In the digital age we are in, information has never been easier to digest. We hold all the answers to the world’s questions; the entire world’s media and music collection are in the palm of our hand. It has never been easier for us as a society to get turned on to a new band or a new genre or some crazy form of polka/reggae from the foothills of Poland that we might not otherwise have been able to find years ago. However with that gift of power…came a great nemesis. There was a time in my life when I remember turning on the radio here in Detroit, Michigan and odds were, there was going to be a song on that I liked and even if there wasn’t, at least it would be something that had it’s own identity that I could at the very least tolerate. Now a days it seems like a band with an original identity is a thing of the past. It seems like a band with a singer that has a message of worth to scream about other than being addicted to porn-star dancing or some other winy bitch premise is long gone. A band with incredible musical hooks, musical melodies and guitar solos, non-quantized REAL drums, REAL guitars, REAL bass…I just miss bands with REAL MUSICIANS! And those radio stations that played those songs that I could tolerate then, are still playing those same songs now by necessity. The only reason…they need something to breakup the new, “fresh” blanket singles that sound exactly the same. The reason these songs sound the same…the reason these generic “rock-n-roll” bands with their generic lyrics and generic bar cords are being discovered and brought to light can be summed up in one sentence…”Pro Tools rocks, when you don’t.” Bands are leaning on Pro Tools as a crutch…using it to make their performance. That’s exactly what rock-n-roll is missing…performance. The digital era of recording and information has brought attention to bands that otherwise never would have received any. This really became apparent to me the other day when I was driving with a rock station on satellite radio cranking through my car stereo. They played a new band’s, brand-new single (this band will remain nameless). Immediately following the universal single that could have belonged to one of twenty or more new bands, they interviewed the “artists” and wrapped up the whole segment by having a live, exclusive, in-studio acoustic performance.
From start to finish, it wasn’t easy to listen too, teetering on the edge of eighth-grade talent show runner up. Everything about the song was one-dimensional. No thought went into anything. Lyrics were written solely because they had heard one or twenty other bands before them say something incredibly similar. CLEARLY they counted on “The Pro Tools” to make them sonically passable. It became the thorn in my side, my inspiration to speak up for where rock-n-roll is headed because right now, where it is currently, it is the disco age all over again. Every band following the same formulas to come up with the next-best generic hook…same song, different yet strangely similar message. Yet another song, that won’t/doesn’t matter.
The idea behind rock-n-roll is to stand for something…to let your voice; your instrument and your song stand for something. It’s about having your own identity, having your own sound that you can pour your soul into that’s original and that’s yours and yours alone. It’s about sharing something with fans and non-fans a like that defines you. It’s about writing songs that matter.
Let the generic genres stay generic…let’s let rock-n-roll get back to being rock-n-roll!!!
- Josh Mayle