First, let me start out by saying that I am not going to name a single wannabe 80’s modern post-punk band in this post. So, if you are looking for some spicy drama you ain’t going to find it here. If you are a person who has been trying to find new music in the modern post-punk genre you will know exactly what I am talking about. Same thing applies if you are trying to find good goth bands since the line between the genres is very blurred right now. Suffice it to say that this issue is very out in the open for anybody to easily observe.
In music there are always trend trains that some musicians want to jump on because they think it will bring them more attention. For the last few years the 1980’s have been very popular with teens and those who actually don’t remember the decade. It’s a nostalgia trip down memory lane based partially on the music that they think was popular at that time. Joy Division being featured on Stranger Things is a prime example of this. However, what these people don’t realise is that Joy Division actually wasn’t that well known back then. Chicks with huge perms and wearing neon workout gear were not Jazzercising to Joy Division. Trust me. I had a gym class back then that made us Jazzercise to Wham. Yeah, that’s right, most people back then listened to really corny pop music.
What these trend jumpers don’t understand is that not every single ‘post-punk’ band in the 80’s sounded the same. They weren’t all copying Joy Division and many had their own sound going on. Back then you could listen to the radio or a mix-tape and know what bands were being played just by their sound. Instead of trying to sound different from one another many of these modern self described ‘post-punk’ bands think that they have to lift Peter Hook’s bass riffs in order to be included in the genre. I am not saying that every single one of the modern post-punk bands does this, but enough do it to the point that it has become tedious having to wade through an endless number of clones to find bands that have the creativity to actually mix the now stereotypical sound with the music of other subgenres.
All of this has gotten the point in which people ask in online goth communities about how to start a post-punk band and how to copy the sound. I always tell people to create their own sound because there are way too many clone bands around right now. I think it takes a lot of creativity to start a band, however that creativity is thrown out of the window when the musicians in a band play the same bass and guitar riffs as Joy Division.
BE YOURSELF, NOT SOMEBODY THAT YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO BE IN ORDER TO ‘FIT IN’ !!!!! Screw fitting in. Screw music trends. Do you know what is going to happen? If the music industry tries to mainstream the goth subculture yet again I guarantee that they are going to sign these wannabe 80’s post-punk bands. Why? Because they are safe sounding and don’t challenge the listener in any way, shape or form. I was around in the SF Bay Area when pop-punk reared its ugly head, and tons of non threatening bands got signed to major labels. What is happening right now is very similar. Meaning that a more mainstream commercial type sound is being popularized and being promoted as being ‘different’ right now, when in fact it’s about as challenging as eating a bowl of cornflakes.
I put a link to my last blog post about this whole Cruel World fiasco on multiple band pages and so far London After Midnight has been the only one to respond. It was such a cringe filled response that I made sure to take screen shots of everything, Good thing I did because Sean Brennan, the singer, deleted my post and his responses to it. Does that sound like somebody who is scared that their shit attitude is going to be seen by a whole bunch of people in the goth community? It sure does!
So Phillip Anschutz is an insane bigot but you’ll play the show anyway? Yes, the homophobic prick owns AEG who in turn owns Goldenvoice. Guess what that means? The guy is at the top of a pyramid and all of the money made from festivals such as Cochella and Cruel World is filtered up to him. In the end he is responsible for what happens, so by agreeing to do such a festival you are saying that it’s okay for the top dog to be a homophobe. As long as you gain some fans and some money it’s all good! Right? By golly, don’t you have a set of priorities!
Awwwww………look at all of the whatabouts and gaslighting! I feel like I should give the first part of this response a dog biscuit and a pat on the head for being such a predictable little deflection! No hon, this isn’t about me or Facebook. Rather, it’s all about your shit priorities and your inability to say no to playing a festival that is put on by a known homophobe. That’s it. You are around fifty years old, right? I just turned fifty and through the years I have learned that supporting homophobic creeps is something that a person shouldn’t do, because right wing people will think that being anti-LGBTQ is perfectly fine in the goth/alternative community. Plus, supporting such a person is just plain wrong. It’s only impossible for you to avoid right-wing bigots when you agree to play shows that they promote.
Bullshit. I’ve had people tell me that you used to be very active on Myspace. So, trying to gain credibility by saying that you hate social media is flaccid at best. Here you go again with the whatabouts pointed towards Facebook. What are you going to do once you hit that stage? Complain about how the promoter is a homophobic piece of shit? I really doubt that, because you will be too scared of being banned from playing Goldenvoice shows and venues. How do I know that? By the very fact that your responses are riddled with deflections. Oh, let’s all get together and try to figure out how to fight this? Do you know what would be the first step towards a solution? You not playing the damn show! If you really gave a shit about the LGBTQ community you would refuse to play it. Full stop.
Well, that all folks! I am not going to tell you to like or dislike this band. Judge for yourself how this band has responded to this situation and come to your own conclusions.
Within the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in anything having to do with the 80’s. Everything from endless posts about mediocre 80’s ‘post-punk’ bands to people asking questions as to how to directly copy the look of ‘trad’ goths litter the internet. Then there are the truly special individuals who constantly talk about how cool the decade was and how they wish they could have lived back then. They should never wish that. You want to know why? Because for the most part the 80’s was a hellish landscape of conservative neo-liberal politics mixed in with a highly conformist society that punished those who were in any way different.
I was a teen in the 80’s and graduated high school in 1989, so I spent pretty much the entirety of my teen years in that decade. I was very politically aware during that time and paid attention to the world events going on around me. For example, I went on a trip with some classmates to Washington DC in late 87 that was called Close Up. Teens from all over the US go every year to learn about politics. You get to meet your representatives and talk about important issues with others. We got enough free time to wander about the area exploring and one day two friends and I were walking near the Capital Building when a motorcade appeared. During that week Soviet officials were there to draw up the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty along with officials from Reagan’s cabinet which included the Secretary Of State George Shultz. I hated, and still hate, Reagan with the burning heat of a thousand suns so I was obviously not a fan of anybody serving under him. The first limos going past us had Soviet flags attached to the front, rolled down windows and Soviet guys waving at us with smiles on their faces. Seriously, it was as cool as it sounds. We smiled and waved back of course. Then the limos infested with the lice off of Reagan’s head rolled by and not one of them rolled down their windows. However, it was easy to see through the tint that one of them contained Shultz. I started yelling to him that he sucked and gave him the finger with both hands. Yes, I told a high ranking US official to basically go fuck himself. My friends were panicking telling me to stop but I wouldn’t. To this day I am still proud that at the age of 16 I had the balls to do something like that.
Now that you have learned a little bit about me I will now tell you a little bit about what it was really like to live in the 80’s.
THE COLD WAR AND THE CONSTANT FEAR OF NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION
I don’t think that younger people right now quite realize just how close we came to all being killed in a nuclear war. This fear was largely due to the constant posturing of Reagan. He would call the USSR the evil empire and threaten them on a very regular basis. Frankly I was way more afraid of Reagan back then than I was of the USSR. To the credit of the USSR back then they didn’t give in to Reagan and start a war. I honestly think the professional war mongerers who stood behind Reagan wanted an all out war with the USSR because they would have made billions from that. Both empires fought a proxy war in Afghanistan when the USSR invaded the country while the US backed and trained the rebels. By the way one of those rebels was Osama Bin Laden.
Nuclear war was such a possibility at the time that two powerful tv films were made about it happening. Threads in the UK and The Day After in the US. Since I was living in the US at the time I saw The Day After when it was first aired in 1983 when I was in the 7th grade. It freaked my friends and I out so much that we went to our vice principal and asked about whether the school had a nuclear fallout shelter. Think about that for a second. Imagine being a young teen and having that kind of fear hanging over your head on a constant basis. It sucked. A few years ago I finally saw Threads and it shows the reality of a nuclear war; people being burned alive and the unsanitized reality of what would happen after a nuclear conflagration. If I had seen it back in the 80’s I would have had full blown nightmares.
IF YOU WERE IN ANY WAY ‘DIFFERENT’ YOU GOT CONSTANTLY SHIT ON AND CONFORMITY WAS A WAY OF LIFE
I always see younger people in online goth communities say that they wished that they could have experienced an ‘alternative’ subculture back in the 80’s. With confidence I can say that the vast majority of them wouldn’t have been emotionally equipped to have handled all of the shit that they would have gotten from others. It wasn’t just the ‘normal’ people that you had to deal with back then, you also had to deal with intense pressure within the alternative community to fit in by liking the same bands and behaving the same way. Woe onto you if you actually acted happy or liked a band that wasn’t considered cool. People think that ‘gatekeeping’ is bad now? They have no idea.
There was a huge amount of pressure back then by society to fit in. Reagan constantly preached about how America was better in the good old days, which were actually not good for anybody who wasn’t wealthy and white. If you didn’t go along with his not so hidden racist agenda you were seen as unpatriotic and a traitor. I am not exaggerating. You had to hate the USSR, be scared of black people, and look just like everybody else. If you didn’t have a perm, didn’t dress in the trendiest clothes and didn’t listen to the latest pop bands you didn’t fit in so you were considered fair game to tease and even physically attack. Luckily I was never physically attacked but I know that lots of people were. Far more violence happened back then than now. However, I had things yelled at me on a constant basis, for doing such things as simply walking down a street. In high school I was even told by a teacher that I wouldn’t have as many problems if I just dressed like everybody else.
IT WAS DIFFICULT AS HELL FINDING OUT ABOUT BANDSAND SHOWS
There was no functioning internet back in the 80’s. There were some bulletin board type communities but computers were expensive as hell so most people did not have them. There were thee ways of finding out about bands back then. You could be one of those lucky people that lived near a radio station that actually played alternative and punk music. These were usually college radio stations, but sometimes pop stations would play less popular music in the the middle of the night. There was a pop station in my area that did this. So much so that by the very late 80’s they became an ‘alternative’ station. However, by that time they played more radio friendly bands than experimental ones. However, I did learn about some bands by listening to them. Another way to learn about bands was by getting mix tapes from your friends. In early 86 I got one from a guy, who then ghosted me. There was no track listing written down so it took me literally years to figure some of them out. However, I had another person introduce me to Joy Division by handing me a tape with Unknown Pleasures on one side and Closer on the other. The last way to find out about music was by cold buying it. You would see somebody cool wearing a mysterious band shirt and you kept a log of those band names in the back of your head. I actually cold bought November Coming Fire by Samhain using this method, and more times than not I had really good luck.
On top of all of this there was a code of silence that the uber goober type people would pull when you would ask them about what bands they liked. Seriously. There was some sort of strange code that some weirdos lived by that made it very uncool to share musical knowledge with anybody. It was as if they were going to be killed by an evil cabal if they dared to utter the sacred names of bands. These were the same types who would try to dictate how you behaved in clubs.
Wanted to see your favourite band play a show? Good luck! Most of the time the only way you would find out about shows was at club nights, but if you were under 18, and sometimes 21, you weren’t allowed in them. I actually went to one that let you in of you were 17 or older and another that was all ages so I was lucky when it came to that. However, that didn’t mean you would find out about all of the shows because venues were usually total shit at advertising shows unless they were some of the better known ones that also hosted metal shows. There were some ‘alternative’ weekly papers where I lived so I would find out about some of them that way, but there were two times that I accidentally saw bands because I thought it was going to be a regular club night. I saw Meat Beat Manifesto and The Call that way which looking back on it was pretty darn cool.
Well, that’s it for today. I realise that I have probably broken some hearts and crushed some dreams but the amount of misinformation about the 80’s really needs to be balanced out with a reality check. I don’t look back at that decade with rose coloured glasses, even though I lived through those years. It could be fun, but it was also really difficult. If I had the ability to go back in time to those years I wouldn’t.
Here is a quick rundown on what has happened. Last year there were some screen shots of some very old problematic Facebook likes that Brandon Pybus made years ago that were passed around the internet as proof that he was racist. Then Brandon appeared on a show explaining his side of things, and what he said made sense to me so I believed him. My thought process at the time was that if he was currently actively racist why would he agree to speak about being against racism. Some people have been telling me that there was more evidence, but I personally never saw any. I based my opinion on those old likes that I saw and what Brandon said and that was it.
This all changed yesterday when definitive proof was produced. It has been shown that Brandon has been an active member of the Sons Of Confederate Veterans since 2015. This is considered to be a hate group because they want Confederate statues to be kept in place, Confederate flags to be flown freely and they spread lies about why the Civil War was fought.
To say I am pissed off at Brandon is a huge understatement. In the past we had actually spoken about the Civil War because I have several ancestors who fought for the Union and who were from West Virginia, an area that he lives near. Never once did he say anything about the Confederacy or about being a member of that group. Of course he didn’t, because he knew that it would instantly piss me off and that I would tell other people. If he thought it wasn’t a racist group then why would he hide being a member of it? He had also told me in other discussions that he was in no way racist and that he wasn’t that kind of person.
