Tag Archives: get up kids

Happy Birthday Is This Thing On?

September is here, which can mean only one thing. It is now one year since I started this blog and that is amazing for two reasons: Firstly it doesn’t feel that long ago that I started writing this and secondly I can’t believe I’ve found enough to write about to make this last. I gave myself about 2 weeks initially so I have surpassed all my expectations, plus I never thought that in the first 12 months of doing this that the blog would receive over 27 thousand views. But, incredibly, it has and I am more than grateful to everyone who has had a look, commented and come and made friends on twitter and Facebook etc. To celebrate this momentous occasion I thought I’d share something with you that I only recently remembered existed.

As you have probably realised if you’ve ever read this blog before is that I’ve spent a lot of the last few months trying to remember things that happened 12 or 13 years ago. Which has proven quite difficult because all the painkillers and morphine that I was taking to ease the pain of my stupid back has left me with a somewhat hazy memory. Mainly I was trying to remember what bands there were and what shows I’d been to back then. But, out of the blue, I was struck by the memory of something very cool and very, very funny. I was sure there was a game on the internet in the early 00’s that centered on emo and the battles against the corporate mainstream. Having been many years since I’d thought of it, let alone actually played it, I assumed that it must have been taken down. Trying to think of what it what was called, I decided to try my hand at googling some things but that yielded no results. And then it hit, of course, it was so simple…………………………………It was called EMOGAME!!

Excited, I just decided to type it in to the address bar and whack a dot-com after the name. It worked!! And it was all there, 4 retro looking video games (2 main, 2 mini) dating back to 2002-2004, it was just as I remembered except my computer worked a lot quicker than the one I had 10 years ago so it was even better. EMOGAME is hilarious, disgusting, hours of fun, packed with in jokes and some great music.

The first game is the one I have replayed since re-discovering the site, the story starts at a big emo show. The Get Up Kids are onstage, playing with At the Drive-in and Hot Water Music, when they get kidnapped. Cedric Bixler from ATD-I and Chuck Ragan from HWM decide that they need those guys back so they can finish the tour. So they enlist the help of some friends, first they call Starbucks to reach Chris Simpson of Mineral, who at the time is trying to avoid the whingeing of his co-worker, Dashboard Confessional himself Chris Carabba. Chris Simpson drops everything to come help rescue the Get Up Kids and Chris Carabba tags along much to the annoyance of the rest of them. To complete the crack team of emo heroes they call Saddle Creek records where Tim Kasher of Cursive and Conor Oberst are lying on the floor, wasted. They have no interest in helping the GUK but there is the promise of free booze so they jump at the chance of coming. And, finally, they call the hospital where Atom of Atom and his Package is in the middle of performing brain surgery, again he feels the need to drop everything and join the rest of them to help. Once all together it becomes apparent that the GUK have been kidnapped by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, his main reason is so he can violate each one of them in as many ways as he can think of. Through a message he can mysteriously send through Chuck Ragan’s TV he lets our guys know they’ll never catch him and then graphically displays just what he is up to before uttering the immortal line, “I just donkey punched Ryan Pope!!!”.

The gang then set off in search of Jeremy Enigk who they believe has the power to let them know how to reach Steven Tyler. On the way they must do battle with a bunch of jocks at a High School which include a very sexist New Found Glory, fight their way through a Hot Topic and a demented, money hungry Rivers Cuomo and defeat a very regretful but commercially successful Jimmy Eat World who are taking part in TRL on MTV. You also come across a Courtney Love who resembles Jabba the Hut and have to fight the Anniversary who swear they are NOT EMO armed with a bunch of 7″s, while helping you along the way is Chris Broach of Braid. The gameplay is pretty simple, I managed to complete the first one and I suck at computer games, but that’s not really the reason to play. The game is packed full of gags and observations about the scene and is all done completely out of love for these bands that they feature. The guys that made this may be a bit weirdly obsessed with anal rape but you can tell that they are massive fans and as their jokes and characters testify, they have a massive knowledge of emo circa 2002.

I’ve yet to get stuck in to the other games on offer here, I will do and can’t wait to see where they go with it, I just thought I better share this with all you guys so you cn enjoy it as much as I have. I wonder if the people who developed this will think of revisiting the game and make a new one that features the current crop of emo bands. Maybe we could see members of Joie De Vivre join forces with You Blew It to do battle with a Pete Wentz who is hell-bent on destroying Count your lucky stars/Topshelf/Tiny engines etc.. so emo can go back to being a commercial shit stream like it was in the mid noughties. Here’s hoping.

Play the game at www.emogame.com

As always, cheers for reading. Come say hi on twitter (@alextb3) or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

Thanks x

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Bad Scene, NME’s Fault

As you may have previously read, I have been listening to a lot of Joie De Vivre. As it was confirmed by their recent brilliant gig in Brighton they are incredibly awesome. They have been described by many people as ’90’s emo revivalists’ which is fair, they do play in that Mineral-esque style. But the word ‘Revivalists’ got me thinking. To revive something than surely it has to die or go away in the first place. Emo did quite clearly die, but when? I can think of what a lot of people would reply but I think it may have happened before anyone started to panic at disco’s and the such.

