Search for Acceptance Pt II: How We All Got Into Music
A chronicle of my our extremely unhip beginnings

(Page One) (Page Two)

----

----
----

Josh: I've never been into DMB, but I used to listen to a lot of pop punk. Then a few years ago I discovered the Postal Service. Back then, my brain still produced the inevitable knee-jerk reaction to anything that didn't have the hooks and glossy choruses I was used to. So I spent a long while reading Pitchfork, trying hard to agree with what they told me.
Then a few months ago I put on The Clash's London Calling, and there were qualities to it I'd never heard in music before. It just clicked. Since then music has really opened up for me.

----

----
----

Katiedid: I've been into music for as long as I can remember. Music was a big part of my life even back when I was restricted to good, clean oldies. Anytime I was doing anything from the time I was about 10 on, I had the boom box with me. Once my sisters and I started to rebel a little, watching MTV and sneaking tapes, I used to make up roller skate dance routines on the driveway to Guns-n-Roses and White Lion and Poison. Rock.

High school was slightly better. I used to stay up late to watch MTV's “Alternative Nation,” and the music played on there- the Pumpkins, the Pixies, Belly, Naked Soul, Dinosaur Jr.- got me into a whole new territory. Then in the 90's I got sucked into grunge and was such a grunge girl it's embarrassing now. I looked so cute in cut-off shorts with leggings and flannel shirts though!

I wanted to be nothing like the popular kids. I remember the girls went through this phase of wearing their shirts the way Nicole described - tucked in the front the not the back - but with dress shoes, and so I started wearing Doc Martens and tight shirts with a flannel over the top. Funny thing was, I was friends with everyone. I mean, I had my main group of friends and I didn't hate the popular kids, I just didn't want to be anything like them.

After I had my son in 1996 I somehow lost the music-ness. I backslid. I started just listening to the radio. What got me back into music was pop-punk and then Modest Mouse. A friend played The Moon and Antarctica for me at a party and that was it, I was hooked. Indie rock took over my life. It helped that I started working at a record store and was introduced to more diverse music than I had ever realized was out there.
----

----
----

Michael Ocean: I started listening to music as a two year old. My dad would play me Yes singles and Genesis songs, but none of that stuck to me until I was about 20. At six, I was listening to MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, mostly because they were on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie soundtracks.

Them my first CD purchase happened in 1994: Weezer. I listened to “Buddy Holly” non-stop for about a year, but never listened to another song on that record. After a year, I put it away.

There was nothing for years after that... that is, until Puff Daddy broke out on to the scene. With Notorious B.I.G.'s death in 1997, I began absorbing ALL things Bad Boy Entertainment, collecting CDs and even singles. There was some Smashing Pumpkins during this time too, and a whole lot of Limp Bizkit (my original inspiration to play the electric guitar... Lord save me from these memories), but for the most part, it was all Top 40 hip hop.

Then, unfortunately, things got worse. The Insane Clown Posse and their cohorts took up about two years of my life (first 3 years of high school, 99-2001). Let us never speak of those years again.

Oddly enough though, two bands that were constant during these years (and that totally clash with the hip-hop I listened to) were UK funk-jazz band Jamiroquai (the band I've listened to constantly for the longest time in my life) and industrial-jungle-pussy-punk band Mindless Self Indulgence.

Then, with Weezer's Green Album's 2001 release, I was invited to my first ever concert - Weezer in DC. The concert was life-changing, all because hearing Buddy Holly live convinced me to return to real rock (even though I'd been playing nu-rock on the guitar for four years by then). I absorbed the rest of the Blue Album as I never had before, which led me to discover Pinkerton, which set me straight when it came to good music.

Around then, I also discovered that listening to ICP wasn't getting me any girls. Weezer started to help with that, but once I got fully into Pinkerton, my relationships with girls got a lot more heartbreaking. Boo-hoo, sniff-sniff.

From there came college, and with college came the Beatles, the Beach Boys, then the SMiLE record bootlegs, then I discovered TMT and Pitchfork Media in 2004. Life has been much better since then, and I've been on a steady diet of about one to two albums recommended by your camps per-week... a rate at which I had never absorbed music so fast in my life. That has been a constant for about five years now.

