It’s More Than Music

Us metal heads have fallen in love with heavy metal for one reason or another. Be it going through hard times, needing a release or wanting to have a good time. There’s something about heavy music that has us coming back for more, time and time again.

People need heavy music. Listening to it is a great way to positively let go of your frustrations and forget about the problems going on in your life for a few moments. It certainly helped get me through a ton of tough times throughout my life.

Aside from what metal has done for me, I love the community aspect of the scene. Despite the countless sub-genres that fall under the umbrella of heavy metal, we’re all bonded by our love for heavy music. There’s something in it for everyone.

From the music itself, to the attitude, to the live shows and everything in between. It’s not just a genre of music, it really is a culture and lifestyle in itself.

Whether you’re moshing, crowd surfing, standing back with a beer in hand or joining in on the crowd participation, being at a show is a hell of a great time.

You’ll rarely see someone being miserable at a concert. The only ones who ruin the experience for others are the overtly meathead types that want to start problems with anyone they see or the obnoxious drunks who still don’t know that their limit is under four bottles of Miller Lite.

It’s not just the fans and musicians that make this scene so great. It’s the road and stage crew, promoters, managers and the press that contribute in keeping the wheels turning. They help make it feel like one big happy metal family.

As with any family though, the metal world isn’t without its problems. Unfortunately, we have elitist keyboard warriors who try to convince themselves and others that their taste in music is superior to others. They love calling people posers while claiming to listen to true metal.

Well, guess what? The online trolls are the true posers. They’re the first to talk shit, yet the first to also kiss your ass if they ever get the chance to meet you in person. They’re also the ones who do the very least for the scene, yet tend to have the loudest voices.

People want to have a good time. They don’t care about pretentious bullshit. They want to move around and bob their heads to the rhythm. And they enjoy songs that sound catchy. Nobody gives a shit about obscure post modern technical blackened yahtzee neo-speed death prog bands that only basement dwellers know about.

I’m all for people liking what they like, but when they go around spewing how much greater their taste in music is from everyone else’s, it’s a little much, especially when their music is the music that sounds like actual garbage.

The difference between these online haters and people like me is that we don’t browse pages of bands we don’t like, we browse the bands we actually like and give them our support. That’s how it should be.

Don’t like a band? Don’t support them. But let their fans enjoy their music. No need to ruin it for everyone else.

It’s like being a fan of the White Sox and going to a Cubs game just to shit talk the players and their fans. Go home. At that point, nobody even cares about what you have to say. Why not spend your time on supporting the acts you actually enjoy instead?

I don’t see much point in passionately criticizing the music that somebody else makes. If I don’t like a band or artist’s music, I simply don’t listen to their music. I can acknowledge and understand why certain people like certain types of music. Some bands just aren’t for everyone. I get that.

The good thing is, the hate that is posted online against artists does not reflect the hate this is actually shown in person at music concerts. It’s practically non-existent.

The majority of fans and artists are far from assholes. If anything, most people are really sweet and are just looking to have a good time by supporting a culture they adore.

Not only is it a shame to see your favorite artist get talked down on, but it’s even more disheartening to see people talking shit to up-and-coming bands or artists.

The genre’s niche as is. It’s a struggle being a musician in today’s industry. Let musicians be.There’s room for everyone to just do their thing and support what they like, there’s no need to be a Debbie Downer towards people for their music tastes.

Nowadays, it’s hard enough to survive off music alone. At least have the decency to show some respect for someone pursuing it in the first place.

If someone is willing to spend time apart from their families to create new music and hit the road to play for their fans, give them a round of applause. It’s tough work and not everyone is capable of doing it.

It’s one thing to be critical of others over the internet, and it’s another to create music and face criticism from random strangers. Anyone can criticize. It’s easy to tear things down. Not everyone has what it takes to create something, face criticism and keep moving forward without giving up.

Internet trolls aren’t the only negative people in the community. A lot of the negativity actually comes from musicians being negative towards themselves and each other. This is due to misconceptions on what being a musician entails.

