I’ve been mulling over this post for a while now. I’ve had little time to do any writing recently so very nearly jacked in the idea for this post but it does, kind of, follow on from a previous one I wrote last year so here goes.
Last week I bought Kerrang magazine, let me tell you for why (in a roundabout way).
Cast your minds back to last summer, you may or may not have read a post I wrote bemoaning an old copy of the NME from 2002 that I’d kept hold of. The issue in question was an emo special, a beginner’s guide to the new hip underground movement that the NME would make out they discovered on your behalf only to then trash it later on. Jimmy Eat World were on the cover, Hundred Reasons and Rival Schools were interviewed within and the whole thing was made to look like a fanzine, DIY style. My main grievance with the issue was that whilst it was trying to introduce its readers to the genre it was simultaneously mocking the whole thing which then made the issue completely pointless. No one who had never heard of it before would be interested and it would piss off and alienate those who were already part of it. At that time bands were trying to distance themselves enough from the emo tag and things like this only made things a lot worse.
It probably seems weird that someone would care so much about what they did. I read way too much into the article and definitely took it too personally but at the time it came out of the blue and it felt like it was the beginning of the end. Having been into music since I was a kid in the 80’s, to being a long-haired grunger in my early teens to then falling in love with punk, pop punk, indie, post hardcore etc.. from the mid 90’s, music held a lot of importance in my life. In 1998 the band I was in (the babies three) were making the transition from playing throwaway pop punk into something more substantial. We would spend hours listening to Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, Beezewax, Fugazi, The Promise Ring and so on and our music reflected this. We started to feel like we were part of something, bands were coming to play our small seaside town. Our singer, Paul, put on Harriet The Spy in his living room and Appleseed Cast at our local Friday night hangout. Come Easter of 1999 we were going out on a UK tour with two bands, Rydell & Sunfactor, with whom we had just put out a 3 way split CD. In all honesty some of the shows were terrible but some were the most amazing I’ve ever played, the whole time though it really felt like we were part of something that was happening there and then. Up until that point anything I’d been into I was either too young to be a proper part of or had already happened. But this was happening, we were a tiny part of it and it was fucking exciting, we didn’t want or need the mainstream music press to get involved.
In the UK, in 2002, something definitely shifted. Jimmy Eat World were making appearances on Saturday morning kids shows and selling out Brixton Academy. At the Drive-In were being proclaimed the ‘best band in the world’ and you no longer had to seek out a distro or indie record shop because HMV suddenly had all the bands cd’s that you loved in massive amounts. After then most of my friends were moving on to other things, other bands, other genres. A couple of years later emo came to mean something entirely different and that weird goth definition really did enter the mainstream consciousness and duly pissed over everything I’d been part of that point. When the travesty that is the Daily Mail wrote an article warning parents of the danger of this new cult they called emo then that was the final nail in the coffin.
The next few years after that I became a little bit lost, musically speaking. I felt jaded and burnt, I wasn’t playing music/finding new bands/buying as many records any more. But that all changed when someone told me to check out Algernon Cadwallader and I was completely blown away. I couldn’t believe a band was playing music like this again and playing it this well, it was so fresh and exciting. This led on to discovering a whole wealth of other bands, a scene was happening again and somebody had declared it to be an emo revival. No one was mentioning the mid-noughties wilderness goth years anymore and instead bands were giving musical nods to the 90’s with bands like caP’n Jazz, Mineral and American Football.
I was obviously in heaven at this point, I was finding new bands to fall in love with on a daily basis and I then started this blog to help share the good news. I started drawing comparisons with the late 90’s scene and it got me to thinking about what went wrong the last time around and whether that would be likely to happen again, would a band become really big? would bands start to shun the emo tag and start to release sub-standard records because of this? However I looked at it I couldn’t see an end in sight but then Twitter was about to change all that.
Twitter is incredible for finding out things before anywhere else but the news that Fall Out Boy were reforming I could’ve waited for. They were back and people were excited, EXCITED??!!?? In my mind Fall Out Boy have a lot to answer for, years ago a front cover of the NME again had caught my eye in a newsagent because it stated the emo was back in the form of Fall Out Boy. I went straight to their MySpace page, such was the fashion at the time, desperately wanting to hear what the NME was referring to. Instead of being happy that I’d found a new band, I was just left wondering “WHAT THE FLIPPING HECK IS THIS CRAP??” So, to learn they’re back filled me with absolute dread. Feels a bit weird that they’ve reformed during this revival, like when someone nobody likes turns up at a party and makes everyone feel uncomfortable. Are they thinking that there’s an emo scene happening again and if they’re quick they can cash in? Maybe, maybe not but who cares because it won’t change anything.
And this is where the aforementioned issue of Kerrang comes in. With its headline; “EMO, The amazing untold story”
When I first saw it I felt deflated, do we really have to put up with this again? And then I started thinking how dumb it was that a 32-year-old was getting upset with what is essentially a kids magazine, a metal Smash Hits. I bought the issue and skipped to the middle section, ignoring the “6 awesome posters”, and read through the “history” of emo. It was obviously re-written in the time-honoured Kerrang tradition of just making it up as you go along because the kids that read the magazine are too young to know any different. A nod at the beginning to Rites of Spring and Embrace then quickly through Quicksand and Far on to Hundred Reasons and Jimmy Eat World to Panic at the Disco, My Chemical Romance and The Used with no time to mention Mineral at all. There was a time that I’d have been outraged by all this but after an initial, short-lived, pissed off reaction I’m now left thinking that I shouldn’t give a shit. Who is it really harming anyway? So some people like 30 Seconds to Mars, well more fool them. If I focus on all the amazing things, bands, records that are about today then its easy to ignore what mainstream magazines are saying. There is an incredible online community of people who I can still reminisce about the 90’s with or enthuse about the new band on Count Your Lucky Stars with.
When I boil it down, when I’m calm and rational I know nothing bad will happen because of this article. But wait a minute, whats this bit at the end when Kerrang talk about emo nowadays?? One of my favourite bands, Tigers Jaw, have their photo on the last page of the article with the tag “Tigers Jaw, the new face of emo”. Tigers Jaw split up on Thursday. What the hell have you done Kerrang, WHAT THE FUCKING HELL HAVE YOU DONE???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
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You can download my old bands song from the split mentioned in the post for free HERE