Hah! Speaking of repressed musical movements.
Absolutely. Well, it's afraid of expression, there's no expression in indie rock, it's all obfuscation. It's really cowardly music. Now, we have to define our terms because a lot of what would be called "indie rock" I really like; I mean, I have an idea what it is, but you know. Anyway, there's definitely a lot of underground music, it's like wow, this has no gumption, there's no personality.
I have a section in the book on drugs, on how people can define musical periods through drugs and there's this pharmaceutical era where drugs are a corrective. And in a sense, a lot of what's called indie rock is this whole "Oh, this is correct" thing, like "Oh, they got it right!" Like indie rock was correcting prior wrongs. Whenever you're too adherent to some form, it's the personality that's missing. Like nobody thinks about John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers as having personality because, um, he just loves the blues. Right? It's like a lot of bands now, you listen to them and it's like "Oh, you just love My Bloody Valentine." There's no personality to liking My Bloody Valentine.
People nowadays seem to get that personality fix from celebrity chefs instead of rock stars.
Right - I mean, chefs that you know of are supposed to be drug-addled, supposed to be macho, or control freaks, all the stuff people think of when they describe "genius". It's the way that the Internet has cheapened everything - the only thing that you can't cheapen with the Internet is a meal, because you can't actually eat the Internet. And also people have been made so stupid by industrial consumer society that nobody knows how to fucking cook, and they don't really want to know how to cook, they just want to watch somebody else cook, it's like watching a magician or something. That's very similar to the creation of the rock star: really, anybody can sing, but this guy is the special person.
Right, like Eddie Van Halen facing away from the audience when he started out so no one could see how he did it.
Right - I mean, that sort of thing is great theater. I mean, I'm sure lots of people hammered-on before, but that's great theater. And that's the thing about rock and roll, in this whole downsizing time, all the old arts, the lively arts, were replaced by rock and roll because they were too expensive. And now, everything's about slave labor, and you can't have a theater production because you can't pay people slave wages. Punk, more than anything, degraded people's wages in terms of music, because according to its rules, a group drives hundreds of miles to play music for people but they can't charge more than a few bucks for someone to see them. Rock and roll, really, is the beneficiary of all the cheapness of this society.
Right! I love this book from a few decades ago calledRock and the Pop Narcoticby Joe Carducci; it's a great book, although he's kind of right wing, at least according to the stuff he says in this book. But in Rock and the Pop Narcotic, he says that rock is a democracy, because it takes the old music machine, and you use electricity to pare it down to just the players. Get rid of the orchestra, get rid of the outside songwriters, get rid of the arrangers and Tin Pan Alley, and it's just a self-directed self-motivated small group of players in charge of their own destiny. And the older I get, the less true I think of this theory of this being some pure democratic ideal.