Hobosexual’s Ben Harwood has a few things to say about the state of music, and uniqueness. And Kurt. And smelling shit from Shinola:
Hobosexual: "Concrete Corporate"
Are you bitter about the state of music business?
Why? Basically, the man owns everything now. He's even figured out how to manipulate the driving force of rock n roll from the 60s and 70s, which is basically the axis of dangerous, sexy and unique, rip it off, and sell it as original. In my opinion, this really started to take effect with Nirvana. Before that band, people could still smell the man coming.
Nirvana were anarchistic, Kurt was the anti-Christ to corporate rock. After their stint on Sub Pop, Nirvana was on DGB, a subsidiary of Geffen. Around Christmas of 1991, my entire Jr. High School went insane and everyone started dressing different. By high school, different wasn’t so different. Everyone sort of looked the same. Parents were terrified. The most unique-looking kid in the whole school looked like he lived a life in the suburban 50s. He wore a button up shirt and normal, relaxed fit jeans. He also had a side part haircut. All the grungers who were so different, because they all dressed and acted the same, used to make fun of guys like that. How's that for irony? Fuck, half the football team looked and dressed like Krist Novoselic.
So we've got this superstar rebel, who's the antithesis of the established Mick Jagger, Axl Rose cool, and now that's cool. And that's when I think the light bulb went off for marketing agents in the music industry. They hijacked the indie scene shortly thereafter. The last line had been crossed, and they owned the dude crossing it.
I think they realized from that point out that they owned both sides of the equation, the mainstream and the sub-stream. At that point, all they had to do was create an idol and doublespeak it into oblivion. Be the rhetoric “different”, "dangerous", "independent", "underground", "champion for bi-sexuality,” whatever shocks the mainstream in that sub-stream way, but with that always safe overcoat primer sheen. This, coupled with the fact that most people will buy anything these days if it's catchy via way of repetition and yet still subtly Disney/Wal-Mart approved safe, is enough to drive any true artist insane.
The obtuse part of it is where Kurt came in. You used to be able to smell the mainstream shit from the Shinola a mile off. Somewhere along the line, the man, who invented and owned the mainstream, hijacked the underground.
Hobosexual plays tonight at Columbia City Theater with Baltic Cousins, and Hounds of the Wild Hunt (formerly the Whore Moans).
Being unique, like a Wes Anderson film, for the sake of being unique is one thing. Actually having something to say is another. Don't get me wrong, I love Wes Anderson's stuff, but there's so much out there right now that's like that in both the music and general arts scene. It's easy to pick a band based on an eclectic yet safe sound and praise them. They have the perfect look, the perfect "quaint" or the perfect "edge", but do they have substance? Everything genius has some substance, some undercurrent, and usually it's a little scary to people in the beginning.
Jeff (Silva) and I do this because we have to. Because without it, we'd go crazy. It's an output to an indescribable drive. And frankly, I love seeing people's reaction to it. I'm not a religious man, but a good rock show is like church.
Time will tell, but I have a feeling we're living in an era that will ultimately be considered a black hole for music progress. Yes, we've got the Beatles, Zeppelin, some good stuff from the last thirty years, but nothing really exciting has happened since then in comparison to the enormity of those past examples. These are bands that I feel really had something to say. As Jason Josephes, booker for The Blue Moon, pointed out to me the other night, it's why they're still on everyone's top five list to this day. And no, I don't believe history or time will make what we hear now gain significance. Simply by way of fact, most bands today have nothing more to contribute than two or three years worth of popularity before they fade away.
I don't believe this is because everyone has ADHD now and too many options. I think it's because in this sea of corporate "safe" we've lost our way, and it's now very difficult for the artist to find truth.
In any event, Hobosexual exists because I say it exists. Because in my mind it's OK, and for the most part, when people get to know the driving force behind it, they're not so afraid of what it means. Perhaps ideals are defined by experiences, I don't know. It's the way I've tried to live my life. It works for me. This band works for me, and it represents the best truth I've got right now, in the midst of so much bullshit we live with daily.