Elitist Music Fandom Is Insufferable

I was checking Twitter earlier today (not already following TPS? You totally can) and I read an article that NME tweeted regarding the Arctic Monkeys.  It was an over-the-top ode to the band’s most recent album AM, and their tour cycle behind it coming to an end in the UK.  It was very successful, that’s fine, but a few commenters said it wasn’t that good.  This particular comment stuck out to me:

“Glad you guys agree. I love Arctic Monkeys. I have since high school. Seen them three times live in Seattle and each time, more dumbass 15-year-old fangirls would show up with parents in line. This band has simply been ruined. 
Wanna know why it sucks when a band gets huge? Because it makes it too easy for the squares to discover them. Actual music lovers like us had to spend countless days scrolling through the web or wherever to find these gems.
Fuck America. And I am an American. I will never go to another AM show ever again. They will never make another record with that young energy they had prior to 2010. 

I’ll stop whining. It just sucks falling out of love with a band that no longer feels special.”

Oh shut the f up already.  If there’s one thing that drives me bonkers with music fans, it’s elitism.  Look, you’re entitled to think an artist’s album isn’t as good as their previous works.  You can think it sucks, and you can complain about it.  But don’t act like other people aren’t allowed to like the same music you do.  This commenter – “waldojeffers67” by the way – doesn’t like how the Arctic Monkeys got huge so the “squares” could discover them easily – not the hard way he or she did, what with the “countless scrolling through the web or wherever”.  Oh, the Arctic Monkeys no longer feel special…the horror!  It totally changes how you listen to the band, right?  The whole having-more-fans-and-making-more-money thing really cheeses your personal listening mojo, doesn’t it?  Yes, concerts can be a pain with people like that, but get over it.

Passion is a great trait to have for anything, let alone music fandom.  But, misdirected passion is just annoying.  Stop it, “waldojeffers67” and all elitists.  You may be a more hardcore music fan than others, but that doesn’t make you more entitled to enjoying it.

TPS Does The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Holy abbreviations in the title right???

So the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in support of the ALS Association is probably gonna be the most viral thing of 2014, and this week it hit these parts: The Perfect Scene itself was nominated by loyal reader Chelsea, and as writer of the blog it was up to me to do it.  So, that just happened:

So since that indeed just happened, The Perfect Scene now nominates Kilmore and Amber Pacific, as well as Paul from Burlington, Ontario’s Sound of Music Festival for the Ice Bucket Challenge!  If you guys have already been nominated, uh…do it again?  Or (and!) just make a donation to the ALS Association, which includes your local branch.  People who’ve declined the challenge, and many who did it anyway (including me) have been doing it in droves: the Association has received $42 million in donations since July 29th.  If you’ve taken part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so far, or will, good on you.  You rock. \m/

TPS Responds: Henry Rollins’ LA Weekly Column “Fuck Suicide”

The always outspoken Henry Rollins has drawn the ire of many for his most recent LA Weekly column.  Published on Thursday in response to the overwhelming coverage of Robin Williams’ passing, it’s called “Fuck Suicide”.  Rollins has since apologized, and while it seemed sincere enough, it’s an apology, whatever.  In this edition of “TPS Responds”, we’ll look at the original column, and see exactly what was said in the first place.

*Note: due to redundancy, certain parts of the column won’t be quoted below.  It can be read in full via the link above.

“Days after Robin Williams died, I kept seeing his face on the Internet. His death seemed to have a momentum of its own. It went from a sad death of a famous person to “a nation mourns” pitch, which I didn’t quite understand. Sites such as Huffington Post swim in their own brand of hyperbole. They call it news and culture, but often, it’s just content.

I understand why people feel Williams’ loss so intensely. His talent as an actor is not in dispute. His performance in Good Will Hunting is unimpeachable. I wonder if he was tapping into his own deep trench of personal pain to deliver some of those scenes. It was brave and excellent work.

When someone with this level of exposure dies in this way, it is confusing. An Oscar-winning actor, well-paid, with a career that most performers could only dream of — how could anyone so well regarded and seemingly fortunate have as much as even a single bad day, much less a life so unendurable that it has to be voluntarily voided?”

