Why I’m not interested in contemporary rock music.
Please be aware I wrote this at 2am on a Saturday night after getting home from a gig. Just be thankful I don’t drink or it wouldn’t make any sense.
This is a weird statement to write down. Partially because I am 33 and there is a part of me that can’t help but think of The Simpsons episode where Grampa is telling Homer about “not being it anymore, because they changed what IT was…” and partially because guitar based music has been such a safe place for me for so long.
Tonight at a gig, I realised that I haven’t been inspired by a new rock (that’s a broad brush, I know) in months, I also realised why.
I watched 3 bands tonight, a friend’s band and 2 “up and coming” rock bands. They both sounded like many other current rock bands desperately worshiping Morrisey, Joy Division and many other bands from that 90s indie scene. Here’s part of the problem, I didn’t like it when it was floating round when I was a kid, I was too busy listening to Def Leppard (no shame) and I never got into it as I grew up and Morrisey became increasingly more miserable/bitter with his success…mostly because I could never understand why he was so miserable? But that is something all together different.
I understand that popular culture is presently obsessed with the 90’s, I also remember the 90’s. I remember people pushing 40 telling me that Oasis were just ripping off the Beatles, to this day, I have never minded that, they both wrote great records (yeah, I said that.). I am currently faced with a revival of an era of music I didn’t like and have never liked, which has left me massively disinterest in contemporary rock music. This is where this take a turn for the weird….
As I said, I remember the 90’s, and at that time, this Bon Jovi loving adolescent, thought any music that wasn’t played on instruments “wasn’t real music”. This was long before I discovered Cypress Hill on a Scout camp, realised that Charley by the Prodigy was actually awesome, not torturing that poor cat from the advert…if I had a chance to that 12 year old me, I’d love to tell him,
“Listen young Michael, in 20 years time, you won’t be interested in music like this anymore, because it will have come back round again and you will realise that that stuff you think ‘isn’t real music’ will be what is inspiring you…”
12 year old me, wouldn’t believe 33 year old me.
I never saw this one coming.
The mad thing is, rock music is now going round in 20 year cycles, where as hip hop and electro are not. I will admit there are a few people producing music looking back, but they are also looking forward with open arms adding new influences into the melting pot as well. Hospital Records Kingpin, London Elektricity, is an excellent example of this, he leans back to early years of Drum & Bass, yet pushes forward. If you play Goldie’s Timeless and then London Elektricity’s Yikes, you’ll understand.
There is something happening though…
As opposed to retro worship, bordering close to mimicry.
I would die inside if hip hop ever started looking back to the 90’s. The days of those early gangsta rappers are long gone, and with it their authenticity, replaced by criminal records that read more like a PR sheet than a rap sheet.
Hip hop started out as a borrowed/sampled genre, funk and soul reimagined with stronger beats (Bill Withers can’t have had Blackstreet’s No Diggiddy in mind when he wrote Grandma’s Hands), and this is part what has drawn me to hip hop more and more as I’ve gotten older, it is a naturally progressive and genre bending style of music. There are acts looking back to 1920’s Jazz for samples, some working with bass heavy electro producers to really push the envelope of 2 genre’s at once.
Back in 2001 Adam F (a noted Drum & Bass produced) made a hip hop record called Kaos. This was a real mind bender for me, Drum & Bass remixes of hip hop tunes were everywhere (Jungle Brothers Urban Takeover remix anyone?) and MCing was (and still isn’t) uncommon in Drum & Bass, but Kaos….that was something else, so brave, so out there, yet not truly appreciated. In my mind, it sits next to Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come as an album that happened and set the standard for it’s genre to achieve and finally become normal some 6 years later.
So here I am, it’s 2.38am on a Saturday night, I’ve realised that I don’t really like rock music anymore and given the choice between listening to Metallica or the Glitch Mob…I’d pick the Glitch Mob every time.