‘Redemption Is A Bitch Too End On’
Lately, I’ve been listening to Matt Pryor’s podcast ‘Nothing To Write Home About.’ Every week he interviews a musician and ask questions about the stories they have from the studio and the road. Most come from the punk rock scene of the late 90’s/early 00’s that unfortunately have awful genre labels attached to them. With the popularity of mediocre bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance, the scene that was once underground and special to those who loved it has blown up into the mainstream. And with the MTV population eating it up, it seemed to lose all meaning. It was no longer special; it was now for everyone.
My biggest musical influences come from generations past. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Doors, etc; I got into these bands due to my parents influence. Music was always being played, so obviously I was attracted to whatever my folks were playing. Luckily, they didn’t listen to crap, so I’m forever grateful for their taste in music. Then came the onset of early 90’s R&B and the alternative wave of rock from Seattle; directly influenced by my older sister. She was always had the radio playing; switching back between Boston’s favorite stations Jammin’ 94.5 and WBCN 104.1 (R.I.P.) Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains became my newer favorite groups. Mix that with the onset of pop-punk, and my pallet changed thoroughly; making me search out newer music I could put my stamp of discovery on. Looking back now, perhaps this was my generations first influence of discovering music differently. Not by parents, siblings, or radio, but by word of mouth between people. And the internet.
When I started to get into underground music, people’s original mindset was basically a lyric taken word from a line in a Big D & The Kids Table song: ‘Want everyone to see that they did it first.’ Let me make something crystal clear: I went to punk rock shows for the music. Never to meet girls, get drunk, or be seen. I’m not straight edge; in fact, I love beer, but it just doesn’t feel right drinking at these shows; even today when I legally can. I rocked out in the pits with friends and sang along as loud as I could. I never wore tight pants or spiked bracelets. I wore band t-shirts to shows, jeans, and sneakers. During the week, it was collared shirts, sneakers, and jeans. I grew my hair out REALLY long once because my mindset was: ‘I might as well while I have the hair to do it.’ If you saw someone from a band in the club, you may say hello and tell them thanks for making such great music, and then walk away. It wasn’t big enough that you couldn’t talk to someone you saw play to a few hundred people 10 minutes ago. It was nice. You felt like you were part of some beautiful secret. Then the overground started to take notice and sink their poisoned fangs into it. Now I know how Seattle fans felt when Nirvana released ‘Nevermind.’
My buddy Mark really got me into a lot of music; especially at a certain point in my life when I needed it. Jimmy Eat World, (pre-‘Bleed American’) The Get Up Kids, Hot Rod Circuit, The Movielife, Saves The Day, Alkaline Trio, The Format etc; were always in heavy rotation. While I really enjoy punk rock and hardcore, I’ll always be a sucker for harmonies and melodies. That’s why I was more attracted to bands with a more melodic frame. We would drive all over New England seeing shows: The Worcester Palladium, Lupos and The Met Cafe in RI, Toad’s Place and The Hawks Nest in CT, Bill’s Bar and Axis in Boston, and The Middle East in Cambridge, MA. One of my favorite travel stories was the time a bunch of my friends and I drove to the Worcester Palladium for Day 2 of SkateFest (we were also there the night before). It was a great show, until The Movielife played there last set. Right before ending their set with ‘Jamestown,’ they basically stated they were done. We were heartbroken. We left immediately; bummed out to say the least. What did we do to cheer ourselves up? Drove 70 miles to see Big D & The Kids Table play at the Hawks Nest in Hartford. Then drive over 100 miles back to our suburban homes. It was an interesting day that definitely had it’s ups and down, but one I will always remember. If it hadn’t been for Mark, I never would have heard some of my favorite bands of all time.
There are few current musicians/songwriters that continue to impress me and respect them. Vinnie Caruana, Chris Conely, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder, Andy Jackson, Ben Gibbard and Matt Pryor. These guys could release anything with their name on it and I’m going to gobble it up. Why? Not only are they talented, but I have a deep respect for what they do.
While I don’t attend many shows anymore, I always keep an active interest in the music. I’ll see bands like Silverstein and Hawthorne Heights releasing new music; which I don’t really care for, but appreciate their effort in continuing to do what they do. In the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of bands reuniting and/or doing anniversary tours of albums. It’s strange; I feel ‘Something To Write Home About,’ and ‘Sticks and Stones,’ came out a year or two ago. In a lot of ways, I still feel like a 16 year old kid, hiking to see The Starting Line and The Benjamins (remember them!?) at Skatefest 2001.
These are some of the feelings and memories I get from listening to Pryor’s wonderful podcast. Not all musicians/songwriters are douche bags; Pryor proves this week after week.