Let’s Get Real with Jeff Paulick 6/17: “What’s In A Genre Anyway?”

Posted by on June 17, 2011

Let’s Get Real with Jeff Paulick is a new column featured on Metal Insider featuring the thoughts and opinions from Lazarus A.D.singer/bassist Jeff Paulick. He’ll be sharing his views on everything from the music industry to life on the road (and everything in between) in this bi-weekly column.

What up everyone! Back again with the 2nd edition of “Let’s Get Real”, but first I want to say, isn’t it kind of weird nobody really cares that Boston and Dallas won, but more-so that Canada (not even Vancouver, just Canada) and Miami LOST!? I’m pretty big into sports so I’ll be tossing my two cents into the mix every once and a while. BREW CREW IN 1ST PLACE YEAH (I can’t really remember the last time I could say that).

So anyhow, I was reading a post on Metal Sucks ze other day, and it was some dipshit post about Black Sabbath and how the dude couldn’t understand how anybody could actually likes them. I’m not gonna get into that, but the part of the argument that struck me was how many fans of Black Sabbath simply like them because they are the fathers or pioneers of heavy metal, i.e. evil sounding chords, dark lyrics, etc etc. Then I started thinking “well who really gives a shit if they started it or not? I like them because they wrote amazing music, I like the songs, end of story.” Then I thought even deeper, and started thinking about genres, and how we as human beings have this need to categorize EVERYTHING. I’m ok with organization, I’m not a slob. But where does it end, where WILL it end? Especially sub-categorization.

Do I really need to know that X band is Swedish Schizophrenic Blackened Occult Coco Crispy Eating Donkey Core? The answer is no, I don’t. I don’t give a shit what genre of music, let alone sub genre of that music is, I know what I like when I hear it. It strikes a universal chord in my brain that says, hey, I like that. Much like eating an amazing cheeseburger, that shit tastes amazing, my brain tells me I like that. The question is how has sub-categorization helped or hurt music today?

Well we know the days of a scene starting in an area are long gone. Technology has killed that with the interwebs and all. SO, we’ve found a solution! Lets group bands together that sound similar, even though they have no physical or geographical connection, and see how far down the music tree we can dance. This can help a band just starting out. It gives agents, managers, label reps, and promoters a reason to finally fucking agree on something…we might be able to make a buck here. A dozen bands come out roughly at the same time, have roughly the same sound, and all of a sudden the labels are happy. It becomes an Easter egg hunt. Which one of the labels can sign the best one, hoping they hit something big with it. Each respective label signs 1-3 in the genre, invest X amount of money and go from there. These bands are thrust into the touring scene, which is exactly what they need. They start touring with each other, they tour with bigger bands that they took influence from, some fall off the wagon, some become a lot more popular.

But what doesn’t change is that label. That band was from THAT scene. So when that band wants to step outside the box, maybe tour with a different style of music (and I’m talking sub genres here, I’m not expecting Cattle Decap and Dredg to be on the same bill anytime soon), at least in my personal perspective, things don’t work out so well. I remember at the Gigantour back in ‘06 it was Opeth supporting LoG and Megadeth. I remember them getting literally almost booed off stage. Opeth should never be in a position like that. They are an amazing band, unbelievably talented, damn near perfect live. Yeah ok, they don’t have the energy LoG has (especially at that time, they were peaking pretty hard), but maybe that whole sub genre thing came into play. I’m not saying people can’t like both, I’m just putting my money that the majority doesn’t. Neither Lamb of God or Opeth are small bands, and you can imagine a comparison like this into the underground carries even further.

I did a short run with Ensiferum and Blackguard a couple years back. Almost every night we played, the crowd was deer in headlights. They couldn’t connect with what we were doing, and I don’t credit it to a lack of performance and musicianship, because that was there. I don’t credit it to the headliner being reggae and we were thrash metal. I guess I would have to credit it to sub-classifying metal music. This particular crowd wanted to listen to folk metal, and that was that. Don’t get me wrong, we did gain some fans on that tour, but that sub genre difference, was the difference. I am a musician, and maybe I’m completely biased on this subject, but I just love all music. I never felt any type of sub genre should dictate whether I would or wouldn’t listen to something, let alone like it. I have an incredibly open mind, and I have just found that in the world of metal, people are sooooo damn particular. And maybe that’s what makes them so loyal at the same time. But sometimes I just wish these sub genres would go away. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if there’s a group of guys on a stage in a live setting, with some distorted guitars, a bass, a drumkit, and an asshole singing something into a mic, that’s Rock n Roll, not matter how many times you wanna dice it up, its still Rock n Roll.

I think I’ve kind of strayed from the point here. What I’m getting at is I think sub genres hurt bands and music as a whole. I think it has taken on so much more meaning than just a filing cabinet for the masses. These niche genres are unnecessary. They create ceilings for musical careers, and inadvertently hinder fans from taking in other musical experiences. But hey, it’s only been 2 weeks, and I still got all the answers right? What do you think?


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