My post last week got way more attention than I assumed it would, from fans, internet travelers, and the kind fellow bands who re-posted the blog. I got texts, e-mails, and even a couple phone calls from people all in regards to my post. One band friend even said they were so inspired by the post, they are planning on creating their own bi-monthly event, similar to The Rock Hop in Sacramento. Thank you for that. I was really glad to see such a positive response from people. More so because it shows that people are also thinking about these kinds of things when it comes to their local music scene.
Initially I had plans of following up that post with a couple other posts in the same vein and given that I got a nice response I think I’d like to write those follow ups now. In the last post, I touched on the idea of a band only getting so far without good music. It brought to mind something that I think about a lot, and even something I decided to attach semi-permanently to my musical instrument. This post seemed like a good one to use as the vehicle for my thoughts. This one, I’m hoping to make a bit shorter. Can’t have you all developing cataracts.
A lot of people have commented on a little phrase I have scrawled on my guitar. It says “Invest In Quality Music”. This phrase says so much. More than I think even I realize sometimes. The phrase came from a really great interview I heard with Questlove (most notable as the drummer of the Roots, and an amazing producer). He talked a lot about the music industry, and was really candid about things like Payola, favoritism, and schmoozing. Amidst talking about all these really shallow things, he was also so passionate about the quality aspects that come with music, and talked about how people can change these shallow things. He explained that fans really do make the band in the industry sense. Bands don’t get attention on their own. It’s the fans that help get them some radar. At the very end of the interview he said “..please, please, please, whoever you do it for, just make sure you invest in quality music. It’s so important”.
That phrase really stuck in my mind. Invest In Quality Music. But what does that mean? What quality is to one person, may be garbage to another. Some people have different standards, and to suggest that we all need to have some unified shapeless standard is a bit naïve.
With that thought out there, here are some things that I think are good things to mull over. Not everyone is going to see these things from the same perspectives or angles. None the less, why NOT think about what you physically, financially, and more importantly, emotionally invest into something?
Standards are such an important thing. But they are also relative in a lot of ways. Not every band is going to be wearing Armani suits. Not every band is going to try and play the most expensive boutique amps so that they can appease even the most seasoned and zealous audiophile and tone-dad. Regardless, your standards say a lot about who you are and what you are about.
And on that note (no pun intended), I think we need to consider how each band takes their craft. At the end of the day, a band is really supposed to be about the music. You can pile all kinds of other things on top of that, but even the most outrageous rockstar gets old if he is standing on a mound of crappy mindless tunes. Does a band kill it live? Do they look like they even care that they are standing on stage? Is the drummer constantly out of time? Is the singer, let’s face it, a talentless hack who can’t keep a tune to save his life? Does the guitarist care more about gyrating his hips, or making sure he isn’t ruining the song being played by making mistakes? Does this band actually have something to say beyond the same trite sex, relationships, party, drugs, and rock & roll rubbish we’ve all heard since we were 12?
Just even asking little things like those listed above can tell you a lot about a band or artist, and where their heart for music and their band lies. It can also give you a quick look into what a band is all about, what their message is, and what they value as people. I really do think people can see if a band takes their craft seriously or not, even if they don’t realize it right away. Call it a musical conscience if you like.
Every band is different, and they come at music and their aesthetic from a million tiny different angles, so I’m not suggesting everyone needs to be a certain way. Not at all. What I love about shows is seeing three or four different acts who have something different to say or show. Bands that have their own thing going on amidst a local music scene. Without that we’d probably all be watching the same band forever and ever. Besides that would get pretty frustrating for bands to play with other bands that do what they do down to a T. What I am suggesting though, is that I think bands need to do what they do from an honest place, and strive to hold some standards, especially amongst the music they play.
At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to put your local music scene under a microscope a little. Lack of standards breeds all kinds of nasty and mediocre situations, and again, fans can really change that. Having some standards, even in your role as a fan can bring forth some good things when all is said and done. It’s a cliché concept by today’s standards, but it’s actually a strong and very easily executed concept. It’s ‘Power To The People’ for a musical generation.
The next time you’re at a show, remember that, and see what it does. I dare you.
P.S. My last post generated probably the most conversation out of any post I can recall. In that same way it also received a lot of reblogs and reposts. We would LOVE to hear from you! If you have your own thoughts on anything from this post, and my previous post, please respond in comments or reblogs! My hope for these posts is that they WILL get people talking, thinking, debating, and discussing. If you have your own thoughts, share them. At the very least, I’ll have your back.