Dan O’Donnell Bassist for Going Gone
I’m going to start this off with a disclaimer. This is MY view of the scene. I am one person, with a limited about of gas money and an unlimited amount of laziness. If your views are different, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong, or that you’re wrong, it just means we’re different people. To give you an idea of where I’m coming from…
- My name is Dan O’Donnell
- I am 21 years old
- My favorite bands are Nirvana, Blink 182, and Coheed and Cambria
- I’ve been in three bands, one post-hardcore, one prog metal, the other pop- punk
- I live near the Philadelphia area and that’s probably why my views are so negative
….Ok let’s get on with it.
There is so much going on in the music scene today that it’s hard to really focus on any one thing and be content. Even in my limited scope of Northeastern alternative music, you have bands playing pop-punk, punk, hardcore, post-hardcore, metalcore, emo, and a few others. There are some genres that are currently more popular than others, and some that have already had their day in the trendy spotlight. As an active member in the local or close to local music scene, I’ve seen the trends of the past 5 or 6 years change and grow out of each other. I love and hate the ebb and flow of trends because with each passing, you get bands or movements that are both positive and negative.
With the metalcore trend back in around 2007 or 2008, you had all the local kids start bands so they could throw a few breakdowns in and have their friends mosh at local skate rinks and VFWs. It got really saturated (something that will become a theme in this post) and so only a few bands really made it out alive. Then there started to be a stigma attached to breakdowns and “scene” bands as generic, corny, and unoriginal. At the time it made sense, because they were. It was a plot for attention and an easy tool that would get people to listen to your music.
Fast forward a bit and you have 2009 or 2010, when pop-punk became the cool thing to do. I was glad to see that things were changing, and was excited about a new trend, but as all trends ultimately end up, it now frustrates me and has become an overcrowded and uninspiring mass of bands. I see so many of the kids that had been deep in the metalcore scene of a few years previous jump on this bandwagon, and either start their own bands, or change the way they dressed to fit in better with this scene.
Since I have more of an active involvement in pop-punk than I did metalcore, I’ve noticed what I may have missed in the earlier trend. And that is that with each trend, comes literally, a countless number of copycat bands and bandwagon jumpers. I noticed a lot with metalcore, but with pop-punk it is unreal. People start bands to fit into a genre and they pigeonhole themselves so they can tour with another certain band or so they can be part of a specific scene that they want. It gets to a point where literally every single person at a show is in a band, or wants to start a band. Bands are taking influences, not from bands that have stood the test of time, but bands that are popular right now, and it ends up just sounding like a ripoff, regardless of how well they can write songs. No longer are bands taking influences from their individual backgrounds and writing music together that is genre defying, but they pre-determine their sound based on the current trend, limiting creativity and originality.
With metalcore, the gimmick of each band was breakdowns and straightened hair, and with pop-punk, people believed that there was no gimmick. It was one of the big appeals of the genre, no pretty boys or silly breakdowns. But the gimmicks in pop-punk are more numerous, and hide themselves a lot better than a huge mosh call. “Positive” lyrics, DIY ethic (which I think has become a shadow of what it used to be), and a tough guy attitude are just some of them. There is still a dress code, whether people like it or not. The scene kids no longer where eyeliners and tight jeans, but crew necks and polo hats. And no matter how many times you make fun of Black Veil Brides, you are probably just as “scene” as they are, it’s just a different scene.
Now, I can’t say that every band does this because I simply don’t know, but it seems that way. All of the band names, and EP titles, and influences run together into a mashup of the exact same thing, and the genre itself becomes completely meaningless. As of January, the term pop-punk means absolutely nothing to me at all. It has been beaten into the ground ferociously for the past year, and now it’s more dead than anyone ever thought it was before, quantity certainly does not mean quality. The good bands in the scene are becoming stale, and the younger ones started off that way. Don’t get me wrong, there is an abundance of excellent music being made, but you can’t place it into scenes or genres. I could name the top 5 best young bands, and the styles of music would be all over the place.
I think that music is a great thing, and everyone should have a part in it, but I don’t think that everyone should be in a band and write music. Especially because it’s so damn easy. Bands are putting more effort into their image than they are their music. Being someone who has written a fair number of songs, I can tell you, that it’s not hard. There is nothing special about being able to write a half decent song. You have to put effort, and time into writing songs that warrant actually being recorded and played live. I really don’t care if this sounds elitist, because I believe it to be true. Nobody can measure music objectively, but the work from bands doesn’t seem to be going into writing music, but instead developing an image of DIY, or pop-punk. It’s much easier to drive around in a van and play shitty house shows than it is to write a solid, 5 song EP with original, and creative music or ideas.
I guess overall, I’m just frustrated because I wish that I didn’t take all of this stuff personally. But I’ve seen too many fights to pussy girl songs, and too many bands copying other bands to let it NOT bother me. Music is always about image, but the ones that last are more than that. In a few years, I’m sure that the trends will have moved on, and every kid will have traded in their tank tops for something else, and have bands that are totally different, and the pop-punk bands that deserve it will still be making great music. And if they’re not, and music has gone to total shit, then at least Metallica released Master of Puppets, and that album will never get old.