As we touched on in the last post about Geoff Rickly, money and/or fame doesn’t cure everything.  It’s true that we can look at people in such fortunate situations and go “really?  I’d be pretty happy with all that.”  Rollins is right in pointing out how much of a story Williams death became, but when you think of the man’s longevity and legacy, it’s understandable.  The funny thing is, even people on the internet were like “I don’t usually feel this way when a celebrity dies”.  Robin Williams was just a special person, immensely talented and by all accounts a wonderful human being.

“On more than one of my USO tours, Robin Williams had been on the same stage a few days before me. That’s all I needed to know about him. As far as I was concerned, he was a good man.

But it’s here where I step off the train. I am sure some will strongly disagree with what I’m about to say. And I also understand that his personal struggles were quite real. I can’t argue with that.

But I simply cannot understand how any parent could kill themselves.

How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children? I don’t care how well adjusted your kid might be — choosing to kill yourself, rather than to be there for that child, is every shade of awful, traumatic and confusing. I think as soon as you have children, you waive your right to take your own life. No matter what mistakes you make in life, it should be your utmost goal not to traumatize your kids. So, you don’t kill yourself.”

It can’t be denied that there’s selfishness in committing suicide. The people in your life who care about you will be hurt, and it’s no doubt something that crosses the mind of everyone who attempts to kill themselves.  When you’re a parent, mainly of young children, that’s intensified – Rollins has a point.  However, people get to a point where their personal struggles outweigh everything, and that’s an absolutely crippling scenario to be in.  Sometimes, loved ones are driven away by the perceived poor attitude, etc of the afflicted, and not having them by your side could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“I know some people will disagree. And I get that you can’t understand anyone else’s torment. All that “I feel your pain” stuff is bullshit and disrespectful. You can appreciate it, listen and support someone as best you can, but you can’t understand it. Depression is so personal and so unique to each of us that when you’re in its teeth, you think you invented it. You can understand your own, but that’s it. When you are severely depressed, it can be more isolating than anything else you have ever experienced. In trying to make someone understand, you can only speak in approximation. You are truly on your own.”

Yep, so you basically just proved why people end up committing suicide, Henry.

“Many years ago, I lived in Silver Lake with a housemate who suffered from severe bouts of depression. When she wasn’t in her small bedroom with the lights off, crying for hours, she was bright and hilarious. Anywhere we went, we laughed our asses off. She fought her depression with everything from bike rides to drugs, prescribed and otherwise. Years after the last time I saw her, I guess she could no longer keep up the battle and killed herself. No one who knew her was surprised. When she was in her deepest misery, she was unrecognizable.

The hardest part about being around her was you knew there was nothing you could do to help.”

In his apology, Rollins mentioned his own struggles with depression, and knowing he’s experienced suicide with people in his life it’s understandable that this touched a nerve for him.  He’s obviously toughed it out, and that’s admirable, but it’s also why he should know better than to write stuff like this.

“When someone negates their existence, they cancel themselves out in my mind. I have many records, books and films featuring people who have taken their own lives, and I regard them all with a bit of disdain. When someone commits this act, he or she is out of my analog world. I know they existed, yet they have nullified their existence because they willfully removed themselves from life. They were real but now they are not.

I no longer take this person seriously. I may be able to appreciate what he or she did artistically but it’s impossible to feel bad for them. Their life wasn’t cut short — it was purposely abandoned. It’s hard to feel bad when the person did what they wanted to. It sucks they are gone, of course, but it’s the decision they made. I have to respect it and move on.”

No matter how you regard suicide, the act itself shouldn’t cancel out anything the person did in their life.  Would Rollins feel that way if someone in his life accidentally overdosed on heroin?  That’s another way to (albeit not 100%) willfully take your own life.  A person who commits suicide still has people who love them in this world, and their life shouldn’t be marked with an asterisk because of the way they chose to go out.

“Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it.

Fuck suicide. Life isn’t anything but what you make it. For all the people who walked from the grocery store back to their house, only to be met by a robber who shot them in the head for nothing — you gotta hang in there.

I have life by the neck and drag it along. Rarely does it move fast enough. Raw Power forever.”

