My relationship with rock music has been… well, rocky, for lack of a better word. I always tried to shy away from it, pretending there wasn’t an issue; “I’m okay with rock music, I just don’t love it”. The truth is, I was barely okay with it. My idea of rock was everyone’s idea of pop music. It was always a genre that I neglected when it came to acquiring music, after all, I’ve yet to physically buy a rock CD. Plenty of pop, soul, jazz, hip hop, funk and even acid jazz. But no rock. And why is this? What’s the big deal? Well, today for the first time, I sat down and thought about it on my way to London (on a trip to some music shops, no less) and during the journey, I attributed it to two things.
The first one was a childhood memory of my dad being in a mood for some reason (usually because of me) and going upstairs to his room and listening to his Meat Loaf tape. Sometimes, he’d be downstairs listening to them on vinyl. Back then, he called them heavy metal and having never actually heard them myself, I took this to be true. At 21, I now know they are nowhere near being heavy metal and they actually sound good but the negative association of Meat Loaf, and by extension, rock music was enough to put me off listening to it. At that age, rock music was music for people who were angry or upset and/or people who were angry or upset with me. The second association came years later while I was at college.
I liked a girl who was into rock and metal. Still wasn’t my thing at the time, but I liked her and tried to embrace it. I did a good job for a few months, until things went awry. And the music seemed to go hand in hand. Band of choice? My Chemical Romance, with a bit of Slipknot and System of a Down to boot. When you already feeling a bit emo, this is NOT the music you want to be listening to. Unfortunately, I liked Welcome To The Black Parade and had it on my iPod for the occasion. This was probably a worse association than the previous one. At least my dad could get over his mood and go back to playing John Holt and Michael Bolton. There was no real reprieve here other than totally removing myself from the group and the music. The latter came quicker than the former and left me hoping I’d never hear that music again.
And I did a good 4 year run, until this year. Thankfully, no MCR but the rock returned and this time, there was no negative association attached. Why? Because the person that brought it back was my girlfriend. Now, when it comes to music, I can be quite snobbish at times. I tweet about rubbish artists and their lack of talent and regard for decent melodies everyday. But when your girlfriend is involved, you have to really stop and think. And listen. So I had a choice: either continue down the route of disliking anything remotely heavy when it came to rock or accept there was a problem and try and remedy it. The vote was unanimous (well, after a few initial criticisms but she’s so lovely, I couldn’t really continue with them) and I chose to give rock music one last go. I started easy with bands I liked on a basic level: Muse. I already liked Supermassive Black Hole and Starlight. I listened to Absolution and quite enjoyed it. As they were one of her favourite bands, that was an easy win. Gave Paramore a go (well one song) and really liked Ignorance. Starting to get better.
The bigger test was the Foo Fighters. Now, I felt the same way about them as I did with Muse, ie. they’re alright. Always knew Dave Grohl was cool, so that helped. On my way to London today, I listened through their latest album, Wasting Light. Knowing there’d be some hard stuff on it, I was a little apprehensive. The contemplation of memories flooding back of college and the emo phase. I played through it anyway… and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was hooked after just 20 seconds. Not one bad track on the whole album (which I will review this week). I don’t have anything to really compare it to (yet), but it really blew me away. I was bobbing my head to the parts that I was worried about. For the first time in my entire life, I was loving a rock album. It was all thanks to my girlfriend, who inadvertently gave me the determination to break the stigma I had attached to the second biggest genre in popular music. I was already hating current pop music (another genre I may have to try and immerse myself in for the same reason) and with rock, I was hating on about 70% of all popular music.
But not anymore. I probably should have done this years ago. I would have had more people to relate to and share feelings with on how awesome the albums were, but it’s better late than never. Rock needn’t be about people moshing or thrashing about on guitars making nothing but discordant noise – that’s what death and speed metal are for (controversial). I’m pleased to have embraced a genre that I had ignored for many years and I’m looking forward to discovering new bands and albums, not only from rock but its other sub-genres and other genres I’ve been sleeping on. Now, if I can just return the favour and get her to like hip hop…