The Killers, out of Las Vegas, have proven it best
Their particular brand of music, is not remotely. Not even close to their own brand. They are doing ‘Brand’ their own way. Good to hear, good to the ear. A good pop song is, and always will be , a good pop song. The Killers are the Cars. The Cure. Blondie and Talking Heads. They are a little bit of Bryan Adams, a touch of U2, and a big dollop of Duran Duran. There is Brian Eno and Lou Reed and Elvis Costello and there is, of course Bowie.
The Killers create a good pop song or two. Something that makes you bop along. I know it sounds cheesy, and when I do, have a wee bogey, a little bop, it looks as cheesy as hell too. I dance like a white guy, slipping a little on wet lino, trying desperately to keep up with a beat his knee can’t match and a rhythm his heart hasn’t been capable of for years.
Thing is, The Killers haven’t done a thing different than so many before them, many of whom did it as well, if not better. There is a cross over, like everything, like everybody. A gathering of influences, that convalesces in each of us. We are all, after all, a product of our influences. Her Indoors and my good self, have influenced four little people. Her and I are responsible for their individual crossovers.
For a while I played in a band. I was drummer, the bloke who sits in a room full of musicians and hits things. I came into a sound they were already producing. I changed it. Not intentionally, it is merely something that was, unavoidably, going to happen.
I was all Brit Pop. I was Supergrass and Oasis and Blur and I was Stones Roses and Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays. I was also a fair bit Blue Album from Weezer, I was a little bit Pearl Jam and I was a cliched Kieth Moon, without the talent. Think Jane’s Addiction meets The Jam, having a jam with Smashing Pumpkins, covering the Pixies, listening to Prince, slaves to the late 60’s and 70’s.
The guys I was playing with, the guys who allowed me to play with them, were Dinosaur Junior, there was Leonard Cohen and Nick Cage and there was stuff I had never heard of and there was stuff I have never heard. There is grunge and there is punk and there is rock and there is blues an there is three dudes with instruments and one with a voice and there we are, on a stage, reflecting everything we brought there with us.
There was pop. And so much more substantial than pop. Each one of the young men on that stage, under low slung lights in the back of a public bar somewhere in the south of Dunedin CBD, came with energy and lust and rage and fear and anger and fright and belly’s full of it all.
We came from warm homes. We came from loving environments. There were faults, in those environments. They too, were reflected on smokey, damp, cloistered Dunedin nights, tucked away in the confines of musty old brick. Not the place for Young MC or Ice Cube or Beastie Boys. Yet somehow, they were all welcome too.
I was eighteen. Maybe nineteen. Truth is, I don’t really remember it at all well. Drank way too much. Smoked all sorts. Swallowed this, snorted that. Mixed and matched. Not as bad as some, as many, but I went pop.
Angst. The latter part of my teens. For boys, it’s always latter. Except where it matters perhaps, but let’s leave that thought for another day. For girls, I am seeing it form a fraction earlier. No, a whole lot earlier. What seems worse, seems terrifying, more frightening than a Rick Astley/Taylor Swift duet, is that the angst ridden hormonal thrust that is the teenage years, seems to come in a feisty feminine rush.
A good mate has a teenager. A girl. Two years senior to my Number One. Two short, apparently action packed, years. Seeing her grow, develop, is following Robbie Williams, writing the album, maybe on the last tour, the gist of it anyway. Now he has left the studio, polished and buffed and tired and frazzled and worn out and drained and exuberant, pumped, lusting the coming days, weeks and months and missing home and yearning for the road. Conflicted. Confused. Full of creativity and energetic self discovery. Full of doubt and anguish.
There is a shit ton of stuff going on. While some forty something guy sees in the new year lying on the couch on his own, in the dark, room not even spinning, because he hasn’t had enough of any substance to set it so, upstairs in the bedroom of his first born, it never ends. Her head is spinning for sure, trying to work through all the influences, internal and external.
God, how I hope it ends. Of course, I know it does. I can see where it begins, I have seen it over and over now. It is there, all that angst and fear and confidence and uncertainty and anger and push and trepidation and quickness and second guessing, all right there in the face of the E-Bomb.
The testing grounds, the three-nager. Just a phase. A very important one, it seems. Take all she learns, all she gleans from the responses she gets to her stubbornness, her quick witted, cheekiness, her blatant rejection of you, her overbearing love. It is all filed, all stored. All the smiles and the growling and the snapping and the scooped up cuddles. Somewhere between the ages of twelve and thirteen, she will access those files.
She has formulated her approach. Her multifaceted brain has been coding the program to be delivered when the time arises. Every riff, every bridge and melody, all there to be played to you. Back at you. Because, you put most of it there, as Mum and Dad. A teenager is no more than the sum of the influences we have given her and the ones she has found and taken on board on her own. Only difference is, that teenager hasn’t quite figured how to process it all. Some time in the studio and it comes together. The live concert can be a mess.
When it is your Three-nager, the E-Bomb being the perfect example, the response to the heavy metal melt down is easier. There is a whole combination of things from banishment, to a stern, in your face telling off, to withdrawal of privileges. The list goes on.
Sure, it doesn’t mean your three-nager is going to be open, receptive and content with your response, but you are in control. You have the final say, even if it is a physical last resort. Picking up your child and removing it from the scene, is always an option.
The E-Bomb is going to go off. Her triggers are there for all to see. Compared with a teen, I feel the buttons used to get her going are easier to identify. Not necessarily any easier to avoid, but at least you know when it is happening.
And I let it happen. Sometimes, I just start push play as soon as the E-Bomb shows signs she is about to do a Roger Daltry and lose the plot in a hotel room, go all System of a Down on it. You see, I have a day to get on with, we all do. I could wait, try and settle and appease. The result will be delayed, but it will be the same. Eventually, the E-Bomb, BYOB, will go off.
So push the buttons. Blow her up. Twenty minutes of carnage will ensue. Five to ten more minutes of sobs and gathering herself back together and bingo, half an hour later, on with the day.
Try too hard to placate, to appease and ease and generally be all sweetness and light, be the passive, kind and caring, understanding one, and the E-Bomb goes pop anyway. An hour later. There is still half an hour to work through before the day is back on track.
So I switch the E-Bomb from pop to rock, to heavy metal and watch her explode. It all comes pouring out, in a concussive rush, a cathartic moment for everyone in the vicinity. Like that stroppy teenager, she goes through angst, grunge, expressing dissatisfaction at her scene. Katy Perry or the Black Eyed Peas won’t appease her anymore, no longer satisfies. She gets a bit U2 Sunday Bloody Sunday, goes a touch The Clash before they discovered Caribbean islands, reaches for AC/DC, finds Metallica and then boom, System of a Down all over again.
If I ever go off like that, and it is rare as I am too old to expend that sort of energy unnecessarily, I need to wind it back down gradually. Cycle down through Black Sabbath, find a little Foo Fighters, a touch of 80’s fluff, say Poison because every rose really does have its thorn. Radiohead might give me Elvis Costello who will hand me someone like Nathaniel Rateliffe and I am happy again.
Not the E-Bomb, not my little teenager in waiting. She will go from thrash/death metal to a sleepy Sunday jazz mix just like that.
I envy that. The no holds barred approach to expression. The unadulterated passion. The openness and the honesty of it. It is like a medley, an old school mixed tape. Tape, people, refers to cassette, a form of media to record…oh never mind.
One day, instead of pushing her buttons, instead of pushing play, maybe I should push record. There is a number one hit there, a chart topper. Somewhere inside everyone, no matter the age or stage.
You just have to listen.