Sell Out With Me

Back in my younger days, my friends & I would pile into my white ‘86 Chevy Van & head out to the all ages dives to watch our favorite local bands. They were our bands, our little secret & we wanted no one else to know about them. We bought their 7 inch records & followed them around from show to show like groupies. This was before social media sites (MySpace, Facebook) allowed bands to advertise for free & garner a worldwide following. No, this was word of mouth & we told not a soul. If we saw new people at the shows we would get a pretentious air about “Our band” for fear that too many people would come to the shows & they would lose their identity to us.

We feared mostly that they would get what is the most awful thing that can happen to a band, success. Once a band we loved started making it they were cursed with the dreaded “sold out” label. The Scarlet Letter of our times for any band with music that transcended “Underground” distinction. Immediately discarded, they’re records would be immediately thrown away or taken to the record store to parlay into some much needed spending cash to see a band that had yet to disappoint us. We didn’t care they were now “Sell outs”.

They expressed the angst of our late teens/early 20’s only to become part of the corporate machine. Thus, we must hate them, there was no way around this. It was the only way to maintain our integrity to the music. It was our equivalent to “Street Cred”. We were able to hang our heads high & say, “At least we didn’t give in to the evil conglomerates for the sake of a buck.” How wrong & foolish we were.

“Selling Out” has to be the most overused, asinine expression in the pantheon of musical lore. The reason bands are formed is to be the best there is, make the best music you can & share that music with the world. That is measured by the amount of success you have & how many people hear you? Would Green Day have been able to speak for an entire generation as they expressed their anger over the Bush administration’s policies with American Idiot? If Jay-Z had decided to stay a crack dealing “underground” rapper in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects instead of one of the seminal Hip-Hop artists of our time would he even be alive today? What if U2 was playing pubs in Dublin still for fear of alienating their core fans instead of being a worldwide phenomenon?

No one wants to stay “underground forever. “Underground” is code for unsuccessful or just starting out. No band gets into music with the intention of playing the most mediocre music they can so they can retain some semblance of credibility with the 25 drunks that are at their Monday night bar residency. The goal in life, like music is to be the best at anything you strive to achieve. Whether it be going from file clerk to board member or bar band to best band in the world.

There is something special about being there from the beginning, watching a band blossom into something that gives huge amounts of people immense joy. Don’t hate the band because their music evolves musically & emotionally. This does not make them corporate, it makes them people who have different experiences now that they are on a different plain. The relation aspect of a band does not change they just express different experiences in the same way.

“Selling out” is the name of the game. If “Selling out” means I’m the best at whatever I do then screw it, sign me up, cause I’ll sell out everyday to be recognized for my achievements. It has nothing to with principles, unless your principles are such that you wish not to achieve any modicum of success. No, instead it’s about spreading the musical message to the masses which is the point of the whole process. Isn’t it?

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One thought on “Sell Out With Me

  1. Pingback: Do You Remember the Good Old Days Before the Ghost Town? « The De Mello Theory

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