I guess the goal that we should all strive for in life is not to blow it, as seen through the eyes of Tony Robbins Henry Rollins.  It’s true that innocent people die every day from freak circumstances, and that life is a very precious thing.  We should all wake up every morning and do the best we can, because that’s all we can do.  But, dismissing and trivializing suicide like Rollins did here isn’t the way to go.  Making a choice like that isn’t like picking a box of cereal.

Truth be told, I think Henry Rollins wrote from a good place in this column.  He has personal experience with depression and suicide, and dealing with that can bring up emotions that trump any sense of tact.  However, you gotta be smarter than to dismiss suicide like that.  Sure there are consequences for those you leave behind, but there are often none bigger than the ones people wake up and deal with internally every day.  Couple that with the stigma behind depression and all mental illness, and it’s very real, and unrelenting.  No one can deny that Henry Rollins is a smart person, but his insensitivity towards people who consider suicide is just dumb.  At least his apology was half-decent.

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”

– Robin Williams

Geoff Rickly Is Happier Now, But His Sadness Was Okay Too

Geoff Rickly has had his share of sad moments.  Recently, Stereogum caught up with the ex-Thursday and current United Nations frontman and talked about life from the end of Thursday to present day.  Thursday went on hiatus in 2011 and Rickly confirmed their breakup last year, and we learned that he and the band weren’t in a good frame of mind leading up to it: “‘We used to joke around, Tucker [Rule, drummer] and I,” Rickly remembers. “In between songs, he’d do this” — Rickly mimes sticking a punchcard into a machine — “and that would mean he was punching the clock that night. If the guy that’s the engine, in the middle of the band, is like, ’This is just a job,’ you feel it resonate through the whole band. Alternately, sometimes, I’d be getting water and looking at him, and he’d be laughing and going, ’You are so not happy.’ When you’re interfacing with the crowd, it’s hard to be the public face. You’re like, ’Ugh, I have to pretend this is awesome because there are at least 10 people here who really want to see this. And tonight, I really don’t want to do that.’”

 Thursday themselves drew subject matter from dark and obscure places, everything from death – “Understanding In A Car Crash” is about a friend of Rickly’s passing in an accident – to literature.  Thinking about their end, with stories of them headlining shows like Taste of Chaos and having much of the crowd leave before they played, it’s worth wondering if Thursday were ahead of their time.  They helped usher in post-hardcore, but lost in all the emo of the day – with all the easily relatable love stories and such – was their more cryptic, intelligent music.  That alone would be draining for an artist.

While reading about this interview on Absolute Punk, a comment from user “TomAce” caught my eye:

“maybe its my lack of success talking, but i cant imagine ever feeling that way. how can you ever make music for a profession and equate it to working a job of actual manual labor? even sounds kinda selfish to me.”

I think we all look at celebs sometimes and think “oh zip it, if I only I had your problems”.  That said, Geoff Rickly  – successful musician or otherwise – is still a human being.  The guy has lost several people close to him, and recently gone through a bad breakup, a diagnosis of epilepsy (which would be scary for someone who makes their living on a concert stage), and a robbery at gunpoint.  Add to that the initial uncertainty of just what he was gonna do after Thursday, and that stuff gets to a person.  Fame and/or money don’t cure everything: sadly, Robin Williams proved that earlier this month.

Things are turning around for Geoff Rickly now: United Nations – almost a more spastic supergroup version of Thursday, if you will – recently released their long-awaited sophomore album The Next Four Years, he runs indie label Collect Records, and re-connected with his ex-girlfriend after she got in touch post-robbery to see how he was doing.  Oh, and he’s also working in a new project called No Devotion, which features the ex-members of Lostprophets, who understandably didn’t continue under that name after frontman Ian Watkins’ legal troubles.

It’s good to know that one of alternative music’s bright lights is still bringing it, and feeling better about things.  Despite whatever success Geoff Rickly has had, he – like anyone – is entitled to his darker moments.  The funny thing is, there is a benefit to being sad: several artists have said that they can’t write music when they’re happy, because the emotions aren’t as heavy-hitting.  You can only write so much about sunshine and lollipops, and there’s no catharsis in it.  We obviously don’t wish prolonged sadness on anyone, but when you enjoy a darker song, remember it had to come from somewhere.  You da man, Geoff Rickly – do ya thang and treat yo’self.

