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      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2008
     (3574.21)
    "Valid Protest Music or Clever Marketing?"

    Why can't it be both?
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      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2008
     (3574.22)
    Why can't it be both?


    I guess it can be both, sorry liquidcow, rubbish thread title.

    Sage Francis, Anticon records artists like Jel and Odd Nosdam - I just felt when I heard Flobots that maybe they were pillaging the sound of these artists to sell something notionally 'rebellious' that was in fact just pure product... but it seems it's not as simple as that. Anyway, regardless of the thread title, I'm not trying to impose some kind of final 'are they GOOD GUYS or BAD GUYS' judgement on the band, I was just curious to see what opinions others held of them. As I said already, I bought the album first and asked questions later. If I hear music and like it, that's instinctive... but the bands I become more 'involved' with (ie, recommending them to people, writing about them, scribbling their lyrics on public toilet walls), I look at a bit more closely, and ask what the motivation is, I guess.

    Rage ATM, Black Flag, Public Enemy - these are all bands I feel inspired by not just musically, but politically as well. Even if Rage and co...
    dont know whether they are coming or going
    , they are still catalysts. They change people's minds, make them think. I definitely value that, and for me Flobots was one of the first times I have heard music that seems to be 'conscious' (for lack of a better term), but could actually just be assuming that pose for the sake of marketing. After hearing you all speak on the band a bit more, I don't think that's the case - I think they seem pretty genuine AND pretty slick, rather than one or the other.

    The other thing you have to remember is that they are kind of religious


    That, however, could put me off. I cannot fucking stand rappers who proseletyze. But then, I still listen to Ugly Duckling now and then, so it's not like their Christianity completely stops me enjoying it. I'll see how the album fares... something in me suspects that 'Fight With Tools' might not have anything much better than 'Handlebars' on it.

    Thanks for the recommendations, I'll try and check out Refused.
  1.  (3574.23)
    By Christian, I don't mean preachy, that's something I want to make clear right off. It's the big reason they dont get lumped together with Christian music. The problem I have with much of Christian music is that is preaches, but some of them dont- Jars of Clay, or Los Lonely Boys, for instance, are both bands I really like, because the primary theme of their music is that they believe, but that doesn't make life easy- something that pretty much anyone can relate to.

    By Christian, I mean, their faith is very important to them, and that is reflected in their lyrics, but they're far more concerned with getting people energized about fixing stuff than making people Christian- in truth, proseletyzing is counter-productive to their message, and I'm pretty sure they know it. A lot of the footage of them in classrooms from the rise video was filmed for the video, but it's all stuff they'd have been doing anyway. Aside from the music, they're very down-in-the-trenches kind of activists. In their eyes, I'd guess, fame is just another tool.

    Also, Sage Francis=win. I just picked up Human the Death Dance and A Healthy Distrust. Thank you.
    • CommentAuthorScrymgeour
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2008
     (3574.24)
    Refused are one of the best punk bands ever, so Joe.Distort dont get offended please. I just think their politics are a little juvenile (at least on record) but it probably comes from four or five (or whatever their membership was at the time) musicians all trying to have a say in the lyrics. I mean a maoist and a leninist and a socialist and an anarchist are going to sound pretty odd if their politics are put together (that said i have no idea what teh personal politics of any of teh members were beyond anticapitalist and antiestablishment)
  2.  (3574.25)
    their politics are a little juvenile (at least on record

    thats a point that i can see how someone would think like that- SHAPE OF PUNK TO COME does throw so much shit together that its easy to think some of it comes off a little...simplified? dennis band after that (the)INTERNATIONAL NOISE CONSPIRACY is a lot more straight-forward situationist commentary, filtered through music that is intentionally a lot poppier than refused. the lyrics get much better too, haha
    • CommentAuthorScrymgeour
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2008
     (3574.26)
    exactly. still one of the few albums i can listen to on repeat for days at a time. and i must admit that opening line sends shivers down my spine every time. ( a sucker for the simple)
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      CommentAuthorjesseraub
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2008
     (3574.27)
    Here's the deal:

    Major labels exist solely to make money. That's their bag. At one point in time, the heads cared about the music. Look at Clive Davis, y'know? You can't honestly tell me that it's easy to go from Bruce Springsteen to Kelly Clarkson based on the talent and quality of music alone - Davis is in it for the selling power of each.

