Here’s a wake up call for you, and I will do my best to remain objective yet blunt.
Your scene is dying, and it’s your fault. Promoters and bands alike.
Your fault. You.
Pissed off yet? Well strap in.
There’s been a big hubbub as of late in the Wisconsin scene, centered around a glam metal band from Madison. They’ve been around a little under two years, and to their credit, have done a lot in that short time. They wrote a solid EP, managed to get on a couple tours, have interviews in a few publications, and have built a solid fan base on their own, all as TEENAGERS, and all the while drawing disdain from their scene.
The hat dropped when someone on their band page made a joke about Chester Bennington a couple days after his death. I won’t post what they said, but we can agree that any joke may have been badly timed, professionally. Although personally I am not one to adhere to the belief that some form of tragedy deserves a certain amount of time before you can make fun of it (you’d be a liar and a hypocrite if you said you’ve never made a joke about something tragic), I can understand that many people would think that it was uncalled for or in poor taste.
The band did take down the post and quickly make a public apology, but it was too late.
What happened afterwards was a torrent of name calling, threats, and otherwise extremely childish behavior that made what these guys did look TAME. It took on the persona that could only be compared to a talk session on Nancy Grace, where all the talking heads are just sitting around agreeing with each other.
And the whole problem with that is, rather than a bunch of people reach out to the band and maybe tell these guys that it might not have been the best time to make such a joke, the scene that already hated them chose instead to jump on them like a pack of dogs on three legged cat.
This brings up a bigger issue, but we’ll get to that and stay on these guys. In an interview, the band’s guitarist was asked about how the Wisconsin music scene has influenced their music. The guitarist admitted “well, the scene down here is pretty bad. I don’t care what anyone else says, it sucks.”
Now, before you get your panties in a bunch, here’s the real problem:
He’s 100% right.
And worse, EVERYONE knows it, and not a single person is doing a thing about it. Save for a few people, the underground music scene is slowly choking itself to death.
You can say what you like, that the scene will never die, but the harsh reality is that it is and will. Where are your fans? They’re at home. Meanwhile a glam metal band can form and under your noses, get the hell out of dodge, build a solid and consistent fan base and despite your feelings toward their music (which happens to be very trendy at this point), this band is thriving.
Problem #1: People aren’t showing up to shows.
Put simply, people aren’t showing up to shows anymore because you’re not doing the legwork. It used to be, not even that long ago, that bands would go to shows and hand out flyers for their gigs, or hand out demos for free. True, most of them would get thrown out, but every once in awhile someone like me would take it home and look the band up.
Bands aren’t doing the work anymore. I know there are exceptions to the rule, but the fact is, they’ve gotten lazy, and dependent on the internet to do the work for them. The problem with that is, people already have information overload, so it doesn’t matter how many times you share a post, unless people are looking for it, they don’t care. Get the hell out of your house, go to Fedex, and print out some posters. That brings me to my next point..
Problem #2: Bands aren’t ACTUALLY supporting each other.
You can sit on your computer, and write post after post about how we need to actually support local music, and unless you’re actually DOING it, you ARE part of the problem. And it goes beyond just going to other bands’ shows every once in awhile. If we’re using social media as our standard, then it requires cross posting and ACTUAL support. Maybe you post on your band page “we’re going to see XXXX play tonight! Come down and check em out,” or maybe you invite people to an event you’re not actually playing. The point is you’re DOING something for someone else.
But it goes farther than that; support isn’t just showing up to the gig, support entails ACTUALLY supporting a band who’s doing something. You know what that means? You have to stop bad mouthing other bands. Either stop bad mouthing, or tell them what you think, yourself. It can be as simple as “I don’t like the cut of your jib,” or it can actually be CONSTRUCTIVE, to include something like “You know what might help? If you got a gate/ compressor on your rig so it could cut out that high pitch you were having a problem with.”
Now, if something like that is met with a fuck you, then that’s on them. But the problem is that bands DO NOT HELP EACH OTHER anymore. It’s just that simple. You CANNOT claim to support a music scene if you do nothing to actually help it along. So either sack up, and actually help a band become better through constructive criticism, or shut the hell up. Smiling in someone’s face, and then bad mouthing them later on does NOTHING but hurt the scene you claim to love.
Part of the giant huge problem with what happened with said band is that nobody bothered to learn anything from the situation. Nobody realized that they could’ve prevented the situation entirely by taking this teenage band under their wing and counseled them on what and what not to be doing publicly.
Again, there are exceptions to the rule, people who truly support that scene by frequenting the shows, and genuinely being nice to everyone and learning a little bit from every band they meet, but those numbers are few and far between, which is truly pathetic. It’s called professionalism, and nobody is showing it these days.
This brings me to my next point, and for that, we’ll go back to said glam metal band. In another part of the interview, the band member was asked about why they thought they were the complete package. The guitarist answered, flatly, “I am better than everyone else. Everyone else sucks.”
Now, poorly worded or not, let’s look at this objectively; THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BELIEVING YOU’RE THE BEST AT WHAT YOU DO. In fact, all bands should. Unless you truly believe you are the best at what you do, then you will quickly lose that work ethic that enabled you to come to that conclusion. If you don’t think you’re the best, than there’s no reason to stay the best. It IS possible to be confidant and humble simultaneously, people.
This kind of mindset also fuels creative competition, which is VERY healthy for an underground scene! Why, you may ask? Because bands will push themselves to higher standards to not only write better music, but put on a better show, which, logically, will lead to more people wanting to see your band.
By stating as such, the guitarist set a standard. And, while you can disagree with what he said, the fact is that this band, in two years, has done more than most bands have in five. So while you could disagree with them on their personal belief, you can’t ignore their accomplishments because of it. These guys work their asses off. They don’t just say they do, they just do. And much like Nickelback or Five Finger Death Punch, their sound has drawn criticism and seething hatred from a scene that doesn’t understand their angle. Nevermind that their sound is very current and, frankly, really good. Which of course must mean they’re sellouts.
Why shit on a band that’s doing it right? Is your artistic sensibility THAT fragile? Please cut the shit. Bands may not want to admit it, but these kids ARE doing it RIGHT. And it’s not like they chose this type of music because it sells, this is the stuff THEY like making.
I’d like to quote mister Andrew W.K. for this. These were words spoken to me after a show during his first world tour, while we were discussing what I called “shitty pop boy bands”. And that man let fly some knowledge that sticks with me to this day:
“The thing you have to remember is, no matter how you feel about the music or what it stands for, somewhere, somehow, that music is affecting someone in a positive way.“
And, in the end, isn’t THAT what we’re doing this for?
Written by Hobbes Caltous for Bloodrock Media July 26 2017