How could they—how could they do this?! And to you of all people—

You, who so loyally downloaded each of their album leaks; you, who mobbed them outside their tour bus to plug your band they didn’t want to hear about at 1:45 in the morning; and, of course, you, who left an elitist comment on an MS thread about how KVLT they used to be and how nothing they’ve done recently is worth a damn—What nerve!

Bands change, and as human beings we’re hardwired to resist that. But deep down, in our own girly, paradoxical way, we sort of look for it, too. Ambivalence aside, if you were to investigate the primary reasons as to why the majority of the groups you like head south (not on tour), it would likely come down to the fact that they did actually change things. What you thought wasn’t broken they tried to fix anyway and now you’re left with an annoying buzz and a whole bunch of spare parts.

We go about saying “oh that band ‘sold out’” or “they used to be good, but now they’re just a bunch of pussycats.” But that’s not really all that descriptive. Music nerds love to complain, not explain, and maybe that’s the problem here. In this series we will explore the leading factors in a band’s artistic decline and examine just why it is that your rock gods of yester-year are now the radio slobs you can’t bear to hear.

Without further a do, Part 1!

1) Quality of Life ⇑ (up arrow)

It isn’t hard for musicians in rock or metal to write about problems, heartache, and all sorts of negativity because, well, you pretty much set yourself up for all of that when you chose such a futile path. Your friends will be alienated by your promotional whoring, you won’t have the money to pay rent, you’ll be living in grimy motels for weeks on end, and your girlfriend (provided that you have one) will probably think that your goals are immature and dump your ass at some point.

That’s a whole lot of negativity to draw on, and certainly more than a few great songs have been written about such hardships, but what happens when the well runs dry?

Your band, despite the nay saying of some familiars, has actually gone somewhere. You’ve sold your fair share of records, you’ve got a family you can afford to support, and you’ve even got a nice little house out in the country you like to pretend you grew up in. Do people seriously expect you to keep writing about pains in your brain or cold blood freezing your arterial walls?

You may have been a bald angry guy back in the day who whined over a few power chords about how mom and dad just didn’t get you…

… but you’re a changed man now. You’d rather sing about friends, family and a sudden appreciation for politically conservative views. And what’s wrong with that?

You may have been the second best thing resembling Alice in Chains on the Spider Man 1 soundtrack…

… (Jerry Cantrell was also featured on the compilation), but now radio ballads just feel so right:

I mean, heck your band can start off like this…

… and go all “posi” with no warning:

(Let it be said, though, that Anathema’s latest album is actually pretty good, minus some cheesy moments.)

All Music Guide will applaud your group’s bold decision to relinquish whatever emotion or unique characteristics you once had in favor of finally growing up. Your ex-girlfriend totally wants you back now.

It’s a sad, but understandable circumstance. Even Trent knew he couldn’t go on angsting us forever, and the happily married 46 year-old appropriately pulled the plug on NIN before any damage could be done (although How To Destroy Angels hasn’t exactly been butterflies and jellybeans either).

Of course, you can sidestep this problem altogether as Chino Moreno once gleaned in a pre-Diamond Eyes interview with Spin Magazine:

I don’t like listening to people’s problems — I like music. Music has been smothered with that complaining since the early-’90s. It gets old. Instead of going to the opposite side of the spectrum and listening to Black Eyed Peas, which is just straight silly, I choose to listen to more instrumental music. I do very little singing about myself on this record. I love songs where I can totally take myself out of being human. I can sing about really odd things, and they don’t necessarily have to pertain to me at all. It paints a picture. Those are the kind of lyrics I grew up with — like the Cure. Really visual images and no storytelling.

-William Goodman, In the Studio: Deftones, February 2010.

I guess if you can moan seductively about dots on the wall and strange shapes on the ceiling you’re set. Then again, not every band can put out a Diamond Eyes six albums into their career.


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