    Rage Against the Machine took their politics to a major label because they wanted to try and get the message through the widest means possible - they broke up, because it wasn't working. I can't tell you how many right-wing dudes I know who can sing every work to a Rage song. It was a deal with the devil, and the devil collected.

    When it comes down to it, the Major Label has to be able to sell the music. If they don't, they're out of a job. If that means staging revolution and packaging it up and selling it, then heave-ho away we go! If you want to talk about politics, revolution, and hip-hop, how come we aren't talking about The Coup or Dead Prez? I mean, The Coup has Epitaph behind them (almost the same marketing power as a major) and Dead Prez has stuff out on Columbia.

    Ultimately, their version of revolution and rebellion isn't marketable to the masses. It doesn't work the same as just saying "We're revolutionary! This is political! We're going to repeat those two words over and over again!" The blander, staler and more generic the message is, the wider and broader the audience. Hence, ass clowns like Flobots getting airtime.

    The key thing is, you can't really preach your politics and then take your money from a greedy, collapsing, million-dollar corporation. Major record labels are just like commodity traders. Think of them like Big Oil. They function by finding raw material (in this case, a band or singer instead of crude), and then claiming the rights to that raw material (in this case, the rights to the written music) sell it to the masses at the highest premium they can. Sure there are A&R guys fighting to get good musicians good money, but Exxon is also one of the biggest investors in alternative energy. It's really no different. And that's why the music industry is imploding. It's a case of the fat cats - there are only four major record companies that own about fifty different labels that you see.

    And that's why I don't buy the hype with Flobots. Def Jux does a better job with hip-hop.
  3.  (3574.28)
    how come we aren't talking about The Coup or Dead Prez?


    he didnt ask...

    Def Jux does a better job with hip-hop

    a lOT of labels do...im not even a hiphop fan and i know that.

    And that's why the music industry is imploding. It's a case of the fat cats - there are only four major record companies that own about fifty different labels that you see.


    thats why for people that are actual music fans, (well those of us that still buy music) the large majority of new stuff worth buying is on small labels. NO WAY, GRAVE MISTAKE, LEVEL PLANE, 625 etc... these are the labels putting out good shit lately anyways
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      CommentAuthorjesseraub
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2008
     (3574.29)
    Alternative Tentacles, Seventh Rule, Polyvinyl, etc.

    The reponse wasn't directed at you, joe.distort. At the guy way up that you had already responded to.
  4.  (3574.30)
    oh i wasnt offended, i was just contributing some stuff to what you had already said. i think you and i see pretty eye to eye on most music-related stuff.
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      CommentAuthorliquidcow
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2008
     (3574.31)
    I can't tell you how many right-wing dudes I know who can sing every work to a Rage song.


    Very true. This is why I don't particularly care for protest music; most of the time it's preaching to the choir, or it's fooling people into thinking something is profound because it rhymes. What is interesting though is that while I know there are lots of right-wing people who listen to bands like RATM, or christians who still love satanic metal bands, I've never really come across it the other way round; that is, left-wingers who are happy to listen to songs with right-wing messages, or atheists/satanists who will happily listen to christian music. Of course, my personal opinion of that is that there is almost no good art that comes from those perspectives, but that's my opinion and perhaps a separate thread.
    • CommentAuthordjcoffman
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2008
     (3574.32)
    I've been drawing the webcomic series for the Flobots over at http://flobots.net/tales - I've never known a better bunch of people. While it's true that they are now signed with a major label, they're still very very grassroots. I know there have been conversations I've been aware and involved in where the idea of being signed with a label, if it went against some of their messages, but the idea of getting their message out to as many people as possible. I can safely say theses guys would be doing this happily without the label involvement and in many ways it creates more headaches than what it's worth. I didn't know that you basically have to end up paying for everything anyway even though you're signed with a label, you end up paying for everything out of your own cut -- like major book deals, etc. The bottom line is, these guys and gal really do mean what they say, and they practice their message as well. It seems like every waking moment they are working with organizations or non-profits to activate some sort of change in the country. I've never known a sharper mind than Jamie Laurie (Jonny5) who is willing to listen and take every side of an issue.

