Friday, April 23, 2004
This Is A Local Band For Local People
Fuck knows that nobody from further afield than Taunton would be prepared to put up with this backwards, idealess, derivative growling shite.
Three bands last night, each playing for between 20 and 40 minutes at The Cellars Bar in Teignmouth, the town’s ‘cool’ pub where the teenagers in distressed denim and their dads who used to be in blues bands drink. And the builders with extravagant tattoos. The quiz always used to be on a Thursday – it was good fun. We’d generally come second to a team made up of people’s dads.
First up was Heresy, four local kids with too many guitars (third on the bill at a small Devonshire pub on a Thursday night and you shouldn’t really be swapping guitars after every song – they’re all drop D tuned and the acoustics and sound mix [ha!] in here mean no one’s going to be able to tell the difference sonically). I was sure they’d announced themselves as ‘Hennessey’ and was thus expecting some bling bling punk. What I got was Kyuss-go-emo without the campness and virtuosity. Not pleasant. The singer was wearing a white shirt with a tie.
Second came 62pennies from Birmingham. All hail Linda Blair in The Exorcist! When did it become a viable option for singers in ‘rock’ bands to imitate that guttural, possessed howl? To be fair 62pennies rocked and rocked hard, much more dynamic than the first band on, lots of jumping and throwing punk rock death metal shapes. But not my thing. And I don’t hold out much hope for the singer being able to speak properly in a few years time if he keeps on growling like Bill Hicks’ impression of a heavy metal demon for every chorus.
The reason for being there was Clay (spelt with a K – I’m google-proofing it [and wont mention names either]), a band who I went to school with and who are managed by Muse’s first manager. The one who didn’t manage to make them successful.
The singer and guitarist I knew for years at school without ever being friends with, since we were five years old or so, captains of the football team, good middle-class sporty stock, dads with moustaches and Vauxhalls, mums on the PTA. The singer I don’t think I’ve ever exchanged more than five words with in nearly 20 years. I don’t think anyone’s exchanged more than five words with him in 20 years. The guitarist is a nice enough bloke, but when we were 15/16/17 and everyone was into music, when I was an anachronism into Massive Attack and Orbital and The Verve and everyone else ‘into music’ at school was into grunge and post-grunge (this is 1994-1996, remember – provincial Teignmouth and Dawlish working at about 3 years behind schedule to London or wherever), he liked The Stone Roses and Nirvana and that was it. Now the bassist and drummer, that’s a different matter. The bassist is a girl a friend of mine sued to go out with (she dumped him to go out with the mute singer when we were 18), and a classically trained musician – cello, double bass, piano, violin, just about anything was pick-up-and-playable for her – and she actually teaches music as her day job. The drummer is her brother, and equally musically talented. And yet both of them are stuck playing post-grunge pseudo-Mogwai rhythm patterns for an Americanised singer with nothing to say (one lyric was [uergh, cliché alert] “are you listening or just waiting for your turn to speak?” – you don’t need to listen because he never says anything, he’s like a conversation blackhole, you become as mute as he is) to drawl over and the captain of the football team to riff on top of. Sure, the drumming was wicked (it carried the instrumental passages), but there are two fantastic musicians in this band being woefully underused, and as my mate Joe (who’s in a band in Leicester which I shall tell you more about over the coming weeks and months) said a couple of years ago when we last saw them, it’s fucking criminal to neglect that talent and ability.
Maybe it’d be OK if the songs were OK, but there was nothing there. Some postrock ambling by people who’ve heard Mogwai and maybe that Slint record but never bothered to explore beyond that (I wonder at this stage if Disco Inferno aren’t postpop as opposed to postrock), some Americanised drawl as I already said, some riffing… It sounds as if they’ve heard maybe five record between them, those records being The Bends, Nevermind, something by Soundgarden, something by Fugazi (bought for them) and something by Mogwai (bought for them [and probably Come On Die Young). And the worst thing is that the guitarist of the teenpunkpopgroovenoie band I helped give a prize too about a year ago (search the archives) was there (he’s had a growth spurt) and was obviously in awe because they’re older and more proficient than him, and because his brother’s friends with them, when his band were 1000 times more enjoyable and exciting.
I left feeling depressed and miserable at having wasted an evening I could have spent at home, alone, with a couple of glasses of red wine and a record I actually enjoyed, as backwards and safe as that is.
4/23/2004 02:02:00 pm