LOOKING OUT FOR NUMERO ¡UNO!
By now, unless you’re the sort of narrow-minded girlfriend-less shut-in who actively shies away from any music news not directly related to metal, you’ve no doubt heard of Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s profanity-laden outburst at Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas this past weekend.
Call it a meltdown. Call it a temper tantrum. Call it what you will, really. The guy’s in rehab now, if that helps you formulate an opinion.
One response to the incident that I’ve come across thus far that got me thinking came from Trevor Dunn, known for his work in Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, and, most recently, Melvins Lite:
“[T]here’s nothing worse then some rock’n’roll brat throwing a tantrum and going AWOL just because he can’t keep himself occupied. Yes, I’m referring to that little weasel in Green Day. That guy’s main problem is that he doesn’t realize that he is Justin Bieber. He should take some of the green in his wallet, buy himself a green smoothie and relax. What kind of band name is Green Day anyway? Is that in reference to all the chord progressions they continually recycle?”
Here’s why that’s crap.
Yes, it’s oh-so-much-fun to rag on pop stars, be they tween twinkies, teen idols, or aging mall punks. We’ve all done it at various points in our lives to score a cheap laugh or thwart allegations of poseurdom. But Dunn’s response echoes a sentiment found commonly in metal that pop music is somehow less “real” or less artistically valuable than metal. Of course, put that notion under even the slightest bit of scrutiny and it falls apart quicker than Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Topically, metal has the lyrical depth of a kiddie pool from the dollar store. Have you actually read the lyrics to some of this stuff? Forget the deathcore dummies or folk metal flunkies for a minute. Behind the grindcore growls and power metal projecting lies some of the most vapid, stunted shit ever to make it past your abandoned junior high school Livejournal. And what’s worse, some of it is so insufferably whiny and sniveling that it makes Justin Bieber look as badass as Terry Crews.
We’re not better people than pop people, either. Metalheads can’t resist taking a potshot at R&B singer Chris Brown, yet we gleefully celebrate all sorts of ignorant, antisocial, sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic statements, behavior, and violence from our own artists. We scoff at sloppy substance-abusing celebs for their pathetic whorish behaviors, but provide nothing but well-wishes and light ribbing for the likes of Brent Hinds or Matt Pike. Sadly, our collective compassion only goes so far as our record collections.
Now, there’s always the possibility that Dunn has had a run in with Armstrong at some point, or heard from another musician pal that the guy is a complete and utter dickwad. (King Buzzo of the Melvins told me an incredible story once about how much Dave Mustaine sucks.) But the way I see it, we’re all in the same shitty boat and all of our selfish looking out for Numero Uno doesn’t make us superior. Nonetheless, I’m happy to talk about this topic further with the fine fellas in the Melvins rhythm section, whose Big Business project my band Human Toilet will have the pleasure of opening for this Saturday in New York City.
And if my plugging my band right there irked or upset you, that’s precisely the sort of stupid notion I’ve just spent the past few paragraphs railing against. We’re no better or worse than them, folks. So call me, maybe.