People have this idea that they somehow have to make it. Here’s the thing, if you’re a musician, you’re a musician. Period. If you make records, play shows, go on tours, you’re living it. The level of success you’ll find depends on a combination of how hard you work, what makes you different and in a lot of cases, being at the right place at the right time.

Another thing is to be humble and respectful. You can be the most talented guitar shredder in the world, it doesn’t mean shit if you have a bad attitude and a terrible work ethic.

A band is only as good as good as it’s weakest member. Be it talent-wise, performance-wise or business-wise. You need to be at the top of your game at all of these aspects in the music business in order to be successful.

If the other members in your band aren’t on par to the standards needed to succeed, then you either need to replace those guys or leave the band yourself and move on to other endeavors.

Treat your band like a job. Take it seriously. It’s not just work, it’s kind of like your child and your band mates are your partners in raising this child together. If you don’t respect each other enough to all be working your asses off, you’re going to let your child down and it won’t be able to grow as efficiently as it could have.

Nowadays, it’s extremely difficult for a band to go far in the music industry from the ground up. It’s virtually damn near impossible to accomplish. All members truly need to be stellar and exceptional musicians who are willing to stay focused and work at bettering themselves over years of harsh touring conditions and minimal pay.

If your goal is to party hard with drugs, alcohol, sex, or become famous and make plenty of cash, then you’re in the wrong business with a twisted idea of what the music industry is about. You took your rock ‘n’ roll fairy tales and ate them up. It shouldn’t ever be about that. Have fun, but don’t ever let yourself go overboard.

I’ve met countless of musicians who grind it out and constantly complain that they haven’t been getting anywhere and speak in a self-entitled manner as if their talent should be enough validation for them to be rockstars. Reality check, talent alone doesn’t cut it anymore.

You have to have the proper business mindset to get anywhere in the music business. After all, it is a business. It’s not just the music you need to be focusing on. Plenty of bands are out there making similar music to yours. Find something that will make you stand out.

What separates you from all those other bands? It has to be something special. Something that other bands don’t provide. Be it your aesthetic look, your style of music videos, or your personality. Give us the unexpected and do whatever it takes.

What a lot of younger musicians are resorting to is grinding it out for established acts. Which means doing merch for them, teching or doing sound/lights.

If you’re the guitar tech for any band, and you know all the bands songs and sets when they tour, who’s the first guy they’ll turn to if they suddenly need a member to replace so and so, because the guy broke his wrist in a bar fight or is too strung out on drugs to play the show? Bingo! It’s the tech who’s been working his ass off with a clear head the entire time.

Be the reliable replacement that’s waiting to seize his or her opportunity to shine with one of these bands. Shit happens, so be there when it counts and perhaps you’ll end up having a long and successful run in doing what you do.

Don’t be afraid to take gigs that you don’t necessarily feel too passionate about. Sometimes, you’ll have to do a style of music you aren’t fond of, but keep in mind that you’re trying to build up your résumé and prove to everyone that you are a hard worker and the real deal who has what it takes to perform alongside the best of the best.

I’m surrounded by people who have been doing this for years and I’ve taken all the advice they’ve given me, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that there’s always more to learn and improve on. Never settle and stay hungry. I look forward to finding out what the future has in store for our scene. I’m sure we’ll have plenty more years of killer music ahead of us.

Whether I’m creating music or performing myself or supporting other bands, I’ll always have a love for the culture of heavy metal. It’s helped shape me into who I am today. Heavy metal saved my life and got me through some pretty dark times. I’ll always be grateful for it.

Metal isn’t a fad or a phase, it’s a way of life. At the end of the day, it’s worth all the time, effort and sacrifices we make to be doing this. We simply love what we do. There’s just something about downtuned guitars, distortion, fast drumming, aggressive vocals and loudness that fills the void that no other genre of music can. Hail.

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Author: Robby J. Fonts

Editor-in-Chief at The RANTidote

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