The Ocean’s Robin Staps Calls Randy Blythe’s Arrest and Trial “the September 11th of the Metal Scene”

  • Axl Rosenberg

The Ocean vs Summer Slaughter

Earlier this month, The Ocean got into a war of words with Sumerian Records/Summer Slaughter founder Ash Avildsen over the fact that many of the venues forbade the band and the crowd from stage-diving. Now The Deciblog has a lengthy new editorial by The Ocean’s Robin Staps, in which he attempts to better explain the band’s position.

He doesn’t do a very good job.

Initially, Staps ostensibly, if inadvertently, argues that tours of Summer Slaughter shouldn’t even exist:

“A strict code of conduct for stage behavior essentially compromises the interaction between band and crowd, and the experience for fans that pay to see a show, as well as for us as musicians. Metal or hardcore shows with a high security prison atmosphere can no longer be the intimate experience that they are meant to be. All the bands on this tour belong close to the crowd, and sometimes in the crowd. This is a gesture that builds bridges, and that’s what sets us all apart from mainstream artists on huge stages, where the distance and the height of the stage becomes symbolic for a hierarchy between artist and crowd: the artist puts himself above the crowd, away from the crowd… like an untouchable deity that is being idolized by those who look up to him, literally and figuratively. While shows of a certain size essentially come with bigger and higher stages, this idolization is what we strive to avoid, through close and intimate interaction with the fans. This is why we meet people, to trade booze and food for merch, this is why we stay with fans, and this is also why we stage dive. As one commenter has put it: ‘At least the ocean and bands like them lower themselves and treat their fans like friends. Rowdy dysfunctional friends. It connects a crowd more than it ever separates. Isn’t that what music is all about?’”

That all sounds great in theory; certainly, the philosophy behind it is top-notch. Except that Summer Slaughter doesn’t hit up the kinds of tiny venues that might host a grindcore matinee. In fact, many of the venues it plays are owned by corporate entities, who could, we can safely presume, not give even one iota less of a fuck about being “close to the crowd.” I’m not saying this is “right” — I’m saying to complain that these entities do everything in their power to avoid a lawsuit is to remove oneself from the real world. If you honestly feel that strongly about it, you probably should participate in any tour that would play at such a venue.

Still, at this point in Staps’ argument, at least his greatest fault is being too-idealistic (a crime of which we have certainly been guilty here at MetalSucks). But then he really goes totally off the rails:

“At the heart of the recent security paranoia lies the case of Randy Blythe, which has become the September 11th of the metal scene. In its wake, we are seeing a drastic tightening of security policies at shows across the globe, and especially in America. And much like the Patriot Act, a result of September 11th, with it has come a massive infringement of civil liberties that has affected our society and changed our lives in many ways, much like the way new security policies at metal shows affect the practice of our subculture, and our freedom of artistic and emotional expression.”

Whhhhoooaaaa doggy! I get the point Stap is trying to communicate — that people are overreacting to a traumatic event — but the moment he compares it to 9/11, the whole thing becomes, well, ridiculous. Not being allowed to stage dive is not akin to ” a massive infringement of civil liberties.” This is just as hyperbolic and silly as Glenn Danzig comparing the PRMC to the Fascists, or Paul Di’Anno likening Steve Harris to Adolf Hitler. It’s so over-the-top as to be distract from any validity the argument might otherwise possess.

Also, let’s be real: as horrible as what happened to Randy Blythe was, it absolutely wasn’t the September 11th of the metal scene. There’s a whole other event which already has that dishonor. Just sayin’.

Read all of Staps’ piece here.

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