Wednesday, May 27, 2009
It’s actually pretty scary how much I relate and depend on the music of Jeff Rosenstock. Whether it be the music of The Arrogant Sons of Bitches (ASOB for convenience) or Bomb The Music Industry! (BTMI! for the same reason), his words and chords have been a cornerstone of my existence since I heard each band.
I first heard ASOB through word of mouth on the internet. It was right before the put out “Three Cheers For Disappointment”. I thought “So Let’s Go! Nowhere” was pretty awesome, mainly because it is. I loved the way that their new songs sounded on their MySpace, mostly because they were super fast. I wanted the CD super bad, but my lack of credit card, as I was 16 at the time, and my not living in the North-Eastern United States prevented me from having it. So I just listened to the three songs that I got for free on their purevolume, “So Let’s Go! Nowhere”, “Pornocracy” and “RSTLNE” on repeat. Randomly on a message-board a guy linked to a site where someone had put up a whole bunch of ska albums for download. Low and behold “Three Cheers...” was up there and I didn’t hesitate to get that masterpiece.
When I got it the soundcard on my computer was broken, so I plugged my Discman into my computer speakers (ghetto!) and proceeded to listen to album 8 times in a row with no breaks in between from 8 pm to about 1:30 am (funny how you remember that kind of stuff). Then I listened to it another 5 times in a row the next day on the bus. This album was exactly was I was looking for at the time, but this isn’t even when it had its largest impact.
So that summer I liked a girl a lot, yadda, yadda, yadda, no one wants to hear all the details. I was head over heels and she broke my heart for the first time, it happens to everyone. I had leant her the CD telling her it was the greatest thing ever (she ended up not liking it). Anyways, she came over to give the CD back, some stuff happened that lead to aforementioned heartbreak. Needless to say, the next morning I was pretty bummed. At this point I didn’t look extremely heavily into lyrics (at least nowhere near as much as I do now, which is probably more than anyone I know), so I liked ASOB a whole lot, but didn’t really get them. To make matters worse that morning I had a full day of work ahead of me. I still had a Discman then, so I would only listen to one CD all day. Naturally I grabbed “Three Cheers...” as it was one of my favourites and I had just gotten it back.
I must have been about twenty steps out of my house when I realized that I had made the exact right choice in CDs for that day. I was flabbergasted at how I hadn’t noticed the lyrics in “The Last Bell I Will Ever Hear” before. Three Cheers grabbed me and I couldn’t listen to anything else. I was really bummed for a while, between that situation and the ever shitty scene at my high school and the main thing helping me through it was “Three Cheers For Disappointment”.
It’s still my favourite album to this day.
So, before I even got their last album, ASOB broke up. So I never got to see them. I bought a ticket to the reunion show, but didn’t end up going because I couldn’t afford going to New York. But after they broke up the singer/songwriter Jeff made a new “band”. Basically he didn’t like the idea of being in a band anymore so he just wrote songs, recorded them in his bedroom, played all the instruments and put it all out for free. I’m going to emphasize this. He put out the music completely free. Way before Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails. He spray paints shirts for free at shows. When he started he only asked for enough money to cover the cost of gas to get to the show. If you do not think he is doing it for the music by now, I have no idea how to convince you. These aren’t shitty bedroom recordings either. To date BTMI! has put out 5 albums, 1 rarities compilation and a split ep. Each of these albums is incredible and I would say there isn’t a piece of filler on any of them. Each is also an interesting progression from the last, changing and adding new elements to the sound of the band without being too alienating.
Oh yea and all of that is since 2005.
So yea I first got into the band when their third album “Goodbye Cool World” came out. I had never thought that playing too fast+ska+synth+singing too fast so you can’t understand all of the lyrics+fake drums+corny keyboard effects would=great album, but hey all of us make mistakes. After seeing how great that album was I went back and got all the other ones. They kept being the most interesting and innovating in punk and I kept loving them. “Get Warmer” came out and more people began to take notice, that album was the first big departure in their sound; it’s a really good collection of songs. They came to Toronto twice I missed them both time for being too poor and not being 19 at the time. But anyways they came again and I most certainly did not miss them that time. They put on an awesome set (with an iPod as their drummer!) and as soon as they broke into “Congratulations John! On joining Every Time I Die” I was climbing over 15 year-olds to scream the lyrics as loud as I could. The show was an extreme catharsis of energy and emotion. It ruled. More importantly, I was hoping that I would be able to meet Jeff at the show, figuring he would be walking around the show, since that’s the type of guy he is. I was right.
First though, third verse of “Syke! Life is Awesome!”:
“Then one day, he said “Jeff get in your car and pick Glenn Tillbrook up at the hotel and drive him to the bar”. He wore a t-shirt just like me and wasn’t on his phone. For fifteen fucking minutes I had a conversation with my hero”
I saw him walking by and said “Hey Jeff, I just wanted to say Three Cheers For Disappointment has gotten me through a lot of shit. Thanks for writing it man.” Most musicians would say “Hey, thanks. That means a lot” and run off to whatever they had to do. Jeff stopped said “Wow, man that’s cool. I’m glad that you like it so much. That means a lot” and then gave me a giant bear hug. Him being so cool and humble while being an extremely talented songwriter and pretty much a musical genius the way he’s put together such individual and interesting music the way he does is pretty cool. Oh yea, he also had on the same hoodie and vans as I did. It’s pretty funny how similar my experience was to his.
Both his bands have been extremely large parts of my life since the first second I heard them. I have no clue what type of person or what I would be doing if it wasn’t for The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Bomb The Music Industry! Jeff is hands down my favourite songwriter. He avoids trying to come up with clever wordplay and favours spilling as much emotion as he possibly can into each song. When I think girls suck, I listen to “Three Cheers For Disappointment”, when I thought my high school sucked I listened to “To Leave or Die In Long Island”, when I think that moving on in life sucks I listen to “Get Warmer”, when I worry about growing up I listen to “Scrambles” and when I start to feel better about all of that I listen to “Goodbye Cool World”.
All of Bomb The Music Industry!’s music and The Arrogant Sons of Bitches last album are available free of charge at www.quoteunquoterecords.com.
Also, when listening to this music, please read the lyrics on the website while listening. They are the high-point and most important part of all the albums.
I was going to put a quote from a song at the end, but I would just end up putting all of either "Syke! Life is awesome" or "King of Minneapolis Parts III & IV" or "So Let's Go! Nowhere!" or "Kill The President" or "1800-ALARM-ME" down, so I refrained.