To understand how boring rock had become in the early 2000’s I could point you at Landfill Indie Week and talk about all the dreary earnest shuffles put out by people like The Shins, Travis and Starsailor. But you seem nice and I’d like you to keep reading so let’s challenge convention just a tad and give some real credit to a band often written off as sub Blink-182 kiddie punk.
I was beginning to believe that I was growing out of rock music by May 2001. I was in my mid-20’s and the thing about it ‘just being a phase’ was perhaps becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. Aerosmith had put out an entirely boring record (as noted in the recent Eat The Rich post, the slide was a long and gradual one, sign posted a decade before). Numetal mostly looked really silly even while it was happening and the beige stuff getting on the TV and radio was almost indistinguishable from elevator music. Incubus? Stain’d? Perhaps I was growing up. 99% of the new rock records I heard that year sounded like crap.
This was my place though. I was single and working in a print shop making gig posters and booklets for a scene that bored me 6 days of the week. I had the task of DJ’ing at the weekends in bars and clubs that seemed full of the same people doing the same thing over and over again (“everyone here hates everyone here?”). I’m not saying there were not any good records coming out. I’m saying there weren’t enough. And the scene seemed forced. Preempted. The NME tried to launch a new trend every six weeks.
“Storming through the party like my name was El Nino, When I’m hanging out drinking in the back of an El Camino, As a kid, was a skid, and no one knew me by name, I trashed my own house party ’cause nobody came”
This cheeky snotty pisstake of a record came along on MTV and stood out to most because the kids in the video were having a laugh. The riff was ‘kind of metal’ and the vocals totally License to Ill aping Brat-rap. To see the parking lot shot video though. A real alternative crowd (moshers, skins, tattooists and kid brothers/sisters all tagging along). Everyone was off trend. Not a stylist in the region. It rang true. This looked like the hang outs I used to sit in on a decade earlier. But Canadian. This was stupid. The video starts in a Korean Bodega. The band are beat-boxing and doing a terrible switch and hit rap at the couple who run the place. I liked them already.
“Nevertheless am I dressed for the occasion, It’s number 32 now here’s the situation, If the beat moves your feet then don’t change the station, Now pack your bags cause we’re leaving on a permanent vacation”
All Killer No Filler might be considered disposable ‘of the moment’ music by most. I’d counter that argument by saying it’s a pop-punk touchstone. A true street kid world view of how the century began. I knew I was too old for Sum-41 in 2001 but if I wasn’t going to spin this at The BeeHive on Friday night who was? It went down a storm the first week. And The second and every single week until I stopped doing it. Alternative classics be like that. Fat Lip takes it’s place alongside Pretty On The Inside, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Welcome To The Jungle and Sabotage. The other hits on the album may stick much closer to the Weezer/Offspring formula but there’s no denying In Too Deep and Motivation are catchy frikkin’ tunes. There’s some flava in the album with the Mötley Crüe Shout At The Devil aping Introduction to Destruction and the Iron Maiden tribute Pain For Pleasure.
“Heavy Metal and mullets it’s how we were raised, Maiden and Priest were the gods that we praised”
This band knew their audience, because they are their audience. It’s a simple thing but oft forgotten when chasing a trend.
Pop-Punk gets a lot of grief critically. The genre was yet to get it’s shot in the arm from Green Day reinventing Rock Opera with American Idiot at this stage. If you were listening to Gameface or Jimmy Eat World (I was listening to both) things seemed to be growing up a little and while musically washing it’s face it was apparent this couldn’t go on forever in this direction or we’d all be listening to Dave Matthews (Sum-41 were not about to let that happen).
The skit at the start of their follow up hit video Still Waiting skewered the music industry churn of what they perfectly sidestepped the first time. Even though the song has become completely generic. I love the fact they’re still going. My nephew had a phase a few years back where he bought their latest album and went to see them. Fair play. I’m glad they’re still out there.
“You guys smoke? Yeah you do now. You like that? Smoke ’em up Johnny”