When I used to read stories of the glory years of rock ‘n’ roll, I couldn’t help but lament the lack of a “scene” there seems to be these days. When Eric Clapton would come tour America, he’d hang out with Hendrix in New York City, where they’d roam around with their guitars strapped to their backs and pop into smokey clubs just to jam with whoever happened to be around. Back in England, the bars he frequented were populated by the likes of Pete Townshend and Mick Jagger well before any of them were household names. When Motley Crue played at the Whiskey A Go Go in the early ’80s, the Sunset Strip was a community party. The whole LA music scene seemed like a big leather pants-wearing, blow-snorting family.
Et Tu, Facebook?
This isn’t to say I wish that Shaimus shows were knee-deep in cocaine. I don’t. (I don’t want leather pants, either.) But the fact is, I have long felt that there has been a lack of fellowship among bands lately. The days of bands that stuck it out together in their town, offering support and companionship as they all worked toward that common goal of musical euphoria have seemingly begun dying out as technology has slowly moved the majority of band members’ time from the streets and into cyberspace. It’s not that there is no fellowship at all, but there is a lot less of it–we’ve noticed this as we try to build relationships with like-minded, talented bands that will stick this brutal industry out with us.
As I mentioned, part of this lack of conviviality is due to the Internet. Whoring yourself out on the web is a prerequisite for any band’s success these days (ourselves included), and while it can be great to reach so many more fans that you never could before, it can be so easy to get lost in the mix. It’s not hard to drown in a sea of faceless bands with MySpace pages.
But as I sat around complaining about something I couldn’t change, I soon realized something: this vast, uncontrollable deluge of musicians doing whatever they feel like–this complete and utter worldwide anarchy that has been unfolding before our very eyes–is the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll in modern times.
Rebel Without A Label
Artists are doing everything they can to stick it to the man and do things their way. Bands are doing more on their own without the help of the suits than anyone could have imagined even ten years ago. Major labels are literally crumbling around us as bands are finding the empowerment and personal resourcefulness not only to get their music heard by the masses, but to personally play a hand in the downfall of the very corporate entities that have tried to control rock music for decades. Bands aren’t looking for record deals as much anymore. Instead they are doing their craft on their own terms without being at the whim of the labels. Rock music’s essential spirit has been one of rebellion, of taking on the people who were so uptight as to think that a backbeat was going to cause kids to go crazy and destroy the moral world. (And what a “moral” world it is in the first place!)
Major labels are just becoming another casualty in the battle to keep rock and roll in line. That’s always going to be a losing fight in the long run. And it’s not even as though I wouldn’t want to sign a contract with a major label. Under the right circumstances, I certainly would. The point I’m trying to make here is that there is a scene, even if it’s not quite the same as it was before. Things are always going to change and evolve, and will continue to do so. Remember when TV networks didn’t want to show Elvis from the waist down so that kids wouldn’t be corrupted by his sexual, gyrating hips? The anarchy of music on the Internet is today’s Elvis hips: an outward representation of what the establishment fears, what the kids are rebelling against, and what no one can manage to control and squelch.
Yep, the music scene just isn’t what it used to be. And it’s a scene that I’m proud to be a part of.