Friday, March 25, 2011

an interview i did in 2000 with Pablo Schanton and Fernando García of Clarin newspaper, Argentina

1. Year 2000 began with Teen Pop up in the charts and Internet as a quotidian media. Do you believe that rock music will go on being the center of young culture in this new decade or do you think that it will be replaced fatally? What 's your diagnostic about Techno and Hip Hop scenes today?

Well, rock hasn't been the center of youth culture for a while now. Rock in America has had something of a resurgence but only by taking on elements of hip hop (limp bizkit, kid rock). someone like Eminem shows how rap has really displaced rock for young white America. And apparently 70 percent of rap CDs are bought by white kids! Rock will carry on for years, and still produce great records (eg the new Radiohead, which is amazing, and combines the best things about rock -- songs, emotions -- with the weird studio-as-instrument experimentalism of post-rock), but it is not the place
where the majority of young people are looking for thrills or meaning. Rap has inherited that rock fixation with lyrical meaning and truth-telling. And it does it to better beats.

This is the US situation I'm talking about -- in the UK and most of Europe, dance culture -- or beats culture, since hip hop and increasingly R&B are an important component of the mix--has pretty much crowded out rock. Britpop has peaked, indie-rock is a sad minority activity -- most of UK youth are into garage, which is where house culture merges with R&B and dancehall reggae. Either that or they're into trance, functional Ecstasy Muzak. And the kind of hipsters who were into indie-rock
and experimental guitar bands are mostly into electronic left-field music these days.

2. Do the rock culture have the ability of auto-regeneration to be again a source of aesthetic and ethics values? Nowadays, where do you find signs of
resistance in the format of sub/contra-cultures? Are there conditions for a "new punk explosion" in the horizon?

I'd never write rock off completely, I hate people who talk about things being 'dead' because what they really mean is that it's dead for them. [HA!-retroactive irony alert]However it seems unlikely that rock music is going to resurge as the leading edge of rebellion. The media and record business are too efficient at spotting marginal things and co-opting them, mainstreaming them in the blink of an eye. UK garage is interesting because it is simultaneously pop music
and underground at the same time -- the scene is not averse to making lots of money and crossing over, but the bedrock of it is pirate radio and tiny independent labels. In some ways, it is interesting for demolishing the mainstream/underground rhetoric. And because dance music is functional, something you use, its value is not diminished by crossing over.

There is a perennial hunger for a new punk rock or convulsion that consigns everything else to the dustbin of history -- 1977's Year Zero effect. But I'd say that wherever there is an explicit allusion to punk, THAT is the last place that a punk-style transvaluation is actually going to occur.Exampeles: the New Wave of New Wave in the mid-Nineties, or bands like Manic Street Preachers; the Digital Hardcore scene (Alec Empire, Atari Teenage Riot), Riot Grrrl. Without referring to punk at all, phenomena like the hardcore rave/early jungle scene in Britain, or today's garage scene, or certain phases of rap, were much more "punk" in spirit and fact than
conscious attempts to reinvoke punk. A new punk, by definition, would be the
thing we're least expecting, the absolute novelty. And for me, that would be
jungle in 93-94. (Now of course it's pretty boring).

3. Who do you consider that today is capable of becoming a generation figure in the mould of John Lennon, Johnny Rotten or Kurt Cobain?

I think personally this is an obsolete model. I agree with the singer Momum's notion that in the future everybody will be famous for fifteen people (rather than Warhol's fifteen minutes). It's an era of micro-markets, niche constituencies, local legends and icons, a vast profusion of tribes with their own mythologies and gods.

4. Will "Cyber culture" change pop music, finally? How MP3 and Napster can change the way of consuming music and how new softwares can change the way of producing music?

I haven't worked out what I think about this -- I just can't imagine why anyone would want MP3s of endless demo versions and rehearsal tapes of metallica songs. If music became totally free and given away.... I think it would become valueless, utterly disposable. The dematerialisation of music becoming pure information... I think it would somehow feel less real. But maybe I'm just old fashioned. I do think though, that for serious music obsessives , there will be a move in the opposite direction -- towards the absolute materiality of vinyl, and other solid formats. The packaging will become every more fetishized. You can see already this in lo-fi rock, or in much electronic music -- the weird packaging and formats -- one-side singles
with patterns etched on the other side, split 7 inch singles, double 7 inches, 10 inches, DJ oriented five-disc albums, and so forth.

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