Let’s talk about reasons for rocking. Some bands wanna party and meet people to screw. Some want flying unicorns to befriend them on a castle facing a cliff made of diamonds. Some bands want to “just rock” and make people happy. Some want to further social change. Some bands want to sing “Worm Infested” and make you envision horribly rotten corpses of victims. IS one path better than the other or more “legit”/true?
Can music still change the world?
The following is a micro-study of metal motivations. Click HERE for more.
A lot of people on Facebook were complaining about Bob Dylan’s Superbowl car commercial the other night as well as healthy body builder guy Arnold hawking beer for cash. I guess it is all about whether you back the auto industry or think Fiat is entitled to pitch the phrase “What’s more American than America?”. I am all about ingenuity and pulling ourselves up by bootstraps, etc. Sure, that’s the “American Way” but I’d rather see Dylan hawking electric cars or something more meaningful than continued petrol dependance. People say he did it for the American Worker and I get it, but corporate America tends to care more about keeping us in a cycle of dependance. Has Dylan’s legacy of always “defying expectations” become just a free pass?
I have mixed feelings about that.
Can music still change the world? Yes.
We would all be a lot worse without great music that brings people together. Big stadium Bon Jovi or Keith Urban shows are better than none of those fans having an outlet for blue collar tensions. Or does that just keep people in line?
Corporate affiliation is not always a bad thing, is it? It IS ironic that Sepultura’s “Refuse/Resist” was released by the same label that pushed Nickelback to every Bud drinking joe average in the USA. Scion helps a lot of small time metal bands afford to tour, for whatever reason. It isn’t like their crusty fans can afford a fucking new car.
Nirvana were so powerful they changed many lives who never would have given a fuck what that band stood for otherwise without the push they got from Geffen Records. Richard Patrick from Filter used cash from a label placing a Filter song in a Hummer commercial to kick booze and put out his Anthems For The Damned, super political record that featured “Soldiers of Misfortune” about how fucked up it is to misuse the patriotism of troops for unjust causes like the lies that got us into the Iraq debacle. Is it better Saddam is gone? Sure, but not at the price we paid.
I am glad that I can play Testament’s “Trail of Tears” or “Native Blood” for people who might not otherwise want to be engaged in a discussion about Native American rights, for example. All the fuckers who didn’t know “America The Beautiful” was written by a lesbian and who tweeted at Coca-Cola for people in their commercials to #speakamerican, for example. Fuck you.
I am a fan of Otep and think she is well intentioned and has done lots of awesome stuff, especially for LGBT and self esteem/empowerment. Some people I know criticize her for not speaking out about Obama’s drone strikes more and say it is partisan bias. I love Otep and am sure she doesn’t like collateral drone damage. “Smash The Control Machine” rules.
DIY shows or giving a damn on a local level can directly affect your town or scene. Or nationally and internationally, bands like Napalm Death or Fuck The Facts keep the political spirit alive that punk veterans Crass, for example, once championed. It was great seeing Ministry live in NYC before Mike Scaccia died and hearing Al Jourgensen tell the NYC crowd to keep up the good work re: Occupy Wall Street, before tearing into a great version of “99 Percenters”. I guess Al also counts as “party” music sometimes and I hope he recuperates from his very recent trip to the hospital for a booze relapse and blood alcohol level of .33
Attila’s ‘Shots For The Boys’ should serve as a good example of a ‘party’ style of metal.
Look, that’s all good and well. But what are you supporting? I wish some of the bands would take a moment to look at the recent death of folk hero Pete Seeger and consider what he accomplished in his lifetime, his humility, tireless activism and love of people. This recent piece from The Guardian that experimental pathfinders Swans reposted on their Facebook is also food for thought about the “freedom” of drug abuse. It’s about William S. Burrough’s classic book Junky.
An excerpt from the article:
Burroughs was the perfect incarnation of late 20th-century western angst precisely because he was an addict. Self-deluding, vain, narcissistic, self-obsessed, and yet curiously perceptive about the sickness of the world if not his own malaise, Burroughs both offered up and was compelled to provide his psyche as a form of Petri dish, within which were cultured the obsessive and compulsive viruses of modernity.
