BOYS W/ BUZZ.

image

AN INVITATION TO TWO WRITERS TO DEBATE THE MERITS OF AMERICA'S LATEST BUZZED BAND TURNS SOUR, THEN UGLY, THEN SMART, THEN SOUR
[posted 08.30.2001]

PRINT | EMAIL THIS STORY

[RESPONSE TO ASKING A WRITER TO DEBATE THE STROKES IN A SHINYGUN FORUM.]

>> ... i think any lip service paid to the strokes should be done by the professionals.

***

[FOLLOW-UP REQUEST TO TWO WRITERS TO PLEASE RECONSIDER DECLINING THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEBATE THE STROKES IN A SHINYGUN FORUM.]

>> i understand why you’d decline, but i have to say:
>> 1.) i’m not convinced “the professionals” will better service readers or this band by anything they do. you will see more fashioney photo shoots, more rock-crit-ego-smothered “reviews” by the hacksmiths at spin and rolling stone, and more blah-cute-boy interviews in paper and maybe if they’re lucky, jane.
>> 2.) you obviously have a lot to say. i read this stuff [you write] and i know you two have thoughts on the matter — maybe not novel-length thoughts, but surely 800 words of conversation. partly about the strokes, and moreso about the “machine” — if you believe in it — that is responsible for accelerating the noteriety of a band like the strokes. i’m not looking for dissertations on the chord progressions of their pop songs.
>> 3.) you two are perfect candidates to do this job. you both have a surreal knowledge of pop music and the industry, and you two — to me — come from opposite perspectives when it comes to something like the strokes. you both have a love for simply good music, and it’s curious to see — from the sideline — the things you’ve both written about this band.
>> this is my last and final offer.
>> if not this, then clothes shopping and makeovers for the lot of us.
>> michael

***

[ONE’S RESPONSE TO FOLLOW-UP REQUEST.]

>> mike, absolutely not. trying to milk the strokes for readership or cred is like trying to get milk out of MY tits. it just ain’t gonna happen.

***

[THE OTHER ONE’S RESPONSE TO FOLLOW-UP REQUEST.]

>> mike,
>> read this article.
>> it says a lot of what i want to say better than i could. the point about the self-congratulatory aspect of strokescoverage — ‘they sound just like all these bands that are revered now, that i OF COURSE would have liked then because i am a Sophisticated Customer Of Pop Music’ — is esp. salient.

***

[MY TURNING THE DECLINE-OF-DEBATE INTO A DEBATE ANYWAY.]

>> it says a lot of what i want to say better than i could. the point about the self-congratulatory aspect of strokescoverage —
>> that’s well-written but it still seems so black & white: media hype is bad, the band isn’t as revolutionary as the hype makes them out to be, if you like them then you don’t notice the hype, if you don’t like them the coverage is annoying, etc etc.
>> maybe i’m the only one, but criticizing media hype is just as tired as fluffy record reviews and blow-job Q&A interviews. yes, there’s a machine in place, we all know there is, and yes, it sucks that it propels some who are savvy enough to stardom and it smothers other worthy creative people.
>> what i find irritating — and i think [xxxxx] recognizes — is that how do i, as a somewhat informed music lover + writer, reconcile admiring a band when 90 percent of your brain tells you you should hate this band on principle. it’s like your ‘n sync situation but reversed — [xxxxx] loves the strokes, you think he’s a schmuck. you loved that ‘n sync single, and [xxxxx] thinks you’re a schmuck. but what’s the fucking difference between the strokes and ‘n sync? in terms of the Machine, they are the same exact commodity. there is no bleeding difference — they are profit potential. and in spite of that, i still buy their records, so i support that though my actions.
>> the other thing about the strokes is that i love that people hate them because of class/male privilege/sexism reasons. the strokes represent the patriarchy in such gross form — even moreso than something like limp bizkit, i’d say.
>> and i still buy their records.
>> there was a time where i was more than happy to draw lines in the indie rock sand, but i don’t care anymore. i’ll admit most times i just want a good beat that’s easy to dance to, and if it’s politically aware artists creating the good beats, then bonus. and the way my aesthetics work, i like beats like shellac and braid and alec empire and the cardigans. but really, i could give a shit. rock is fashion, and punk rock and indie rock and hipster rock are even more fashionable, and to criticize the mainstream machine and the hip machine for being fickle and for being fashionable is like scolding a kitten for being a cat.
>> anyway…
>> hmm… maybe i should be the one penning this article … ;)
>> michael