The Touring Question: Conquer Home First, Or Just Get Out There?

Inspiration strikes in the weirdest places: recently I was showering, and I randomly wondered “what live show method is ultimately better?”  I’m sure the inspiration at least partly came from two corresponding articles I read last month on punk website The Runout, which featured Placeholder frontman Brandon Gepfer talking about why your band probably isn’t ready to tour, and a response from Into It. Over It. lead man Evan Weiss on why your band should totally just do it.  They both make valid points, and while there’s probably no “right” answer, if you asked me I would probably learn towards the “just do it” side.

In this day and age, social media allows artists to get fans even before they decide it’s time to go out and meet the world.  It’s a great way to expose people to music and spread the word about upcoming shows.  That said, an artist could say “well, if we can get fans from anywhere by doing that, why go pound the pavement to play for ten people?”.  Why?  Because that’s probably why you play music in the first place.

Home is home, and having a strong fan base and support system where you live is key.  It’s where you’ll hang your hat after a tour, and where you can, on a whim, say “hey let’s go crash an open mic or get an easy gig at our favourite bar”.  You can gain great momentum by becoming a well-known local act, but sometimes that can turn into complacency.  I’ve personally known artists who are so comfortable playing a hometown gig every week that they never do anything else.  Sometimes it’s out of fear of taking that next step, sometimes it’s lack of music business knowledge, and sometimes it’s just laziness.  You can actually slow your momentum down by becoming too predictable.  For instance: my favourite band is Alkaline Trio.  I would watch them live a million times.  But, if they played seven nights in a row in my hometown would I go to all the shows?  I doubt it.  Chances are it’s the same set list, same on-stage banter and same experience as the first time.  I don’t care who’s playing, that gets old.

Touring is hard.  It costs money to have an appropriate vehicle or trailer to lug your gear (and you) around and have the gas to do so.  Booking a venue can be an adventure, and picking the right dates and locations is strategic too.  Plus, you gotta have food and shelter.  But, touring is also an artist’s number one way to make money: people are paying to see you and buying your merch, which includes your music.  Having 72 people like a Facebook status regarding your upcoming show doesn’t put money in the bank.  Another thing about touring is it doesn’t have to be a big tour: you can easily pick somewhere an hour or two out of town and say “I’ll play there this weekend”.  The next weekend, you pick another relatively close place.  And so on.  You’re still getting out of your home market, and not breaking the bank to do so.  When you tour, you’ll meet other people.  Networking is good, and there’s nothing better than the one-on-one connection to get people to (literally) buy into (literally) what you’re selling.  I’ve even grown to like artists I didn’t before after seeing them live, because for whatever reason their show made them sound way better.

One thing Brandon Gepfer mentioned that I do agree with, is that you should have something recorded and ready to sell before you tour.  If someone likes you, comes to you with their wallet out and are told “sorry, we don’t have any CDs”, well that’s just a missed opportunity.  Also, have some merch – even just a few t-shirts.  Capitalize on your opportunities and maximize your revenue potential.

There’s no exact science to being a touring artist, and there are valid arguments for and against conquering home vs. just getting out there and putting your stamp on as many places as possible.  Either way, be smart about it – pick the right venues, the right places, the right artists to play with (if you get a say there) and don’t get yourself into money trouble.  If you work your ass off, are always willing to learn and do all of it realistically and within your means, you’re gonna enjoy life as a musician, and that in itself is the big break so many people strive for.

The “Ice Bucket Challenge”: Definitely A Thing, And Spreading To Musicians

The latest viral movement that’s taken over the world is the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.  The deal is, people dump a bucket of ice water over them and nominate others to do so.  If someone doesn’t want to do it, they’re asked to donate $100 to the ALS Association.  Everyone from regular citizens to actors to athletes to business moguls are participating, and that doesn’t exclude musicians.  For instance, Vancouver synth rockers Dear Rouge were recently nominated by hometown radio station 102.7 The Peak, and made good on it.  That’s pretty cool.

