Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rock Bands


Dear Adam,

We rock. At least, we rocked. It used to be so easy. We've seen a million faces, and, you know, we rocked 'em all. But that was the first half of our Behind the Music story. Now, the faces we see don't look rocked, just . . . mildly amused. People still buy our albums out of habit, but nobody talks about them. If we were a tv show, we'd be the last episode of Seinfeld. What gives? How do we rock again?

Rockin' 5 years ago in Seattle

Dear No Longer Rockin',

I'll tell you what happened: you came out with a frivolous "Best of" album. Shame on you. As soon as you start making mixed CDs of your own songs and selling them as new products, you have officially, blatantly, and publicly called it quits as an artist. You've told the rockin' world that not only have you arrived, but you have also collected your trophy and made your acceptance speech. You can't possibly expect us to believe you're still serious about creating new music when you're banking on the hopes people will buy your old music with a new cover and all the personally meaningful songs taken out of the mix. You are the definition of a sellout.

Now, I have friends who say the problem is when you start recording movie soundtrack hits for a living, especially if the movie is animated, and unquestionably if it's a Disney movie. But I point to the Greatest Hits that never should have been. Here's my advice to all you still-rockin' bands. And if you used to rock, adhere to these rules from this point on, and you might rock once more:

1. Never put together a Greatest Hits album unless you have recorded at least 7 studio albums (5 if they were all critically acclaimed but made you no money).

2. It's preferable to delay any "Best of" release until people who are just now becoming interested in your music were not born when you started making it.

3. Only one live album per decade. After the first one, it's like your selling video tapes of your dates. It's just not cool.

4. Don't ever sing about how hard it is to be rich and famous unless your audience is made up entirely of rich and famous people.

5. It's okay if you grow up and your music grows along with you.

6. When you're done making genuine music, stop making music.

7. Don't start being obvious just because people didn't get the point when you were artistically vague.

8. If you're done singing about your own problems, sing about someone else's.

9. Start a new band. Nothing rejuvenates a career like forming a band just because you can. There are other musicians in the world. Give your ego a rest and start making some music.

10. Have fun.

And . . . thanks for asking.

1 comment:

The Bare's said...

Okay, so I was thinking of all sorts of bands as you gave your rules, namely these (with numbers corresponding to rule):

1. Train
3. Pearl Jam
6. Eric Clapton and Axl Rose
7. Oasis
8. All rap-metal
9. it worked for Scott Weiland and Chris Cornell

I would add only one more rule. Don't sing about how terrible our government is and about how we should just give peace a chance if you just divorced your wife and your band has broken up five times. If you can't do something as simple as keep your group of 4 musicians that make millions of dollars together, then you really have no place telling us why you think Iraq or Vietnam was a mess.

Michael