Rants // Consider the Volume
Rants // Consider the Volume

Rants // Consider the Volume

Another suburban family morning
Grandmother screaming at the wall
We have to shout above the din of our Rice Krispies
We can’t hear anything at all

Having recently witnessed a shouting match between the father and the daughter I think I finally understand how Sting came to write those lines. England of the eighties may bear little resemblance to US of 2020s, but the issues we face are eternal – namely trying to hear one another above the din. Yes, it’s the volume that in many ways still defines how our lives and politics are run.

I realize that saying this also puts me at odds with the name of this blog. I didn’t call it “I Heart Noise” for nothing, after all – love the feedback and distortion and yes, above all, noise. Noise of the crowds, noise of a guitar feedbacking in Sonic Youth or Jimi Hendrix tune. Noise as artistic expression is good, important voices being drowned out of conversation – not so much.

Who are the loudest and most amplified voices we have at the moment? They belong to people like Donald Trump, Elon Musk and Joe Rogan. All three have millions of followers and fans all over the world and to deny their influence would be foolish. But just because their voices are louder than anyone else, plenty of people conflate them with megatalented rockstars and that’s the source of our current malaise.

Slogan that comes to mind is “Conservatism is the new punk rock” – that one was bandied about for years after Trump’s victory in 2016. To me it also signifies the fundamental misunderstanding of punk rock as a genre and a life principle. While its true there are right-wing rockers (*cough cough* John Lydon) and yelling is, indeed, a common form of expression in punk rock, something else is true. Punk rock is largely not about beating the weak into submission – its about raising them up through talk about societal ills. Of course there’s plenty of punk rock that deals with completely abstract/random matters, but to me its largely that that is at the core of the genre – fighting against prejudice and inequality one song/album at a time, not amplifying it.

Bleach Injector by Embryoroom

With that said, I’m not going to let punk rock off the hook just yet. Conservatives do have a point there, as much as I hate to admit it. The idea of not giving a fuck could definitely be traced back to that genre – the apathy as a way of fighting bourgeoises. Having seen a thread somewhere on Reddit recently about how hip-hop also commanded everyone not to give a fuck for years I came to conclusion that punk rock was the precursor to that movement. But then even in hip-hop you get an occasional pushback against the idea

Out on the streetsWhere I grew up
First thing they teach usNot to give a fuckThat type of thinkin’ can’t get you nowhereSomeone has to care
The Roots, unknowingly or not, picking up where Faith No More left off
We care a lot about disasters, fires, floods and killer bees
About the NASA shuttle falling in the sea
We care a lot about starvation and the food that Live Aid bought
We care a lot about disease, baby Rock Hudson, rock, yeah!
Oh it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it
And yes we do. That includes punk rockers and metalheads and industrial/noise folks too, for all the “too cool for school” vibe they often employ as a  way of self-expression. Many don’t and won’t give a fuck, ever – and may even delight in the opportunity to beat/disempower the weak and prop up the strong/billionaires. Let them. We got the voices on our side and sooner or later someone will discover us on the dial too.

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