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|Photo by: Masao Nagasaki|
By: Richard Zos
I think one of the key bands that fucked up rock'n'roll was Pavement. They were like the Chicago (band, late70s, early 80s era) of independent music. They probably didn't mean any harm, but Pavement was simply *the* band that closed the lid on the coffin of rock'n'roll as counter-culture. They made Neutral Milk Hotel possible, and for this, we simply cannot forgive them, even if they didn't do it on purpose.
There have been similar situations in rock history, and indeed, you *can* (at least in part) blame the Who for Styx, but you can also forgive them, because they had such a broad influence, and thus we can also thank them for Raspberries and the Dead Boys.
But nothing will be accomplished by sitting around blaming Pavement. As The old folks used to say, don't worry about how the the mule got in the ditch, just GET HIM OUT OF THERE.
A friend/colleague of mine whom I've played with in past bands called me late last night, and we talked about how in the late 60s and early 70s, rock and counterculture had been so successful and become so self-propagating, that there was a surplus of cash that could support the production and distribution of music that was actually *not* commercial, music that had not been market-tested. The music industry had expendable income. They could afford to potentially lose money on a fringe artist who was simply pursuing an artistic vision.
But when the money got tight, the music industry put the kibosh on that shit. You could smell the fiscal fear in the music - and we had to endure Pablo Cruise and Rupert Holmes.
What's so vexing about it all now, is that there's not even really a music industry left to account for the sorry state of popular music, and the near extinction of rock'n'roll (as evidenced by the two fake Black Flags currently on tour). This state of affairs is voluntarily upheld by a hipster majority, who are simply suffering from a severe case of terminal Stockholm syndrome, as they mindlessly bow to an ivory tower that is NOT CURRENTLY OCCUPIED (a great example would be the continued popularity of completely irrelevant zines like Pitchfork and Alternative Press).
I told my friend (the one on the phone), that I feel it's a creative musician's duty at this time to step forward and STOP PUTTING PRESSURE on rock music to turn over a profit. It's bad medicine. The music you create may or may not be successful, but if you set out with the chief aim of creating music to match the tastes of a 'scene', a ready made audience, ostensibly with your future dollars lurking in their messenger bags, then that means that I'll have to endure the sound of your shitty music, and we cannot allow this to stand any longer.
The music industry is now in the hands of musicians, and though we may not have any expendable income at all, I think we have a unique opportunity to simply not pander to mediocrity. As William Burroughs said, "America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting." Let's hear what you really have to say, America. There's nothing stopping you.