I am not the only person that he has majorly lied to. He has worked with many other musicians as either a producer, a guitar player or as a vocalist. I feel for these musicians more than anybody else because they were closer to him and knew him as a personal friend, as somebody that they would help if he needed it. He really put himself out there, helping people and being friendly with everybody. It felt like he was doing something that the goth subculture really needed; a musician that was willing to work with everybody instead of against everybody.
There isn’t very much money to be made in the subculture so I don’t think he did all of this for that reason. I witnessed the WAR (white aryan resistance) skins, in the late 80’s/early 90’s, try to heavily infiltrate the goth and punk club scenes on the US West Coast and there is something about this whole situation that reminds me of that ordeal. They had more success in the goth subculture because back then the people within it were generally more passive and not as political as now. I’m not saying that everybody ignored politics but a certain percentage of people really couldn’t be bothered. That is one of the reasons why I have always kept a foot in the punk scene because people tend to be more reactive when bad shit happens. The punks and SHARP skins did all of the heavy lifting back then and drove the WAR skins out. Maybe Brandon thought that the goth subculture would be an easy place for him to infiltrate because he thinks that a lot of the people within the subculture are still very passive? That in the end people would support him no matter what he believed or said?
I would like to state for the record that I’m sorry that I hurt the feelings of the people who shared those Facebook likes last year. I supported the wrong person in this whole situation. I tend to defend friends to the death if I think they have been wronged, so that is why I reacted the way that I did. I fully support BLM, stand against racism and want everybody to be treated equally no matter who they are or who they love.
My heart feels crushed right now. However, I am not going to let Brandon’s lying racist ass get to me. I have scrubbed all mention of him and Sonsombre from this blog and I have deleted all of Sonsombre’s music from my computer. I plan on making the Sonsombre vinyl records that I own into bowls, because I don’t want to make money off of them and throwing them away isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.
EDIT: Apparently Brandon has made a non apology and is blocking people from actually asking questions about the racist organization that he belongs to. He blocked me even before I could comment, go figure. I’m not linking it because I don’t want to give him any views. It’s easy to find on Sonsombre’s Facebook page. I dedicate Gwar’s song Sick Of You to him. It’s very apt at the moment.
A while back I listed some of the newer goth type bands that I found to be interesting. There are so many good bands coming out with excellent music right now that this second list really needed to be made. This time I am also including electronic/industrial bands. They may not be strictly goth but they are definitely goth adjacent. These bands are not in any particular order. All links will take you to the relevant Bandcamp page. Bandcamp Friday is on March the 5th, a day in which 100% of the sale of music and merchandise goes to the bands.
Jay Draper And The Subterraneans This is a hybrid band that contains elements of goth rock, darkwave and post-punk. I love the the soaring vocals, they are very distinctive.
The Last Of Us They play very heavy traditional goth rock, but with a feel of urgency. Keyboards are artfully added for atmosphere. Reminds me of Fields Of The Nephilim crossed with early Danzig because their music has a slightly sinister feel to it.
Corlyx Post-punk meets darkwave. This is a hybrid band that makes some very danceable tunes.
Stoneburner Steven Archer’s solo project that is at once industrial and electronic with other bits tossed together to make for some very interesting sounding music.
Dead Cool They don’t have a lot of music out yet, but what they have put out so far I really enjoy! A post-punk and darkwave hybrid band.
Rosegarden Funeral Party This is a post-punk band with some darkwave thrown in, surrounded by one of the most distinctive female voices out of all of the modern genre bands. The lyrics sound very personal in nature and give the music a deeper meaning.
S Y Z Y G Y X Mainly an electronic and darkwave band. Very driving beats and interesting vocals.
I Ya Toyah This is a one woman band that is fiercely industrial and electronic. Beautiful vocals paired with an urgency and great lyrics.
The Long Losts Very spooky sounding deathrock mixed with some touches of metal. The lyrics are very haunting!
Abu Nein Darkwave and electronic music with a flourish of post punk. Nice vocals and driving beat.
Before I begin I would like to state for the record that the names of the people involved in the Portland Oregon and Washington DC ‘scenes’ mentioned in this post have been changed. I changed some because I honestly can’t remember them, and I changed others in the hope that they have at least evolved a little bit over the last twenty years. I have also changed the names of clubs. If you ask me who these people really are I will not answer. If people haven’t changed they will say I am lying and will pretty much be outing themselves, which will kind of prove my point. I will post their real names, if I can remember, and such responses in this blog for the whole world to see if they occur.
