The Music of My Life Pt.2
When Emo meant wearing flannel.
I've been to four Vans Warped Tours in my life. The one that stood out as an amazing experience was Warped Tour 2000. This Warped Tour had it all for me; Green Day headlining, NoFx on the main stage, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones launching some dude out of a friggin cannon, meeting some of the dudes from Anti-Flag, Pro Skaters doing their thing, and also watching a bunch of hippie vegans throw rocks at Papa Roach...
It was heaven on earth for me. I bought my 2001 tickets the day they were made available, and eagerly counted down the days. Would I get to see the newer bands that grabbed my attention like AFI? Would NoFx come back? I wonder if The Offspring was playing on any dates? What new bands would I stumble across? My mind fried with those questions until I saw the bandlist.
Gone was NoFx, in it's place was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were replaced with a new band growing in popularity called Good Charlotte.
Green Day would no be returning to headline, but instead 311 and A New Found Glory. Fenix Tx was also on the roster.
Because I already had the tickets, and I hadn't heard anything from most of the bands, I ended up going with my then-girlfriend at the time, Dan the best friend, and a few other kids from school. It was then that I realized I was a sucker for girls, as I gave up my opportunity to see AFI because my girlfriend was i love with the twins from Good Charlotte. I gave up seeing Rancid to check out A New Found Glory, and I sat through Fenix Tx with much reluctance. Oh, and my girlfriend didn't want me getting hurt in the pit, so I stayed by her side holding all my friends stuff as they went crowd-surfing and had other fun times. Although I repeated the mistake a few years later, I realized it's usually a bad idea to go to a festival of bands such as Warped Tour with a girlfriend.
The picture above is of Dan (he's the one with liberty spikes) watching A New Found Glory shortly before he yelled "This is B*llSh*t!" and exploded into forming a massive pit. I watched in amazement as he rallied up some like-minded folk into one of the biggest pits I've ever seen. I looked at my then girlfriend with my sad blue eyes, and finally she said "Ugh, fine. Go!" and I left all our crap with her to join in the frenzy. During Warped Tour 2001 I also met an awesome band from Australia called BodyJar. I think they have a song or two on some Tony Hawk games, but anyway they dedicated a song to me and Dan gave them one of his lighters.
After Warped Tour 2001, I asked a friend of mine if he had fun. His response confused me a bit, as he stated "Yeah, but there were way too many emo bands."
I had heard this term before, but it had not been used to describe a band that sounded like A New Found Glory or Good Charlotte. Instead it was a term frequently hovering above the heads of musicians that still had that Seattle based sound. In their reaction to music not relying on heavy metal guitar riffs and solos, and with lyrics that were more inward and not fitting of the drugs, sex, and rock'n'roll lifestyle, metal kids had used the word "emo" as a derogative term for practitioners of music more akin to Nirvana than Pantera or Slipknot.
Regardless of what I considered to fit the term "emo", people my age and in my area were using it as a way to describe punk/pop-punk/metal bands that had gone corporate. Bands that once took a stand against everything popular had now become popular. I heard people call everything from Blink 182 to Metallica-Post hair cut "emo", and the word always perplexed me.
You see, in the early to mid-90's my musical influence was pretty much dominated by bands my older teenage friends were listening to. This was good for a number of reasons, as it introduced me to bands that were more mature and more to my eventual liking. While kids in my grade where doing the macarena, or grooving to some Dee Lite, I was being influenced by the Alternative scene.
Where Bush and Nirvana were my gateway bands, I quickly found myself listening to smaller bands that often did not find a lot of time on MTV. I found these bands in a variety of ways; word of mouth, signing up for a record label's newsletter and getting sampler's of newly signed bands, etc. I learned of the "emo" movement years ago when bands like Fugazi, Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas is the Reason, Jimmy Eat World, Mineral, and others were said to be "pioneering" the genre.
Looking even further into it, bands like Fugazi (pictured above) had been around since the the late 80's, and had been thought of as a subgenre to hardcore punk. The "emo" movement was prominent in places such as Seattle and Washington D.C and later featured bands such as Mineral (from Texas) and The Get-Up Kids (from Missouri).
I'm not a musical historian. I'm not an advocate for one specific genre. As much as I like Pennywise, I like Pantera. As much as I like Mineral, I like Skid Row. As much as I like Black Sabbath, I also like Atom and his Package. My musical tastes are too large to find myself categorized in one classification. I'm writing this article for a few key reasons of my own, and I'm confident they'll come across without me stating the obvious.
See? Look closely... Even in my "Punk" days, I still sported the flannel.
Anyway, I had a love for my "emo" bands. Sunny Day Real Estate and Mineral especially. If you haven't heard of SDRE, they were a band consisting of lead vocalist/guitar player Jeremy Enigk, drummer William Goldsmith, Bass player Nate Mendel, and guitarist/vocalist Dan Hoerner.In 1994 they released one of my favorite albums of all time, Diary, for indie record label Sub-Pop (famous for recording Nirvana's first album, as well as other music by renowned bands like The Shins and The Postal Service).
Fans of the band Foo Fighters might recognize Nate Mendel, who left SDRE to join David Grohl's post-Nirvana project, and may also perhaps be a bit familiar with William Goldsmith who for a brief time was also in Foo Fighters.
After Sunny Day Real Estate lost Nate Mendel, they put out a few more albums, most of which were really good. Jeremy Enigk would disband Sunny Day Real Estate to record his critically acclaimed solo album, Return of the Frog Queen.
