Tuesday, July 18

Column: How to Disappear Completely: Radiohead, Kiss & the Reason I'm A Creep

When people mention the band Radiohead, and due to the company I keep this happens almost daily, I always make sure to mention that I like the song “Creep.” I say it because I have the vague knowledge that a) it is a Radiohead song, b) it is at least marginally good and c) people who don’t listen to Radiohead still seem to invariably like “Creep.” I do this, because I am a liar. Truthfully, I’m surprised that no one has noticed just how little input I have toward any Radiohead related conversation but, until now of course, no one has ever called me on it. Maybe that's because sometimes I add that they never play it live, because that fact is the only other thing I know about Radiohead's music. I’m sure there have been times (AKA car rides) in which someone has played Radiohead. In fact, I’m fairly certain that an entire Radiohead album, probably Kid A, has been played in my presence at some point in my life, but I honestly can’t remember one note of it. And this includes “Creep.”

Now, in no way shape or form, no matter how many times I may have stated the contrary, do I believe that I possess what is known as “good” taste in music. I don't even know what exactly that would constitute, though I bet it would include pretending to like Aesop Rock, musing about Jazz instrumentals and a lot of Jandek. Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure if such a thing truly exists. Conversely, I know a fairly large group of people who I would personally consider to have such a thing, but I sure wouldn’t include myself in that esteemed company. I’ve spent as much time air drumming to “Kill ‘Em All” as I have committing the entirety of “In the Aeroplane” to memory. Seriously though, test me (note: this is also, a lie). Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m listening to Lightning Bolt, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be obnoxiously blaring the new Prince album out of my 2002 Mitsubishi on my way home. Let’s just say Sufjan and Soundgarden are fairly buddy buddy in my cd rack. So what does that all mean, besides that I just used a really clichéd writing method to mention other bands that I like in a piece about Radiohead? Essentially, I’m the kind of person who should listen to Radiohead. In fact, I should love Radiohead to the point of using them to describe poignant moments of my life and their songs should haunt every mix album I ever make anyone for the rest of my existence. But I don’t, and I blame Kiss.

In high school, I knew three people who liked Weezer. Actually, in high school I knew three people who really, really wanted me to like Weezer. Because of this, I had absolutely no interest in ever listening to Weezer. Ever. The phrase “greatest band ever” was thrown around so many time that no non-Zeppelin band could ever hope to live up to such exaggerated declarations. I think I even began to profess that I “hated” Weezer, even though I had absolutely no validation for such an egregious claim. The thing is, I didn’t really hate Weezer, I hated how much other people loved them. It was kind of like the way most men “hated” Johnny Depp, John Cusack, or at least one O Town member sometime in their early high school career. I highly doubt that any 16-year-old boy really gives much of a fuck about any of those people personally, but they (who am I kidding: I) sure cared about how much the females around them felt about such celebrities. So I guess I’m saying that Radiohead makes me think about not liking Weezer in high school and Weezer makes me think about how, for somewhere under a month, I hated John Cusack sophomore year. And all of this makes me think about Kiss.

I’ve devised a scientific theory that entirely centers around fans of the 70’s rock band Kiss, or as they like to refer to themselves “the Kiss Army.” That preposterous title is a perfect example of the mindset that one must enter when becoming a reverent follower of such a ridiculous band. It’s not the “Kiss Club” (Klub?) or the “Kiss Collective”, or the “Kiss Happy Jumpy After-School Fun Group”, it’s the Kiss Army, and armies exist for two purposes: to defend the homeland and fight other armies. Due to the fact that I can’t think of any other band that has their own personal militia this would mean that the Kiss Army’s duty is to protect Kiss fans, or perhaps the band members themselves from anyone who would dare cross them. This implies that both: even someone who doesn’t care about Kiss still cares about Kiss’ fans, and that if they did, they would somehow want to prevent these fans from further enjoying Kiss. It would be remarkable if there were a band so amazingly powerful that anyone who was not a fan would immediately become voraciously obsessed with the destruction of both the musicians and their fans, but to my knowledge no such band exists, and if it did, it wouldn’t be Kiss. Still, there remains a need in fanatical Kiss fans to proclaim their greatness at any opportunity, and there is nothing endearing about it. I refer to this phenomenon simply as: Kiss Syndrome. Eventually, these fans went to college, got stoned, got drunk and eventually, in the early 80’s got each other pregnant while listening to “Radar For Love” and gave birth to a generation of Radiohead fans. Is that an extremely convoluted, nonsensical events chain I’ve just drawn up to skip ahead in the story? Yes. Does it conveniently leave out the fact that my parents were huge Creedence Clearwater fans and that this timeline fails to draw the obvious parallel of said fact and my love of My Morning Jacket? That it does. Is it the segue I’m sticking with? Mmhmm.

So present day, and a strange sub-genre of unrelated music that seems to bring out unceasing devotion in its fans still exists. Right now Radiohead remains its mighty forerunner but who knows, maybe in a few years my friends younger siblings won’t be able to stop going on and on about how the 4th Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album changed their whole outlook on life. In fact, at least two of the Weezer people from high school have simply transformed into the Radiohead people from college. When I proposed the idea to my editor of doing a three-perspective review on the new Thom Yorke solo album, one written by me (who doesn’t listen to Radiohead and is apathetic on the subject), one written by Dominick (who owns almost every Radiohead release in existence) and one written by an unnamed writer who dislikes Radiohead, I was promptly informed that there wasn’t actually any writer on staff that didn’t dislike the band. How is that possible? 10 plus 18-20something music addicts and not one of them hates the band? You’d think at least one person would claim they did just to be different, even if they secretly harbored a deep passionate love for the song “Treefingers.” And for that reason, I don’t listen to Radiohead. I don’t listen to Radiohead because everyone seems to have done all the listening for me. I don’t listen because there is no way it could ever live up to the expectation that have been growing for years of mental abuse on the subject. In fact, it seems that everyone I know assumes that I already do, so when they start talking about all the new songs they’ve been playing live and debate whether “Amnesiac” is really all that good or just “Kid A” outtakes I just gently nod my head and tell them I like “Creep.”

Weezer - El Scorcho
Radiohead - Creep

- Matt Lindsay -

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At 2:04 AM , Blogger Austin said...

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