Are the Arctic Monkeys ‘indie’ Enough?
INDIE. There’s a funny word. In music terms, it used to mean ‘signed to an independent’ label. That meant bands signed with Stock Aitken & Waterman would be in the weekly indie charts. However, at some point, ‘indie’ meant ‘a specific type of rock music’.
Indie credentials have never really been clear, but basically, what it seems to mean is this: Bands comprised mainly of white men or women, playing with one or two guitars, a bass, a drumkit and possibly a keyboard player – throwback 50s/60s haircuts preferred.
Indie, it seems, also means ‘following the blueprint of guitar bands signed to independent labels in the 80s and a fondness for Bowie and all that’. As such, it hasn’t moved on much, but you’ll still get people arguing about their favourite indie bands, along a sliding scale that also implies that, once you reach a certain level of fame, you go from ‘indie’ to ‘rock’.
Of course, indie kids should take a leaf out of heavy metal or hip hop’s book. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small band or a stadium selling act – we know what you are and that’s fine. Now, lets get on with partying.
This leads us to a question posed by Peace.
They are questioning the Arctic Monkeys’ indie credentials. Are they even an indie band at all? Do the Arctic Monkeys even care if they’re referred to as an indie band?
Speaking to Zero Magazine, Peace frontman Harry Koisser said: “Arctic Monkeys are still called an indie band, but the closest thing their new record sounds like somewhere between Black Sabbath and Dr Dre. Where’s the indie in that?”.
He also spoke about their appearance on E4 show Made in Chelsea, where they played two songs: “…either people saying ‘you’ve completely sold out’, which is an old concept that doesn’t exist any more. All the new cool bands are sponsored by shoe brands anyway and you don’t make money any more. Or people have been really supportive of it… It’s healthy to feel something and say ‘I’m angry at that’ or ‘I loved this’ – it’s good for people to feel something and have an opinion, even if it’s only about your favourite band going on Made In Chelsea. It’s good to ignite a little fire in peoples’ bellies, you know, make sure they’re still capable of thought.”
That’s nice isn’t it? A young rock band referring to his fans as ‘still capable of thought’.
It seems, in 2014, what ‘indie’ actually means is patronising the listener. The attitude of ‘us against them’ worked in the past, because rock bands were hugely overlooked on the radio and TV. Festivals that focused on rock music were tinpot affairs and only the few attended.
However, during the 90s, indie went overground and sold a bazillion records, yet still, those that joined rock bands had to cling on to an ideology. The mandate they chose, regrettably, was: “We’re making art. Not like pop music. The masses don’t understand us because we’re too smart – too obtuse. We like the Velvet Underground dontchaknow?‘
Sadly for a lot of indie bands, this attitude is not working out for them, so they lean back on ‘the music industry is dead man, miss him miss him… Spotify is evil… blah blah blah blah…’ arguments, even though the rest of the music world is working in different circles, like being sponsored by shoe brands or making pacts with booze vendors, so it matters less if the music is swiped on torrents.
Peace shouldn’t be asking whether the Arctic Monkeys are ‘indie’, but rather; what is rock ‘n’ roll going to do if it keeps cribbing notes from the past, when the rest of the industry is looking forward and finding solutions?
Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner gave a ‘rock ‘n’ roll just won’t die’ speech, but, it isn’t careful, it could soon find itself in a care home and everyone will forget to ring it up while it festers, forgotten, with Big Beat and Nu Metal.