Looking back on 2012, we here at AP heard a lot of great music, some good music and a fair share of real awful stuff. We also fielded commentary from both band members and readers alike, some of which was thoughtful, and some of it patently pointless. But instead of throwing our hands up in the air and screaming "The scene is dead," we thought we'd make some suggestions as to how our scene of Loud Music Played Very Quickly On Guitars (sums it up succinctly, doesn't it?) could evolve. Happy new year to all the bands we love, hate and haven't heard of quite yet, as well as the fans who support them all.
Scott Heisel [SH]
Brittany Moseley [BM]
Jason Pettigrew [JP]
Cassie Whitt [CW]
BANDS: TAKE YOUR BAND SERIOUSLY
Practice your instruments all the time. Rehearse 10 times for every one gig you book. Don't think you're entitled to anything just because you can play an E chord and have nice hair, because you're not. Stop relying on other people to "co-write" your songs. Take pride in your work. Develop goals with your bandmates beyond, "We want to tour!" Stop writing a record "for all the fans." That's called pandering, and it's pathetic. And for God's sake, stop trying to cross over into the pop-country scene. It's shameless, and it's not going to work. [SH]
BANDS: MAKE YOUR ENCORE COUNT
Last month, I saw Yellowcard play Cleveland's House of Blues. I enjoyed the show, but the thing I remember most was the loud, obnoxious girl behind me who kept screaming, "'Back Home'!" ("Back Home"is the closing track from Yellowcard's breakout album, Ocean Avenue.) Her song request became louder and more frequent as the show progressed. I wanted to turn around and yell, "They're not going to play 'Back Home', and they're sure as hell not gonna play it for their encore!'" However, now that I work for an esteemed music magazine, yelling at concert goers is frowned upon, so I resisted. To no one's surprise, Yellowcard closed with "Ocean Avenue." But as I sang along to their most popular song, I couldn't help but think, "They must get tired of closing every show with 'Ocean Avenue.'” This year, I challenge bands to play the unexpected encore. Forget "Ocean Avenue," "My Friends Over You" and "You're So Last Summer". Go ahead and play "Martin Sheen Or JFK" and “New American Classic.” It might piss off a few fans, but it will definitely be unexpected. And what's more punk-rock than that? [BM]
BANDS: "MATURE" IS SO LAST YEAR
I've interviewed quite a few musicians in my short career, and all of them say the same thing when I ask about their next album: “It's going to be more mature.” Word to the unwise: If you're album isn't more mature, then you're obviously not learning much so maybe you should pack up the amps and move back home to Iowa. The only thing worse than saying it's more mature is saying, “I hate to use the phrase 'more mature' but...” We get it: You've grown up. And we're so happy for you. And now that you've graduated to adulthood, how about finding some better adjectives? We could all take a page out of the movie Almost Famous. When budding music journalist William Miller meets one of his favorite bands, Stillwater, he says: “And the guitar sound is... incendiary. Incendiary.” [BM]
FANS: STOP USING THE TERM "SELLOUT"
One thing I've noticed in the last 25 years of music is fans are quick to throw down the term "selling out" for the most ridiculous of reasons. Once when I was moderating a Guitar Center event, I explained that in my world, a sellout means that your first record sounds like Black Flag and your second sounds like Nickelback. The context is that the artist in question diluted their vision to see if enough soccer moms, NASCAR dads and boy-band fans would flock around the endcaps at Target to actually buy their disc. In the realm of download culture, having a track used in a commercial doesn't hurt anyone. If you still need convincing about the economic realities about being in a band, go read Emily Zemler's 2011 piece “No Money, Mo’ Problems”about how the deck is stacked against musicians. Do you really think anything got cheaper, two years later? [JP]
BANDS: ENOUGH WITH "BIGGER SOUNDING," ALREADY.
We get it. On your next record, you want to make a big, grand noise with plenty of layers to convey your songwriting and arranging skills. Guess what, chumley? Everyone is supposed to get better at their craft. If you want to spend money in a studio recording every individual string of every chord you want to use, go ahead. Eight times out of 10, your music is going to be played back on annoying earbuds or average computer speakers--after it's been uploaded to the net at a sub-standard bit-rate. I'm not telling you to not be ambitious in your work: I want you to find the passion to articulate said vision in other ways so everyone who is not in your band will be excited to hear it. [JP]
FANS: TAKE A LESSON FROM “FANGIRLS” (AND STOP USING THAT STUPID TERM)
Yes, I’m about to defend the indefensible. I find slash fanfiction and marriage proposals from strangers just as creepy as the next person, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The largest reaction to the 2012 Readers Poll was “Ugh, fangirls run this thing.” Yeah? So? Listen, I know everyone expresses their appreciation for music in different ways, but what “fangirls”—a stupid term for many reasons, the greatest of which being its implication that there’s a hierarchy of “genuine fandom” with men perched firmly at the top—do is actually express it. Life is too short to stand at the back of the crowd, judging everyone and being the cool guy. I’m not telling you to hold up a “Jonathan Vigil, hav my bByz” sign, but it doesn’t hurt to give a shit. Stop whining because someone has found something they like (often the same thing you like) and they express it more loudly than you. You don’t own the artists and you don’t get to decide who is allowed to like them. You also don’t get to decide that because a fan is female that she must only like the music because she’s sexually attracted to the band members. Ditch your archaic misogynist concepts of female music fans and listen to the music you like because you like it, tough guy. [CW]
BANDS AND FANS: ELIMINATE THE WORD "DESERVE" FROM YOUR VOCABULARY
Entitlement is such a huge problem, both among fans and artists. It just sounds silly to say you "deserve" something. When someone truly earns something, it goes unspoken and it's shown in actions, not in a proclamation that is little more than screaming, "I'm super-entitled!" Work hard, with humility and without expectations, and what you want will happen--which is much more rewarding than hearing someone saying it should happen. [CW]