Crank up your radio. Turn on your TV. Log into your Facebook account. Chances are viewing the influence of the media on the current state of the world is unavoidable. The common knowledge of word of mouth being important is unbelievably underrated and hardly understood. When the entertainment industry produces spokespersons for everything from politics to charities, there’s an understanding that due to their status of popularity their words will reach many and in many forms.
Enter rock & roll, the platform for visceral release of views and emotions. A platform that rarely reaches the mainstream in its most raw of states. It seems that in order to ever reach the many, your music, words and approach must be clean and fit a mold. So how the fuck did Green Day achieve such high success with a politically charged and pissed-off record like American Idiot?
Perhaps, it’s simple. They played the system. Green Day possess an understanding of what gets music to reach the masses – make it accessible, catchy and package it in cleaner production. Now some would argue that this is as anti-punk as can be. But when the context of the record in question is taken into consideration, Green Day’s wrapping of a very much punk set of viewpoints into a wrinkle-free, radio-friendly package is goddamned brilliant. It almost makes you wonder why more punk bands don’t take such a tongue-in-cheek route.
The fact of the matter is, that the radio airwaves don’t typically offer such an explosive display of outspoken opinions and neck-snapping force.
Unless you’re tuning into the Howard Stern show.
In digression here, it’s important to note the influence of Green Day on modern punk bands like Stick To Your Guns who have recently dropped an *excellent new EP* that doesn’t shy away from portraying an uncensored look at the current world, violent and divided as it is. STYG have even admitted that one of their main influences is Green Day, even receiving backlash for reaching more audiences with a record produced by John Feldmann that evidently did exactly what it was supposed to do.
X marks the spot.
Plenty of bands play angry music. A slight few imbue it with purpose like STYG. Some, such as Stray From The Path, even harken back to the Rage Against The Machine days and add their own unique spin. Another great example are metal titans Machine Head who themed several songs on their critically-acclaimed 2007 record, The Blackening, after paying close attention to the US and then current Iraq war. Machine Head draw influence from older thrash bands such as Anthrax which is just as well considering even back in the 80’s Anthrax wrote a song like “One World” about racial equality and treating the Earth as well as its inhabitants with respect. Anthrax are still going thirty-five years later and continue to base their music heavily around current events on their newest record, For All Kings. Not that this is unheard of in metal. A further example is how Metallica’s ambitious And Justice For All record from 1988 inspired Trivium to write their 2006 record, The Crusade, about current events in an attempt to raise awareness on hate crimes and unjust murders. The point is, the purposefully-charged bands of old continue to leave a mark and inspire a new generation because their way of going about things is still very unlike the current music climate, for the most part.
How you use your platform in modern music is a big deal. How you use the ability to express is even more important.
For a band like Stick To Your Guns who grew up as young and impressionable tikes and were ready to don guitars, microphones and a drum kit after hearing Green Day for the first time, they must realize the impact that they can in turn have on the youth around them. The importance of these bands lies in their ability to release, educate and influence a generation easily impacted by what they see, hear and watch. Even in a relatively sleazy and pop princess-dominated society, a totally bombastic and gritty song as “Bang Bang” can reach number one.
And it did.
I push more for bands like Green Day and Stick To Your Guns to reach the mainstream so that they can spread their messages and profound usage of the freedom of speech into more minds. Show them to your friends, your neighbors, your dog. Most importantly, pick up Green Day’s new record, Revolution Radio, on October 7th and drive around blaring it like a police siren letting the world know that justice will be served against artists without purpose.
Besides, aren’t we all tired of whipping and nae naeing yet?