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.
#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
#4 The Standard Affiliates
Band: The Standard Affiliates
Hometown: Orange County Ca.
Band Members: Brian Huynh, Kyle Sain,Marty Griffin, Danny Leserman
#3.Alive & Well
Band: Alive & Well
Hometown: San Diego Ca.
Band Members: Matt Vernon – Vocals & Guitar | Mike Mule – Bass & Vocals
Pat Hughes – Lead Guitar | Eric Brozgold – Drums
2. Island Apollo
Band: Island Apollo
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
ANSWERED BY TREVOR RANKIN- VOCALS
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.”
The Progressive Hardcore/Metalcore band from Southern California “Paradigm” has dropped a new music video for their song Oxywolfe. Catch more news about the band on Facebook but for now enjoy this great video!!!