Jesse Leach’s Check Your Head: If You Don’t Have Something Nice To Say…

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Jesse Leach's Check Your Head

Jesse Leach’s Check Your Head

Gun Shy Assassin is thrilled to reveal that Jesse Leach has joined the team as a regular columnist. Of course, Jesse is the singer for Times of Grace and The Empire Shall Fall and more than that, he’s a salt-of-the-Earth soul and a talented musician. Jesse will be checking in from time to time to share his thoughts. This week, he begins by calling on all of us to be more positive and think twice before knocking bands. It’s the first installment of Check Your Head.

So I have decided to make my entrance into the world of online writing or “blogging,” as it were. Guess we will see how long it lasts…I just wanted to share some of my thoughts — love it or don’t read it, it is what it is…here goes:

Have you ever been on YouTube watching a band you really love and respect and just happen to scroll down to read the comments? How about read an article online about your favorite band and then scroll down to the comments section? Well, I have and I very quickly become frustrated and have to avert my eyes and close the page. What is the state of modern heavy music? Or perhaps a bigger question is, what is going on in our society?

Granted everyone has an opinion, and everyone has a right to that opinion. However, I find myself asking where is the respect for the art, for the creation of music? It is one thing to not like a band and another to go out of your way to slander them in print, on an online forum. Even if you simply say what you are thinking, those words do not stick. When you type it for all to see, you make an impact. However small or large that impact is, you have the ability to distort someone’s potential for checking out new music they may actually like. Why is there so much negativity and “hating” going on in metal, hardcore or extreme music in general? (I am sure it is across the board with music, but let’s focus on specifics). 

Back when I first started getting into hardcore, punk, and metal (This is back when you could only get the music on vinyl and/or cassette tapes), there were definite divisions within genres. People would tend to stick with their own and thus, avoid all of the potential confrontation. What is amazing, in my lifetime (thus far), I have been able to see and be a part of the crossover movements. I saw hardcore bands starting to incorporate double bass and more intricate riffing. I was able to witness metal bands doing “gang back-ups” and “breakdowns.” I started seeing long-haired metal guys coming to hardcore shows and even in some cases, short-haired hardcore kids growing their hair out and wearing more black and sporting an Iron Maiden T-shirt.

In the early to mid-1990s, there was a great deal of cross-pollination going on and it was exciting! It was an amazing time to be a part of what has changed not just my view on music, but my views on the world. Music has shaped me since I was a child. Heavy music had a huge impact from my teen years through my twenties and I have great respect for its power and energy. I realized that change was hard for some people and caused conflict. When genres first started to meld, there were fights and conflict, but over time, it smoothed out and — for a time — produced some amazing line-ups and tours. 

So, here we are almost two decades later and at another junction. Why all of the hate and disrespect of bands? A good amount of people get into heavy or extreme music initially because they feel alienated or need to channel their aggressions. Or perhaps you came from a messed up home life, school life or being just pissed off and dissatisfied with the world around you and metal, punk, and hardcore is a great release.

We all have a common thread that binds us together: the love of the music! So what drives someone to say ignorant, negative and most times exaggerated things about a musician or a band? I feel some of these people act just like the people they claim to be separating themselves from. Growing up I would hear “this band sucks” or what have you, but that is where it stopped. What is going on today online is the equivalent to a person in the ‘80s and early ‘90s making fliers up that bad-mouthed a band and then put them up all over their neighborhood, town or city.

It sounds funny, I know; but think about it. Before the Internet, bands had to really work hard to get their music out there. The only people who were able to comment on the music were people who worked for magazine publications, or if you were really passionate, you wrote a fanzine. (For the kids who don’t know what a fanzine is, here is a generic explanation). My point is it took effort, and being that it took effort, there was thought put into it. The problem is that with the Internet, there is little effort and a much larger impact.

What has advanced us and helped get music out all over the world has also hurt the music (that is a whole other blog I could and very well may write). So the Internet: Simply log on, watch a video on YouTube, read a review or press release and boom! The comment goes up for all the world to see (might even be some below this blog). Imagine the power we have as lovers of music. The positivity and promotion of bands we could utilize by focusing our efforts on commenting on bands you love showing support for. How about the old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then shut up kid!” (Or some variation of that). However, I digress — the hate and slander will continue, but you reading this now can help change things one comment at a time. Give music the respect it deserves and remember the impact words can have. 

If you are a musician reading this, don’t be afraid to push genre boundaries and go against the grain, rebel, have your voice heard (Hell, I mixed soul and blues with metal on my new record), and most importantly, be YOURSELF even if people don’t “get it.” After all, isn’t that why we got into heavy music in the first place?! If your are simply a fan of music, support what you love and bands or musicians you think “suck?” Go easy on them; constructive criticism is OK, but empty slander and insults are just uncalled for. Hey at least they are putting themselves out there for your pleasure (or not) and entertainment. Think twice before posting up a comment that you may not even 100-percent believe, but do it just to be “funny.” I promise you if you do these things, you will feel a whole lot better about yourself…and secretly a good amount of musicians will be happier for it.

As I once said (on a record most have not heard yet) “Where’s the love? Where’s the unity?” Support one another and our music will have a much larger impact on this world! While your at it, why not support your favorite band by purchasing a record, paying for that download, or buying a T-shirt. Let’s keep this thing moving! 

Keep on banging your head, watch out for one another in the pit and see you on the road soon!