So, I'm reading this Nirvana biography written by Everett True. He's a british music journalist who - if you've ever seen the documentary Hype! - pretty much broke the whole Seattle Sound that blew up in the late 80s, early 90s. Anyway, I'm only a hundred or so pages into the thing and Nirvana isn't even famous yet, so you can tell how massive this tome really is. Because he doesn't just talk about Kurt Cobain (though he is a major factor). He isn't obsessed with making a fool out of Courtney Love. He isn't sprouting conspiracy theories or pontificating on the possibility that Kurt is alive somewhere with Tupac and Elvis growing beets on a farm in Montana.
No, he gets into the whole Indie Music scene. Before it was the pussiness of Vampire Weekend and The Shins. When music wasn't about getting the tightest hook, the cleverest lyrics, or having the most hipsterish hairdos.
You know why Nirvana was amazing? Because they didn't give a fuck about the lyrics, or whether their instruments were in tune. They played loud, abrasive rock, Kurt screamed a lot, and yet he still managed to pack more melody into his songs than any of these jackass bands out today!
Anyway, I've been on a huge music kick from this time period. The Vaselines, Beat Happening, Green River, Tad, Daniel Johnston, Skin Yard, The U-Men, Mudhoney, The Melvins, Butthole Surfers, early Soundgarden, you name it. It's a great history lesson for someone born 10 years too late.
I mean, imagine it. When I was six, seven years old - getting into Guns N' Roses and Alice Cooper and all this butt rock - Kurt Cobain was drifting between a triangular space of land between Aberdeen, Olympia, and Seattle (with Tacoma a frequent party stop). Do you think it's possible ... that when I was a kid ... I could've passed Kurt Cobain on the street without even realizing it? Of course, why WOULD I realize it, but still.
I feel like those kids in that movie Dazed & Confused. There's this one part where they talk about how the 60s rocked and how the 70s obviously sucked (the decade in which this movie took place). I couldn't agree more. If I was born in 1971 instead of 1981, that would've made me 16 years old in 1987. That's the hub! That, right there, is where it all started percolating. That "Grunge" sound, those tuned-down guitars, that slowed-down punk music. You've got the Melvins out of their minds, you've got Mudhoney front-man Mark Arm partnering with future Pearl Jam guitarists Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, you've got Nirvana in their very infancy, and you've got all these other bands nobody's ever heard of, but who together built the foundation on which bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana and Screaming Trees and Mudhoney were able to blossom.
There was one show, put on by this band you don't know, where the guitarist plugged into the amp, turned it all the way up, set the guitar against the amp to initiate howling feedback, then he sat down in the audience. 45 minutes later, he unplugged the guitar, and the show was over.
How about THAT, huh? The unexpected! The anything-can-happen atmosphere! I want that!
You don't see that shit anymore. Metal is shit because you've got a bunch of neanderthals in attendance; punk sucks because you've got a bunch of jack-offs who just want to hurt each other. Hard rock isn't about the music anymore, it's about getting your aggression out for three hours over the course of five shitty bands.
There's a time and a place for everything, and this collosal movement happened and I missed it because I was seven! Doesn't life just fucking suck like that?
You don't see a band - has no money, working at Burger King to live on - completely thrashing their instruments on a nightly basis.
What do you see now? You see what I saw last night. You see an opening band full of wannabe fratboy poseurs, giggling like the jizzbags that they are, wearing their polo shirts with their clean-cut hairdos and their shit-eating smiles plastered a mile wide. You see the second band whose lead singer is wearing a clever hat, with a suit jacket over a black t-shirt. Everything cleverly manufactured. Packaged, for your viewing pleasure. If you don't like the music, well shit man, look at how hot I am. And if you don't like me, well my bass player is a chick and she's totally smokin' as well.
I mean, why do these bands even get into making music in the first place? I have nothing in common with these skags.
I'd like to think I DO have something in common with the lead singer of Nirvana, but that would make me sound like a 15 year old girl. However, I WAS the guy at the parties sitting on the couch while everyone else had a good time. I am shy and reserved and when I drink I magically turn into the life of the party. It's those wretched introverts who have my attention. Because while all these other pissants are prancing around on stage, I know it's the introverts who have something to say. It sure as shit may not be anything lyrically compelling. But, it's the attitude. It's the fuck-off, who-gives-a-shit way of thinking.
I may not have the talent or the drive to get there myself, but at least I can offer an appreciation.