***

[FRIEND GOES ALONG WITH IT AND NOW IS, IN FACT, DEBATING THE STROKES.]

>> well no i think you are definitely right about the strokes and ‘n sync being the exact same cogs in the machine. which is why i think the self-righteousness of those who are hyping them to death bothers me so much — they’re not doing anything original, they’re not groundbreaking or earth-shattering or what have you… they are a rock band that happens to fit comfortably into the idiom of rock that critics are comfortable talking about/lionizing, and in this sense, yes, they are very much this year’s version of the interpreters, as [xxxxxxxx] pointed out on [xxxxxx] the other day. because they’re safe — that post i made on [xxxxxxxxx] about [xxxxx] not following ‘strokes style’ in his review was only half-kidding. look at any six writeups of them, whether it’s their records or their live shows being discussed, and you’ll see the same bands namedropped — and all those bands have one thing in common, that thing being a place in the critical hierarchy that made rock what it is today.
>> and you know the record’s going to tank, anyway, because it’s happened before, with all the bands that got signed in the post-nirvana hype, with the interpreters, etc etc etc. the pre-release critical mass is almost too much, i think. of course, maybe they’re hot enough to have a permanent spot on trl, but i don’t know. will the little girls understand? that’s the true test.
>> when julian c gets a vpship at whatever label signed the strokes, then we can talk about how they hew closely to the patriarchy ;)

***

[EPILOGUE: WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS ANYWAY?]

>> the people i knew who were really buzzing the strokes last year were new york fashionista people — a few fashion/web designers, some writers at paper magazine and other connected freelance magazine writers, and their friends of friends in the fashion/mag industry. it’s disturbing how all the fashionable press people here just unanimously decided they LOVE the strokes. but whatever. if you’re not a music elitist, the strokes can be a fun band. fashion/culture writers for paper and the face don’t give a shit who the strokes are influenced by. the strokes have interesting new faces and hip cred that fit perfectly in the pages of their magazines, which a bunch of other hip kids read, and when the city of new york is all exposed to the strokes in this massive printed-word-of-mouth frenzy, julian casablancas walks away with a big record deal from RCA, and he still doesn’t care who thinks he’s influenced by such-and-such and who-and-who from 1978.
>> i mean, these arguments about the strokes really reflect less about the band and more about the people who are making them. (including me!) [xxxxxxx] said it best — there’s just not much to say about the strokes. they’re just some young mid-shelf rock band. but everyone gets in a tizzy b/c what the strokes represent — mainly class and male privilege (and the unjustified generation of media buzz, and the “didn’t work for the acclaim you’re getting” resentment) — really pisses everyone off.
>> i mean, it’s just difficult b/c a lot of talented artists really want the music industry to be something different than what it is, which is something close to a shithole filled with new york wankers in gucci suits or carrrying gucci handbags looking to maximize profits and get high with beautiful 18-year-olds from the suburbs at Spa. and i know that’s become a cariacature of the Music Industry Stereotype, but those people are REAL and you see them walking around here every day, or if you hang out at Spa, you’ll see them there. and those people are the ones going home and saying their paper magazine friend just told me about this hot band The Strokes, i think i want to bring my RCA friends to their show b/c it’s the cool place to be friday.
>> last year, of course, b/c now they’ve surely moved on to something else. in the same exact way we’re all trying to now.
>> me, whatever. i just like reading Harry Potter books.
>> xo, michael

- - - - -

PRINT | EMAIL THIS STORY

michael solita lives and works and listens to braid much too much in new york city.