Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Indie Rock Band Persona

I'm in the middle of reading an article about Grizzly Bear in New York Magazine and I'm reminded of the silly rule that indie rock bands can't admit to be famous, rich, or successful. To wit:
“Bands appear so much bigger than they really are now, because no one’s buying records. But they’ll go to giant shows.” Grizzly Bear tours for the bulk of its income, like most bands; licensing a song might provide each member with “a nice little ‘Yay, I don’t have to pay rent for two months.’ ”
“Obviously we’re surviving. Some of us have health insurance, some of us don’t, we basically all live in the same places, no one’s renting private jets. Come to your own conclusions.”

Listen. I don't want pick on Grizzly Bear - I like them, but they're pretty much a poor man's Radiohead. And in their defense, I unfortunately have met and have known MANY indie rock fans who will abandon bands once those bands gain popular, mainstream success. It's a weird mindset, but it's been going on for decades. It's not just a new hipster trend. Good Lord, look at what they did to Dylan!

But gosh, golly, gee wiz. Is song licensing really only getting Grizzly Bear two months of rent? Because if that is true, their agent is either criminally corrupt or criminally stupid. Perhaps both. That, or the band is living in the Barclays Center and renting multiple suites on a pay-by-the-day basis.And if they don't have health insurance, well, that is a choice that I highly suspect is more closely tied to be a young, dangerous rock star and probably has virtually nothing to do with the affordability of health care. If it IS an affordability-issue, I'm curious to see what happens when the Obamacare healthcare mandate kicks in. Will Grizzly Bear be forced to work part-time at California Pizza Kitchen in order to have access to health care benefits?

It's just weird to me that indie rock bands need to play these games. They are constantly apologizing for their rock stardom. Hell, why did you get into the game if not for the success. You can play other instruments if you're not interested in the money.

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