Sincerity is Underrated

In spite of my disdain for all things superficial and false, I've chosen a life that revolves around music. Of course music itself isn't always shallow and fake, neither are the artists, but you can rest assured that your favorite mainstream artists are more than likely selling you a line of bullshit. “That's the name of the game”, as they say; I don't particularly care for it, but for the most part, I work within it's confines. As long as I can sleep at night, I'm okay. Granted, I don't sleep a whole lot, but that's a different story.

I've grown out of so many bands, it's a wonder I even bother trying to listen to any new artists. I used to get enamored with a new sound and dive headfirst into learning everything there was to know about the band creating that sound. More often than not, that band would wind up doing something I don't agree with; maybe I'd see them act like dicks at a show or in an interview and suddenly, I was no longer a fan. I could name names, but this isn't a gossip column.

Truth be told, I kinda hate the “rock star” attitude. I understand there is a certain level of mental preparation one must go through to perform publicly and cultivating a little bravado or even arrogance is necessary. However, that same arrogance can betray you and once you fall from the top, it's much harder to get back up there. No scene is immune from these attitudes, I've even met crusty punks who act like their shit don't stink. Imagine that.

It's pretty rare to run across a true douchebag rock star at a house show, but they're out there. I'd much rather take my chances meeting a bunch of unknown bands than some energy-drink-sponsored band with a stylist and a press kit. It's like once you reach a certain level of success you have to start acting a certain way, and that way is usually “like an asshole”. It's a foolish way of thinking, after all, playing music doesn't make you special anymore. Anyone with a MP3 player is a DJ and that's what is most popular right now. What are you gonna do, whip out your phone, start playing songs and demand a dressing room?

I understand why people in the music business become so jaded, even the journalists. When you deal with enough disingenuous people, it rubs off, or at least alters how you interact with people in general. People ask me if I've heard the new (insert fairly well-known band here) album and I rarely have because I'm too busy sorting through the plethora of underground artists at my disposal. I can't help feeling like even if I did have time, I'd skip over a lot of the big names anyway.

I'm tired of everyone's big budget video filled with clich├ęs they're passing off as new concepts. I'm tired of rock stars insulting my intelligence in their interviews. I'm sick of being associated with bonehead jocks and fake tough guys because we both listen to music with distorted guitars. I'm sick of mainstream music, Metal or otherwise, because it's all fake. The girls in the videos are filled with saline; the bands only got tattoos because their stylist told them to; they're covered in inverted crosses while singing hooks reminiscent of Radio Disney; and the damn singer is all up in the camera trying to look scary while chains dangle and sparks fly. It's old, it's boring, and it sucks.

Marketing drained the life out of music a long time ago. That coupled with obsessive fans doing stupid shit like killing guitar players because their favorite band broke up has made it to where there's hardly any life in mainstream metal anymore; it's all slick and blatantly formulaic. We pay the high ticket price, stare at the advertisements while waiting in line, stand behind the barricade, mosh when instructed to do so, and leave promptly at 11 pm. We've never been their friends, and we're not even fans anymore, we're a demographic. Bands who used to scare the living hell out of people now sell holiday-themed sweaters. Call me an elitist all you want, but that's not Metal and never has been.

I know there are a lot of people reading this who want nothing more than to tour the world on some label's dime, and I hope you achieve all the success you desire, but please never change who you are just to sell a few more items. There's a lot to be said for musicians who do everything themselves, it's challenging work and often thankless, but it's genuine and for what it's worth I appreciate that. It's a long way to the top and you'll be faced with tough decisions, but you should always decide to be true to yourself. If you want to be a huge star and trample anyone and everyone to get there, just let people know, some will respect that and the rest will know that what you do isn't for them. Either way, you'll be adding some sincerity to a business that sorely lacks it. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in some gently-used, XXL band merch, let me know; I've got some stuff I don't want anymore.

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