A few days ago, the new Foo Fighters album came out and along with it, torrents of music press pushing the angle that the Foos’ record label wanted us to see- namely, that Dave Grohl and the Foos are the most consistently good rock band in the world. Now, I feel myself wanting to start talking about marketing angles and this and that but I won’t. Instead, I thought it’d be more interesting to talk about sustaining interest in living musicians. And here’s the funny thing: in my opinion, the record company is right.
There’s really something to be said about people who can constantly create something that feels new but doesn’t neglect what their good at. Again, I think the Foo Fighters are a great example of this. They make pretty good records and for the most part, there’s always “progress” to listen to. I remember back in 2006 when they went on their “Skin and Bones” tour and wondering how an acoustic Foo Fighters arena tour would sound, but still was impressed that they did it. To juxtapose that with my new favorite punching bag Train, I feel like much of what they are doing is moving backwards (“Drops of Jupiter” is still the best song Train has produced so far by a long shot… and that’s not nostalgia talking).
Personally, the two things that make and keep me interested in an artist or group are pretty simple: good songwriting and consistent innovation/experimentation. My struggle with these things is that it’s hard to tell when a group naturally possesses these qualities. Only a few times in my life have I found living musicians whom I love that will continue to expound on these traits and that, unfortunately for me (and I would imagine music lovers all around the world), is sad. People have been tricked so many times, intentionally or not so it’s hard to trust the people trying to convince you that their clients are “real artists”. But when you find innovators and the people who are constantly making progress, there’s really nothing more exciting because you never know what they are going to do next.
I hope that I am of those artists that has a multitude of facets that people who listen to my music are interested in. And I hope my desire to create new experiences is something that keeps people around. My hope for my friends who are artists and even those that I don’t know personally is that they continue to improve and make progress because there’s nothing scarier than running the risk of being obsolete before you’ve said everything that you have to say.