Musings on Music: When bands change

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Every once in a while I stumble over a band that I really love. Almost obsessively. When I do, I constantly need to listen to their music. I can go weeks with just one album on my iPod playlist without getting tired of it. This is basically my definition of good music. If I don’t get tired after a few days, it’s good in my book. Sometimes it’s bands I admire for their musical talent and genius. Muse and Biffy Clyro are such bands for me, for example. And then there are bands who impress me with their message, the deep meaning of their songs. Something that makes me feel really connected and understood. In that case music becomes much more than just that. It becomes a door to a whole new universe full of inspiration and things I can relate to.

I’ve actually only encountered one such band so far and this is 30 Seconds to Mars. Discovering them was almost like an epiphany to me. I was in a very crucial phase of my life back then and their music sparked something inside me. It was an inspiration to open my eyes to things which had already been there, but which I couldn’t quite grasp at the time. And after that initial experience (which actually brought me to making music myself in the end), of course, I wanted more. Back then the band had just finished touring for their 3rd album, so there was a lot to discover for a newbie like me. I listened to all their songs, I dug deep into the symbology that seemed to be present throughout their whole work. It was just amazing. I wanted to learn all about it, I wanted to become an expert. And I wanted to share my thoughts on the band and their work with like-minded people. Thanks to good old-fashioned message boards, I was able to find such people, online and later on even in real life. For the first time I felt like someone understood my fascination with this band and didn’t just think I was in it because the band members aren’t exactly ugly. And more importantly, they understood my view on life because they felt the same way.

Since I’d been pretty late to the party and I’d just gotten into the band before they went on tour hiatus to work on their fourth album, I felt like I’d missed out on a lot of things. But with that new album, I wanted to be in the forefront. I wanted to know all the news first and witness everything that happened with my own eyes and ears. I got extremely excited about every little tidbit the band was giving us, every little glimpse of the new music. And so did my friends. However, the more we got to hear, the more unsure I felt about the new stuff. It was quite different from the previous style which is kinda normal I guess. Repetition is usually never a good thing. I tried to like it real hard. I wanted to like it because it was Mars who’s music I loved. But there I was not really liking the new stuff. It was ok. I listened to it for a few weeks, but I quickly got bored. I basically listened to their previous album on an almost daily basis for  a year, so not feeling the same at all was a pretty big bummer. And what weighed even worse was that the deep meaning was missing this time. The reason I actually got so obsessed about this band in the first place was now almost completely missing in my opinion. Everything was now a tad more superficial and easier accessible. As stupid as it sounds, I did feel a little guilty about my opinion. But that’s the thing with music. It’s a question of taste and this particular album just didn’t float my boat.

Then another tour was announced and I thought, at least I’m going to get to hear some of the older songs and who knows maybe I’ll even like the live versions of some of the new stuff. So me and my friends planned out quite a few concert trips to such great places like Berlin and Nice. And I did have tons of fun. We’d all been waiting for this for a long time and now it was actually happening. And we who were mostly just conversing online got to experience it all together. How amazing was that! At the second show I went to I realized I knew exactly what was going to happen every single minute of the performance. I knew when the balloons were thrown into the crowd. I knew when we had to jump or to get down low. I knew when we had to say “Love, Lust, Faith & Dreams” in the respective language. I knew the setlist. There were a few changes here and there, but it was basically the same over and over again. At show No. 5 I had a hard time getting excited at all. I was still having fun, don’t get me wrong, but when a show is so predictable it does get boring after a while. At least for me. It was too much. It became a routine for me instead of something special.

And there were other obvious changes which bothered me, too. The band has always been very active on social media, always looking for ways to interact with fans. But over time, it all turned into a huge selling show. Buy this, buy that. And the occasional generic tweet in between. My timeline was flooded with stuff I wasn’t interested in. And it made me upset. Then I went to the Facebook fanpages I frequented and all people were discussing were the newest paparazzi pics, haircuts, hotness and alleged dates of the band members. It felt like being on a Justin Bieber or One Direction fanpage and truly I believe that the core fanbase nowadays can largely be found in that age group. I’m not sure what triggered what, but it is clear that the band is catering to that audience now. I’m not blaming them. Not anymore. It’s a business after all. And the music business surely is one of the toughest out there. But it took me quite a while to be ok with that. By the end of last year I got so upset about the whole way things were now that I was complaining all the time. I was only able to see the bad stuff. But that was exactly how I never wanted to be. I never wanted to be one of these fans who can’t let go and who glorify the olden days. I realized that I was too involved, too obsessed with everything that was happening. I needed to pull myself out for a while to put things into perspective. So I unfollowed all of the band’s accounts on social media. I avoided the fanpages. I even stayed away from my beloved forum for a while. And you  know what: It feels so much better! I don’t have to know everything that happens in the Mars universe anymore. But when something important  happens, I’ll still know because someone will tell me sooner or later. And that way I can choose to deal with the stuff I’m really interested in. The music, live shows and the artistic side of it all which can still be found somewhere under the superficial layers.

Tomorrow I’m off to France to see Mars again. I’m not as excited as I used to be. I’m excited to see my friends again and to have a fun time. But about the show itself I’m rather indifferent. I haven’t listened to the music in ages and I don’t think I will before the show. I think this is going to be my last show for a while. I’m kinda done for now. But I’m not ready to let go just yet. I’ll still follow what the band’s doing. I’ll still discuss these things with my friends. I’ll still support them when I feel like doing so.Things have definitely changed. And so have I and my attitude towards the band, my investment within this fanbase. I don’t have to buy everything and like everything they do. When I don’t like something I’ll just stay away from it. It’s really just as easy as that. And one thing certainly hasn’t changed: This band will always have a special place in my heart for inspiring me. No matter which path they’re going to take in the future. And what I’m most grateful for are the great people I got to know just because of the simple fact we like the same band. And the great thing is that our mutual interests don’t just end there. We have a lot more things in common to talk about. And this is something noone’s gonna take away from us. This is my 100th post on this blog and I wanna dedicate it to these amazing people. I can’t wait to rock with you this weekend! And many more times after that, hopefully!

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2 responses »

  1. what an interesting journey through a band’s music! i totally enjoyed this post. i have experienced the same thing, in the sense of finding a band that speaks to me in so many, many different ways. they are almost all i have listened to all year. but, i am still in the loving them phase… here’s to wishing you a great weekend – and that the concert is enjoyable!

  2. So happy you liked this post! Yes, music can be a very powerful thing indeed. Which band did you fall in love with? I’d really like to check them out. And thanks, I definitely will have an amazing time! I’ll make sure to post about my trip. 🙂

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