Some people are scoffing at this and saying it’s typical “oh I’ll do this meaningless gesture and think I’m a philathropist” stuff, but still, the ALS Association has seen an increase in donations during it.  Hey, awareness is good, and think of those who donated after declining the challenge.  Off the top of my head for other alternative musicians, I think Ian Grushka from New Found Glory doing it would be funny because he’s often topless: the nip-ons could pluck his strings for him.  Dripping wet fat guys, am I right?…yeesh on that visual, hang on:

Oh Taylor Momsen, yes please.  I’d like to see her do the Ice Bucket Challenge, know what I’m sayin’?  Seriously though it’s fun and for a great cause, good on Dear Rouge and every artist (and otherwise) who does it.

Liner Notes: Tuesday, August 12th

The Foo Fighters have announced their upcoming eighth album, Sonic Highways, due out November 10th.  SPIN (and well, everybody) has the details.  In honour of this being album number eight, the band visited eight cities across America – Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. – and that will be profiled on the upcoming HBO series of the same name.  Oh, and the cover art features landmarks from each city they visited, combined to form a hybrid skyline.  Amazing!

 Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon recently talked to Noisey about wanting a normal life, including getting off social media because “I’d had enough of myself.  I was like, ‘You’re an idiot. You just keep running your stupid mouth and you say things that you don’t mean. And you say them because you’re in the moment and you’re hot about something. So you know what, self? I’m cutting you off. You need to shut up.’”  The band’s new album, Get Hurt, is out today.

Alternative Press
 – which just held their successful inaugural Alternative Press Music Awards, so congrats to them – passes along Mark Hoppus saying that blink-182’s new album will start being recorded this year for sure absolutely so help them God.  Okay.

“You’re the man” finger point towards Brian Hazard of Color Theory, who tweeted a post from Hypebot called “20 Of The Worst Band Names Ever”.  They include Menstrual Pancake, It Takes Two To Mango, Like a Brown Nail and Duncan & The Donuts (the latter name is actually pretty funny).  Those are so bad I’m not even gonna do them the solid of linking to their web presences.

PropertyOfZack has details on the upcoming North American fall co-headlining tour for The Ready Set and Metro Station.  Yep, Metro Station have reunited.  Against The Current and The Downtown Fiction will open.

Speaking of POZ and Fearless Records bands (as The Downtown Fiction are…that works!), via the former you can listen to The Color Morale’s new single “Damnaged”, which is off Hold On Pain Ends, out September 2nd.

Chart Attack has a fantastic feature up called “High Noon In The Hammer: How Hamilton Has Defined The Arkells”, which covers how The Arkells have stayed true to their routes in Hamilton, Ontario.  It’s named in honour of their new album, High Noon, which is out now.  So I guess it’s…HAMMER TIME!  That felt good.

Absolute Punk tells us that the debut album from Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness is out October 14th via Vanguard Records, and will be self-titled.  It’s the solo project of the former Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin frontman.

Also at AP, The Buffalo News didn’t like Brand New’s Edgefest set.  Edgefest is the flagship annual concert of Buffalo rock station 103.3 The Edge.  You gotta figure Jesse Lacey and company are rusty, or the reviewer is just a douche, I don’t know.

Finally, Dying Scene gives us a stream of Vermont hardcore band Get A Grip’s new effort Green Peaks//Dark Valleys, which came out last month.  I mainly went with this because where was this band when I was looking up New England artists for that “Liner Notes”?  I couldn’t find any Vermont news!  Anyway, go listen and enjoy.

Sun Setting On Seminal Venue: Why House Of Blues Is Cool

This week, word broke that the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood will be closing (see what I did with the title!?  Gold!).  Eventually, that space and area will turn into hotels, condos and other living type things.  The good news is, it’ll be a relocation rather than total closure: the owners of HOB have two years to find a new spot, so while it probably won’t be House of Blues Sunset anymore, Los Angeles will still have one.

House of Blues operates twelve venues across America, including in cities like Chicago, Orlando, and New Orleans.  They were founded in part by Dan Aykroyd (along with several other celebs, including Hard Rock Cafe co-founder Isaac Tigrett), and of course got inspiration from the Blues Brothers characters he did with John Belushi.  The venues have hosted a ton of acts we love, including New Found Glory (who have released a new single, album name/date and tour, and since I don’t have time for a “Liner Notes” post right now and that’s why I mention this, HERE ARE DETAILS).

