Guest blog – Rock Sound’s Ben Patashnik reacts to media reports of rock music’s demise
This week The Guardian wrote a spurious article which you can read right here based on spurious data that claimed rock is dead. Normally we’d avoid this sort of bullshit in much the same way as we’d avoid The Only Way Is Essex – somewhere, some mouthbreathing subhuman is deriving pleasure from it but we’re proud to be different in this case – but seeing as, to anyone with half a brain can tell, rock is in a healthier position than it has been in years.
Paul Gambaccini – who first started working in music radio in 1973 and who is best-known for presenting shows on Classic FM and Radio 2 these days – proclaimed foghorn-like “It is the end of the rock era. It’s over, in the same way the jazz era is over.” The given reasons were the proliferation of reality TV pop being more instantly marketable (and profitable) and only three rock songs making it into the Top 100 best-selling ‘hits’ of 2010; those three being ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ by Journey, ‘Hey, Soul Sister’ by Train and ‘Dog Days Are Over’ by Florence And The Machine.
First off – Florence + The Machine is not a fucking rock act, and putting that horse-faced mewler in the same lineage as, say, Thin Lizzy, is less a quantifiable statement and more a fist in the face of God and everything we hold dear. And calling the singles chart a barometer of the music in 2011 is like saying Metallica aren’t a big band because they haven’t sold many cassette tapes this year – singles stopped being relevant almost a decade ago and pretending otherwise is woefully out of touch.
And now, let’s look at some actual evidence based on reality. Download and Sonisphere are all-out heavy music festivals, T In The Park and Reading and Leeds have been peeling away the indie influences for years now and relatively new events such as Hevy, High Voltage, Slam Dunk were all very healthily attended in 2010.
What’s more, there are more bands playing 4/5,000-capacity venues in the UK than ever before – Bring Me The Horizon, Deftones, Bullet For My Valentine, Linkin Park, 30 Seconds To Mars, The Gaslight Anthem, Paramore, You Me At Six, Lostprophets, Parkway Drive, A Day To Remember, All Time Low, Enter Shikari and all the others that are crowding my brain right now all play extremely sizeable shows with relatively hefty ticket sales; which indie/electronica acts can say they regularly pull so many people? And looking at the likes of Architects, Lower Than Atlantis, Trash Talk and Bullet For My Valentine all getting daytime plays on Radio 1 shows, rock is infiltrating the mainstream in a serious way.
Moreover, thanks to clothing companies such as Drop Dead, rock has never been more in fashion – like it or not – than it is now. Millions of pounds are spent in the UK every month on band merch meaning the bigger bands are constantly visible on the nation’s high streets, and the smaller bands are knuckling down and producing more and more quality music and selling it direct to their fans.
Let’s say this loud and clear: there are so many good bands around right now that to claim rock is dead is lazy at best and steamingly pig-ignorant at worst. No, there aren’t that many Bon Jovis around, but isn’t that a good thing? The whole point of the music industry being revolutionised by the internet is that if you don’t want to play the old, pointless games – ie the singles chart – then you don’t have to. DIY bands have never had more opportunity than they do today, and if you tell the bands currently slogging up and down the country in a van – and making a living doing it – that they’re ploughing a worthless furrow they’d laugh in your face, and rightfully so.
So, let’s look at the evidence again:
No, we’re not buying singles from the iTunes music store – we’re buying limited edition seven-inches from record labels that put thought and care into what they’re selling.
No, we’re not spending £125 to see Bon Jovi in a soulless stadium because it feels so much more special spending £7 seeing Your Demise tear the shit out of a pub.
No, we don’t care about Florence and her fucking vapid machine.
And like we say, normally we wouldn’t bother responding to something quite as misguided as the Guardian’s piece. But 2011 is just bursting with wonderful sounds and it would be a massive injustice if anyone was to assume the world of rock was anything other than a great place to be right now.