An alternative to what? The use of the word Alternative in music. | Articles

Bands, I have to get something off my chest. It’s about a word. Yeah, I know you’re probably shocked that a writer has a beef with a word. Predictable maybe, but what can you do? Writers get hung up on words. You might be wondering what word could have me so wound up that I need to blog about it. Well I’ll tell you. I have a beef with the term alternative – particularly as it applies to music.

I know that alternative is mostly a radio designation. Once upon a time, it might have had a little (and I stress little) more meaning. My question whenever I see a band that is categorized as “alternative” is “An alternative to what exactly?” I know. It means an alternative to pop.

Trust me, I am all for alternatives to pop music that is made with machines and sung by computers. But think about this. Norteno music (you know, the music that sounds like a Mexican polka) is also an alternative to pop. Black metal is an alternative to pop. But you know something? People have at least a vague idea of what norteno music and black metal sound like. Alternative is a generic term that doesn’t really give any description of the music. It doesn’t do anything to make a band stand out.

Think of it this way. If you send me your press kit, and you categorize yourself as an alternative-rock band, what are you really telling me? That you sound like every rock band that had one hit in the 90s (and a lot of others that weren’t even one-hit wonders)? Now ask yourself this. Why would you choose to give yourself a label that provides nothing distinctive about your band? I get it. Radio would identify you as alternative, and it helps you target the radio shows that might give you airplay. Airplay is always a good thing for a band – even if it’s on a station that can only be heard in a small town in Wyoming. But you should be able to distinguish yourself from other bands that are also looking for airplay at those same stations.

The term alternative is etched deeply enough into the music business that it’s likely not getting phased out anytime soon. In that regard, it makes sense to leave the term alternative in your press kit. Here’s my challenge to you though. Keep alternative in your press kit, but also try to come up with a term that is more unique to your band. (I can tell you from all the press kits that I see that many bands list themselves in multiple categories.) I’ll give you an example.

The Zambonis is a band that lists itself as hockey rock because all the band members like hockey, and they do a lot of songs about hockey. How many bands do you think fall into the hockey-rock category? Exactly. The Zambonis stand alone in that category. Plus, I didn’t have to look up The Zambonis. I was once contacted about the band, and I remember it because I’ve never heard of another band that plays hockey rock. If you do come up with a category which is unique to your band, then guess what. You’ve automatically given prospective interviewers something to ask you about when you do an interview. You’re not making music to lump yourself in with a million other artists. You’re doing it to stand out. So stand out already and at least try to come up with some enhancement to the overused and generic term alternative.

Here’s a link to a Los Tigres del Norte video if you want to link it to the term Norteno music. 

And a link to a Goatwhore video if you want to link it to black metal. 

Fresh new music this week! | OCML Top 5

#5. Common Grounds

Band: Common Grounds

Hometown: Los Angeles Ca.

Genre: Pop Punk/Alternative

Band Members: Mikey Pennington – Vocals | Dakota Martin – Drums   Alex Perez – Bass | Corey Cade – Rhythm Guitar

Reach them at:   Itunes   |  Instagram  | Facebook

 

 

 

#4 The Standard Affiliates 

Band: The Standard Affiliates

Hometown: Orange County Ca.

Genre: Indie/Alternative/Surf

Band Members: Brian Huynh, Kyle Sain,Marty Griffin, Danny Leserman

Reach them at: www.thestandardaffiliates.com  | Facebook |  Instagram

 

 

 

#3.Alive & Well 

Band: Alive & Well

Hometown: San Diego Ca.

Genre: Punk/Alternative/Rock

Band Members: Matt Vernon – Vocals & Guitar | Mike Mule – Bass & Vocals

Pat Hughes – Lead Guitar | Eric Brozgold – Drums

Reach them at: www.aliveandwellca.com | Facebook | Instagram

 

 

2. Island Apollo 

Band: Island Apollo

Hometown: LA/OC/SD

Genre: Indie/Alternative

Reach them at: www.islandapollo.com | Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

1. Missio 

Band: Missio

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Genre: Alternative/Electronic/Chillwave

Reach them at: www.missiomusic.com | Instagram | Facebook

 

Personalities lead singer Trevor, talks about their new album “Loose Ends” | Fresh Tracks

What inspired this Album?
Loose Ends was written during the darkest time of my life and the album is really a series of events that I experienced or witnessed. The lyrical content covers addiction, domestic abuse, battling suicide, and the loss of loved ones.
Where did the name of the Album come from?
We came up with the name “Loose Ends” as representation of us cutting ties (or failing to) with the events that present themselves in the record.
 
