So there’s a nice little goofy piece of Plurals press floating around in this month’s The Lookout, the LCC newspaper. Our old friend Autumn took some nice pictures of us and there’s some totally pointless blurbs of Nich and I saying dumb stuff. I thought it was great, a total fluff piece but positive and, hopefully, a little entertaining. The whole issue can be read online here (The Plurals are on page 16): http://www.lcc.edu/lookout/archive/2008-2009/issue12.aspx (the individual links on the page seem to be kind of whacky right now, but I’m sure they’ll get sorted out soon enough).
Anyway, on page 9 of this same issue there is an article that I think stands in complete contrast to ours. A Lansing band called The Darts is releasing an album called “Wake Up, Be Jealous” (which in the article they say is a reference to how they’re better than the rest of the bands in Lansing and the other bands don’t even know it) and then presumably breaking up, and they used this article in the Lookout to call out the Lansing scene on perceived negative aspects held by the band. I sort of know these guys, I’ve been to a couple of their shows, they’ve been to a couple of ours, but I haven’t gotten to know them real well or anything but my initial impression of them was that they seemed fine to me. Chuck was playing their new record in Mac’s the last time I was there and I thought it sounded pretty damn good. In this article they call the Lansing music scene “cliquey” and full of 90’s alternative rock throwback bands, and that they fit in with the better, “more welcoming” Detroit scene. My impression of the Detroit scene is that it’s oversaturated with elitest bands in tight pants desperately trying to ape the sound of 60s/ 70s garage rock. I’ve certainly met some cool bands from Detroit (The High Strung being the first to come to mind), but those bands themselves say that Detroit isn’t even a good city for them to play. When we’ve played in Detroit, the local bands have just wanted to play first so they can go home and they want to keep as much of the door money for themselves as they can. I don’t want to generalize a scene that I’m not a part of, but my experience with the Detroit scene is that if there is a community of any sort, it’s hard to find and outsider bands aren’t welcome. I won’t write the scene off though… if someone wants to prove me wrong, please do so… I’d rather have friends than enemies.
The Plurals seem to get lumped into “90s alt rock” categories, which was never our intention… although I love Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Veruca Salt etc etc I never thought we sounded particularly like them – people that pull out Pixies and Fugazi comparisons are a lot closer I think, and even then I still think a lot of sound is being overlooked. Whatever. I have no idea what we sound like. Are The Darts directing these statements at us? I don’t know. I certainly think ourselves and Cheap Girls are the easiest targets for this statement. I’m not going to assume The Darts are calling us a shitty band in this article, but after reading this article I wondered if we were even talking about the same Lansing. I think, maybe they’re just trying to generate a little controversy and get things moving in the scene – something that I myself haven’t avoided in the past (see the “Situations at Hand” blog at the GTG myspace) – but I’m really not inclined to believe it in this case, if nothing else than because they seem so greatly uninformed in their statements. In the four-ish years I’ve been in this scene, I’ve met the largest quantity of people who actually give a shit about music and building a scene than I have anywhere else. The Plurals go on tour, and this feeling is only reinforced. I have no intention on leaving the Lansing scene because, by and large, it’s the best scene I’ve encountered. There’s no one “sound” and I totally love that. You’ve got bands like Fun Ender and Sexual Pantalones on one end, Cheap Girls doing their thing on the other, The Cartridge Family way out there doing their thing, indescribable bands like Cavalcade somewhere in there, and then straight up damn good bands like Flatfoot, The Hat Madder, and Narc Out the Reds. I haven’t even gotten into the younger, punkier bands on the rise like Jason Alarm and Danger Society or the darker alt rock bands like Feel Good Violence and Mr. Denton on Doomsday. By no means is this a list of all the bands in Lansing that I think are good… I’ve left out dozens, these were just the ones that popped in my head first as I was checking out their upcoming shows earlier today. I’ve never felt that any of these bands were terribly cliquey… most of them have been more interested in music than who’s cooler than who. The cliquiest parts of Lansing to me are the folk and metal scenes, and even there I’ve met plenty of people that serve as counterexamples.
Cale just posted a long blog at the Bermuda Mohawk myspace that addresses a lot of these same ideas, but it’s important enough for me to reiterate that none of us have ever wanted to exclude people. BMP and GTG put out some compilations and put on shows and we always try to include everyone we can – we obviously can’t just tell everyone to submit a track or jump on the bill, but I don’t feel like we’ve intentionally snubbed anyone. Exclusive scenes suck. The inclusiveness of the Lansing scene is what makes it so amazing. If anyone ever feels that GTG or BMP is elitist, just fucking talk to us. Odds are it’s just a misunderstanding that led to any of these negative perceptions of us. Honestly, in all of my travels and music scene playing I’ve done in the past 9 years, the GTG and BMP people are the absolute last people that I think would intentionally exclude people. It just really bums me out that The Darts see things so differently. I suppose we won’t have to worry about what they think pretty soon though, because, according to the article, they’re going to quit unless if they’re offered a shit ton of money, and I don’t think any band in the state of Michigan is getting a shit ton of money any time soon. Maybe we should just play music then, huh?