I thought long and hard about writing this. There are so many women out there spinning right now, and that makes me very happy. However, it makes me sad that some of these women are experiencing some of the same sexist crap that I encountered twenty years ago. After hearing really fucked up stories I feel like I should tell my own.
I moved to Portland in 2002 after a really bad relationship went south. Before that I had been in a really disastrous marriage so emotionally I felt like I had to get out of the area I was living in. My mother had moved to Oregon about ten years before so I thought that Portland would be a good choice for me. Back in the 80’s and 90’s Portland had a reputation of being infested with WAR (white aryan resistance) skinheads. When I went there in 1991 I had a run-in with one, but by 2000 they were long gone.
Before I moved to Portland I had never been a DJ, so I brought none of that baggage with me. Nobody knew who the hell I was so nobody had any preconceived notions about me. During that time I dressed up a lot when I went out, which was about the complete opposite of how I had dressed ten years before. It was partially due to being newly single and stretching my wings. There was definitely some jealousy that reared its ugly head pretty soon after I moved there. Most of it came from a chick that I’ll call Esmerelda. Esmerelda got most of her wardrobe from Hot Topic and her main goal in life was apparently becoming the ‘scene queen’. I didn’t think bad of her because of the Hot Topic fixation, rather her obsession with scene status alarmed the hell out of me. Oh, and she had the hots for a male goth DJ named Tarzan. Tarzan knew this and perpetually lead her on to make her seem like she had a chance when in reality she didn’t. At one point I hooked up with Tarzan. One of his friends actually asked me if I had indeed hooked up with him. Since I had no shame I said yes. A few days later at a club Tarzan comes up to me and tells me that I shouldn’t have talked about hooking up with him because he likes to keep his personal life private. I, in turn, told him that he ought to get new friends then because they are the ones who asked me. I’m 100% positive that he didn’t want Esmeralda to know about any of this because he enjoyed leading her on. Basically I was slut shamed, so as you can imagine I told him to fuck off. I never spoke to him after that.
There was one other person from the San Francisco Bay Area in the the scene and her name was Davina. I didn’t know her before this because I hadn’t been a fixture in the SF Bay Area scene, however we knew of some of the same people and we both hated the uber gooberness of some of the clubs there. She was a DJ, and offered to teach me since I showed an interest in it. It really wasn’t that difficult and I begun to spin at the same club every once in a while. I actually had fun doing it, and I tended to spin music that the other DJs either didn’t have or didn’t know even existed. Remember this was the era in which really shit EBM and synthpop music was taking over the clubs. I was one of the only people in that town at the time who was spinning deathrock and goth rock. I even spun some of the deathrock revival music that had started to come out during that time.
One night I spun and barely anybody danced. I was a bit drunk and said kind of loudly in the club to some friends that a lot of people there had a shit taste in music. Not everybody could hear me and I didn’t direct that statement towards a specific person, I just meant in general. Should I have said it? Maybe not, but I was speaking the truth. What most of the people wanted to hear was repetitive boring crap. Well, apparently two scene queens from Seattle who were visiting heard me and complained to the self appointed goth scene king Urkel. Urkel was a DJ who only spun the EBM and synthpop repetitive crap. Being the passive aggressive coward that he was I didn’t hear about any of this until the next day when he sent me an email demanding that I apologize to the two women. I had no idea who these people were and since I did not direct my ire at them at all I didn’t feel like I owed them anything. Fuck that. Urkel didn’t like that one bit. Not only did he say that deathrock sucked he also threatened me with goth club banishment. Seriously, he told me that I would never DJ in Portland ever again. I think there was definitely some sexist bullshit going on because he was used to people bending their knee to him, but when a woman wouldn’t do it they deserved threats of banishment. By the way it was Urkel who screwed up when Convergence was held in Portland in 2007. He failed to book some venues and some of the bands were decidedly not goth in nature. A couple of years after I left he started to DJ deathrock music, because of course he did.
Around the same time as all of this I met somebody online who lived in Washington DC. I flew there to visit, everything went fine, but when I moved there he suddenly had the urge to tell me that he didn’t like me in ‘that way’. I was pretty heartbroken, but I stayed in DC because I had a lease and didn’t want to shell out thousands of dollars to move out early. At this time I found out about a goth club called Gothik and I went one night to investigate. The music was just about the same crap that was being played in Portland which was pretty intolerable, but I did meet a few cool people so it wasn’t all bad. I talked to the promoter of the club, Edwin, who was a guy in his 50’s about wanting to guest DJ there and he said I could. Well, I spun my usual kind of music and some people would dance so I did okay. I would get people coming up to me saying that I spun really good music but that the local scene was filled people who had a bad taste in music. Their words not mine! You know things are bad when various people tell you exactly the same thing about a local scene.