Burroughs never managed to recover from his addiction at all, and died in 1997 physically dependent on the synthetic opiate methadone. I find this a delicious irony: the great hero of freedom from social restraint, himself in bondage to a drug originally synthesised by Nazi chemists, and dubbed “Dolophine” in honour of the Fuhrer; the fearless libertarian expiring in the arms of an ersatz Morpheus, actively promoted by the federal government as a “cure” for heroin addiction. In the prologue to Junky and the introduction to The Naked Lunch, Burroughs writes of his own addiction as if it were a thing of the past, but this was never the case. In a thin-as-a-rake’s progress that saw him move from America to Mexico, to Morocco, to France, to Britain, back to New York, and eventually to small-town Kansas, Burroughs was in flight either from the consequences of his chemical dependency, or seeking to avoid the drugs he craved.
The Doors and Marilyn Manson or Hawkwind did a lot to open doors of perception but are we still progressing or spinning our wheels? Where are the daring types? The Id-divers? Does it always have to lead to self-destruction?
Anyway…I am a huge fan of power metal and fantasy metal. I think escapism is great and meaningful in life. We all love Lord of The Rings, right? Important social lessons can often be embedded in sci-fi inspired works. Take the Blade Runner-esque Fear Factory’s Demanufacture record, for example. But sometimes it is also cool to just feel good. Not all music has to be about super serious stuff either.
Or you can fall into a strange Marie Antoinette K-hole of semi-black metal social satire of American Idol culture. That’s always fun.
Still feel ok? Let’s move on to faith. I am bi-sexual but also a fan of For Today. I don’t think that is impossible. Their singer is a cool guy and despite the former guitarist being homophobic the band has distanced themselves from his comments. I think faith is powerful and can make for some inspired music, whether you agree or not. I believe something created the Universe and I equate that energy with God but also am a firm believer in science as the most miraculous gift we have.
That said, I wish everyone would go read the stuff up at Armageddonconspiracy.co.uk
It is a very thought provoking site that challenges a lot of social beliefs. I personally don’t like to affiliate with any political party but rather good and bad ideas. This site debates religion (why would Satan torture people sent to essentially be in his “army” against God), class warfare and much more. A few choice excerpts:
“You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result.” — Barack Obama
“What did Obama do when he got into power? He appointed the same old players, tried the same old politics, and got the same old results! That’s democracy for you. Only a madman would keep trying the same old…”
or this one:
“The global protesters are terrified of having leaders. Look at the “Anonymous” hacking group. They actually see it as a virtue to have no leaders.
“Guess who’s laughing at this lack of leadership? – the elite. The elite know that if the opposition has no leaders then it poses no threat. All the opposition will ever do is perform stunts: street theatre with performers in assorted masks. It’s all part of the Society of the Spectacle created by guess who? – yup, the elite again. Protesters spend more time filming themselves, tweeting, facebooking and posting pictures than they do debating politics and policy. They spend their time thinking up witty remarks to put on placards and no time at all reading Plato, Rousseau, Nietzsche and Hegel. They are PERFECT PROTESTERS – from the point of view of the elite! They are really engaged in a kind of entertainment rather than a serious attempt to change anything. Compare the Occupy Wall Street gang with the sans-culottes of the French Revolution, the radical militants of the lower orders wearing their red Phrygian caps. Which group frightens the life out of the elite? But the elite have so sanitised the world, made it so “postmodern”, that protesters never contemplate anything truly radical. They occupy an agreed corner of Wall Street – they don’t burn it down. They don’t smash any windows. They don’t hurl abuse at the bankers and traders. They have pizzas delivered to them. What’s the point? What’s the objective? What’s the end game? Does anyone actually care? Or is protesting just an end in itself? “I protest therefore I am.”
