Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rant: The Times, They Are A Changin' (Part 3)

The final part (so far) of my history into the world of music, and what made me who I am today. In Part 1 I looked at my early upbringing, the tastes of my Mother and Father, and my earliest musical memories. In Part 2 I began my own era of musical discovery, only to find that I never really traveled that far away from my parents' tastes. Now, for Part 3, we look into my true era of discovery, where I started discovering acts and genres that my folks could never have hoped to heat. All that would eventually turn me into The Klepto!

Now then, we come to my college year, the time where I truly strove out on my own in my musical exploration. I joined a musical fraternity, and was constantly surrounded by people whose very life was music - for most it had nothing to do with metal, but the idea of exploration and discovery was all well embedded within the group. Through them I discovered some of my-now favorite bands: Dream Theater, The Decemberists, and was introduced to so many others (too many to list). I did my fair share of distribution as well, trying to open my 'brothers' eyes to the bigger world of music out there.

I also joined Heavy Metal Knights, a 'metal enthusiasts' club (out school was the Knights, so you can see the sense the name made), and during my early years within the group, this was one of the best ways I discovered genres and bands. When I was a freshman/sophomore in school (2005-2007), Heavy Metal Knights was all about helping other members discover the most and the best of metal, every person would get a chance to play a song, and describe why they liked it. Then we would have a mini-open forum discussing what we thought of the act (these were short, only a few minutes for each song), where people would compare like-bands, or other acts that we might enjoy, as well as any random or interesting facts about the group/album/song/genre. It was directly because of this club that I discovered Turisas, Alestorm, Andrew W.K. and probably a dozen others (those are the ones that popped into my mind first). It was a great location to hear and learn. Unfortunately it could not last.
I attempted to keep going to Heavy Metal Knights, but by the end of 2007 it had fallen apart. The founding members had all graduated and moved on, and the new influx of freshman (this was my third year at this point), who didn't know the founders or how we did things, in a word... sucked. They didn't care about learning about new bands, and played the same shitty hardcore/screamo/nu-metal shit over and over again. I know some people love Slipknot, but you're not breaking new ground playing their album every week (and I literally mean every week). It was either that or it was their own band's crappy demos, or some atmospheric underground industrial. No one cared to share, no one cared to listen, and their personal musical tastes were the only way to go. As you could imagine, I did not stick around for much of that. I did attend random meetings for a while, and I still get invited to come out to shows or events, but I'm not worried.

When I got to school, and had the power of unrestricted cable internet service (my parents still had dial-up) a whole new world opened up to me. I discovered through a friend and this more then anything else, showed me what else was out there. I started off small, sticking to the bands and genres I knew, but the best thing about the site is that is quickly moves across musical boundaries, so I was knee-deep in brand new acts before I knew it. Playing the Manowar radio opened my eyes to power metal - and the subsequent purchases of Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Demons & Wizards - power metal in turn led to symphonic, then folk. Type O Negative beget doom, with the likes of Candlemass and Pentagram. Metallica showed me new thrash, the lead of which was Annihilator. But, even this era is tainted a bit with my father's tastes, for it was he who suggested that I check out this new song he had just heard; "10001110101." This led me to my favorite band, Clutch, and the world of stoner rock and metal.

Where helped me discover genres, blogs helped me master them. Through reading and listening (some legal, most not-so-much) I began to unravel these mysterious genres. I realized my favorites; stoner, doom and prog - even if they are always changing - I lusted after unknown bands and acts, who incorporated weird and exciting instruments. I was so happy the day I found a Chinese folk metal act, only to be let down with how much they sucked (I don't remember the actual band, but I was heart broken). I've discovered the 'next best thing' only to pass on them a few months later, I've heard bands that I hated, only to return a few years later and discover that I was an idiot and they were amazing after all.
The root of it all is this: we all have our tastes, but you have to keep in mind that they are always changing. There was a time where I didn't like anything but clean vocals, but now I have begun to accept acts that I would have never given the light of day five years ago. It's still not my favorite style, but it's growing on me. No one band is every really your favorite-favorite, instead it's only the favorite of the month, or of the genre. There was a time when I would claim that Manowar was my favorite band, and they were for a number of years, I barely listen to them at all now. More recently my favorite act has been Clutch (hell I state so above), and I still throw them on whenever I don't know what to listen to, but they are slowly being replaced by other acts. I don't know what band will replace them, I haven't noticed any forerunners recently, but you never know what the next big thing will be.

So this is my history, this is what makes me who I am. A solid bed of classic rock/metal and British piano music, with a period of rebellious self-discovery (which turned out not to be rebellious at all really), followed by an enlightened era of musical expansion. I don't know what is next for me, whether I'll keep moving outward, or find my musical Nirvana and be at peace. I'll be moving across the world soon (four months or so), so maybe that will bring about a new time, with all of the new 'local' sounds. We'll see, and with any luck I'll keep The Guide going through it all, and you can take this ride with me.

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