Sunday, 10 April 2016

Talk About The Passion

















“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” - Bob Marley

“Rock’n’Roll stops the traffic.” - Bono

In my 30-odd years of being a music fan - I’ve had many of those moments when music punched me in the guts, when something told me to listen up and pay attention. One such moment was probably in 1991 or early 1992 - in a clothes shop, of all places. A song that sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before came on the radio. “What is this?” I asked the shop assistant. “It’s a band called Nirvana.” she said.


I’m not ashamed to say that something similar happened when a friend of mine introduced me to Hanson back in 2012, when she handed me that unmarked DVD which we subsequently jokingly referred to as ‘The White Album’ (to preserve my reputation), and which contained a couple of gigabytes’ worth of Hanson discography.


Age is no obstacle when you’re a music fan and the magic can strike again at any time. Only last week, in fact, my fiend Kaitlin insisted that I listen to one of her favourite bands, NEEDTOBREATHE. Just like any drug dealer worth his salt, she provided me with a couple of samples in the form of YouTube links. BANG! Like Paul on the road to Damascus, I was converted. I haven’t listened to much else in the past eight days.

Are you still with me? I promise you, this whole preamble has a point.

What I’m trying to say is that music, to me, equals passion. Music needs to speak to your soul in ways that you cannot articulate. It needs to be like a diamond drill boring into your heart as you watch it bleed. So when your favourite band, whose music has tunneled its way into your very soul, is beginning to churn out songs that leave you unmoved, you can’t help that sinking feeling. Is this the beginning of the end?


I have said on a previous post that we (Hanson fans) are like pirañhas - we bite on anything the band throws at us and dissect it until there’s nothing left but bare bones. So it’s no surprise that some really heated discussions followed the first stream of ‘the making of’ the new ‘Loud’ EP.




It’s safe to say that many of us are underwhelmed: “Siren Call” sounds like ...if all 5 songs from “Inside The Box” were put in a blender, spun around at the highest speed and then poured into a glass. With “Panic in The Streets” from "Music Made For Humans" added on top, like a cocktail umbrella.

Granted, we’ve only heard a rough cut of the song - interrupted by Zac’s outbursts and Taylor ‘not amused’ looks. And yes, there are four more streams to go. As far as we know, the finished result might be completely different.


But it’s difficult not to worry. We - Hanson fans - are used to music that comes from passion, and personally, I struggle to find much passion in the band’s recent output. As my friend Megan said, "You know, it becomes "That's better (or worse) than before" rather than "I love (or don't love) this new thing!"


Can a band be satisfied making music that leaves their fans feel ‘meh’? Moreover, where’s the hunger to make new fans? The band’s reluctance to commit to a timeframe for a new album worries me, not because I need a new album right now: I can wait. It worries me because I don’t see a long-term plan on the band’s side to get out there and make their music heard. I worry because if Hanson are arguably already irrelevant outside their existing fan base, a 5-song EP released on iTunes is not going to change things. I don’t believe Hanson are so naïve as to believe that, which leads to the question, do they even care? Is this it? Are these forthcoming two EPs the swan song of a band who has all but given up on that great impetus driving rock’n’roll since its very beginning - i.e., a desire for world domination?




Some will accuse me of overthinking it - but that’s just my nature: I think a lot, analyse a lot and quite frankly, I’d rather be this way than to be one of those undiscerning fans who will gobble anything up blindly - people who suck up to the band in a torrent of 'OMG I laughed so hard' or 'I loved it!’ (you loved it? Great: now tell us why). I also firmly believe that if we don’t offer the band our most honest feedback, the band will think that it’s perfectly okay to dish out mediocre, half-arsed music written in a hurry, with lyrics haphazardly put together like pieces from a fridge magnet poetry set. I’m not saying that they’re already doing this, but there are too many signs pointing in that direction.


I am fully prepared to receive a deluge of negative comments on this post. And maybe some fans will accuse me of being ‘negative’, and tell me that I should ‘be grateful’. And maybe I am worrying too much about nothing. But, again to paraphrase my friend Megan, I only feel so passionately because I know that Hanson are so creative and talented that this cannot possibly be it. These boys have written ‘Already Home, and ‘On The Road’. They’re the guys behind ‘World’s on Fire’, ‘I Am’ and ‘Watch Over Me’. Hell, they wrote ‘Mmmbop’ - one of the greatest pop songs of all time. It’s okay to expect only the best from them - to expect passionate, gutsy music and not inoffensive, unremarkable elevator muzak.


However, I have hope. Next week we’ll hear another song, and then again another, at weekly intervals for the next three weeks. Hopefully in four weeks’ time everything I wrote in this post will sound like the panicked cry from a fan who overthinks things. That’s okay with me - this time I desperately want to be proven wrong.




Notes:
  1. The title of this post was inspired by an R.E.M.'s song 'Talk About the Passion'.
  2. Thanks to Kaitlin W. for arguably ruining my life by getting me into another band. You can check out NEEDTOBREATHE on their YouTube channel here.
  3. Thanks Megan D. for letting me quote her on this post.
  4. Non-members can check out a clip from the recording of 'Siren Call' on Hanson's YouTube channel here.


9 comments:

  1. I personally loved the song and feel the passion is still there, and this is from a long-term fan whose been around since 1997.

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    1. I'm glad that someone thinks there's still passion. I truly wish I could feel that too, but in all honesty, right now I don't. But as I said in my post, I am hoping to be proven wrong.

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  2. I do hope that this is just a rough version and your impression will be changed by a mindblowing EP!*fingers crossed! I haven't heard this one but I know you are right!

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    1. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the song is awful, it's just...forgettable, so far. We shall see, I guess.

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  3. We've all been on the Musical Ride, now it seems like we're experiencing a Musical Rut. There is no denying (at least, among us "piranhas") that Hanson are focusing increasing amounts of energy and attention on activities other than making music. Yes, this is a bummer. But if I (try to) put myself in their shoes, I can't blame them too much. They've been a band for almost 25 years--as a fan who has been *so* positively affected by their work for *so* much of my life, if they're itching to try other things, I really can't begrudge them that. It doesn't diminish my deep appreciation for the music they've made up until now. But at the same time, if they are going to "coast" from here on out, and it becomes less of a priority to evolve as songwriters and musicians, there's a good chance that I will (finally) outgrow Hanson. Only time will tell :)

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    1. Welcome to the piranhas club ;)

      I was having this discussion with another friend earlier and we both agreed that if they're kind of 'over it' because they'v been going on for 20+ years, we both understand. It will be sad to see them close shop but we can all accept it. But as you said, if they're going to just coast along and use the band to pay the bills and finance the beer, then that's not what I signed up for. Yes, I can still pay the $40 - that's not a problem. But I can't lie to myself and go 'OMG THIS IS AWESOME' when it's not.

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  4. yesterday I posted something critical about the lack of concern for some primary details. More than once, we have seen that they forget the lyrics, sing out of tune, play out of tempo, etc. Do I love them so? Do I really admire them as a band? Yes I do. However, I am not deaf. in addition to that, I have some musical knowledge to require a band with over 20 years of existence to not make these same mistakes so often. Maybe it's better they focus on just a few activities rather than trying to run several things indifferently.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Ale!
      I think any band can get complacement and Hanson aren't immune to it, either. It's their job and they have to do it well - for instance, Isaac should have been prepared for his solo set at BTTI, instead it just looked like he was winging it.

      I think the beer is distracting them, unfortunately.

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    2. Exactly. I'm not able to say how much they are satisfied or how much profit they get from this brewery business, but if I could choose something for them to live without, it would be this brewery venture.

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