Alice In Chains: We Hate The Internet, Twitter & Dancing
from the well,-okay-then dept
Too often, it seems like arguments over the role of the internet in the music industry get boiled down to what I'd guess is a false dichotomy. Either you embrace the hell out of the digital revolution, like Amanda Palmer, or you angrily screed against all things interwebz, like AC/DC. As evidenced both by the fact that AC/DC walked their hard-line back a few steps later on, while other bands still find value in labels that embrace digital models, I'd bet that the stance of most artists and bands is far more nuanced than you'd expect, and takes on the characteristics more of an evolution than any static opinion. This isn't to say that ignorance shouldn't be called out, of course, but we should also understand that opinions can be changed and none of these artists are scary boogeymen to be universally derided.
Still, it's extremely disappointing when an artist or band you love comes out on the attack. The more vicious the attack, the more disappointing it is. Needless to say, when the resurrected Alice In Chains saw an interview with Classic Rock as an opportunity to tell everyone how much they hate Twitter, the internet, the modern music industry and dance routines, I was supremely disappointed.
In an interview in the upcoming new issue of Classic Rock, the band reveal there's a lot of stuff they don't like about the biz. Like the internet. And downloading. And Twitter. And whole lot more besides…
"I don't like a whole lot of it, no," says mainman Jerry Cantrell. "I think the thing that's most disappointing to me is that now, what you do is worth less than nothing. It's been reduced to a game show. And somehow, something you've worked on and poured your soul into, and invested your money in, somehow it's no longer deemed valuable. That's fucked up, to me. I can't go to the gas station and take the gas for free – I'd go to jail. But somehow it's okay to take my thing for free."Er, okay then. Except nobody with a serious opinion on the matter is advocating that infringement (nor, um, stealing gas?) is "okay." That's just not happening. The argument is an economical one, in which there is indeed value and worth in digital music, but the proper price for those goods might best be made zero or approaching zero. This is not some conspiratorial plan to siphon money away from bands. Rather, it's a look at how they can actually make more money in arenas where higher prices make sense due to scarcity. I fear that terms like "worth less than nothing" belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the economic forces at work here. Bassist Mike Inez goes on to wonder where the next generation of artists is going to come from, while the answer is: from more places and in greater quantities than ever before.
Were that the band's only misguided stance, we could write it off as an honest misunderstanding. There appears, however, to be a great deal of anger from Alice In Chains on many things modern.
"And now it's okay for music to be this little file that doesn't even sound good," Cantrell adds. "And it's okay for people to go on stage and fucking fake the songs. They don't want the real thing, they don't want the bad notes, they don't want somebody who can go up there and sing their own songs, they just want somebody that can do the fucking flashy dance moves."And:
"There used to be a mystique about rock bands," chips in drummer Sean Kinney, "but now it's like, 'Follow me on Twitter!' I don't wanna know what fuckin' sandwich you ate at the airport, man. Because we're just people. Our job isn't all that more interesting than anybody else."I keep up with a great number of follows on Twitter, which is probably why I have yet to hear about anyone eating a sandwich in an airport. I also wonder, regarding the hateful prevalence of dancing in music, if the band is familiar with the past four decades of musical acts.
Regardless, I'm hoping the band is more nuanced and has a more evolutionary thought-process about these things than how they're coming off in the interview. I should probably disclose that they have long been a favorite of mine. I just like the internet a bit more.