Post-Post-Grunge, and other Millennial dilemmas.
19 May 2018 News
This has been quite the debate now for many years, what is happening to rock music? especially since the emergence of bands like Creed, Nickelback, Default and the like, many of which received much criticism especially in the wake of grunge and the destruction it purportedly wreaked on the Guitar Gods, and all the Hells screaming Angels we had for vocalists back in the 70s and 80s. Post-grunge, however, seemed to some, like a bit of a bastardization of something that was already bad, don’t get me wrong, I particularly never hated grunge or post-grunge, especially since I was a child through much of the 90s, I was simply unaware of much of this and the fact that I was a relatively sheltered midwestern boy compounded my situation. But let me take a moment to genuinely and objectively defend grunge and even some post grunge, you cannot deny that bands like Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots were comprised of powerhouse musicians, Robert DeLeo (bass) was responsible for most of the rhythm and groove in STP, Dave Grohl’s brutal and unique drumming played just as much an important role if not more than Kurt Cobain’s guitar riffs, Layne Staley was one of the most inventive and creative vocalists since the 70s, Nickelback whether you love or hate them have put out some of the most masterfully engineered albums since Dr. Feelgood and The Black Album (respectively) so what gives? What’s the problem? Really there isn’t any problem, because after all this is just music right? I believe that for me and many other millennials, the issue is that we were not raised on the same “fight the man” independent rebel music that the Boomers and Generation X were raised on, I was raised on corporate Rock. Now of course corporate Rock has been pissing in it’s own face for many years, it’s become stale and bland and most of us who were musicians grew up with what we had, some of us went with the corporate rock structure, others went balls to the wall metal, and some try to sit right in the middle, let’s not forget about Metallica’s Load, Reload, and garage Inc, all great albums in their own respect, but all of the intensity and rebellion had been soaked up and polished, all the freyed ends were now put there on purpose to achieve maximum “edgyness” by the corporate machine before many of us millennials ever had a chance to know what it was about at all.
Too many of us got this twisted idea in our heads that we were going to be the next Gene Simmons, the next business mogul, all you had to do was make an investment and you would see the return in a few years, well we learned the hard way, that wasn’t true at all. Many Millennials had Parents and grandparents that were all on board for their bands and invested much time and money, but we should have known better, music does not come from good old-fashioned Hammer swinging and number crunching, the truth is no one really knows where it comes from, and that’s what always made it so special, and it still makes it special to this day, the problem is there is a large elephant in the room and it’s to make money you need to sell a product or service that has value, but no one wants to pay for music, couple that with the record industry being in its death throes for well over a decade now (360 deals, spotify, money grubbing cunts) we come to a very interesting situation indeed. The 90s also spawned a huge rash of music categories and genres which in my opinion played a small hand in decimating the industry. I’ll just use a blanket statement: I think you would agree when I say most people are followers, most people aren’t too bright, so when all these genres popped up, so did more and more clique’s, and a desire to belong to a “special” group of people, to have a special kind of taste, the 90s gave birth to the music elitist. (metal elitist) And not to be flippant but, what the hell good has that attitude done for anyone? So far as I can tell, NONE! And lets face it, this new corporate label sanctioned “Lion King” rhythm, “millennial rock” is boring, repetitive and easily forgettable (not rock), it’s just some 4/4 “tribal” beat with a big WOAH chorus and a ukelele, dressing in a straw fedora and a curly mustache is NOT Rock, its the literal same rhythm and ideas and it’s been done to fucking death on pop radio in a short (yet somehow really long) 10 years and no one really cares, no one noticed, nothing changed even when it was new, because it’s silly and cheap. ENOUGH WITH THE SELF LOATHING AND SELF DEMEANING IRONY, it’s gone from goth to wearing lieder hosen and a fucking feather in your hat, all for the sake of not taking yourself or anything seriously, yet somehow you have the deepest thoughts and intellect in the room… sigh…
So what the hell are we going to do? Simple really, millennials and younger are getting back to their “roots” (so to speak) the songs THEY grew up with, and it’s not a bad bunch, all the greats lasted the test of time, just like Hendrix, (never had a 1# on the radio) Dio, Pantera, fast forward to, Killswitch Engage, Meshuggah, and Sevendust, ALL artists who played by their own rules. The young bands of today aren’t stymied by the existential weight that the record label had on all of us, they have a desire to sort of start from square one and stop participating in the corporate rock rat-race, and what does that mean for all of us? Who knows, but one thing that’s for certain, Grunge got its roots from a combination of blues and punk, and British metal got its roots from Southern or “Delta blues” and with the emergence of the indy artist and even indy label, coupled with an easily accessible global market, who knows what the hell is gonna happen. But if there’s one thing most millennials and generation Y agree on it’s, down with the corrupt corporate system, so maybe we’ve been waiting on ourselves, maybe it’s time to get serious and stop drowning in our own sarcasm, irony, and self-doubt, the 20th century is over, a new era is upon us.
Photo courtesy of RAZE