This is a work in progress. I just had to get some thoughts down, some vitriol out if you like. I hope to tidy it up a little over time. But please, if you have comments, ie. the answers to the questions, let me know.
Ok, Ozzy once said the following words, "how many times have I heard it before and I'll probably hear it again", ironically enough in a song called You Can't Kill Rock'n'Roll, cos it's what's about to happen here for you.
In the last week and a half I've seen 4 gigs. One of them, A Perfect Circle, was moved to a bigger venue, and was packed. Of the other 3, all UK bands, one was cancelled cos no-one turned up, another, Stampin' Ground, on the day they received full marks in Kerrang! for their album, attracted about 30 people, and now Medulla Nocte got about 20. I've seen bands such as earthtone9 play to half full rooms in what is touted as their home town. Sack Trick playing to a near empty Rock City basement, bands playing to only the support bands - and that's when the support bands can be bothered to stick around half the time. Basically, it's that old lack of support issue again.
See, it amazes me. It truly does. Let's look at some issues see. A lot of people, A LOT of people love to tell you how much they're into music, how much it means to them, how it saved them, how they're dedicated etc etc. Let me let you in on a little secret. Based on the realities, I'd say that those people, pretty much all the time, they're lying. Let's see. Slipknot I believe have gone silver in this country. 60,000 units sold. A fairly extensive UK tour, playing reasonably big venues sold out. Let's take the places I know. Rock City in Nottingham sold out. It holds about 1800 people. Civic Hall in Wolves sold out - about 2000 people. And how many times have I read about how extreme that band is. How intense that band is. How crazy their fans are. Well, 60,000 seems to say there's a fair number of people out there into extreme music. But move away from them, and suddenly these people have fallen into a massive big hole. Last time I was outside Rock City, I don't remember seeing a hole in the road with people falling into it. Ok, and given that for like the RC gig that people did come from over the country, are you seriously telling me that in a pretty big city there's not enough people to fill a small room for UK bands? Cos that's how it appears. A place like The Vic in Derby, the Old Angel or Bunkers Hill in Nottingham only hold about 120 people. Yet rarely if ever are they full, or even half full.
Stampin' Ground, Knuckledust, Medulla Nocte. There's not many more intense bands than those three. Yet they get handfuls of people. Intense. Put them out with Slipknot, then we'll see intense. And what's the bets that they're too intense for the punters half of whom I'd wager would whinge about them not being music and just being noise. Cos all these people, this support of extreme music is just a pointless fashion fad I reckon.
Now, I'm not having a crack at individuals here, I'm also not having a crack at any particular scenes. The fact that the majority of those bands mentioned above happen to be regarded as hardcore, or extreme or whatever is irrelevent. Because the fundamental issue as far as I'm concerned is not scene dependant. I mean, sure, I hold my hands up and say I loose interest too quickly in scenes, and I'm not too comfortable with the idea of them in general. The notion of tying myself to one style of music only scares me. I like a bit of variety, and I find the idea of not looking outside a tightly chosen genre to be unatural. I don't particularly enjoy writing stuff like this. I'm not trying to offend people, because it's more trouble to me than it's worth and than I want. Besides, I've probably offended everyone in the past anyway, and if not, then it probably just means you've not looked around these pages hard enough.
And I appreciate that things in London are probably pretty good, which you'd hope for given the sheer size of that city. And I'm sure that there are pockets around the country. But experience of gigs in Nottingham/Leicester, Birmingham/Wolves/Dudley and a few years ago, Leeds and Bradford seems to suggest that it's not a country wide thing. And the bands may not say it publically, but surely they must question the worth of it all. Put it like this, they're better people than me if they don't.
