The key to immortality – why local bands are easily forgettable

By: ISSA KHALID

In the world of entertainment, the key to an artiste’s sustainable career is being remembered. Unfortunately, for many talented musicians, this is a step they often fail to satisfy.

One-hit wonders are more common in the performing arts industry than success stories. This is not because of how bad their music is, not at all. In fact, there are some pretty good artistes who release hit after hit and get forgotten because of other non-music related issues.

Think about bands like Hinder who lost a lot of their fans because of losing their front man, Austin Winkler.

Marshal Dutton is an amazing singer in his own right and a listen to their new album When the Smoke Clears goes a long way in asserting this man’s prowess on the microphone.

However, somehow, you feel it’s going to be a long climb back to the apex of rock and roll for them even with the brilliant music they are now producing. Theirs is a different issue though. We’re focusing more on the music aspect.

Being unforgettable is a lot more than just looking good on stage and playing your instruments well. It’s about how you relate with you fans.

One, does your music speak to them? Are you able to resonate with their emotions not just when they are going through tough times but when they are happy too? Jon Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses comes to mind for me.

This song will take you through both good and bad breakups, falling in love a new; anything love related, it will do. It is really tough to have such deep music.

Most local bands focus on approaching one emotion in any given song. Whereas it is safe to do that, it is important to have at least two or three other tracks on your record that ebb with every single situation that someone goes through.

For most rock and heavy metal bands here in the sub-Saharan region, our albums are filled with very unidirectional music. The theme in each song is almost always rebellion or deliverance but never deep enough to arouse more than one emotion from its listeners.

You see, it has nothing to do with how many live performances and fans a band has. How many pop, hip-hop and blues singers die and are forgotten immediately thereafter?

There is a reason why Tupac and BIG are still playing in all of our nightclubs. They lived out their lyrics. They had attitude. In our local rock scene there is very little attitude and spank. Guys here are very chilled out.

We are more concerned with making a solid track without mistakes that we forget to spew the emotion into the songs. This can’t fly. Metallica’s Fade to Black is a prodigious example of a complete track.

There is a lot of emotion in that song. Not only do James and Kirk play some amazing yet simpleton guitar, the words evoke thoughts from all spheres of the mind. The jam on a literal point of view captures the feeling of losing a loved one through death and the hurt of having to live without them. Equally, it also evokes some major feelings of desperation, sorrow, disillusionment, failure.

By: the time James is playing the solo into the fourth minute of the song you’re really into it. The solo itself sounds like a violent cry.

Our compositions locally need to get to this level if our songs are going to be remembered long after bands have gone into the ground. Most local songs are good on the first listen, okay on the second listen but tiring after the third listen.

Most people blame it on our developing production studios but there’s more. See, a song can have hopeless production but still have feeling beyond all else. Vertical Horizon released their trademark track “Everything You Want” under less than ideal conditions yet this song has been for the longest time one of the most remarkable ballad rock songs of all time.

Even with its 2003 technology, this song is preferred over many contemporary electro jams today. Why? They struck a nerve.

In order to be more memorable, local bands need to make songs that are deserving of legacy. Songs that are able to play and everyone, both the nonchalant metal heads and the softies sing as well.

Think 3 Days Grace and how fans love to head bang to them across genres? The popularity is good but immortality is better. Legacy is what it’s all about.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION