A few years ago when accepting a Brit Award, Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) said:
“That rock and roll, eh? That rock and roll it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time…sink back into the swamp…but it’s always waiting there…just around the corner. Ready to make its way back through the sludge…and smash through the glass ceiling…looking better than ever. Yeah that rock and roll…it seems like it’s faded away sometimes…but it will never die…and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
We consider ourselves a rock and roll band and it’s made me think about what rock and roll is, and what state it’s in today.
To name a few, the 50’s had Chuck Berry and The Million Dollar Quartet; the 60’s had The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; the 70’s, Led Zeppelin and Patti Smith; the 80’s, The Pretenders and Van Halen; the 90’s saw Grunge and Britpop, and in the 00’s, Arcade Fire and Arctic Monkeys emerged. Each of these decades seemed to have rock and roll in the public conscience, either responding to or influencing the politics of the time. What about now?
Arcade Fire and Arctic Monkeys are still going, as are Coldplay, Muse, etc. We also have Haim, Imagine Dragons and The 1975. But where is rock and roll on the front page? Going viral on Instagram and Twitter? Ruffling the feathers of those in power as it harnesses a rage in the disenfranchised? Sure, Hip Hop and R&B are in the masses right now and ticking the viral box, but it’s time to sow the seeds of a rock and roll resurgence.
Perhaps it’s been pushed down, and people are happier to cycle through a news feed for a 30 second cute video or to lend support to a trending hashtag, which isn’t to say that those things are bad, each to their own. But in times of populism and silent majorities resulting in unexpected political outcomes, I want to know where the silent majority is in rock and roll. We’re still here, but we don’t have to be confined to BBC Radio 2, classic rock stations, or reminiscing about how good music used to be.
Get out to a local show. Support a local band. Listen to the lyrics. Share their music. Be moved by the sound of people with instruments baring their soul to five people on a Tuesday night.
The spirit is still alive, it has always forced its way in, and it’s time to do that again.
Yeah that rock and roll…it seems like it’s faded away sometimes…but it will never die…and there’s nothing you can do about it. – Alex Turner