Monthly Archives: October 2006

Maybe my song titles don’t have enough words in them

Many of you out there might understandably be under the impression that Thunderegg brings in the big bucks, but in fact I do have a day job. I am a freelance copy editor, reading and marking up manuscripts for various large publishing houses here in New York.

My current project is about emo: emo music, emo culture, emo fashion. It’s kind of like a Preppy Handbook for kids who have built their worlds around a core of bands that I’m humbled to confess I’d mostly never heard of until this week. And these are major-label, platinum-record bands, too–groups like the Promise Ring, My Chemical Romance, Thursday, Brand New, Fall Out Boy, and Dashboard Confessional (well, I’d kind of heard of those last two).

Now I’m sitting here on a rainy night eating some spaghetti with garlic and oil (cost to me: about seventy cents), thirty-three years old, trying to watch some of these bands’ videos on my pokey computer. I have to admit that Fall Out Boy have some great song titles: “Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for my Sham Friends” cracks me up, and there are many more like it. I also much preferred Fall Out Boy’s “Thriller”-esque seven-minute video for “A Little Less ‘Sixteen Candles,’ a Little More ‘Touch Me'” to “Helena” by My Chemical Romance. Both are soaring, hooky, and super-slickly produced, but the Fall Out Boy guy doesn’t look as though he’s about to start crying. (At least not this time.)

Anyway, to get to the point: Is Thunderegg emo? 90 percent of the answer is no. We’re too old, we don’t have tattoos or nice clothes, and the only gold record I’ll ever have I found on a street corner and belongs to somebody else. Maybe it’s the fault of this book’s authors, but it seems that the most important emo bands also happen to be gigantic rock stars–and that the biggest difference between 00s emo kids and 80s Goth kids is that 80s Goth kids saw obscurity as a badge of honor. I mean, Peter Murphy and Ian Curtis and Siouxie Sioux were their biggest heroes, it seemed, and they weren’t exactly mainstream.

Emo music, though, is eclipsed by emo as phenomenon: It is a massively commercial enterprise, with MTV playing its usual sinister part and seemingly every band launching its own clothing line. The book’s authors flatter themselves by crediting straight-edge Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye as the genre’s spiritual godfather, but this is the kind of stuff that gives MacKaye conniptions. To create something called “emo,” the music industry essentially co-opts various models of both rock ‘n’ roll rebellion and rock ‘n’ roll community, and repackages them for nice kids who would’ve run frightened from even a cartoon character like Glenn Danzig ten years ago. It also draws on rock’s tradition of genre hair-splitting to put a new wrapper on more or less the same product. Everybody likes to feel like they’re involved in something unique, like they’re part of a “scene.”

But, if emo is still just a little bit about the music–if it’s at least partly about aggravated, protracted angst–then I must maintain that there is some emo in the Egg. The lyrics to “In the Loft” and “If I Went on a Diet” certainly have their fair share of righteous self-pity, a quality that isn’t exactly in short supply on the Open Book mega-anthology. And when I was twenty, writing my first songs in college, man, that was Emo City: “Tie a yellow ribbon ’round my neck/Make sure it’s tight”? “You string me on and on and on and on and on”? 90 percent too old, too fat; 10 percent quiveringly sensitive.

Of course, this post has turned out to be super-long and self-scrutinizing–to say nothing of its anxious It would still be nice if some emo kids found it and noticed me subtext. (Textbook emo. Make that 15 percent.) Probably it’d be better if these hypothetical emo kids didn’t read it, though. They’ll just think I’m a big fat hater. But I’ll bet all my Smiths cassettes that ten years from now, they’ll see where I’m coming from. That is, if they still care about music.

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Thank you, Southcoasting

Brighton music blogger Jon Simmons boldly declares on Southcoasting today that Thunderegg and the Mountain Goats “are the only two essential bands in America today.” And I will say right now that this is absolutely true, although I’ll have to take his word for it as far as the Mountain Goats part goes (he makes a compelling case). But anyway, back to Open Book:

It’s an absolutely stunning achievement, and filled to the brim with classic songs. Probably one of the most essential music items so far (so-fa) of the 21st century.

Right? Not just a fact, but easily verifiable. Pick up a copy today! And thanks, Jon!

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Some dates

Some Eggish dates.

Saturday, October 14 and Sunday, October 15: Will and Nate play with guitars and microphones at the Shed in Manchester, CT. Tim also comes in to overdub more horn parts.

Sunday, October 22: Thunderegg rocks the corn maze at Larson’s Farm Market in Brookfield, CT. It’s at 1:30 p.m. and it’s billed as “Mellow ’70s Rock Music.” For let us not forget that 2005’s Song of the Week project did include covers of both Gerry Rafferty and Gordon Lightfoot.

Friday, November 17: Thunderegg drives down to Richmond to commence recording with Al Weatherhead at Sound of Music studios. Al is one of the architects of Sparklehorse’s sound, among others; Sparklehorse’s debut album, the awesome and very atmospheric “Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot” (I think I got it right), was the first album ever recorded at SOM.

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Yesterday on the corner of West 56th Street and Avenue of the Americas, I found a gold record leaning against a streetlight, right in the middle of rush hour. It was framed, with the little official RIAA hologram and everything, and commended Sevendust for selling 500,000 copies of their eponymous 1997 debut. I looked up, I looked down, I looked right and I looked left. There was a dude about my age in a button-down and chinos who seemed to have his eye on it too, but I was standing closer to it, and I was pretty sure I could’ve kicked his ass. So with the most precise movement I could muster, all at once I tucked it under my arm and walked briskly away downtown.

Next step is to pry open the frame, toss all that Sevendust crap, and replace it with the CD and artwork from Thunderegg’s A Very Fine Sample of What’s Available at the Mine, which, strictly speaking, went 499,925 copies short of gold…but who has the gold record on the wall? Huh? Me, that’s who. Me, Mr. Gold Record Thunderegg Rules Hot Shot Number One!

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