A little while ago, after the Is this thing on? top 100 emo songs had finished, I was going through some old stuff and found something I’d been keeping hold of for 10 years. Something which had pissed me off so badly at the time that I thought must buy it, keep it, stash it in a drawer and then find it 10 years later to be pissed off by it again. The offending item was a copy of the NME from January 2002, harmless enough you may think but this issue of the New Musical Express just so happened to piss all over everything I was still very much in to at that point. The NME had done an EMO issue!!!

Anyone who has ever read the NME knows to take a lot of what they print with a pinch of salt. The amount of hype they apply to things is shocking at times, the same year they published this issue they had declared the Vines first album as the greatest debut album ever made?!? I mean, come on!! The NME wasn’t aimed at me, I read it from time to time to keep up and mainly because the gig adverts were quite handy back in the days that the internet worked as well as my back does. I was happy that they didn’t cover bands that I was in to, we didn’t need it to. We had other ways and means to find bands to fall in love with, like talking to each other and going to shows and talking to people there. And it wasn’t just the fact that they were going to write about bands that I liked but it was the manner in which they were going to do it.

At first glance you can see that it’s not going to be good. Look at the front cover:

What posessed them to make it look like a fanzine? They must have been trying to appeal to those that were already in to these bands whilst simultaneously educating those that weren’t. This didn’t work at all. It looks as authentic as those t-shirts that touts would sell on the streets outside venues in London when big bands were playing. Trying to make it look like they had made the cover by printing out the words and then using scissors, glue and a photocopier when it was obviously done by someone on a computer.

Opening the issue and turning to the middle you find 11 pages dedicated to Emo. Which is quite a lot, they are giving it a fair crack and I guess the first bit does an ok job. It begins with a page entitled what is emo? and goes on to explain a loose history mentioning bands like Rites of Spring and Heroin, predicts that Hundred Reasons and New End Original will soon be household names and finishes by surmising that Emo will be the death of nu-metal and will “steal punk rock back from the neanderthals.” The next 2 pages are given over to an interview with Jimmy Eat World which is fair enough, I love Jimmy Eat World and have done since the late 90’s. I never begrudged them getting a lot of attention and popularity as it never seemed to affect their ability to put out good records, although it was annoying when the audience at their shows would start to get younger and younger and would ignore anything pre Bleed American that the band would play. It’s the next few pages that really started to piss me off. (Well actually the next page was an ad for Telewest Broadband which boasted that you would soon be able to download “12 mp3 tracks in just 15.6 minutes”!! Woah!!! it was the pages after that were annoying)

The next 2 pages explore the world of emo. On the right of the page are a list of influential albums which include Embrace, Moss Icon and Texas Is The Reason so you start to think oh ok, maybe this won’t be so bad. But on the left the NME saw it fit to start ripping the piss out of the whole thing so then you think, oh right so they don’t get it then. Of course they don’t, this is the NME. They like to cover things so they can say that they have but they also love to slag things off so they can appear to know better than anyone. Nme loved to do this, build something up then tear it apart, which makes them no better than any tabloid newspaper. With Emo they did it in the same issue. The top of the page states “emo: the rules” and explains that basically all you have to do is cry. Open up, find yourself, dress like a librarian and cry some more whether you are in the crowd at a show or in the band themselves. “You can’t be in an emo band without crying, rolling around on the floor and beating yourself in the chest”. The only time I ever saw a band member cry at a show was when my old band supported Kneejerk in London and their singer/bass player, one Frank Turner, dropped to his knees at the end of the set with tears clearly running down his cheeks. This wasn’t a regular occurance, of course it wasn’t and Nme knew this. The fact that underground punk music of any of it’s many varieties was about community and being able to do it yourselves without the help of mainstream media was not enough of a story for them to fill an 11 page feature.

The cartoon cut outs of an emo boy and girl on the opposite page, pictured above, were enough to make you stop reading and wasting your time. It was one thing to try and be part of the scene by making the issue look like a fanzine and then namedrop some cool bands but then to make out that we were all a bunch of twats was just a joke. And it didn’t stop there.

The next page is a feature about Rival Schools, which lavishes them with praise, compares them to Nirvana and oddly boasts about how they are playing an NME show supporting Nickelback??!!?!? On the right of this page is the Are You Emo quiz. A test designed to prove to you that if you answer C to each question then you a definitely an emo. No questions like do you like emo music? or what’s your favourite Promise Ring album? No, just pointless questions to pint out that being in to emo means that you are shallow and fashion obsessed which to me is the NME in a nutshell.

