“If the mainstream’s reach is what you preach,
Whose pockets are you filling?“
Song: “Stones Thrown”
Album: Honor Is Dead
#@!% the media and the voices it echoes.
This piece is directed towards Bono. Please make sure he receives it.
Upon reading your recent interview in Rolling Stone, I must thank you for bringing to light the issue of angry music, the form of music in which I hold most dear. Your passage of note:
“I think music has gotten very girly. And there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment – and that’s not good. When I was 16, I had a lot of anger in me. You need to find a place for it and for guitars, whether it is with a drum machine – I don’t care. The moment something becomes preserved, it is fucking over. You might as well put it in formaldehyde. In the end, what is rock & roll? Rage is at the heart of it. Some great rock & roll tends to have that, which is why the Who were such a great band. Or Pearl Jam. Eddie has that rage.”
This is valid to an extent. When I look at the Grammy nominees for any rock category, I want to vomit. K. Flay is not true rock and nor are The War on Drugs and Leonard Cohen. Quality musicians they may be, but they do not evoke the true spirit of rock and roll*, which, as you say, is rage. Nothing More’s presence in the Grammy nominees is a welcome surprise, but there’s always some random dark horse. I’m surprised Nickelback wasn’t nominated, even though they actually deserve it this year.
To talk about how the Grammy’s qualify a certain genre is a tireless task, as they do not know an aardvark from an igloo. But because the Grammy’s are big cash-grab popularity contests anyway, it’s a good gauge to see what the industry values. And the industry values YOUTH$$$, who are too progressive and self-involved to be angry at anything. They accept complex ideals, but they do now know how to fight with fists. They adore the reflection in the mirror rather than wanting to shatter the pathetic face looking back at them.
But I have it, Bono. I have the rage. I saw Thrice in concert last month and when they opened with “Blood in the Sand,” a song about our country’s xenophobic and corrupt agendas, I lost my mind. With my fist clenched and lungs launching my rage into the sky, all my frustrations of 2017 released, if only for a moment. It felt good Bono, friend, amigo.
A modern rock band did that to me. And they are not an aberration – there are more. The key is to stop looking in the bare cupboards of decades past.
When the river dries up, what do you do? You search for new sources of water. That is the state of rock music today. While the tried and true lose their edge and form and ever-increasing piece of the pie, others rise. But you, Bono, along with your hip shades, are too big to see them. Metallica and Nine Inch Nails aren’t getting at my rage like they once did, and I have don’t know why. Maybe it’s because you can only express that emotion so many times before it becomes stale. But bands such as Wovenwar and Bring Me the Horizon are bringing it full force.
The song you hear above should be of great refreshment to your tired ears. Do you feel it, Bono? Do you feel the shrapnel of angst and purpose upon your ear drums? (You should listen to more Wovenwar – they are as poetic as us revolutionaries deserve.) Have you listened to literally any heavy metal band in the past 10 years?
A few years ago, I found myself in a lulled state, much like the girly state you mentioned. All of a sudden I was filling my playlists with the likes of Vampire Weekend, Janelle Monae and Fleet Foxes. There is nothing wrong with them, but I had no outlet for the rage, Bon Bon. So I went to go find some.
If you want to know where boys put their rage outside of rap, I’ll throw some more names at you: Spoken, Blue Stahli, Nine Shrines, Palisades, As Lions, Young Guns and letlive. Even modern titans such as Rise Against, Five Finger Death Punch and Sum 41 are still ripping guitar solos, gritting their teeth and raising their fists. Start there – I have more if you need them. I didn’t even get into the unwavering death metal bands, who I can tell influenced approximately zero percent of your newest album.
My anger has a place with these rock bands. I found them because I looked. My 16-year-old self approves. Oh, Bono. With all your success, you do not need this music, so you probably haven’t looked.
But hey, we still have the Pearl Jam, the Who and the Metallica of old. That’s the beautiful thing about music – we can still listen to eras preserved in sound. But those bands were once nothing, remember. You were once nothing. If you’re going to find rage, you’ll find it in those still trying to become something.
So is there really a rock and roll revolution around the corner, Bono? Only if the music industry wants it.
- *We don’t have the time to discuss the difference between rock and rock & roll today. We’re just going to focus on the concept of anger through music.
- I do not appreciate blanket statements about what there is/isn’t in music – there is literally something of everything. Whether you ever hear it is up to billionaire titans, so check yourself before you start…throwing stones.
- PS Bono: Thank you for inspiring Brandon Flowers to write The Killers’ “Have all the Songs Been Written?” Your advice has helped me as well.
- PPS Bono: Don’t ever put one of your albums in my library without my permission again. That’s exactly what I’m talking about: How can we experience new, virile blood when you’re force-feeding your Viagra soundtracks upon us?