My girlfriend, who retains the fetchingly innocent idea that music is something fun to enjoy, rather than an ultra-serious badge of tribal identification, likes Nickelback’s music and isn’t afraid to say so. While out driving over the weekend, she was grooving in her seat to the Black Keys song “Gold on the Ceiling“. I smiled at the thought that possibly, at that very moment, Patrick Carney’s face screwed up in a grimace of pain as he felt a discordant jangling in his hipster soul, as if a goose with Top 40 taste had just walked over his grave:
“Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world,” he says, blowing cigarette smoke out the window of his rented East Village loft a few days before the band heads to L.A. “So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit – therefore you should never try to be the biggest rock band in the world. Fuck that! Rock & roll is the music I feel the most passionately about, and I don’t like to see it fucking ruined and spoon-fed down our throats in this watered-down, post-grunge crap, horrendous shit. When people start lumping us into that kind of shit, it’s like, ‘Fuck you,’ honestly.”
I too will declare my undying love for rock ‘n’ roll, but, dude, duude, come on. Relax that sphincter and let’s be honest—you’re not presenting any sort of artistic innovation or revolutionary vision of an alternative to modern consumer capitalism. The social consciousness of rock music, such as it is, tends to cling halfheartedly to trite hippie clichés, but you guys, having licensed over 300 songs to TV shows and commercials, movies, and video games, don’t even make that feeble gesture. Which is fine, of course, but I’m not sure how you justify opposing your music so violently to another band’s. They sound like a typical post-grunge band, which is bad, but you guys sound like, uh, a couple of pasty Midwestern college dropouts trying mightily to sound like grizzled old black bluesmen, which is… what, oozing sincerity and authenticity?
Rhythm and melody are not deep repositories of moral significance, my man; they’ll sluttishly tickle the eardrums of anyone without regard to class or taste and sidle up coquettishly to the status quo and the avant-garde alike. Take a deep breath and accept your status as just another couple of entertainers with a handful of good songs. Your Fostex 4-track will not get you into heaven.