Our man Harry delivers another broadside to the music fraternity… does what you look like matter? Should you all be thinking about having the same haircut in order to breakthru? Harry wakes up your Monday in a way only he can… from his Soapbox!
“Fucking music journalists! Critics! What the hell do you know, anyway? You’re just washed-up, failed musicians. Bitter, twisted and resentful hacks without the talent to make it in a band. You sit there, behind your keyboards, spitting bile and poison, sneering at those of us with the balls and the talent you haven’t got, doing what you can’t!” So said one tired and emotional musician following a less than stellar review of his band’s, strictly average, offerings. Actually, he didn’t say that, really. He wasn’t sufficiently cultured, articulate and refined to couch his rant in such elegant prose. He was much more, ah, industrial in his choice of epithets. I’m paraphrasing here, you understand.
So what caused the above unnamed muso to react so vehemently? Did I pan his music? Only a little bit. Did I slag his performance? Not at all, actually. Did I, then, stick the boot in on a much deeper level and damage so badly his frail and trembling little psyche? Again, no. I merely observed that, despite some musical promise and a performance of undoubted vigour and energy, he and his band looked like a motley crew of destitute vagrants; unwashed scruffs of the kind more usually found queuing at a soup-kitchen. Greasy, unkempt hair, filthy, stained, unwashed jeans, unironed shirts with that morning’s breakfast clearly visible and neither a clean shave or a proper beard between them. Simply the lazy sod’s Monday-morning-half-way-house stubble. In other words, people, my observations concerned his image.
Yeah, thorny one that, right, kids? You can sneer and maintain it’s all about “our art, man!” you can insist on purity in the artistic wilderness all you like because, and make no mistake here, if you don’t pay attention to every facet of your band’s operation, and that includes image, then you’ve virtually guaranteed that the wilderness is where you will remain. Oh I know it’s not fair, that you’re such a great band everyone should simply accept your breathtaking monuments to musical excellence as and when you deem fit to bestow them but seriously? Grow up. Life isn’t fair and life in the music business, in particular, is not only unfair but also illogical, capricious and bewildering. The hard truth is that you need every single thing you can muster to give you an edge, to make you stand out, to set you apart from the also-rans. Image, guys. I say again; image.
Before some smart-arse reminds me we’re talking rock ‘n’ roll here, not going for an interview at a bank, let me remind you of a fundamental rock ‘n ‘roll truth; all great bands are gangs. Fact one. They behave like gangs. Fact two. And they have a visual uniformity, consistency and cohesion that reflects that truth. Fact three.
That applies as much to Black Label Society, with their strong biker-style brand, as it does to blow-dried and lipsticked 80s New Romantic dandies like Duran Duran. Ditto Motorhead, Motley Crue, Status Quo or, my bête noire, The fecking B**tl*s, to pluck just four examples entirely at random. On an unsigned/independent level there are so many bands cluttering up the scene that sport a disregard of personal presentation, even basic hygiene, to make the most unsightly and raggedy-arsed of road-crews blush. In fact, most bands I see don’t even look like bands; most look like roadies.
Thankfully, there are exceptions. Look at JD & The FDCs. Their presentation tells me they’re serious about what they do. It doesn’t matter if you like their look or not. It’s the message it sends that matters. It says ‘we care so much about everything we’re offering you we even make an effort with our non-musical concerns’. Other examples? Dakesis. Check out their photo. It tells you exactly what they’re about and presents a visual image on which some thought has clearly been expended. Ditto bands as diverse as Evil Scarecrow, Bury The Ladybird and Winter In Eden.
‘Appearances shouldn’t matter!’ ‘That’s shallow!’ Yeah, yeah, yeah; whatever. Apart from all that, though, why wouldn’t you want to present your band in the possible light? In all walks of life people make value-judgments based on visuals. You’re stuck with that. You won’t change it so unless you really don’t care about your career and your progress, wise up, smarten up and get an image. It matters.
taken by Keith Mitchell and then jazzed up by Dazmondo
Photo by Sue Paterson
Copyright Cryptikcorp 2011