“Shouldn’t a protest have specific objectives? Shouldn’t there be a list of demands? Shouldn’t there be a political stance? Shouldn’t there be leaders? But the elite have controlled “capital” so brilliantly that they have rendered protest a joke, a non-threat. People buy “Anonymous” masks and some fat cat capitalist who owns the image rights gets even fatter – he hopes that the protests go on forever! He will become the fattest cat in history.”
“The protesters MUST become political. Fuck this ludicrous attempt to maintain innocuous consensus. Obama spends all of his time calling for bipartisan action and consensus – and his ratings keep slipping lower and lower and he looks more and more ineffectual. He stands for nothing. He has no beliefs, no causes to fight for i.e. he’s the perfect puppet politician who will never pose a threat to anyone. That’s why he’s in the White House. No LEADER ever gets elected in a democracy because a leader actually wants to change things, and that’s something the privileged elite won’t permit.”
I think there is certainly merit in non-violent protest, if possible. But there are some valid points there for sure. The site also proposes Meritocracy via a 100% inheritance tax (which many people could debate endlessly) and stresses it is not just socialism.
“Meritocracy is the answer. Meritocracy is about taking all logical, rational, enlightened steps necessary to end privilege and create equal opportunities for everyone. Meritocracy is not however an ideology of equality. Meritocracy says that everyone should line up at the same starting line and be given an equal opportunity to win, but then the race will be run and some – the most talented – will prove victorious. They will be the people who govern the world, but they will govern it in the interests of everyone, not in their own interests. They will be all about public service and nothing to do with self-service (unlike the current capitalist leaders of the world whose primary objective is to line their own pockets).”
“100% inheritance tax will ensure that the leaders of society cannot establish family dynasties or create systems of privilege for themselves and their relatives and cronies. There will never again be a super rich elite class. That will be enshrined in law and enacted via 100% taxation on all private estates: all assets at death are thereby inherited by the Commonwealth – the “Bank of the People” – and redistributed amongst the people (the money will mostly be invested in education.) Since there’s no point in hoarding wealth, the richest members of society will no doubt spend their wealth i.e. it will be continually recirculating in the economy. The money will therefore always be available to the people and the economy rather than being removed from circulation and used to create vast, permanent assets for the elite.”
It is interesting in that aspects should appeal to both Libertarians and socialist “Pinkos”, haha. Though history shows accountability usually goes out the window and people rarely keep acting “in the interests of everyone”. I also think of families with disabled kids who deserve to maybe have some inheritance if they can’t take care of themselves, but you’d hope a social net was in place. Not to mention, how do you determine the distribution of post-death assets? By need? Everyone feels their needs are the most pressing, right?
Anyway, this is a metal site. Now my head is swollen!
Time to kill!
The moral? Type O Negative is probably the best band because they at one time or another did everything, from social satire to plain metal to sleazy shit to escapism or a couple kinda crazy religious songs (it’s ok, Pete was stressed out then and got real Catholic) or just tunes about being depressed as fuck or vampire sex with lesbians. R.I.P. Peter Steelel.
Do you feel like you have to be macho? Consider this trailer (thanks to my friend Alex for sharing this on Fbook).
I’m gonna close with yet another excerpt from the ArmaggedonConspiracy site.
“We will replace the “testosterone” modus operandi of free-market capitalism with the “oestrogen” of social capitalism i.e. women rather than aggressive young men will become far more prominent. We will seed society with metaphorical “oxytocin” – the Moral Molecule – that increases bonding, harmony and community. At the moment we have a testosterone society given over to selfishness, self-interest and ruthless competition between families and individuals as they all fight to be top dog. Testosterone has had a good run for its money. Now it’s time for an oestrogen and oxytocin society without boom and bust, without aggression, without savage, destructive competition.”
They were talking about politics but I do know that testosterone is pretty integral to metal. That said…women contributing to metal have made it much more interesting than ever before. And not just because they are sexy, but because many of them fucking rock! The spiritual self-discovery of Purson’s lyrics or Jex Thoth, for example. The inspiring and soaring life-affirming sounds of female inclusive Within Temptation. We need to respect a variety of approaches. If we don’t, it’s dangerous.