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Code Orange Say Metal “Needs to be More Forward-Thinking”

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Code Orange are one of a small handful of bands I’d place at the forefront of metal’s up-and-comers right now. And yet, the band’s guitarist, Reba Meyers, and frontman, Jami Morgan, think the genre’s fans and its industry gatekeepers have some work to do when it comes to how metal is marketed and presented to the world compared to other kinds of music. Are they right? Well, let’s dive in.

Speaking to Metal Hammer, Meyers had this to say about why metal has been far eclipsed by pop and hip hop popularity-wise in recent years:

“I love metal, but there needs to be more forward-thinking. It’s expected to be the most forward-thinking genre, but right now I think it’s falling behind some other genres. You look at a metal festival lineup and the headliners are all just bands from the 90s. If you look at festivals like Coachella, the headliners are modern acts.

“The festival runners who maybe say, ‘Oh they don’t have a following enough,’ it’s not just up to them – it’s up to the entire industry. Whenever you push these bands as ‘small’ they’re going to be looked at as ‘small,’. A lot of that is up to perception.”

Reba is 100% correct about the way metal festivals are constructed vs. the likes of Coachella, etc. with regards to the headliners. But here’s the thing: her statement assumes that Coachella’s organizers are adding younger bands as headliners to give them a shot at the big time, and that if up-and-coming metal bands had the same opportunities they’d thrive in the role. I challenge this assertion head on: if Code Orange, for example, were to headline Download or Wacken, they’d draw a fraction of the crowd Tool or System of a Down or Slayer or whoever would. The young bands headlining Coachella earn those spots because they are already that popular whereas metal bands in the same boat aren’t. What I’m saying boils down to this: the problem with metal is its fans, not the industry. Believe me, the industry REALLY wants its young bands to become huge, and a whole lot of people behind the scenes spend a ton of time, effort and money attempting to accomplish that goal! But, as we’ve long since argued on this site, metalheads are hopelessly stuck in the past and they like it this way.

Morgan then added the following:

“Metal has this amazing, loyal fan base and amazing bands that have paved the way or are still groundbreaking. But, are any of the new bands some of the biggest bands? No. In rap, or any other kinds of music, are the newest people the biggest? 100% That’s the problem.”

Jami, like Reba, is 100% right in assessing the problem… but, also like Reba, miscasts blame. Metal has never been a genre where young bands become successful overnight, and with how brutal the music has become to the layperson’s ears in recent years, that’s definitely not going to happen now. Simply put, metal is not based on making hits, and the reason rap and pop stars catch fire early is because they make hits. Yeah, sure, it worked for Limp Bizkit, who wrote hits and were never really accepted by the “metal” community anyway. So, yeah, Jami, “100% that’s the problem,” sure, but what’s the solution? Anything short of “write catchy three minute pop songs people can sing along to” is the wrong answer.

This is a fun discussion to have, though, so, as usual, chime in with your comments below explaining either why you agree with me or why I’m a big dumb-dumb face who knows nothing.

[via The PRP]

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