Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: Looking back at the first year of the "People with Animal Heads" project

As of today, it has almost been a year since I began the project known as "People with Animal Heads."
Looking back on this time, I have learned an incredible amount about the underground Midwestern music scene going on.
I have interviewed countless bands, written a ton of articles on different perspectives and added in a significant amount of bullshit about certain aspects of "scenes" that piss me off.
But I am continually surprised by the amount of talented bands making music RIGHT NOW in the Midwest. This is talent that deserves more attention than it is currently being given, on a national scope.
The biggest surprise for me was that Cleveland not only has a thriving music scene, but some of the bands even responded to me for interviews! That was a major breakthrough, seeing as how I previously thought it was a deserted wasteland.
I have also learned about great bands trying to be heard, from Indiana to Michigan to Illinois to Ohio to Kentucky to Pennsylvania. A lot was accomplished in the past 12 months.
The biggest news of the year was the lo-fi resurgence going on in Columbus via Times New Viking signing to Matador. You also had your Psychedelic Horseshit, The Dolby Fuckers, etc. etc.
Unfortunately, Columbus has always been a town that religiously reinvents itself every three years. From punk to swing, to modern cheese rock to indie pop and back to punk again. I don't expect the lo-fi thing to last long. Most of these bands will break up within a year. Times New Viking will probably stick it out the longest. I see the beginnings of a national scene brewing, with similar minded groups like No Age in California.
But ultimately, you have to remember that this new lo-fi scene is a trend. Historically, it can be dangerous to lean on this too much. I will always be a fan of a band that focuses more on song-writing and substance, other than style. There is also the lemming backlash, after too many bands try to morph their sounds in order to fit in. The popularity of Arcade Fire is a great example of this, such as the Interpol thing the year before.
Hopefully, people who have read this site and have followed the project are learning something about the Midwestern music scene. I know I have.
There are too many bands who refuse to leave their comfort zones. Too many bands that never leave town. Some scenes really suffer because of it. I think Columbus is the worst offender. I'd also lump Athens, Cleveland, and Pennsylvania into that category. Indiana bands get out of town more, it's just that there's not so many of them. Same with Detroit.
The year has also seen a tremendous vacuum across the Midwest as bars closed. From Little Brothers in Columbus to Akron's Lime Spider to numerous others across Cincinnati and Dayton. It made booking shows for bands much more difficult.
As I go into 2008, my plans will naturally morph a bit. I will continue to keep up to date on the musical sounds coming out of every state in the Midwest. But I also plan on doing more research in New York, Nashville and LA regarding why the Midwest is so often ignored in the great big picture.
I have some new ideas and I will get started on those soon.
Hopefully, the more people who hear about this site, the easier it will be to get some bands to email me back and help with this project.
Spread the word about PWAH in 2008!


eric boogiepop said...

The biggest surprise for me was that Cleveland not only has a thriving music scene, but some of the bands even responded to me for interviews! That was a major breakthrough, seeing as how I previously thought it was a deserted wasteland.

Since coming to the Cleveland area for school in 1999, I've been pleasantly surprised to discover that Cleveland not only has lots of great shows come through town, there are actually a few great bands here. Now, my complaint is that the local Cleveland scene seems to be too focused on garage and punk, but you can find a good band in pretty much any genre here. I feel incredibly lucky that I'm living in a surprisingly good place for indiepop, with the Afternoon Naps, Bears, and Helper T-Cells as local phenomena.

Christopher Animalhead said...

yeah, you know I really found out about a lot of great bands up there. Especially bands like the Dreadful Yawns and the others you mentioned.
One thing I find very interesting about a lot of Ohio scenes are the huge gaps that go on. You have all these indie pop bands alongside these hardcore punk bands, but there rarely seems to be much of a middle ground. I may lean toward a lot more of the pop side, but I can appreciate the Noise bands too. It's just that I like my hearing. I'd personally like to see more of these bands incorporate all of it, you know?