Despite almost a quarter century in the rock biz, I'm still slightly gobsmacked at the sheer number of great bands that are constantly on the road that nobody has heard of. I'm beginning to think the happy rose tinted world that exists in my mind bears absolutely no relation to reality. In my mind bands like Hate Squad, Goatwhore, Warbringer, Orange Goblin are just the bee's knees. I really don't get how people have not heard of them and instantly love them. But the more musicians I speak with the more I realize that there is a huge disparity between financial recompense and sheer talent. Many working musicians are augmenting their heavy touring schedule with, gasp, day jobs. It's heartbreaking to hear that some of my favourite bands - bands that exhibit the utmost talent and drive spend their down time punching a clock working 9 to 5.
Times can't be that hard when the likes of Metallica and Iron Maiden are making money hand over fist. You, my dear reader, may be saying but, Kali, those bands have been around for ages! They've paid their dues.... Sorry, that doesn't wash when Orange Goblin have been around almost two decades! They are every bit as good as the Metallicas and Maidens. Have you guys picked up Goatwhore's newest disk? Sure you have! It makes your ears bleed! And Katharsis by Hate Squad is definitely one of the best albums to drop in like ever!!! Have you caught one of the 200 to 300 shows a year Warbringer does?
Is it possible to make a living playing metal? or thrash? or stoner rock? Of course it is. But if touring relentlessly and making amazing albums and garnering loyal fans isn't enough to keep a roof over your head and put food on the table... makes you wonder.
This doesn't stop a steady influx of "new" bands from jumping into the fray and hitting the road. Brooklyn's Mutant Supremacy and Chicago's Diamond Plate aren't "new" - they've been around several years - you've just not heard of them ... yet!
The easy answer isn't just buy the disk, buy a t-shirt, go to a show. I haven't been to a show yet by any of these bands that isn't jam packed with happy punters. Each of those punters are sporting band t-shirts. So money is being spent. But rising fuel costs and flights to get four or five blokes plus loads of heavy equipment to a city near you eats away at any profits.
And before you say that they should do it because they love it - I swear I'll smack the next person that tells me that! They still have to eat and feed their kids! When was the last time you ,the fan, just worked for free? Musicians have to pay rent and mortgage and car payments. They get electric and gas and water bills in the post just like every body else. Sure, they have a job they enjoy, but every one has the choice to work at something they like or go to a job they hate. Just because they've chosen a career path they enjoy does not mean they've taken a vow of poverty or should entertain you for free.
I've no easy solutions. All I can do is keep up the good word and let the world at large know about some killer music made by some really great blokes. Next time you're bored and they come to your town, spend a few bob and go take in a show. Buy a t-shirt. There is plenty of good music to be had. I can point you in the right direction, but you gotta take that last step.