    I encourage everyone to check out their full album, it's more than just political and social stuff, it's fun too and lots of comic references! - and if you can find it, Platypus is great! There's also a great article online that details how humble they still are: http://www.westword.com/slideshow/view/122888
  5.  (3574.33)
    I didn't know that you basically have to end up paying for everything anyway even though you're signed with a label, you end up paying for everything out of your own cut -- like major book deals, etc


    i thought this was common knowledge...at least i know im not just talking out my ass when it comes to this stuff.
    in many ways it creates more headaches than what it's worth.


    this shouldnt be a surprise to any diy band that knows what its doing. im sure they are all nice people (and i have detailed my stance on this in other posts) that truly care about what is going on...but that doesnt make the situation any more legitimate.

    and just for my own curiousity, have they released vinyl or toured on their own? (im not trying to tie it into this conversation, just trying to get a straight answer to a question that i feel is a direct reflection of a band who "came up through the ranks". no offense to anybody else on here, but i have realized that peoples definitions of what that means vary GREATLY)
    • CommentAuthordjcoffman
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2008
     (3574.34)
    Yes, they've released vinyl and put out their own CDs. In fact they produced and released "fight with tools" on their own, released it on their own in October 2007, and they have done non label tours- read the article I linked if you're interested- they get around on an old revamped greyhound bus. They enjoy doing smaller clubs.

    From all I know their situation on being signed is rare where a label will pretty much re-release their album untouched- they're still behaving the same as if they were on their own, they just get broader exposure and airplay with the label deal.
  6.  (3574.35)
    that actually happens quite frequently, the major pays a licensing fee/buy out to the other label ( or a lump sum to the band, which has already taken on the production costs themselves). after reading that article however, im just gonna let this go: we arent really talking about the same things as each other, and to be honest, i dont really care enough to bicker (plus its not really smiled upon on here...). i will say its cool that your friends can make a living off of music that hopefully can make a change, but my feelings beyond that have been articulated above. later.
    • CommentAuthordjcoffman
    • CommentTimeSep 18th 2008
     (3574.36)
    I can agree with you there. Just thought I'd chime in to let you know they're not "packaged" or manufactured by some machine. ;)
  7.  (3574.37)
    @djcoffman: The webcomic site needs better navigation (no << and >> buttons - at least not in Firefox 3.0.1) and the first webcomic was good, but a little saccharine for this cynical limey (my failing, not yours). I'm writing my own Iraq comic at the moment, so I know how hard it is getting the technical details right. You've done a good job

    I can smell big Doonesbury influences in both the comics (that's in no way a bad thing!). Here's a better link to that article. Reframing the American flag ("this flag is from the future") is, frankly, brilliant. Reminds me of the stuff Warren was doing with Crecy and Ennis was doing with Dan Dare

    Edit: Ok, there's now a full set of navigation buttons. I'm not going blind
    Edit 2: They've gone again. Oh I see. The navigation buttons below the comic should always have "First" and "Latest" as well as "Previous" and "Next" and a "Jump To Episode" drop-down. If it was me, I'd remove the arrows above the comic as (Firefox 3.0.1) they look ugly on a mouseover.
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      CommentAuthortexture
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2008
     (3574.38)
    Earlier I said:

    something in me suspects that 'Fight With Tools' might not have anything much better than 'Handlebars' on it.


    Been away for a while so missed some of the posts on the thread here... just going to pitch in once more and say that I bought Fight With Tools, have been playing at least half of it almost constantly. Mayday is sheer awesomeness, gypsy punk sliding into funk metal and rap.

    they're far more concerned with getting people energized about fixing stuff than making people Christian


    I can see that after giving the album time to grow on me. Sometimes the Christian overtones grate, but surprisingly rarely... Although the band can tend towards the po-faced lyrically (as others have said elsewhere, particularly of Rise), for the most part their words are sharp, incisive and have a real depth of feeling behind them.

    I like Fight With Tools so much, I'd almost put it as my album of the year. So I feel kind of guilty about the judgmental title I gave this thread. Put it this way, after hearing the album, 1) I'm totally converted (NOT to Xtianity!!!), and would def pay to see these guys live, 2) I'm keen to check out the webcomics / interviews etc you guys posted links to, and 3) I'm kind of GLAD that their sound is so commercial. It's the first time in a long time I've liked a band who made the UK charts.

    Flobots are pretty unique in terms of their sound - Handlebars and Rise only tell a tiny fraction of the story. So yeah, just for the record, I'm a dick and I should have titled the thread Flobots: How Awesome.