During this time I was also a guest DJ at another club night that was run by a guy named Dizzy. Dizzy had a girlfriend but I and others were made to believe that it wasn’t serious, so I messed around with him a bit. Then he ghosted me. Seriously, the guy was a piece of shit and I wasn’t the only one he did this to. Since he was one of the only goth scene promoters there was almost no way of getting DJ gigs, except for the club Gothik. Around this time a resident DJ spot opened there. I interviewed with Edwin and the one resident 22 year old DJ named Sophia. Sophia only ever spun synthpop and EBM so I told them that I would be a good fit since I spun music that just about nobody spun and that fact would attract more people to the club. Some people didn’t like the club expressly because the club’s music was boring, so I made a good point. Did I get the gig? Nope, and you know why? Because I didn’t own enough synthpop music. Wahahahaha!!!!!!
What made that whole situation even more funny was the fact that Sophia never bought any of the music that she spun. She illegally downloaded 100% of the music that she played. Her excuse being that she was a poor student and couldn’t afford to buy music. She actually told me once that if I wanted to hear goth rock and deathrock music that I should make some CDs for her because she didn’t know about that kind of music. I’m not even kidding about that. Oh hell to the fucking no. It’s her job to know about the damn music and I was not going to give her a rope to climb out of her cesspool of really crap synthpop. There were quite a few special people in that scene, so here is a short list of them.
-A male DJ named Dinky who promoted himself as a professional DJ, but all he would do was load a pre-mixed CD into the player and just stand back for an hour. Like Sophia he illegally downloaded all of his music. Proven by the fact that he claimed that Cry Little Sister, from the Lost Boys soundtrack, was by the Sisters Of Mercy. He also thought that all goths got into the music through Marilyn Manson.
-A male DJ named Binky who could never get gigs and said that I only got one because I was a woman. He was so bitter that he told me this on several different occasions.
-Edwin, the promoter, was very creepy and it was well known that he would hit on the young women who went to the club. I didn’t fall for his crap because I was over thirty.
-The group of DJs who opened a goth club night the same night as Gothik, which was just down the block. An example of how promoters worked against one another instead of together.
I decided to leave when my lease was up because the scene was so damn toxic that there was no way I would ever be happy there. After all of that I was never a DJ again, because all of that drama was just way too much for me to handle on a regular basis. Both cities had very toxic goth scenes and I truly feel sorry for the young people who wanted into the subculture during that time. Please don’t think that everybody was a narcissistic jerk in both cities because they weren’t. However, a lot of the people were too afraid to ever speak up because they didn’t want to lose their scene cred. In my opinion those particular people were just as guilty.
I really hope that things have changed in both of those cities. Do I still hate all of those people and wish them a horrible death? No. The reason being is that some people do change over time and end up the exact opposite of who they used to be. I’m all for people redeeming themselves, because I have changed a lot. I am now in a happy marriage and living in the U.K.. Plus, I have opened my mind a bit when it comes to electronic music in general. Do I still think that some EBM and synthpop bands suck? I will never willingly listen to VNV Nation, and if you ever see a positive review of them on this site you know that something bad has happened to me.
Steven Archer is a very talented musician who has supported the goth/industrial subculture through the years by being in the band Ego Likeness, and by helping other bands and people out. His solo project, Stoneburner, has just put out a new deluxe remix EP called No Light No Spark. It consists of interesting mixes of past songs and a new one called In This Place. You can’t really fit his music neatly into any single music genre box because he combines different styles together, which is what I find very interesting about his project. When musicians experiment with different styles and ways to bring them together it takes you onto a musical path that may bring you to a genre that you have never been exposed to before. Steven is a very cool human being so give his new EP a listen, and if you have the funds buy it this Bandcamp Friday on the 5th of February.
