Brad’s Corner is a monthly commentary written by Brad about whatever he feels like. It’s supposed to be funny, interesting and thought provoking, but most geniuses are misunderstood. Check out the November 2005 edition of Brad’s Corner and see what’s on his mind.
There’s just something about the Texas Music scene, as it has come to be known, that just isn’t right. It may be the staid and repetitive nature of the music the last few years or the extremely overcrowded market. Right or wrong, there is a pecking order based on who started first and not necessarily talent. Guys that have been doing it since the late 90’s, even if unoriginally and without reaching their full potential, are handed virtual lockdowns on venues, top notch musicians and ass kissing from those who wish to be at the cool kids lunch table. In essence, the scene is like a big high school; with several acts who should’ve graduated long ago still hanging out like Wooderson in the movie Dazed and Confused. Since I started teaching and have become less connected to the day to day dealings of the music business it has occurred to me just how absurd most of the business is. Texas music is like a big bubble that forces you to breathe improperly until you emancipate yourself from it. Everyone around and involved to any degree has noticed this happening over the last 2 or 3 years. And if they haven’t noticed it they are kidding themselves. The same acts and venues have been doing the same thing night after night going on over 5 years now.
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. Our scene is a lot like the hair metal movement of the 80’s. It sprung out of a hardcore LA club and rock scene. It was vibrant and competitive. It was a spirited and friendly competitive environment in which the bands attempted to snag a record deal, the hottest girl in the club that night, or the best blow and/or smack from some top rate dealer. Sometimes all three in one night. The market was flooded with wannabes, burnouts, has-beens, never-weres, talents, no talents etc. All trying to jump to the next rung. Therefore, the shows got louder, the clothes got flashier, the flyers got more vibrant, the stakes got higher, then all of a sudden they all reached a point where they couldn’t go anywhere else but down. Hangers on and neerdowells gravitated to the scene and took hold. Like dirty carnies they attempted to make a buck off what had started as a true revolution in music. The hair metal bands were a direct response to disco and prog rock. People wanted to be entertained, they wanted something flashy and loud. After a few years, the bands were all over MTV and magazines. Sold out tours and hit songs. Everybody in LA that had long hair and could carry a tune was given a deal. After a while, the decadence and nonsense coupled with years of partying had left most of these guys in ruins. I recall Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue referring to it as “dinosaur mentality”. Meaning, every band and song sounded the same, looked the same, talked about the same stuff, had the same pyro effects at shows, and even had the same hot chicks in each others videos. They had become the very thing they originated to stop. Mindless, cookie cutter music and live shows cranked out at cutthroat rates to turn a buck. Sure there were some true originals in the bunch cutting their own path but they were drowned out by amps on 11 and the adulation of fickle fans just looking to have a good time.
Pretty soon, a guy named Kurt Cobain came from the forefront of another movement, which came to be known as Grunge, and slaughtered the whole mess that hair metal had become with some minor chord riff stomp about disillusioned high school kids. Grunge was fresh, new and the complete opposite of hair metal. Slowly, people cut their hair, quit buying Aqua Net, took up flannel and Doc Martens and mumbled along with Eddie Vedder. Some of the hair metal bands attempted to put on flannel themselves and keep up with the Jones’ but the landscape had passed them by. The same hangers on, managers and agents that had ridden the coattails of the hair metal guys now had new toys to play with in the grunge scene. Dropping acts like Warrant in favor of Soundgarden and a continued hefty paycheck, these lowlifes proved that they were selfish sharks of no substance, spine or soul.. While bands like Tesla went from headlining arenas to playing dive bars in a matter of months, these creeps were pushing bands like Mother Lovebone to be the next Nirvana success story. By the mid 90’s due to so many people’s hands being in the cookie jar, poor musical direction, drug addiction, listener fatigue, unoriginality and other ailments the hair metal movement was history. Relegated to the bargain bin at CD Wharehouse and left to play county fairs as part of package deals of “oldies music”. Some bands came out unscathed but a vast majority did not. Despite Cobain’s suicide, Grunge music charged on for several years until it too became a caricature of itself and faded away.
My point is that the Texas Music scene is definitely in the days of the dinosaur. Resources, venues, clubs, support crews, agencies and artists are all doing a dangerous dance with Father Time. The audience is only going to pay to see you in (insert bar here) so many times and hear the same songs over and over when there’s a new cat down the street doing something they haven’t heard before. It’s time to step back and evaluate what we’re doing here. Here are some guidelines we should all follow:
-Don’t let this scene swallow itself. It has come too far and means too much to so many of us for that to happen.
-Don’t make fun of the fans that pay at the door for each show, come and scream on the front row, buy t-shirts and keep the bands going down the road.
-Don’t call those fans deragotory terms like gurms and act like you’re better than them.
-Don’t forget how you got where you are, who helped you get there and who was there from the start.
-Don’t live beyond your raisin’. Stay true to your roots. Guys like Springsteen still play open mic nights unannounced at dive bars and don’t act like they are the freakin’ Boss!
-Don’t squash the young and rising singer/songwriter because you’re scared they might overtake you or your favorite guy. If someone hadn’t taken a chance on the guys we hold in acclaim now, we’d have nothing.
-Don’t think you’re the first person to discover jaeger and smoking onstage. Watch the Metallica video “Cliff ‘Em All” from the mid 80’s.
-Do stick to your guns.
-Do what you think is right.
-Do help out new artists and old artists alike.
-Do write what you feel.
-And lastly, sorry if this pissed anyone off or offended anyone but it needed to be said. For a year or better we’ve been stuck in a Bermuda triangle of sub-par albums, greedy people behind the scenes and a rising cost of doing business with a few shining examples of what to do. Randy Rogers Band, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Hayes Carll, Micky and the Motorcars, Mike McClure, Cory Morrow, Charlie Robison, Stoney LaRue, Josh Grider and Ryan Turner among others have all put out albums over the last couple years that pushed the boundaries and limits of what’s possible in this scene. Grider’s Dave Matthews meets Haggard sound is especially inspiring, fresh and promising. Artists like Jack Ingram can profoundly impact an audience anytime they are giving a performance. Could another revolution be brewing? Will Texas Music save itself from itself? Help all of us to insure that it does indeed keep on keepin’ on.
-Great to see everyone at the Jack/Cory Stubb’s show. Amazing how the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ve been hanging with the same people at shows for going on 6 years now. Nice to see old friends and new down in the ATX.
-We’re working on putting together the best Greenfest lineup to date. Look for details soon. Truly a major, special event going down this year.
-Cold weather is finally here and daddy likes it. I’m tired of the heat but by Christmas time I’ll be ready for summer again. True Texan that I am.
-Why is it that no matter what sporting event I attend, I sit in front of the rudest people out of the 80, 000 there. The other day at the UT/Tech game, the 2 most vile and unaware fellows I’ve run into in some years sat behind us. Screaming profanities the whole time and talking to their bookie on their cell phones. Not to mention the guy in front of me that brought his buddies 7 kids from Idaho and “squeezed them in”. By squeezing them in he must’ve meant “blocking” the view of everyone in the row behind them. UT Tix-$80. Parking pass: $5. Idiots in your section: Priceless.
-Go ‘Stros. As I posted on the boards, it’s hard for me to cheer for them as a Rangers fan but I’ll take Texas over Illinois anyday.
-This month’s recommended movie is: Crash. A very thought-provoking feature about life, beliefs and karma. I won’t say too much as to not spoil it, but check it out ASAP. First rate acting from most of the cast.
-This month’s recommended album is: Ryan Turner Rollin’ Up My Sleeves. If you don’t own it yet, get it.
-Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.- Mark Twain