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We Don’t Play Guitars

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently read this article that was linked on Twitter by a webcomic artist that I follow, and I have to say I’m genuinely concerned by some of the comments made by the band in there.

One comment in particular stands out:

“Is it snide and insecure of me to say that electronic music is the scourge of the earth and kids aren’t gonna buy guitars in 15 years?”

The answer is yes, yes it is.

Their argument, summed up by the above quote, basically boils down to the idea that guitar music is the greatest music ever and nothing else should ever be allowed to be heard. It’s short-sighted and refuses to acknowledge a much wider and interesting world of music, something that no band should ever be doing.

Put simply, if you want to be a band making excellent music and gaining a respectable reputation, you need to have the ability to recognise decent music no matter the genre it’s in or instrument it’s played on. Looking at the rise of electronic music and being terrified of it because “oh no, what about the guitars?” is not the way forward.

After all, the rise of electronic music is nothing new. Claiming that the genre’s success now is going to kill off guitars in the future is absurd when electronic music has been around for quite some time already. Remember all those New Wave bands in the eighties with their bad haircuts and bleepy synths? Yeah, that was electronic music. And the band that served as the inspiration for almost every electronic artist that followed them? Well, that’d be Kraftwerk, who formed in 1970, and they were hardly an obscure band no one cared about either.

Then you factor in the success of the nineties rave scene alongside the equally successful Britpop and grunge scenes and you suddenly realise how narrow-minded the members of Local Natives are. They seem to believe that just because artists like Skrillex are producing horrendous and unlistenable dubstep that suddenly that’s what all music will be like.

The truth of the matter is that music is ever-evolving. It’s silly to think that “guitar music” will be ever-popular and will never be replaced. Music scenes fluctuate all the time. Hell, their musical knowledge in general is in question if they seem so painfully unaware that “guitar music” has never been consistent in its time at the top. Rock ‘n’ roll was popular in the 50s and 60s, which then gave way to the hard rock, punk and metal of the 70s, with the jingle-jangle indie bands of the 80s stepping in before the arrival of the aforementioned grunge and Britpop scenes in the 90s. All guitar music, but all widely different. Rock n roll in the style of Chuck Berry and his peers did become less popular over the years, but the guitars remained.

Face it, guys, you either accept the ever-changing music scenes and just focus on making the kind of music you want to make, and enjoy it at the same time, or you bitch about it and bemoan the existence of an entire genre for your own lack of imagination. Especially a genre that’s just as diverse and far-reaching as your precious guitar music. That’s right. Not all electronic music is dubstep.

It becomes even more absurd when you realise that the same electronic music they complain about helped bring about many of the slick and speedy production techniques they most likely make use of in the recording of their own album. Unless you’re recording on an 8-track tape player through analog-only equipment, I wouldn’t complain about computers making music any time soon.

It’s my opinion that the best musicians are the ones that accept all genres and are influenced by the best bits of them all. There are plenty of rock and indie bands out there with something to offer, and plenty of electronic musicians providing a little something else. There are also terrible artists in both disciplines. But there are also so many other genres out there worth browsing through to find something awesome. Learn from them all.

In fact, here’s a crazy idea: why not make music with guitars AND computers! Nothing is mutually exclusive, after all.

To sum up, a band with narrow influences and beliefs of what makes good music can ultimately only ever make really bland, uninteresting music. And based on what I’ve heard of Local Natives, this certainly seems to be the case.

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