Wednesday, December 11, 2013
If you haven't noticed, I like NOFX. I've been enjoying their music for a long time. Back when I resided in a dingy basement, I would sit and listen to Truck Stop Blues on cassette for hours. That was until I got a cd player and then I began to amass as many unheard-of bands that I possibly could.
At that time in SG, there was a little music store that also did piercings in the back. It was called the Underground. We would go in and peruse all the cds. Stuff we had never heard of, bands that sounded kind of cool. Their big thing was they didn't stock music from any big record labels. Hence, the underground moniker. The small group of friends that I had that were in to punk rock, we reveled in knowing or having music that no one else had ever heard. It was kind of a badge of honor to have a cd that was hard to find. I'm mean, who's ever heard of Link 80? Well, I still have their cd.
The Underground went out of business pretty quick.
This was the time when Punk was quickly becoming a household name. Bands like Offspring, Green Day and Rancid were selling records like hot cakes and you couldn't throw a studded bracelet without hitting someone who was listening to punk on their Discman. I can remember trying to get mosh pits started at church dances to the likes of Self Esteem and Welcome to Paradise. It was the time of the Great Sell Out.
Any band that got remotely popular or could even keep time could score a record deal and most of them did. What these punkers didn't take into consideration was that their appeal to the underground was that they weren't on the radio and people had no clue who they were. It was sort of like a reverse elitism. Find shifty music, claim it as your own, that you "found" it. And the first time you hear anyone else listening to them, throw the music away and tell everyone that "they totally sold out."
If you think about it, it's kind of a fucked up mentality to have. You hold something dear and when it becomes something great, you shit on it. Of course, this has a lot to do with the punk rock ethos, the DIY lifestyle, Nihilism, whatever the fuck you want to call it, it is what it is. I'm not gonna sit here and type out that bands don't sell out. I can't stand any Offspring album past Smash, and Smash is only somewhat bearable due to the teenage nostalgia. Their music changed. And it's hard to wonder what it would have been like if they weren't so widely accepted.
I cannot lie, in many ways, I subscribe to this ideology. Music does change when musicians suddenly have shit tons of money. When they are no longer worried about where their next meal comes from or if anyone is going to listen to their music. Cutting your teeth on desperation, it's hard to suddenly be able to switch to writing without it. And so we hate those who have made it.
Of course, there's the whole DIY part of it as well. Controlling the creative process from start to finish, is a big deal. And punk music is built on that foundation.
One of the reasons I love bikes so much, is the DIY ethos that tends to go along with them. Need to get to the store, pedal. You don't need some gas company to sell you something just to get around. It's the biggest middle finger you can give to the current system that has failed in so many different ways.
It's interesting that right along side that DIY ethos, the same elitism appears. Look at fixed gear bikes. They are the epitomy of DIY. They are simple, require almost no maintenance and as an added bonus, you can run them brakeless to get that "badguy" mojo going. These aren't new, they were around forever, actually since before freewheels, but as soon as they became popular they were hated along side their human counter parts, the hipster.
When it really comes down to it, it's about feeling special. Being elite because you are doing something different and then being pissed when everyone else thinks it's cool.
The tirade that will piss most of you off, continues here.