11 Bands You’d Get Made Fun Of for Liking Back In The Day
2022 often feels like a springtime for every band who used to get you ripped on mercilessly. Genres that people used to despise are coming back and being hailed as creatively fertile, pop stars and celebrities who like metal shirts are waging digital war against gatekeepers, and all of humanity seems to agree that mocking someone for their musical taste isn’t very nice. The music world is united under even the most cringe-worthy of banners. Group hug, everyone.
Those of us old enough to remember the AOL sign-on noise know different. Before our world got woke about metal fandom, there were certain artists who you’d get mercilessly teased for listening to. Whether it was their actual music, their public image, or just the art on their merch, it didn’t really matter — all we knew is that we’d maybe buy a shirt to support these bands, but probably wouldn’t wear it in public.
Here are 11 artists whose fandom was like a red clown nose back in the day. And for the record, I actually like almost all of these bands — but that doesn’t mean I never got mocked for it.
By the time Dope reached their initial peak of fame, nu-metal was already being recognized for the overproduced crapshoot it was. But not only were Dope nu-metal, they also went hard into the whole gritty nu-metal thing, right down to Edsel Dope’s prison time that his PR reps always fucking talked about. As such, even Korn and Slipknot fans would take the piss out of you for wearing a Dope shirt, which basically announced you liked the RC Cola of a genre that had given the metal world diabetes. A band you could rock out to at the show, but would deny in public like Peter did Jesus. Hey, is that a dude in blackface in that video?
Often, bands are deemed embarrassing once their star has descended and everyone has had time to wonder what the hell they were thinking. But Finnish love-metallers HIM were a guilty pleasure from the moment they blew up, their emo-ass heartagram symbol the kind of tattoo one regretted right after the artist wiped it off and said, ‘Go check it out.’ If you wore a HIM shirt, you knew that you were opening yourself to any and all ridicule from people who enjoyed their metal without the floofy-doo romance. If someone teased you for liking HIM, there was a deep-seated understanding that they were right to do so.
This one’s funny, because today, Deicide are considered one of death metal’s most awesome bands for all the reasons that once got you made fun of for liking them – their stalwart sound, their rabid satanism, their dedication to arms-crossed hatred. But back in the day, that shit got you snarkily shat on by sneering death metal fans, who made sure you knew that you were listening to the same album over and over again about the same Satan nonsense. Being a vocal Deicide listener was to declare one’s self to height of ignorant death metal chud. Turns out all you had to do was wait 20 years.
Insane Clown Posse
I mean, back in the day might be unfair – you’ll still get insulted in public for being a Juggalo. But man, during the Great Milenko days, as ICP became a national phenomenon, your friends would straight-up assassinate your character if they caught you listening to them. To be a Juggalo in, say, 1999 was to automatically stand against music at large; people would question everything from your intelligence to your hygiene to whether or not you still lived with your mom (she’s my roommate, guys). Now, watching ICP become self-sufficient, survive the pandemic, and host a lot of our favorite bands at their festival, it’s clear who got the last whoop whoop.
Cradle of Filth
Another one of those acts who went from the most respected band in their genre to instant avatars of poserdom were Suffolk vampires Cradle of Filth. One minute, the band were the respected kings of black metal at large, ushering the genre into the limelight. The next, they were a bunch of symphonic wankers who never understood the grim, frostbitten savagery of true black metal. By the time Dani Filth and Co. dropped their major-label debut, 2003’s Damnation and a Day, wearing one of their shirts was a guarantee you’d get snickered at by your metalhead friends. That and a lot of Dummy Burger jokes.
Unlike so many of the artists on this list, Kittie didn’t fall out of favor at any point. Nope, the Canadian band were considered wack from the moment they arrived on the scene, and have remained a source of mockery since. What exactly caused this, we don’t know – the all-female thing? Their proximity to nu-metal? – and it’s kind of a bummer, given how much of Kittie’s catalog is actually really good (“Until The End” will always be a crusher). But it’s also undeniable: if you were an open Kittie fan, you had to get ready for some really cruel jokes. They set people off, for whatever reason.
It’s funny to think that there was a time when a band like Slipknot were considered more serious than a band like GWAR. But at the turn of the millennium, GWAR felt like a lumpy relic, an Empire Records joke more than a band, and being a fan was both confusing and definitely something you’d get poked at over. It wasn’t until 2001’s Violence Has Arrived, when Oderus and crew committed to their metal roots and became one of the genre’s hardest-touring acts, that everyone became a GWAR diehard. Before then, you just owned a shirt your friends were a little grossed out that you chose to wear to lunch.
In a lot of ways, Godsmack were butt rock before butt rock existed. Yet even before the genre was established, people recognized that their music was in some way laughable. But you know what, you didn’t have to hear a note of Godsmack’s music to think they’d get you teased. All you needed to do was see Sully Erna’s Wiccan biker ass showing off his belly button tattoo to know that repping these guys was a poor move for your social life. We don’t even dislike their stuff, we just know a band that’ll get you cackled at when we see one.
Oh, yeah, you’d get brutalized on for liking Danzig back in the day, dude. During the 6:66 Satan’s Child days, when he was all vinyl claws and fishnet shirts? Back then, Danzig wasn’t just kind of uncool, he was also distanced enough from the Misfits that he’d lost all his punk appeal, and was just a satanic cybergoth with some big-titty dancers. This was also when the Michale Graves-era Misfits were doing all right, too, so there was a general vibe that Danzig was on his own, doing this. So yeah, that tribal Danzig skull patch? That was a target on your back.
It’s telling that of all the bands from the metalcore boom, Atreyu were the ones to be included on the line-up of When We Were Young. That’s because for all their heavy riffs and screamed vocals, these dudes were scene first, metal second. Going to bat for Atreyu just let everyone know you were both emo and angry, which just meant you were brimming with impotent angst and maybe writing shitty poetry in your private time. We hope a horde of 40-year-old dudes in red eye make-up finally feel vindicated at WWWY, because man, they put up with a lot of mean-ass jokes.
Right now, what with the rise of poptimism and their various huge anniversaries, Metallica are having a moment. But man, after Load and ReLoad, Metallica fandom was a way to tell the world you didn’t really like metal, just hard rawk. The Four Horsemen quickly became synonymous with abandoning your traditional sound, halting the progress of digital music, and promoting fellow rock stars like Kid Rock over smaller underground acts. So yeah, enjoy that Ride the Lightning shirt now, because once upon a time, that shit made every eye in the room roll at once.