Friday, September 18, 2009


New Jersey has always been known for its amazing music and scene. It starts with the venues, both past and present: the Bloodbath known as Birch Hill, Starland, Chrome, The Stone Pony and bars like Dingbatz or The Loop Lounge. The music that filled these venues over the years brought the state together -- from Skid Row, Trixter and Whiplash to My Chemical Romance and Thursday. Zombie punk was born in the basements of New Jersey. New Jersey punk shows still blare out of the basements of New Brunswick, even though there have been issues lately. Ahh… the memories.

So... What happened?

Where did the scene go? How can we get it back? What will the next evolution of music sound like?

More questions then answers of course, what follows is mere speculation. Even so, in this multi-part entry I (That Guy) will try not to make an ass out of myself and try to find some answers.


Where do I begin? Here's the short list:

1) Economy: BOOOO! Cop out answer. However, kids do not have money to go to shows. Bands have to sell 100 tickets to open at a venue to play 4 or 5 songs before 75% of the audience shows up. People are not buying as much merch, tickets or CDs. Labels also can’t afford to send a band across the country. A terriblly evil cycle of losing money.

2) Lack of creativity: Chug chug chug. Scream. Chorus! Sing.

Have you heard that one before?

How about this one: PIG SQUEALLLLLLLLLLLL! Pinch Harmonic (Zack Wylde anyone?) "Oooh lets do the Killswitch guitar thing 800 times!" (pinch with tremolo) YAAAA! Hammer on with squeal, GO!

The only problem is when someone does do something unique, they are generally looked down upon. A good friend of mine, Mike Gitter formerly of RoadRunner Records, told me that Killswitch Engage started as a unique band everyone hated. Way back when less people hated them. Then they blew up, and the few haters either joined the bandwagon or maintained the hate. So a unique band sells hundreds of thousands of records, so you can't like them anymore, and you actually want to make other people not like them?

Many other unique bands dissipated that no one has ever heard of, that never sold a hundred records? More than any of us will ever know.

3) Any other problems? Maybe YOU! If you say any of this stuff, you’re the problem with the scene:

"I can only see these five bands."
"I only dig vegan hardcore."
"I can’t stand token bands."
"I need basement shows."

Shut the F*$K UP. Go to every show. See every band. Buy from the bands you like OR who have cheap stuff. Listen to radio, find something new. Go to a record store and rediscover an old favorite. Don't be complacent with your music.

Now of course there are more problems to discuss. These are just 3 reasons… there are absolutely more. Next time I will try to discuss how to get the family back.

We know there is a problem… so how do we fix it? More to come…

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful, Greg. I especially agree with #3, which I see as being extremely prevalent in NJ. People around Jersey tend to be into New York hardcore or Jersey screamo exclusively, and are thus denying themselves the chance to see other high-quality bands that deserve exposure.

    However, while I do understand your point in #2, I think that originality and creativity go deeper than just song structure. As ex-God Forbid guitarist Dallas Coyle put it, "The Beatles wrote every good riff." And they did. If you really get down to it, almost every riff that's written in 4/4 time can be matched up with a Beatles riff in its structure and foundation. It just sounds different because the notes and the speed are different. But the structure remains the same. Also, regarding song structure, let's face it - unless your band's name is Tool or Meshuggah, there's only so many ways you can put together a song and still make it be listenable instead of a train wreck.

    Do songs seem to follow similar structure patterns these days? Yes, but there's a good reason for it. That's all I really have to say.