In the last few weeks its become apparent that some more widely read media outlets have taken an interest in emo once again. First of all reviews for The World Is A Beautiful Place and Crash Of Rhinos have been popping up for all the hipsters out there on Pitchfork and now Stereogum have posted an article about an ’emo revival’ complete with a guide to 12 must hear bands. There have been mixed reactions to the news that these bands are receiving this kind of attention and, in the main, it’s nothing to do with how mainstream these sites are. No, it’s more to with the name they’re being labelled with. AGAIN WITH THE NAME!! It seems that ‘revival’ is the new dirty word. And I, for one, am guilty of using and applying it to the bands of today. But, come on, is it really all that bad? Okay, so emo never went away but for a lot of us it was pretty shit for a good few years in the mid 00’s.
I’ve explained many times why two years ago I started writing this blog so bare with me as I rehash that because I feel it’s relevant to my point. Where I live, near Margate in the south east of England, there was a pretty decent and vibrant punk/emo scene at the end of the 90’s to the beginning of the 21st century. We had various venues where every week there was always something going on. A lot of amazing touring bands came here and usually received a very warm welcome with great support from the many local bands that existed at the time. There was a real buzz about the place and it was really exciting for someone in their late teens to be a part of. I got into emo in a big way in 1998, I was aware that there was some derision associated with the name but that didn’t seem to matter one bit. The band I was in stopped writing throw away pop punk songs and instead took our lead from bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, The Van Pelt, Built to spill among others and injecting it with some hardcore here and there. when we toured England in Easter 1999 with Sunfactor and Rydell, although there were a couple of duff shows, we felt like we were part of something that was happening there and then.
As the years went by things changed a lot. People moved away, tastes changed and the local scene looked like it was dead and buried. By 2006 the band I was in at the time were playing ugly pop songs for people who like us felt jaded with music (in the truth we were trying to be Q and not U but were obviously not that good). We split up because it was all going nowhere, we found it impossibly hard to find gigs and when we did barely anyone showed up. After that I kind of gave up on music, I didn’t wanna play anymore and most of my friends were listening to other things now. I found it hard to find new bands that I connected with, if I asked people what they were listening to it was usually met with the same response, ‘Same old stuff’. And I did too. And then to make things worse I was being told that what I was in to was no longer the thing I thought it was.
In the mid 00’s I worked in a cinema, some teenagers were coming into the lobby and one of my colleagues described them as a bunch of emo’s. I looked up expecting to see a bunch of people wearing backpacks, checked shirts, NHS glasses and holding a copy of Fracture fanzine but instead all I could see were some goths. I laughed and corrected my colleague but he just laughed and set me straight, ‘you’re old emo, this is what emo is now’. ‘Fuck off’ was my initial response but he was right. This made me give up even more, no band to play in, no bands to go and see locally and now I couldn’t even tell people what music I liked without people thinking I sat at home cutting myself.
Then in 2010 my best friend told me to check out a band called Algernon Cadwallader, being an obedient friend I did as I was told and holy shit I was blown away. The fact that this band existed completely renewed my interest in music and I was even more blown away to find that they weren’t the only band out there playing this kind of music. There were hundreds, with d.i.y labels and local scenes popping up all over the place. It felt lke it was happening all over again and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could’ve been 19 again, people were referencing the 90’s, bands were coming to play locally, I was finding out about bands by word of mouth and no one was dressing like a goth anymore. Emo had been revived!! I desperately wanted to be a part of it but my back was shot to shit and required a number of operations so playing in a band was out of the question so that’s why I started this blog. If I couldn’t contribute musically then I could at least help spread the word by writing about it and letting people know how awesome it all was.
I’ve never been one to worry about things being labelled. Sure, labels are for soup cans but they’re also pretty damn helpful when you go into a record store so you don’t have to sift through a load of Country and Western bands to find the thing you want. I never had a problem referring to bands as emo and was happy to describe the band I was in as an emo band. It seemed to me that the bands that had the biggest problem with being labelled as emo, back in the day, would end up making sub standard records just to prove a point. They shot themselves in the foot and tht all lead to the scene dying away. One of the main differences I’ve noticed about this newest wave of emo is that bands no longer seemed to have a problem with that name. It no longer had the awful connotations it once did. And describing a band as an emo revival band just seemed a way to differentiate the new from the old. To celebrate the fact that the scene was again as vibrant as it once was. It doesn’t apply to every band but some it seems really appropriate for. But saying ’emo revival’ seems to be a problem now. Not as big as a problem as some bands being called ‘twinkle daddies’ but a problem none the less.
After about a year of falling in love with all these newer bands I started to wonder what would be the thing that kills emo again. There were so many parallels being drawn with what is happening now and what happened in the late 90s (Joie De Vivre are the new Mineral, CYLS is the new Deep Elm etc) that I thought the same thing would happen again, that it would be killed by its own popularity. Although a lot has changed since the late 90’s, the record industry is a completely different beast now. Surely no band can break through on a major label now because things don’t seem to work that way these days. So are we going to kill it off ourselves by the labels we’ve all been using? Are we our own worst enemies? Are we all set to bail before it becomes really popular in a mainstream way again??
Well, you can do what you want because I’ve decided that i’m in it for the long haul. I’m 33 now and am married with four kids, I haven’t got the time or energy to try and find something new to like or get in to. So you can decide to move on to the next thing or decide to change the way your band sounds so you don’t get labelled thw wrong way again but I’m gonna carry on doing this. Writing about emo bands, emo revival bands or whatever we happen to be calling it on that particular day. Like the guy in your town, you know the one because every town has them, who dresses like he did in the 1950’s and somethimes looks completely ridiculous or ultra hip depending on the fashion of the time. I’m that guy, I’m Emo till I die or something a bit less cheesy.
Love you guys.
P.S This is my old band from the 90’s if you wanna have a listen x
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