Wednesday, January 16, 2008

DIY? from post-punk to myspace and back again

In his article Rise Of The DIY Superstar James Cherkoff notes how a young relative described her favourite music to him:

They're all MySpace bands, no one listens to (the Top 40) anymore’.

I commented on his post that the underground has always found alternative distribution channels. The MySpace phenomenon is the logical progression from the DIY ethic that spawned fanzines (Xerox self publishing), the indie distribution networks (Rough Trade, The Cartel, CWNN etc) of the post-punk period and the Acid House explosion of the late 80’s.

He describes the bands that are harnessing digital channels to create their audience - without relying on record companies - as DIY Superstars.

A DIY story…

APB formed in 1979 in Ellon, Aberdeenshire. Their punk/funk hybrid sound combining Bootsy Collins, NY no-wavers ESG and UK post-punkers like the Gang of Four.

Their second single for Aberdeen based Oily Records -‘Shoot You Down’ (1981) found it’s way over the Atlantic to NYC's underground dance clubs - Danceteria, Berlin, the Mudd Club – via London Blitz dj Rusty Egan and heavy rotation on college radio.

The band became a phenomenon in the NY/NJ areas eventually signing with the home of hip-hop electro, Sleeping Bag Records, notching up a No. 1 on the Billboard dance chart with ‘What Kind of Girl’. Bizarrely they could hardly get arrested in the UK during this time despite being legends on the Lower East side and eventually split.
And , yes, that is JB in the pic.

Fast forward to 2006, ‘Something to believe in' – a sort of greatest hits, original copies of which had been changing hands on ebay for ridiculous sums – has been re-released on itunes as the band’s MySpace community swells to 15k plus.

They followed that up with some live dates in NY/NJ and a full set of new songs released as ‘Three’ earlier this year.
I also hear that there’s a remix project in the pipeline for some of the classic early singles.

In a year where the biggest stories in the mainstream media have been the reunions of the likes of Led Zep (hooray!) The Police (boo!) here’s a band that got back together in 2007, used the power of the web to re-unite their audience and added the link to the chain which connects the post-punk DIY ethic to the web2.0 update.

APB on MySpace

Young American Recordings


Anonymous said...

That's a great story, Eaon. I saw today on the W & K blog that Radiohead did a free gig last night at Rough Trade East. Now there's a band that know how to use the web and can still do a bit of DIY now and then...

Eaon Pritchard said...

Neil, thanks mate.
Yep, and interestingly, after all the debate about the online release of Radiohead's album the 'proper' release went straight in at No 1!
Using new marketing to prove new marketing, as the saying goes.
Brick lane is just round the corner from this office, I went for a bagel on the lunchtime and there must have been a good couple of hundred in the q even then.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Somehow I'm not at all surprised that it's No.1 tho I think some people were expecting it to tank after what they did. Would've been brilliant to have seen them in such a small venue