I think shows and records are the two chief outputs of a band (I suppose I’m ignoring minor things like t-shirts, dvds, merch, etc.). There are a lot of bands that make awesome records but don’t pull through in the live show. Sometime the problem is the band plays the songs kinda sloppy live and they can’t really reproduce anything close to their recorded sound in a live setting. Other times the problem is that the band doesn’t offer any energy or spectacle at the show; they just kind of play their songs and leave, pretty much the same experience as listening to one of their albums.
The modern day mythology of sex, drugs, & rock’n’roll is as unquestionably accepted as any other role we pigeonhole ourselves into. I suppose much of this can be attributed to rock music’s rise with 60s hippie culture. But I always asked myself, how can bands full of junkies and alcoholics get anything done? How do they organize shows? How do they write songs?
In 2003 the Business released an album where every single song is about soccer (‘football’ to them). Myself not being any kind of sport fan, it’s strange how high in esteem I hold this album. It could be that the band sings passionately about their day to day life, it could be simply that all 12 tracks on the album are solid. I think it’s remarkable that they can write 12 songs about soccer and somehow make them all different. The first track “Hardcore Hooligan” is about the rising prices of game tickets and the greed of football clubs, the next track “Southgate” is about an English football player who missed a penalty shot, “Terrace Lost It’s Soul” about gentrification and it’s relation to football.
We often get asked why we keep our songs so short. Truth be told, none of our songs are extremely short (all of them are above 1:30 minutes), but we do make a conscious effort to make the song end before it gets boring. Why push in extra bridges or solos when the song makes sense in it’s “bare minimum” form.
Cover songs are something I don’t recommend new bands do. I’m often at a local show trying to take in some new music, then the band jump into a cover of something everybody knows (“Fortunate Son” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” are common ones). The audience will compare and contrast the classic song to the band’s original material, which will often reflect unfairly on the band because the audience is more familiar with these songs. As a band, the last thing you want to be remembered as is that band that plays some other guy’s song. It’s true that covering “Freebird” will get you some cheap applause, maybe get some feet on the floor, but it’s a shortcut that becomes hard to escape as the fans become accustomed to you covering whatever they want. Set the expectation of your shows to be about your own artistry, or you’ll end up one of those sad irish pub guitar singers playing Oasis to assholes all night.
Ever been to a show that was going well, the band was playing some decent songs (that maybe you’ll check out later at home), and between songs you get some awkward request to buy their shit on a table in the back? Some part of you maybe feels guilty about not supporting enough independent music, so you go to pick up the band’s EP (with no idea if you’re going to enjoy it, a blind buy). My collection of CDs from shows is sitting somewhere in my parent’s basement. We personally think that it’s an unfair consumer experience, to have to buy music you haven’t really had the time to become invested in, which is why we give our music away for free.
We often see clusters of great bands coming from the same city around the same time. London, for example, in the late 70s gave way to some of the greatest bands we’ve ever seen: The Clash, Cock Sparrer, the Sex Pistols, and really too many others to name and do justice. California had two punk rock renaissances, one in the mid 1980s with Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and Agent Orange (see ‘american hardcore’ for the details). The other occurred in the mid 1990s with Rancid, Face to Face, and the Swingin’ Utters (see the documentary ‘one nine nine four’ for the story). Lately Gainesville, Florida (the Fest, Against Me!, No Idea Records) and New Jersey (the Gaslight Anthem, the Disconnects) have been getting a lot of attention.
I think that we notice these bands in clusters because for a band to succeed and be heard a local network of venues, promoters, bands, labels, and fans are needed as a support network. You need people to show up, different places to play, and labels to release your records. Trying to make it on your own, without these things would be a an uphill battle.
The Kinks are a band with an interesting story. They were part of the british invasion, having a few hits in the beginning, songs like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night”. Later in their career they made more experimental and complex albums, which didn’t do as well commercially and are under-appreciated to this day. They’re a band that had many ups and downs and had to work hard for what they got. We’re not experts, and we probably missed some awesome songs. Our list stays away from some of their super-hits, instead we try to shine the light on some stuff a casual listener may not know.