How long did this project take to complete from start to finish?
Roughly two years between writing, recording, post production, filming videos and having it ready to release.

 What kind of “sound” production wise, did you have in your mind prior to entering the studio?
The sound was molded from the emotions we were feeling at the time so it came out incredibly dark. We blended that with moments of having “the light at the end of the tunnel”  to be later brought back down to the bleak atmosphere that surrounds the album. Production wise, we needed the instruments to hit as heavy as the lyrics and the vocals to express the emotions we were trying to reflect.  
What is one of your favorite tracks on the new album? and why?
“A Letter of Departure” is probably my favorite, hard to pick though. This song holds some of my most vulnerable moments. I have never been so honest about struggling with addiction, paranoia, and the thoughts of suicide. It is a painful song to listen back to but, it helped me face my own demons and be honest with myself.
What encouraged the band to choose the current single for this new album?
“Tiny Tim” and “A Letter of Departure” were the two songs the band immediately gravitated to when we were discussing presenting our new music. Those songs are unmistakably Personalities and they were the next step in the sound we originally established.
Any overall theme of mood that you’re trying to capture while writing songs?
We write about real life and things we all experience. I was never one to write happy songs because to be honest I wasn’t happy. Every time I would make something even the slightest bit cheerful, it came of as cheesy to me. That’s not to say I don’t occasionally listen to music that fits the happy go lucky description but, the aggressive side of music has always been a home for me.
Does your vision for coming up with music get affected at all by time?
Yes! 110%. We aren’t in the same state of mind as we were when we were 18. As time moves on shit happens. If we capture a moment in time where emotions are creating any kind of inspiration then we write about it. Sometimes we don’t feel the same years down the line but, we took a snapshot of what we felt when those events took place.
How would you describe the sound of your new album to any potential new fan?
While there are some songs sounding completely different than others on the record, the general sound is aggressive and melancholy. The songs are heavy, dark, and blatantly honest. I hope that people can understand we write dark music with no resolution. We don’t claim to have all of the answers. But, there seems to be something therapeutic about listening to music that isn’t telling you what to do or how to feel or how to move on. These are songs about emotions we have felt, we hope by sharing them that others can relate and at least feel that there is someone out there feeling the same things they are.

Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
 Honestly, I wouldn’t have picked up a guitar if it wasn’t for Jimi Hendrix. So I definitely went through a Purple Haze phase. Corey Taylor from Slipknot is probably my hero. He turned metal mainstream and he did it wearing a mask. The Devil Wears Prada was actually a huge influence to me when I started writing and performing heavy music. I remember being 16 and destroying my vocal chords, screaming in my car to their music. I eventually figured out the rights and wrongs obviously. Losing your voice is a nightmare! The band as whole has so many different influences which allows us to create different sounding music each record!

ANSWERED BY TREVOR RANKIN- VOCALS

The Magic of Music

Music is more than a background accessory to chores and more than an excuse to drink. Music is the symmetry between emotion and expression. Words often fail and fall short, imprecise and clumsy but you can use a song to convey a feeling so much more accurately.

“Don’t tell a girl you like her, tell her she makes you feel

like the first time you heard “Amber” by 311.”

A lot of great movies are often defined by their soundtracks and some of the worlds leading peace activists have been musical artists. Music is a refuge where we can all go and lose ourselves both in tough times and in celebration.

Recognizing the importance of music is vital to the continued existence of music that is intrinsically good and not just marketable. You can make a book a best seller, a movie a blockbuster hit, and a record go platinum by paying the right people. We’re being sold macaroni pictures as Picasso’s simply because money is the motive. Some bands are easier to market or fit into a more accessible economic niche. That’s what they say but in a world full pet psychologists, life coaches, and designer baby carriers how can there not be a market for good music?

So can we blame companies for not driving through neighborhoods listening for unique music hoping that they happen to drive by a garage that produces this generations Doors and Van Halen? Of course not, music is a Democracy and if the only ones voting are going to be tweens then all that’s going to be remembered are the Biebers of the world.

From the drummers in Napoleon’s armies to the soldiers to the hymns sung at churches music is an inextricable part of our oldest institutions.

“This isn’t a new music revolution, art is always in a state of perpetual transformation.”

Music is the forefront of the arts, the most relatable medium of abstract expression. So get out there and enjoy local music. Listen to the artists playing music while waiting tables. You’d be surprised how much soul music can have when it’s not generating millions of dollars for someone and is instead the only medium someone can express themselves in. It doesn’t have to be auto-tune, crappy lyrics written to stir up preteens, and studio magic. In the words of Winston Churchill:

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.”