Since I've been playing guitar (and about 12 other instruments now) since 1999, it should come as no surprise that I've written plenty of songs/musical movements. For the last three years, it's mostly been Radiohead and Animal Collective inspiring me to do so.
----

----
----

Joseph Coscarelli: When it comes to music in my childhood, you'd think I was dropped on my head or underwent electro-shock therapy or something; I just don't remember any of it. I don't think my parents have 'music taste' and if they do, it has always been hidden from me. I think my Dad likes Queen, Eric Clapton Unplugged and Sade, end of story. And my Mom could care less. The form it did take in my youth was through my Mom's dance studio, so I remember Swan Lake for ballet and then Culture Beat's "Mr. Vain" and some remix of "Everybody Dance Now" when it was time for hip-hop class.

The first CDs I remember having on my own were No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom, Third Eye Blind's self-titled album, Green Day's Nimrod and a Bad Boy Family disc.

Without any musical role models, parents, siblings or otherwise, my trip has largely been a solo journey. I thought radio rap was it for a while- Jay-Z, Nelly and whatever jam was hot at the moment, but for some reason it eventually hit me that wasn't for my suburban, white ass (little did I know I'd turn back to it, this time for the art of storytelling and some punch lines) and I flipped up a few stations to modern rock radio. It was a phase, but I didn't fare much better there. I did the emo thing for a while because it was the only live music I could catch in the amusement park they call Orlando.

The Internet changed my life.

I can't pinpoint a musical awakening. If anything, it's still happening. I'm younger than most music-obsessives around me and I like to think I've yet to ]reach my peak as a music fan. It was Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and Broken Social Scene's You Forgot It In People that made me realize how mind-blowing music could really be. The blog explosion and torrents are really responsible for my diversification, but it has contributed to a feeling of oversaturation. Being young and catching on relatively late leaves me feeling like the people around me have had a head start. There's so much behind me that I want to eat up and figure out for myself but (especially messing around in music journalism) there are 10 bands thrown at me daily that deserve the same sort of attention.

But let's just say, it's a welcome challenge.

----

----
----

Zoe L: My path to musical enlightenment (undecided as to whether it's really enlightenment) had several distinct stages.

1. 7th-8th Grade

Here we find our heroine indulging herself in such gems as Eminem's The Eminem Show and Good Charlotte's The Young and the Hopeless. She comes dangerously close to losing her concert virginity to the latter group, but luckily a well-timed trip to Disneyland prevents this from happening. At the beginning of eighth grade she becomes heavily interested in Avril Lavigne and is convinced that the singer is a sincere person who understands every tween girl's life, including the protagonist's. This all changes when...
2. Zoe's 14th Birthday

Since she is intensely interested in being "cool", our heroine decides to ask for some "classic rock" for her birthday. Unbeknownst to her, however, the gods of music have got wind of her strayings from the path of good and conspire to set her back on the right track. To this end, they use her friend as a vessel for change and place in this friend's hands Nevermind. Zoe listens to it once, has a change of heart, and gets rid of all the music she's realized is completely atrocious.
3. First Semester, Freshman Year

Here, the protagonist goes through the requisite "punk" phase of any young hipster's shaping, though she never quite gets the hang of the fashion aspect (some unspeakable evils, of which we will not mention, occur in this category). She listens to nothing but London Calling and Never Mind the Bollocks for three months. This is the last point at which she is still innocent and uncorrupted.
4. Downhill From Here

In one week our naive damsel reads four glowing reviews for an album by a band called Arcade Fire. She resolves to get it. She listens to it and becomes completely smitten. Finally, she thinks, she has found a subculture that will love her as much as she can love it. She still listens to the Killers, but eventually decides their music is too derivative and tires of it quickly. Her final step into the bottomless pit that is hipster-being is when her good friend simultaneously introduces her to Pitchfork and Questionable Content.
5. In the Now

Last week, a good friend said to me, "Zoe, I'm looking through your iPod, and I can't tell whether you've painstakingly constructed it so you look hip but not too snobby or whether this is what you actually listen to." It took me over a year, but I'm finally at peace with and even self-deprecating about my neat 'n tidy indieness. I buy vinyl, I wear converse, my hair is short and asymmetrical. But I listen to music I like, and it just so happens to be music that almost no one else listens to. I'm content with the fact that it's basically taken over my life. And if I get too bored I can always be snobby when people think that "No Cars Go" was first released on Neon Bible or that listening to Death Cab for Cutie makes them as cool as I am.

