Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breaking up is, well, you know

I feel like this is a pivotal time for music. Not just for us as we embark deeper into that big dumb chasm of music hopes and dreams, but more so, for a lot of the bands that have been important to us over the years.

To be specific, it's like everybody's throwing in the towel at once.

Today I went from reading the official (and terse) email from Rogue Heroes that Rodfest is indeed the end for them to reading a post from our D/FW friends Black Tie Dynasty saying that they're cooked, too. There have been rumblings of another big breakup, but I'm not going to use this blog to break the news for anyone who isn't ready to go public.

Now, to be fair, neither of those breakups is extremely surprising. The Rogue Heroes guys have made no secret of the fact that hope has gotten dim, and the fun has left. That's when you know a band is officially through, after all -- when the fun doesn't return. They've been talking for months of a break-up. Similarly, I had suspicions that Black Tie Dynasty was close to the end last year at SXSW when Blake told me they were on the rocks with their label. I believe Cory even solicited for a new label onstage that night. I had high hopes that they'd go it alone for awhile and come up right side up, but that was a bit far-fetched for a band that had already gone through one major transformation in sound and image.

To me, these bands represent two familiar stories in the music business, which are all too common. I'm speaking only from observation as a friend and fan rather than a place of any authority, but this is how I see things:

- Black Tie Dynasty transformed themselves from a pop-rock outfit known as Moxie to a New Order-loving 80s secondwave band, and were rewarded accordingly for stepping into the wave. Obviously, such a risky move can either pay off big (like when they ruled the radios in north Texas, got national exposure, and ended up on a billboard in downtown Dallas), but it can also be short-lived and rather abrupt when it ends. As I heard it, the label put all their hopes on them, but I read too many reviews that said BTD's success hinged on the popularity of the next Killers record. When the Killers attempted a Springsteen sound, their next-of-kin were left out in the cold. BTD's label split obviously, though I don't know nor care to know any of those details. Again, I'm just calling it as I saw it. There's nothing wrong with a band being part of a wave, but sustaining that ride is the hard part. They had their success, and then they were thrown out on the shore. That's a tough thing for a band to overcome, no matter who you are. To have accomplished what they did and gotten to tour and touch people lives in the way that they did is truly a lucky thing.

- To me, Rogue Heroes got left behind. That's no one's fault, I don't think, but it is an unfair truth of music. It's competitive. They grew up best friends (and musical collaborators) of the guys in Girls Guns & Glory, and maybe always fancied themselves as the next to hit. When GGG moved into the spotlight (and with authority, lately), I think it became harder to see themselves as competitive. It probably hurt. No one told me that, that's just how I read the situation. I think they also lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, and the dream seemed all the more distant. Music moved from the main focal point to secondary. They are living their lives and have bigger aspirations. That's how most bands wrap things up, and there's no shame in that. It's actually pretty smart.

I wonder how things will end for us. They almost have a couple times already, but I think we all are too intrigued to find out what happens next. But when that feeling leaves, who knows?

For now, here's a final farewell to two great bands who we have been lucky enough to know.

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Anonymous Mike said...

That is sad news, yes. Them boys is like musical brothers to us here at Cassavettes. I would just like to rid the air of a little of the gloom and doom portrayed in this fine post.
Cassavettes has faced minor perils, but I don't believe any of us, at least not me (since I can only really speak for myself), truly believed we were close to the end. I admit, we were scared to death when Scott almost quit and moved home, but something must have called him back from that edge. I don't see an end, especially not here and now. We are just where we need to be, poised to begin the next chapter in this adventure. We might never "make it" in traditional industry terms, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that we are making it. We are in the process of becoming Cassavettes. Nothing short of a large scale personal tragedy could break us right now (holy JEEZ, knock on wood).
What I'm saying here is this: Let's not think about how this band will end, because with any luck it will never have to.

Rest in Peace, BTD and Rogue Heroes. You guys were awesome, and I'm sorry to see you go.

28 January, 2009 09:52  
Anonymous glenn said...

i dont know if its fair to label it gloom and doom, since it was only a sentence or two of a post that was largely not about cassavettes. but as far as the end, its just something one thinks about -- though thinking about it doesnt necessarily make it a deathknell.

29 January, 2009 13:07  

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