There seems to be a real tendency right now for younger people who identify themselves as goth to claim that alternative bands from the 80’s are goth. This is done partially through ignorance, and partially because they think that since they are goth that all of the music they like must also be goth. Echo & The Bunnymen being one of the more popular ones, with their song The Killing Moon being pointed out as a ‘goth’ song. What they fail to realise is that back in the 80’s they weren’t considered to be a goth band. In the strict sense they were considered to be ‘alternative’, a non mainstream band. They toured with Gene Loves Jezebel and New Order in 1987, a concert that I actually went to. There was one band out of the three that should be considered goth with a capital G, and it sure as hell wasn’t Echo And The Bunnymen. Oh, and it wasn’t New Order either in case you get that silly idea in your head.
You can tell some of these people until you are blue in the face, but do they listen? Of course not. It gets me kind of pissed off that the bands that I listened to as a teenager in the 80’s are being hijacked by a bunch of kids who think that they know more about the music of that time than I do. I’m not saying that my opinion is perfect or that I’m an expert when it comes to the music of the 80’s, but since I was a teenager during that time I definitely know quite a bit about the music from that decade.
Another thing that ticks me off is when people tell me that certain forms of music are not related to the goth genre at all, even though they were played at alternative clubs in the late 80’s alongside bands such as Christian Death and Specimen. I was there, I actually remember bands such as Desireless and Fake being played in sets. I associate those bands with the goth subculture because they definitely had a place in it during the late 80’s when the genre was starting to separate and have its own club nights. Anybody who says anything different wasn’t around during that time or is plain lying.
I actually left the Reddit goth group partially because of all of this. I just got sick and tired of people, who weren’t around in the 80’s, telling me I was wrong about what happened back then. Some genres such as synthpop definitely had a place in what was to become the goth subculture in the late 80’s and those songs were important to members of the burgeoning subculture. The synthpop that was created twenty years ago was a totally different animal. It took over goth club nights, along with EBM, and was very repetitive and stale. The current crop of wannabe 80’s synth/post-punk bands try to sound like ‘authentic’ 80’s music but a lot of the time they fall very flat. I like some of them a lot, but the bad really outweighs the good in that genre. A genre, that for some odd reason, is considered goth by the same people who dismiss 80’s synthpop as not being goth related.
What can we learn from all of this? There are people in the goth subculture that are so rigid in their definitions of the music that they can’t, or won’t, admit when they are wrong. When these people double down on their wrong assumptions just walk away, because they don’t want to listen to reason. Instead they only care about being right, much to the detriment of the subculture.
I’ve been into goth and punk music for about 35 years, and goth music right now is more vibrant and varied than any other time that I can remember. I’m not saying that the 80’s or 90’s were bad or anything like that, but the sheer amount of really good goth genre music being made right now is very staggering.
There is so much really good music being made right now that it’s very difficult to catch up on every single goth genre band out there making music. I used to DJ deathrock/goth rock about twenty years ago during the time that EBM and synthpop took over just about every goth club. When I was a DJ in Washington D.C. I was one of the only people who didn’t spin EBM or synthpop all night and I got a whole lot of shit for it. Goth music was in a pretty dire situation during those years and the deathrock revival happened during that time as a response to it. However, a lot of those bands were either not really good or over the top to the point of absurdity. There were some decent bands but the movement died out within a few years.
Every once in a while I would seek out newer goth genre bands hoping to hear something more guitar based that spoke to me, but I would always end up ducking my head back into my shell. I started to focus more on the new wave bands that I really liked in the 80’s and that somewhat filled the void. However, within the last few years, I felt like I was stuck in a rut of only listening to older bands. I didn’t want to be THAT person who bitches constantly about all of the newer bands being way worse than the older bands. I guarantee that you will bump into a few of them if you in any way participate in the punk or goth subcultures. I went onto the Reddit goth group and started to try out the bands that people posted, and to my surprise I heard music that was actually really well done and not derivative! My journey into discovering the music of newer bands had begun!
Before I start a list of the newer bands that I like you should know that I lean more heavily into deathrock and goth rock than anything else. Also, I like some darkwave and hybrid type bands. The only subgenre I really don’t care for that much are the wannabe 80’s synth and post-punk bands. I think a portion of them are definitely style over substance, and they try to go for an 80’s sound by using every bell and whistle that different bands used back then. In my opinion it makes some of them sound very similar to one another, when a lot of the original 80’s bands actually sounded very different from one another. Did early U2 sound exactly like Echo And The Bunnymen? No? You get my point. However, I do like some bands that mix the post-punk sound with darkwave. The band names are linked to their Bandcamp pages.
Mystic Priestess A pagan anarcho deathrock band that blends political statements into their songs. The vocals are very well done!