----

----
----

rachel: When I was in the eighth grade, I owned the Usher CD, a Celine Dion tape, and a Best of the Beach Boys tape. That was it.

In the 9th grade, I was on a message board - for Harry Potter, no less - when I was reading a thread about music. Someone on there had posted about a song by someone named Bjork - and had posted all the lyrics. That day, I downloaded Napster, and downloaded that song, and my life changed forever.

----

----
----

S. Kobak: I received Nirvana's Nevermind for my 10th birthday and listened to it basically non-stop all year. It's funny how much I could connect to Cobain's feelings of isolation in fourth grade. I towered over other students. Girls hated me. I had very few friends. People thought I was weird because I read all the time. The teacher used to send me to the office for doing stupid things and would laugh at the popular/handsome kid for doing the same thing. Also, my family didn't have a lot of money (side note: we're middle class now, fuckers!) and would buy me Napoleon Dynamite-style stone washed jeans with all the pockets and shitty, uncomfortable hi-tops. Like I said, I could connect to Cobain's lyrics.

About a year after, my uncle started dumping old Rolling Stones at my house because our garbage route recycled and he is kind of a hippie. I read about Kurt's favorite bands and spent the little money I earned on Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation later that year. That album was a catalyst that got me into music. The feedback parts gripped me and I mowed more lawns to get money for Evol, which the local record store also stocked for some reason. Around the same year I purchased Pearl Jam's Ten and other proto-grunge crap, but I traded those CDs in as soon as the used CD phenomenon hit. Kids on the bus would give me shit for not listening to the Grateful Dead's Skeletons in the Closet. I got really into indie rock in seventh grade, listening to Pavement, Royal Trux and Mudhoney. Psychedelic-tinged rock hit the lifestyle changes around the time. From there, I kind of de-evolved, turning to the manufactured disillusionment of mid-90s anarcho-hardcore punk like Fleas and Lice, Aus-Rotten and Varukers for most of my high school years. On a daytrip to Boston with my dad, I stopped by Newbury Comics and purchased Ride a Dove by Harry Pussy, which was in the hardcore section for some reason.

By junior year, early Grateful Dead jams thrilled me. I traded in most of the hardcore shit for drug money. I still had a heady collection of jams by Royal Trux, Pavement, Mudhoney, Black Flag, Boredoms, Flipper and, of course, Sonic FUCKING Youth. I joined a hardcore band and my friend gave me a box full of tapes his cat pissed on, including Flipper's Generic, The first few Descendents albums, DRI's Four of a Kind and the first Redd Kross album. Got The Record by Fear, and it became the soundtrack to my life, along with Daydream Nation and Royal Trux's Thank You. Although I hung out with a bunch of anti-social fucks and took enough acid to know that life is meaningless, I still managed to get elected vice-president of my sophomore through senior high school classes. However, I still hated everything and everyone. I listened to a variety of music but couldn't find the one sound that summed up this bleak reality without being cartoonish like metal. There's only so much the Grateful Dead's optimistic outlook can do for a disillusioned sonufabitch and, soon after finishing my freshman year of college, I began to explore music deeply again. Eventually, a friend hipped me to the abstract soundscapes Merzbow fleshed out, and the rest is history. I went to go see Adris Hoyos with Thurston Moore at the Flywheel. Things started clicking. Also, when I turned 19, I got laid. Thank the spirits for music, drugs and sex. I'd of decorated the walls with my brains and the blood of others long ago if those three things didn't exist.

----

----
----

Oliver: In short: thanks for your article. I really related to it and it's nice to hear the story of another person who has used their somewhat embarrassing roots to develop an interest in a wider range of music. I think a lot of people probably have a similar story to tell, whether they will admit to it or not. In a media-rich Western society, we all grow up surrounded by all sorts of music -- some of it particularly good, some of it immeasurably awful. Maybe you have to be unhip first to become hip. Or maybe it doesn't matter either way, and it's all about personal progression. Whatever the case, I have traced a similar path.

