as crappy or pandering, because let’s face it, if you’ve got a group of jaded bastards holding ANY album up to any sort of scrutiny, you’re gonna find some flaws (even a masterpiece like any of our records) and jaded bastards LOVE to exploit flaws, even tiny ones.
Now, as these popular bands embrace the mainstream, they get away from that “punk rock” sound that’s so marginalizing, and people term that “selling out” or leaving roots behind or something, but that’s not what it is. It’s growing as an artist. Show me a band that consistently puts out the same records and I’ll show you arrested-development addled man-children jumping around in oversized shorts at age forty five (thank you Pennywise). Maturing as an artist can be ugly, or it can be great, but it’s ALWAYS an excuse for the left-behind to talk shit.
What’s left is this belief that down here, in the underground, we’re really making some great music and it’s just being ghettoized because mainstream dildo journalists are dismissive. If they ever took the time to ACTUALLY LISTEN to Oh! Calcutta! Or Little Brother or American Rubicon, or Career Suicide they’d see some real good music with insight and depth. Way better than Matt and Kim or MGMT, you know? But they’ll never listen. They write us all off as blink 182 clones because their palate isn’t sophisticated. That’s what we all tell each other.
Enter Gaslight Anthem. They’re doing what we’re all doing, and they’re getting write ups in the New York Times and they’re becoming insanely popular and Bruce Springsteen is out there singing some other song while they sing their song and they’re getting record of the year and they’re just some little band without this Against Me/Hold Steady hype machine behind em, they just kinda came out of nowhere and uh oh! Looks like everyone WAS paying attention. They just didn’t like much of what they saw down here. And man, is everyone bummed out.
I mean, who wouldn’t like a New York Times journalist to critically praise the work you’ve done? That’s the shit that breeds contempt. Not the record sales. The attention to detail. People like Chicken, or me or anyone, don’t want to be huge, or even BE in Gaslight Anthem, we want the recognition for what WE did in a similar way to the way Gaslight is currently receiving praise, but guess what? Not happening. So what’s the move? Talk shit. Hide the jealousy and sting of the proof of your mediocrity with some shit talking barbs. It was easy when it was Taking Back Sunday and Yellowcard. Those bands really are dumb. It’s easy to be dismissive when you KNOW that what you’re doing is cooler. With Coco and his buddies, not so easy to make that distinction, so all people can say is “stop aping bruce springsteen” or ‘the lyrics are cheezy’ but man. You ape Dillinger Four and your lyrics are juvenile and derivative. What’s worse? Huh? Huh?
Okay, that’s a little bit of honesty. That’s what all your favorite bands are thinking. Good luck out there kids. The world’s full of assholes and perverts. Don’t let em take you alive.