(I started this yesterday. This morning is almost identical, but I feel a little better and the kid is no longer sitting on me, just in the nature of full disclosure)
I think I’ve got an ear infection. I’m definitely feeling a bit beaten down by the world and as I type this, a 35 lb. 3 year old is sitting on my shoulders and yelling in my (possibly infected) ear. It’s raining. My washing machine is broken and a few wayward puddles of dog and toddler piss later, this house is in a shambles that can be matched only by the shambles of my soul, or perhaps those shanty towns in India that are all populated by the dudes that exist solely to go across the drainage ditch to bang the thirty cent hookers in the neighboring shanty town (which is probably in pretty decent order, because it’s all women who are working and presumably keeping shit at least somewhat presentable…the guys’ town though…gotta be a shambles, right?)
Anyway, the other day a buddy of mine who’s played in a bunch of pretty cool, underappreciated bands, posted this thing on Facebook where he kind of went through and discussed a bunch of bands that he’s played with over the years that he thinks are terrible. Now, I think this is a pretty laudable exercise, as lord knows there’s nothing I love more than a little bit of good old fashioned “y’all suck,” but ultimately, the whole thing, and his explanation, more to the point, really ended up kind of confusing me.
See, he named a bunch of bands, lots of them more successful than his most popular band, and just kind of talked about how they all suck, they’re cookie cutter pop punk, synchronized jump bands and that he hates that shit. Okay, up to there, I’ve got no problem. A few of the bands he named are bands that I actually really like (and honestly, I was kind of expecting one or two of my bands to be on the list, although perhaps we’re just not quite lame enough, or just not worth mentioning), but that’s no big deal. Hey, I hate lots of music too. It’s part and parcel with being a big fan of anything, your negative emotions towards your passion are gonna run as strongly as your positive ones. And I’m not here to judge anyone’s taste in music. But then things got a little bit sideways.
He mentioned touring with bands and wondering if people were actually stupid enough to buy into their cheesy shit only to have his soul crushed when those bands got popular and his band played to blank stares. Hey, I’ve been there, and it’s a terrible feeling for sure. But THEN, he went into this thing about how stupid and lame these bands are for compromising, and how he’d never do that shit, and as a result, he’d never be successful, but at least he’d have integrity.
And this is the part that confuses me. People don’t write and play music that they hate. If the guys in, let’s say, the Ataris (one of the bands he mentioned) are playing some kind of music that my buddy finds to be gross, well, that’s because they have different tastes. I promise you that the guys in the Ataris are writing the best songs they can, and they’re doing it in a style they think is cool. If my friend decides that the best songs they can write suck, or the style they like is lame, that’s fine, but it’s a real stretch to suggest that they are writing music they hate. That’s not happening. SO, I don’t really see the compromise of integrity there. Not to mention, and I’ve discussed this before, if it’s totally acceptable to write a song that makes people uncomfortable, or makes people think, or makes people angry, then what’s wrong with writing a song that makes people happy, or dance, or sing along? It doesn’t seem like there’s any difference there. It’s just emotional transference using notes and sounds. Same shit. Seems like a decent enough motivation.
And along the same lines, being good a good band that gets shitty over time isn’t the result of some sort of conspiracy to make money, it’s the result of running out of good songs, and that’s true 100% of the time. There are tons of bands who change up their sound and don’t get worse, and a lot of times they even become more accessible and better all at once. There are a zillion ways a band can grow, change direction and stay good. But when they get shitty, that’s always just because they ran out of ideas, or their ideas that used to be good are now bad. That’s the only thing that happens. Again, integrity doesn’t enter the picture, and this is where the REAL crux of this whole thing comes up.
This dude, my friend, talked about integrity vs. success (and to be clear, he’s not saying that all bands that are successful lack integrity, just that these particular bands that he doesn’t like seem to, or lost it at one point) with regards to his career. ‘I’ll never have success because I won’t compromise (which I think we’ve proven is kind of a weird thing to say, because compromise isn’t REALLY involved in the creative process… in business decisions, sure, like ‘do I want to play the warped tour? No, but it’s something that will really help us as a band, so I’ll do it…that’s a compromise, in the EXACT same way that my friend playing with all these bands that he hates is a business compromise) but at least I’ll have integrity.’
Well, let’s do the math: if integrity equals lack of success, which comes about by bumming people out by not being a cookie cutter idea of what good music is, and these bands are bumming you out for playing the music they like, isn’t that the exact same thing just happening on a different scale? Like, the people out there don’t like you because you play the wrong kind of music, in the exact same way that you don’t like these bands because they play the wrong kind of music. It’s an identical setup. No integrity ever changes hands here. It’s such a weird and irrelevant thing to bring up and the end result is that it makes you sound like a bitter dick.
Now, to be clear, there are TONS of bands out there that I hate and I’ve got no problem with someone talking shit about another band, (though it IS funny, because so often, people run their mouths in interviews [and I’ve been guilty of this] and say some random band sucks, and then get all pissy when this band, who was just cruising along doing their thing, gets pissed because all of a sudden someone started saying they suck, just out of the blue…I mean, what the fuck did you expect? You shit talk strangers, they’re gonna get pissed) but don’t mistake not liking a band for being ‘better’ than them on any sort of universal scale. You are, at best cooler than them to you, and that’s all.
Take me for example. To me, I’m cooler than all of you. See how it works? Pretty easy.
Okay, gotta go. I have a zillion things to do today. Toodles!
Ah, the kid’s sitting on me again.