With its prime location and proximity to so many artists that we’d wanna go see, HOB Sunset is really the flagship.  You have time, and the venue should continue uninterrupted with the time it has to look for a new location, but go see a show at the House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California.  Do it for yourself, and do it for me because I’ve yet to see a show at a HOB myself: I don’t live anywhere near one, closest I came was being across the street from the Boston location last week while in the city.  Hell, New Found Glory’s upcoming tour starts at the San Diego location!  That made my reachy mention of their happenings actually not as reachy.

Track Listing: New Discoveries On SiriusXM’s Alt Nation Channel

A couple of weeks ago I got a new car, and with it came a trial of SiriusXM satellite radio.  It has several good channels for rock music, but my favourite so far is Alt Nation.  I’ve learned about a few new artists/songs since listening to it, and in this edition of “Track Listing” we’ll look at some of the best offerings in Alt Nation’s playlist.

St. Lucia – “Elevate”

St. Lucia is the stage name of Jean-Philip Grobler, a New York City-based native of Johannesburg, South Africa.  “Elevate” comes from debut full-length When The Night, and reminds me a lot of “Chocolate” by The 1975. It’s fine, dreamy indie pop.

Panama Wedding – “All Of The People”

Another New York City based-act, Panama Wedding serves up a synthy, mid-tempo number that’ll get a very deliberate and timed head-bobbing going.  It’s nothing terribly loud (which is fine) but pulsates just fine and is a good driving song.

Colony House – “Silhouettes”

Franklin, Tennessee indie rockers Colony House just released their debut When I Was Younger July 22nd, and first single “Silhouettes” busts out the mostly-clean chords and almost sounds like a more vocally-subdued Said The Whale.  This Paste Magazine review says the song isn’t quite indicative of the entire record, but if the rest of it sounds as pleasing I’m in.

Vacationer – “The Wild Life”

It wasn’t until I looked up Vacationer for this post that I remembered that it’s a side project for Starting Line frontman Kenny Vasoli.  Split between Philadelphia and (guess where!) New York City, Vacationer keep it island style mon.  Catchy songs meant for singing along, and as “The Wild Life” goes: “no point in making plans/wild life is human nature”.  Wikipedia calls their genre “Nu-Hula”, which….I don’t know what that is, but I’m guessing it’s a sub-genre that has to do with Hawaii, and even hula-hoops.  No matter what, this is a summer jam and I want to go surfing now.

If you ever get the chance to listen to satellite radio, Alt Nation is likely the channel I’d recommend first.  It’s been a gooder in my new car – although I’m sure as hell not paying for it once my trial is up.  I’ll like their Facebook page or something.

Scenematography: The Big Get Even’s New “Whatever We Were” Video

Being based in the same market, TPS has been able to do a couple of more intimate features of indie pop rockers The Big Get Even.  The Halifax, Nova Scotia quartet has one EP (last year’s S/T) behind them and are readying another for later this year.  On Friday, they released their first-ever music video, for new song “Whatever We Were”.  We were lucky enough to obtain a hot exclusive (read: I was having beer with the bassist and he said “hey our new video’s out!”) so let’s check it out.

“Whatever We Were” has a typical performance video, but one thing that stood out to me was the lighting: it’s very dark throughout the video, and makes good use of fades with the band members.  The effect is very cool.  Here’s what bassist Neil Spence had to say: “Well, started out with an idea to do a few silhouette shots for effect during the quiet moments of the song and then decided to keep with that theme while shooting. It did seem to resonate with the tone of the song when it was all said and done”.  Also, while watching frontman Tyler Dempsey sing and pluck the main riff, I again thought “how do people do this?”

So, recorded at Codapop Studios, featuring backing vocals from Roxy & The Underground Soul Sound’s Roxy Mercier and Jessie Brown from Jessie Brown & The Black Divine, and produced by Seymour Sound, here’s the new song and video from The Big Get Even:

It’ll be on their upcoming sophomore EP, due this year.  Nicely done, you well-dressed people you.