There was a time not too awfully long ago that when you would hear anything about indie rock bands, I would get a mental picture of skinny guys with half long hair and beards that aren’t yet matured, wearing suit coats made of corduroy. I’ve been active in music for many years now so I know from experience that they often seemed to be writing music that if you asked them, they would tell you it sounded like “Soundgarden meets the Phantom of the Opera” or some other comparison that for guys like myself just could not get our heads around. You see, I liked hard rock music, some alternative, some metal, etc, but all of these styles had specific names and as a result I had a pretty good idea of what to expect when some one said they played hard rock. The earlier description is just a little difficult to imagine for me.
As I said above, I’ve been a musician for a very long time now. I’ve spent plenty of time and money at local, and not so local rehearsal spaces, and have heard literally hundreds of bands practice and write. My recollection of bands like this is that they practiced hard, usually too loud though, and they often sounded like they were practicing the same song over and over and over again. They weren’t of course, but the writing style they would have didn’t allow them to do more creative things, and so everything sounded the same.
I can remember listening to a cassette tape of a local indie rock band one time. It was titled “What Are We Doing Wrong” and I considered the guys in the band to be peers, really. My roommate came and flipped the tape over and told me to “listen to it now… It sounds the same.” He then grabbed another one of their tapes and listen to random spots on a couple of sides of that tape exclaiming that it all sounded the same. I remember it well.
Moving forward to our present day music scene, things are a little different. Sure those types of bands are out there still, but with the birth of the internet there’s literally a market or every type of music if you do your homework. And as a result of that, indie bands don’t necessarily sound like a 45 minute cassette tape (remember what they are?) of one song. Many bands actually find great success these days as independent music artists and I’ m digging it even more than ever did because there’s really some serious talent out there that have something to offer. Bands like the Killers got their start from independent roots, as well as bands like Arcade Fire.
Their sounds are different from each other yet they both had started as indie rock bands, and that is in fact my point. Indie rock has grown over the years to become something you can’t define with a particular sound or look. With the availability of computer recording and home studios being relatively easy to build, it’s become easier and easier for musicians of all types to record their music in a very close to professional manner and make it available to the world, and we all know that this has worked very well for certain bands. So at the end of the day, this new music isn’t necessarily the droning notes of the songs from years gone by, but is often very creative and polished rock music or alternative music, and so on. The only thing in my mind that defines this new music as independent music is the fact that the people releasing these songs are doing so without the aid of a record company to back them up financially. For many musicians, they just don’t need that kind of help anymore because you can record a pro sounding record at home, and if you’re savvy, you can market it yourself on the internet, and not need the help of the Record Companies and be successful doing it.
I remember the indie rock bands from 25 years ago. Indie music had a “sound” and these days, that’s just no longer the case. The talent pool has grown and gotten better, and even if you’re a fan of Hard Rock and Alternative music then you can be sure to find some satisfaction in the music of Independent Artists of today.