I’m not sure how it is in every part of the world. As I always like to say, my part of the Earth seems like something that John Melloncamp would sing about. About ten miles up the road it’s more like a place Tupak would represent.
My guess is that any smaller town is like this, but my gut says you city folk are no different. For whatever the reason, unless bands have already formed a friendly alliance with another band, they automatically hate each other. For the life of me I don’t get it.
It could be that I stand to profit from all the different bands. This instantly puts me in “amicable” waters (as asshole attorneys like to say). I get paid (MEAGERLY) when more and more bands do well. It’s no wonder I don’t understand these scurmishes. If I was paid to hate bands, I’m sure this blog would be slanted in a different direction.
It seems that the typical local musician doesn’t see it this way. My only guess is they are operating on some kind of zero sum view of the world where there can only be so many successful local bands in any one area. (If any of you have had too many great band come from your town and felt the need to kick a few out due to over crowding please speak up!) I find it interesting that when a bunch of cool bands come from the same place it HELPS the bands that probably wouldn’t gotten the big label deal. Mudhoney comes to mind.
From what I hear from the older timers, there was a hey day in the 70s when a band was “the thing” to go see. Of course, the times were different. Musicians were better then for the same reasons that there is generally less interest today. There are dramatically more distractions getting in the way of practicing, writing, playing, and watching music. Then the Rubix cube, VHS, and color computers came along and ruined everything.
So maybe more and more local bands are fighting for less and less market share. I don’t know if that holds water. I’ve seen countless bands (some of my past ventures included) who were lucky to play for 20 people. I’ve ran sound for local bands playing for 600 people and the bar ran completely out of beer (and barely had any hard stuff left). So I don’t think there is less local interest. Maybe people are less impressed. (Damn you, Gameboy!)
When my buddies who played for the biggest bar crowd seen since I’ve been paying attention, it actually pissed off a ton of local music guys. They were doing the modern rock thing ala Breaking Benjamin, 3 Days Grace, etc. For whatever reason, the band’s musical direction became a moral outrage. On the little local music forum all sorts of people were making the claim that it was unethical to play such music. For the life of me I could never see the logic in this. You may have the reasons YOU make the music you make, but making that decision for someone else is reflective of a MAJOR personality flaw in my opinion.
Aside from lyrical-based agenda music that may not fit well with your moral standards, I can’t imagine how it could be an “outrage” to slap together some noise out of 12 possible notes and think of one or the other is a “more noble” cause. Everyone I know just beats on their instrument until some pleasure center juices in the brain start flowing. Alright dopamine! Repeat and try to figure out how to do it again. Music is about as amoral of venture as a person could probably think of. Checking out at the grocery store has more moral implications.
A band I recorded recently was having trouble finding bands that sounded similar as they didn’t want to play the dreaded 4-hour gig (which always consists 90% of covers) and would prefer to do the all-original show and share the stage with their counterparts. I suggested a band that had some overlap. They immediately freaked. Apparently they had played a recent show and maybe they didn’t find as much musical overlap as I did. However, that’s not what set them off. The whole band went on this massive rant. Why? Because band #2 had a song where they sang through a telephone! WHAT!!! WHAT!!!!! The singer sang through a telephone? Jesus Christ! Holy shit! It was as if the Vatican had another baby raping fiasco on their hands. (The old-school telephone was modified to have an XLR output.)
Now, I’m not slamming the band for having an opinion. I’m sure there are all sorts of gimicktry that annoy me. (The Gold sequence-covered dancing cowboy at the Pet Shop Boys show was a bit much.) However, if the use of a simple prop like a telephone is the thing that really pushes you over the edge, it illustrates just how anxious to pull the hate trigger on another local band. It kinda reminds me of Not Another Teen movie where they were trying to pick the worst chick in the school for the school stud to take. Of course, they pick a chick who is probably a model, but the main dude says, “Ah! Not Janie! She’s got…..glasses……..AND A PONY TAIL!”. Gross!
The more I rant on the topic it sounds like the old tribal crap our ancestors took part in. You are supposed to run out and steal a horse from the other tribe to prove you are a man. You are supposed to kill their group before they can kill. Hit a woman from another tribe upside the head and drag her back to your hut. It was how you scored points. Basically, it’s what the local baby boomers often refer to as a “pissin’ contest”.
I just don’t see how being THAT insecure about your band is every profitable.
The best way to avoid incest is to get out of the house every once in a while. Your fellow bands have a crowd, however small, that is tolerant of ear-bleeding level of real drums, PA systems that feedback, and bathrooms with enough colored liquid on the ground to satisfy an alligator. You already have an in with them that you don’t have with the girl working at American Eagle (with lying or spending money). I can’t think of a better crowd to market your music and band to than people who are already wasting their Saturday nights watching bands. A friendly alliance may be beneficial if for no other reason than to hit their women upside the head and take them back to your cave.