Hello there! My name’s Rich! You may know me as the guy that shouts at people from stage in my rock’n’roll band Xerath. You most certainly won’t know me as the drummer/singer/guitarist/bassist/synthist/primary song writer/band leader/genius in my other band Primer. In 99% of cases, you probably wont know me at all.
I’m here to offer and opinion or two, an observation here and there, and more than likely a completely unresearched and biased opinion on stuff that I give a shit about.
Many publications have come forward asking me for a slice of my considerable wisdom. Heat, Hello!, Time magazine, The Guardian, and New Scientist to name a few. But, being the good looking guy that I am, I decided I would contribute to the humble metal blog Thrash Hits instead (as they will most likely overlook my poor spelling and grammar). Now, pull up a thought, stay a while…and listen. (Diablo reference anyone??)
If your band has a message, you and your message can suck my huge balls.
It’s a very simple rule: Just because your band puts a few notes and rhythms together which people enjoy, this does not mean your opinion is better or more relevant than anyone else’s. This takes me back to a gig at a university that I had the incredible misfortune of attending several years ago. Midway through the set, the bassist stepped up to the microphone and proceeded to command the crowd not to support racism and homophobia.
Watch the video to ‘False History’ by Xerath:
Consider for a moment this was coming from a white middle class student who was attending a reputable university, I was skeptical of the level of racism and homophobia he was receiving on a daily basis. Whether he had a true passion for these issues, or that he was simply trying to bullshit his way into the pants of the girls in the front row is debatable – though the self-satisfied look on his face confirmed enough of my suspicions. Okay, so it’s the not greatest example of what I’m trying to point out here, but it does show what happens when musical notes and self-importance come together. It’s also possibly the moment when when my cynical jaded asshole outlook on the universe truly emerged for the first time.
My next tale happened about a year ago, around the time a certain band that I won’t name signed a record deal. Good for them. Unfortunately, they took it upon themselves to release an email to all their fans on MySpace enlightening everyone to the super secret conspiracy surrounding our economic downturn. I mean, these bunch of heavy metal musicians were sharp. Why didn’t we see it ourselves? They explained how they would use this boost of promotion to spread this message as far and wide as possible to wake us all up to the truth. I won’t go into the details of their reasoning – it’s irrelevant – but this was clear and indisputable proof they were suffering from the worst of all ailments: “up-your-own-assnessness”.
Your fans go to see your music – this is what they identify with. They don’t go to be preached at. Also: screamed vocals through a bad PA is not the best vessel to communicate your bullshit with. The band in question have split up now, so it seems their fans will now remain unenlightened for the forseeable future.
Watch Xerath’s…”tribute” to Rush:
Now to my final example, which actually carries some weight and relevance. A few years ago, a certain Swedish progressive metal band deemed it necessary to self-impose an embargo on playing live in the US, due to issues they had with the presidency at the time. This meant the band did not play any shows in the country for 5 years. So, their American fans were out of luck. Of course there would still be Opeth, Evergrey, Therion and The Flower Kings to make up for this Swede prog metal shortfall, but to not be able to see a band they loved because of some asshole’s personal political reasons? Are all [insert Swedish prog metal band name here] fans Republican crazies? Should it matter? But alas, the Bush administration came to an end and the band lifted their embargo. So Obama, you better not screw things up because you could have a serious epidemic of smug-ass bands refusing to play your country.
I’m not so sure if this incredible arrogance made a dent in the bands popularity, I’m sure there was even a few that agreed with what they were doing, but I’m sure the majority felt considerably fucked over. Listening to music is a way of escaping bullshit. We make music because we love it. It’s for us and if people dig it too, we’re thrilled. But thinking that using your music is acceptable to use as a carrier for your message or political agenda, just makes you Daniel Gildenlöw.