I saw your article heading and I immediately thought "ah, there's no way that's about Dave Matthews, is there?" I spent my high school years listening to Dave Matthews Band (as well as jam bands and related stuff). It's amazing how getting into the surprisingly insular community of such "unhip" music can actually draw you away from music that is even more strictly commercial and bland (that is to say, what's generally on Top 40 radio). I went to plenty of shows and only started to drift away when I began losing interest and realized that I didn't really connect to the beers and BBQ set or the faux-hippie set. For me, the shift began in my first semester of college, with hearing "I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One" by Yo La Tengo in the car with someone I lived with at the time, on a drive to Charlottesville. And no, the C-ville trip had nothing to do with DMB, surprisingly enough. Hearing that album was not immediately a revelatory experience, but I really enjoyed it and it was nothing like I had heard before. I asked to borrow the album from the same guy later on, and proceeded to explore the connections and listen to a wider range of things. Pretty soon, the Dave Matthews obsession made no sense to me and not long after, I couldn't even enjoy it anymore. I, too, can no longer listen to it even for the purposes of nostalgia.

Looking back on it, my encounter with that music was probably worthwhile. It opened doors for me in a number of areas. I picked up the guitar during that time. I started listening to jazz. I met people. I started appreciating live music. I started buying music. Essentially, it made my life richer and more interesting and allowed me to think in a way that would lead me to different sorts of music. That is, once I could escape the gravitational pull of blandness. Well now I have, and it's good to hear that you have too!

----

----
----

Filmore Mescalito Holmes: Until I started driving, I was mostly into what my parents, older step-brothers and friends liked: Tragically Hip, AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Steppenwolf, The Doors, Black Sabbath, The Beatles (whom I still consider the greatest rock band of all time), Led Zeppelin, lots of oldies and radio rock. There was a brief period around grade three where I was really big into Iron Maiden, Metallica, and other cheesier metal shit, but I never had the resources to buy music (we were poor). My first tape was a $5 copy of “Weird” Al's Fat, shortly followed by my first CD in the form of the Wayne's World soundtrack. I had at least a couple months of MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice love somewhere in there too.

My journey through music really started when I moved to a new neighborhood in grade five, amidst a lengthy parental divorce. I made a best friend named Allan and started watching Much Music and occasionally MTV. Thanks to Much, I picked up tapes of Portishead's self-titled album and Green Jelly's Cereal Killer Soundtrack and started to become aware of, and often fell prey to, trends. I got into things like Ace Of Base (right up until their cover of “Cruel Summer”), Crystal Method, Prozzak, No Doubt, Enigma (which aged rapidly), and Natalie Imbruglia, most of which I now can only stand in small doses for nostalgic effect. Allan was pretty big into the burgeoning mid-‘90s gangsta rap thing, so I heard a lot of Warren G, Dr. Dre, and Wu-Tang, but I never turned my back on oldies. My mom introduced me to Frank Zappa when I was old enough to appreciate him, and he remains one of my major heroes and influences. There was never any solid direction in this time. I never had a real “phase” that entailed a wardrobe. Though I was huge into Dennis Leary, Bill Cosby, and *shudder* Jeff Foxworthy for a while and generally dressed like a moron… so you could say I had a comedy phase, if you want to be a dick about it. For the most part I just liked whatever I liked, though I generally distrusted electronica and always hated the sound of young country.

Something very important happened in my musical development in the summer of grade 11, going into my senior year. To that point, I enjoyed it as much as anyone, but music really wasn't much of an issue for me. Then I smoked pot for the first time, and suddenly sound took on an infinitely higher importance. I dove back into classic rock and even deeper into psychedelia, getting a lot more out of The Beatles this time around. What's more more, I got big into trip-hop (that Portishead tape sure came in handy) and rap (specifically Snoop Dogg and Cypress Hill, but some underground shit too). I wore out the Green Jelly tape and convinced my dad to put a CD changer and a sub in my truck. This was probably a mistake on his part, because I started buying more music than I could realistically afford. Damn you, Columbia House!

I picked up Lords Of Acid's VooDoo-U and Herbaliser's Blow Your Headphones at a used CD shop; both of which had an extreme effect on my future tastes (though, at the time, I just bought them 'cause I thought they'd sing about drugs and I was looking for backup). Thanks to eBay, I also spent a lot of time bidding on old records, which, in turn, inspires people to give you're their old record collection. Suffice to say, many copies of Boney M's Nightflight To Venus have passed straight through my hands (a greatest hits is all you need). MP3s also took off around then and, thanks to Napster and the far superior Audiogalaxy, it suddenly became almost too easy to find out about good music without having to talk to anyone. Record collecting is a slow and often tedious task, while CDs are now and have always been way overpriced; but, thanks to MP3s, I was able to seek out and try kinds of music I never would have looked at in a store. Much of my current collection can be traced back to those formative years of digital music exploration; that and the CMJ sampler CDs.

