I am a former metalhead. I used to be in a few bands, I've toured, had record deals, guitar endorsements and thought I was the shit until I had a moment of clarity when I realized was entering my 30's asking my mom to help me out with rent. I left my bands, finished up my degree and got a real job. I am talking so much jive about these people out of personal experience, observation and with a sincere request for people who are still doing this to GROW UP.
I was prompted to write this because my cousins son, 17, is finishing up high school, and he is considering skipping college to "make it" in music, much like I tried to do. After some thinking back, hanging with him and his friends, and talking to old friends from the "scene," I come to you metalheads with a bit of truth and wisdom to get you clowns off your self-made pedestals. I am also sending this directly to his mother along with applications for the colleges he is smart enough to get into.
First of all, you metalheads are the most immature group of adults I've ever dealt with. I'm not talking to the teens, in music. I am talking to the adults over the age of... lets be fair... 25, who still don their denim coat to go out to shows and drink with their "clique."
Here's a troubling thing I noticed over the years: Looking back on the 90's and early 2000s' where hot topic was the place to be, people used to categorize themselves as "emo," "goth," "straight edge" and "metal" to fit in with a fashion aesthetic that could be marketed to. I've since seen every one of these categories disappear (seriously, who the hell calls themself goth anymore?) or assimilate into the realm of "METALHEAD," as if this one group of people which spans from age 25 to age 60 never was able to let go of the juvenile "us vs. them" mentality. It's as if these group of lost souls need to have this social structure fit for high school continue into their adult lives. The irony is in the fact that many metalheads would form such groups in high school to band together against the other cliques of "normies" or (the cringe-worthy term) "sheelpe," and never got the memo that outside of high school, this coping behavior is not necessary.
Now, what I've seen time and time again are people who CLING, yes, CLING to their music as they struggle through life and their unsatisfying, miserable jobs. Their juvenile attitude, the same one that kept them attached to the HS clique social structure, typically keeps them from acknowledging their need to man up and take responsibility for things in their lives, and they typically end up in jobs that they hate as a result of their ineffectiveness as people. From there, they put on their subway uniform, work their 40 hours, hate their life, repeat. Whenever the next metal show rolls around, they proceed to, like some sort of autistic super hero, assume their secret metal warrior identity and set forth into the night... to... drink!
Yeah, yeah, there is nothing inherently wrong with going out and socializing, but where I find problems are in the situations I have had with these adults who are dressed like patchwork quilts in which they just bitch and moan about "the system" and "pop culture," and all of the other evils of modern society that exist solely to piss them off.
I gotta hand it to these metal people: Many of them are very intelligent and creative. They can think of hundreds of ways the "world has fucked them over" and how, but not a single way which they can do anything to rectify that situation in which the world does the fucking of their asses. Character flaw? Yes.
Another point of reference is band life. Metal musicians are the most insufferable group of ego-maniacal pageant queens I've ever had the misfortune of dealing with. Lead guitar players always act like they are some sort of samurai warrior with their dinky guitar and combo amp, ready to slice down any opponents with their sweep arpeggios. Oh god, the arpeggios. If metal guitar players could play something else besides E D and C arpeggios, theyd be playing something that wouldn't be ignored by the masses for being "unlistenable."
The most amusing part about metal guitar players is that they are either extremely flashy, or extremely terrible but either way, they are a dime a dozen. Even with there being such a high volume of players, each and every one of them uses their instrument as a means of prolonging their adolescence into their 30's with delusions of grandeur and fame assuming that one day they'll get their big break and turn into the next metallica and bring metal back into the mainstream, turning all the "normies" into metal minions, locks tumbling about as they headbang at their hi top-covered feet, playing their latest symphony in E minor.
Speaking of the high volume of guitar players, I have a few things to say about the low volume of attendees of metal shows. Metal musicians are kind of like kindergartners in this respect: They only want to support your band if you have done so for theirs, or maybe not even at all. During shows, other bands I've shared the stage with have said "youre gonna watch us, right?" in an attempt to thicken out their crowd of whoever managed to fit in the minivans with them and the gear to buffer their little egos.
The problem I am referring to is the absolutely dismal attendance of musicians to local shows. I mean, some have been good, but MOST were terribly packed. At this point you might think "well your bands must have sucked" and right here, I'll confirm: Yes they did. They sucked just as bad as your retarded band does now, son.
Anyways, the point I am making is... how fun is it to perform to a crowd that either consists of other musicians, or, in worse cases, other musicians who are performing that night? Not at all. Too many Chiefs, not enough Indians, as the saying goes.
With this trend of a participant-only audience, metal is destined to fall into an obscurity similar to that of stamp collectors, bird watching, and bocci ball tournaments: It's going to only consist of people who do it themselves, and will forever lose its appeal to the general audience, being looked at as.... well it probably won't even be looked at. It really isn't now, anyways.
Remember how I said metal heads used to love to get drunk and insult regular people? Well, that snot a two way street. People actually don't care about you guys. Nobody ever says anything behind your backs, or even has a fleeting opinion about your microcosm of a life outside of the random drunkard heckling you as you walk by in a bar because you look like a cross between The Crow and an anorexic midget viking.
So since nobody gives a fleeting fuck about metal, venues book their metal shows on any night between Sunday and Thursday, reserving the prime times for DJ's and performers who bring women into their clubs.
Even back when I was performing, these clubs that would have us play would pay us like garbage and never even offer free drinks. They would just collect the money made at the bar, and chip us the 40 bucks that the regulars were co-opted into paying for remaining in the bar after our show started.
Same was true for labels and for the same reason: Since bands are in such high excess, labels need to do ZERO work to find music anymore. Actually, they need help sifting through the volumes of it. Labels usually will throw you piss-poor deals, offering little to no support for tours while still making you pay them to produce your merch and records.
Why even endure all of this to entertain a jaded group of immature man-babies? Oh, right, because there's a change you'll. Get famous. Then what. Do most metal musicians even know what comes after you get "there?" Do any of them even consider how viable the market is, and how difficult it is to stay "there" once they've started generating their minimum-wage level income from being a performing artist?
No. It is literally all to sate their ego's endless hunger for attention and praise because mommy and daddy didn't give them enough (or too much).
So to wrap it up: In my experience, Metalheads (older than the age of 25) are pretentious music wieners who sit in a circle, complaining to each other about the state of affairs while offering absolutely nothing except for their mediocre music as a solution to remedy it for themselves. The shows they play are empty because live metal shows are unbearably loud and you can't make out anything, and there's just a bunch of bad musicians and never any women present. There, they gather to complain about people who are not into metal for various reasons and condemn everyone who isn't in their high school-esque metal clique. Their ego-driven quest for success is a means of putting off adulthood, and they tirelessly endure pitiful concert attendance where the venues underpay them to perform to hopefully be picked up by a label that will exploit them. But that doesn't matter as long as they can play pretend on stage in front of their friends until it's time to get off the stage so its the next bands turn to play pretend time in the spotlight with the same ego-mania fueling their lust for being loved and admired for being good at jacking off on their instrument.
Nietzsche said in Human, All Too Human
"The demand to be loved is the greatest kind of arrogance."
In closing: Your anger only confirms my position. Your desire to respond to this confirms your anger. Your anger means that somewhere within you, this resonates with you. That the truth in this makes you question your decision to clown around in a quilted jacket with your immature friends at the bar. Sure, respond. Maybe I'll even see it. Offer your Rebuttal, I don't really care. I had some more to write but I don't really care any more, hah. I'm done.
Cool band, bro.