There are a lot of crap bands around at the moment I'll grant you that. But whatever you're into, there's some good stuff. Hardcore is well served, as is punk. The metal scene has some good stuff, and the poppier stuff is resurging. There's also bands that can appeal to the people who liked glam coming through. Like to dance, dance rhythms, it's all there for you. earthtone9, Medulla Nocte, Knuckledust, Miocene, Tence, Blackrock, Dailo, Huge Baby, Sack Trick, Shallow, Yo-yo's, Little10, Plan A, the list really is endless, whichever particular style takes your fancy. Yet still it seems that attitude of people is abysmal.
I appreciate it's difficult to go all the time. In some ways, that's why it's important there's a bigger base of people. So that when some are not there, others are. I mean, I am finding it really hard to go to gigs these days. Time pressures, work, and just enthusiasm. And so I myself make choices sometimes to see one band and not another. Which I guess in many respects makes me as bad as what I'm having a go at. Somewhat hypocritical that I criticise and yet am often absent myself, but there you go. But I think, well should I feel obligated to go to a gig just because I go on about supporting bands? No, not really. But at the moment that's kind of how it is. And I can't keep doing it.
The thing is, how long really can we expect bands, promoters and venues to continue to loose money. Please please keep this rhetoric about not being able to make money from music, or that if you do you're the son of satan and are an outcast. There's nothing wrong with making money from something you love. At the end of the day, all the people putting the effort in have bills to pay the same as you and me. This notion of keeping everything underground because of the fear of people not truly into something infesting it is ludicrous. Keep it underground if that means that ultimately the bands, venues and promoters go belly up. Does that make sense? Is that logical. No, it's not. Keep that argument.
So rather than simply go, wahwahwah bastards, wahwahwah wankers, wahwahwah lazy bunch of fuckers and all that, which may or may not be part of what I'm thinking, I want to try for what it's worth, to turn this around. To try and look for answers as opposed to purely stating the bleeding obvious, that the public in this country don't give a fuck.
Mind you, being the antagonistic bastard that I am, I reckon that anyone that reads this will be too apathetic to give a shit anyway ;-)
What are the problems? The issues? Why are people not going to see the bands? I seriously want to know what people think. Don't tell me I'm a wanker, I know that. I'm a bigger wanker than you can ever dream of being. What I want to know are the reasons, some pointers even to the answers to the problem.
Is it seriously that you just don't give a fuck about homegrown talent and whether they're good or not, the fact that they're British and not American means that you are not interested?
Is it that these bands tour too often?
Do you believe that the scenes should stay small and that it's better for bands to play to 10 people "into them" than 150 people who are not scenesters? If so, please tell me how you expect the bands, promoters and venues to survive? In the real world I mean, not the idealogical isolation in which some people like to live. The real world of increased petrol costs - hey the bands have to get to and from the gigs, bills to pay, work to go to etc.
Should we move towards these bands only doing say all dayers on weekends and not gigging during the week, so that you get a bunch of bands playing in one go - see a few bands at an effectively reduced cost and all that. Or that you have say 4 band bills where egos will need to be put aside and some of the better known bands tour together just to try and ensure half decent crowds?
Should we have more varied bills, so that a punk band, hardcore band, metal band, and poppier band are on the same bill?
Are the gigs too expensive?
Are a lot of the people that would potentially see them too young, given that a majority of venues are pubs and clubs with an over 18s admittance.
Do you just not know of the gigs?
Is it the governments fault? Should they acknowledge the relative importance of live music, (art if you must) to this country and actually provide some form of subsidisation to the people that are actually involved, the venues and promoters so that they can in turn give the bands a fair chance. Ok, maybe there'll need to be some means of monitoring and regulating so that, for want of a better phrase, freeloaders don't abuse things.
Do you not know of the bands? Are you too scared to take a chance? If so, what is required to change your mind?
That I guess is the real question. Assuming that you're (still) reading this, and you're not a person that does go to loads of small gigs, what is needed to make you go along and check some bands out on a (semi) regular basis?
What, what are the reasons why 7 UK bands between them at 3 gigs could only attract about 50 punters in one of Englands biggest cities?