The Pet Shop Boys were my first musical love, and I still love them. Then it was the Stranglers and I got into their punk and more experimental post-punk sounds. Then “Find Out Why” by Inspiral Carpets on the Chart Show took me down the indie route. All sorts – Mega City Four, Senseless Things and Snuff; Spacemen 3, The Telescopes and My Bloody Valentine. The Jesus Lizard and Sonic Youth and Mudhoney. Stone Roses, Suede. Sarah / cutie twee shit. All sorts.
I will get to the point by the way.
Indie back in the late ’80s / early ’90s readily lead me to the 1960’s and Beatles, Stones, psychedelia, Stooges, Velvets. The lead to the New York CBGBs thing, meanwhile back in the present day trance and techno lead to Detoit and minimal techno, tech-house and electro and even a bit of drum and bass. Then I lost interest in dance music and returned to my indie roots, and that ended up leading me to many of the great punk / hardcore / alt-rock bands that came out of America in the 1980s, who I might have got into back in the day if I’d been born 5 or 10 years earlier (Black Flag, Minutemen, Husker Du, Replacements, Butthole Surfers etc).
Obviously there are some massive gaps in my knowledge in relation to the sorts of music above. But more than that there are genre-gaps – whole swathes of music that I know next to nothing about.
“Why does it matter?” I hear you ask. I’ll tell you. I love going a seeing heavy live music… but I’m not a big lover of metal, and so much of what else is out there I just don’t get.
Don’t ask me why, but I like to understand where a band is coming from and what they are trying to do. Actually do ask me. I am shit at learning parrot fashion, I need to understand to learn and remember. Likewise how can I just listen to a new band and appreciate them? Well I can to an extent, but I find it helps to understand. Are they really as good as they sound to my ears, or are they merely a poor facsimile of a much better band that I don’t know but they have ripped off 100%?
It seems to me that much of what is heavy is some sort of metal sub-genre that has developed out of the mass of metal sub-genres that have evolved over the last 30-odd years.
But more than that we have all these bands that fall somewhere within what is now called the punk / DIY / hardcore community, and many of them come from a math-y, emo-y, post-hardcore-y place that I just don’t fully understand. And more even than that we have the fact that there are so many ’80s american alt-rock / noise bands that I really should explore more. Touch and Go, SST – have I even scratched the surface?
I suppose the starting point is British post-punk, but that’s perhaps another story, one for me to go back to. Along with New Wave and No Wave.
[Writing like this inevitably leads one to simplify things, when in reality these genres are all a bit blurred].
But really it is about Hardcore Punk, Noise Rock and Noise Pop, and the numerous genres and sub-genres they spawned and continue to spawn.
Emo, black/death/speed/thrash/nu metal, metalcore, melodic hardcore, thrashcore, powerviolence, industrial, math rock, post-hardcore.
Screamo, emoviolence, mathcore, grindcore, melodic metalcore, blackgaze, post-rock.
So the point… my plan is to document my conscious attempt to trace and explore the history and key bands in a wide variety of genres and sub-genres from the early/mid-1980s to today. The point is two-fold. I want to discover bands I’ve not listened to before who are heavy and brilliant. But more than that I want to better be able to listen to some of the kinds of bands I end up hearing at local gigs and feel that I understand their influences and motivations a lot better than I do now. This applies in a big way to bands like Princess and Space Church, but much more so to the likes of Employed to Serve or Yearbook, younger bands who (naturally) have less similar formative experiences than me.
This series of posts is going to take me 6 or 12 months at bare minimum, and probably much much longer… I’m going to try to be fairly chronological and logical, but that won’t always be possible. Let me know what genres and especially bands that I should be exploring. Gimme some feedback, man!