Rock’s NOT dead: but you might be killing it
This month’s issue of Classic Rock looks at ‘The Crisis Facing Rock’ and asks ‘Is rock dying?’ Here TeamRock Radio’s Terry Bezer gives his take on it. You might not like what he’s got to say…
Words: Terry Bezer
Look at the picture, above. This is a band called Sleeping With Sirens. I present a show called The Pulse on Team Rock Radio and recently I posted this picture on the station’s Facebook page. You might not have heard of them, but Sleeping With Sirens recently played to a substantial crowd at Brixton Academy.
They write their own songs, play their own instruments and are quite audibly and obviously a rock band (even if the singer does sound like he’s been huffing helium all his life). You can imagine what happened on TeamRock’s Facebook page though:
“The band looks like Pride Day Queens!”
“What a load of gay shit!”
“These preppy kids with guitars and tatts… I bet they’ve never come home bruised and bloodied after a beat down at school”.
Nothing much about their music.
Take another look at them. Have you made your mind up that they’re shite before you’ve heard a note? Are you judging them on their haircuts? Is that V-neck t-shirt a little bit too low?
The way we find bands these days – through someone sharing it on social media or something like a post on the TeamRock Radio website – is inextricably linked to their image. Is the fact that people get to SEE a band before they HEAR them is hampering the bands of today? (Let’s face it: the bands of today are a bit prettier than the bands of yesteryear. Robb Flynn of Machine Head had Black Veil Brides as one of his albums of the year in 2013. He heard them on the radio. He couldn’t believe the band he’d dismissed through their look turned out to be a band he could actually love.)
For what it’s worth, I think people ARE influenced by this switch in culture – discovering bands via the way they look rather than how they sound – and that’s brought about an online mob mentality that’s harming rock’s future. If I were a 16 year old, would I want to be part of a culture where I’m constantly bashed (probably in a homophobic manner) for liking rock bands by the people that are supposed to be part of my scene? Probably not. “Fuck this,” I’d probably think. “I’ll go and listen to David Guetta and talk to members of the opposite sex in a Wetherspoons – it’s gotta be more fun than being cussed by an army of dickheads in Iron Maiden shirts”.
If you’re not into today’s bands, that’s fine, but don’t drive people away from rock music by rounding on them, or try telling them that their music isn’t as valid as yours. Your parents thought what you were listening to was a right old load of bollocks too. At the end of the day, it’s better that they’re one of us than one of them. If you drive people away, you’re as much a part of the problem as the guy who writes the songs for One Direction. (I have heard them, Scott. They’re pish.)
With this being on the Classic Rock website and all, can somebody explain what ‘classic rock’ is anyway? This year, Green Day celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dookie. It’s a seminal album that changed the world of rock forever in the aftermath of Kurt Cobain’s brains hitting the wall (think about it: the 19 year legacy of the now legendary Warped tour? Reading festival headliners like My Chemical Romance and Blink-182? They don’t exist without it) – but is it classic rock? Korn’s self-titled debut also celebrates its 20th birthday this year. It kickstarted the nu metal movement, the last genre of rock to capture the mainstream and put rock in the spotlight over hip hop and shitty pop music – but does that make it classic rock?
Regardless of what you think of those bands and what came after them, both started revolutions that have left their imprint on rock music forever. Is it classic rock on that basis and if not, why not? Influential, enduring, culture changing – if that doesn’t make it classic rock, what does? If you see classic rock as a sound, fine, but how do Pink Floyd and AC/DC fall under the same sonic umbrella? Are you killing the future by not accepting what’s ‘classic’ to the generation beneath you?
Rock is also less of a boys’ club than it has been in the past. Doesn’t exactly sound like something that should be signalling the end really, does it? Is it really a culture shock that more and more bands are appealing to the fairer sex? It’s a more metrosexual world in 2014 and most contemporary rock reflects that – but that doesn’t mean the bands are “going soft”. Bring Me The Horizon had a 50% (at least) female fan base while releasing brutal songs like this…
You often read people calling bands ‘girly’ as an insult. Why? Rock’s always going to fight for its life if it’s only supposed to appeal to the male gender. The feature in the new Classic Rock magazine on women in rock is a great read but there’s no mention of Paramore’s Hayley Williams, the biggest star in contemporary rock music. Maybe it’s because they’re not seen as a “real rock” band but today’s audience vehemently disagrees.
Then there’s the media. I have to be relatively political here as I don’t want to end up on Channel 4’s Benefit Street but the rock media is a weird place right now. If we don’t want rock to die, we have to create stars of the future. Bring Me The Horizon are doing Wembley at the end of the year. Paramore did two sold out nights there last year. Avenged Sevenfold are headlining Download, Biffy smashed Reading – but all of those bands are at least 10 years old.
Are the relevant media outlets doing enough to promote the next wave of bands or are they playing it safe by putting the same old names on a really, really, really boring carousel? Yes, the media is less influential than it has been in the past but are rock publications and stations doing enough to promote the future as being a fresh, buzzing and exciting place to be or are they treating the genre as a relic and happy to tell you that it’s not as good as it was in the good ol’ days?
Personally, I live for the future. I’ve got the past and I can visit it whenever I like but I want something fresh that’s going to excite me. It’s out there but, even in a world of Spotify and YouTube giving an individual what they want, when they want it, it’s up to us as the media to serve it to you. Gorge on it or spit it in our faces but, for my money, we’ve got to work harder to give rock a future. Rock music is buzzing. It’s just not in the same old guise, nor should it be. If it was, we’d be listening to nothing but Howlin’ Wolf clones.
As I’m writing this, You Me At Six are number one in the midweek album charts. What do they sound like? Have you taken the time to check them out? A Day To Remember are going to sell more tickets on their upcoming UK run than Alice In Chains did on theirs.
Who are they? Find out. If you don’t then you should ask yourself what you’re doing to keep rock music alive.
Terry Bezer presents The Pulse on TeamRock Radio, 8am-12 every Saturday