Just after first year college, my old pal Al went on his two-year Mormon mission. I made a new friend named Jan fairly quickly, who then basically introduced me to my new circle of friends. Well, I technically went to high school with Jan, but we never hung out there. I was strictly a booze and pot guy at the time, but he somehow got me to try ecstasy. Grudgingly at first, believe me, I started getting into electronic music. Ignoring the few odd contrary disks already in my collection, I started out modestly with drum & bass. It's basically double speed hip-hop, you know, so it was easier for me to relate to, but I think the title opening track from Voodoo-U had something to do with it too. From there, I quickly developed an appreciation for most genres (though funky house always annoyed me). Though my first concert was some years before in the form of Weird Al (twice, actually), I started going to shows and the odd rave. Seeing the Flaming Lips open for Beck, then become his backing band, remains the most important performance of my life. Sadly, I was a little late for the rave scene, which was already in the latter stages of decay by that point.

At the time I met Jan, I was a totally indie rock moron, thanks to the emergence of The Strokes. I actually said, "electronic music has no soul." A year later, I was a total electronic moron and he was big into indie (Sufjan Stevens shit). Weird. I try to remain open to any and all new music I find or whatever finds me, so my tastes have not really refined themselves much in the past few years. There was a time when I looked to Rolling Stone for tips on what to hear, but now they're more useful to me to find out what new pop bullshit is best to avoid. Much Music died as soon as George Stroumboulopoulos walked away with all of their integrity, and MTV has never been truly musically relevant. Other than that, I just keep branching out, and I hope to stay that way for as long as music moves me. There's just so much good shit out there that's not on TV.

----

----
----

W.C.: 0-5 yrs old – Obsessed with Peter, Paul, and Mary. My momma says she hated them, but it was the only thing that would get me to stop crying and go to sleep. When I was about four years old, my cousin made me a tape of Rush's Permanent Waves, and that replaced my PPM fixation. I listened to “The Spirit of Radio” and “Freewill” until the tape no longer played correctly. At one point, I brought the Rush tape into my pre-school class, lied and told the teacher it was a tape of nursery rhymes just so she would play it for the class.
5-7 yrs old – The Beatles and The Beach Boys were the world to me. I was a fanboy before I know what the word meant. Encouraging my odd obsession, my parents saw it fit to take me to a Beach Boys concert (my second rock concert would be The Ramones, but that's not until several years later). I also owned Falco's Rock Me Amedeus 45 and Springsteen's Born in the USA LP, both of which I played to death. When I had heard them enough times at regular speeds, I began to get acquainted with them at 33, 45, and 78 rpm, respectively.
7-9 yrs old – I began copying my older bro and his friends and begged for three cassettes on my birthday: Beastie Boys – License to Ill, Run DMC – :Raising Hell}, and Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet. I got ‘em all and I was the coolest kid on the block (although none of my friends realized my coolness.)
10-14 yrs – All my friends began listening to Guns ‘N Roses, Motley Crue and Metallica, none of which I wanted anything do with. My dad then showed me the way of Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers, Iron Butterfly, the Who, and Jethro Tull. Thank God for my dad! Then my brother came back from boarding school and brought me a cassette of the Pixies – Surfer Rosa & Come on Pilgrim, and that changed everything.

High School – Husker Du, Pavement, GBV, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, etc. My friends were mostly goths or smelly punk rockers and didn't care for my tastes much. Then several hugely important things happened. First, I saw the movie Naked Lunch, where I first heard the music of Ornette Coleman. Up until that point I thought I hated jazz, but it turned out that all I had been familiar with was Bob James, Earl Klugh, Hubert Laws, and my dad's other CTI records which, despite DJs now basking in their funky breaks, I though were boring as boring could be. But Ornette was mind blowing! The other two key things: one of my music teachers saw my interest in the avant garde (which I didn't actually know existed at the time) and played me Stockhausen's Kontake. Another teacher loaned me their copy of that LP, 10+2 – American Text Sound (one of those Arch St records). Ever since then, I've pretty much been on a quest to hear the most far reaching and challenging music I can possibly find.

(Page One) (Page Two)
  

News

  • Recent
  • Popular