Sunny Day Real Estate later re-formed (sans Mendel) and even started a sort of spin-off band called The Fire Theft with all SDRE's members excluding Hoerner. I'd suggest you check out the following SDRE songs if the seem like something that'd tickle your proverbial fancy;
"Guitar and Videogames"
Another band prominent in the scene was Mineral. Mineral was formed in Houston, Texas and consisted of band members Chris Simpson who did lead vocals and guitar, Scott McCarver on guitar, Jeremy Gomez on bass, and Gabriel Wiley on drums. For the uninitiated, Mineral released two albums; their first being The Power of Failing, and their second being EndSerenading before disbanding in 1998.
In my opinion, Chris Simpson's lyrics are brilliant, the music breathtaking, and the vocals are amazing, however a lot of people find his vocal styling too monotonous and drawn out. The Power of Failing is definitely faster paced and heavier than almost anything found in EndSerenading, but I find myself drawn more towards EndSerenading for it's religious content and beautiful musical arrangements.
Mineral is not for everybody, but they're definitely for me.
I'd recommend testing out the following songs-
"Five, Eight and Ten"
After disbanding Mineral, Chris Simpson and Jeremy Gomez formed another project that's nearly as great as Mineral. This band is The Gloria Record, and they have a more experimental sound than the Mineral sets. After The Gloria Record disbanded, Chris formed a new project called ZooKeeper. I got to see them live in Hollywood, and they were amazing. Their sound is more of a frenzied folkish vibe that incorporates organs, harmonica, and other instruments seldom used in popular music.
Many of you probably know of Jimmy Eat World. A few years back they had a hit song called "The Middle" that made it's rounds on VH-1, MTV, and Fuse. In 1996 they released an album called Static Prevails. It was their second album following their self-titled debut. The album is an opus of Alt. Rock hits that are sure to satisfy fans of the genre. For starters, current lead-singer Jim Adkins
shares his singing duties with Tom Linton, who in my opinion has a way better sounding voice than Jim. Back then, Jimmy Eat World could do no wrong in my book. Today's Jimmy Eat World just isn't really my thing, but regardless, I always have Static Prevails and the other handful of songs released before and after Static Prevails that I enjoy.
Songs you should give a listen to include-
If bands like New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, and the like are more of your style, and the SDRE and early Jimmy Eat World are too different for your tastes, I'd recommend The Get-Up Kids. They're sort of the band that fills in the gap between the past and present. Not as dreary as SDRE or Mineral, but more upbeat and way more vocally similar to many Pop-Punk bands out there, The Get-Up Kids have gone on to inspire many popular bands. From Blink 182 to Fall Out Boy, and pretty much everything inbetween, bands have admitted that The Get-Up Kids were a huge influence on their style. Founded in 1995, this Kansas City, Missouri based band began writing songs that would eventually land them gigs opening for Green Day and Weezer. They had an intensity at their live shows that filled the audience full of energy; something a lot of the other bands in the genre lacked. Their second album was released in 1999, making it this close - - to not fitting the format of this site we all know and love as retrojunk, but to hell with it. It's considered a classic by many and it helped kick start a whole new era of pop-punk bands; for better or worse.
Songs to give a listen to would include-
"I'll Catch You"
"I'm a loner, Dottie. A Rebel"
Okay, I lied about blatantly stating the obvious points of this article. Here they are:
First, I wanted to make a point about how the term "Emo" has mutated, evolved, and eventually become...well, this
and show that although these founding members of the emo genre were burdened with the term "Emo", they more closely resembled the sound and clothing choices of the classic 90's flanneled Alt. Rock. Emo became a term later used to identify bands that "sold out", or gained popularity by appearing in Tiger Beats and having videos on MTV, and then "emo" and "screamo" became almost interchangeable in describing dudes who look like chicks, chicks who look like lesbians, tight pants, whiny voices, and also bands who decorate the walls of pre-pubescent girls. That genre is so popular now (at least where I live)that it's hard to walk down the street without noticing guys who wear women's jeans. This makes me internally chuckle at the thought of how one word had created a genre, became a term used for punk that sold out, and then went on to become exactly the opposite of what it originally intended to be.
Point 2 was to introduce some of my favorite bands I grew up listening to that some of you have not heard of. I hope some of you give them a listen, because they're all bands I feel have pushed the boundaries in many ways. Agree, disagree, or agree to disagree, these are the bands I've bonded with over the years. If it wasn't so hot here in Southern California...
I'd be wearing flannel and I'd take my hackysack everywhere I'd go : )
And lastly and probably not so subtly, I'd like to point out that a lot of these scene bands have more influence from metal than they do with what once was considered "emo".The tight clothes and outrageous hair are back, folks. Trends come and go, and come and go again but ever so slightly tweaked. Shredding guitar solos are ever so prominent in modern bands like Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold. You may not consider them emo, or screamo, or scene-core, or whatever but take a look at the majority of fans attending their concerts.
See? He's even got a Whitesnake shirt.
Not to bag on anyone who's into what these
days is considered "emo"or screamo, or scene-core,
etc. It's not my thing. I guess I'm too old to understand it.
Now you kids get off my lawn!
So I hope you've enjoyed this second part of my musical interests and influences. The next article will be based around my frustrations, triumphs, failures, and journeys as a teen musician.
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