Saturday, August 25, 2007

Our Band Could Be Your Life

I've been re-reading portions of Michael Azerrad's excellent Book Our Band Could Be Your Life, particularly the Husker Du and Replacements chapters. I first read the book about 5 years ago and was initially drawn to its warts and all account of great, underappreciated rock bands for the simple reason of loving the music. Reading it now, however, I am beginning to gain a new perspective on the era Azerrad describes.

Both the Replacements and Husker Du are from Minneapolis, not a city that most would consider one of the cultural hubs of America (read: not NY or LA) and yet they were both able to organically grow audiences through extensive touring and word of mouth. All of the bands in Azerrad's book forged new ground, creating music that was original and exciting without the traditional means of support. Bands like the Huskers and the Mats opened us up to the idea of creating music on our own terms, outside of the traditional music business.

As I read about SST selling out of the initial pressing of Zen Arcade and their shoestring recording budget (most songs done in one take!), I realized just how much technology has changed independent music. What would it be like for these bands to exist today?

Coversely, are these bands the direct forefathers of the myspace generation? Today's musician is able to circumvent the system completely, finding ways to record and make their music widely available.

If you ask me, that's pretty punk rock.

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