Metal in the Media

Read Andrew W.K.’s Stirring Defense of Metal

  • Axl Rosenberg

Andrew-WK-Grumpy-Cat1In case you don’t know: Andrew W.K. does a weekly advice column for The Village Voice called, appropriately enough, “Ask Andrew W.K.” And in the latest installment of this series, Mr. W.K. answers an e-mail from a woman, identified only as “Sick of Negative Vibes,” who is troubled by her boyfriend of two years’ musical tastes: “He’s always been into metal and pretty aggressive stuff,” she writes, “but now his musical taste seems to be getting truly evil.” She’s upset that “The album artwork and posters and books he has in his room” feature “Lots of blood and guts and devils and just evil-looking stuff,” and she’s concerned that it’s all “bad for your karma”: “I really don’t want this stuff corrupting my boyfriend and making him change from the loving, positive person he is.”

As a metal fan who has heard this kind of nonsense countless times in the past, you’re probably already rolling your eyes. But here’s where “Sick of Negative Vibes” really crosses the line:

“I tried removing some of the albums from his room and he freaked out. I tried telling him I wouldn’t come over with that stuff in his house, but that didn’t work either. I don’t want to make him mad, but I do want this negative stuff out of our lives. So, since you’re so focused on positivity, I’m hoping you can give me some advice. How do I rescue my boyfriend and our relationship from these negative influences?”

Oh brother.

Luckily, the always-delightful W.K. manages to reply in an intelligent, articulate manner that we should all cut-and-paste and keep handy for any time anyone questions the nature of the music we love ever again:

“You know what the biggest negative vibe is in this situation? You. Trying to make your boyfriend give up the music he enjoys — that is true negativity. I understand how you’re feeling, but rather than censoring someone’s experience, I suggest you strive to develop your own spirit and make it large and strong enough to appreciate and interact with all types of emotional concepts, all types of feelings, all types of people, and all types of beliefs — including those that deal with the ideas of darkness, cruelty, death, destruction, anger, hatred, and evil. Desperately trying to hide — or make other people hide — from certain types of feelings is a losing battle. And it’s likely that we’ll experience more hurt and damage in our efforts to avoid that part of the world than we will by developing a heart and mind capable of engaging with the full spectrum of reality, from light to dark, and beyond.

“It’s interesting how often people confuse ‘evil sounding’ music with true evil. By its very nature, music is benevolent. Music means well. It’s virtually impossible to bend the will of music toward a truly negative intention. Music can be used to achieve all sorts of things, depending on who wants to use it and for what purpose, but the music itself is pure goodness. Music doesn’t waste its time in dealing with human concepts like “good and evil.” Thankfully, music exists in a realm above and beyond the need for logical ideas and theories. Music is where we can find relief from reason and truly experience ‘pure feeling.’ Music is what feelings sound like — feelings before we analyze and deconstruct them into digestible abstractions like ‘happy feeling’ or ‘sad feeling.’ Music is just pure feeling.”

And that’s just the first two paragraphs of his response! He goes on to point out that “Music is a safe haven where we get to explore the full range of what it is to be alive — a way we can explore feelings and sensations we can’t describe or have access to any other way,” and correctly asserts that “Too much damage in this world is caused by people trying to ‘remove’ what they don’t like from existence.” It’s the kind of argument that will make you wanna stand up and applaud.

You really should read the whole thing. You can do so right here.

Additional reporting by David Lee Rothmund.

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