Over the page is a feature about underground emo bands, such as Jets to Brazil, Garrison, The Get Up Kids and the Mars Volta (?!?), in which each band denies to have any link with emo whatsoever. And this is where you start to understand why emo died in the first place. No band liked to be called emo when it was the underground and zines calling them so, now that the mainstream press were doing the same there was no way these bands were going to accept it. Some quite clearly fought against it, The Get Up Kids and The Promise Ring both started making albums that sounded nothing like what had preceeded them. Bands that had barely any of the talent of these older bands started to break out and make money, partly because they were willing to play ball and then you have the grunge explosion of the 90’s all over again, although to a lesser extent. Those that were originally in to it moved on to other things. The last pages of the feature are about Hundred Reasons but I’d given up by then.

A few years later I was suckered in to this again. I noticed an NME front page declaring that emo was back. I was curious, what could they mean? I read the article which instructed me to check out a couple of bands, I hadn’t heard a good new emo band for some time and was willing to give it a shot. So, like they said I typed Fall Out Boy and Panic At The Disco into google and found their Myspace pages and oh my god. NME you fucking bastards, I can’t believe I fell for this. I slumped to the ground and wept, wept like the bastard they had accused me of being. Not really, I didn’t cry, they would have bloody loved that.

It seems ok to say you like emo again now. It has completely reverted back to how it was in the 90’s with bands playing amazingly brilliant music and people using word of mouth to find out about new bands. I just really hope it stays this way this time. I don’t know what i’d do if I walked past a newsagents and saw Algernon Cadwallader on the front cover of the NME. Please let that never happen.

I’ll stop my whining now. Thanks for reading xx

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How many times can you forgive a band?

Last week R.E.M split up. As soon as i heard the news I did what most people do in these situations these days and made a glib remark on twitter. Something along the lines of ‘gone and somewhat forgotten’. About an hour later Zane Lowe, noticing that the news of the split wasn’t being met with the utter distraught he deemed necessary, posted a tweet outraged that people could feel this way because the band were legends. I’ve got nothing against R.E.M, I’ve never been a massive fan but I certainly don’t hate them, it just seemed that the news that a band that was once relevant had split up seemed a bit…. well, irrelevant. It did get me thinking though. Do we carry on loving bands based on their former glories? If i loved a band but have not liked their last few albums then am I still a fan? Looking at the trailers and press for the new Pearl Jam documentary ‘PJ20’ I’ve been getting really excited to see it because for most of my teenage years they were one of my favourite bands. But, with the exception of ‘Backspacer’ which i thought was pretty good, I haven’t enjoyed any of their output since ‘No Code’. Am I a fan then? If I went to a Pearl Jam gig I probably wouldn’t know half the songs. I’d be the idiot that only goes crazy to the hits and all the hardcore PJ fans would be looking at me with scorn in their eyes when i’m stood gormless during the newer songs. So the warm feeling that i’ve been getting when watching the trailer for the new film is clearly a massive dose of nostalgia. The feeling the Hollywood execs are hoping we all get when they turn another TV show from the 80’s into a summer blockbuster. I’m not really a fan then, i just feel nostalgic for a time when i was. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with nostalgia except for the fact that its downright stupid. Looking back and thinking everything was much better in the past is bullshit. I hated those conversations that used to happen all the time at uni when someone would go ‘do you remember that cartoon that used to be on when we were kids?’ Why do you care????? Rock’n’roll should be relevant. It should be new and exciting. If a band can’t instill that excited feeling in you, then move on. It’s hard when a band that you still are very much in love with let you down and bring out a new album that crushes your soul with its awfulness. I’ll never forget the feeling I had the first time I heard ‘On a wire’ by the Get Up Kids. Their first 2 albums were immense, the stuff of legend. ‘Something to write home about’ was barely ever off my stereo and seeing them live at the Garage in London just cemented how amazing the Get Up Kids were. When I bought ‘On a wire’ I was living on the outskirts of London, I had heard that the album had been out in America and may be available on import in the UK. I spent a whole morning searching record shops when I eventually found it in the massive HMV in Oxford Street. It was on sale for £18!! But as I was so desperate to have it I paid, got on the tube, and went straight home. As soon as I put the CD on I was hit by a feeling of dread. ‘My god’ I thought ‘what if it’s crap?’ And it was. I forced myself to stick with it but it was always a struggle. I continued to go see them live and the next album was a step up but it was never the same. They blew it. And looking back I should have moved on sooner. There are always new bands out there making new music that has the potential to blow you away. Just don’t be lazy or rest on your laurels because without even very much effort you can find your new favourite band. I’m thinking of introducing a 2 album limit. If a band makes two shockingly bad albums, back to back, then they’ve lost me. I won’t even feel bad. There just ain’t the time to be putting up with mediocre toss. This is a warning to Jimmy Eat World. In the many years you’ve been around, in my opinion you have barely put a foot wrong. Until last year. ‘Invented’ was lame and uninspired, it pains me to say it but it was just not good. So, you’re on a caution. One more bad album and you’re off the team. Fingers crossed you turn things around.

Thanks, Alex

This is what’s been on all week.

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